Workshop to tackle water issues

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Water in the western United States can be more valuable than gold and is often fought over more than property lines and politics.

"Water can be a confusing issue, but it all stems from the fact that in the West, water is scarce," Pokrandt said. "Water law is really the law of scarcity. This is a chance for people to get their most basic questions answered."

A study to be completed next week examines the possibility of diverting water from the Yampa River below Maybell for users on Colorado's Front Range.

Such studies often raise more questions than they answer, and a river district specialist is in Craig to address those questions.

A workshop is scheduled for today from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Room 201 at Colorado Northwestern Community Coll--ege offers a chance for anyone concerned about water issues to ask questions of an expert, Colorado River District's education specialist Jim Pokrandt.

"This is a non-intensive, low-scale meeting," Pokrandt said. "It's for people who wonder why they should be concerned about water issues, who want a better understanding of water issues and why water is such a big issue in the West."

The two-hour workshop features reference material and covers topics including basic state water law, statewide water issues and the Colorado River Compact.

Pokrandt will discuss benefits of Colorado's Big Thompson Project, as well as plans for saving endangered species of fish.

Also up for discussion is the proposal to pump Yampa River water to the Front Range via a pipeline during high runoff periods.

The $4.5 billion project is in the conceptual stage, with plans calling for a reservoir north of Maybell, connected by pipeline to a reservoir east of Fort Collins.

Plans call for diverting water only when the river's flow rate exceeds 1,000 cubic feet per second, during peak runoff season.

The study, done by consulting firm Black and Veatch is expected to be completed next week said Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District spokesman Bryan Werner.

Tuesday's workshop is open to everyone interested in water issues, with no registration and no fees required.

Pokrandt encourages the public to take questions, from the smallest inquiry to "big river" issues within the seven-state Colorado River Basin.

For workshop information, call Mary Shearer at 824-1135.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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