Community Agriculture Alliance: Importance of a modern-day roundtable

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Mention the name roundtable and most people think of King Arthur’s famed roundtable where he and his knights congregated in medieval times. But ever since 2005 with the legislative passing of the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, Northwest Colorado has had its own roundtable.

Along with roundtables across the state representing the state’s eight watersheds and the Denver Metro area, the Yampa White Green Roundtable is represented by 35 members with diverse backgrounds from the Yampa, White and Green river basins.

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.

Roundtables are a bottom-up or grass-roots approach to facilitate discussions on water management issues and encourage locally driven collaborative solutions.

Each roundtable has been required to develop basin-wide water needs assessments consisting of four parts: consumptive water needs (municipal, industrial and agricultural); non-consumptive water needs (environmental and recreational); available water supplies (ground and surface) including unappropriated waters; and proposed projects and methods to meet identified and sustainable water needs throughout time.

Since 2005, the Yampa White Green Roundtable has completed a number of consumptive and non-consumptive water studies and participated in water improvement projects across Northwest Colorado.

In May 2013, Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered the completion of a statewide Colorado Water Plan by 2015 and each of the nine roundtables are tasked with drafting their Basin Implementation Plan, which will be integrated in the Colorado Water Plan.

The Yampa White Green Roundtable began the process in January and a draft Basin Implementation Plan will be submitted to the Colorado Water Conservation Board by the end of July.

Overall, the Basin Implementation Plan utilizes the prior consumptive and non-consumptive water studies, recognition of Colorado’s water compact agreements and analyzes a long-term vision of our basin’s future water needs.

In addition to the Yampa White Green Roundtable meetings in Craig, the BIP process has included public meetings in Steamboat Springs, Craig, Rangely, Meeker and Browns Park.

The Yampa White Green Roundtable representatives recognize that water is essential to Northwest Colorado’s economy and quality of life, but our ability to maintain those values will be challenged locally due to growing populations on Colorado’s Front Range areas and Western states.

Public input and involvement are a critical part of the Basin Implementation Plan and the Colorado State Plan. More information about the Colorado Water Plan and a draft copy of the Yampa White Green Basin Implementation Plan will be available Friday on the Colorado Water Plan website at www.coloradowaterplan.com. Specific comments about the Yampa White Green Basin Implementation Plan can be sent to watercomments@gmail.com.

For more information about the Yampa White Green Roundtable and the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, visit the Colorado Water Conservation Board website at www.cwcb.state.co.us.

Ren Martyn is ranch broker with Steamboat Sotheby’s Realty and board member of the YWG Roundtable and Community Ag Alliance.

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