Little support for Palisade water park |

Little support for Palisade water park

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Colorado River Basin water users met Monday to consider how to allocate state grant money for local water projects aimed at alleviating a statewide water shortage. The state round-table group heard a proposal for a whitewater park in Palisade that drew more criticism than support.Palisade town manager Tim Sarmo asked for $100,000 toward a whitewater park the town hopes to build on the Colorado River at the mouth of DeBeque Canyon. Palisade has partnered with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which is building a fish ladder on the Price Stubb Dam at the west end of DeBeque Canyon to help fish move upstream on a rock ramp on the side of the 10-foot dam.The project ” will give us the opportunity for … a joint venture to benefit endangered species and recreation,” Sarmo said.He said the Bureau identified the park as a recommended alternative in its environmental impact statement for the fish recovery project.The so-called 15-mile “reach” of the river through the Grand Valley is a federally protected area for endangered fish species.In addition, a whitewater park would open up five miles of river to rafters and kayakers that has been closed because of the impacts of the dam on river navigation.Total cost of the whitewater park is estimated at $1.4 million, Sarmo said.”I think it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Dick Proctor, who represents Grand Valley agricultural interests to the round table. Proctor pointed out that it would not result in additional water flowing into the river since the town and other municipalities have an agreement with the Bureau for annual recreational water releases from Green Mountain Reservoir.John Redifer, a representative of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), agreed. Although he applauded the idea of the park to promote tourism, he said it was the wrong project for funding with the state money allocated to the round tables.”Our money is too limited and our needs are too great to support this,” he said.Also looking for funding is the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, which is asking for $40,000 to fund a watershed study of the Roaring Fork River to determine specific demands for water.In December, the round-table group will decide what projects to forward on to the CWCB for state funding.The round tables were formed last year under authority of the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, which created the groups in each of Colorado’s eight river basins and one each in Denver’s north and south metro areas. The aim of the groups is to reach agreement on water distribution in the state’s eight river basins.Senate Bill 179 set aside $10 million per year for four years to fund those projects. Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 16605dgray@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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