Conflict between groundwater and surface water users on the South Platte River has been a concern in Colorado. At issue currently is whether the strict augmentation of water supplies now required of those who use wells is actually over-augmenting the alluvial aquifer, causing damage from high water tables.
The Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University is studying the issue under the direction of the state legislature. Members of the CWI study team will meet with stakeholders and the public in Sterling to inform people about the study and to facilitate dialogue about the issues.
The meeting will be held from 6 – 8:30 p.m. Monday, Jan.14 at the Hays Student Center Ballroom, Northeast Junior College, 100 College Avenue in Sterling, Colo. Prior to the CWI presentation, staff of the Colorado Division of Water Resources will make a presentation updating stakeholders on their activities and data collected for the high groundwater pilot project in Sterling. The presentation is scheduled from 5:15- 6:00 p.m. at the same location. Both events are free and open to the public.
Joe Frank and Robert Sakata, two state water leaders often seen to be on opposite sides of the issue, have agreed to engage in a facilitated-dialogue about the topic.
Colorado House Bill 12-1278 was passed in 2012, authorizing the first comprehensive study since the landmark study of 1968 that preceded the "Water Right Determination and Administration Act of 1969." That act was Colorado’s attempt to bring groundwater under the same prior appropriation system as surface water rights.
CSU’s work collecting and analyzing available data is intended to bring objectivity to this polarizing issue. Results are due to the state legislature in December 2013. Reagan Waskom, CWI director and head of the study, said that his study team hopes to raise the level of conversation from contentious debate to respectful dialogue—an important role of a land-grant university.
For more information about the community meeting in Sterling as well as a community meeting on Jan. 24 in Gilcrest, Colo., visit www.cwi.colostate.edu/southplatte/index.html.