Ritter Appoints Groundwater Task Force

Since last summer Front Range farmers who rely on ground water have been in the news. These farmers use ground water rather than surface water resources to irrigate their crops. Unfortunately, these sources are not always reliable, putting their crops and property values in jeopardy. Earlier this year Governor Ritter attended a public meeting in Wiggins, Colorado to hear from those who have been the hardest hit. Following that meeting, as many of you have likely heard, the governor appointed a 23 member task force to address the South Platte Groundwater issues.

The group will try to address the critical water shortage along the South Platte which was precipitated by many factors including the 2002 drought. The effects of the drought — along with several technical and legal factors — increased the scrutiny of water court cases and increased the tension among water holders, making it increasingly more difficult for some junior water right holders to pump ground water.The first meeting of the special South Platte River Basin Task Force, will be held on June 29th at the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley. The public and the media are encouraged to attend. The Task Force will hear public testimony and comment between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. The June 29th meeting in Greeley will start at 9:30 a.m. with a briefing by attorneys Jim Lochhead and Anne Castle, and Assistant State Engineer Dick Wolfe. All three are non-voting members of the Task Force.

The public is invited to provide comment and information to the Task Force between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.  Because of time constraints, interested individuals and groups with shared concerns are encouraged to designate a representative to comment on their behalf.   This will hopefully allow each person who wishes to present to the Task Force more time to speak. A second Task Force meeting, which will be devoted entirely to public comment, will be held on July 16th, from 9 am to 5 pm, location TBA. The task force will make a final report to Gov. Ritter, legislative leaders and the chair of the legislature’a Interim Committee on Water Resources by Sept. 30 2007. To read more about the taskforce go to this article or this press release.

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