Inaugural Weber River Conference | ParkRecord.com

Inaugural Weber River Conference

It is the "lifeblood" of Summit County.

That’s how Doug Evans, chief technical officer for Mountain Regional Water, describes the Weber River.

"We would die without it because it’s our water source for all residential, agricultural and commercial uses in the county," Evans said. "It’s especially important to western Summit County because the upper Weber River is where we get most of our drinking and irrigation water from, so we want to make an extra effort to try and protect that as much as possible."

In an effort to highlight the river’s importance and to increase collaboration among area watershed professionals, the Weber River Partnership will host the inaugural Weber River watershed two-day symposium in Ogden this week.

The conference, which will be held Nov. 17 and Nov.18 at the Ben Lomond Suites Historic Hotel, 2510 Washington Blvd., in Ogden, will feature panel discussions and presentations about protecting the Weber River watershed.

"The purpose of the conference is to inform attendees about the diversity, values, programs, goals and issues throughout the watershed," Ben Nadolski, river restoration biologist for the Division of Wildlife Resources and one of the event’s organizers, said. " informing people, we hope to increase participation and collaboration in finding and implementing solutions to the problems we face."

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The conference is the result of an ongoing effort of various partnerships who have worked together throughout the last two years to devise a Watershed Restoration Plan.

Eleven organizations comprised of partnerships between city and county officials, water users, private landowners, state and federal agencies, and conservation districts have come up with a plan to restore the overall watershed to ensure long-term sustainability.

"There are a lot of different interests throughout the watershed and it’s difficult for us to coordinate projects and issues that expand all of those different values," Nadolski added. "Communication is very difficult overall and a lot of us are not fully aware of what each other are doing,"

To address the lack of communication, Nadolski said it made sense to organize a watershed symposium where resource experts and managers can share information and develop coordinated projects.

"We can articulate that our watershed matters to everybody," he said. ‘We really are looking for that broad stakeholder participation."

Symposium discussions will focus on such topics as water law, demand, quantity, growth and development.

"Everything we discuss will be within the context of partnerships, which are a key to success," Nadolski said, "We will be comparing our efforts so we can use the best management practices out there to move forward."

Presenters and panelists include various state government and department heads. Ogden city mayor Mike Caldwell will deliver the keynote address on Monday.

Caldwell said it’s exceedingly important to consider water and how it is managed in such an arid state.

"Every single person in the state of Utah has a stake in the limited water and we wall need to be collectively thinking and working on what we have," Caldwell said. "I applaud the event organizers for thinking down the road like they probably should have done ten years ago.

"In terms of bringing these diverse groups together, it’s a great step," he said. "I expect this to happen every single year because it is healthier the more often we have this dialogue."

The conference was made possible by a $15,000 grant, which will enable organizers to hold the event annually the next few years.

For more information on the conference, go to http://www.weberconfluence2014.eventbrite.com . Registration for the conference is already closed.

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