On March 30, the Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum (Water Forum) finalized its community goals for water resources. This is the first time a diverse, community-based effort has identified desired outcomes for the Big Sky area. The goals expressed represent an umbrella of the priorities for water resources management.
The agreed upon vision and goals are:
Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum Overall Vision: Big Sky strives to be a model mountain community by protecting and improving water resources, sustaining ecological health of the watersheds, and supporting a vibrant local economy.
Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum Goals in Three Focus Areas
- Ecological Health of the River Systems: A healthy and resilient river system sustained through a principled approach to watershed stewardship that includes human activities and natural processes that maintain and enhance stream, riparian and wetland conditions and connections, ensuring water remains clean and cold.
- Water Supply and Availability: Manage and balance surface and groundwater supplies for a vibrant community sustaining a broad spectrum of uses and values including fisheries, wildlife, recreation, agriculture, municipal and domestic needs.
- Wastewater Treatment and Reuse: Develop and implement holistic wastewater and stormwater management, utilizing best available technologies and practices, to meet Big Sky’s long-term community needs and protect and improve the ecological health of the river systems.
Participants also identified important issues within these goal areas that will be used to form objectives and have a draft set of indicators of success that can be tracked to assess progress at the community level.
The Water Forum, made up of 36 stakeholders representing diverse community, business, conservation, downstream, agency and local government interests, has been working since June 2016 to build a common understanding of the water resources issues and will identify feasible, community-based solutions in its water resource management plan. This effort is one of the most ambitious in the country because of its broad focus.
In the next three months, the Water Forum will work to systematically evaluate options to achieve these goals. Tools and strategies that will be considered range from stream restoration projects to options for water conservation and treated wastewater. Community members are welcome to attend Water Forum meetings. The next meeting is on April 27 from 1 to 4 pm at the Big Sky Sewer and Water District.