Colorado Water Congress to address budget crunch

Group meeting for annual summer conference through Friday


Colorado Water Congress summer conference

- Today's sessions:

8:30 a.m. Colorado legislative report, featuring state Rep. Kathleen Curry, DGunnison; and "A Change in the Financial Climate: Will There be Federal Help for Colorado Water Projects?" by U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo.

10:30 a.m. Regional Perspectives on Regional Water Issues

Noon. How Can the Water Community's Voice be Heard Above the Noise?

1:30 p.m. 2009 Colorado Water Conditions Report

3:30 p.m. Integrating Climate Change and Water Planning

5:30 p.m. Reception in honor of John Fetcher

- Friday sessions:

8 a.m. Water in the 21st Century, with state Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction

9 a.m. Colorado's Present Satewide Water Planning Process, with representatives from The Nature Conservancy, Western States Water Council and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Noon. Why the Voice of the Water Community is Important

The conference is at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. Anyone interested in attending still can register at the door. The cost is $275 for members and $550 for nonmembers

— The state's budget crunch is the top agenda item at the Colorado Water Congress' summer conference, which continues through Friday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

The annual water conference, held once every two years in Steamboat Springs, is hosting more than 200 attendees and a few Colorado legislators for an event titled "A Change in the Financial Climate."

State Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, was the lunch speaker Wednesday, the first day of the conference. State Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, state Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction - a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor - and members of the House and Senate natural resources committees are scheduled to speak at the conference.

Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress, said legislators help the organization form a two-way street, with legislators learning about water policy as they help craft laws, and the Water Congress discussing their views and conservation efforts with legislators.

"You can just about hold a session of the legislature" with all the attendees, Kemper said.

Kemper said that by talking about water issues with the legislators, the group also can tackle the budgetary concerns.

"The budget issue drove us all last session, and it's going to be with us for quite a bit ahead," he said.

The very first issue on the agenda Wednesday was a state budget forum, hosted by the Water Congress' budget committee.

Several other state and national agencies with water concerns will have representatives speaking at or attending the conference, Kemper said, including the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Western Sate Governor's Association.

Anyone interested in attending still can register at the door, Kemper said. The cost is $275 for Colorado Water Congress members and $550 for nonmembers.

The Colorado Water Congress is a nonprofit organization dedicated to lobbying for water issues and encouraging lawmakers to legislate to conserve and manage water in the state.

The current member list on the Colorado Water Congress Web site lists more than 400 cities, water conservation districts, companies and individual members active in the organization.


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