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 Gilcrest, Colo. to inform people about the study and to facilitate dialogue about the issues. The meeting will be held from 6 – 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan.24 at Valley High School, 1001 Birch Street, in Gilcrest.
Joe Frank and Robert Sakata, two state water leaders often seen to be on opposite sides of the issue, will 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.
Independent of the CSU study, the Colorado Water Conservation Board in conjunction with the Colorado Division of Water Resources has embarked on a detailed pilot project to investigate the potential causes of high groundwater levels in the Gilcrest/La Salle area. Division of Water Resources staff will conduct a presentation updating the community on their recent activities preceding CSU’s community meeting from 5:30 – 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at Valley High School in Gilcrest. This initial meeting is intended to inform stakeholders of the pilot project’s study area, goals and objectives, and to receive feedback to guide future activities.
For more information about the community meeting on Jan. 24 in Gilcrest, visit www.cwi.colostate.edu/southplatte/index.html.