Meeting to explore issues related to water and business

An annual presentation will offer information about the Colorado River, including a discussion of why businesses should care about water on the West Slope.

The Mesa County State of the River meeting is set for May 15 at the Avalon Theater, 645 Main St. in Grand Junction. The event is free and open to the public.

The Colorado River District, Business for Water Stewardship and Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center at Colorado Mesa University have organized the presentation. Alpine Bank, Club 20 and the Tamarisk Coalition also support the meeting.

David Miller, a senior vice president who leads the Green Team at Alpine Bank, said the presentation is important in part because of a long-term deficit of available water in the Colorado River.

“We take more water out of the Colorado each year than is put in by annual snow and rain fall, resulting in critically low water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead,” Miller said. “Smart local action can help reverse this trend. And local businesses that are oftentimes left out of the conversation can make a difference.”

The event is set to begin at 3:30 p.m. with a presentation by Gigi Richard, a CMU professor who will offer an overview of the basics of watersheds and hydrology, and Aaron Clay, a Delta attorney who will cover the basics of Colorado water law.

At 5 p.m., a panel will discuss why the business community should care about water on the Western Slope. Tom Kleinschnitz, owner of Adventure Bound Rafting and director of the Moffat County Tourism Association, will moderate the discussion. Panelists will include Miller as well as Kristi Pollard, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership; Sarah Shrader, co-owner of Bonsai Design and founder of the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of the Grand Valley; and Bruce Talbott, an agricultural producer in the Grand Valley.

Following a break, the event will resume at 6:45 p.m. with a presentation by Ryan Christianson, a hydrologist with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation who will talk about streamflow forecasts and reservoir operations; Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River District, who will talk about talk about challenges to the river; and Luke Gingerich, an engineer for the Grand Valley Water Users Association who will talk about a water banking experiment involving irrigated lands on the Government-Highline Canal.

The event will end with a panel discussion on those and other subjects.