Souteastern Water winter water storage meeting recap

October 18, 2014

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Lower Arkansas Valley water users could face a different sort of challenge next year, especially if it’s a wet winter: Finding places to store the water. The possibility was discussed Friday at the annual meeting of the winter water storage program, hosted by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

“I think the way we’re managing reservoirs is shifting a bit,” said Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “We need to start planning. If one area gets full, you can’t move the water there.”

The winter water program is a court-decreed plan that allows most major ditch companies east of Pueblo to store water from Nov. 15 to March 15 each year. Rather than irrigating during the winter months, the companies can store the water for use later in the season.

But the storage is not all in one place.

About one-third of last year’s water was stored in Lake Pueblo, with the rest being stored by individual canal companies or in John Martin Reservoir.

Not all ditch companies have storage.

Lake Pueblo has more water than usual going into the winter water storage season because cities were able to beef up their storage in Fryingpan-Arkansas Project space this year. In addition, the Bureau of Reclamation is moving water from Turquoise and Twin Lakes to Lake Pueblo to make room for next spring’s transmountain imports.

If rainfall and snowpack are above average in the Arkansas River basin, Lake Pueblo could fill more. If it gets too full, some water would have to be evacuated, or “spilled,” next spring in order to leave space to contain potential floods.

It’s a problem the valley hasn’t really faced since 1999. In 2011, the Southeastern District got permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to delay releases of water from the flood pool by several weeks because of conditions at the time.

Roy Vaughan, Fry-Ark Project manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, said a spill is unlikely next year if weather conditions remain in the average range. But Lake Pueblo should be nearly filled to the flood pool level by next spring.

Lake Pueblo State Park: Proposed new pumping rules to be discussed November 17 #ArkansasRiver

October 17, 2014

Arkansas River Basin -- Graphic via the Colorado Geological Survey

Arkansas River Basin — Graphic via the Colorado Geological Survey

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Groundwater rules that could help certain farmers avoid some of the cost of water court applications are being considered for the Arkansas River basin.

“We’re not necessarily committed to this idea, but it may have benefits,” Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board Thursday. “The public needs to weigh in.”

The first chance to do that will be at a meeting at 1 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Lake Pueblo State Park visitors center auditorium.

The rules would apply to water replacement plans for post-1985 pumping, new uses for wells drilled prior to 1985 or new wells. They would provide an administrative alternative to water court, which can be too expensive for individual water users to navigate.

Witte reviewed the history of legal issues surrounding wells in the Arkansas Valley, including the 1972 attempt to reconcile surface and groundwater use, the Kansas v. Colorado case filed in 1985 that led to the 1996 well rules and the Simpson v. Bijou decision by the state Supreme Court in 2003 that took many well augmentation plans out of the hands of the state engineer.

“Decreed plans for augmentation costs have been so prohibitive in the South Platte that thousands of wells remain shut down to this day because of Simpson v. Bijou,” Witte said. There have also been instances in the Arkansas River basin, he said after the meeting.

On the same day that the Simpson v. Bijou ruling came, the state Legislature entered the Arkansas Valley well rules into law. In 2003, it also gave the state engineer’s office authority to approve five-year substitute water supply plans and to develop future rules.

Nearly 1,800 wells in the Arkansas Valley are covered by Rule 14 group augmentation plans under the 1996 rules, and those would stay in place even if new well rules are adopted.

The new rules could benefit a farmer who wants to use his own surface water rights to replace water pumped from wells, revegetation projects or even someone drilling a new well for a business, Witte said. At the same time, they would protect downstream water users and Colorado’s obligation under the Arkansas River Compact.

Witte acknowledged that there might an “augmentation gap” that makes finding sources of replacement water difficult, as discussed by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable recently. Permanently changing water uses still would require a trip to court.

But he said the purpose of the rules would be to give farmers a new tool to stay in business while complying with water law.

“We’re relying on data that were developed 30 years ago,” Witte said. “Life goes on and we need to think of ways to adjust and not be hampered by things already in place.”

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co, Aspen and the #ColoradoRiver District reach deal

October 15, 2014

From the Aspen Daily News (Brent Gardner-Smith):

The city of Aspen and Front Range water interests have reached a compromise 20 years in the making that allows more water to be sent east when the spring runoff is plentiful, in exchange for bolstering flows when the Roaring Fork River is running low in the fall. The deal is between the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co., which operates transbasin diversion tunnels underneath Independence Pass, and the city of Aspen and the Colorado River District, which works to protect water rights on the Western Slope.

The deal, which has its roots in a 1994 water court application from Twin Lakes that sought to increase diversions during the runoff in high-snowpack years. It will leave 40 acre-feet of water in Grizzly Reservoir when Twin Lakes exercises its rights under the 1994 proposal. That water will be stored in the 500-acre-foot reservoir and released into the Roaring Fork for about three weeks in late summer, when seasonal flows are at their lowest. The water must be called for and released in the same year it was stored.

Grizzly Reservoir, located about 8 miles up Lincoln Creek Road near the Continental Divide, is a component of the transbasin-diversion system. A tunnel underneath the reservoir channels water underneath the mountain to the south fork of Lake Creek in the Arkansas River basin, on the other side of the pass.

Additionally, under the deal, the River District will have the right to store 200 acre-feet of water in Grizzly Reservoir and can call for up to 150 acre feet of that water in a year. Importantly, that 200 acre-feet can be stored long-term in the reservoir until it is called for by the River District, which manages water rights across the Western Slope.

Another 600 acre-feet will be provided to the River District for seasonal storage in Twin Lakes Reservoir, also on the east side of Independence Pass. The district will then trade and exchange that water with various entities, which could lead to more water staying on the Western Slope that would otherwise be diverted through other transbasin tunnels.

Twin Lakes diverts an average of 46,000 acre-feet a year from the headwaters of the Roaring Fork and sends it to Colorado Springs and other Front Range cities. The city of Colorado Springs owns 55 percent of the shares in the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co., entities in Pueblo own 23 percent, entities in Pueblo West own 12 percent, and Aurora owns 5 percent.

Aspen and the River District intend to cooperatively use the stored water in Grizzly Reservoir to boost late-summer flows in the Roaring Fork as it winds through Aspen proper.

Water already flowing
The stretch of the Roaring Fork River below the Salvation Ditch on Stillwater Drive typically runs below environmentally sound flows each year for about eight weeks, according to city officials. And given that this spring saw a high run-off, the three parties to the agreement managed some water this year as if the deal was already signed.

“At the close of the current water year (which ended the last day of September), Twin Lakes started making releases of some of the water stored for the River District, followed by release of the 40 acre-feet, as directed by Aspen and the River District,” Phil Overeynder, a special projects engineer for the city, wrote in an Oct. 3 memo to city council. “These releases had the effect of increasing flows in the Roaring Fork through the Aspen reach by approximately 20 percent and will last for approximately a three-week period at the end of the lowest flow conditions of the year.”

Overeynder added that “both Aspen and the River District believe that this agreement, while not perfect, is of real and meaningful benefit to the Roaring Fork.”

Aspen City Council approved the agreement on its consent calendar during a regular council meeting on Monday. The agreement is on the River District’s Tuesday meeting agenda, and Twin Lakes approved it last month.

The deal still needs to be accepted by Pitkin County and the Salvation Ditch Co. in order to satisfy all of the details of the water court’s 2001 approval of the 1994 water rights application.

Junior and senior rights
In addition to its junior 1994 water right, Twin Lakes also holds a senior 1936 water right that allows it to divert up to 68,000 acre-feet in a single year and up to 570,000 acre-feet in a 10-year period.

Originally, the water diverted by Twin Lakes was used to grow sugar beets to make sugar, but it is now primarily used to meet the needs of people living on the Front Range.

The 1936 water right still has some lingering restrictions in high-water years, according to Kevin Lusk, an engineer with Colorado Springs Utilities who serves as the president of the board of the private Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co. Under its 1936 right, when there is plenty of water in the Arkansas River and the Twin Lakes Reservoir is full, Twin Lakes is not allowed to divert water, even though it is physically there to divert, Lusk explained. So in 1994 it filed in water court for a new water right without the same restrictions so it could divert more water to the east. It was dubbed the “Twin Junior,” water right.

The city of Aspen and the River District objected in court to the “Twin Junior” and the agreement approved Monday is a long-delayed outcome of the case.

Aspen claimed that if Twin Lakes diverted more water in big-water years, the Roaring Fork wouldn’t enjoy the benefits of the high water, including flooding the Stillwater section and replenishing groundwater supplies. That process, the city argued, helps the river in dry times.

“We don’t necessarily agree with the theory behind it,” Lusk said of the city’s claim, but added that Twin Lakes agreed to the deal as part of settlement negotiations.

And since 2014 turned out to be a high-water year, Twin Lakes exercised its right to divert water under its 1994 Twin Junior right, and worked cooperatively with Aspen and the River District to release 40-acre feet of “mitigation water” as described in the pending deal.

The new agreement between the city, Twin Lakes and the River District is in addition to another working arrangement between Twin Lakes and Aspen related to the Fryingpan-Arkansas diversion project, which diverts water from the headwaters of the Fryingpan River.

That agreement provides 3,000 acre-feet of water each year to be released by Twin Lakes into the main stem of the Roaring Fork beneath a dam near Lost Man Campground, normally at a rate of 3 to 4 cubic feet per second.

More Twin Lakes coverage here.

Roundtable focuses on ‘augmentation gap’ — The Pueblo Chieftain

October 14, 2014
Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Agriculture has a $1.5 billion annual impact to the Arkansas Valley, but production hinges on the availability of water. So, the Arkansas Basin Roundtable is trying to turn the state’s thinking around from looking at the agricultural “water gap” as a shortage of irrigated acres to prevention of further economic erosion.

“When the state first looked at the agricultural water gap, it came down to the number of acres, but it really had to do more with the $1.5 billion impact of agriculture,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

“What we have is an augmentation gap.”

A study for the Lower Ark district and the Super Ditch showed that the amount of water needed to fill agricultural augmentation plans — methods to replace loss of return flows from pump­ing or surface irrigation improvements — could be as high as 50,000 acre feet (16.3 billion gallons) annually by 2050.

At the same time, traditional sources for augmentation water such as Colorado Springs Utilities or Pueblo Board of Water Works leases will diminish as the cities grow into their water supplies.

“A lot of the sources for augmentation water were double-counted,” Winner said.

Agriculture is not the only area that will be shorted. Mountain subdivisions, industrial users and cities are finding themselves under-subscribed when it comes to replacement water, said Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District.

“If growth continues, whether it’s outside or inside the communities, we will continue to see a wider augmentation gap,” Scanga said. “More storage and better use of it can mean an increase in supply.”

The only other ways to find new water will be to continue to take it from farms, for many years the easiest target in the Arkansas River basin, or the much more difficult task of bringing more water across the Continental Divide, he said. But the quest to find more water must be tempered by protecting what is already in place.

In stating its preferences, the roundtable agreed to recommend language in the state water plan that encourages the state to: “Prevent future water supply gaps from increasing by protecting water rights and adhering to the prior appropriation doctrine.”

Meanwhile, the roundtable elected Jim Broderick to lead them for the next term. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, was elected chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable at its annual organizational meeting Wednesday. But the annual selection of the slate of officers, usually a routine formality, came with a minor ripple.

The roundtable also selected the proposed slate of officers on the executive committee, including vice-chairwomen SeEtta Moss and Betty Konarski, and Interbasin Compact Committee representatives Jay Winner and Jeris Danielson.

The lineup was challenged by Brett Gracely, water resources manager for Colorado Springs Utilities, who pointed out there were no agricultural or municipal representatives on the executive committee.

Three of them, Broderick, Winner and Danielson, are water conservancy district managers. Moss, of Canon City, represents environmental interests and Konarski, a real estate agent, is the El Paso County representative.

“They have been there for several years, and represent one viewpoint, but not all the viewpoints on the roundtable,” Gracely said.

“What action are you proposing?” Broderick replied.

Gracely nominated Mike Fink, Fountain water resources engineer, to serve on the IBCC instead of Winner, whose term ended.

Broderick checked the bylaws and announced that Fink was not eligible to serve on the executive committee because he was not a member of the roundtable.

Colorado Springs Utilities already has a member on the 27-member IBCC, Wayne Vanderschuere, who was appointed by the governor.

Broderick then explained that the same people wind up in the leadership roles because they have the time to attend numerous meetings and the resources to do the work involved.

Winner, who also chairs the needs assessment committee, which screens grants, offered to step down from that job if others were interested in taking on the task.

“It takes a lot of time,” he explained.

Broderick invited other roundtable members to become more active in committees.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

“The idea that we can build it and the water will come needs to be reversed” — Reed Dils #COWaterPlan

October 11, 2014


It seems that every time someone considers land-use planning on a statewide basis it becomes radioactive quickly. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

It’s probably wise to expect a little pain when you grab the bull by the horns. So, the Arkansas Basin Roundtable this week wrestled the question of new development, land use policies and local control to the ground, only to find that it jumped back up to torment. The roundtable looked at a white-paper approach to explain the need for water planning in land use decisions by local authorities.

“The idea that we can build it and the water will come needs to be reversed,” said Reed Dils, a retired outfitter who served on the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District in recent years.

In a continuation of a discussion that began at the September roundtable meeting, the group batted at the issue.

The group is leaning toward recommending that local land-use authorities receive more education about how water will be provided to developments they approve.

The spectrum of local control is broad however. Counties make frontend decisions based on the availability of water, but sometimes there is little follow-through on whether the plans were carried out. It can mean that a development with a supposedly firm water supply fails to develop at the proper pace and residents resort to hauling water. Several examples were cited during the meeting.

“Who ultimately has the responsibility for maintaining accountability after 20 years and 15 iterations of county commissioners?” said Brett Gracely, water resources manager for Colorado Springs Utilities.

“I think if you want local control, you’re going to have to figure out how they’re going to get water,” said SeEtta Moss, the roundtable’s environmental representative from Canon City.

Local planners also have the ability to stretch their water supplies with policies that encourage high-density or cluster development or landscape irrigation limits, said Dave Taussig, a water attorney from Lincoln County.

At the other end of the spectrum is a sort of veto power counties can use to shape projects through 1974 HB1041, which gives counties authority to regulate statewide projects.

That could needlessly hinder otherwise beneficial projects, some members said.

Some roundtable members thought the amendment to the water plan might be confusing. Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, said well permits, water administration by the state and planning processes already in place provide protection for water rights.

“We’re back to Square One,” Scanga said.

“We’re looking at the question of do we have enough water for future growth.”

In the end, the roundtable delayed any action on this particular plank of the water plan.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Arkansas Valley: “…there’s an abundance of hay because of the shortage of cattle” — Dale Mauch

October 8, 2014
Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs

Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A more normal year for rainfall in the Arkansas Valley meant better yields for crops this year, but that may not translate into big financial gains for farmers.

“It really is tough. We’ve got crops, but there’s going to be people who made more with preventive planting (drought crop insurance) than they got for their crop,” said Lamar farmer Dale Mauch.

Rainfall for the area is about 93 percent of average on the year, although it has varied widely. Some areas flooded in early summer, while others are awaiting a break from the drought that began in 2010.

Some corn yields on irrigated land are topping 200 bushels per acre, but the cost per bushel is about $3 — half of what it was when crops were planted. Also, many acres were not planted in corn because it looked like another dry year might have been coming last spring.

“Corn dictates everything,” Mauch said. “Hay has followed suit, because there’s an abundance of hay because of the shortage of cattle.”

Cattle prices have soared this year after farmers thinned herds during the drought of the past three years.

“With all the rains, we grew a lot of weeds, but we didn’t have the cattle to eat them,” said Dan Henrichs, a Pueblo County rancher who also is the superintendent of the High Line Canal.

“I would imagine that the calf you sold three years ago for $1,000 would sell for $3,000 today,” he said.

Cattlemen still face tough choices of whether to keep cows to try to rebuild herds or sell them to pay the bills. Some also could face tax consequences from previous sales.

The high price of cattle also is making a dent on cattle feed lots in the Arkansas Valley.

“We’re slower than we were last year,” said Tyler Karney, manager of the Ordway Feedyard. “There are higher prices for cattle and a lower supply.”

At Ordway, there are about 35,000 cattle on the lot, which is 20,000 less than at the same time last year. The situation is similar at the Rocky Ford Feedyard.

“One of the biggest reasons is the drought of the last couple of years. People have reduced the size of their herds. This year, people are holding cows,” said Robert Petty, manager of the Rocky Ford operation.

The smaller numbers in feed yards has implications for farmers because they are buying less feed, adding to the oversupply and lower prices.

“The yields look great, but it’s not the bonanza you think it is,” Mauch said. “With prices where they are, it’s not enough to cover the expense of getting the crop in.”

More on the SE Colorado drought from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

Grassland in Southern Colorado is making a comeback after taking a beating the last three years, but it will take a while to get anywhere close to normal.

“Range production is average or above average,” said Rich Rhoades, conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pueblo. “It’s still poor in isolated spots.”

Grasses are coming back in, and the die-off so far has not been as severe as in the last three years.

“If we have another good year rain-wise, we could see a lot of improvement,” Rhoades said. “I think the further west you go, the better off you are.”

Summer rains benefited some of the warm-season grasses, but not at a sustainable level, said Bruce Fickenscher, Colorado State University Extension range specialist.

“The rain came as the warm-season grasses were peaking,” Fickenscher said. “It helped growth in the short term. But the grasses in a lot of places are dead, or have not filled in.”

Weeds — the kind that will blow and tumble after they freeze and break off — also popped up following the rains, but neither Rhoades nor Fickenscher expect them to be as big a problem as last year’s crop.

“Most the weeds are maturing out and are past their growth point,” Fickenscher said. “We’re always going to have tumbleweeds, but I think the level of management has been higher. I don’t think it will be as bad as last year.”

Ranchers are being encouraged not to graze too many cattle on new grass, and reseeding is probably too expensive an option for most, he added.

“The basic problem is still the subsurface moisture,” Fickenscher said. “Some of the areas haven’t recovered from drought for a long time, so they have to watch how they graze it.”

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

At head gate atop pass, Western Slope, Front Range interests meet — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

October 7, 2014

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

A water-measuring flume on a ditch sitting exactly astride this pass outside Leadville might be as good a place as any to bring Western and Eastern Slope interests together to talk about water.

Those interests met in the middle here last week, at this point where the Ewing Ditch crosses the Continental Divide, on a transbasin diversion tour presented by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. It was a chance to consider the past of water development in Colorado while also pondering its future. And where better to look back at the history of transbasin diversions than at Ewing Ditch, the oldest diversion of Western Slope water to the Eastern Slope?

This straightforward, unassuming dirt conduit seemingly defies gravity, diverting water from Eagle River tributary Piney Gulch just a short walk from Tennessee Pass, and just high enough up the gulch that the water can follow a contoured course crossing basins and head into the Arkansas River Valley.

“It’s simple, but I love simplicity. It fits my mind,” Alan Ward, water resources manager with the Pueblo Board of Water Works, joked about the ditch, which the utility bought in 1955.

Buried in snow

It was built in 1880 and also is called the Ewing Placer Ditch, which Ward believes suggests early use of the water in mining.

As transbasin diversions go, it’s a minuscule one, delivering up to 18.5 cubic feet per second, or an average of about 1,000 acre-feet in a year. It diverts about five square miles of melt-off from snowpack that can leave the ditch buried beneath 10 to 20 feet of snow in the winter. David Curtis is in charge of clearing that snow and maintaining and operating the ditch during the seven months out of each year that he works out of Leadville as a ditch rider for the utility.

The utility says Ewing Ditch is about three-quarters of a mile long.

“I think it’s a little longer,” Curtis said, adding that at least it seems that way when he and others are busy clearing spring snow.

A chartered bus delivered more than two dozen tour participants to view the ditch, including Boulder County resident Joe Stepanek. He found last week’s two-day tour to be highly informative. He’s interested in Colorado’s history of water development, and is retired from a U.S. Agency for International Development career that had him traveling abroad.

“I come back and join this water tour and learn a lot about Colorado,” he said.

Sonja Reiser, an engineer with CH2M HILL in Denver, likewise was finding the tour to be eye-opening.

“I’m learning so much about how complicated Colorado water law is,” she said as the tour bus moved on from this tiny diversion point to the outlet of the five-mile-long Homestake Tunnel, which goes under the Continental Divide from Homestake Reservoir in Eagle County and is capable of delivering a much more massive 800 cubic feet per second to help meet municipal needs in Colorado Springs and Aurora.

Before getting to those cities, that water also is put to use at another tour stop, the Mount Elbert Power Plant just above Twin Lakes. There, the water goes through hydropower turbines that can be reversed to pull water back up from the lakes to a reservoir above the plant, helping ensure the water is available to create on-demand power to meet grid shortages at times when renewable energy from wind and solar sources wane.

While traveling to the tunnel, the busload heard Pitkin County Attorney John Ely discuss legal means that county has to at least weigh in on transbasin diversion proposals, even if it can’t outright stop them.

He then opined that Pitkin County has more in common with some Front Range counties than it does with some counties on the Western Slope.

“I think that at the end of the day everybody appreciates that we’re in this together,” he said.

More water

Such thinking is helping drive an ongoing effort to develop a state water plan in Colorado. Ely said the priority is always going to be providing water for human consumption, but beyond that, decisions must be made about how to distribute it among competing uses such as agriculture, watering lawns, generating hydropower and maintaining streamflows.

“The only way you can get at that is to invite the public to participate,” he said.

Since 1880, many others have followed the lead taken with the Ewing Ditch and diverted Western Slope water for use on the populous Front Range. As a result, a big challenge facing the state water planning process is reconciling the Front Range’s desire to be able to access yet more of that water with the feeling of many on the Western Slope that they’ve given up enough of it. Although tours like last week’s can’t be expected to lead to breakthroughs on such difficult issues, they at least help to put faces behind the entities involved.

“We’re not three-headed monsters on the Eastern Slope,” Kevin Lusk, who works with Colorado Springs Utilities, said during a windy lunch break alongside Turquoise Lake, which stores water delivered by the Homestake Tunnel.

Front Range lawns

Fielding questions from a few Western Slope residents as they ate, Lusk and some other Front Range utility officials found themselves defending the amount of water conservation they’ve already undertaken, and questioning the Western Slope frustration about water being used to keep Front Range lawns green. Brett Gracely, also with Colorado Springs Utilities, said that watering accounts for just 3 percent of state water use.

“I don’t get it — why do people hate grass?” Lusk wondered.

But as Lusk later described Colorado Springs’ efforts to better shore up its diversion infrastructure to reduce leakage far up the Roaring Fork Valley in Pitkin County, it engendered a frustrated sigh from Lisa Tasker, a member of Pitkin County’s Healthy River Board. She has hiked around that infrastructure, and what has leaked from it has helped vegetation in the same pristine mountain basins from where that water originates, rather than irrigating Front Range lawns.

Still, Tasker bit her lip during Lusk’s presentation. She was on the tour to look and listen, and said earlier it was a chance to see diversion infrastructure firsthand and hear not just the perspectives but the passions of people from the Front Range.

“I’m strictly in learning mode,” she said.

Chris Treese, external affairs manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, based in Glenwood Springs, sits on the board of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, which uses tours and other means to provide unbiased information on water resources and issues. Treese, who also was a presenter during last week’s tour, said he believes such events help foster dialogue about water in the state and get new voices involved in the state’s water future.

“If it’s going to be a state water plan, it can’t just be water buffaloes’ state water plan,” Treese said, referring to the more traditional participants in water issues on both sides of the divide.

“It’s good for us to get outside of our box and look at the bigger picture,” said tour participant Joe Burtard, who works in external affairs for the Ute Water Conservancy District utility in Mesa County. “… It’s good for us to be exposed to the Front Range and Eastern Slope perspectives as well.”

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.


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