GLENWOOD SPRINGS - People drink the water of the Roaring Fork Valley, irrigate with it, fish in it, float on it, admire its beauty.It's also easy for many to take for granted that it always will be there, in the same kind of quantity and condition as today.A diverse group of agencies and nonprofit organizations doesn't want to leave that to chance. Instead, it is undertaking the first comprehensive watershed plan for the Roaring Fork Valley.The effort is being sponsored by the Ruedi Water and Power Authority but is the result of two years of effort by entities such as The Nature Conservancy, Roaring Fork Conservancy and Colorado River Water Conservation District. They have been working together as a planning and information-sharing group called the Watershed Collaborative.An initial phase of the planning process entails creating a State of the Watershed Report. It will pull together information from several dozen studies and create a comprehensive picture of the watershed's condition, said Mark Fuller, executive director of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority."The philosophy is we won't be able to tell what we want to change until we know what we've got," Fuller said.He thinks local water quantity and quality are fairly good. "But neither of those are at a level that people would like to see them," he said.Thanks to diversions, the Roaring Fork River can dry up in the Aspen area and on Independence Pass in some drought years, as can the lower Crystal River."Anytime you lose quantity there's an effect on quality because obviously the more water you have on the river the more able it is to absorb pollutants," he said.Studies also show lower-quality fish habitat where the Roaring Fork flows through Aspen and Glenwood Springs, Fuller said."We think it's really important that the public at large understand the local water resource and use that knowledge to assure that our government representatives do what they can to protect that resource," he said. A watershed plan could improve communications between governments to better protect the watershed. Such coordination can be lacking now, he said. For example, he said, Basalt put together a good plan some years ago to stabilize river beds and improve riparian areas."Unless the jurisdictions upstream of them and downstream of them are aware of that and are sort of working in concert with it, it has a lot less chance of success. So those are the kinds of connections we're trying to make," he said.Louis Meyer, co-owner of a Glenwood Springs engineering and surveying firm, welcomed the idea of a watershed plan. He and other members of the local 2003-04 class of the American Leadership Forum took on the project of trying to boost public education about issues involving water quantity and quality, and get people involved in seeking solutions."I think if people understood the threats to the watershed and what's happening on a statewide level with trans-basin diversions and statewide water planning, more people would get involved," he said.As a kayaker and fisherman, Meyer said he considers the Roaring Fork River "one of the best amenities that we have." He said he sees a lot of threats to it, and doesn't see any one entity taking the lead to protect it."There needs to be more of a unified effort," he said.The budget for the first phase is $115,000. The Colorado River Water Conservation District and Gunnison County also have donated funds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has contributed money the Roaring Fork Conservancy has been using for initial outreach to ranchers, water lawyers, river recreation companies, homeowners associations and others to learn their concerns and get them involved in the planning process.