Value of the Colorado River

By: David L. Yost Email
By: David L. Yost Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - There is no doubt to the importance of water to commerce.

"The river is huge for the economic impact on the valley. Without a river, half of our business wouldn't be here," said Rondo Buecher, co-owner of Rapid Creek Cycles.

For us in the Grand Valley, that’s the Colorado River.

"Not just the Colorado River but also the Gunnison, major tributaries to some of our major economic sectors as well," said Hannah Holm, the coordinator of the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University.

One of which would be tourism, and rafting will be a focus at a forum on the value of the Colorado River to local economies. With a number of companies offering different ways to get out on the water, water levels of the Colorado has a mixed effect on local businesses.

"So the water is lower. But it's warmer. It's still great for floating and boating. What has really picked up for us this year is the stand up paddle boards because with the low water it's a really great year to learn stand up paddle boarding if you want to do it," said Buecher.

Low water levels mean something different for the orchards in Palisade. And as the demand for water increases from the Front Range, quality becomes an issue.

"Really, the biggest user of water, as far as taking water out of the river, is agriculture. We really rely a lot on the Colorado River to maintain our agricultural industry," said Holm.

“There’s all kind of influences actually. You know, Denver and the Colorado Water Users Pack, they change, they dump it out of certain reservoirs. And we could actually get saltier water or cleaner water depending on which reservoir they dump it out of,” said Donovan Talbott, owner of C & R Farms.

The farmers are first in the pecking order for water, but other users can make things flow easier.

"If you water at night and do those things to kind of save water, then I think that you'll be happier as far as we'll be happier cause we won't be having to shut everyone down," said Talbott.

Which is part of the reason for the forum. To get a feel for how everyone is affected.

"Just the general quality of life that the river is part of makes a difference in people's decisions to, to locate here. Including people who may be entrepreneurs," said Holm.

"And we're hoping to double business this year and continue to do so in the future. It has a huge economic impact for the town of Palisade. And it's just growing every year," said Buecher.

The value of the Colorado River forum takes place on May 22 2012, in the CMU University Center Ballroom. More information can be foud here: http://www.coloradomesa.edu/watercenter/index.html.


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