Water commission evaporates

Officials hashing out mission and structure for new body


Roundtable also seeking members

The Yampa/White Basin Roundtable, which guides solutions to regional water issues, is accepting applications for nine open voting seats: one seat representing recreation interests, one seat representing local domestic water providers, one seat representing industrial interests, one seat representing the Green River basin and five at-large seats.

There also are three non-voting seats open. These seats represent entities outside the Yampa/White/Green river basins that own water rights within the basins.

In 2006, the state Legislature formed roundtables representing nine river basins across the state, and one representing the Denver metro area to create collaborative solutions to regional and statewide water issues.

The Yampa/White Basin Roundtable meets quarterly at different locations in Northwest Colorado. Interested parties should send a letter of interest and qualifications to Paul Strong at P.O. Box 776189, Steamboat Springs, CO, 80477, by April 10. Contact Strong at 879-9211 or paul@strong-cpa.com, and learn more about the roundtables through the state Department of Natural Resources at http://ibcc.state...

— A lack of focus and communication with city staff has led to the dissolution of the Steamboat Springs Water Commission.

City officials now are in the process of defining and assembling a new water commission, after the Steamboat Springs City Council definitively said it thought such a group is needed.

"Over the years, after we really took care of some outstanding issues, the mission and the topics became fuzzy," said Paul Stettner, a member of the defunct committee. "The commission as it was, we dissolved that, and the city is in the process of forming a new one. : Basically, it's all coming around to a reorganization."

Big issues the committee faced in its early years included addressing conflicts between the city and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District.

The committee was formally disbanded at a March 31 meeting. It was the first time the committee had met since 2007.

"They had written a letter to the City Council expressing some frustration that there really weren't enough tasks or direction," City Manager Alan Lanning said. "We're just sort of reorganizing, trying to prioritize their work and get them in a position where they can be helpful to the City Council in terms of providing information."

In an e-mail to commission member Kim Vogel, Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski provided some insight as to what the city's new Water Commission might look like. Hermacinski is the council's representative to the commission.

Hermacinski wrote that the commission would most likely comprise five members with no geographical restrictions.

"We want the best five 'water minds' we can get our hands on," she wrote.

The old Water Commission comprised seven members: four from the city's service district, two from the Mount Werner Water district and one from the Steamboat II service district.

The communication stream between the commission and other city officials would be modeled upon those for the city's Planning Commission and Parks, Open Space and Recreation Commission.

"Staff will take policy matters to the water commission for a public hearing and a recommendation to the City Council," Hermacinski wrote. "We expect the City Council and the Water Commission would meet in a joint meeting at least once a year and more often as needed."

Stettner said communication channels will be a key consideration for the formation of the new commission. Noting that water commissioners are volunteers, he said it is more appropriate for paid city staff to do work such as information gathering and research and for the commission to have a means to make requests of staff.

"There's going to need to be an agreement between the city and the commission regarding access to city staff," Stettner said.

Once officials define the new Water Commission and identify a mission statement and goals for it, the city will advertise for commissioners.

"Obviously before we start advertising for volunteers, we'll have established exactly what City Council is looking for in these people," Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said.

Lanning said he expects some of the members of the old Water Commission to apply for the new one. In her e-mail to Vogel, Hermacinski encouraged her to apply and stressed that the dissolution of the commission was not intended to "clean house."

"We did it to change the structure and start a new group, which I hope develops long-standing credibility in the community," Hermacinski wrote.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com


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