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Coloradans: Focus on Conservation to Save Colorado's Water

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Graphic: Map of the Colorado River Basin. Courtesy Protect the Flows.
Graphic: Map of the Colorado River Basin. Courtesy Protect the Flows.
 By Kathleen RyanContact
January 25, 2013

DENVER – A new poll finds Coloradans are worried about how the state will solve its water supply issues – and that they're willing to make sacrifices to do it.

More than three-quarters of Coloradans say conservation is the right approach with Colorado's water – and more than half say building a pipeline to ship Colorado River water to the Front Range isn't the right solution.

Lori Weigel helped conduct the poll for Public Opinion Strategies. She says the concern about Colorado's water supply cuts across geographic and political lines, and for Coloradans it's as important as the economy.

"The fact that concern about water supplies is on par with concern about jobs in the state right now is very significant," Weigel says.

Eighty-seven percent of Coloradans say they're willing to cut back their water use by at least 20 percent in order to preserve the state's water supply – but only a quarter are actually doing so.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is set to meet Tuesday to consider a proposal from the Flaming Gorge Task Force about funding a new body that would determine how best to build pipelines to export water from Western Slope rivers.

The poll was commissioned by the group Protect the Flows. Director Molly Mugglestone agrees with Governor John Hickenlooper that any conversation about water needs to begin with conservation.

"That's what we're really trying to focus on the most that we can in terms of conservation before we start looking at pipelines,” Mugglestone says. “Why do we need to go to pipelines as the first avenue?"

Weigel has conducted similar polls in other states and was surprised by the bi-partisan support for conservation.

"Coloradans' connection to rivers and how they think about their rivers is different than a lot of other places,” she says. “They connect it to quality of life."

Weigel adds that the poll shows Coloradans also connect the state's rivers to economic benefits, specifically in tourism and recreation.

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