Group seeks feedback on water quality

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A variety of entities have joined forces to discuss the future of the Chatfield watershed region, which runs from Chatfield Reservoir to Douglas County’s southern border, and they want everyone to weigh in.

“We need to look at the watershed now to protect it in the future,” said Amy King of Tetra Tech, the consulting company working with the Chatfield Watershed Authority, during a June 19 public meeting. CWA was established in 1984 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in an effort to protect water quality.

“We believe it’s essential to have residents and local businesses involved with industry professionals to share vital information about the watersheds we serve to protect and be part of the solution to improve water quality and overall health of the watershed,” Julie Vlier, CWA’s water manager, said in a press release. “Some great ideas are being generated by the public to improve water quality and protect the water resources important to the public while providing multiple benefits to recreational users, wildlife and the ecosystem.”

Member agencies include the Audubon Society, Denver Water, a variety of water and sanitation districts, several municipalities, the Denver Urban Water Partnership and many more. DUWP concerns itself with the entire South Platte River corridor, including the Barr-Milton watershed, which serves everything north of the reservoir nearly to Greeley.

King said discussion so far has focused on things like stream restoration and mitigating the effects of wildfire ¬¬¬— coincidentally, as she was speaking, the Lime Gulch fire raged just a few miles from Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, where the meeting was held.

Vlier explains that most pollutants are from things like deteriorating septic systems, streambank and shoreline erosion, runoff from wildfire burn areas, and livestock-management practices along environmentally sensitive stream corridors.

Larry Vickerman, director of the botanic gardens, said his particular focus is on restoration of Deer Creek, which runs through the property.

“If you really look at Deer Creek, especially through Chatfield, it’s severely degraded,” he said. He has plans for a native seed garden, to preserve plant and tree species indigenous to the region. Non-native species are taking hold and overrunning the ecosystems, he said.

“Restoration starts with having the plant material,” he said.

Vlier said the authority wants to develop partnerships with local businesses and nonprofits like the botanic gardens to expand public outreach.

“We are very encouraged by the public interest and look forward to putting watershed objectives into action plans,” she said.