In April 2019, a team of professionals representing water districts, towns, and county government attended a Sonoran Institute “Growing Water Smart Workshop” in Keystone. The team walked away with an action plan to create a Drought Management Plan. Over the course of 8 facilitated meetings, a stakeholder group including representatives from the towns and water districts, stock growers, county government, fire protection districts, recreation districts, Trout Unlimited, private commercial ranches, homeowner’s associations, and Northwest Colorado Council of Governments met to hash out the elements of what came to be known as the Drought Preparedness Plan. A subcommittee of that group wrote the actual text of the Plan, which is still in draft form, and 2020 was the first year of implementing the plan in a “trial run”. Additional subcommittees to the plan include the Drought Preparedness Committee which was selected by the stakeholder group to review the drought severity indicators on a regular basis and make the determination of which drought stage, if any, the community should recognize, and the Education and Outreach Committee, which is in charge of developing incident-specific as well as general conservation communication tools.
The Stakeholder group has yet to formalize how it operates, but we hope ultimately to utilize a memorandum of agreement or similar instrument. Using 2020 as a “practice” year has been important for the committee to learn how our indicators, triggers, and responses work, both for the committee, and for the communities involved.