Arkansas Basin Water Forum begins Wednesday

Published Tuesday, April 26, 2016

By Joe Stone

The 22nd annual Arkansas River Basin Water Forum will offer a spectrum of informed presentations about basin water issues Wednesday and Thursday, April 27 and 28, at the SteamPlant Event Center, 220 W. Sackett Ave., in Salida.

Themed "The Color of Water," the forum will feature keynote speakers, expert panels and informal discussions in an open, collaborative setting that encourages learning about all aspects of water.

Greg Felt - local outfitter, fishing guide and water conservancy district board officer - will begin the forum with the Wednesday keynote address, while retired Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Gregory Hobbs will deliver the Thursday keynote.

Felt will address the water forum theme, providing an overview of the different types or "colors" of water as understood by Colorado water professionals, e.g., augmentation water, Project water, native water, trans-mountain water and so on.

Concurrent sessions will follow Felt's address, a session on major efforts to address water quality issues created by mining in the Arkansas Basin and a session about new opportunities for hydroelectric power generation.

Late morning sessions will focus on continuing efforts to remediate mining impacts on water quality and the exciting possibilities for storing water underground in aquifers.

The forum luncheon will be preceded by presentation of the 2016 Bob Appel "Friend of the Arkansas" Award.

Wednesday afternoon sessions will address watershed health and innovative water management as a means of increasing water security for all water uses.

Afternoon tours will offer an opportunity for forum attendees to experience whitewater rafting, fly fishing, riparian ecosystem restoration or the Hutchinson Homestead Ranch and Learning Center.

An evening silent auction and social hour will cap off Wednesday's forum activities, allowing time for attendees to enjoy the historic charm of downtown Salida.

Thursday's sessions will look to the future with two sessions focusing on the intersecting parameters of water usage trends, climate outlook and available water storage.

Concurrent sessions will address issues involving the future interactions of water, economics and recreation on the upper Arkansas River.

Thursday's lunch will conclude the water forum with recognition of scholarship recipients and art contest winners.

The Arkansas River Basin Water Forum has established itself as the signature water education event in the Arkansas Basin. With an expected attendance of 200 people representing agriculture, municipalities, industry, government agencies, and environmental and recreational organizations, the forum offers an educational opportunity ripe with knowledge and diverse perspectives.

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