Teller County must take the long view on who we will be, far into the future. Planning for Teller County over the next 50-100 years is a critical responsibility of Teller County government within the authority of the land use planning statutes. Water resource allocation must be at the forefront of those plans. Water resource allocation is not mentioned in the statutes granting counties “broad authority” over “land use” decisions, but we understand that land use generally means water and air use and vice versa.
County Commissions have kept water allocation at arms-length, with statements like “we do not own any water and we are not in the water business”. But, the county is not in the land business either. Yet, Commissioners make regulations regarding the use of land and plan for future uses.
With the legislative authority that counties do have in land use planning decisions, it is time that Teller County takes the leadership role in long term water resource allocation decisions through the Land Use Plan.
With input from the residents, we must identify what Teller County will look like long into the future from a point of view of balancing residential, business and recreational needs. We must integrate water resource allocation decisions in the very long view.
Teller County is not immune to raids on local water supplies from the downstream cities. We are at the headwater of both the Arkansas and South Platte Rivers, both over-appropriated rivers.
Only by making plans for long term water resource allocation as a foundational part of land use planning, can Teller County legally maintain standing to oppose down stream demands on local water resources. The legislature long ago determined the county was to be the appropriate governmental entity with the authority to address “land use” in Colorado and “water use” in connection with land use must become a part of that process.
If Teller County does not become proactive in protecting the private water rights in the county for the future of Teller County residents, visitors, businesses and the natural environment, demands from downstream will make that decision for us.
Do we want the majority of water resources sucked into Colorado Springs for its growth, leaving Teller County dry? As your county commissioner I will work toward protecting our water allocation needs as part of our land use planning authority.
We want a vibrant, prosperous future for Teller County where wise long term planning should result in a balance of economic and development along with preserving the natural environment for future residents, businesses and vacationers in Your County for generations to come.