Is The Public Engaged When It Comes To Colorado’s Water Plan? — KUNC #COWaterPlan

April 7, 2015
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From KUNC (Maeve Conran):

…despite an extensive education and outreach campaign, just how involved is the general public in planning Colorado’s water future?

Kate McIntire, the women in charge of public engagement and outreach for the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said they’ve mostly relied on volunteers in a process that goes back 10 years when the Public Education, Participation and Outreach group was established. Later, McIntire said, they engaged the nine basin roundtables to help.

“This is really a grassroots process and so we never intended to or didn’t have millions of dollars to throw into reaching everyone across the state in terms of a more traditional advertising campaign,” said McIntire. “Spreading the word grass roots isn’t something that happens overnight.”

The Water Board received more than 15,000 comments directly and through the nine basin roundtables when creating the draft plan. That’s not enough for state Senator Ellen Roberts, a Republican from Durango. She still thinks there’s a lack of awareness amongst the general public.

“I think that’s the challenge that we saw here at the legislature,” said Roberts. “The Governor and the executive branch of the Colorado government has done a lot of outreach but it’s a topic that most people… all they really care about is when they get up in the morning does water come out of the shower, can they make their cup of coffee or cup of tea?”

In 2014 the senator co-sponsored a successful bill that called for more involvement by the legislature in water planning. That led to a series of public meetings in all the major river basins of Colorado.

“What we were trying to do with Senate Bill 14-115 [.pdf] last year was to go out to the more general public, the kind of people who show up at our town hall meetings, who maybe have no idea about Colorado water law or how complicated it is,” Roberts said. “They’re not following like the people on the basin roundtables.”

Theresa Connelly, a water advocate with Conservation Colorado, is heartened by what she sees as a growing awareness in water issues in the state, even if there’s a lack of awareness about an actual water plan.

“Folks may not know as much that there’s an actual state water plan going on, but folks are very aware of water issues that we’re facing,” she said.

But Connolly, like Senator Roberts, said the public outreach effort needs to be more inclusive. She cites the fact that many of the meetings were in the middle of the workday, which made it difficult for some to attend. People may not have time to attend a meeting, but maybe they’ve sent an email or a postcard, and those voices should also be heard.

“I think sometimes those small actions are disregarded as a form letter or something that isn’t truly meaningful and I think that that’s absolutely not true,” Connelly said.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board has received over 2000 comments in the first few months since the draft was submitted and adds all input received through May 1 will be considered in the second draft, said the board’s McIntire. She points out that the CWCB is responding to all comments received and those responses are available for public review.

“And all those responses are cataloged and available for review by anyone on our website.”

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

The March 2015 “Headwaters Pulse” is hot off the presses from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education

March 25, 2015


Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Now Available: Headwaters Magazine on Colorado’s Water Plan

It isn’t every day that concerned citizens, recreation planners, water professionals, elected officials, conservationists, farmers, business and industry leaders, and state agency staff in Colorado put their heads together to draft a state water plan. In fact, a comprehensive state plan for managing, distributing and conserving Colorado’s most precious natural resource has Never. Been. Done. Before. In this day and age, you don’t often get to say that about anything. The scope of the undertaking, combined with the disconcerting forecasts for what’s in store if Colorado doesn’t come up with a plan—and a good one at that—has made for an exciting couple of years for those involved, or even just observing, as Colorado’s Water Plan takes shape.

Depending on where you sit, the best or most challenging part of the whole process is that Coloradans of every stripe are invited to step up to the plate, take a seat at the table, grab a microphone, or dash off an email to provide input and feedback that those holding the wheel in shaping the plan’s content have committed to genuinely consider. Our winter issue of Headwaters, hot off the press, takes a close look at the state water planning process’ inner workings, including why we need the plan now, what it took to complete a first draft as of December last year, and where we’ll likely need to go further to achieve success. Plus, we help you chart your water future and explore how to get involved. Colorado’s Water Plan won’t be finalized until December 2015, so pick up or download your copy of Headwaters Winter 2015 issue today and get equipped to speak up. Bulk sales of additional copies for use in outreach activities are also available by contacting

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Symposium to honor Justice Gregory Hobbs, April 10

March 21, 2015


Click here for all the inside skinny and to register.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education President’s Award Reception 2015, May 8

March 18, 2015


Click here to go to the Colorado Foundation for Water Education Website to register.

Climate & Colorado’s Water Future workshop — Colorado Foundation for Water Education

March 14, 2015
Statewide annual average temperature 1900-1912 via Western Water Assessment

Statewide annual average temperature 1900-1912 via Western Water Assessment

Over the past year two reports about climate change have made their way into the water resources planning discussion.

Jeff Lukas, Western Water Assessment was lead author for Climate Change in Colorado:A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation. The report explains the science and the data that make up our current understanding of the effects of climate change on Colorado water resources.

The second report, Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study was produced by Western Water Assessment, CSU and CU. The report looks at the vulnerabilities of systems, and makes recommendations about building resilience. Mr. Lukas was also a lead author on the second report.

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education invited Mr. Lukas to address thsose subjects at their annual workshop and tour of the National Ice Core Lab.

By looking at the temperature record for Colorado and reconstructing the paleo-record it is easy to visually verify that there is a trend upward in average temperature.

While detailing the history and current state of the climate, another speaker, Nolan Doeskin, Colorado State Climatologist, said, “There is an observable and detectible warming in Colorado since 1900.”

In short, in Colorado all living things and water dependent processes will require more supply due to greenhouse gas forcing just as that same forcing is affecting the water supply in currently unquantifiable ways.

That is the driving force around Denver Water’s commitment to scenario planning, what Laurna Kaatz called, “Planning for multiple futures.”

The possible “futures” identified include: Traditional future (stationarity); stricter water quality rules; hot water (warming of surface water); economic woes (long-term economic downturn); and green revolution (mass adoption of conservation, lowered energy use, etc.).

Caitlin Coleman from CFWE created a graphic of the scenario creation process for the current copy of Headwaters. You’ll need to score a copy of the print version for the full effect — it’s a foldout.

Of course, the main reason most people attend the workshop is to be able to boast about sharing space in the freezer with the ice cores.

Bruce Vaughn introduced the science and technology behind the collection of ice cores. He told us that, “Ice cores have shown us that climate change can occur very abruptly (in the time it takes to earn a bachelors degree).”

His lab at CU analyzes gases trapped in bubbles in the cores to discern the isotopic footprint of certain molecules in an effort to add to the scientific knowledge of the paleo-climate record.

While sharing time in the freezer with the cores we learned that the ability to work in the cold varies by individual and varies daily for the workers. Workers have to consume a big calorie load since staying warm consumes so many. Hydration is also a factor.

The day concluded with presentations targeted at educators and water providers who need to tell the climate change story to rate payers and students.

Katya Hafich,, introduced the snowpack field research program at CU before making us crunch field data without a spreadsheet. The data showed that, in the Green Lakes Valley (City of Boulder), the snowfall was deeper in 2014 than in 2013 but the snow water equivalent was higher in 2013. Just a little bit of data analysis to highlight the day.

Lesley Smith, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, emphasizes the need to teach folks about where their water comes from and how precious the resource is.

Noah Newman, Colorado Climate Center, was the last presenter. He made the pitch for joining CoCoRaHS to learn about climate and weather.

CoCoRaHS was created by Nolan Doesken after the 1997 flood in Fort Collins pointed out the fact that the National Weather Service needed more data to gauge the severity of weather.

The NWS is a daily user of CoCoRaHS data.

There was a lot more to hear and see of course. Click here to review my notes (tweets).

The latest issue of CFWE’s “Headwaters” is hot off the presses #COWaterPlan

March 2, 2015

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

The latest “Headwaters Pulse” is hot off the presses from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education

February 16, 2015


Click here to read this issue. Here’s an excerpt:

Advancing the water dialogue through leadership

Greetings Reader,

This is an exciting time at the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. Staff and Board just updated our strategic plan. Our work, as called for in our founding legislation, will be guided by a strategy that helps Coloradans make “informed water decisions”.

For me, that means we examine and understand the trade-offs of alternate actions… where civil debate moves the discussion past positions to implementable solutions and uncommon allies work together. Does this resonate with your idea of a sustainable water future?

CFWE’s many upcoming programs epitomize these values. We will soon announce the 8th class of Water Leaders, who will join almost 100 graduates in receiving leadership skills. Just a couple weeks back, we hosted an advanced training for alumni to explore the urgent leadership challenges of our time and how we can collaborate to have the greatest impact. It is one of my greatest privileges to run this program and be surrounded by such thoughtful professionals.

Two of our newest programs are advancing the water dialogue. The Water Educator Network is setting the bar for water education in Colorado where we work with educators statewide to strengthen the amount, quality and effectiveness of water education. These members will convene at a symposium on March 11 in Westminster to showcase their accomplishments and set an ambitious agenda moving forward.

And, you may have heard about CFWE’s inaugural Water Fluency course, which launches this spring to educate local leaders on the implications of water policy and planning decisions to create positive change in their community. Here we’re widening our reach to those who may not see themselves as water decision-makers, but in fact are. Registration opens the first week of March.

These forms of education allow our participants to cross boundaries and appreciate diverse perspectives. I’m hopeful that future generations will benefit from this welcoming environment for conversations about water. Join CFWE in cultivating that vision and let’s have fun doing it! –Kristin [Maharg]

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here


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