The August 2015 ‘Headwaters Pulse’ is hot off the presses

Denver City Park sunrise
Denver City Park sunrise

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

If Colorado’s population grows by adding another three to four million people at mid-century, changes will occur in how our land is used. Today’s population hovers at 5.3 million and a few million more residents means Colorado’s cities, suburbs and country estates will inevitably spill onto today’s farms and pastures.

But how will they spill? And how will Colorado’s existing towns and cities reinvent themselves? Those are among the questions as Colorado peers toward the bottom of its water bucket, trying to calculate how revised land use can help bridge the gap between water supplies and expectations… it’s a golden opportunity to rethink the way we grow in Colorado. Read the full story, “From the Ground Up” in the new issue of Headwaters magazine here.

More CFWE coverage here.

A Citizen’s Perspective on Her Water Utility

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

By Kristin Maharg

As a professional working to educate Coloradans on the value of water resources, I’m drawn to public process. How are we exposed to civic issues, why should we care about community planning and what are meaningful ways to participate in decision-making? These are powerful questions that can lead to a more engaged citizenry and hopefully, a more sustainable future. So when the opportunity to serve on Denver Water’s Citizens Advisory Committee came to me six months ago, I was eager and honored to dive in.

Members of the Citizens Advisory Committee. Members of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

The CAC was created in 1978 as a result of public concern about growth issues and environmental impacts, forming a citizens group charged with representing public interests. There are ten of us from the West Slope, city and suburbs of Denver, amongst others, that advise the Board of Water Commissioners on matters of citizen participation. One…

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CWCB: What’s new in #COWaterPlan – July 2015? (webinar) for your listening pleasure

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

“Coloradans like a good story” — Justice Gregory Hobbs

Greg Hobbs at the 2015 Martz Summer Conference (of course there is a projected image of a map -- this one was the division of Colorado into water divisions by major basin, heeding the advice of John Wesley Powell)
Greg Hobbs at the 2015 Martz Summer Conference (of course there is a projected image of a map — this one was the division of Colorado into water divisions by major basin, heeding the advice of John Wesley Powell)

Here’s a long article about Greg from Marianne Goodland writing for the The Colorado Statesman. Click through and read the whole thing, here’s an excerpt:

When Gov. Roy Romer decided to appoint Hobbs to the state’s highest court in 1996, it was the realization of a career-long goal for the attorney. But Hobbs jokes a little about the day he learned he would be Romer’s pick.

He met with Romer, who had a tall stack of recommendation letters on his desk. Hobbs was one of three nominees for the Supreme Court vacancy, and would be among the seven justices Romer appointed during his 12 years in office.

When Romer asked Hobbs why he should appoint him to the Court, Hobbs says he replied that he holds the institutional knowledge of the various panels that work on natural resources issues. He’d drafted bills for the Legislature, and he’d worked with citizens’ boards and commissions, where he had to work collegially. That’s what Romer wanted: someone who knew how to get along with what was then a fractious group.

“You’re a flawed candidate,” Romer joked with Hobbs, referring to the stack of recommendations. Among those letters were commendations from Jim Martin, now at the Beatty & Wozniak firm and a former director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Hobbs worked with Martin when Martin was on the staff of Sen. Tim Wirth, collaborating on a landmark 1993 wilderness bill. Romer waved Martin’s letter at Hobbs. “That’s the one,” the governor said.

Even with that support, though, Hobbs recalls that environmentalists were a little concerned about his nomination, given some of his past clients. “I’m not saying he exercised a freebie on me, but he put me on my guard,” Hobbs said.

And then the governor asked for two other things: “Don’t put any poetry in your opinions,” as some judges are fond of doing. (Hobbs, a published poet, agreed). Second, Romer said, “Go home and get a tie. A real tie.” (Hobbs usually wears a bolo.)[…]

Asked where his abiding interest in water comes from, Hobbs says, simply, “Luck.”

The Environmental Protection Agency and a host of federal air and water quality laws were in their infancy while he was in law school. “I got in on the ground floor of the environmental decade,” he said.

After San Francisco, Colorado beckoned again, and Hobbs wound up at the EPA, working on air quality issues for three states. What he learned from that experience, he said, was that the “front-line attorneys” on the air quality issues worked in the attorney general’s office. The action for a young attorney was with the attorney general, he said.

That’s where he headed next. The department was in the midst of a big reorganization. Prior to 1975, attorneys for each state agency were based within their agencies. The reorganization brought all the attorneys into the attorney general’s office, and Hobbs was asked to take on the natural resources area, including water quality, water rights, and air quality issues…

After serving at the attorney general’s office, Hobbs’ career as the water law expert got its next big push when he joined Davis, Graham and Stubbs in 1979. His biggest client was the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the largest water district in the state. “I never expected to be working for a public entity,” he said. “How could you want for a better water client?”[…]

His first mentor on the high court was Chief Justice Anthony Vollack. “I really lucked out with that,” Hobbs said. Vollack, a former state senator, and a former “member of the club,” was an expert on getting what he wanted from the General Assembly…

He explained the process for voting on a case. Nothing is voted on until all seven justices are ready to vote. Hobbs said if a justice isn’t ready, and needs more time for thinking, writing and forging the best opinion, that justice can ask for a “pass,” and the vote is delayed.

“I‘ve always tried to write for 7-0 but I’m satisfied with 4-3,” he said with a smile.

What stands out on cases? How hard it is, Hobbs said. It’s the avalanche of reading, the travails of writing to expert colleagues, and vetting the writing with the law clerks.

“We think we have a good draft, propose it and six other people have something they want you to consider,” he said, laughing. “We all see it a little bit differently. We’re working with language. Words are the coin of the realm.”

Hobbs, ever the teacher, said good opinions are written in an active voice. “If you can’t take the rule of law and put it in active sentence how can you expect the General Assembly and the clients or lawyers to understand it?”

Every justice writes in every field, Hobbs said. He stands out on water law because he’s practiced it and knows the nuances. “I write more in-depth when I’m writing an opinion. When you write in someone else’s expert field, like criminal law, you tend to be a little more tentative. You have more resonance in a majority opinion if it’s a field you’ve practiced in.”[…]

“My maturation as a justice came in writing water opinions,” Hobbs said. One of the biggest opinions was the Fort Lyons case, which involved 100 miles of canal, and an investor group that bought one-third of the shares of the canal. They went to the water court for a change of use order, but without specifying what the new use would be. “We rediscovered [through that case] that Colorado water law is anti-speculation,” Hobbs noted…

Hobbs, ever the teacher, said it’s no accident that Colorado’s borders form a trapezoid. It was a decision by the Union Congress during the Civil War to make sure the whole of the Continental Divide, and the four major rivers, was in one state. It served as a barrier against the Confederacy and against Kansas, a pro-Confederacy state. Colorado’s borders ended the wagon train routes for the Confederacy to Colorado’s mineral riches, especially gold, Hobbs said.

What’s next for Hobbs? He said he’s talking with the University of Denver and Colorado States University about teaching advanced seminars in water law.

He also hopes to be more involved with the statewide water plan, which released its second draft earlier this week. Hobbs, a member of the education committee for the plan, wants to work on educational outreach…

What he finds interesting these days: in addition to his duties as a Supreme Court Justice, Hobbs serves as vice-president of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, working on the Foundation’s quarterly magazine, Headwaters. It’s been a unique situation, Hobbs said, to be able to teach and write in that way under the judicial canon of ethics.

If you walk around the first floor of the Ralph L. Carr Justice Center with Hobbs, you’ll see another sign of his passion for education, an interactive display with state-of-the-art tools to teach children of all ages about the law. Hobbs delights in showing off the education area, pointing out his favorite sections, asking what visitors know about important decisions in Colorado law. He does all of this with a twinkle in his eye, clearly enjoying the experience of sharing his knowledge.

“There’s always something interesting to do, like working on educational outreach for the water plan, if I can help,” Hobbs said. “Coloradans like a good story.”

Coyote Gulch posts referencing Hobbs here and here.

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


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

Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference with Keynote Dr. Wallace J. Nichols

Registration opens this week for the 10th annual Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference “In It For The Long Haul”. This conference will take place in Avon, CO October 6-8 and works to expand cooperation and collaboration throughout Colorado in natural resource conservation, protection, and enhancement by informing participants about new issues and innovative projects through networking. In 2015, the conference will focus on what is needed to ensure long-term sustainability for river health, public education and organizational management. View the agenda and check back here to register later this week.


We’ll also have the extreme pleasure and great opportunity to hear from keynote speaker Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, author of the bestselling book Blue Mind. Nichols will discuss the emotional, behavioral, psychological and physical connections that draw humans to water – oceans, rivers and lakes and the recent findings in neuroscience that indicate that proximity to water can improve mood, performance, health, and success. Come enjoy his talk at 7:30pm on October 6, bring or purchase your copy of Blue Mind and attend his book signing immediately following the talk.

It’s a great book that has had a big effect on how I live my life. Heartily recommended.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Taming the South Platte—an urban waters bike tour perspective

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

Last week, June 2 and June 4, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education led its annual Urban Waters Bike Tours along the South Platte River, starting at Chatfield Reservoir. Journalist Bob Berwyn joined one ride and combined that experience with his own exploration of the South Platte. Read his full article here. Berwyn writes:

Sen. Aguilar speaks with Rick McLoud about the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project. Sen. Aguilar speaks with Rick McLoud about the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project.

Sometime soon, the [Chatfield] reservoir will also be supplying water to growth areas like Centennial under a 2014 deal that changes the way Chatfield is operated. Those changes have spurred concerns about flooding along the shore of Chatfield Reservoir, State Senator Irene Aquilar (D-SD32) said during a recent urban-water bike tour offered by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.

During the introduction to the tour at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chatfield visitor center, state park manager Scott Roush acknowledged that…

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“Conservation without storage is not worthless but it’s close to it” — Eric Wilkinson

From The Greeley Tribune (Kayla Young):

The complexity, drama and careful planning behind Colorado’s water system took center stage Wednesday afternoon at the Union Colony Civic Center.

The Greeley Chamber of Commerce symposium, “Water: Yours? Mine? Ours?” began with “Water 101,” as panelists explained the ins and outs of Colorado’s management system, and wrapped up with pointed questions from attendees on some of Weld County’s largest water-use dilemmas.

Moderator Nicole Seltzer, executive director of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, described the conversation as “moving upstream to downstream,” flowing throughout the diversity of topics and interests that influence resource management.

Harold Evans, chairman of the Greeley Water & Sewer Board, highlighted the challenge of preparing for a Colorado population expected to double by 2050 while maintaining the agricultural economy. Even with supplies flowing into Greeley from four river basins — the Poudre, Upper Colorado, Big Thompson and Laramie — Evans said much more work remains to be done. “We are fortunate to have forefathers who had the vision, courage and understanding of good water planning,” he said, emphasizing that water planners of the future will need to maintain the same dedication.

A message that resonated throughout panelist comments was a call for greater storage capacity and more efficiency in completing reservoir projects.

In years of heavy rainfall and high stream flows, Erik Wilkinson, general manager of Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said Colorado must take better advantage of storing supplies to prepare for times of drought,

“Conservation without storage is not worthless but it’s close to it. If you conserve the water, you have to have a place to store it,” Wilkinson said.

Evans and Wilkinson both attributed the lack of progress in reservoir projects in large part to long and complex federal permitting processes.

Evans pointed to the delays in expanding Seaman and Windy-Gap reservoirs, both sources of Greeley water storage, as prime examples of the lag in permitting.

“These projects are all going in excess of 10 years, and we still don’t have a permit on any of those projects,” Evans said.

During the session’s question-and-answer period, Pierce-based dairyman Charles Tucker turned the conversation toward the issue of agricultural buy-and-dry from municipalities. He described his hometown as “Thornton territory,” referring to the extensive purchase of agricultural water supplies by the Denver Metro-area city in the 1980s.

Seltzer asked the panelists if a silver lining could be found in the situation.

The panel at first struggled to answer the question, with Evans saying, “I don’t know if right now there is a silver lining.”

He later added that perhaps the silver lining is Colorado’s dedicated water planners that are working to address difficult questions.

Charles Bartlett, chairman for the Colorado Ag Water Alliance, said the future of agricultural supplies will depend on the industry’s ability to stay competitive.

“The best way to keep water in agriculture is to keep agriculture profitable,” he said.

For those struggling to find the value in maintaining stable supplies for agriculture, New Cache la Poudre Reservoir Co. manager Dale Trowbridge said we need look no further than our dinner plates. Trowbridge said the importance of Weld County agriculture and its water supply can be seen in Fagerberg onions, Hungenberg carrots, and Petrocco red cabbage, to name a few.

More education coverage here.