South Platte Basin Roundtable meeting recap: South Platte groundwater study underway

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

The South Platte Roundtable — made up of water officials and experts in the region — meets quarterly to discuss what’s needed to avoid future water shortages, but John Stencel with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union proposed Tuesday to meet at least every other month, beginning with its next meeting in January…

As was discussed on multiple occasions at the meeting, without new supply projects, municipalities and industries will continue buying up irrigated agriculture water as a way of meeting their growing water needs. Because new water supply projects are multi-year or even multi-decade endeavors, members said there needs to be more push to get them completed. Evans said the group will continue discussing its focus for 2013 at its next meeting on Jan. 8…

Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute, provided an update regarding the ongoing South Platte Basin groundwater study, which began in August. The study Waskom is heading, which will examine the relationships between groundwater and surface flows in the basin, was approved this summer when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1278 into law. Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, and Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Eaton, sponsored the measure in an effort to better understand the cause of the high groundwater levels in the LaSalle and Gilcrest areas and other regions in the basin. The overflowing aquifers have flooded basements and fields in recent years, causing damage to homes and in lost agriculture production. Many local farmers believe the high groundwater levels are a result of wells being shut down or curtailed in 2006, when the state determined the pumping of those wells was depleting flows in the basin’s rivers.

The South Platte Roundtable is serving as an advisory group for Waskom and his research team during the study. Waskom told members he’s in favor of opening up dialogue as much as possible to make sure they’re looking at all needed data, and exploring all avenues of collecting information. As Waskom explained, he’s so far coming across “a lot of data gaps” as he collects information.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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