Companies, government agencies and researchers team up to improve water quality and quantity – Loveland Reporter-Herald
Talking about water issues is important — dozens of attendees flocked to the 2022 BizWest Confluence Colorado Water Summit on Thursday — but to make a difference, that discussion needs to lead to action.
Fortunately for Northern Colorado’s water future, there are local businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and university researchers collaborating on many water quality improvement efforts. .
Representatives from a handful of these groups presented case studies for some of these efforts during a panel discussion at the Loveland event. The panel was moderated by Colorado State University Colorado Water Center Executive Director Jennifer Gimbel.
The need for conservation activities is particularly acute in northern Colorado, the Boulder Valley, and other parts of Colorado’s Front Range. Indeed, 80% of the state’s rain falls on the west side of the Continental Divide, while 90% of the population lives on the east side, said Colorado Watershed Assembly Executive Director Casey Davenhill.
The Davenhill group recently actively participated in updating the 15-year-old Colorado Water Plan and developing the South Platte Basin Implementation Plan, which identified 282 projects needed at a cost estimated at nearly $10 billion.
On a somewhat smaller scale, Fort Collins-based manufacturer of water quality and measurement instruments, In-Situ Inc., has partnered with City of Fort Collins staff and researchers from the State University to install and maintain water quality monitors, telemetry and real-time alarm systems. along a stretch of the Cache la Poudre river.
The effort came after unexpected fish kills in 2018 and made parts of Poudre some of the best-watched river waters in the country, said In-Situ sales manager Eric Robinson.
While groups in Fort Collins work to better monitor the health of local waterways, others in the region have played an important role in projects that actively seek to improve that health, such as the Big Thompson Confluence Mitigation Bank. and the Middle South Platte River Restoration Master Plan.
The overall goal of these projects is to “restore the area to its most historic natural state,” while building flood resilience, said Lucy Harrington, senior regulatory specialist at GEI Consultants Inc.
From a local government perspective, “northern Colorado municipalities are looking for alternatives” to Colorado-Big Thompson water rights, the cost of which has risen sharply over the past decade, said WestWater Research regional director Rocky Mountain, Adam Jokerst.
Large reservoir projects can provide long-term stability, but the permitting process is long and costly.
“There’s no certainty until the very end if you’re going to get a permit,” Jokerst said.
Less traditional approaches for municipalities include potable reuse (like Aurora Water’s Prairie Waters Project), alluvial groundwater projects (like the Box Elder Project in Castle Rock), and ag-muni partnerships (like the Platte Valley Water Partnership).
“These are the types of projects that may be more prevalent in the future,” Jokerst said.
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