‘…roundtable members determined there was no conflict with issuing the contracts to Barber’ — Chris Woodka

Basin roundtable boundaries
Basin roundtable boundaries

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable this week elected officers and hired its chairman as a consultant to finish its basin plan. Gary Barber was elected chairman of the roundtable, a position he has held since 2007. Betty Konarski of El Paso County and SeEtta Moss of the Arkansas Valley Audubon Society were elected as vice-presidents. Jay Winner and Jeris Danielson remain as representatives to the Interbasin Compact Committee with Jim Broderick as alternate.

Barber’s company, WestWater Research LLC, was chosen to finish the roundtable’s portion of the state water plan, which Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to see completed by the end of next year. Two contracts to WestWater will total $127,000, which will complement work already under contract to CDM.

During discussion, roundtable members determined there was no conflict with issuing the contracts to Barber, and voiced confidence in his leadership of the roundtable.

Barber has spearheaded compilation of most reports by the roundtable since its inception in 2005 in an unpaid position.

From the Valley Courier (Lauren Krizansky):

Human safety is still the number one focus of the Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Reaction Coordination Team (RWEACT ), and they are hoping today’s efforts will make a difference in the future. On Wednesday, RWEACT Executive Director Tom Spezze updated the Rio Grande Roundtable on the current condition of the $33 million West Fork Complex Fire (WFCF) aftermath.

“It is an enormous amount of ground we have covered,” Spezze said. “Now we are entering the long-term stewardship phase.”

The RWEACT hydrological team, he said, is working to install two additional stream gauges above the Little Squaw Creek Resort with audible alarms to notify the resort residents.

“That’s a big deal,” Spezze said. “It’s a black area waiting for a flash flood… It will come. We are banking on it.”

The gauges will monitor flow as well as flow stoppage, he said. The team is also working to install signage for the six rain gauges, and developing a model to predict potential spring run-off.

A debris flow study is nearly complete to guide RWEACT, which will allow further preparation efforts to develop, he said. Initial data shows Little Squaw Creek baseline water flow is 103 cubic square feet per second, which could jump to 732 cubic square feet per second in a flooding event.

The RWEACT emergency management team is working to install a 300-watt National Weather Radio Transmitter to improve weather forecasting in the Upper Rio Grande Valley, he said. The radio will use the existing State of Colorado 800 tower on the Pool Table Road. These tools replace the Doppler radar that was temporarily stationed on top of Bristol Head this summer to assist in weather tracking, he said.

“This will fill the gap,” Spezze said. “It is permanent and the public can tune in.” The RWEACT natural resources team has been working with the US Geologic Survey to map debris flow potential, he said. In coordination with the Division of Water Resources, the teams will install six water quality probes to monitor dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature , dissolved solids and dissolved sediments in strategic locations.

Plans continue for a debris flow management structure above the Little Squaw Re sort, he said. The team is also developing a seeding and hydro-mulching project for up to six test plots in the burn scar areas adjacent to Forest Service Road 520, below the Rio Grande Reservoir. Since the WFCF is still not 100 percent contained, access to the burn scar in the wilderness area is still permitted.

“It’s pretty cool that we can do that,” Spezze said. “This work will give a natural, environmentally-friendly appearance.”

In addition, RWEACT is partnering with the Brown Family, the owners of Lake Humphreys, to cost share sediment dredging, a debris trash rack and debris boom, he said. This project will preserve and protect the 482-acre-foot , pre-compact , on-channel reservoir from WFCF aftermath along Goose Creek and protect human life and structures on the lower Goose Creek corridor.

“It (the area) is very important to this basin,” Spezze said. “We are doing our part.”

The RWEACT economic recovery team is focusing on marketing and business recovery discussions, including the potential rebranding of the Silver Thread corridor, he said. A social media workshop is planned to help managers and business owners learn more about accessing and utilizing social media tools to spread information to the public and to consumers. Regional discussion are also taking place and include working with the lodging tax board of Rio Grande, Mineral and Hinsdale Counties and an increased emphasis on sustainability and resiliency of local businesses, he said.

Logging within the burned area is scheduled to continue , but will undergo some priority changes.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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