Denver Coalition Releases One Water Plan to Address Climate Change Impacts on Water

DENVER — A coalition of water management partners announced today the release of the One Water Plan, Denver’s first holistic, integrated approach to water management and conservation. The One Water Plan partners include the City and County of Denver; Mile High Flood District; Greenway Foundation; Colorado Water Conservation Board; Denver Water; and Metro Water Recovery.

“There are many water management agencies in Denver overseeing our drinking water, wastewater, water reuse, stormwater, and flood management – each with its own service area, policies, programs, and goals,” said Grace Rink, Denver’s Chief Climate Officer. “One Water brings all of these agencies together to create a shared vision for building resiliency in the face of the climate crisis.”  

Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency notes that climate change is driving extreme and unpredictable weather events in the Denver region, including severe and prolonged drought, wildfires that lead to erosion and degraded water quality, and extreme heat. Building resilience to these impacts on our water supply and ecosystems is of critical importance to Denverites and Coloradans. The State predicts a water shortage of over a half-million acre-feet by the year 2050. The Lower Colorado River Basin has entered an official water shortage with Lake Mead and Lake Powell at all-time low levels, and the wildfires that ravaged Colorado last year are resulting in mudslides that destroy critical infrastructure and disrupt travel and commerce. 

Confronted with the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change, and with an escalating focus on water conservation, representatives from public agencies partnered to re-imagine Denver’s water management practices through a united approach that prioritizes people, sustainability and resiliency. 

“Urban redevelopment and growth, coupled with climate change, pose big challenges for the people of Denver and future residents,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO and Manager for Denver Water. “Developing and managing water efficiently to meet the community’s needs requires new thinking, new strategies, and a unified approach. One Water is the foundation for our path forward to collaborate on new water projects, programs, and policies.” 

One Water is the implementation of Goal 4E in the “Environmentally Resilient” section of the city’s Comprehensive Plan 2040, which calls for a citywide multidisciplinary water plan. The One Water Plan recommends several strategies within five overarching goals, including: Promote Institutional Collaboration, Implement Multi-Benefit Projects and Programs, Foster Community Support, Increase Resiliency and Climate Change Preparedness, and Implement Integrated Water Management Solutions. 

Public and stakeholder engagement, including community workshops and a public survey, highlighted residents’ top concerns regarding water management and informed the goals and priorities of the Plan. Additionally, a One Water Advisory Group, comprised of more than 30 governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, registered neighborhood organizations, business improvement districts, developers, and academic institutions, provided input and expertise.  

About Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency 
Mayor Michael Hancock and the Denver City Council created the Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency to manage the City’s ambitious emission reduction goals and sustainability programs in collaboration with fellow departments, other units of government, and community partners. The office ensures that the City’s targets are aligned with current climate science, promotes the role that climate action and sustainability play in strengthening Denver’s economic vitality and a prosperous future for all residents and businesses, and embraces equity as a value and practice in all of its work. 

Comments

  1. The planned heightning of Gross Dam is a major problem extracting more water from the western slope that they don”t have. Water that ultimately is Denver’s water supply. It will promote even more water demanding developement for Denver and its western suburbs. When is enough, enough.

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