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The Blue River Watershed Group is planning for a secure water future in Summit County

Guest post by Erika Donaghy- Executive Director, Blue River Watershed Group

In 2015, the State of Colorado adopted the Colorado Water Plan, which lays out a roadmap for water management throughout the state that is locally driven and focused on collaborative solutions to water issues. One of the objectives of the Colorado Water Plan is to ensure that 80% of Colorado’s important rivers and streams, of which the Blue River is one, have a Stream Management Plan in place.

In response to this goal, the Blue River Watershed Group partnered with Trout Unlimited to develop an Integrated Water Management Plan (IWMP) for the Blue River Watershed. We opted to create an IWMP, rather than a Stream Management Plan, because the IMWP considers all water uses (including recreation, environmental, municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses) in the watershed rather than remaining focused on recreational and environmental uses only. The first phase of the IWMP will provide a thorough assessment of the health of our watershed. Once the initial stage of the plan is complete, there will be some areas where there simply is not enough information to move forward, requiring more research and studies to be conducted. In other areas, our team will have the information we need and move on to phase two of the project. Phase two of the IWMP will focus on coming up with solutions to improve watershed issues that have been identified during phase one.

There are many types of projects that come out of IWMPs. A few examples of projects that have come out of other IWMP’s include:

- River restoration projects that mitigate the effects of dredge mining

- Improvements to agricultural irrigation structures

- Innovative water management practices

- Projects that keep heavy metals from abandoned mines out of the water

Why is the IWMP important?

The IWMP will become a guiding document for many of the future projects in the Blue River watershed. It will lay out actionable strategies to protect and restore the river corridors that run throughout our county. The plan will consider the needs of all water users and create a plan that ensures we are ready for future increases in demand even as the amount of available water is likely to decrease. Our goal as BRWG is to use this plan to lead impactful projects in our community and build partnerships to effectively execute these projects.

How can you get involved with the IWMP?

The Integrated Water Management Plan is meant to be a living document and an ongoing project. As such, there are several ways that you can get involved with this project and make your voice heard.

1. Complete our survey here, to tell us what your big concerns are for the future of our watershed.

2. Join the IWMP Advisory Committee to have a direct voice in the goals and objectives that will be included in this plan.

3. Volunteer at our first annual River Cleanup, on August 29th, 2020, held in partnership with Make A Difference Day.

4. Contact BRWG Executive Director, Erika Donaghy, at info@blueriverwatershed.org with any comments or questions.

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