“Water is the most vital of all our natural resources,” Governor John Hickenlooper today told the annual convention of the Colorado Water Congress.
In brief remarks on the third and final day of the conference, HIckenlooper said Colorado needs to be every bit as diligent in handling its water budget as its fiscal budget.
He said water plays a huge role in everything from recreation and agriculture to economic development. “Our water policy is linked to the economic vibrancy of the state.” He said future development of Colorado will rely heavily on the people here now securing our water supplies for the future.
Hickenlooper said the state cannot simply move water from traditional agricultural uses for use in municipal systems or to support other industries such as energy and tourism. Pointing to the untenable position the country is in by relying on imported oil, he said it could be even worse if we had to import food.
“We have to look at water as having real value, and not just monetary value. Water is a sacred commodity.” He said he is constantly struck by the casual attitude people have toward wasting water.
Even with water shortages, he said the state has to protect its environment. He said even with trying to forge an easier environment for business in the state, environmental regulations must remain strong enough to protect “the flora and fauna that make our brand.”
While campaigning for governor, he said he visited all 64 counties, and that in every county “eventually the conversation got around to water.”
He joked about the adage that “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting,” but said in the end the West is known more for barn-raisings than it is for shoot-outs and that it will be that collaborative spirit that enables Colorado to forge water policies that allow the state to move forward in an era of climate change.