Commission OKs river basin study

Other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commissioners:

• Discussed planning fees for mineral rights owners with Moffat County Planner Jerry Hoberg

• Approved Additional Core Services contracts presented by Marie Peer of Social Services

• Approved the Colorado Works/CAPS contract presented by Peer

• Approved the Early Childhood Facilitation and Technical Assistance Contract presented by Peer

• Received updates on The Northwest Colorado Council for Children and Families from Early Childhood coordinator Debbie Yeager

— Water plays an integral part in the agricultural industry.

To keep Moffat County agriculture at its full potential, outside sources must analyze the area's river basins.

Global consulting firm CDM - named for founders Thomas R. Camp, Herman G. Dresser and Jack E. McKee - will be assessing the Yampa, White and Green river basins as a continuation of the Colorado Water Conservation Board's 2003 Statewide Water Supply Initiative.

The SWSI provided analytical information on the water demands of the river basins' surrounding regions, but the Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable - which determines the best usage of the basins' water through intensive study - has deemed it necessary to further examine the patterns of water demands in the area.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission approved a contract with CDM for $201,377 to begin the study on behalf of the Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable.

Jeff Comstock, Moffat County Natural Resources Department director, presented the contract to the commission.

"It's important to note that the money will not be coming from the county," Comstock said. "It's provided by Basin Roundtable funds that have to be approved by the commission. The county is acting as a fiscal agent."

The study's objectives include refining and updating the previous estimates of current agricultural water demands, identifying and evaluating future shortages, assessing the impacts of climate change on water availability, and more.

Eric Hecox is the Manager of the Office of Interbasin Compact Negotiations for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

"Moffat County has its water challenges like any other county," Hecox said. "The Yampa River Basin doesn't have as big a water problem as its tributaries, but by doing this study, we're hoping to gain a better understanding of the demands there."

Hecox contributed to the framework of House Bill 05-1177, which provided for the creation of the Basin Roundtables that are responsible for such studies. The accompanying House Bill 05-1400 allowed for roundtable funding.

He expects the assessments of agricultural water demands to be very beneficial to the county.

"This study will help us identify ways to keep the agricultural industry viable and thriving," Hecox said.

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