Thursday, September 1, 2016

Will Water Infrastructure Get Funded?

Both presidential candidates are offering considerable support for infrastructure investments. The public believes water projects – both supply and quality – should be on the list.

The Colorado State Legislative Interim Committee reviewed the decline of state funding for water infrastructure due to lower gas and oil prices and a state court ruling hurting mineral severance tax revenue. But voters are concerned about water infrastructure. They want planning to continue and would consider a package of improvements in 2018.

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Chris Woodka reported on the legislative meeting August 25.

On the bright side, for water interests, state voters are supportive of spending money for planning, conservation, enhancement of river habitat, new water supplies and new storage projects, Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli told the committee. Those concepts have an 80-90 percent approval rating.

He cautioned the committee that sometimes those rosy numbers change by the time an actual measure is proposed, such as in 2003, when Referendum A was defeated in every Colorado county.

The $2 billion measure, which newspaper editorials branded a “blank check” showed early support among voters.

“A small passion against (a proposal) can grow to defeat,” Ciruli said.

Other polling results showed that attention has shifted to water quality from results of similar questions in 2013, when storage was more important because of an ongoing drought.

The survey also showed voters put more trust in local government than state, and far less in federal solutions.

“But the public is ready for implementation (of water projects),” he stressed.

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