Community Agriculture Alliance: Never stop learning — a call to action | SteamboatToday.com
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Community Agriculture Alliance: Never stop learning — a call to action

Holly Kirkpatrick
Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District

Precipitation in the Yampa Valley throughout the spring and early summer has provided an explosion of wildflowers, lush green hay meadows, a busy boating and tubing season, the ability to have a campfire, and even a fireworks show at Steamboat Lake.

All of these are incredibly welcome sights after the past two years, but we cannot take them for granted or be fooled that our water woes are over. 

Now is still the best time to take action. 



What’s Happening?

As you may have noticed, big things are happening in the Colorado River Basin.

Last year, for the first time ever, the Bureau of Reclamation released a combined 161,000 acre-feet of water from Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado and Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Wyoming/Utah state line in 2021 to prop up water levels in Lake Powell.



Lake Powell near Glen Canyon in Page, Arizona.
Getty Images

With water levels in Lake Powell creeping even closer to the minimum level required for hydropower generation, Reclamation is releasing an additional 500,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir this plan year.

Last month, Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton, gave the seven states within the Colorado River Basin 60 days to develop an emergency plan to reduce water use over the next year by two to four million acre-feet.

To provide some perspective on water use, the state of Arizona is allocated 2.8 million acre-feet of Colorado River water annually. If the states are unable to meet the plan deadline next month, Reclamation can use emergency authority to implement cuts to water use throughout the basin.

What Can I Do?

Take a little time to learn more about your water, ways that you can conserve and get involved.

On June 30, the state of Colorado released a draft update to the Colorado Water Plan. The first Colorado Water Plan was released in 2015.

The updated Colorado Water Plan, set to be released in early 2023, focuses on four action areas that include vibrant communities, robust agriculture, thriving watersheds and resilient planning. The update is open for public comment through Sept. 30.

You can visit engagecwcb.org to review the fact sheet, read the plan and submit public comment.

UYWCD will also have a presentation on the update at its regular board meeting on Wednesday, July 20. The public is welcome to attend virtually or in-person. Find more information at UpperYampaWater.com.

Water ’22 is a statewide celebration of Colorado’s water. The campaign focuses on the importance of water here in the headwaters state and promotes 22 easy actions for all Coloradans to commit to in 2022.

This includes learning where your water comes from and ways to be water smart in your own homes and neighborhoods. Learn more and take the pledge at water22.org.

If you’ve already taken steps to reduce water use by zeroscaping, contact the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council to receive your “Sustaining Water” yard sign and encourage your neighbors to do the same.  

This our water, our most valuable resource. We all have role and responsibility to conserve and protect it.

The Community Agriculture Alliance is dedicated to preserving agriculture in the Yampa Valley. For more, go to CommunityAgAlliance.org.


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