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HEADWATERS Pulse: May 2018

With 2018 shaping up to be one of the driest in the last 54 years in the Colorado River Basin, it’s more important than ever that people understand what’s going on day-to-day so that we can all make informed decisions about how to manage, protect, conserve, and last but not least, enjoy our water supplies.

To that end Water Education Colorado is launching a news service that will cover the critical water issues across the state and the American West.

I am really pleased to be leading this effort for WEco and I am already knee-deep in developing a non-partisan news program that will seek to inform everyone. This work is critical to ensuring the public and our elected officials understand water—from the utility bills that land on homeowners’ kitchen counters every month, to the legal, environmental and regulatory issues that underlie this complex landscape.

Our stories will be available at no cost to news organizations that choose to carry them, as well as the general public, via yourwatercolorado.org and various social media platforms.

We will be letting readers know about the latest developments in politics, science and technology, as well as emerging trends in stream health, agriculture, climate and conservation, to name a few.

But we wouldn’t be launching this news initiative without the simultaneous creation of a new website, designed to bring new services to our members and to create a news portal that provides each of you with easy access to the news of the day. Look for the launch of our website and our news service in June.


Jerd Smith

Digital Content Editor
Water Education Colorado


The Water for Land Dilemma

Stand quietly among the high grasses of Pawnee National Grasslands, or on the slopes of Rocky Mountain National Park, or the sprawling hills of the Sand Dunes, or amongst the ruins of Mesa Verde, or dozens of other scenic places in Colorado and you will be standing on federally managed public land.

The federal government controls roughly 36 percent of Colorado's lands. With that terrain theoretically comes the right to vast water resources, some of which originate on public land, or which simply flow through it. When land is reserved for a federal purpose, water needed to fulfill that purpose may also be reserved. Otherwise, state law controls the establishment of water use rights.

But decisions over how much water is contained in those federal reserved water rights and how they are to be used have been the subject of court battles across the West for more than 100 years. Read about such controversies as well as the recent creative agreements that reveal a more collaborative path forward in the new issue of Headwaters magazine with the story The Water for Land Dilemma by Jerd Smith on page 25. 

A combined federal reserved water right and state-based right, quantified and approved in Colorado Water Court in 2008, maintains flows through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Photo Courtesy BLM

On The Blog

Jury Still Out: Upper Colorado River Commission wants more from Arizona's CAP

Remembering Steve Fearn

Ski resorts offer summer fun as they look toward a water-short future

WEco Mission In Motion

Register Now for the Rio Grande Basin Tour June 11-12

Join Water Education Colorado for our two-day RIO GRANDE BASIN TOUR June 11-12, 2018
Tour topics will include the Rio Grande Basin Implementation Plan progress and priorities, forest health, reservoir rehabilitation and timed releases, remote telemetry, compact compliance, ag practices, well rules and regulations, and much much more. 

Look out for an email with agenda coming soon! Learn more and register here.


Bike Tours! Pedal the Poudre and Denver's Urban Waterways 

Pedaling the Poudre Tours, May 24 & 25

Colorado's waterways provide ecosystem benefits, habitat for fish and wildlife, and water for recreation, agriculture, industry and personal use. Join WEco, Poudre Heritage Alliance, and the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed on May 24 or 25 to explore the Poudre River. Register here for the May 24 date, or click here to register for the May 25 tour.

Denver Urban Water Cycle Tours, June 5 & 6

Join the Barr Milton Watershed Association, WEco, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District and the Colorado Stormwater Council on June 6 or 7 for a fun day learning about the history of the Sand Creek Waterway and efforts to restore it. Register here for the June 5 date, or click here to register for the June 6 date. 

Grand Junction Rain Barrel Workshop June 22

In 2016, it became legal to collect water from your gutters to water your lawn and garden. Since then, Coloradans have been getting excited about this new way to garden and save on their water bill at the same time. Join us to build your own barrel, learn about urban water conservation and connect with other members of the community in a fun and engaging setting. This workshop will take place in Grand Junction on June 22. Registration opening soon.

Upcoming Webinars: Forest Fire and Watershed Health & Water Law

Forest Fire and Watershed Health Webinar June 26

The U.S. Forest Service now spends more than half of its annual budget fighting wildfires, which pulls funding away from fire prevention, forest health and watershed health work. Join us for this one-hour webinar to focus on the cost of fire borrowing, and the partnerships, polical action and other steps that Coloradans are taking to treat forests in order to prevent fires, maintain forest health, watershed health, source water protection, and human safety. Save the date, June 26 at noon, registration coming soon. 

Water Law Webinar

Curious about Colorado water rights and water law? Attend our upcoming water law webinar in June to explore the basics of this complicated, but critically important topic. We are lining up an incredible suite of speakers who are experts on water law and administration. So, come prepared with questions and be ready to learn about resources you can explore to dive deeper. More information coming soon.

Save the Date Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference

2018 Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference
The Color of Water: Exploring the Spectrum
October 9-11, 2018
Westin Riverfront Resort, Avon, CO

Expanding cooperation and collaboration throughout Colorado in natural resource conservation, protection and enhancement by informing participants about new issues and innovative projects and through invaluable networking. Submit your ideas for conference presentations by April 18! Our theme this year intends to tap into the creativity of our community and investigate how diverse watershed interests interact. Water touches us all from forests to farms. We’ve branched out this year to delve into water for environment, agriculture, recreation, mining, energy, forest health, city water, rural water, source water, recycled and reuse water. Learn more here.

A New Website for WEco!

It started with our logo and updated name, but our new look is about to get better with the launch of a new WEco website in June.

The new site will include a brand new digital news section and more great content that's easier to find than ever before. We can't wait to share it! 

On Air: Connecting the Drops

The inextricable link among forests, fires, and water

Wildfires are a reality for those living in the West, but the impact on the landscape lingers long after the smoke is gone. In Colorado, our public lands serve as source watersheds for the vast majority of the state—80 percent of Coloradans drink water that flows out of national forest land alone. Forest, fire and water are now inextricably linked. Listen to the story on Connecting the Drops, our statewide series on water.  

Member Happenings

State of the River Meetings

Attend these public meetings held across Colorado's Western Slope to learn about water issues. Upcoming meetings include:

May 15: Middle Colorado State of the River
May 16: Ouray County State of the River
May 21: State of the Gunnison River Basin
May 31: Carbondale State of the Rivers

Learn more and read a recap of recent meetings here.

The Arkansas River: from Leadville to Lamar

This documentary about the Arkansas River will air on Rocky Mountain PBS on Thursday, May 31 at 8:00 p.m. Save the date! Learn more about the film and watch the trailer here

Northern Water's Conservation Gardens Fair

This free event features educational seminars, landscape professionals, and more. Attend on June 9 at the Northern Water headquarters, 220 Water Ave. in Berthoud, CO. 

Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference August 22-24

The Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference will be held in Vail August 22-24. Learn more and register here

Take The Next Step

Will we see you tomorrow night at our 2018 President's Reception? Registration has now closed for this year's reception, but for those of you joining us, we can't wait to see you for a night of celebration and awards as we honor water leadership by recognizing Tom Cech with the Diane Hoppe Leadership Award and Joe Frank with the Emerging Leader Award. Help us celebrate and raise money for water education in Colorado. We have some hot auction items that you won't want to miss. See you there!


1750 Humboldt Street, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80218