River Basin Roundtable approves funding increase for implementation plan | CraigDailyPress.com

River Basin Roundtable approves funding increase for implementation plan

Group seeking more Northwest Colorado representatives

Consultant Jim Pearce presents data about water usage to the members of the Yampa/White/Green River Basin Roundtable on Wednesday night at American Legion Post 62 in Craig. The group is compiling a Basin Implementation Plan that will determine the amount of need Northwest Colorado has on regional rivers.

An ongoing project may need help keeping its head above water.

The Wednesday meeting of the Yampa/White/Green River Basin Roundtable brought in government and industry representatives from Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties to Craig's American Legion Post 62 to discuss, among other things, the Basin Implementation Plan for the region.

Consultant Jim Pearce and Dan Birch, deputy general manager for Colorado River Water Conservation District, led the forum with updates about the latest portion about the BIP, primarily focusing on the uses of the water supply of Northwest Colorado from an energy standpoint.

The brief report touched on the amount of water used historically for oil shale, gas and coal companies in the region and how this could change in the years to come. The numbers, which are not yet definite, are only part of the much larger BIP, which will encompass all the significant uses of water provided by the rivers, including consumptive (municipal, agricultural and industrial), non-consumptive (environmental and recreational) and more to determine the overall needs of the area.

Groups representing river basins from across the state are in the middle of putting together similar plans with the ultimate goal of forming a water plan for the entire state.

Birch, the chairman of a subcommittee gathering data for the plan, said the process has proven to be more complex than originally was thought.

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"We're really trying to have the final draft ready by the end of July," he said.

Birch also informed the members of the roundtable that the $177,000 budget for compiling the information, which will be used for studying and reviewing water usage, likely will be depleted entirely by the end of June, largely due to the difficulty of charting a course that's brand-new to most involved.

"Frankly, we're figuring this thing out as we go," he said. "It's not easy, it's terribly complicated and difficult."

Birch requested that the members of the roundtable authorize an increase of about $30,000 to $60,000 from the Colorado Water Conservation Board to keep funding the region's BIP, with plans for a more specific amount to be prepared for the group's next meeting.

The roundtable unanimously approved the request.

Also up for discussion was the need to fill four at-large seats with the agency, which the roundtable hopes to promote to interested parties within Northwest Colorado.

Chairman Jon Hill, also a Rio Blanco County commissioner, said the current membership is solid, but there's still room for those committed to an important cause.

"We've had a lot of interested people get involved," he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

For more

For more information on how to obtain a seat on the Yampa/White/Green River Basin Roundtable, contact Ren Martyn at 970-846-3118 or rm@frpwetlandbank.com.