Arkansas Valley agriculture producers are invited to attend a workshop on Feb. 21 that will highlight best management practices to improve water quality in the lower Arkansas River. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Otero Junior College Student Center in La Junta.

Changes in water rights, non-point source, and point source pollution have had cumulative effects on water quality and further impact the uses of Arkansas River water. Concentrations of selenium and nutrients have become more prevalent, and the economic impact from these pollutants may affect producers’ bottom lines.

In 2012, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission adopted Regulation 85 to address nutrient pollutant levels in rivers and lakes throughout the state, including the Arkansas. Regulation 85 requests implementation of voluntary best management practices to reduce non-point sources of nutrients before 2022, at which point there will be an evaluation of progress made and the potential need to adopt control regulations for agricultural practices.

The workshop will include three panels with well-known and respected experts on each panel. The workshop is free and a complimentary lunch will be served, but attendees must register with the Colorado Watershed Assembly by Feb. 17. Go to www.coloradowater.org, info@coloradowater.org or (720) 722-4213.

Tentative speakers include: John Stulp, Director of Compact Negotiations; Ryan Hemphill, McClave farmer; Phillip Chavez, Otero County Ag Producer; Joel Moffett, Natural Resources Conservation Service; John Aguilar, Kansas State University; Timothy Gates, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University; Jack Goble, civil engineer, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District; Kenan Diker, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division. Panel #1 will be Lessons from the Field; Panel #2, Water Quality is a Bottom Line Issue; Panel #3, Real Solutions.