Salida Water Festival, Saturday, August 13

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From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable Public Education, Participation and Outreach workgroup will present the inaugural Salida Water Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Riverside Park in downtown Salida.

The free, family-focused festival will feature fun activities, educational exhibits, food vendors and funky live music by Mo’Champipple and the Miso Horns.

Geography, climate and history converge in Colorado to produce unique water resource challenges that underscore the importance of water education.

Geographically, Colorado is a headwaters state. Essentially, all water in Colorado flows downstream to other states. As a result, Colorado water management is framed by interstate compacts that dictate how much water Colorado must leave in its rivers for downstream states.

Colorado’s arid to semi-arid climate also affects water use and management. Climate conditions also deliver 80 percent of Colorado’s water to the Western Slope while 80 percent of the state population lives east of the Continental Divide.

Historically, the first European immigrants to Colorado arrived from Spain; then, Colorado became U.S. territory before achieving statehood. So Colorado water law includes vestiges of Spanish water traditions and U.S. territorial law as well as Colorado state law.

These factors combine to produce a system of water management that has been characterized as complex, byzantine and archaic.

Nevertheless, Colorado’s system of water management, based on the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation, has worked for more than a century in spite of significant changes in water usage patterns and population density.

The Salida Water Festival will help clarify the complexity of water resource management in Colorado with exhibits that provide demonstrations, information and some fun along the way.

Water activities and games like the squirt-gun rain-gauge race, the sponge race, the dunk tank and Salida Fire Department’s water brigade will keep kids entertained and make learning about water a lot less daunting.

Water storage is key to successful water management, and Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District representatives will discuss underground aquifer storage, a key component in the district’s multiuse projects.

Water quality also affects water resource management, and San Isabel Land Protection Trust staff will provide a hands-on demonstration of the importance of irrigated agriculture and crop cover to watershed health.

The Public Education, Participation and Outreach workgroup will welcome festival attendees and provide information on Colorado’s Water Plan, the Basin Implementation Plan and other Arkansas Basin Roundtable activities.

The PEPO booth will also have information about the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Colorado Division of Water Resources, the Interbasin Compact Committee, water conservancy districts and more.

Greater Arkansas River Nature Association representatives will facilitate demonstrations of water usage by invasive plant species such as Russian olive trees. GARNA demonstrations will also show how native plants improve stream-water quality by removing nitrates and phosphates.

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area staff will provide a three-dimensional, interactive model of the Arkansas River Valley including the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.

At the 4-H booth, festival attendees can learn about watersheds by creating a watershed, identifying their watershed on a topographical map and discovering ways to keep watersheds healthy.

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, the town of Buena Vista and the city of Cañon City will be on hand to provide information about source water protection plans and other programs that protect water resources.

Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas staff will focus on river restoration, explaining the types of environmental restoration required to achieve Gold Medal standards in the Arkansas River.

Chaffee County Public Health officials will discuss levels of fluoride in wells across Chaffee County and provide free well testing kits.

Local firefighters will discuss the importance of water for firefighting and bring a fire truck to the festival to demonstrate how firefighting equipment works.

Local engineer Lindsay George will talk about the use of small-scale hydroelectric power generation and demonstrate hydropower with a model turbine.

Festival attendees will also have the opportunity to join the Colorado Community Rain, Hail and Snow Network that helps track water resource data across the nation.

Attendees will receive free promotional products after visiting all festival exhibits, demonstrations and displays. For more information visit http://pepoarkbasin.com.

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