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Dependable Water Supply Important for Strong Economy

by Floyd Ciruli
Ciruli Associates
November 2007

Colorado voters overwhelmingly believe a dependable water supply is very important to maintaining a strong economy.  Ninety-two percent of Colorado voters rated a dependable water supply “very important,” slightly ahead of the percentage of voters who rated a good K-12 school system and a good highway and transportation system as “very important.”

The statewide voter poll was conducted by Ciruli Associates in September 2007 for the Economic Development Council of Colorado to rate a series of public policy actions and their importance for a strong economy.


Ciruli Associates, N504, 2007

Question: Thinking about Colorado’s ability to compete for jobs and maintain a strong economy, as I read the following list of public policy issues, please tell me if you believe the issue is very important, somewhat important, not very important or not at all important to Colorado’s ability to compete for jobs and maintain a strong economy.  If you don’t have a view, just say so.  [Rotated]  Ask: “Colorado should have…”:  a well-educated workforce, a health care system that provides care for uninsured, an early childhood education program, available electrical energy and natural gas, strong enforcement of illegal immigration laws, high quality universities and colleges, a dependable supply of water, a good highway and transportation system, low taxes on businesses and workers, a good kindergarten to high school public school system.

The Second-Annual Citizens poll (Sept. 12-15, 2007) was sponsored by the Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC), a statewide consortium of local and regional economic development professionals.  The statewide survey was conducted by Ciruli Associates with 504 Colorado voters.  The statistical range of error is ±4.4 percentage points.

Top Public Policy Goal

State and local water planners recognize that continued growth, constrained supplies and higher prices will be the policy environment for the foreseeable future.  But the public also appears to recognize the importance of water supplies.  The experience of the drought of 2002, utilities’ continuing calls for conservation, media coverage of worries about loss of agricultural water and reports of the impact of global warming on water supplies have kept the issue visible and the public concerned.

The next four policies listed as very important to the economy – a good K-12 system, an educated workforce, quality universities and colleges, and a good highway system – are seen as major state responsibilities and three are specifically the focus of state initiatives for reforms and/or more funds.

Although water is judged by the largest segment of the public as the very important policy goal for the economy and job creation, the State of Colorado largely plays a secondary role in water policy, mostly facilitating and supporting local water districts’ and municipalities’ initiatives.  That approach has worked for localized conservation, storage and reuse projects.  But a major project to bring 100,000 acre-feet or more of water to the Front Range will require a much more unified water provider community and well-financed effort.  A more serious state role is likely to be required.


The survey indicates that Colorado voters expect state government to actively promote the state to help attract new and expanding businesses and provide education and a well-functioning infrastructure, including water supply.

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Ciruli Associates is a non-partisan research firm providing polling, election analysis and political commentary to Colorado and national organizations and media since 1976.

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