*New* Wrights Mesa Coalition to Tackle Comprehensive Water Plan
Contributed by San Miguel County Commissioner Kris Holstrom
The Wrights Mesa Water Planning and Prioritization Project partners, through the West End Economic Development Corporation, are thrilled to announce they have received the thumbs up on their grant request from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
The idea to go for funding came together in the summer of 2021 when Candy Meehan and Kris Holstrom were both students in Water Education Colorado’s Water Fluency Program. One session was focused on funding, and hearing about the availability of funds for just the type of infrastructure needed in our region lit a fire. Candy spearheaded the effort and she and Kris worked with Deana Sheriff of West End Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) and April Montgomery of the Telluride Foundation to flesh out their idea of looking for ways to get some of the $80 million in known water projects identified by the Southwest Basins Roundtable actually built.
This grant is a huge step toward that goal. CWCB is kicking in the majority of the approximately $165,000 project costs. All of the partners are contributing either actual funds or in-kind services. An engineering firm will be chosen and will conduct a collaborative water infrastructure planning and prioritization analysis for all of Wright’s Mesa.
Though this winter looked okay, our region is still in overall drought mode, and with a changing climate, the need for housing and development, as well as the critical need for repairing and updating current infrastructure the unique partnership of players that came together to support this grant bucks current political trends. Partners include the Town of Norwood, San Miguel County, WEEDC, the Norwood Water Commission, Farmers Water, the Lone Cone Ditch Company, the Norwood Fire District, and the San Miguel Watershed Coalition.
When the Norwood Town Trustee and San Miguel County Commissioner came together in the Water Fluency class and heard about the ‘buckets’ of money soon to be available, they knew that bringing the different water partners together and developing an overarching planning effort for Wright’s Mesa water would be a key factor to bolster the success for future funding opportunities to actually implement plans. Both Candy and Kris agree, “We want to get things done!”
The Colorado Water Conservation Board agreed at its meeting on March 15 and funded this effort aimed ultimately at creating an efficient, synergistic and organized approach to our regional water future.