Water roundtable seeks common ground
SUMMIT COUNTY – There will be a sense of urgency when stakeholders from the Colorado River Basin meet in Grand Junction Thursday for a roundtable aimed at finding regional solutions to state water issues.Some recent studies anticipate water demand in Colorado will grow by 53 percent in the next 25 years, potentially resulting in shortages on both sides of the Continental Divide.County Commissioner Tom Long and Lane Wyatt of Summit Water Quality will both be sitting at the table representing Summit County’s interests, and Scott Hummer, water commissioner for the Blue River Basin, is also seeking to gain an at-large seat as a private citizen.Hummer has to be careful to separate his official duties as a state official from his private views, but said that, speaking as a private citizen, he thinks that Summit County has a huge stake in the discussions.”What’s at stake is what local citizens have somewhat come to take for granted: Dillon Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir being full during the recreation season and adequate flows for fishing and boating,” Hummer said.”We want to make sure we have plenty of opportunities in the headwaters area to be heard,” said Wyatt. “We have to watch out for unintended consequences, making sure that growth somewhere else doesn’t affect existing residents.”The first meeting will likely focus on procedural issues, Wyatt said. Among the “unspoken” goals for the roundtables is to develop plans for future droughts and to ease the way for future water development projects, Wyatt added.Vail resident Chuck Ogilby said he wants the roundtable to consider the consequences of unchecked water development.”Is there a consensus to have free-flowing rivers? Or are they all just going to be aquaducts for sewer plants?” Ogilby said. “What do we want the Colorado River Basin to look like after all the diversions are done … after all the conditional water rights have been developed?”Conservation groups have questioned if the environment will get short shrift in the roundtable process, and not everyone is sure that Colorado’s water-users, frequently at-odds with each other, are ready for this collaborative approach. Under the mechanics of the state law that set up the roundtables, the various entities could ultimately enter into legally binding water compacts, similar to the agreement that divvies up the Colorado River between Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada and California and New Mexico.State officials said they are still trying to fill several at-large seats, and encouraged interested individuals to attent the Grand Junction roundtable.The meeting is set for 6 p.m. At Mesa State College in Grand Junction, 2508 Blichmann Ave. and the public is encouraged to attend. Applications are still being taken for at-large positions on the Colorado basin roundtable. Applications are online at: http://www.dnr.state.co.us.
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