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President's Reception

Ken and Ruth Wright, 2008 President's Award Winner

Ken and Ruth Wright


The Colorado Foundation for Water Education is honored to announce that Kenneth and Ruth Wright of Boulder are the recipients of the 2008 President's Award in recognition of their unparalleled legacy of personal and professional contributions to advancing the greater understanding of Colorado water resources science and management.

Their extraordinary individual and shared endeavors over their storied careers--Ken as a professional engineer and Ruth as an attorney and former Colorado lawmaker--to explore and explain the nature of this arid land's most precious natural resource have been unmatched in filling the reservoir of Western water wisdom that now informs citizens from schoolchildren to members of the Colorado Water Bar's Ancient and Honorable Order of the Water Buffalo, to which Ken will soon be inducted.

No strangers to honors and awards at home and abroad, Ken and Ruth Wright have literally gone to the ends of the earth in passionate pursuit of answers to how the rapidly expanding populations of Colorado and neighboring arid states can most wisely use the region's scarce water resources in ways that sustain both human communities and natural ecosystems.

Never content to constrain their quests to the here and now, the two have traveled to distant lands and times to find possible answers for the future by examining how the ancients engineered water supply solutions.

Through the resources of Wright Water Engineers Inc., the respected consulting engineering firm Ken founded in 1961; the Colorado Historical Society; and the Wright Paleohydrologic Institute codirected by the couple, Ken and Ruth Wright have led the groundbreaking scientific examination of water management practices among the first inhabitants of Machu Picchu and other ancient Inca communities in the peaks of Peru.

Their interest in the water supply ingenuity of the hemisphere's earliest civilizations also led them to research the water collection, storage and utilization practices of the ancestral Pueblans who dwelt among the high canyons of Mesa Verde.

These research projects, as well as earlier investigations by Ken of Colorado's disastrous Big Thompson Flood of 1976, have produced an invaluable body of archived and published resources generously offered in the interest of public service and charitable programs.


Among them are extensive Wright Water Engineers records on the flood donated by the company to the Colorado State University Libraries; books authored and illustrated by Ken and Ruth titled Water Mysteries of Mesa Verde, Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel and The Machu Picchu Guidebook; and annual Machu Picchu calendars featuring photographs by Ruth Wright that have generated revenues donated in the World Bank's name to support a Washington, D.C.-based health care clinic for Latino immigrants.

Both Ken and Ruth also continue to lecture throughout the Americas, most recently at a 2007 workshop in Costa Rica on sustainable development, after which they traveled again to Peru to lecture at major universities and to receive that nation's Order of Merit for Distinguished Services from President Alan Garcia Perez for their water management research.

Ken and Ruth Wright have set the standard in Colorado for practicing water engineering and law as community service, driven by an avid interest in the sustainable use of the water resources that have and will continue to define the region and its inhabitants as they cautiously consider the possible local impacts of global warming. They have evidenced the courage and commitment that not only led them down the path to furthering the knowledge of water resources in the public interest but inspired many others to follow.

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