Middle Colorado watershed partnership to host introductory seminar on Sept. 21 in Rifle | PostIndependent.com

Middle Colorado watershed partnership to host introductory seminar on Sept. 21 in Rifle

Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The Middle Colorado River Watershed Partnership will host “Watershed 101,” an introduction to the workings of a watershed system, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 8:30 a.m., at the Garfield County School District Re-2 administration building, 839 Railroad Ave. in Rifle.

The program will be presented by Gigi Richard, PhD., associate professor of geology at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. In an interactive and engaging presentation, Richard will explain the issues and characteristics of the Middle Colorado River watershed, including the water cycle, surface and groundwater connections, and how the rivers and streams that make up this watershed fit into the grand scheme of the Colorado River. Richard’s presentation is the first in a larger series the group is planning with support from CSU extension.

The newly formed watershed partnership brings together diverse interests of people living in the Colorado River Valley between Glenwood and DeBeque canyons with the intent of forming a strong collective voice to address water issues. Until recently, this was one of the few stretches of river in the state that did not have a watershed group focusing on its health and management issues and educating residents about its values. One of the principal goals of the partnership is to engage the community as stakeholders in planning and outreach concerning protection and development of the region’s scarce water resources.

Charlie Stevens, utilities director with the city of Rifle, sees the partnership as a good way to connect and coordinate different efforts. “What happens in the watershed does affect our ability to treat and provide water at a reasonable cost. So from our perspective, looking after the watershed is part of providing good service. But we can’t do it by ourselves; the watershed goes beyond our boundaries, so collaboration is important part of this.”

Currently, stakeholders include interested citizens, landowners, representatives of local water and soil conservation districts, Colorado State University, the energy industry, conservation organizations, the Colorado River District, the Colorado Watershed Assembly, county and municipal governments and environmental and recreational interests. According to Chris Treese, who works with the Colorado River District and is on the partnership’s steering committee, broad stakeholder participation is essential to the success of the group. “We’ve worked to engage a broad range of interest from the beginning, but that’s an ongoing process, and we are still looking to bring new people and organizations into the fold. Even if they can’t make it to every meeting, we want to make sure they know about the partnership and have a chance to get involved at a level that works for them.”

The partnership is currently a volunteer effort, but is exploring funding opportunities to support its work, including the development of a regional “State of the Watershed” report, which can be used to develop a watershed management plan and to help coordinate watershed protection, restoration and development efforts. This spring, the group got a jump-start on these efforts by creating a watershed inventory, identifying what information, activities and organizations currently exist in the watershed. Possible future activities include educational presentations, field tours and water monitoring.

Richard’s presentation will be followed from 9:30-11 a.m. by the Middle Colorado River Watershed Partnership’s regular meeting, which the public is also invited to attend.

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