Community Agriculture Alliance: The worth of water

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When the well's dry, we know the worth of water.

— Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Poor Richard's Almanac, 1746

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• Community Agriculture Alliance, Marsha Daughenbaugh, 970-879-4370 or marshad@communityagalliance.org

• Written comments can be sent to: watercomments@gmail.com

Community Agriculture Alliance

This weekly column about agriculture issues is written by area farmers, ranchers and policymakers. It publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, we know the worth of water when it is gone, in short supply, polluted or tied up in a state or federal water court. Otherwise, we don’t give much thought to the water that shows up in our faucets, irrigation ditches, streams and rivers. We often take it for granted.

Yet we have learned through the work of the Colorado Statewide Water Supply Initiative, the Interbasin Compact Committee and the basin roundtables that our current statewide water trajectory is neither desirable nor sustainable. We know that the state must take a hard look at Colorado's future water needs as a whole and plan for how they will be addressed. To avoid negative outcomes in the future, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issued an executive order last fall advising the Colorado Water Conservation Board to do just that with the assistance of each of the existing basin roundtables.

The Yampa-White-Green Rivers Basin Roundtable is hosting four meetings, inviting the residents of Northwest Colorado to participate in the one nearest them. Each meeting is aimed at gathering public input toward the creation of a Colorado Water Plan. Routt County residents are encouraged to attend either one of the following:

• Feb. 13 in Steamboat Springs at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.

• Feb. 19 in Craig, at the American Legion Hall, 1055 Moffat County Road 7.

Following this series of meetings, public input also will be welcome at the basin roundtable meetings held at the American Legion Hall in Craig on March 12, May 14 and June 18. All meetings begin at 6 p.m.

The goal is to have a comprehensive implementation plan submitted by the Yampa-White-Green Roundtable to Colorado Water Conservation Board by July.

Each basin roundtable has been tasked with developing its own Basin Implementation Plan, which will offer solutions for how each basin's future water needs will be addressed at the local level. These Basin Implementation Plans then will be incorporated into Colorado’s Water Plan so that we can understand at the basin and statewide level how Colorado's water needs will be addressed.

Interested parties are basically anyone who drinks, uses or recreates in water. More specifically, that includes homeowners and small business owners, ranchers and farmers, recreationists, energy workers (miners, drillers and power generators), town and county officials, etc.

As noted by Tom Gray, former chairperson of Yampa-White-Green Roundtable and former Moffat County commissioner, "The influence always goes to those who make the effort to get informed and participate. This (Basin Implementation Plan) process is the chance for everyone in the basin to do just that."

Brodie Farqhhar is the Hayden Revitalization coordinator.

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