Make Water Provocative: Building a Foundation

April 13, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

Interpretation is not just the delivery of information.  It is revelation, a moment when an audience member makes new and meaningful connections.  So how can interpreters facilitate these interpretive moments?

If you’ve ever been an interpreter, you know that you never really leave this type of work behind, even if you no longer practice it daily.  A lasting remnant from this part of my career was my memorization of the so-called “interpretive equation.”  This equation details what is needed to achieve an “interpretive opportunity,” the moment when interpretation takes place.

The equation, written in non-mathematical formula, goes something like this:  Knowledge of the resource, and knowledge of the audience, combined with the appropriate techniques for both, are necessary to produce an interpretive opportunity.

In other words, any successful interpreter needs:  knowledge of the resource, knowledge of the audience, and appropriate interpretive techniques for a given situation.

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Make Water Provocative: A Series on Interpretation

April 13, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

CFWE's Program Assistant Jennie Geurts

CFWE’s Program Assistant Jennie Geurts

Have you ever walked away from a program – perhaps a campfire talk, or a tour of a water diversion, or even a PowerPoint presentation – feeling inspired, identifying new connections that you had not previously realized, eager to learn more, determined to try new things?

If you have, you have fulfilled every interpreter’s dream. Those reactions are what interpreters hope to inspire in audiences. But how do we achieve this? Although a magic formula remains frustratingly elusive, interpreters have honed some best practices and principles over the years, which may be helpful in your program development. This interpretive series will outline a few of these practices.

Before I came to CFWE, I worked as an interpretive ranger for the National Park Service. I learned interpretive principles recommended by the Interpretive Development Program, and I was certified for guided interpretive programs. I later applied…

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CWFE’s President’s Award Reception, May 2

April 6, 2014

From the website:

Registration is now open! Support the Colorado Foundation for Water Education at our annual President’s Award Reception.

May 2, 2014
History Colorado Center, Denver
6-9:30 pm

Register Here

This spring we’ll honor Alan Hamel with the President’s Award and Sean Cronin of the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District with the Emerging Leader Award.

alanhamelpuebloboardofwaterworksadminbuildingchieftainAlan Hamel, 2014 President’s Award
Caring for People and Watersheds
Growing up in Pueblo in the 1950s, Alan Hamel liked to swin in the Arkansas River. His father, Bob, owned an automobile repair business. His mother, Jean, worked as a psychiatric technician at the state hospital. in those days, Pueblo was a gritty industrial town largely dependent on Colorado Fuel and Iron, its steel and iron mill the principal employer. Ethnically diverse, a town of working men and women located at the confluence of the Arkansas River and Foundation Creek, Pueblo had a long history of manufacturing rails for the narrow gauges that opened up the Colorado Rockies for mining, timbering, settlement and recreation. Read more about Alan Hamel

Sean Cronin, 2014 Emerging Leader Award
Shifting Rivers, Changing Course
Sean Cronin got used to planning for drought in his former job as a water resources manager for the City of Greeley, but since the devastating September 2013 flood in northern Colorado, he’s been coping with way too much water.
As excutive director of the St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District, Sean is helping to piece together relationships necessary to construct more resilient water systems and riverine habitat for the near and long term. Read more about Sean Cronin

CFWE: “We want to have a larger presence in the Arkansas Valley” — Nicole Seltzer

April 4, 2014
Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters Magazine

Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters Magazine

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education wants to step up its efforts in the Arkansas River basin.

“No matter who you are, if you understand water better in the Arkansas basin, it will benefit everyone,” said Scott Lorenz, who joined the foundation’s board this year.

Lorenz lives near Rye and manages the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association, a wellaugmentation group. He and Nicole Seltzer, CFWE executive director, visited Thursday with The Pueblo Chieftain editorial board, along with other groups and individuals throughout the Arkansas Valley.

“We’ve been notably absent from the Arkansas basin,” Seltzer said, explaining that the foundation formed statewide in 2002 as a response to severe drought that caught the state off-guard. “We want to have a larger presence in the Arkansas Valley.”

The foundation can have mutual benefits.

“We provide a lens for the wider state and resources for local water educators,” Seltzer said.

Those resources include publications — Headwaters magazine and a series of Citizens Guides that look at water issues. CFWE also organizes workshops and tours, including one of the Arkansas River headwaters set for September.

The group also sponsors a program for emerging water leaders, which is how Lorenz became involved with CWFE.

Lorenz plans to use his time on the board to increase awareness of the importance of agriculture. There are young farmers who are optimistic about the future of farming, but to do that they also need to protect the availability of irrigation water.

“Sometimes we make ourselves the target,” Lorenz said. “I think CWFE will focus on the facts. One of those is that we have to have water on the land to be viable.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

New Leadership is Growing

March 31, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

Class of 2014 during their March training with CFWE and MORF Consulting in Greeley

Class of 2014 with CFWE and MORF Consulting in Greeley

CFWE is proud to announce our 2014 class of Water Leaders! This diverse and talented group of mid-level water professionals have started a journey to develop their leadership potential. The first training on March 17-18 focused on self-awareness and functional team-building. The group also examined how regional leaders have effectively built water teams in northeastern Colorado by numerous guest presentations and excursions at the Poudre Learning Center in Greeley.  Subsequent trainings will be in Fraser on May 15-16, Pueblo on July 31-August 1 and Denver on September 18-19. Join us in welcoming them to your community!

Congratulations to:
Jason Carey, River Restoration
Adam Cwiklin, Town of Fraser
Aaron Derwingson, The Nature Conservancy
Julia Galucci, Colorado Springs Utilities
James Henderson, 711 Ranch
Dawn Jewell, City of Aurora
Laurna Katz, Denver Water
Aimee Konowal, CDPHE Water Quality Control Division
Steve Malers, Open…

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From the Ice Core Lab: Reflections on CFWE’s Climate and Water Workshop

March 26, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

By Lisa Wade, Riverside Technology

The thermometer on the wall displays a chilling -36°F as we enter the giant freezer. What could possibly need it to be this cold? The answer– ice cores collected from around the world.


Climate and Colorado’s Water Future Workshop participants tour the freezers in the National Ice Core Laboratory.

They are stored in the US National Ice Core Laboratory, which I was touring as part of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s Climate and Colorado’s Water Future Workshop. The Ice Core Lab is responsible for preserving ice collected from remote locations, such as Greenland, Antarctica, the Andes, and the Himalayas. Scientists drill the ice cores, package them up very carefully, and ship them back to the Ice Core Lab. Here, analysis on the ice provides insight into Earth’s climate. Scientists look at the oxygen isotopes, which are related to the temperature of the clouds…

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Historic water pulses through the Colorado River delta for revival starting today

March 23, 2014

Coyote Gulch:

This is a big day for the Colorado River delta.

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

1ColoRi-R2-024-10A The dry Colorado River Delta will receive a resurrecting flow of water this spring, one that Scientific American calls “an unprecedented experiment in ecological engineering” thanks to a historic agreement between the United States and Mexico.

Starting today, the pulse will be released from Morelos Dam, which sits on the international boundary, and will travel 75 miles to the Gulf of California. Below the dam, the Colorado is usually completely dry. This pulse of water will mark the first time that the United States and Mexico have put water back into the parched riverbed for environmental purposes.

From Scientific American:

The mighty Colorado rises on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains and drains seven US and two Mexican states along its 2,300-kilometer course (see ‘River run’). Before the 1930s, when dams began to throttle the river, its water ran unfettered into the Gulf of California. But…

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Ask Questions About Colorado’s Water Plan #COWaterPlan

March 4, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

Colorado’s Water Plan will provide a path forward for providing Coloradans with the water we need while supporting healthy watersheds and the environment, robust recreation and tourism economies, vibrant and sustainable cities, and viable and productive agriculture.

So it says on the homepage of the Colorado’s Water Plan website, and so many across the state are working to achieve. This Wednesday 3/5,  listen to Denver and Boulder’s community radio station KGNU (or tune in online) from 8:35-9:30 am for a panel discussion and call-in show on Colorado’s Water Plan. Listen to and ask questions of the Colorado Water Conservation Board Director James Eklund, Sean Cronin Chair of the South Platte Basin Roundtable, and Abby Burk Colorado Western Rivers Action Network Coordinator for the National Audubon Society.

Have a question for the experts? Call in at 303-442-4242 this Wednesday morning!

Interested in getting involved in Colorado’s Water Future? Check…

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Money for Water

February 23, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

By Mark Scharfenaker, Denver resident

When I moved west from Michigan in the early 1970’s I was dumb and dumber about water.

But the first Earth Day had awakened me and many others to the perils of pollution, EPA and the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts had just emerged  and I began wading trout waters with a fly rod in my hand and joy in my young heart.

credit: Wikipedia

Who knew that…

  • Those strange riverside structures were USGS streamflow gauges?
  • The big dams that store big water were funded by taxpayers and built by the federal  Bureau of Reclamation?
  • The US Forest Service is an Agriculture agency charged with keeping  forest snows shaded to extend the flows of meltwaters to  the massive network of  irrigation ditches that stitch the western landscape together?
  • Toxic waters were still seeping from old mines into nearly every watershed ?
  • Windy Gap…

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Say hello to CFWE’s Water Educator Network

February 17, 2014

Click here to go to the website. From email from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education (Kristin Maharg):

I’m reaching out to the Colorado Water 2012 community to let you know how the Colorado Foundation for Water Education has since built upon the successes of that coalition. With support from Xcel Energy and partnering with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, we are developing the Water Educator Network to offer tools, trainings and collaborations that are relevant to your work, easily accessible and simple to implement.

As a teaser of this all new program, we’d like to invite you to attend a FREE lunchtime webinar on February 25. For those of you involved in your local watershed festival, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to gear up for spring festival season, learn from long-time organizers and discuss ways to improve the overall experience. Register today for the Water Festival Planning and Coordination webinar.

Visit the Water Educator Network web page to see how CFWE is gearing up to deliver technical assistance and resources to our community. After an “orientation” webinar on March 19, CFWE staff will reach out to you again to become a member of this exclusive network for only $100/year. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Water Books from the Board of Trustees

February 13, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

The CFWE Board meets three times per year across Colorado

The CFWE Board meets three times per year across Colorado.  Here we are in Jan. 2014 at the Ralph Carr Justice Center in Denver.

CFWE is blessed to have a diverse and helpful Board of Trustees.  All 22 of them are committed to making CFWE the best water education organization in the state of Colorado, and I greatly appreciate their expertise and guidance.  Its not surprising that they, like our staff, are a bunch of “water geeks” who spend countless hours in their personal and professional lives thinking about our most important resource.

At each of our three yearly Board meetings, our Board Development Committee Chair, Chris Treese, does a round of introductions so we can learn a bit about each other.  At our January meeting, the question asked of each member was “What is your favorite water-related book?”  This was such a great list, I wanted to share it…

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Water Is… Poetry

February 5, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

As you well know, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education appreciates the written word…  we publish Headwaters magazine, this blog, and the wonderful poet, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs, serves as our publications chair– it only makes sense. Back in 2012, a water haiku challenge posted on this blog was wildly popular– so here we are again, this time opening the doors of expression to all water poetry. Need some inspiration? CFWE debuted our new magnetic poetry display board at the Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention last week– check out the words on the board, and the phrases folks came up with.  Comment to share your lines and words– let your creativity flow, splash and swell powerfully. 


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The Winter 2014 issue of Headwaters: The Fine (and Fun!) Art of Engaging People Around Water, now available

February 5, 2014


Click here to read the issue. The publication is from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.

More education coverage here

Colorado Foundation for Water Education: Climate & Colorado’s Water Future Tour, March 7

February 3, 2014
Antarctic ice core waiting to be shelved at the National Ice Core Lab March 2010

Antarctic ice core waiting to be shelved at the National Ice Core Lab March 2010

Click here to go to the CFWE website and reserve your spot. Here’s the pitch:

Each spring, CFWE is joined by a group of 50 wonderful workshop participants who bundle up to tour the National Ice Core Laboratory. During the tour, we learn how climate data is extracted from polar regions, receive interactive teaching tools and learn how climate impacts water resources and the environment. Take a look at the agenda and check out photos from 2013 on Facebook.

Click here for my writeup of the 2010 workshop.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education: An Epic Ride Through the Grand Canyon: Reception and Lecture by Author Kevin Fedarko

December 21, 2013

More education coverage here.

Snow Field School for Water Professionals

December 15, 2013

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:


Join the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies February 12-14, 2014 for a 2.5 day professional development opportunity just for Colorado Water Managers

This workshop will highlight, in a mixture of classroom discussion and hands-on field sessions:

  • Review of Colorado’s snow climatology, snowpack formation, and snowmelt processes
  • Discussion of recent snow and climate literature including dust-on-snow
  • Site visits to and discussions about snow and weather monitoring systems, issues
  • Snowpack, weather, and climate data sources, interpretation and application issues

The workshop will be conducted by Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies staff at its Silverton office and at the Senator Beck Basin Study Area and nearby Snotel and snow course sites.  The workshop will entail over-snow travel at 11,000’ on snowshoes or skis (must have climbing skins) over short distances (up to 20 minutes) and some small hills.  CSAS will provide the technical snow science equipment but participants should bring suitable…

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The State of Colorado Coal

December 15, 2013

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

The State of Colorado Coal

CFWE’s most recent Headwaters magazine on energy took a look at coal in Colorado.  Writer Josh Zaffos interviewed Jack Ihle, Xcel Energy’s director of environmental policy about the switch from coal to natural gas…

HW 32 coversmallEven with the rush toward natural gas, the push for renewables, and potential carbon emissions regulations, Ihle says Xcel—and Colorado—aren’t likely to fully divest from coal. Xcel is upgrading pollution controls at several coal plants to further limit smog and air pollution and keep the plants running and in compliance with Clean Air Act regulations. “We see value in balance even as certain drivers like emissions regulations will cause us to look harder at cleaner resources,” Ihle says. “Coal has been a very cost-effective resource and price-stable for a long time, and we’ll look for ways to make it as clean as we can.”

And the use of coal in…

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Colorado Foundation for Water Education Colorado Water Leaders Program applications due January 17, 2014

December 14, 2013
Greeley Irrigation Ditch No. 3 construction via Greeley Water

Greeley Irrigation Ditch No. 3 construction via Greeley Water

Click here to go to the website for the pitch. Here’s an excerpt:

Become a Water Leader! Discover your potential and expand your network in Colorado. This program offers mid-level water professionals the opportunity to develop their leadership potential with a focus on water resources issues. Since 2006, the program has provided training in conflict resolution, communication and management to participants across Colorado. Water Leaders benefit from extensive self-assessment, executive coaching, networking opportunities and the chance to learn about water resources across the state.

We are NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS for the next cohort of water leaders. Applications are due January 17, 2014 along with two letters of recommendation. Apply here, preview the application here (but don’t fill out the PDF), or contact Kristin Maharg at with questions.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

FREE Water Favorites

November 22, 2013

Coyote Gulch:

These guides are a terrific resource. My favorite — The Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Water Law.

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

If you haven’t heard, CFWE’s annual Citizen’s Guide Giveaway is going on NOW… today is actually the last day to apply for up to 100 FREE GUIDES for your organization, classroom, community or cause. Send in your outreach plan and apply!!! Need some inspiration? Read about CFWE staff’s top Citizen’s Guide picks…

CFWE's Program Assistant Jennie Geurts

CFWE’s Program Assistant Jennie Geurts

Jennie Geurts: My favorite publication is the Citizen’s Guide to Where Your Water Comes From, because it answers an essential question we often take for granted.  We turn on the tap and miraculously have pure water – but how did it get there?  This guide traces the origins of our water, from Colorado’s unique climate to our groundwater and rivers, through the water storage systems, purification networks, and pipes to our taps.  Did you know that some of Denver’s water comes from as far away as Dillon?  Did you…

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CFWE reading recommendation: Kevin Fedarko’s, The Emerald Mile

October 23, 2013
Grand Canyon from Grandview Point January 24, 2009 via the National Park Service

Grand Canyon from Grandview Point January 24, 2009 via the National Park Service

Nicole Seltzer has written an introduction to the book The Emerald Mile for Your Water Colorado Blog. Click through and read the whole thing then go out an buy the book for the author’s (Kevin Fedarko) visit in January.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

CU Boulder Research Community Responds to Boulder Floods #COflood

October 16, 2013
Surfing Boulder Creek September 2013 via @lauras

Surfing Boulder Creek September 2013 via @lauras

Here’s a blog post detailing the response of the CU Boulder research community to the flooding in Boulder County, written by Colorado Foundation for Water Education intern Abby Kuranz running on Your Colorado Water Blog. Click through and read the whole post. Here’s an excerpt:

The University of Colorado-Boulder is situated in the foothills-plains interface of the Flatirons, where Boulder Creek flows through the city center. Boulder Creek, which typically runs at about 300 cubic feet per second, maxed out at 5,000 cfs during the 5-day deluge…

As cleanup in Boulder continues, roads are re-opened, and hiking and biking trails are rebuilt. CU-Boulder researchers are also picking up the pieces. While many researchers will need to adjust and redesign long- and short-term projects, others are using the rare opportunity to gather data for unique comparisons in an effort to accurately characterize the hydrologic event.

Understanding augmentation plans

October 8, 2013
Augmentation pond photo via Irrigation Doctor, Inc.

Augmentation pond photo via Irrigation Doctor, Inc.

From the Valley Courier (Steve Gibson):

In the discussions of water in the San Luis Valley we hear of wells being augmented. What does this mean and what is an Augmentation Plan? These are important concepts that are applicable throughout Colorado. This article is intended to describe these concepts as there are Augmentation Plans in the San Luis Valley it is anticipated that we will continue to hear this term as the Colorado Division of Water Resources promulgate Well Rules and Regulations for irrigation wells.

According to the “Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Water Law”, published by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, in 1969, the Colorado General Assembly allowed development of augmentation plans. An augmentation plan is a Water Court-approved plan designed to protect senior water rights, while allowing junior water rights to divert water out of priority and avoid State Engineer shutdown orders. Injury occurs to senior water right holders if the out-of-priority diversion intercepts water that would otherwise be available under natural conditions to the senior water right.

In over appropriated basins, such as the Rio Grande and Conejos River, or where no unappropriated water is available, individuals or businesses wanting to have a well are unable to obtain a well permit for tributary groundwater without an augmentation plan. This does not apply if the new well is for household use only.

Augmentation plans allow for out-of-priority diversions by replacing the water a new well owner (junior water right holder) consume, which in turn depletes the hydrologic system by an equal amount of water. The replacement water must meet the needs of senior water rights holders such as being available at the time, place, quantity and suitable quality they would enjoy absent the out-of-priority diversions. Having an augmentation plan allows a junior water user, for example, to pump a tributary groundwater well, even when a Rio Grande and Conejos River Compact call exists on the rivers.

Replacement water may come from any legally available source and be provided by a variety of means. An augmentation plan identifies the structures, diversions, beneficial uses, timing and amounts of depletions to be replaced, along with how and when the replacement water will be supplied and how the augmentation plan will be operated. Some augmentation plans use storage water to replace depletions. Others include the use of unlined irrigation ditches and ponds during the nongrowing season to recharge the groundwater aquifers that feed the river. A person who wants to divert out [of priority] must file an application with the regional Water Court. Under certain circumstances the State Engineer may approve temporary changes of water rights and plans to replace out-of-priority depletions using Substitute Water Supply Plans. This allows well pumping to continue while Water Court applications for changes of water rights or augmentation plans are being approved. A Substitute Water Supply Plan requires adequate replacement water to cover depletions of water that would injure senior water rights.

What does this mean in the San Luis Valley? There are irrigation companies that have augmentation plans and decrees that allow them to recharge the groundwater so that their members can pump water. This recharge may take place during different times of the year. Individuals and commercial or industrial well users can have augmentation plans for their specific wells.

The San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District and the Conejos Water Conservancy District (Districts) have augmentation decrees that allow them to provide augmentation water to offset the water consumed by different entities that need to use wells for their homes or businesses, but not for agricultural irrigation wells.

Without the availability of these services a person or company wanting to put in a well would have to have their own individual augmentation plan, which can be very time consuming and expensive to complete. The Districts sell the augmentation water to the well owners and make a commitment to provide the actual augmentation water back into the hydrologic system on an annual basis. This is achieved by determining how much water each well owner will consume each year, which will typically be less than the amount they pump as some of the water will typically return into the ground. The Districts will replenish into the Rio Grande and Conejos River an equal amount of water as that consumed by the users of their clients’ wells. This is done by releasing into the river systems water that the Districts own. This water in turn has come from the yield of water rights the Districts have acquired over time. These water rights were surface water rights or irrigation water rights that have been through Water Court to change the beneficial use from irrigation to the Districts’ augmentation programs. The Districts provides these services to individuals who require a well for their homes and gardens, to commercial businesses and industry, such as restaurants, solar companies, who need water to wash down their photovoltaic panels, and potato storage operators.

It is anticipated the future Well Rules and Regulations to be promulgated by the Colorado Division of Water Resources will require owners of agriculture irrigation wells to either individually augment the well if the well is not included in a Groundwater Management Subdistrict.

More water law coverage here.

Connecting the Drops: The Mighty Colorado Statewide Call-In Radio Show today, 5 to 6 PM #ColoradoRiver

September 15, 2013


Click here for the pitch. Good luck if the Broncos game runs long.

The Summer 2013 issue of ‘Ripple Effects’ from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education is hot off the presses

August 29, 2013


Click here to read the newsletter.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education radio program ‘Connecting the Drops’

August 7, 2013

A Non-Westerner’s Introduction to Colorado Water

July 30, 2013

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

IMG_5066 When I started my job with CFWE a year ago, I knew relatively little about Colorado’s water.  I grew up in Ohio, where rivers only seemed to make the news when they flooded or caught fire.  But in Colorado, I began to hear the saying, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.”  So, I started learning about what made water in the West – and Colorado – so prized.  Here’s a short summary of the major themes this non-Westerner has learned in a year. 

Water is Scarce

Colorado is part of the region once called the “Great American Desert.”  Statewide, the average annual precipitation is only 16 inches.  In contrast, Iowa receives 32 inches and Florida receives more than 50 inches!  If all of Colorado received its 16 inches evenly, water planning would be straightforward.  But from year to year and region to region, the amount varies…

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CFWE watershed tours are coming up later this month, June and July

May 12, 2013

Click here for the 2013 tours page from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. Watch their showcase video above to learn about the mission.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

CFWE President’s Award Reception: ‘There are still things left to be done and goals to be set’ — Amy Beatie

May 4, 2013


In Colorado the water teaching heavy lifting falls to the Colorado Foundation for Water Education staff and board. Their work touches many in Colorado. Young and older, software experts, engineers, attorneys, water suppliers along with non-profit and public servants mirrored the Foundation’s diversity of outreach at yesterday’s President’s Award Reception.

Conversation ranged from travel plans for southern Africa to Open Source software for the water business to the monster wet April that we just saw in the northern part of the state.

Amy Beatie was honored as this year’s Emerging Leader.

She spoke about standing on the shoulders of many who had affected Colorado water in the past and how that allowed her the opportunity to do her work at the Colorado Water Trust. In particular she thanked former State Senator Fred Anderson for his foresight in marshalling Colorado’s instream flow law through the legislature.

Ms. Beatie told us that she believes that emerging means, “There are still things left to be done and goals to be set,” as she held her young son who decided to join her at the podium during her remarks.

She also mentioned that after listening to the arguments in Tarrant v. Herrmann she was struck by the difficulty the justices were having in understanding the concepts behind water law. Amy suggested that we should dispatch the Colorado Foundation for Water Education to D.C. to help them out a bit. The justices do not speak fluent water it seems.

The President’s Award for 2013 went to Jim Isgar, rancher from the dry-side of La Plata County.

During her introduction Joan Fitzgerald talked about their days in the legislature and said, “Jim never lied to anyone and if he told you he was with you he was with you to the end.”

Isgar got at the heart of the Foundation’s mission during his remarks saying, “When people buy a house they think it’s a guarantee that when they turn on the tap they have water.”

As Foundation Director Nicole Seltzer says in their short film introduction it is their job to help everyone speak fluent water so that they can make good decisions about it in the future.

Justice Greg Hobbs gave a special award to Jayla Poppleton the editor of the Foundation’s one of a kind water-centered publication Headwaters. Hobbs said that there is no publication like Headwaters, “anywhere else in the world.”

Click here to check out the CFWE website, join up or drop some cash in the tip jar. They’re also booking folks for their summer watershed tours right now.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

CFWE: ‘Colorado’s water is important to the state, but it also impacts the rest of the country’ — Caitlin Coleman

April 30, 2013


From The Colorado Statesman (Caitlin Colemen):

Colorado’s water is important to the state, but it also impacts the rest of the country — we are a headwaters state with water flowing from our mountains to nourish 19 states and the Republic of Mexico. Our water matters. If Colorado has a dry year, or pulls more than our allocation of water from the state’s rivers, our downstream neighbors will feel the effects. This has always been true, but as populations continue to grow and we experience more frequent hot and dry years in the West, competition for water is going to intensify and those choices we make become increasingly grave. It’s important to understand the implications of water use on a personal and policy-level…

…the state often sees new policy-makers who need to quickly learn water policy; this year there are eight new legislators on the House Agriculture Committee. “They’re certainly dealing with a variety of complex topics, everything from climate to groundwater policy to water planning,” [Doug] Kemper says.

Making those complex topics digestible is why the Colorado Foundation for Water Education exists — to help all Coloradans ‘speak fluent water.’ That means knowing where your water comes from, where it goes, who else depends on it and using that background to make informed decisions. The nonprofit started in 2002 as the result of legislation and was backed by financial support from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. As Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs says, water professionals came together with the shared sentiment that Colorado needed an organization focused on nonbiased statewide water education. “We can point to a law that the legislature passed that is unlike anything else that I know about in the water field,” Hobbs says. “The fact that the state of Colorado has decided to support a non-advocacy, nonpolitical water foundation to communicate with people is extraordinary.”

I consider Ms. Coleman a friend and teacher. She is the primary blogger at Your Water Colorado Blog. (Disclaimer: I helped her start the blog using WordPress software.)

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

Grand Valley water related events during May #ColoradoRiver

April 25, 2013


From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

Grand Junction will be a hub of water activity in May with both educational events and major policy meetings. Here’s a sampling:

• May 13 — 5:30-7 p.m. Colorado Mesa University Ballroom: State of the River meeting

This annual meeting, co-sponsored by the Colorado River District and the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University, provides an opportunity to learn about our current and projected water supply situation. This year, there will also be presentations on the achievements of salinity control programs in the Grand Valley and research on the feasibility of a “water bank,” which would compensate agricultural water users for voluntarily cutting back water use in order to maintain critical uses during times of shortage. This meeting is a free educational event for the public, and light refreshments will be provided.

• May 14-15 — Colorado Water Conservation board meeting

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is the state’s primary water policy and water project financing entity. The board will have its May meeting in Grand Junction, giving local residents the opportunity to watch the board at work and make comments on agenda items. Details on the location and agenda will be published on the CWCB website prior to the meeting.

• May 16-17 — Colorado Basin Salinity Control Forum

When water is applied to the soils in our region, the flows back to the river often contain high levels of naturally occurring salts. The trouble this causes to downstream farmers has led to many efforts to limit deep percolation through our soils through measures such as canal lining and irrigation efficiency. The Colorado Basin Salinity Control Forum meets regularly to assess the effectiveness of these efforts, and in May, they will hold their meeting in Grand Junction in the Courtyard by Marriott on Horizon Drive.

• May 29-31 — Lower Colorado River Basin float and tour

Not all the water events in May are inside, wonk-talk affairs. On May 30-31, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education will host a tour of key sites in the Grand Valley and uphill on the Grand Mesa. Discussions and sites on the tour will illuminate issues such as the purchase of agricultural water rights to serve the Grand Valley’s growing urban population, energy development in water supply watersheds, endangered fish recovery efforts, and tamarisk control. Prior to the tour, on May 29, the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University will host a float down the river from Palisade to Corn Lake.


Details on all these events and many more can be found on the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University’s website, at

More education coverage here.

‘The reach of Colorado water goes all the way to the Mississippi’ — Justice Greg Hobbs

April 13, 2013


From the Cañon City Daily Record (Rachel Alexander):

The Fremont-Custer Bar Association on Friday welcomed Justice Gregory Hobbs, who spoke to a group of about 20 about water law and the history of water in Colorado.

The meeting, at DiRito’s, was part of the association’s effort to provide educational activities for its member attorneys. Friday’s event was open to the public and included several city council members and city employees…

Hobbs is vice president of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, which is a non-advocacy and non-political organization created by the General Assembly to provide information about water to Colorado citizens.

“The reach of Colorado water goes all the way to the Mississippi,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs discussed the nine interstate compacts Colorado has regarding the four major rivers with headwaters in the state, including the Arkansas River. The compacts control how much water Colorado citizens may use and how much must be allowed to leave the state in its rivers. The compacts result in Colorado being able to only consume 1/3 of the state’s snow melt water.

The concept of water rights for irrigation, Hobbs said, arose out of the necessity to irrigate lands a distance from the river for agricultural purposes. In the 1866 Mining Act, Congress severed water from land in the public domain, which made up most of the territory at the time…

The doctrine of water right favors settled uses, he said, meaning those with old rights take preference over newer uses. “The public always owns the water resource,” Hobbs said.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

The January/February issue of Colorado Water (Colorado State) is hot off the press

March 26, 2013


Click here to read a copy.

Thanks to the Colorado Water 2012 Twitter feed for the heads up


More education coverage here.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education: 2013 President’s Award Reception, May 3

March 25, 2013


Click here to go the the CFWE website to register and learn all about the event. Click on the thumbnail graphic for a photo of last year’s shindig.

The venue this year is the Colorado History Museum. Here’s the pitch from the website:

Join the Colorado Foundation for Water Education on Friday May 3 to enjoy our 2013 President’s Award Reception. Help us honor Jim Isgar, the recipient of CFWE’s President’s Award. The award pays tribute to those who demonstrate steadfast commitment to water resources education. We will also bestow our Emerging Leader Award upon Amy Beatie.

Jim Isgar, 2013 President’s Award

Looking at Jim Isgar, a bit grizzled from recent chemotherapy treatments to battle cancer, I see a generous man who stands as tall as Mt. Hesperus. Due north of Isgar’s family farm and ranch, Mt. Hesperus in southwestern Colorado’s La Plata Mountains is one of four mountains considered sacred to the Navajo. Isgar irrigates off the La Plata River outside of Breen, southwest of Durango. Like his father, Art, he has served on the H.H. Ditch Company board of directors, including 25 years as its president.

Amy Beatie, 2013 Emerging Leader Award

Amy Beatie fights drought by putting water back into parched Colorado streams for fish, wildlife and people. In the summer of 2012, when Western Slope streams were running precariously low, the nonprofit Colorado Water Trust she leads helped to hold some of the hardest-hit waters together.
“In February of 2012, the snow wasn’t catching up,” says Beatie. “In March we realized the snow wasn’t coming at all. It looked like a bad drought would hit every basin in the state.”

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

CSU — ‘Coping with Extremes: the 1st Annual Western Water History Symposium’ — March 1

February 24, 2013


From Your Colorado Water Blog:

Join Colorado State University’s Public Lands History Center and the Water Resources Archives at CSU Libraries for Coping with Extremes: the 1st Annual Western Water History Symposium on Friday, March 1 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at Colorado State University’s Morgan Library Event Hall. The event is FREE and open to the public.

This year’s water symposium features four prominent historians of the US West: Patty Limerick, Louis Warren, Jay Taylor, and Donald C. Jackson.

CFWE: 2013 Climate & Colorado’s Water Future Workshop

February 18, 2013


Click here to register. From the Colorado Foundation for Water Education:

Bundle up and get ready to take a look inside the National Ice Core Laboratory. Join us along with fellow colleagues– water educators, scientists and others on Friday March 8 to tour the lab. We’ll learn how climate data is extracted from polar regions, receive interactive teaching tools and learn how climate impacts water resources and the environment. Take a look at the current agenda and Register now, space is limited.

Secondary teachers earn 1/2 course credit from Colorado School of Mines by participating in this workshop. Contact us for more information and for teacher registration.

More CFWE coverage here.

Your Colorado Water Blog: From Water 2012 into 2013

January 3, 2013


The Colorado Foundation for Water Education plans to continue the blog they started for Colorado Water 2012. Here’s the announcment. Here’s an excerpt:

But let’s not get stuck reminiscing about the good old days. Many of the programs you loved in 2012 will continue into 2013– like this blog, it’s not going anywhere.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Colorado Water 2012: ‘An inadequate supply of clean water threatens our economy and our way of life’ — Nicole Seltzer

December 30, 2012


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Nicole Seltzer):

When I embarked on planning a year-long celebration of Colorado’s water, I honestly did not know what to expect. Were there others out there who would help seize the opportunity? Would anyone pay attention to water for an entire year? As dozens of Colorado water professionals now help to wrap up Colorado’s “Year of Water,” I can proudly say, yes, we made a difference! More than 100 communities held Water 2012 events this year, reaching almost 550,000 Coloradans with a message of “celebrating water.”

There were library displays in Fort Collins, author talks in La Junta and Steamboat, fine art shows in Denver and Durango, newspaper series in Alamosa, Pueblo and Grand Junction, proclamations by Gov. John Hickenlooper, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and several city councils, children’s water festivals in numerous towns, and so much more.

When asked what difference Water 2012 made, those involved said it increased the exposure of residents in their communities to water information, which in turn strengthened their basic knowledge of the importance of water. The increase in water-related programs available in Colorado communities grew participation at water related events, as well as the number of people discussing water. All in all, Colorado is more “water literate” at the end of 2012 than it was at the beginning.

We also had an unexpected success. Nearly 90 percent of the water educators involved in Water 2012 strengthened their ties with other water educators. Never before had those charged with teaching Coloradans about water’s importance come together on a consistent basis to learn from each other.

Aside from increased water awareness and linkages between water educators, what is the legacy of Colorado’s Year of Water? I believe that the Colorado Water 2012 volunteers started something that will only grow bigger and better. While we won’t have “Water 2013” to keep us focused, Colorado’s water educators have seen what is possible when they come together as a community and create something whose whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.

Water is the lifeblood of Colorado. An inadequate supply of clean water threatens our economy and our way of life. From the family farmer to the ski resort executive, we all rely on this undervalued and often underappreciated resource.

My hope for Colorado in 2013 is that we sustain the momentum created in 2012 to continue educating our children and community leaders that we must make smart water choices in our lives.

I posted more that 100 times about Colorado Water 2012. You can take a trip down memory lane here.

Rio Grande Basin Roundtable: ‘We are the basin that has received the most funding to date’ — Mike Gibson

December 28, 2012


From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Rio Grande Interbasin Roundtable Chairman Mike Gibson said in the years since the state has funded water projects through basin-specific roundtables and a statewide account, this basin has garnered more than $8 million from the statewide Water Supply Reserve Account. “We are the basin that has received the most funding to date,” he said…

During its December meeting the roundtable unanimously approved a $23,500 request from Judy Lopez to implement “The Value of Water,” an educational campaign to continue the informational work begun this year during the “Water 2012” initiative. “We have had a great year,” Lopez said.

Water 2012 included a variety of activities including weekly articles in the Valley Courier, radio spots, tours, contests and other water informational events. Lopez said the Rio Grande Basin is a model for others and has been termed the “kumbaya” basin because of how well folks got along and worked together to promote water education.

“The Value of Water” is the next step, Lopez explained. One of the goals of this next campaign will be “getting people to understand we have a gap between what we have and the amount of water we need.”[...]

The Valley Courier will continue to publish water educational articles, with about 24 scheduled for 2013, and radio interviews will continue, as well as classes and tours on different topics such as wetlands. Lopez requested $23,500 for salaries and supplies that will be matched for a total of $66,450 for “The Value of Water” campaign. The funding request will go on to the state for consideration for funding from the statewide account.

Roundtable member Travis Smith said he supported this funding application, and he commended Lopez and Water 2012 Coordinator Leah Opitz for getting the water conversation out past the “same 10 guys and gals” to the general public. He said the educational components are often overlooked in water circles and hard to measure, but they are important. One of the measures of success from these initiatives will be raising up new water leaders for the future, he added.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Colorado Water 2012: ‘Will now be transitioning in into a statewide Value of Water movement’ — Judy Lopez

December 27, 2012


Here’s the latest installment in the Valley Courier’s Colorado Water 2012 series, written by Judy Lopez. Here’s an excerpt:

The “Water 2012” awareness campaign for the Rio Grande Basin is winding down. What started as a celebration of Colorado’s historic water moments will now be transitioning in into a statewide “Value of Water” movement. This proactive crusade will continue on several fronts across all of the river basins in the state with a single goal of getting water on every body’s mind.

Water it is such a simple topic. It is wet stuff that we drink, bathe in, wash our clothes in, grow and prepare food in. It’s used for making stuff; animals use it and plants use it. The point is – it really gets used. That tends to be a problem, especially since there are getting to be so many people that have so many uses for a once plentiful resource. Water education was once a topic left to children as part of their school studies, but since there are now seven billion of us here on the planet, five million in Colorado, our water footprint (demand) or our “splash” is exceeding the supply that we have readily available.

The value of water means different things to everyone. On the most personal level, it is getting a drink of safe water whenever need to quench thirst. It is coveted in household use for food, hygiene and the basic needs. There are also the agricultural needs to grow and process food. Without these needs met then there is loss of jobs, higher food costs and less food security. Most modern manufacturing requires some form of water use, real economic drivers in times like that are the loss of jobs. Finally, there is the environmental need – streams, rivers and lakes require a given amount of water for the survival of aquatic species. That water in turn is key for the economies that survive on those streams, rivers and lakes.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Your Colorado Water Blog looks back at the Dust Bowl

December 21, 2012


From Your Colorado Water Blog (Dr. Perry Cabot):

The airing of Ken Burns’ documentary The Dust Bowl last month brought greater attention to the Great Plains drought that began last year and extended into 2012. This documentary is another in a long lineage of inspired works on the Dust Bowl period of the 1930s that ruined millions of cropland acres and rippled hardship across the central United States for decades. Nevertheless, the Dust Bowl has generally faded into distant memory as farming practices improved and irrigation methods advanced and the country as a whole generally experienced stability in its food supply since that time. In other words, despite the harshness of the recent drought, we simply don’t feel the pain of farming’s travails as we once did…

Click through and read the whole blog post.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

‘What started out as a small water awareness campaign…grew into a statewide water celebration’ — Leah Opitz

December 19, 2012


Here’s the latest installment (Number 51) of the Valley Courier’s Colorado Water 2012 series, written by Leah Opitz. Here’s an excerpt:

What started out as a small water awareness campaign by the Foundation for Water Education grew into a statewide water celebration. Whether residents were in Durango or Fort Collins, there was some kind of “Water 2012” event happening in their town at some point this year. From book tours to displays in public libraries, from water project tours, to contests, Water 2012 offered something for everyone in the hope of getting Coloradans connected and active in water, both locally and at the statewide level.

Here in the San Luis Valley, Water 2012 marked a significant milestone in water history the 100th anniversary of the Rio Grande Reservoir, an engineering feat that represents the hard work, vision, and determination of the people of the San Luis Valley Irrigation District…

To celebrate, Water 2012 the Rio Grande Basin hosted tours of water projects going on around the San Luis Valley. From the Rio Grande Reservoir at the top of the watershed down to the Sanchez Reservoir, they drove many miles to get folks out to see what was going on with water. Folks had an opportunity to learn about new dam construction projects, new ditch construction projects, the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, and attendees even had a chance to venture underneath the dam at Platoro Reservoir to see the pump room.

The summer tour series started out with a caravan tour through Costilla County, stopping off at Sanchez Reservoir, the historic People’s Ditch, and then to see the Sangre de Cristo Trinchera Diversion Canal.

The next tour took folks down to Conejos County to see the North Fork of the Conejos River Diversion Project and the Platoro Dam Rehabilitation Project.

In August, the San Luis Valley Irrigation District hosted a group up in Mineral County at the Rio Grande Reservoir in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

Lastly, in October, Heather Dutton with the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project brought folks out to see how the RGHRP is working to improve the quality of water, condition of streamside trees and shrubs, and stability of riverbanks along the Rio Grande. The majority of these projects were funded through the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable, both from the basin and statewide funding accounts.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Colorado River Basin: Your Water Colorado Blog takes a look at the recent agreement between the U.S. and Mexico #CORiver

December 4, 2012


Click through to read the whole post from Your Water Colorado Blog. They’re linking to a video discussion of the Colorado River featuring Justice Greg Hobbs, Jennifer Gimbel (CWCB) and Dick Wolfe (State Engineer):

At the end of the November, The U.S. and Mexico signed a monumental agreement to overhaul how the countries share the water from the Colorado River…

Last week on Rocky Mountain PBS, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs, Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Jennifer Gimbel, and State Engineer Dick Wolfe discussed water law, the state of the Colorado River and the new agreement. Watch the full video online.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education: The Fall edition of Headwaters Magazine is hot off the press

November 29, 2012

Click here to get started reading it online, or better yet, become a member of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. You can stay current on CFWE activities by subscribing to Your Water Colorado Blog, as well.

Here’s the pitch:

Farmers play a critical role in Colorado. To support the food and fiber they provide to the rest of us, agriculture receives more than 85 percent of the state’s water deliveries. Read the latest issue of Headwaters to learn about the value of water for Colorado agriculture, how water is managed during drought years, the innovation that farmers make to survive and much more.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education 2012 Annual Report is hot off the press

November 15, 2012


Here’s the link to the report.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

Colorado Water 2012: Rio Grande River — recreation opportunities abound in the basin

November 15, 2012


Here’s the latest installment in the Valley Courier’s Colorado Water 2012 series, written by Heather Dutton. Here’s an excerpt:

Opportunities for fishing abound from the headwaters and high mountain tributaries, through the San Luis Valley to the state line. Backcountry fly-fishing in the high country offers fishermen beauty, seclusion, and a chance to cook the day’s catch on a fire in the wilderness (please be advised of fire bans!). People also enjoy boating and fishing in the many high mountain reservoirs in the basin, such as the Rio Grande Reservoir.

As the river drops from the mountains and settles onto the Valley floor, anglers enjoy the gold medal fishery between South Fork and Hanna Lane. Gold medal waters are defined by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as areas with 60 pounds of trout per acre and at lease twelve 14” or larger trout per acre.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s Headwaters Magazine Photo Contest deadline for entries is December 5

November 1, 2012


Winning entries will be featured in the January edition of Headwaters from the foundation. Here’s the pitch:

Term: Headwaters magazine’s Winter 2012 Photo Contest ends December 5, 2012. By submitting an entry, each contestant agrees to the rules of the contest and states that they are 18 years old or older.

Who may enter: Photographers 18 years old and older.

What to enter: Powerful images relating to water utilities—pipes, water treatment, stormwater, reservoirs, water delivery, utility employees and more in Colorado. Enter anything that’s compelling! The winning image chosen for our two-page spread must be a horizontal, landscape layout.

For a photo in which a person is recognizable, you must secure permission from the subject or, in the case of a minor, the subject’s parent or guardian and provide it to Headwaters upon request. Photographs that have been published in magazines and newspapers are not eligible. The winner must relinquish rights to the photo. Photos that violate or infringe upon another person’s rights, including but not limited to copyright, are not eligible.

How to enter: Please email photographs along with captions and model releases to

All captions must include the location where the photo was taken, name of the photographer and the names of any

Images must be high resolution electronic files (minimum 250 dpi at 10”). Photographs must be in a .jpeg, .jpg or .gif

By entering the contest, entrants grant the Colorado Foundation for Water Education a royalty-free, perpetual, nonexclusive license to display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit.

Entry Deadline: All entries must be received through by 5 pm Mountain Time on December 5, 2012.

Judging: Judging will be conducted by the editor, graphic designer and editorial team behind Headwaters magazine. Winning photographs and selected finalists will be published in a January 2013 issue of Headwaters on Colorado’s utilities, as well as related posts on the YourWaterColorado blog. Decisions of the judges will be final.

Headwaters: Published three times annually in glossy, four-color format, Headwaters is the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s leading publication, with a distribution of over 7,000. In addition, all issues are archived on CFWE’s website. The magazine highlights the history, people and current challenges of water management in Colorado. Readers gain a deeper understanding of how utility managers, conservationists and policymakers work together to manage this vital yet scarce natural resource.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

‘Water in Colorado and the Grand Valley’ and ‘Pass the jug’ presentations at Mesa County libraries starting October 2

September 25, 2012


From KKCO:

If this past summer has taught us anything, it’s the importance of water. Join Hannah Holm, Water Center coordinator at Colorado Mesa University, for “Water in Colorado and the Grand Valley,” an overview of where our water supplies come from, how we use water, and constraints on our water use. The presentation at three Mesa County Libraries locations also will discuss current water supply challenges and planning efforts to address them.

Holm’s presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday Oct.2, at the Central Library; 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Fruita Branch; and 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct.4, at the Palisade Branch. It is open to the public at no charge.

Holm is also scheduled to lead children in a “Pass the Jug” activity dramatizing the concept of water as a limited resource that must be shared among a variety of users. The children’s activity is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 16, and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct.17, at the Central Library.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Colorado Water 2012: ‘There are over 200,000 acres of wetlands across the Valley’ — Rio De La Vista

September 15, 2012


Here’s the latest installment of the Valley Courier’s Colorado Water 2012 series, a discussion of the importance of the San Luis Valley wetlands to the area. Here’s an excerpt:

Wetlands are a valuable component of our semi-arid landscape for many reasons. They are an important aspect of the hydrology, storing water through the drier parts of the year, minimizing flood impacts, and supporting vegetation essential to both wildlife and livestock. In Colorado, only 2 to 3 percent of the landscape is either wetlands or river zones, called riparian areas. But over 75 percent of all wildlife depend upon those zones at some point in their life, including species that are either endangered or at risk. Wetlands also have a crucial role in sustaining agricultural production and they can also provide additional economic benefits and opportunities, such as recreational fishing, bird watching, duck hunting, and many more.

There is a vital water/wetlands connection wherever water is scarce. The Rio Grande and Conejos Rivers and the many smaller streams flowing into the SLV have helped to shape and influence the types of wetlands that exist here. Floodplain wetlands along the larger rivers feature backwater sloughs, oxbow lakes, and wet meadows. The vegetation communities in these areas range from tall emergent species such as softstem bulrush and cattail in semi-permanent to permanent wetlands to short emergent species such as sedges and rushes in wet meadows or seasonally flooded wetlands. Galleries of narrowleaf cottonwoods and willows also exist along rivers and creeks, ideally with understories of currant and wild rose…

The San Luis Valley Wetland Focus Area Committee (a collaborative group of organizations and agencies working on behalf of wetlands) held a workshop in mid-June to provide landowners and land managers a wide range of information about managing wetlands. This article draws upon the information from that program, and a handbook is being compiled from the many presentations. This free publication will be available to the public both in print and electronically. The booklet will address optimal management practices and recommendations on grazing, haying and mowing, burning, and water and weed management, as well as providing information on wildlife, land and water conservation options, and the many economic benefits of wetlands. It will also include a directory of resource organizations and agencies.

To learn more and obtain a copy of the handbook, please contact Ruth Lewis at the Natural Resources Conservation Service at 589-5661 extension 134 or the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust at 657-0800. The completed handbook will also be posted on line at

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education ‘Water Fluency Webinar’ Thursday September 13

September 12, 2012


From email from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education:

Water Fluency Webinar. Thanks to the Colorado Municipal League, join CFWE’s Kristin Maharg; the Colorado Climate Center’s Wendy Ryan; and the Governor’s Water Advisor, John Stulp, via webinar on Thursday 9/13 at noon. Hear about drought, water supply, and resources you can use to learn more and to celebrate water across the state. Free to all Municipal Members, but registration is required. Register online and learn more about the event.

Speaking of CML, check out the article about CFWE in the latest edition of Colorado Municipalities Magazine.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

The Colorado Water 2012 September newsletter is hot off the press

September 2, 2012


Click here to snag a copy for yourself.


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