Locals speak at water meeting
Local residents called on the state this week to fully consider the recreational and environmental value of water as they look at the future of the resource in Colorado.They also said there needs to be a better effort to educate and involve the public in state and local water issues.The residents participated Wednesday night in a meeting put on at the Glenwood Springs Community Center by the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s State Water Supply Initiative.Bob Millette, a Glenwood resident who belongs to Trout Unlimited and the Sierra Club, said he would like to see an economic value placed on the environmental and recreational benefits of water.”It’s a big business here. It’s fishing, guiding, rafting, kayaking, boating,” he said.These activities are of importance not just in the Colorado River Basin, but also in other major river basins in the state, Millette said.Paula Fothergill, president of the local Trout Unlimited chapter, said she worries that transbasin diversions, drought and buildout of already-approved development in places such as the Roaring Fork Valley threaten to further reduce flows in local streams and rivers.”We have to really look at instream flows to be sure we have a good source of water for the future,” she said.Louis Meyer, who works on water engineering projects for local municipalities, said current water planning and policy fail to adequately involve the public.”The public needs to feel they can participate,” he said.John Cerise, a member of the Basalt Water Conservancy District board, said it’s hard to get the public to care about water issues.”Without some education or the water going off, you’ve got a tough fight,” he said.People today pay less attention to where their water comes from than in western Colorado’s earlier, more agricultural days, Cerise said.”We as either semi-rural or municipal residents have come to take it for granted,” he said. Mike Blair, a land planner living in Glenwood Springs, said it will be important that more than just talk results from the SWSI effort, which is aimed at assessing the water needs of a growing population and identifying means of meeting those needs.But Millette wonders whether it’s feasible to expect the state to continue coming up with additional sources of water, no matter how big the population grows.”There’s going to be a limit,” he said. “We’re driving to a cliff … and eventually we’re going to go over that cliff,” he said.John Redifer, a CWCB board member at Wednesday’s meeting, said he doesn’t think it’s within the power of the board to stop growth.”No, but you can provide facts,” Millette said. “That would be helpful.”
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