Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable Handbook
Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable Introduction
Welcome to the Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable (YWG BRT). Please know that your interest, time and attention are very much appreciated. This Handbook has been developed to provide you with a basic understanding of the purpose of the YWG BRT, an idea of how it functions, and background information to give context to the work of the Roundtable.
In 2005, the Roundtable process was enacted by the Colorado Legislature through House Bill 05-1177, Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act. The YWG BRT was one of the nine Roundtables formed. Its purpose was to facilitate continued discussion within and between basins on water management issues, to facilitate discussion within the basin and all of its different uses, and to encourage locally driven collaborative ground up solutions to water supply challenges on local, regional, state, and national levels. The authority and responsibility of the YWG BRT are founded in this legislation.
The up-to-date By-laws of the Roundtable can be found at YWG BRT website www.yampawhitegreen.com. Please refer to the bylaws for the Roundtables articulated purpose/mission of the YWGBRT as well as a description of the governance structure.
The Roundtable membership is made up of a collectively representation of the types of interests, livelihoods, and/or land ownership found in the Yampa, White, Green River basins. From the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act there are 35 representative, 31 which are voting members. Voting members of the Roundtable are; County Commissioners from Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt County, Municipalities Representative from Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt County, Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, Juniper Water Conservancy District, Yellowjacket Water Conservancy District, Pothook Water Conservancy District, Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District, Greater Northern Water Conservancy District, Colorado River Water Conservation District, House/Senate Representative. Fifteen at large representatives which includes an Environmental Representative, Agriculture Representative, Recreation Representative, Local Domestic Water Provider, Industrial Representative and 10 at large seats. The final voting member is the Green River Representative. The four non-voting members are the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) member and three out of basin water right owners. Please see the YWG BRT website for up to date membership.
Term of membership is a 5-year term and will expire prior to the bi-monthly November meeting where the Roundtable will vote on membership. The Roundtable shall elect a Chairperson and two Vice Chairpersons for a two-year term with the elections held on odd number years at the November meetings. Please refer to the current by-laws for updated information on terms and officers’ requirements.
In addition to creating basin roundtables, House Bill 05-1177 also created the Public Education Participation and Outreach Workgroup (PEPO). The PEPO workgroup consists of Education Liaisons from each basin roundtables. The Education Liaison for the YWG BRT is the chair of the PEPO committee and the Community Agriculture Alliance. The PEPO committee of the YWG BRT develops an Education Action Plan (EAP) which uses the PEPO grant as well as a WSRF grants to:
- Promote Roundtable meetings
- Raise public awareness of the YWG BIP and Colorado Water Plan
- Raise public awareness of YWGRT activities
- Increase public awareness of water related issues, projects and programs in Northwest Colorado • Encourage collaboration and partnerships to promote better water education • Coordinate the grants applications process submitted to the YWGRT for review and consideration
- Develop and implement a system of information the members of the YWGRT of projects and activities within their basin
Each of the basin roundtables receives disbursements of public funds from Colorado Legislature with which to accomplish their missions. Water Supply Reserve Fund (WSRF) grants. Qualifying entities can apply for these funds through a competitive process guided by the input from basin Roundtables. Each Roundtable develops a set of Water Supply Reserve Fund Guidelines to select projects they wish to support and/or fund. The most current WSRF Guidelines can be found at the yampawhitegreen.com website under the Grants tab.
YWG BRT Committees
There are five committees of the Roundtable; Executive, PEPO, Grant, Yampa IWMP and Big River Issues. If one wants to get the most out of one’s Roundtable experience it is recommended to join one of these committees. The Executive Committee is made up of the officers of the BRT the chair of each committee, though all members of the BRT can participate in the Committee. The Executive Committee determines the agenda for the BRT meetings, two to four weeks prior to the meeting. Agenda items are then given until Wednesday, two weeks prior to the meeting, to send their meeting materials to the Roundtables Recorder. Agendas and all meeting materials are placed and the Roundtables website and sent out through an email notification list, on the Wednesday prior to every bi-monthly Roundtable meeting.
As mentioned before, part of the HB 05-1177 created the Public Education Participation Outreach workgroup or Committee. The Committee is responsible for the public education and outreach for the Roundtable. This Committee directs the education efforts of the Roundtable through a WSRF grant the Community Agriculture Alliance received in 2016. Among other things, the committee is also working with Yampatika on a youth water education program throughout the Yampa and White River Basins, as well as creating short videos to outline the YWG BRT needs.
The state provides money to the BRT through the Water Supply Reserve Fund controlled by the CWCB. The Grant Committee develops the process and procedures for the BRT to allocate the WSRF allocation to the BRT. The Grant Committee is responsible for reviewing every application (both internal and external) and give their recommendation to the YWG BRT. Any BRT approved applications for WSRF funding must go through the CWCB process and be able to contract with the State.
The Colorado Water Plan calls for 80% of the locally prioritized rivers to be covered by Stream Management Plans by 2030. Stream management plans tend to only look at non-consumptive use, while Integrated Water Management Plan looks at both non-consumptive and consumptive uses together. The Yampa Integrated Water Management Plan Committee works to develop a management roadmap, which will help the basin achieve a productive economy, vibrant and sustainable cities, productive agriculture, a strong environment and a robust recreation industry. The roadmap generated by the IWMP Committee will collaboratively identify and support actions that help implement the Basin Goals.
While the Basin Roundtable has to concern itself with all basin-wide issues, processes, and projects, as well as interbasin and State-wide topics, the Big River Subcommittee (BRS) was formed to focus solely on the issues associated with the relationships among and between the major rivers in the basin, and the Colorado River system as a whole. The timing of the need for the BRS is driven in part by the current Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) and Demand Management discussion, including the soon-to-be completed Risk Study. Working within the context of the BIP and the YWG White Paper, the BRS will seek to surface and explore in detail, issues that will affect the Basin. Ultimately informing the policy of the BRT as it contributes to State-wide water planning.
Please see the yampawhitegreen.com for current committees
Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable Basin Implementation Plan
From 2013 to 2015 the YWG BRT developed a Basin Implementation Plan (BIP) in accordance with Governor Hickenlooper Executive Order and part of the Colorado Water Plan. This plan was devised within the basin to address future consumptive needs while meeting recreational and environmental needs. The BIP is the framework in which the YWGRT should address water issues. The BIP has preliminary model findings, eight goals, projects and methods. The BIP can be found on the YWG BRT website. The BIP was updated in 2021 with the Colorado Water Plan updated in 2022.
Preliminary 2015 model findings:
- Current water supplies are enough for Municipal and Industrial (M&I) uses. M&I water demands are estimated to increase from 12,000-acre feet per year to 31,000 by 2050.
- Current and future water supplies are insufficient for Agriculture uses to preserve the current baseline of approximately 119,000 irrigated acres.
- Environmental and recreational water uses are critical to the economy and way of life in the YWG Basin. Current and future river flows are insufficient for these non-consumptive needs.
- The Energy sector has the future potential to create the greatest additional consumptive demand.
- To maintain existing uses, it is critical to prevent the abandonment of water rights that pre-date the 1922 Colorado River Compact.
- Existing infrastructure in the YWG Basin must be restored, maintained and modernized to preserve historical water rights and uses.
Goals of the BIP:
- Protect the YWG Basin from compact curtailment of existing decreed water uses and some increment of future uses.
- Protect and encourage agricultural uses of water in the YWG Basin within the context of private property rights.
- Improve agricultural water supplies to increase irrigated land and reduce shortages.
- Identify and address Municipal and Industrial (M&I) water shortages
- Quantify and protect non-consumptive water uses.
- Maintain and consider the existing natural range of water quality that is necessary for current and anticipated water uses.
- Restore, maintain, and modernize water storage and distribution infrastructure.
- Develop an integrated system of water use, storage, administration and delivery to reduce water shortages and meet environmental and recreational needs.
Robert’s Rules of Order quick reference
Motion – made to propose a decision or action
- “I move that …” ; second is required
- Discussion begins or continues
- Then vote is held
Amendment – process used to propose an alteration to a motion already on the floor
- “I move that we amend the motion to … “ ; second is required
- Amendment is discussed, then voted on; it the amendment passes, the motion is voted
- Friendly Amendment: if the original motion’s author agrees, no vote is needed (on the
Question – used to end a debate/discussion on a motion and call for a vote
- “I call the question” ; second is required
- Discussion stops, question is voted on (2/3 majority required to pass)
- If question passes, motion on the floor is voted on without further discussion
Table – used to postpone a debate/discussion until the next meeting
- “I move that we table this discussion until … “ ; second is required
Refer – used to send an issue to a committee or individual for more study/information
- “I move we form a committee to review this … “ ; second is required
Robert’s Rules are designed to ensure participation, not to prevent discussion.
YWG BRT WSRF Grant Process
YWG BRT WSRF Grants Timeline
- YWG BRT Application is due the third Wednesday the month before the Grants Committee Meeting
- Grant Committee Meeting will be the Second Wednesday of February, April, October, December
- Applicants will present to the full YWG Roundtable in March, May, November and January
- Applicants can send in their CWCB Application anytime to the CWCB but suggest they make the deadlines of July, September, March, May. CWCB Applications are due at the 1st of the month three months before the CWCB board meeting they are targeting.
- The applicant and CWCB staff will have 3 month to finalize the application before the full CWCB board votes on the project.
- If approved by the CWCB board the applicant will then have to contract with the state which can take up to six months.
Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable History
The Yampa-White Basin Roundtable began as part of the Colorado Water for 21st Century Act (House Bill 05-1177) of 2005. The law is the brainchild of Russell George, who was the director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. He based the concept of the Act upon the successful negotiations of the 7 basin states leading to the 1922 Colorado River Compact. He envisioned each major River Basin in Colorado creating a Roundtable of local water interests and then roundtables would negotiate among other Roundtables for intra-state compacts. The YWBRT is one of the nine roundtables called out in the Act, which also created a state-wide committee known as the Interbasin Compact Committee, consisting primarily of a few representatives from each of the Basin Rountables. The IBCC was tasked with reviewing and approving any intra-basin Compacts and submitting the same to the Colorado General Assembly.
The duties of each Roundtable also included using data from the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWASI) and other appropriate resources to develop a basin-wide consumptive (Ag, M&I) and non-consumptive (Enviro and Rec) water supply needs assessment, analyze available unappropriated waters within the basin, and propose projects or methods, both structural and nonstructural, for meeting those needs, including utilizing those unappropriated waters where appropriate. Also, each Roundtable was tasked to develop a Public Education Participation and Outreach working group to inform the area public regarding the IBCC activities and progress of negotiations and develop means for public feedback to the Roundtable.
History from Tom Sharp the first chair of the Roundtable:
The first meeting of the Roundtable was held at the Holiday Inn of Craig (now the Clarion) with all the different representatives from the conservancy and conservation districts, the county governments and municipalities, and others from the agricultural, industrial, recreational, and environmental interests in attendance. Russ George started off the meeting going over the principal components of the Act and the statutory responsibilities of the Roundtable and why it was being formed. Tom Sharp was elected the first Chair of the Roundtable. Darryl Steele was Vice Chair and Bob Weiss was the Secretary/Treasurer.
The first task was to develop the by-laws and figure out when and where to meet. Initially, the meetings were held quarterly (now every other month) and were hosted by different representatives throughout 4 the White and Yampa Basins. Initially, the Roundtable representatives from a chosen meeting site where tasked with finding a convenient meeting location for 30 to 40 people and providing dinner at the meeting. The 2005 Act did not initially provide any money to the Roundtables. After a couple of years, the Roundtable members decided to meet consistently in Craig at the Holiday Inn, and then later the American Legion Hall in Craig, and now the Pavilion at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. It was also decided that the Roundtable should ask for donations from the Government and Conservation Districts within the basin to pay for administrative expenses (room rent, meals, printings). Finally, the State Assembly was able to appropriate funds for the program, and the CWCB and IBCC developed a process to provide the money to the Roundtables to cover administrative cost and pay for studies and grants.
Initially the Roundtable was called under the Act the Yampa White Basin Roundtable and did not include the Green River in the name. A representative from the Green River basin (T. Wright Dickinson) requested that the Green River be added to the Roundtable. The Roundtable agreed that the Green River should be added, and the name was changed from the Yampa White Basin Roundtable to the Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable.
An early and interesting compact negotiation was the initial discussions between the YWGBRT and the South Platte Basin Roundtable regarding a proposed South Platte Basin Roundtable proposal to divert water from the lower Yampa River near Maybell into a large reservoir north of the Yampa River, and then pump the water through one of 3 routes over to a Front Range receiving reservoir north of Greeley. The project was called the Maybell Pumpback Project. The Yampa-White-Green Roundtable had two meetings with South Platte Roundtable representatives, the second of which occurred on “neutral ground” in Walden, Colorado. The YWG-BRT gracefully said no to the proposed Maybell Pumpback diversion.
A second interesting series of discussions in the Roundtable related to the understanding and support for the Yampa Doctrine, so named by its creator Tom Sharp, which asserts that Title XIII of the 1948 Upper Colorado River Basin Compact among Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico, constitutes a formal
apportionment of the Yampa River flow between Colorado and Utah such that the Yampa cannot be curtailed if it produces the required 5 million AF 10-year average deliveries past the Maybell gage to Utah. The Roundtable members were concerned that, since the Yampa River has fairly junior water rights compared to other Colorado West Slope basins, and only uses a small amount of its native water, a curtailment of the Yampa in the event of a compact call under the 1922 Colorado River Compact would inequitably harm the users and diverters on the Yampa River. The YWG-BRT did not want the Yampa River to become the primary basin in the state to make up the water gaps or compact calls in shortages
in Lake Powell. All basins should mutually take on the burdens of compact calls and water supply gaps in an equitable and fair apportionment. After much discussion, the YWG-BRT members formally adopted the “Yampa Doctrine” as policy of the Roundtable.
In 2013 the Roundtable started work on the Basin Implementation Plan which was finalized in 2015. This process not only developed eight goals for the basin but also included several studies beyond the basic State Water Supply Initiative. The Yampa River basin alone has an average consumptive use of about 130,000 acre-feet per year, out of an average native flow of about 1,300,000 AF. The anticipated demand for the Yampa, White, and Green Rivers in Colorado is about 361,000-acre feet by 2050. The Basin Implementation Plan for the Yampa, White, and Green Rivers included energy development, Oil Shale development in the Piceance Basin of the White River, potentially additional power plants, all of
5 whom would have been a large water user. That energy and Oil Shale sectors to date have not materialized. The Basin Implementation Plan also called out for additional agricultural irrigation within the basin, which most of the other West Slope basins within the state cannot accomplish. The Plan also included population growth in the White and Yampa Basins as estimated by the Colorado State Demographer’s office. Along with these Consumptive Use: Energy, Industrial and Municipality Needs Assessments, the YWG BRT also created a Non-consumptive Needs Assessment that outlined the environmental and recreational current and future needs of the basin(s). These Needs Assessments can be found on the yampawhitegreen.com website and are the backbone for many of the YWG BRT plans and projects.