Getting a grip on water quality: Forum to address outdated regional plan

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since the region’s water quality plan was last updated – perhaps too much, say local water quality experts.

“The plan hasn’t been updated in 20 years, a lot of things have changed,” said Chuck Wanner, water issues coordinator for the San Juan Citizens Alliance.

The SJCA, along with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, San Juan Regional Conservation and Development, Fort Lewis College and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe will be sponsoring the Upper San Juan Water Quality Forum this Thursday

and Friday in the Fort Lewis College ballroom. The purpose of the forum is to share information and discuss plans for protecting, maintaining and improving the area’s water quality. Among the new challenges to water quality since the plan was last updated are development, untreated run-off, waste water and pollution. In addition, more regulations and laws pertaining to water quality have been enacted in that 20-year span.

“The point is to look at some of the things that have been happening and try to talk about the concerns we have about

water quality in the area,” said Wanner.

Southwest Colorado’s Region 9 is made up of Archuleta, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan and Dolores counties. The regional plan is one of 11 overseen by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as required under the Clean Water Act.

However, Wanner noted that the Upper San Juan Basin includes not only Southwest Colorado but Northwest New Mexico as well. “We really need to step back and try to deal with water resources as a community of users,” he said. “It’s sort

of like being handcuffed together – everyone turns on the tap or pushes that little silver handle.”

Among topics to be addressed are storm-water management, invasive species, wetlands, abandoned-mine pollution, waste-water treatment, mercury contamination and nutrient overload, such as that fomr golf courses and agriculture.

For more information or to register, visit http: // Events.htm or call Tracy Daniels, of the San Juan Citizens Alliance, at 259-3583.

– Missy Votel