Public meeting May 13 addresses ‘State of the Rivers’ in Mesa County |

Public meeting May 13 addresses ‘State of the Rivers’ in Mesa County

Hannah Holm
Free Press Weekly Columnist


WHAT: “State of the Rivers - Mesa County” meeting

WHEN: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, May 13

WHERE: CMU University Center Ballroom, 1491 N. 12th St.

COST: Free, open to the public


Have you been wondering if recent storms have ended our drought? Are you concerned about the big picture of water use in the region after reading about the Colorado River being declared “America’s Most Endangered River” by the advocacy group American Rivers?

You’ll have a chance to have your questions answered next Monday night, May 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the Colorado Mesa University campus at the annual, free “State of the Rivers – Mesa County” public meeting. The Water Center at CMU is co-sponsoring the event with the Colorado River District. Light refreshments will be provided, and parking in the University Center garage on 12th Street will be free for the event.

Here’s a look at what you can expect at the meeting:

• Water Supply: What’s the outlook for water users this year?

It’s been a very strange water year so far, starting with a dry fall and winter followed by unexpected storms in April that brought some relief — and this week, it rained again. The meeting will open with a presentation by Erik Knight of the US Bureau of Reclamation on the current water supply in our watersheds, and what that will mean for reservoir operations this spring and summer. Following Knight’s presentation, Aldis Strautins of the National Weather Service will discuss the climate outlook and forecast. A panel of local water providers will then discuss what the water supply and forecast conditions will mean for water users in the Grand Valley.

• Water Management: Challenges and Solutions

Following the discussion of this year’s water supply situation, Colorado River District General Manager Eric Kuhn will give a presentation on the implications for Western Slope water users of the findings in the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study released in December 2012. The study forecasts an increasing gap between water supplies and demand unless new water management strategies are employed.

Colorado River District Deputy Manager Dan Birch will then discuss one of the management strategies that may help respond to the challenges described in the study: The establishment of a water bank, which would compensate agricultural water users for voluntarily and temporarily reducing water use in order to maintain critical uses during times of shortage.

• A Water Quality Success Story

The meeting will conclude with a review of the successful completion of a decades-long initiative to reduce contributions of salt to the Colorado River from Grand Valley irrigated farmland given by Dan Barnett, executive director of the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum. Our local soils contain high levels of naturally occurring salts, which are mobilized when water is applied and percolates deeply into the soil. It then flows back into the river, causing trouble for downstream farmers. Measures such as canal lining and irrigation efficiency have reduced this salt loading considerably.

Hope to see you there!

This is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning, and to let the roundtables know what you think, go to

Hannah Holm is coordinator of the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University.

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