Water worries? Spill em in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Water worries? Spill em in Basalt

BASALT Mark Fuller knows meetings about water resources sound like a dry topic, but he makes a convincing case that everyone in the Roaring Fork Valley should be interested in a process beginning tonight in Basalt.Fuller, the executive director of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, is part of a group coordinating a detailed plan for the Roaring Fork watershed.Everyone from ranchers concerned about having enough water to irrigate hay fields to anglers worried about water quality to maintain trout fisheries on streams are needed to develop strategies for future water use in the Roaring Fork Basin, Fuller said.So he’s hoping that the meeting pulls as many people off the streets as it does water attorneys and utility managers: “We don’t just want it to be a bunch of water geeks talking to other water geeks,” he said.The meeting, from 7:30-9 p.m. at Basalt High School, is officially called the Roaring Fork Watershed Plan. The plan will have two phases; the first will be a “State of the Watershed” comprehensive report tackling issues like quantity and quality of water. The second phase will be recommendations on topics such as guarding the basin’s water against outside interests that covet it.”We’re just at the beginning of the process,” Fuller said.He doesn’t believe it’s overreacting to voice concerns about transbasin diversions. About 40 percent of the water in Roaring Fork basin, which includes the Crystal and Fryingpan rivers, never reaches the Colorado River, he noted. Additional diversions could mean even less water. Humans and wildlife could pay the consequences in ways like lower minimum streamflows during droughts and less water for irrigation.Statewide studies are under way to examine water supply and demand issues. Any basin that hasn’t studied its needs and made a plan for the future could find any unallocated water tapped for use elsewhere. The Roaring Fork watershed has got some so-called “excess water.””It’s certainly got more than other basins in the state,” Fuller said. “We’ve got a target on us.”Planning might not prevent additional diversions, he said, but it can assure sufficient compensation and mitigation for diversions.The goal is to have the “State of the Watershed” report finished by the end of 2007. The recommended action plan on protecting the watershed will likely take another year, Fuller said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.

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