Water quality being discussed

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— Routt and Moffat counties are taking public comment tonight about the Yampa River and its tributaries.

The two counties have hired an environmental firm, Montgomery Watson, to update the 208 Water Quality Plan, first required under the Clean Water Act during the '70s.

Commissioner Dan Ellison said the county's rivers and streams came out rather healthy since the last update in 1996.

"There are some streams that show some high mineral content, because of the geology of what they're going through as they're falling," Ellison said.

While Routt County had its study updated in 1996, the commissioners decided to do it again in conjunction with Moffat County, which has not updated its water plan in 10 years. The state is also helping to pay the cost.

Ellison said there are very few problems in Routt County waters.

For example, Ellison said a small part of Trout Creek near the old Edna mine still has a few problems, but as the mine continues to reclaim itself, the creek will "heal up."

Local resident Bill Chace is an avid fisherman and a river keeper, who plans to attend the public meeting. His job is to work with landowners on cleaning up their private streams and ponds, along with restoration and stewardship.

He said the public can get a little smarter and be better informed by attending such meetings.

"There are some 4,100 miles of streams in the Upper Yampa River Basin and they're all classified as to their quality," Chace said. "To me it would be a bad thing if they would relax some of those classifications."

The higher the classification, the more likely people will get to continue using the streams.

The meeting is tonight 7 at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill.

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