Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District director will use regional approach to managing the watershed

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“Not just locally, but in the West, people are recognizing that the watershed is an integral unit,” Barber said Tuesday. “I’ve been chasing this longer than a lot of folks realize. . . . This job is about being in the community and listening to the concerns people have.”Barber, 55, will become the director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District later this month. The district board that approved his hiring in December is expected to finalize contract details at its Jan. 22 meeting.

Barber is a Colorado Springs real estate and water rights broker who has plunged neck-deep into Arkansas Valley water issues in the past decade. As an agent for El Paso County water interests, he participated in discussions that identified future needs as part of the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Statewide Water Supply Initiative. Barber was instrumental in helping to form the district as part of the Vision Task Force. He chairs the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, formed in 2005 to hash out disputes. Barber has been a staunch promoter of studying how storing water underground can offset the depletion of the Denver Basin aquifers. He was also part of the Colorado Springs task force that led to the formation of a stormwater enterprise in 2005, which was discontinued late last year after voters approved Doug Bruce’s Issue 300.

His efforts are not always regionally focused. In 2008, he unsuccessfully tried to corner more than half of the shares of the Bessemer Ditch on behalf of his El Paso County clients. Those same interests funded a study of pipelines that would move water from the Lower Arkansas Valley to El Paso County…

Back in 2006, Barber said: “If we don’t use water efficiently, we have no business asking for more water.” He still stands by that and he’ll include flood control and water quality in the list of things that need to be done on Fountain Creek as well…

…the flood of 1999 – where he remembers 9 inches of rain falling in Manitou Springs in three days – that led to the current effort to improve Fountain Creek. The ’99 spring storm led to a cooperative effort of communities along the creek and the Army Corps of Engineers developing a watershed study, completed just last year. That effort, along with the Vision Task Force and an agreement between Colorado Springs and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, became the base for information the Fountain Creek district will use as it tries to improve the waterway. “The best strategy I’ve heard is to get some demonstration projects on the ground, like the confluence park in Pueblo, to show what it looks like to aggressively improve Fountain Creek,” Barber said. “A lot depends on what we do in the last two years…

He sees mutual benefit for El Paso County and its neighbors – Pueblo, Canon City, the Lower Ark Valley and even Pinon Canyon – in working together on projects of common interest in the future. “I hope we wind up a community of interest, especially as an economic base,” Barber said. “For our own quality of life, we need to see ourselves as all being in it together. More awareness of that will be more effective than having the stormwater police come around.”

More Fountain Creek watershed coverage here and here.

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