Businesses, government agencies and researchers partner to improve water quality and quantity – Greeley Tribune

LOVELAND — Talking about water issues is important — dozens of attendees eventually flocked to BizWest’s 2022 Confluence Colorado Water Summit on Thursday — but to make a difference, that conversation needs to translate into action.

Luckily for the water future in Northern Colorado, there are local businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and university researchers collaborating on a variety of water quality and water quality improvement efforts.

Representatives from a handful of such groups presented case studies for some of these efforts during a panel discussion at the Loveland event. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Gimbel, executive director of Colorado State University’s Colorado Water Center.

The need for conservation activities is greatest in northern Colorado, the Boulder Valley, and other parts of Colorado’s Front Range. That’s because 80% of the state’s rain falls on the west side of the continental divide, while 90% of the population lives on the east side, said Casey Davenhill, executive director of the Colorado Watershed Assembly.

Davenhill’s group has recently been actively involved in updating the 15-year-old Colorado Water Plan and developing the South Platte Basin Implementation Plan, which has identified 282 needed projects at an estimated cost of nearly $10 billion.

On a slightly smaller scale, Fort Collins-based water quality and quantity instrument manufacturer In-Situ Inc. has partnered with City of Fort Collins employees and researchers at Colorado State University to install and maintain water quality monitors, real-time telemetry, and alarm systems along a stretch of the Cache la Poudre river.

The effort comes after an unexpected fish kill in 2018 and has resulted in parts of the Poudre being among the best monitored river waters in the country, said Eric Robinson, In-Situ’s sales director.

While groups in Fort Collins are working to better monitor the health of local waterways, others in the area have played important roles in projects actively working to improve that health, such as the Big Thompson Confluence Mitigation Bank and the Master Plan for the restoration of the Middle South Platte River.

The overall goal of such projects is to “restore the area to its historic, natural state” while increasing flood resilience, said Lucy Harrington, senior regulatory specialist at GEI Consultants Inc.

From a local government perspective, “northern Colorado communities are looking for alternatives” to Colorado and Big Thompson water rights, costs of which have skyrocketed over the past decade, said Adam Jokerst, regional director of WestWater Research Rocky Mountain.

Large deposit projects can offer long-term stability, but the permitting process is time-consuming and expensive.

“There’s no certainty until the very end that you’ll get a permit,” Jokerst said.

Less traditional community approaches include drinking water reuse (like Aurora Water’s Prairie Waters Project), alluvial groundwater projects (like the Box Elder Project at Castle Rock), and Ag-Muni partnerships (like the Platte Valley Water Partnership).

“These are the types of projects that could become more common in the future,” Jokerst said.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC. Businesses, government agencies and researchers partner to improve water quality and quantity – Greeley Tribune

James Brien

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