Roundtable group petitions for funds

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A roundtable discussion among various city, county and state officials culminated Wednesday evening with an approved proposal concerning the future of water storage for the Yampa, White and Green river basins.

The roundtable's unanimous decision will allow the proposal to be sent to the Interbasin Compact Committee.

Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele and Steamboat Springs resident Dan Birch represented the IBCC during the discussion, which took place at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

Steel said it is important that the proposal be moved along.

"There are dollars that are available that will probably be used up very fast," he said. "We need to make this something we want to happen."

There is more than $600,000 available in state funds for research and development of water storage. By approving the proposal, which will be forwarded to the IBCC for consideration, Wednesday's group makes itself eligible to receive that money.

Roundtable Chairman Tom Sharp agreed that the group was right to approve the proposal.

Birch said there are a lot of projects the money could be used for, including research about water storage and consumption, as well as development of facilities.

"One of the things (the IBCC) would propose to do is to start cataloguing existing information of significant size," he said. "In terms of energy development and identifying water needs, there's a lot of stuff going on that has significant primary demands."

Birch added that the proposal would be sent to state-hired contractors, who would need the support of river basin communities.

"Its important that contractors work with local interests," he said.

The roundtable is part of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative.

The initiative is a program designed to research and develop water storage across Colorado.

Sharp said various groups concerned with water storage and consumption were represented at the meeting.

"There are representatives from governmental, environmental, recreational, agricultural and industrial interests," he said.

An analysis of available unappropriated water in the Yampa, White and Green river basins was presented to the roundtable.

Sharp said the main function of the meeting was to present educational research about the water needs for the basins.

Roundtable members discussed the need for research versus the need for development.

Representatives of environmental entities said state money would be better used for research of water storage and consumption.

Some roundtable members were concerned that spending money on research would take away needed money on development projects.

The roundtable panel concluded that money should be spent on research and development.

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