Arkansas Basin Roundtable: “You really changed the conversation for the good” — Russell George #COWaterPlan

Basin roundtable boundaries
Basin roundtable boundaries

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Just as a big river is a collection of smaller streams, a state water plan will be made up of many smaller efforts. The Colorado Water Conservation Board got a taste of that at its meeting Wednesday at the Pueblo Convention Center.

It reviewed the activities of roundtables which are contributing to the plan. “From Hugo to Trinidad, all over this part of the state, we’re listening to what people are saying about water in their region,” said Betty Konarski, chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable.

The roundtable has been the most active in the state at gathering input, according to a CWCB staff report.

About a dozen meetings have been held so far, with a few more planned in coming weeks.

The roundtable has been a pacesetter for the rest of the state since its inception in 2005, conducting numerous studies about water needs and collaborative methods to complete projects. Like other roundtables, it also has found ways to help fund projects that reduce the coming gap in municipal supplies. At the same time, the Arkansas River basin group has focused statewide attention on addressing the need for agricultural water supplies.

“What I’ve noticed in the last six to eight months is a new energy and a new commitment,” said Alan Hamel, the Arkansas Basin representative on the CWCB.

CWCB board member Russell George, who was the architect for the roundtable process as state director of the Department of Natural Resources, recalled the mood when the roundtable first met at the convention center nine years ago.

“I was apprehensive. No one was smiling. The room was full,” George said. “But there was energy and interest. Everyone spoke their minds, and listened. I’m stunned by the amount of time, effort, thinking and reading this group has done.

“You really changed the conversation for the good.”

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