Last Tuesday, City Council held a work session to discuss an ordinance to protect our watersheds. This item had originally been on Council's agenda earlier in the month but was tabled indefinitely. Many of us were surprised to see it appear on the agenda without much (if any) notice. The hasty introduction of the ordinance antagonized a number of people in the agricultural community, and so Council quickly realized its mistake and tabled the ordinance to allow more time for the community to examine the subject.
Despite the initial mistake of rushing the issue, Council is on the right track. We need to take steps to protect our watersheds from numerous threats. Grand Junction just passed a similar ordinance in response to natural gas leases in their watershed. Craig has a similar ordinance. Steamboat has already lost one infiltration gallery to pollution on the south side of town. Gravel pits, development, water diversions, and industrial uses are just some of the very real threats to the quality of our drinking water.
Still we need community process to make sure the ordinance fits our situation. Members of the agricultural community are rightfully concerned about how such an ordinance will affect their operations. We certainly don't want to press any more hardship on our ranching and farming community. However, the ordinance does have provisions in it to exempt current agricultural practices. We should pursue further adjustments with input from the agriculural constituency.
But we are on the right track: nothing is more basic than having clean water to drink.