State water quality rulings discussion

Local News


Recent water quality rulings by the Water Quality Commission led to the development of a total maximum daily capacity limit on Selenium in our tributary connections at the river. The cost of living could go up with the new standard, and the reason a group of Western Slope organizations, and city, county and state officials are trying to stop the new standard. Diane Schwenke with the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce says, “What they’re doing here is wrong with this proposed rule.” Mark Harris, with the Grand Valley Water Users Association says, “These matters and issues are of great importance, but we’re basing the fact upon that’s it’s incomplete, incorrect, inappropriate science.”

The TDML is the number of the current level of water quality versus what someone else thinks it should be, and the Selenium standards have gone up. “We’re here not just on behalf of our organizations, but of the thousands of people that use the water.,” said Harris.

Harris says the water quality being measured isn’t coming out of the Colorado River, but from the runoff out of the desert, and into our irrigation canals, and storm water drains. The responsibility or the impact won’t be shared by irrigation providers, it’s going to the general population of the Grand Valley.

Schwenke with the Grand Junction Chamber is concerned the higher water quality standards are an unrealistic rule that could lead to higher costs impacting the business community that’s trying to bounce back from the pandemic. “If all the new housing developments have an increased cost to try and meet an unreasonable rule, that cost is going to be added to the cost of a house and make our housing even more unaffordable,” said Schwenke. Former Mesa County Commissioner for District 1, and current farmer of over 40 years, John Justman came to the press conference to put in his two cents. “You’re going to regulate all of us out of business. We’re going to quit building houses because it adds too much pollution? It’s mind boggling to me,” said Justman.

Water is the lifeblood of the Grand Valley, but the water quality Selenium standard flows towards the money, and time is essential to correct the issue. “Stop the process now, go to an appeal hearing, show why this is a rule that should not move forward and hopefully, go back to the drawing board,” said Schwenke.

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