By James Steindler
The Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) convened for a relatively short hour-and-a-half regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 9. The topic of interest this week: water.
Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington approached the panel for what he said would likely be his last time on behalf of the town, as he prepares to make a transition out of his current position. “I think this is the last time I’ll be in front of you grovelling for support on the project,” he joked. Harrington asked for a letter of support from the commissioners for a Colorado River District Community Funding partnership grant to put toward Crystal River restoration and Weaver Ditch headgate projects.
Harrington explained that a condition of the grant is to obtain a letter of support from the county. After Harrington’s short pitch, without pause, each of the commissioners agreed to sign an already completed letter of support. The commissioners wished Harrington the best and he replied, “I appreciate our working relationship for the last decade, it’s gone pretty quickly, and we’ve gotten some great projects done for the county and the town.”
Doug Winter, board member of the Middle Colorado Watershed Council (MCWC) gave an update about various projects the organization has initiated or nearly completed from Glenwood Springs to Debeque over the last year. On top of their pre-planned projects, Winter added, “Really since last August we’ve had a ton to do with Grizzly Creek, and a little bit less so with the Pine Gulch Fire restoration projects.”
Winter added that a great aspect of their organization is that they don’t have jurisdictional boundaries. “This has been a lot of multi-agency collaboration which is really where the watershed council shines, because the forest service jurisdiction ends at the forest service boundary. The city obviously has intense interests in the water supply and the infrastructure around the city but can’t necessarily spend time and money worrying about revegetation outside of the city projects.” He continued, “What we can do is offer a place to route some large grant funds through for multi-agency projects.” .
MCWC has worked on a number of multi-agency restoration projects including water quality monitoring, installment of rain gauges in Glenwood Canyon (which help predict debris flows before they happen), the Sediment Management Program with the Silt Water Conservancy District and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and, finally, its role in the Glenwood Canyon Restoration Alliance.
MCWC’s Integrated Water Management Plan (IWMP) is the organization’s bread and butter, so to speak. “Our IWMP is this multi-year process to develop the list of priority projects across all sectors in the Middle Colorado Watershed, which is essentially Garfield County,” said Winter.
In the past, MCWC has received $10,000 from the county to add to the organization’s annual budget. This year, however, MCWC asked the commissioners to up that number to $15,000. “For the increased scope of work for the projects that we have on our table right now,” Winter explained.
“Because we are cutting back on budget, MCWC is not in our budget for grants,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, “However, we do have dollars in the discretionary grant fund. I’m going to recommend, or move, that we approve $10,000 for the MCWC from the BOCC’s discretionary grants.” Commissioner Mike Samson seconded the motion and it passed unanimously — awarding MCWC $10,000.
Finally, Julie Sappington with Morrisania Water Supply Company (MWSC) asked for a letter of support for the company’s irrigation project for Morrisania Ranch Subdivision southeast of Parachute. “We have got 880 acres in the subdivision and we have about 65 families,” said Sappington. MWSC, like the town of Carbondale, is applying for a grant from the Colorado River District for its project which likewise requires a letter of support from the commissioners. All three commissioners agreed to sign the letter.
Those interested in the nitty-gritty of a BOCC meeting, can review agendas and video/audio recordings of every meeting by visiting garfield-county.com/board-commissioners/meetings