Colorado

The Fountain Creek watershed will headline this year's Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, March 16 and 17, in Colorado Springs.

The forum has been an annual event in recent years and has focused attention on river management, water distribution and its interaction with the communities that depend on its water.

Fountain Creek is a major tributary of the Arkansas River. It collects water from the mountains and plains, in the area surrounding Colorado Springs. The water flows south, roughly parallel to I-25 and becomes a part of the Arkansas, at Pueblo.

The spring 1999, flooding that originated in the Fountain Creek basin highlighted, in a dramatic way, the importance of this tributary. The affects of water rights transfers for urban use and the affects of Colorado Springs' rapid growth are being seen in the flows in Fountain Creek. Changes in the normal historic flow rates now are recognized. The historically dry streambed now runs constantly from the city's return flows, and rooftops, roads and parking lots shed water that once soaked into the hills.

Streambank erosion, sediment and higher peak flow rates are just a few of the issues that will be addressed at the forum. Participants also will have an opportunity to see how Colorado Springs delivers, uses and treats its water before returning it to Fountain Creek. A field trip to the Pikes Peak north-slope watershed also is being planned Saturday, after the forum.

The forum also will address many broader issues in the basin. An update on the Kansas vs Colorado lawsuit will detail recent events in this continuing saga. The issues of salinity, TMDL (daily pollutant load) regulations, fluoridation proposals and future water needs will be discussed as well.

The program is not all work. Mini-presentations on the history of basin development are planned throughout the program. Stories on topics, ranging from General Palmer to early Western ranching, will bring focus to the achievements of the persons who laid the foundation for the Colorado of today.

Ventriloquist Greg Claassen will highlight the Thursday evening program, which also is a recognition time for the photograph, art and essay contests sponsored by the forum.

For further information and registration materials, visit the forum website, at www.ruralnet.net/arkriver, or phone 719-336-9421. There is a nominal $40 registration fee that covers meals and entertainment for the entire forum.

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