The Colorado River with Grand Mesa in the background from Riverbend Park, Palisade, Colo.

(Photo: iStockphoto)

Colorado water managers reached a new milestone this week in their attempt to write the state's first-ever water plan. The state released the second draft of the plan Tuesday, a 479-page document that highlights how the state will meet the growing water needs of its population.

At the crux of the issue is this: the majority of Colorado's population is expected to remain along the Front Range, but most of Colorado's water can be found on the Western Slope. The report doesn't reference specific water reservoirs or diversions the state needs to build in the coming years. Instead it gives an overview of each of Colorado's nine river basins and their plans.

The most populated basins -- the South Platte and Denver Metro -- call for more water supply coming from the Colorado River. That's in addition to strategies like water conservation and reuse. In the Arkansas Basin, more water is important along with fixing the area's aging infrastructure.

Critics of the plan, including Save the Colorado, say the plan fails to protect the Colorado River ecosystem. 

The state will accept public comment on this draft until Sept. 17. A final plan is expected by the end of 2015.