Jan. 10 meeting planned to discuss future of water resources

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    By Watershed Enhancement Partnership
    Special to The SUN
    As we experienced this past year, water can become a very rare resource for us here in southwest Colorado, affecting all aspects of living in this part of the country.
    The Watershed Enhancement Partnership (WEP) is a group of stakeholders representing agriculture, recreation, municipalities and conservation working together to identify opportunities to promote resilient water resources for the future of Archuleta County, its residents, its economy and its ecology.
    The Colorado Water Plan makes funds available for voluntary, cooperative projects that improve the use of our water resources. Examples of projects include things like ditch lining, improvement of diversion structures, river enhancement and cooperative water management. This effort would take advantage of this funding for the benefit of our community. The group would ultimately like to address the entirety of the San Juan River Basin through a phased series of conversations.
    The relevance of water to all aspects of our community cannot be understated. It has played a role in our history, our recreation and our economy. The goal of this effort is to think collectively about opportunities on the landscape that can help secure the future of water for all uses, while maintaining a healthy ecology and respecting water rights.
    This conversation is designed to include all interests. Included in the discussion to date are representatives from agriculture and ranching, municipal water providers, water administrators and managers, land owners and managers, state fish and wildlife managers, local government, local business, recreation, and conservation.
    Drought and growing pressure from increased water demands and permanent reductions in overall water supply are increasing demand on our water resources. Identifying opportunities to secure the viability of our water resources will help our community to remain viable for future generations.
    We would like to identify water resource issues and opportunities or projects that can be completed voluntarily within the San Juan Basin that can promote a watershed that supports all uses.
    To provide your input, we invite you to attend a public meeting on Jan. 10 at the CSU Extension building, 344 U.S. 84, from 6 to 8 p.m. More information and another opportunity to provide input can be accomplished by completing the survey found at http://www.mountainstudies.org/sanjuan/smp.