Water Summit lineup overflowing with experts


— A slate of 10 speakers, including the director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, will discuss all things water during the 2006 Water Summit in Hayden.

At the top of the guest list is DNR Director Russell George, a former state lawmaker and director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. He now oversees the DOW and eight other agencies.

"He's a very important figure these days with Colorado water," said Geoff Blakeslee of The Nature Conservancy. "We decided that we should go to the top, and fortunately, he agreed to come. We're very excited to have him here."

After being appointed the DNR director in 2004, George led the State Water Supply Initiative, an 18-month study to measure state water supplies and project what the water needs will be in 2030.

This year's Water Summit will include a tour of the Elkhead Reservoir Enlarge--ment Project. Talks and roundtable discussion about water issues affecting Northwest Colorado will be the focus of the afternoon conference.

"It's a way to bring together all of the involved parties and provide local community members with the opportunity to hear about the things happening not only locally but statewide," Blakeslee said. "When you think about the rate of growth, water becomes a huge concern."

That may be hard to comprehend when looking at the now-raging Yampa River.

"We're very fortunate because we are at the headwaters, but a lot of it is allocated," Community Agriculture Alliance Director Marsha Daughenbaugh said. "Even though it runs through your property doesn't mean you can use it."

What: 2006 Water Summit: "Challenges to Our Water Future, Look What's Here"Where: Hayden High SchoolWhen: June 1. A tour of the Elkhead Reservoir Expansion Project begins at 1 p.m. The forum begins at 3:45 p.m.Cost: Advance $15 registration is required by Thursday. A limited number of people can attend the reservoir tour. Call 879-3225 to register or for more information.

Daughenbaugh encourages anyone with any interest in Colorado water issues to attend the summit.

"People attending this can ask questions that will directly address their water concerns," Daughenbaugh said.

Patrick O'Toole, president of Family Farm Alliance, also will attend the seminar. The Family Farm Alliance is a multi-state grassroots organization that promotes protecting and enhancing irrigated agriculture in the West.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger will address local water issues, and Kent Vertrees, a recreational representative on Yampa-Green-White Water RoundTable, will talk about some of the issues surrounding the recreational uses of water.

Blakeslee characterized the summit's final speaker, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs, as an entertaining speaker and strong advocate for protecting Colorado's water supply.


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