District 3 San Miguel County Commissioner Kris Holstrom and Norwood Mayor Pro-Tem Candy Meehan are working together to make sure Norwood has water in the future.
Currently, Holstrom with the West End Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) and April Montgomery are collaborating to bring groups together, including the Lone Cone Ditch Company, Farmers Water Development, Norwood Water Commission, Norwood Fire Protection District, the Town of Norwood and San Miguel Watershed Coalition.
In a grant application that is due Dec. 1 to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the collaboration, with WEEDC as the fiscal agent, is going after a 75-25 percent match of what could be millions of dollars.
Holstrom and Meehan said the grant is for bringing a third-party engineer to Wright’s Mesa to examine major water projects, layer them and “plan and prioritize” for sustainable water for the region. Holstrom said it can help with water supply and storage.
Holstrom said the engineer won’t be hired to come and take over water on Wright’s Mesa. She said each organization can still go after its own grants. She said “buckets of money” are soon going to be available in the near future, though, and the grantors want to see collaboration.
For a region in extreme drought, Meehan said it only makes sense to do this work.
“We can’t pass up this opportunity,” she said. “We have one water source, one head gate. This needs to be done.”
Already $30,000 has been secured. Holstrom said the various organizations have “skin in the game” whether it’s through large, small or in-kind donations.
Should the collaborators on Wright’s Mesa be awarded — and they just might considering officials at CWCB were described as being “very enthusiastic” regarding the incoming grant application — the organizations who’ve contributed then become stakeholders. Only then would a regional partnership be established. Next, a regional comprehensive water plan could also be done.
“I know it’s ambitious, but what do we have to lose?” Meehan asked The Norwood Post last Friday. “Can you image what it would do for this region?”
Meehan has been focused on water the last year and a half. She’s been writing monthly columns in The Norwood Post, organized Wright’s Mesa’s first water holiday last spring and also completed a water fluency training with Holstrom earlier this fall.
She said she’s grateful for Montgomery’s numerous hours in contributing to the grant application that will be submitted on deadline. She’s also grateful for Holstrom’s investment in the district she represents, specifically Norwood.
“Kris is all in down here and for the people. I am not skeptical about her at all. She is in 100 percent,” Meehan said.
Holstrom said Monday that she’s pleased various organizations on Wright’s Mesa are agreeing to go for the collaborative grant. She said the “yesses and nods” are an indication that it’s time to look into getting the funding to sustain water in the Norwood area.
She said in mid-November with no snow at her farm on the mesa, she remains concerned.
“We know that things are really challenging, and in my mind we have to do everything we can on the receiving end to be mindful and thoughtful of how we are storing and using this extremely precious resource,” she said. “Our future depends on how well we can manage what we get.”