Season of abundant water | SteamboatToday.com

Season of abundant water

A thundershower was hustling through the valley midday Tuesday as the swollen Yampa River flirted with the boardwalk at Rotary Park.

— Casey Clapsaddle spent part of Monday in the field, struggling to measure streamflows in Trout Creek where it flows through coalmine country west of Steamboat Springs.

“It was too high,” Clapsaddle said of the creek. “We got some velocities, but we couldn’t wade it to measure the discharge. It was too deep and too fast.”

That anecdote says a lot about the high-water season Yampa Valley residents are experiencing this year.

Clapsaddle is a native of Steamboat who owns his own hydrologic consulting business, Rivers Unlimited. He is among 10 speakers on the agenda for the 2008 Water Forum, 12:30 until 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

At 12:30 p.m., Clapsaddle will invite participants to walk behind the Community Center to learn more about the Yampa River watershed from an up-close perspective.

“I’ll describe specific features of the river and how they work,” Clapsaddle said. “I don’t think people realize how big the watershed is.”

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From its headwaters in the Flat Tops to the Fifth Street Bridge in downtown Steamboat, the Yampa drains 568 square miles, according to the U.S. Geological Service. But the size of the drainage expands rapidly as the river flows through Steamboat and takes in the contributions of Spring Creek, Butcherknife Creek and Soda Creek.

Marsha Daughenbaugh of the Community Agriculture Alliance, one of eight organizations sponsoring the forum, said the goal is to bring participants up to date on state and regional issues affecting the Yampa.

“We want to get a lot of information out in a short time,” Daughenbaugh said. “During dinner, we’ll have facilitated table discussions. We want to ask people what they want to see happen to the Yampa’s water and whether they are willing to champion some of the issues.”

Speakers include Dick Wolfe, the state engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources; Erin Light, division six engineer overseeing the Yampa; and Rick Brown, who oversees intrastate water management and development for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The three will discuss the “state of the state” in terms of water issues.

Aaron Million, who has gained notoriety for the Green River Diversion Project, is scheduled to speak at 2:30 p.m. Friday. He is working to develop a privately funded pipeline that would divert water Colorado is entitled to from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, east along Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range.

Dan Birch, deputy general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, is expected to emphasize the importance of keeping the Yampa River system free of a call for water from the Lower Basin states, who are entitled to a share of Colorado’s water according to the 1922 Colorado River Water Compact.

For more information, call Daughenbaugh at 879-4370, or Lori Jazwick of the Natural Resources Conservation Service at 879-3225, ext. 3.

If you go

What: 2008 Water Forum

When: 12:30 to 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center

Event: 10 speakers and panel discussions ranging in length from 15 to 30 minutes

Cost: Registration begins at noon. $15 includes catered dinner by Sharon’s at 4:30 p.m.

Call: Routt County CSU Cooperative Extension Office at 879-0825 in advance