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McInnis’ sleight of hand

Bart Taylor //July 15, 2010//

McInnis’ sleight of hand

Bart Taylor //July 15, 2010//

The next few days will determine whether Scott McInnis’ sloppy scholarship rises to the level of a hanging offense.

Reading some of the material in question is a bit troubling, admittedly. But legitimate points are being made about the nature of the project and the standard to which the material and its author should be held. Time will tell.

What’s not at issue is the importance of the topic at the center of the controversy – water – and the potential loss of a candidate who is relatively well-versed in the details of Colorado’s significant water challenge. McInnis seems to have a fairly deep understanding of the gravity of the water crisis facing Colorado. The video on ColoradoBiz TV today demonstrates his comfort level with the subject matter, notwithstanding some gratuitous shots at his Democrat opponent.

McInnis mentions the importance of storage as a key component in Colorado’s water future, an ironic reference as a passage referring to Green Mountain Reservoir is at the heart of the “Musings on Water” controversy. On this front he’s right. It would be difficult to find a water professional in Colorado who didn’t agree that enhanced storage infrastructure will be required in the future. The need will become more acute if climate change lessens the amount of annual of annual precipitation in some of the state’s primary drainages, as some are predicting.

But storage isn’t the only solution, and whoever occupies the governor’s residence should have a well-rounded understanding of the obstacles ahead. Mayor Hickenlooper has pointed out the progress Denver has made in conserving water, a process and blueprint he hopefully would bring to state government if elected.

Important? Absolutely. For those who make it their business to pay attention to such things, it must be infuriating to drive a Colorado highway at mid-afternoon, , as I did last week, only to splash through puddles made by automatic sprinklers watering Kentucky bluegrass (one presumes).

Conservation, though, will take the state only so far. The candidate who articulates the most reasonable and practical plan to improve what is today a bleak water-supply outlook for Colorado may win the election. The issue is that important.

A good start would be to explain in detail how Colorado will move to develop its remaining Colorado River Compact allocation, estimated by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to be as high as several hundred-thousand acre feet of water. (In the spirit of full attribution, here’s a link to that report.)

If Scott McInnis is that candidate – but does not appear on the ballot in November because of his water musings — the story will have come full circle, perhaps to our detriment.
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