Arkansas Basin Roundtable recap: Focus on agriculture

Basin roundtable boundaries
Basin roundtable boundaries

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

While its purpose is to find ways to fill the municipal water gap, the Arkansas Basin Roundtable wants to elevate the importance of agriculture. That was apparent in several actions at its monthly meeting this week.

The most obvious was the adoption of a statement proposed by Reeves Brown, a Beulah rancher and board member of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, that stresses the irrigated agriculture to tourism, food production, recreation, environment, general well-being and the economy.

The roundtable also selected a rural advocate rather than a water utilities manager for a vacancy on its executive committee.

Finally, it demanded more details from El Paso County interests seeking a state grant to determine if it would ultimately encourage more dry-up of agriculture.

“I would like to give my thanks to the roundtable for supporting agriculture. This is an important issue,” Brown said.

Support came without objection after Gary Barber, a consultant who chaired the roundtable until becoming a consultant for it, detailed years of projects that aimed at reducing buy-and-dry of farmland for municipal supply.

Some of those projects included : A 2005 Colorado State University study that assigned per-acre economic value for farm crops.

A 2008 template for community considerations developed by roundtable members.

An economic report that pegged farm losses from the 2011 drought at $100 million in the Arkansas Valley. That was followed in 2012 by a roundtable project that estimated the value of agriculture in the valley at $1.5 billion.

A 2013 workshop hosted by the roundtable that brought national speakers to discuss how ag water is valued.

The roundtable selected Sandy White, who touted his upbringing on a Wyoming Ranch and his desire to preserve agriculture, for vice president over Brett Gracely, water resources manager for Colorado Springs Utilities. The vote was not close, 26-5.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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