SOUTHERN COLORADO – There is an important discussion happening about the future of water in Southern Colorado. The Arkansas River Basin Water Forum is holding its 25th anniversary gathering in Pueblo. It brings together groups with diverse interests in the river to collaborate.
The event marks the past, but looks t the future and what it means to the water resource coming from the Arkansas River Basin. “You have the incredible leveraging of what in the big picture is a fairly small river on the surface of the earth, doing a tremendous amount of economic good,” said Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District Board Member, Greg Felt. The river is the source of water for communities, irrigation for agriculture, home for fisheries and wildlife, and a major draw for outdoor recreation.
Topics include issues like the weather pattern over the past 20 years causing extreme ups and downs to the water supply. “We’ve had three distinct really bad drought periods, 2002; 2010 and we just finished 2018 which were terrible water years for everybody,” said Matt Heimerich with Palmer Land Trust. Panels address what has been learned and possible strategies if the pattern continues.
Another major topic is the impact on water due to Colorado’s rapid population growth. Researchers with the state see the potential for demand outpacing supply. “In the Arkansas Basin there’s a significant gap when you look out to 2050 and how that gap is addressed is really important to our future,” said Felt. The forum works to address issues like this before they become major problems.