Experts discuss solutions to challenges facing Colorado waterways

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Some local experts are working to come up with a solution to the challenges that face local waterways.

In a meeting Wednesday night, audience members and panel of experts discussed solutions.

One challenge specifically was about cleaning up the Colorado River.

"It plays a significant role in shaping the economy here in Western Colorado," said Joseph Burtard, the external affairs manager for the Ute Water Conservancy District.

Some call it a unique way to come up with solutions.

"So we pitch issues to the audience and the audience is supposed to develop solutions for those issues," said John Whipple, the founder of the Grand Valley Paddling Club. "We don't value our waterways and that precedent has been set so we aren't realizing our full potential in the valley."

Whipple said trash found in the Colorado and Gunnison rivers is a huge problem.

"We can still find broken glass and still find abandoned homeless camps that are dumping grounds," he added.

He said another challenge that faces the Western Slope is the boat ramps. He ran into an issue with the size of the Blue Heron boat ramp.

"Emergency services showed up and told us 'we need you to get out of the way because we need to get in the water right now'," said Whipple.

Whipple does have some solutions for this issue.

"The Grand Valley paddling club is working to raise funds to build better boat ramps through the valley," he said.

He wants the paddling community to do what the bike community has done.

"The bike community has raised $39 million over the last ten years," said Whipple.

That money has been for trails, so Whipple asks. why not us?

"Let's do it, we're here and a great community of boaters and live right along the river," he said.

There were individuals from Breckinridge and Ouray, as well, who pitched their challenges that face their respective communities.



 
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