Members of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable are urging the public to attend a scoping meeting on April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express in Montrose to make suggestions or comments regarding the Gunnison Basin Implementation Plan.
Tri-County Water Conservancy District’s GBR representative Mike Berry explained the BIP will become a part of the Colorado Water Plan.
“The BIPs are the critical information in the state water plan in my opinion,” Berry said.
Berry said the meeting will offer the public a chance to learn more about the Gunnison BIP, including strategies and opportunities for water use in the basin.
“It’ll be an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback,” Berry explained.
Public comments will be considered as GBR representatives finalize the BIP before submission to the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
The BIPs will then be incorporated into the CWP, which is scheduled for completion in December 2015.
Berry said, “The whole idea behind the Roundtable process is a bottom-up strategy.”
The BIP has identified a number of potential water projects in the basin, including upper basin portions of Ouray County, but Berry said federal funding is currently lacking to make large projects a reality.
“I think our solutions are going to come from other directions,” Berry said, suggesting conservation or demand management water strategies may be more feasible in the near term.
Ridgway and Ouray GBR representative Joanne Fagan said the goal of the BIP process is to determine strategies to meet the water needs of the state.
Fagan agreed that conservation is the “low hanging fruit” to meet growing municipal and industrial water needs.
Fagan said members of the public can read the Gunnison BIP online at http://www.coloradowaterplan.com and can find a list of potential projects under Table 7 in the document.
She described the upcoming meeting as a “more global process” looking at ways to address perceived shortfalls without drastically changing ways of life in Colorado.
According to a March 18 press release, “The GBR was formed by statute in 2005, under the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act; it is one of nine roundtables in Colorado, charged to ‘encourage locally driven collaborative solutions to water supply challenges,’ assess ‘basin-wide consumptive and non-consumptive water supply needs,’ and ‘serve as a forum for education and debate regarding methods for meeting water supply needs,’ according to Colorado Governor’s Office.”
The GBR consists of 32 members representing local governments of the basin and other environmental, industrial, agricultural and recreational interests.
“To encourage locally-driven and balanced solutions to water supply challenges, the plan identifies water projects through targeted analyses of water issues in the basin,” the press release stated. “The BIP includes analyses of water shortages, water availability under variable hydrologic conditions, and various site-specific water supply issues. The ultimate purpose of the plan is to better identify priority needs in the basin and highlight proposed projects that will excel at meeting these needs in the future.”
Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership Coordinator Agnieszka Przeszlowska said her organization is helping to promote the event.
Przeszlowska said, “The BIPs are an opportunity for anyone in the Uncompahgre Basin to provide input on needs or projects that they see value in.”
Summary information regarding the Gunnison BIP will be posted on http://www.uncompahgrewatershed.org/events prior to the April 6 meeting.