by Richard Fox, Colorado Watershed Assembly
The Colorado Watershed Assembly (CWA) initiated and got passed Senate Bill 087 in 2002. This bill created the Colorado Watershed Protection Fund and added it to the Tax Refund Checkoff program. The donations that are received into this fund will be spent via a new competitive grant program.
Since its passage, Chris Rowe and I have been working with the Colorado Water Quality Control Board (WQCC) and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) on developing the parameters of this new grant program. As you might imagine, given the three different missions of the groups involved, the negotiations were long and sometimes difficult, but I believe we have arrived at a good compromise that will have all the monies from this fund going to the collaborative based watershed groups in Colorado, either for projects or for planning.
This draft was officially presented to the full Water Quality Control Commission at their meeting on November 2002 in Steamboat Springs and to the CWCB at their November meeting in Denver. We hope final approval will happen at their respective January meetings. I believe this is a very major victory for Colorado’s watersheds, as well as the collaborative groups that protect those watersheds. It is not everything we might want it to be, but I believe we ended up with a great new support mechanism for watershed groups that will have a lasting impact in the years ahead.
Our next step is to get the word out over and over again to as many people as possible… and encourage donations to the fund. It is very important that we take advantage of the public’s current heightened concern about drought, fires and the need to better manage our watersheds.
You can count on CWA to organize a great publicity and promotion campaign, but it will only be successful only if groups working on watershed related issues in Colorado start to put articles in their newsletters. You can send out flyers and promote the fund in as many ways as possible and do so consistently before April 15, 2003. It will surely pay major dividends and be well worth the effort.You can contact me at twp.treeswaterpeople.org.