Water Quality Concerns Prompt Watershed Plan


Blake Osborn, CSU Extension Regional Water Specialist


Concerns about the increasing amount of trace minerals and salinity content in the Lower Arkansas River Basin has prompted a series of meetings to identify causes and develop solutions to the problem. The first stakeholders meeting was held July 13th at the Rodeway Cow Palace Inn and hosted by Blake Osborn, CSU Extension Regional Water Specialist.  Osborn told the approximate forty representatives and stakeholders the area of concern runs just west of John Martin Reservoir to the east, to the Kansas State Line along the Arkansas River.  The area of concern also impacts a good portion of Ft. Lyon and Amity, he told the gathering.  The watershed area runs northwards to Limon and to Two Buttes in the south.

Stakeholders at Watershed Meeting

“The collection of information will take about eighteen months and when it’s complete, this will be one of the biggest watershed projects in the state, about 8,300 square miles, Osborn explained, adding that part of that plan includes feedback from stakeholders. The goal of the state funded project is to implement Best Management Practices (BMP’s) that will improve water quality. The outline of the plan is to find solutions and to set-the-course for improving water quality with stakeholder-focused solutions.

Osborn acknowledged that not every farm or municipality will have the same concerns, “For some, salinity will be their major focus or land erosion, while for others; it may be manganese or selenium turning up in their water. Kansas is also interested in this study as there are some trace amounts of uranium turning up in some hay crops.”  Osborn also listed arsenic as an element that has shown up on tests while yield levels for all crops have been listed as a concern.

“We’re going to find some issues that are common to everyone across the board, while others may have specific concerns and the study will attempt to pinpoint those areas and seek out the causes or origins,” he added.

Osborn said the meeting was a preliminary introduction to the Watershed Plan which should have the first round of data analysis done by December, 2018. “We’re planning to hold other meetings in the region, probably in Holly for the next one,” he said.  Those interested in the project can contribute their own concerns or read the current available information on the newly posted website, www.lowerarkplanjm.com.

By Russ Baldwin


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