Community Agriculture Alliance: What is the Yampa Integrated Water Management Plan?
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
The Yampa White Green Basin Roundtable led the development of an Integrated Water Management Plan for the Yampa River in 2019. The process combined community input with science and engineering assessments to identify actions to protect existing and future water uses and support healthy river ecosystems in the face of growing populations, changing land uses and climate uncertainty. While that sounds technical and even slightly boring … keep reading! Working to sustain, protect and care for the Yampa River impacts us all.
The IWMP is a community effort, led by people who live and work in the Yampa Valley, and care about the river and its future. This is not a political issue, but a stakeholder-driven plan with a shared passion for the river as common ground. The IWMP seeks to identify and spur projects and strategies that benefit water users, the environment and recreational users. These multi-benefit efforts cannot be accomplished by one entity alone but require collaboration among water users and landowners, nonprofit organizations and local governments.
The project’s work included stakeholder input via surveys and interviews conducted in 2020. Our team collected ideas from a variety of stakeholders to identify priority reaches for improved river health and recreation, as well as ideas to better meet water users’ needs. A technical team worked to assess current river conditions. Inventories of water use, river flows, riverside land condition, fishery health and water quality have helped to characterize current conditions and identify knowledge gaps.
The final piece of the IWMP has been to prioritize issues and develop consensus on action plans. The true success is in the collaborative partnerships and relationships developed through countless hours of meetings. The Yampa IWMP final report can be found at YampaWhiteGreen.com/iwmp.
Multi-benefit projects include a focus that recognizes agriculture, recreation, environment, municipal and industrial water needs as equally important. Some recommendations to highlight include a basin wide temperature monitoring program that will help inform and identify opportunities for improved river health.
Coordinated efforts in developing a Yampa River Data Dashboard and River Scorecard will not only bring scientific work and data together for informed management decisions but will allow the community to understand the state of the Yampa River over time. Several IWMP recommendations specifically call out support and coordination for agriculture water users to address common challenges and opportunities to sustain a balanced river.
Much more work has been done by dedicated professionals and community members who have a shared passion for the river. Over the next several years we will continue this work. It will continue to be a stakeholder-driven process with a long list of partnering organizations and individuals.
Community Agriculture Alliance and Friends of the Yampa are proud to be leading efforts for community outreach and engagement with events and information starting in 2023. We encourage you to learn more at yampawhitegreen.com and get involved. Sustaining a balanced, healthy river benefits all of us now and into the future.
Co written by Michele Meyer, Community Agriculture Alliance and Lindsey Marlow, Friends of the Yampa
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