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Arkansas River Basin Water Forum discusses solutions to severe drought

It will take everyone, not just conservation leaders, to make sure there's enough water for future generations
Arkansas River
Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-26 20:50:39-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Government officials, conservation groups, farmers, and Utility companies all met in Colorado Springs for the 27th annual Arkansas River Basin Water Forum. There, they discussed ways that everyone can work together to make sure there's enough water for future generations.

“With the continuing drought that everyone is familiar with, it's impacting us in agriculture," said John Knapp, a 5th generation melon farmer in Southeastern Colorado. "The Arkansas River has been, this year, the only river basin that's below average in terms of snowpack, so we're watching it really closely".

Key players in conservation met to discuss some solutions and ideas. One of them? Re-imagining the way we think of lawns.

"We talked about some of our urban landscape water conservation programs. We talked about turf replacement programs, education programs, and water pricing to ensure we will have water for future generations in El Paso County," said Catherine Moravec, a water conservation specialist at Colorado Springs Utilities.

“So we could transition into native grasses and native plants, things that need less irrigation, less water, or no water at all," said President of the Arkansas River Basin Forum Bob Hamel.

Knapp is excited about the prospect of sharing water with larger areas without having to give up precious resources.

“One of the aspects we're looking at, right now, is how we can share water between the irrigators in the lower valley, East of Pueblo, and at the same time, find ways to retain ownership of those water rights, but allow the urban metropolitan areas to share in that," he said.

But Knapp is optimistic about the future. He and many others are encouraged by support from the public and say it needs to grow.

"We can't just do it with the folks at the water community level, you've gotta be able to reach out for the greater good to the whole community," said Hamel.

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