Water forum held Thursday

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Streams and rivers in the Yampa Valley were flowing far below normal levels for June 1 on Tuesday, raising questions about the water supply for farms, towns and recreation.

Residents will have an opportunity to learn about where the water comes from and external forces that will affect the valley's future water supply during a public forum to be held Thursday in Hayden.

The Second Annual Yampa River Basin Water Forum begins at 4 p.m. Thursday at Hayden High School.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said the forum is intended not for water experts but for people seeking basic understanding of the issues surrounding water supplies in the valley. The future of the Yampa River is in question because it is one of the few in the region whose flows aren't already fully allocated, Monger said.

"It's an opportunity for the community to get together and talk about water issues and how they affect us," Monger said. "Basically, the Yampa River system is the deer in the headlights on these kinds of things."

Marsha Daughenbaugh, executive director of the Community Agricultural Alliance, said this year's forum will tackle the increasing trend toward water sales and leases, and the legal issues surrounding them.

Other topics on the agenda include the Colorado Compact and how it relates to the Yampa River, water management and endangered fish recovery, and drought in the Yampa Valley.

Among the speakers at Thursday's forum will be Dan Birch and Eric Kuhn of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Lori Jazwick of the federal Natural Resources and Conservation Service, and Darryl Steele of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative Board. The forum is sponsored by the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the Community Agriculture Alliance, the Yampa River Basin Partnership and The Nature Conservancy.

Daughenbaugh asks that people interested in attending call her at 879-4370. Registration is $15, the forum begins at 3:45 p.m. and includes dinner.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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