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The Collaborative Alchemy Around Water Today


Thank you

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education would like to express its sincere gratitude to those who have shared their passion for Colorado water, and whose donations and memberships between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015 (fiscal year 2015) have made CFWE’s work possible.

Endowing Partners ($20,000+)

Colorado Water Conservation Board • Xcel Energy Foundation Headwaters Supporters ($5,000+) Aurora Water • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment–Water Quality Control Division • City of Greeley Water Conservation • CoBank Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority • Denver Water • Douglas County • Leonard Rice Engineers, Inc. • MillerCoors Meridian Metropolitan District • South Metro Water Supply Authority • Southwestern Water Conservation District • Special District Association of Colorado

Basin Supporters ($2,000+) Board of Water Works of Pueblo • Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP • Central Colorado Water Conservancy District • City of Grand Junction–Utilities City of Longmont • Colorado Corn • Colorado River District • Eagle River Water and Sanitation District • Jefferson County • Northern Water Pitkin County Healthy Rivers and Streams Program • Republican River Water Conservation District • Rio Grande Water Conservation District Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association • Ute Water Conservancy District • Western Resource Advocates

Aquifer Supporters ($1,000+) AMCi Wireless • Amec Foster Wheeler • AWWA–Rocky Mountain Section • CDM Smith • CH2M Hill • City of Boulder • Colorado Division of Water Resources Colorado Livestock Association • Colorado Springs Utilities • The Consolidated Mutual Water Company • DiNatale Water Consultants • HDR Engineering, Inc Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District • Metro Wastewater Reclamation District • Patrick, Miller & Noto • SGM • South Platte Water Related Activities Program • Town of Monument • TZA Water Engineers, Inc. • United Water and Sanitation District • University of Colorado Office for Outreach & Engagement Wilson Water Group River Supporters ($500+) A Adaptive Resources, Inc. • Applegate Group B Barr Lake & Milton Reservoir Watershed Assoc. • Cheryl Benedict • Bent County Commissioners • Black & Veatch C Cherokee Metropolitan District • City of Fountain • City of Thornton • Collins Cockrel & Cole • Colorado Contractors Assoc. • Colorado Department of Agriculture • Colorado Farm Bureau • Colorado Water Congress D Deere & Ault Consultants, Inc. • Ducks Unlimited E Eagle Bend Metro District • ELEMENT Water Consulting • Emily Griffith Technical College G George K. Baum & Company • Great Divide Film • The Greenway Foundation H Harris Water Engineering, Inc. • Hydro Resources K Knopf Family Foundation • Kogovsek & Associates, Inc. M Maynes, Bradford, Shipps & Sheftel, LLP • McElroy, Meyer, Walker & Condon, P.C. O One World One Water Center P Porzak, Browning & Bushong, LLP R Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. • Jerry Raisch • RiverRestoration.Org • Doug Robotham • Rocky Mountain Farmers Union • Roggen Farmers’ Elevator Assoc. S San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District • John Stulp U Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District • Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority • Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District • Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District W Water Center at Colorado Mesa University • Weld County Farm Bureau • West Sage Water Consultants • WestWater Research, LLC • White & Jankowski • Wright Family Foundation • Wright Water Engineers Y Yes for Water Tributary Supporters ($250+) A Richard Alper • Anderson and Chapin, P.C. • Arkansas Groundwater Users Association • Ayres Associates B Balcomb & Green, P.C. • Jeffrey Bandy • Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti, LLP • Peter and Deborah Binney • Bishop-Brogden Associates, Inc. • Richard and Donna Bratton • Rob Buirgy C Tom Cech • City of Fort Collins–Natural Areas Department • City of La Junta–Utilities • Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners • Colorado Municipal League • Colorado River Cattle Ranch • Amy Conklin • Cottonwood Water and Sanitation District D Roger Day • Delta County • Dynotek E Environmental Process Control • Evans Group, LLC F Angie Fowler G GBSM • Les Gelvin • Grand County H Havey Productions • Headwaters Corporation • Eric Hecox • Greg and Bobbie Hobbs • Emily Hunt J Greg Johnson and Kristee Paschall K Keep It Clean Partnership L Left Hand Water District • Dan Luecke and Rosemary Wrzos M Steve Malers • Martin and Wood Water Consultants • Alan Matlosz • John and Susan Maus • John McClow • McGrane Water Engineering, LLC • Lisa McVicker and Craig Steinmetz • Middle Park Water Conservancy District N North Sterling Irrigation District • North Table Mountain Water and Sanitation District O William Paddock P Petros & White, LLC • Platte Canyon Water and Sanitation District • John Porter R Renew Strategies, LLC • Robert Rich • Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team S Simon Land and Cattle Co., Inc. • MaryLou and Stephen Smith T Gregg Ten Eyck and Corrin Campbell • Andrew Todd • Town of Castle Rock • Town of Silverthorne V Vranesh and Raisch, LLP W Reagan Waskom • West Greeley Conservation District


Stream Supporters ($100+) A Tom Acre • Zach Allen • Don Ament • Mikkel Anderson • Animas River Wetlands, LLC • Jeni Arndt B David Bailey • Bridget Barron • John Bartholow • KC Becker • Laura Belanger • Richard Belt • Kevin Bergschneider • Big Thompson Watershed Forum • Barbara Biggs • Tillie Bishop • Patricia Blakey • Matt Bond • Tracey Bouvette • James Boynton • Logan Burba • Joseph Burtard • Diane Mitsch Bush C Ron Childs • Aaron Clay • Kelly Close • Coalition for the Upper South Platte • Colorado Water Solutions • Stuart Corbridge • Beorn Courtney • Jeff Crane • Ronnie Crawford • Sean Cronin • Dawn Cummings • Ken Curtis • Mario Curto D Drew Damiano • Casey Davenhill • Thomas Davinroy • DCP MIDSTREAM • Patricia DeChristopher • Delta Conservation District • Kelly DiNatale • Rebecca Dowling • Blaine Dwyer E Frank Eckhardt • Rodney Eisenbraun • Dieter Erdmann • Melanie Erdmann F Fairfield and Woods, P.C. • Paul Fanning • John Fielder • Catherine Flynn • Fort Collins Utilities G Kevin Gertig • Patti Giardina • Michelle Godfrey • Kellie Gorman • Thomas Gougeon • Martin Grenier • Lloyd Gronning • Chris Gulden H Alan Hamel • Debi Harmon • Harvey Economics • Jim Havey • Taylor Hawes • Bill and Lisa Hillhouse • Hockersmith & Mueller, P.C. • Diane Hoppe • Charles Howe • Scott Hummer I Tom Iseman J Torie Jarvis • Dawn Jewell • Diane Johnson • Sarah Johnson K Jerry Kenny • Judith Kleinman • Stan Kloberdanz • Wilbur Koger • Dave Koop • Chris Kraft L Joshua Laipply • Paul Lander • Greg Larson • Dave and Tricia LeCureux • Mark Levorsen • Scott Lorenz • Lower Arkansas Water Management Association • Lutin Curlee Family Partnership, Ltd. • Ken Lykens M Matt Machado • Rick Marsicek • Tyler Martineau • Mikal Martinez • Donald Martinusen • Steve Massey • Kevin McBride • Murray McCaig • Jack McCormick • David McGimpsey • Dennis McGrane • Trina McGuire-Collier • Julie McKenna • Bart Miller • Blair Miller • Martha Moore N MaryAnn Nason • Kelley Neumann • Noah Newman • Peter Nichols • Daniel Niemela O John Orr • Jenelle Ortiz P Kathy Parker • Allison Plute • James Pokrandt • Alicia and Brandon Prescott • Mary Presecan • James Pribyl R Ken Ransford • Mary Raynolds • Klint Reedy • Jill Repella • Patty Rettig • Frank Riggle • Laurie Rink • Rocky Mountain Agribusiness Association • John Rodgers • Steven Rogowski • Fred Rothauge • Donny Roush • Nicole Rowan • Denise Rue-Pastin S Rick Sackbauer • Russ Sands • Alyson Scott • Mary Ann Seltzer • Thomas Sharp • Mike Shimmin • Tod Smith • Zachary Smith • South Canon Ditch Company • Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District • Alicia Sprague • St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District • Laurel Stadjuhar • Joe Stepanek • Natalie Stevens • Angie Stoner • Summit County • David Sunshine T Jean Townsend • Bill Trampe • Larry Traubel • Chris Treese • Carl Trick • Seth Turner • Daniel Tyler U Margaret Ulrich-Nims V Paul van der Heijde W Russell Walker • Heather Waters • Matthew and Heidi Welsh • Brian Werner • Meg White • Janet Williams • Tom Williamsen • Town of Firestone • Willow Creek Reclamation Committee • Troy Wineland • Fred Wolf • Ruth Wrigh Z Mickey Zeppelin Individual Supporters ($50+) A Kalsoum Abbasi • Gerald Adams • S. Craig Adams • Vic Ahlberg • Dave Akers • Chuck Anderson • Kenneth Anderson • Frank Anesi • Jim Aranci • Jeffrey Arthur • Lena Atencio B Dianne Bailey • Tom Barenberg • Patrick and Victoria Barney • Jill Baron • Tony Barrie • Joseph Barsugli • Steve Basch • Jini Bates • William Battaglin • Jacob Bauer • Bear Creek Water and Sanitation District • Heather Beasley • Amy Beatie • Beattie, Chadwick & Houpt • David Beaujon • Drew Beckwith • Paula Belcher • David Berry • Mike Berry • Gail Binkly • Rhonda Birdnow • Linda Bledsoe • Bluewater Resources • Caroline Bradford • Larry Brazil • Norman Brooks • Matthew Brown • Kathleen Butler • Peter Butler C Michael Calhoun • Carollo Engineers • Josephine Carpenter • Robert Case • Castle Pines Metropolitan District • Keith Catlin • Gretchen Cerveny • Sean Chambers • Jim Clare • Amber Clay • Michael Cohen • Debbie Cokes • Bill Coleman • Geraldine Colette • Nicholas Colglazier • Ted Collin • Jim Collins • Kevin Collins • Colorado State University–CSURF Real Estate Office • Dave Colvin • Bill Condon • Theresa Conley • David Conner • Alice Conovitz • Jason Cooley • Conejos Water Conservancy District • Neomi Cox • Chris Crosby • Rita Crumpton • Julia Cucarola • Kirkwood Cunningham • Adam Cwiklin D Lisa Darling • Kirk Davidson • Alexandra Davis • Lisa Dawson • Stephanie Deer • Aaron Derwingson • Brian Devine • William DeWolfe • Jody Dickson • Sarah Dominick • Nate Donovan • Matthew Downey • Heather Dutton E Eagle County Government • Lindsay Ellis • Patrick Emery • Enercon Services, Inc. • Lewis Entz • Environment, Inc. • Robert Enzaldo • Brian Epstein • ERO Resources Corp. • Veryl Eschen • Robert Evans F Joanne Fagan • R. Scott Fifer • Michael Fink • Judy Firestien • Thomas Flanagan, Jr. • Tom Fletcher • Jack Flowers • Birna Foley • Richard Foose • Barbara Ford • J. R. Ford • David Freeman • Freeport McMoRan G Julia Gallucci • Pam Gardiner and Lyle Geurts • Marilyn Gary • Jon George • Geo-Smith Engineering, LLC • Steve Glammeyer • Kirk Goble • Art Goodtimes • William Goosmann • Marshall Gordon • David Graf • Pete Gunderson H Harriet Hageman • Margaret Hagenbuch • Frani Halperin • Hillary Hamann • Wendy Hanophy • Duane Hanson • Linda Hanson • Paul Harms • Mike Hart • Bob Hastings • Shannon Hatch • Alan Heath • Sue Helm • Ryan Hemphill • James Henderson • William Hendrickson • Mark and Sara Hermundstad • High Line Canal Preservation Association • Jeannette Hillery • Bill Hoblitzell • Jim Hokit • Allen Holcombe • Constance Holland • Barbara Horn • Patricia Horoschak • Larry Howard • Joan Howerter • Ch’aska Huayhuaca • Tom Huber • Terry Huffington • Phyllis Hunt • Kim Hutton • Eileen Hyatt • Hydros Consulting, Inc. • James Hyre I John Imhoff • Cliff Inbau • Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe, P.C. • Julio Iturreria J Nancy Jackson • Glen Jammaron • Amy Johnson • Barbara Jones • Alix Joseph • John Justman K Laurna Kaatz • Korey Kadrmas • Julie Kallenberger • Anthony Kerr • Deb Kleinman • Katie Knoll • Betty Konarski • Aimee Konowal • Leann Koons • Krage Manufacturing, LLC • Robert Krassa • Adrianne Kroepsch • Rod Kuharich • Denise Kuntz L Lambert Realty • Donna Larson • Dan Law • Charles Lawler • Patrick Lawler • Kim Raby Lennberg • Margaret Lenz • Katryn Leone • Matt Lindburg • Patricia Locke • Robert Longenbaugh • Emily Love • James Luey • David Lyskawa M Jerry Mallett • Zach Margolis • Jason Marks • Gary Martinez • Joseph Martinez • Ren Martyn • Bryan McCarty • McCarty Land and Water Valuation • Mark McCluskey • Gerald McDaniel • Charles McKay • Patricia Meakins • Meeker Regional Library District • Joe Meigs • Steve Miles • Rex and Sally Miller • Minion Hydrologic • Joy Minke • Erin Minks • Harold Miskel • Allen Mitchek • Nat Miullo • Larry Morgan • Molly Morris N David Nelson • Lorraine Niemela • North Weld County Water District • Norton Appraisal Services, Inc. • Kandee Nourse • Northwest Colorado Council of Governments O David and Linda Overlin P Dick Parachini • Maria Pastore • James Patton • Jack Perrin • Tom Perry • Gregory Peterson • Bob Polich • Susan Pollack • Peter Pollock • Brandon Prescott • PS Systems, Inc. • David Pusey R Realtors Land Institute–Colorado Chapter • Gene Reetz • Chris Reichard • Dianna Reimer • David Reinertsen • Melvin Rettig • Gigi Richard • Lee Rimel • Vicki Ripp • Ellen Roberts • Sue Anschutz Rodgers • Kathy Rosenkrans • Roxborough Water and Sanitation District • Heidi Ruckriegle • Charles Rudolph • Ana Ruiz • Ken Rutt • Timothy Rynders S Wayne Schieldt • Ben Schloesser • Chad Schneider • Gail Schwartz • Donald Schwindt • Stephanie Scott • Michael Shaw • Lois Sherry • Jeff Shoemaker • Karla Shriver • George Sibley • Jack Sibold • Lisa Sigler • Kevin Sjursen • James Smith • Travis Smith • South Adams County Water and Sanitation District • Julie Stahli • States West Water • Timothy Steele • Dick Stenzel • Faith Sternlieb • Stifel • David Stiller • Gordon Stonington • Dana Strongin • Britta Strother • Brian Sullivan • Carol Sullivan • Summit County Library • Summit Global Management T Pete Taylor • Tekla Taylor • Mick Todd • Town of Breckenridge–Water Division • Town of Severance • Town of Windsor • Greg Trainor • Enrique Triana • Curran Trick • Tri-County Water Conservancy District • Molly Trujillo • TST Infrastructure, LLC U University of Denver Water Law Review • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service V Wayne Vanderschuere • James VanShaar • Cindy Vassios • Hayes Veeneman • David Venable • Tom Verquer • Linda Vida • Edward Vigil • Jodi Villa W Marc Waage • Shelley Walchak • Chuck Wanner • Robert Ward • Russell Waring • Bert Weaver • Robert Weaver • Weld County Commissioners Office • Weld County Underground Water Users Assoc. • Jennifer Wellman • Pat Wells • Michael Welsh • WestWater Engineering • Nik White • Richard White • John Wiener • Jody Williams • Kathleen Williams • Kay Willson • Dick Wolfe • Connie Woodhouse • W-Y GW Management District • Kristina Wynne Z Margot Zallen


CFWE

Mission in Motion

DEFINING VALUES

CFWE On Tour Get out of the office on one of CFWE’s tours, famous for fun-filled experiential learning blended with networking. Don’t miss out on the next opportunities to explore with CFWE this spring and summer. Climate and Colorado’s Water Future Workshop

Urban Waters Bike Tours

On March 11, attend CFWE’s annual climate workshop. We’ll tour INSTAAR’s Stable Isotope Lab and learn from experts about Colorado’s highly variable climate— exploring climate change, hydrology, water supply planning and more. We’ll learn how the state is preparing for an uncertain water future and come away with tools to better teach, communicate, and take action to conserve water in the face of climate change.

On June 7 and 8, pedal through the Bear Creek watershed, southwest of Denver, to discover how groups are reclaiming and protecting urban waterways. We’ll see first-hand water quality improvement projects, recreation along the creek, longterm watershed planning and community education and stewardship. Tune up your bike and don’t miss FREE registration in April.

CFWE’s Kristin Maharg leads the annual bike tour.

STRENGTHENING LEADERSHIP

Save the date for CFWE’s annual President’s Award Reception gala and fundraiser Friday, May 20, 2016, at Space Gallery in Denver. Join CFWE on this special evening as we celebrate and raise money for water education in Colorado while recognizing extraordinary individuals who have made a difference for water. The President’s Award honors a Coloradan who has shown dedication and made significant contributions to the field of water resources. This year, Governor John Hickenlooper will be the award recipient. The Emerging Leader Award honors a young professional who has strengthened and improved water education and leadership in Colorado. Congratulations to Heather Dutton, executive director of the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District, who will be this year’s award recipient. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities coming soon. Visit yourwatercolorado.org for more information.

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Greg Johnson, CFWE board member and program committee chair, mingles with guests at the 2015 reception.

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THEO STROOMER

President’s Award Save the Date


CULTIVATING PARTICIPATION

Your Feedback Is In

Time to go back: The last CFWE tour of the Gunnison Basin was in 2007.

Gunnison River Basin Tour Join CFWE June 21-22 for a Gunnison River Basin Tour hosted in conjunction with the Colorado Water Workshop. Gain an appreciation for this beautiful part of the state as we travel off the beaten to path develop a better understanding of the many values of water. The itinerary will showcase innovative water efficiency projects with ranchers,

farmers, recreationists, environmentalists and local communities alike. Tour attendees will get an in-depth look at how water managers and leaders are putting the Gunnison Basin Implementation Plan into action. Look for sponsorship opportunities and registration opening in April.

CREATING KNOWLEDGE

Webinar: Creative Solutions on the Colorado River

CFWE is now one year into our new threeyear strategic plan, and we’ve asked our members and top supporters to evaluate our progress. One of our strategic goals is to provide decision-makers with the knowledge and skills needed to make informed water resource decisions. CFWE also aims to ensure that diverse perspectives are incorporated into water conversations, as part of our mission to promote better understanding of Colorado’s water resources and issues includes providing balanced and accurate information and education.   Survey results, collected in November 2015, show that we’re making progress toward our goals, but we’ll continue to strive for improvement. This year, 96 percent of CFWE members rated CFWE overall as ”Very” or ”Moderately” accurate and balanced, and 98 percent said CFWE was ”Very” or ”Moderately” helpful in understanding water issues and tradeoffs in Colorado. In the past year, 82 percent of members say that CFWE has influenced their decision-making, whether through information, education, or leadership programs.

2015 CFWE MEMBER SURVEY Overall balance and accuracy

Tune in for FREE from the comfort of your home to hear about creative ideas and potential solutions to water supply challenges on the Colorado River. Our next webinar, scheduled for late March in partnership with CoBank, will explore exciting new actions bringing river users together to make the most of the water available.

78.6% Very

17.5% Moderately 3.9% Somewhat

Learn more and register at yourwatercolorado.org.

Overall helpfulness in understanding water issues and trade-offs

BOTTOM: GREG POSCHMAN

On the Air with Connecting the Drops Tune in to your local community radio station for Connecting the Drops, where we bring you water reporting over the airwaves. In partnership with Rocky Mountain Community Radio, including KGNU, KDNK and KRCC, we’re offering monthly segments that build on what you’re reading in Headwaters. Visit yourwatercolorado.org/cfwe-education/connecting-the-drops to listen to recent episodes.

H E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

81.9% Very

16.2% Moderately 1.9% Somewhat 3


As CFWE’s executive director, I love communicating with you at the beginning of each Headwaters. However, for this issue, I have relinquished my letter to three founding board members. A notable collaboration that we all benefit from is the creation of CFWE, which I enjoy every day I walk into our office or visit a room filled with people learning about the value of Colorado’s water. That CFWE still has three founders serving on our board is a testament to their commitment, the continuing evolution of the organization, and the good times we all enjoy together. —Nicole Seltzer

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his issue highlights milestone agreements that diverse organizations have achieved through collaborative efforts—where conflict could have led to failure but, instead, relationships built on trust and hard work forged the way to resolution. As we celebrate these successes, we are reminded that we don’t have to search far to find a prime example of collaboration: the early trials leading to the success of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. Beginning in the ’90s, the Colorado Water Congress’ education committee toiled, incubating ideas and attempting to launch a water education foundation. Committee members included Tom Cech, Brian Werner, Rita Crumpton, and yours truly, Chris Treese and Reagan Waskom. We knew such an organization was needed but struggled to institutionalize an independent and inclusive organization. After several admirable but ultimately unsuccessful initiatives, during the drought of 2002 the Colorado General Assembly broke the logjam with passage of HB 02-1152, ushering CFWE into existence. Thanks to the vision and leadership of Representative Diane Hoppe, who championed CFWE’s inclusivity and balance, along with Senatorial champions Jim Isgar and Lewis Entz, the legislature appropriated funds from the Colorado Water Conservation Board to launch and maintain a water education foundation. It was a collaborative breakthrough. That summer, when we caucused in Pueblo, there was a moment when a few of us acknowledged that the continued association with Colorado Water Congress was more hindrance than help. We needed a bigger tent and unfettered reins. As in any collaborative effort, we had strong leadership who pushed the effort forward but knew that the non-partisan mission was greater than any of our foundational leaders. From the start, all involved understood that they were contributing to the betterment of Colorado—we were collaborating on a common mission. There were challenges, attempts to interject agendas, to further points of view and to exclude others. But through goodwill and hard work, collaboration toward the common good was rewarded, as evidenced in early Citizen’s Guides and issues of Headwaters magazine, pioneered in 2003 by CFWE’s first executive director, Karla Brown, and board publications chair, Justice Greg Hobbs. Those early publications listed the employers of board members, but by 2006 the affiliations disappeared, a symbolic but important gesture demonstrating that board members served solely in the interest of CFWE. Since, from our publications’ thorough review process to our tours and programs, all board members have been collaborative and each has focused on growing trust. Today, CFWE’s collaborative roots and mission are as important as ever. We strive to ensure diverse perspectives are incorporated in all water conversations; we work to be a gathering place where Coloradans convene to access the knowledge needed to advance the conversation—a place where uncommon allies work together. Whether you’re enjoying this magazine, or able to attend the Climate Workshop, the Gunnison Basin Tour, a Water Educator Network event, or something else coming down the pipeline, we hope you’ll join us in deepening your understanding of Colorado water.

á The 2013 CFWE staff and board (with members Greg Hobbs on the left and Chris Treese in the red shirt) thanked Rita Crumpton as she retired from board president, paving the way for new leadership and accomplishments.

Collaboratively co-written by CFWE board members,

Reagan Waskom, Greg Hobbs & Chris Treese

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COLLABORATION WINTER 2016 WATER IS… LIFESTYLE • 10

Mutualism in running water— whether down ditches or rivers.

FEATURES

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GENERATIONAL • 12

A look at how the water community is training up tomorrow’s problem solvers, today. PARTNERSHIP • 14

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Considering the private sector at the financing table.

COLUMNS CURRENTS • 4

Notes from the Director WATERMARKS • 7

Notes from the Editor

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Go Time for Colorado’s Water Plan It’s go time for the new state plan. The first in a three-part series dedicated to its measurable outcomes looks at what’s ahead. BY NELSON HARVEY

The Shifting Cs Tracing Colorado water’s staggered progression from conflict as predominant narrative to cooperation and collaboration over time. Have we reached a new era? BY ALLEN BEST

Beyond the Buzzword From water supply projects to river restoration and flow protection, these functional collaborators show the true value of multi-stakeholder efforts. BY NELSON HARVEY

Collaboration by Design The thoughtful preparation—and social awareness—behind good collaborations. BY JOSH CHETWYND

ABOVE: Steve Malers of the Open Water Foundation comments during a group discussion at a Poudre River forum in early 2015. Photograph by Stephen Smith. COVER IMAGE: iStock

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O U R CO N T R I B U T O R S “Sporting contests have simple outcomes: somebody wins, somebody loses,” observes Allen Best, who tackled the history of Colorado’s water collaborations for this issue (“The Shifting Cs,” page 18). “Water stories sometimes hew to this narrative of winners and losers. But any close examination delivers a story of greater nuance. In this assignment of conflict, cooperation and collaboration, any notion of a simple story vanished immediately.” A regular contributor to Headwaters, Allen is no stranger to complex subject matter, and has written for publications from the New York Times to the smallest of Colorado newspapers. He can be found at mountaintownnews.net. Nelson Harvey is a freelance reporter and editor based in Denver. He has written for publications that include Modern Farmer, High Country News and USA Today’s annual agriculture magazine. While investigating case studies in water-based collaboration for this issue (“Beyond the Buzzword,” page 26), Nelson was glad to see that growing water scarcity is bringing out the best in so many Coloradans, prompting former adversaries to bridge their economic and geographic divides and forge water-sharing solutions. More of his work is at NelsonHarvey.com. Josh Chetwynd is a Denver-based journalist and author. He has worked as a staff reporter for USA Today and U.S. News & World Report, and has written for other publications including The Wall Street Journal. His books include “The Secret History of Balls,” named a 2011 NPR best book of the year. In writing a user’s guide to negotiating Colorado environmental issues (“Collaboration by Design,” page 33), he was impressed by those who play a central role in this often contentious area: “Mediation is an art not a science, and I was buoyed by the fact that the state has so many people so good at this craft.” Steve Knopper has been covering Colorado issues since he worked for the Louisville Times and Lafayette News as a Boulder High School student in the ‘80s. He’s a Rolling Stone contributing editor who also writes regularly for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ and many other publications. His latest book is “MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson” (Scribner, 2015). After interviewing numerous acequieros and ditch runners for this issue (“Running Water, Together,” page 10), he regards his home sprinkler system in an entirely new way. He lives in Denver with his wife, Melissa, and 13-year-old daughter, Rose. Samples of his work can be found at knopps.com. Andrew Kenney is a Denver-based journalist. He first realized the scale of water issues when he moved to a house on a sprawling manmade reservoir outside Raleigh, where he worked as a newspaper reporter for The News & Observer. The University of North Carolina alum has written lately for Westword, the Denver VOICE and the Journal of Accountancy. Kenney’s visit to a river-focused Summit County sleep-away camp (“NextGen Collaborators,” page 12) was an excellent introduction to the West’s water culture. Find him at AndyKenney.com.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education Nicole Seltzer Executive Director Kristin Maharg Director of Programs Jennie Geurts Director of Operations Jayla Poppleton Headwaters Senior Editor and Content Program Manager Caitlin Coleman Headwaters Associate Editor and Communications Specialist Charles Chamberlin Headwaters Graphic Designer BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Eric Hecox President Justice Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr. Vice President Scott Lorenz Secretary Alan Matlosz Treasurer Gregg Ten Eyck Past President Nick Colglazier Lisa Darling James Eklund Steve Fearn Greg Johnson Dan Luecke

1750 Humboldt Suite 200 Denver, CO 80218 303-377-4433 • yourwatercolorado.org THE MISSION of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education is to promote increased understanding of water resource issues so Coloradans can make informed decisions. CFWE is a non-advocacy organization committed to providing educational opportunities that consider diverse perspectives and facilitate dialogue in order to advance the conversation. HEADWATERS magazine is published three times each year by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. Its goals are to raise awareness of current water issues, and to provide opportunities for engagement and further learning. THANK YOU to all who assisted in the development of this issue. Headwaters’ reputation for balance and accuracy in reporting is achieved through rigorous consultation with experts and anextensive peer review process, helping to make it Colorado’s leading publication on water.

Kevin McBride Trina McGuire-Collier Kate McIntire Reed Morris Lauren Ris Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg Andrew Todd Chris Treese Rep. Ed Vigil Reagan Waskom

Copyright 2016 by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. ISSN: 1546-0584

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TEN THINGS TO DO IN THIS ISSUE: 1

Join a CFWE tour for an up-close-and-personal learning experience.

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Check out Keystone Science Center’s collaborative youth trainings and other programs.

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3

Take ownership of next steps for Colorado’s Water Plan in the conservation and watershed health arenas.

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Dig in to what the water plan’s Chapter 8 says about cooperative projects and interbasin sharing agreements.

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5

Track progress on the collaborative Upper Colorado Wild and Scenic Alternative Management Plan.

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Soak up inspiration from some of Colorado’s myriad ag/enviro collaborations.

PAGES 31-32

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Identify factors that give a boost to—and those that can derail—collaborative processes. PAGE 34

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Discover how CFWE’s leadership programs are building collaborative know-how.

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Follow the progression of a multi-stakeholder collaborative decision-making process.

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hese days, the conversation in the Colorado water community is abuzz with collaboration. And we’re not alone. Businesses, communities, schools and other industries all are demonstrating increased emphasis on collaboration. The methods vary, but all are team-driven for heightened innovation, increased capacity and better results. To keep up with the trends, we decided to tackle collaboration for this issue of Headwaters, and to take a close look at what it’s really all about. Of course, covering a topic like collaboration comes with inherent risk. Will the reporting be trite? (“With collaboration the sky’s the limit!”) Will it superficially posit that collaboration will overcome every brick wall? Will the content have legs to stand on? In Colorado water, collaboration has become a buzzword. Grant writers and project backers emphasize the collaborative nature of proposals to boost their chances of securing funding from agencies and organizations increasingly looking to incentivize cooperation and “multi-purpose” projects. With water quickly becoming the West’s “liquid gold,” this strategy is part of an expanding focus to make every drop do double duty. Organizations also seek to emphasize their collaborative goodwill among peers and constituents, but is the term being used too loosely? Early in this magazine’s development, an individual serving as one of a dozen diverse members of our peer review group (I’ll dare to say it, even the publication of this magazine was an exercise in collaboration) brought a new term to our attention: “collaborative washing”—like “green washing” but for organizations claiming a collaborative nature without merit. While we didn’t focus on such “false collaborators,” having this perspective in mind lent clarity to our reporting, as we attempted to identify what legitimate collaboration looks like. Poring through myriad case studies of Colorado water projects and stewardship efforts considered to be collaborative in nature, we culled examples that we felt were “true collaborators.” We also compared the drivers that caused people to come together in each instance. All are in different stages of the process, some making more progress than others. And the outcomes are far from guaranteed. (Read “Beyond the Buzzword,” page 26.) In addition to looking at current and recent efforts, we traced the history of collaboration in Colorado to determine whether we’ve reached a new era, where collaboration has in fact become a hallmark approach of this generation. In studying the historical dance between conflict and collaboration in Colorado water, a definition of collaboration seemed necessary. For some, it carries a loose connotation more akin to cooperation. For others, it’s interpreted narrowly as a form of “laboring with the enemy” and therefore must involve adversaries. We decided on “uncommon allies working together.” Although examples of such can be found throughout history, the necessity of the collaborative approach seems today to be more readily accepted—and emphasized—than ever before. (Read “The Shifting Cs,” page 18.) Not only is a younger generation coming to the table with an arguably more collaborative mindset, but resources to aid would-be collaborators are also being offered in the form of grants, trainings, and for-hire expert facilitators marketing their services. We tapped their expertise to provide a training manual of sorts right in these pages, with pointers for designing a collaborative process that has high potential to succeed. (See “Collaboration by Design, page 33). We now put this issue in your hands to consider and make your own determinations. Just what is collaboration? And how can it be applied to today’s water challenges? If nothing else, we hope you walk away inspired to track down your own “uncommon allies”—and to search for new ways to work together.

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Jayla Poppleton

Plug in to collaborative tools and programming at the Center for Collaborative Conservation.

SENIOR EDITOR

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Lifestyle > Generational > Partnership

Water is Potent The San Luis Valley’s fertile ground comes alive with water, but the resource is in diminishing supply. Neighbors have joined with neighbors to steward critical resources more carefully than ever, with every drop withdrawn from the ground measured, assessed​​and replaced through a new groundwater subdistrict system that is steadily coming online. Their aquifers in steep decline for more than a decade, ​ and with further pumping causing measureable impacts to those with rights to divert from surface streams, the community identified this locally driven solution to circumvent stateenforced mandates for pumping reductions. So far, it seems to be working. With nearly 6,000 acres of formerly irrigated land fallowed, and boosted by wetter conditions, the aquifer recovered nearly 200,000 acre-feet in 2014 and 2015.

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CHRISTI BODE

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Water is Lifestyle

Running Water, Together BY STEVE KNOPPER

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very March, in the tiny southern Colorado town of San Luis, some 25 representatives from 62 family farms attend a meeting at the old courthouse. They get down to business quickly— no refreshments or snacks. First, they appoint a mayordomo, an irrigation expert who plots out a strict watering schedule for 1,062 acres of farmland along the San Luis People’s Ditch. The mayordomo spends the summer making sure all the farmers on the ditch get their fair share of water, and fixes problems with flooding by contacting a platoon of neighbors who come out with their shovels or, in extreme cases, finding somebody along the ditch who owns a backhoe. Sometimes the mayordomo has to contend with a group of renegade elk that jump over the fences surrounding the ditches. ”Mayordomos are homegrown,” says Junita Martinez, who with her husband irrigates a family farm using water from the nearby Rio Culebra Basin. ”We have several people on our ditch that have been mayordomos—they teach a child, or maybe a couple of nephews, and they get the hang of how to do it.” Acequias, a more than 400-year-old Hispanic system in which families share water out of community ditches to maintain the hay, carrots, chico corn, cows and pigs on their farms, are the closest thing to irrigation utopia in this dry land. Operating first in northern New Mexico and later in southern Colorado, acequias began long before Colorado became a state in 1876, and the traditions embedded in their communal lifestyle continue today.

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In the San Luis Valley, for example, acequieros get together every spring for an all-day clean-up event, where a dozen or so farmers and their families, sometimes with the help of regional student volunteers, remove dead branches and ”nuisance plants,” as Martinez calls them, before kicking off the summer irrigation season. ”It is a gentle art. It’s passed on from one generation to the next, and you really have to study and pay attention and know your fields,” says Devon Peña, a University of Washington anthropology professor who farms 181 acres near San Luis when he’s not teaching in Seattle. ”The joy of irrigation is a source of peace and connection to others, and to the land and water.” But that doesn’t mean the acequia system is perfect, especially when droughts ravage streams and crops. In April of an especially dry 2012, a farmer in San Francisco, Colorado, planted alfalfa in a field he’d just purchased. Per acequia rules, he asked the president and secretary for extra irrigation water, and they agreed, allowing him to take his water out of turn. It seemed like a classic example of cooperation along the acequia. But there was a problem. The acequia leaders forgot to inform a different farmer who’d been scheduled to receive the water at the same time. The neglected farmer pulled rank and diverted

floo-uhnt water fact

The San Luis People’s Ditch or La Acequia de la Gente de San Luis is the oldest continuously operated irrigation ditch and water right, dating to 1852, in Colorado.

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DENVER PUBLIC LIBRARY, RMNEWS PHOTO BY KEN PAPALEO

From a centuries-old ”gentle art” to a modern form of water collective, these irrigators function almost like family.


ß Ted Thompson, ranch manager for the Culbreath Otter Creek Ranch, works

on the ranch’s main ditch in June 2004 to keep it operable for flood irrigating hay meadows.

the water to his field as scheduled. The conflict escalated to the point that the sheriff showed up and the second farmer pulled a gun. (Nobody was hurt, and the farmer, 72, received 18 months of supervised probation.) The conflict became a lesson for an acequia community that has worked together for generations. ”[The alfalfa farmer] was able to save his crops,” Martinez recalls. ”But the community knows we didn’t handle that right. That’s one of the things we learned. We didn’t follow through.” Due to its scarcity, those who deal regularly with water in Colorado must often work together in an intimate way to sustain their communities. The acequias are a great example of this. Another, similar system can be found in the hundreds of ditch companies around the state, of which 125 are further organized and represented by the 14-year-old Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA). ”What ditch companies traditionally do is collect an assessment and use that to run the company—make improvements, pay people for maintenance and things like that,” says DARCA executive director John McKenzie. For many ditch companies, the incentive to cooperatively come together, as with the acequias, is minimized due to the ability to pay for services, says McKenzie. ”Unless you’re a low-budget ditch company that doesn’t do a lot of assessments. Then there are cases where they would get together and do the cleaning among the members. But that’s getting less and less.” Ditch company members for the most part divvy up the amount of water they receive based on the shares they own. They are nonprofits, generally, but the shareholder system means, unlike with communal acequias, some members have more influence than others. They must often work hard to overcome self-interests and cooperate. ”We don’t have the tight-knittedness that the acequias have,” says Will Hutchins, a farmer outside Delta, who, as president of the Bona Fide Ditch Company, oversees 32 shareholders. Bona Fide’s ditch is about seven miles long and started operating in 1887. Today, its members include several farmers, in addition to a bowling alley, a mortuary and a large industrial-park developer. Hutchins is the ditch rider—”chief cook and bottle washer,” he calls himself—which means it’s his job to maintain unity. One ”big family unit” shareholder, as he calls it, spends a lot of time squabbling over land, financing and, occasionally, the weight of silo corn. And Hutchins once had to lock the headgate of another longtime shareholder because she refused to pay her assessment fee on time. But the ditch company comes together when it has to. Not long ago, a shopping-mall developer requested to submerge 300 yards of the ditch in a tunnel, then build a road on top. Hutchins consulted with the board and shareholders and came up with lofty terms, in which Bona Fide would own the mall and lease it back to the developer for 99 years. (The developer declined.) ”A couple of the board members are actually neighbors. I’m out irrigating my field, I’ll see them on a regular basis,” Hutchins says. ”We’re always talking about the crops, the latest political shenanigans some politician’s up to. We exchange loaves of bread and boxes of candy for Christmas.” In a way, ditch companies operate like families. ”We’ve got various factions that feud with each other,” Hutchins says, but that will also ”unite against all outsiders.” n

River Stewardship Takes a Village

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or more than 20 years, officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, Denver Water, the Colorado River District, Grand Valley irrigation companies, and dozens of other entities have negotiated on a weekly one-hour conference call to provide flows that will enable endangered fish recovery along the Colorado River. Managing the river’s ”15-Mile Reach,” through Grand Junction, involves a wide range of interests and agendas. The running conversation is how to juggle reservoir releases to meet the needs of endangered fish, irrigators and recreation. ”We all work together, and everybody kind of watches each other,” says Victor Lee, a Reclamation civil engineer who oversees the call. Due to the call’s consistency and the relationships that have formed over time, sometimes the conversation addresses challenges beyond flows for fish. Recreational groups, including Trout Unlimited and American Whitewater, for example, advise on the timing of releases targeted toward the 15-Mile Reach such that certain conditions identified as part of a Wild and Scenic alternative management plan can be optimized at the same time. That involves considerations like stream temperatures for fish and boatable flows, including for the Gore Fest kayak races held in August. American Whitewater’s Nathan Fey, who participates on the call, calls it a ”good-faith effort to meet non-consumptive needs when conditions allow.” In another example, this past summer Wolford Mountain Reservoir was slated to release 1,800 acre-feet to the Colorado River but couldn’t due to maintenance operations downstream on Muddy Creek. Williams Fork Reservoir had enough extra water to cover it. So on the phone call one day, Don Meyer of the Colorado River District, which manages Wolford, and Cindy Brady, a water resource engineer for Denver Water, which runs Williams Fork, negotiated the outlines of a trade. Williams Fork would provide the water until the project was completed; then Wolford would release the same amount, later, for Williams Fork. ”It was basically a technical thing, below the radar, and frankly, we kind of like it that way,” Brady says. ”The calls have allowed us to know each other and be able to have those conversations in a productive manner.” Some 20 or 30 people participate on the call, dealing with issues like an ”April hole” in 2013, when cold temperatures delay runoff flows that would ordinarily satisfy early irrigation needs and reservoirs are at their lowest point, leaving little flexibility to help endangered fish. ”We may have gotten on the phone two or three times that week, because we were all suffering,” says Jana Mohrman, a hydrologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. ”With this group, there are so many moving parts, and so many reservoirs, that this call really works well.”

H E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

—STEVE KNOPPER

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Water is Generational

NextGen Collaborators BY ANDREW KENNEY

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now is falling on the town of Keystone, high in the mountains west of sunny Denver. A few inches have piled already on log buildings strung alongside the Snake River. But the students seated in the dining hall of Keystone Science School’s rustic mountain camp hardly seem to notice. They’re too busy negotiating water rights. ”So, we’re going to buy their water for five years, and they’re going to give us 15 percent off of each gallon that we buy—but only if we use what we need and give them water back,” says America, 15, to two teammates. The trio is roleplaying an oil-exploration firm, one of 10 parties in a huge, convincingly acted conversation. Here in Summit County, an alliance of one-time competitors for water is preparing the next generation to work together in the face of the growing threat of climate change and resource scarcity. What’s more? They’ve made it interesting. About 45 high school students attend the yearly three-day H2O Outdoors camp. They come from Aurora and Denver in Colorado’s sweeping east, from the smaller cities across the West Slope, and from the towns strung along Colorado’s mountainous crest. The most any student pays for camp is $25. It’s open to all Colorado high school students; there’s space for less than half of each year’s applicants.

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The camp is funded by three groups that historically jockeyed for Colorado’s water resources. The Colorado River Water Conservation District, comprising 15 counties on the West Slope, has sponsored H20 Outdoors since the camp’s beginning a decade ago. A few years in, Aurora Water and Denver Water joined. The staff have a story they like to tell about a girl from Dillon who attended one year. She was ready, presumably, for the outdoor adventure and the water-allocation experiments. But she wasn’t ready for her assignment: She would be acting as Denver Water in the final ”town hall” scenario. ”She burst into tears,” recalls Mary Dawson, environmental specialist for Aurora Water. ”And she goes, ’My parents hate Denver Water.’” Some of the state’s smallest communities sit at its highest headwaters, where they have seen rivers divided and rearranged to supply distant cities. It often was a painful process. Denver Water forced the relocation of Dillon itself by buying up land in the cashstrapped town, which sat in the location of the planned Dillon Reservoir. Denver offered up a new town site, leaving residents to move and rebuild by 1961. Fast forward to the new millennium and this daughter of Dillon ”sort of looked at Denver Water as big, bad Denver Water,” says Matt Bond, youth education manager for Denver Water. It could have been an awkward moment, but the teachers and professionals in the room saw an opportunity. They knew that even when two

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ANDREW KENNEY

It’s time to nurture young, enthusiastic, and fresh minds to come together in addressing the water challenges of today—and tomorrow.


ß Maria and America, students from Sheridan High School in southwest metro

Denver, hash out the details of a potential compromise during a lively water planning exercise at Keystone Science Camp.

groups’ positions seem diametrically opposed, there may be a solution that serves all sides—and the first step toward finding it is to understand the goals and motivations of the other party. ”And so, it was great,” Dawson proclaims. ”They go, ’Then, absolutely, you are Denver Water.’” An urban student coming from the Front Range might not know that historical context—or understand the urgency of water scarcity. The brilliance of the H2O Outdoors curriculum is that it sends students from all sets on an adventure together. They climb to the Continental Divide to learn where water starts its journey and to share the experience of braving the winds. They play games that represent the challenges of water resource management in miniature and in metaphor. The rustic setting, meanwhile, encourages the same bonds you might see at summer camp. Students make friends, learn about their joint history in water, and then practice making decisions in each other’s shoes. ”First, what Denver Water did was we imposed our drought conservation policies almost universally,” explains Hayley, 15, speaking to the group at the camp’s grand finale. She, too, is a mountain girl play-acting as the city authority. Her hypothetical task: Ensure water flows after a breakdown in the marathon-length underground tunnels that redirect rivers east across the Continental Divide. Hayley’s team tapped reservoirs and rationed Denver’s supply, then joined with Aurora to test and repair the infrastructure. They convinced the Colorado River District and the ski resorts to fund repairs too, and then bought water through temporary lease agreements with farmers ”because they didn’t have a lot of money, and we didn’t have a lot of water,” says Haley. Her team aced the presentation. This scene could only happen in a handful of places and doesn’t very often. A handful of youth camps nationwide focus on environmental resources, and all seem to meet west of the Mississippi. Texas State University hosts a camp about water sciences, while Montana’s Natural Resources Youth Camp gives a general overview of environmental management. Camp Snowball, to be held this summer in California, shares the H20 Outdoors program’s focus on collaborative leadership and systems thinking but addresses sustainability generally rather than water resources in particular. The program in Keystone, then, is one of the deepest efforts yet to prepare kids to solve the future’s water conflicts—or at least to understand them. ”It happened here because the Continental Divide divides our state,” says Mike Wilde, the educator at the heart of H20 Outdoors. ”Politically, geographically, water-wise—we are physically a state divided.” And when adults cross that divide, they can teach a new beginning. Sometimes their children come up with ideas ”that we as adult water professionals may scoff at, or may say, ’Well, that’s not possible,’” says Bond. ”But they make it happen here, in their world.” n TAKE THE NEXT STEP Find a Keystone Science School program that’s right for you, from teacher workshops to community offerings, at keystonescienceschool.org.

A Learned and Practiced Art

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ollaboration is a surefire topic of discussion at industry conferences for everything from accounting to zoo keeping. It’s a skill in high demand for modern business—yet some of its students are looking to one of the oldest industries for advice. The water profession is sharing what it knows. New educational programs turn water management into a study of leadership and cooperation for people of all trades and ages. They package water education with practical skills, aiming to make teamwork in water and beyond just a little easier. FOR STUDENTS: The One World One Water Center at Metropolitan State University of Denver offers minor and certificate programs, for students of all majors, which trace water through history and law, theater and exploration. The center also hosted its first ”water diplomats” weekend in 2015. Funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the three-day program convened students and faculty from schools across Colorado. Their majors ranged from water resources to psychology. They toured Denver and talked in small groups about the law and science of water. After they left, they received $300 if they gave a public presentation on what they learned. ”We thought that by bringing young people together, all of whom have an interest in the future of their state and its precious resources, we could provide an example for those communities working on the new state water plan,” writes Dr. Elizabeth McVicker, who developed the conference. FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS: Panels, meet-ups and forums often convene diverse interests, making them a good way to learn from the ”other side.” For example, Colorado Water Congress opens its Professional, Outreach, Networking and Development (POND) committee to a wide variety of organizations and professions that deal with water. The group’s meetups can be the starting point for professional relationships that prove crucial later. FOR KIDS: Day programs ask grade school kids to jump in the water and spread the word. Earth Force’s Denver program, for example, had fifth-graders test water quality in Huston Lake, located in a southwest Denver city park. Then they teamed up to teach the park’s neighbors about water infrastructure and environmental challenges. In other neighborhoods, students planned and hosted educational festivals and spoke to elected officials. The common theme of these programs: Water is social. Learning together isn’t just more fun—it’s good practice for a complicated world. —ANDREW KENNEY

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Water is Partnership

ß Colorado’s first P3 funded work on U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder, including a new express lane for buses, HOV and toll-paying vehicles.

What can the private sector do for Colorado water? BY CAITLIN COLEMAN

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oney may not buy happiness, but cash is often key to addressing the strain on our water resources and infrastructure. Tightening water availability due to drought and climate change, along with a growing population, are concerns for all who rely on water, rippling out to other sectors with increasing urgency. ”This is the first time we’re experiencing [environmental and social risks] at this scale or rate,” says Peter Culp, a partner with international law firm Squire Patton Boggs. Increased risk has spurred more players to work together on those pressing issues, Culp says, creating an environment that requires collaboration. It also presents an opportunity for investors to turn water solutions into lucrative ventures. In 2013, Squire Patton Boggs and Encourage Capital, a New York investment firm specializing in impact investing, received funding and a push from the Walton Family Foundation to prepare a ”Liquid Assets” report. The report was released in September 2015, presenting nine proposed models for private investment in water-related opportunities that could generate social and environmental benefits in the water-stressed and heavily developed seven-state Colorado River Basin.

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The ”Liquid Assets” strategies target a range of potential investors to broadly address the basin’s fundamental water and environmental challenges, while simultaneously generating cash for the benefactors. Challenges, including maintaining healthy rivers, improving soil and grassland, meeting municipal water needs, and sustaining farm communities in the face of competition over water, are very real, Culp says. ”If private-sector capital can be used to solve them, we’re creating growth opportunity for investment and a place where we can demonstrate that investment is creating public benefit.” Different but not far afield is the use of public-private partnerships, or P3s, to share the responsibility of water projects between the public and private sector. These are structured on a project-by-project basis, and the impetus typically comes from an unmet need in the public sector for new or repaired infrastructure. ”Usually they start with a problem,” says Russell Dykstra, a partner at the Denverbased Spencer Fane law firm. ”A government entity says we have this need that we don’t have the immediate resources to solve, be it lack of funding, lack of knowledge, or lack of greater expertise.” That’s when a private company can invest resources or the experience to address

the problem—but it’s not all philanthropic. ”There’s the potential to make a lot of money,” Dykstra says. ”The private sector wouldn’t be interested if there wasn’t a reasonable rate of return. They’re in business to make a profit.” Through a P3, a private company might come in to build or design a road, maintain that road, and perhaps operate a toll to recoup their upfront investment or agree on a flat rate of return. In Colorado, look to the construction and improvements on U.S. 36. The concessionaire was selected in 2014 to expand the highway, then operate and maintain it for 50 years—a project that wasn’t in the Colorado Department of Transportation’s budget—in exchange for the right to collect toll revenues over the lifetime of the project. CDOT owns the road, but the concessionaire stands to profit while accepting the bulk of the risk. There aren’t yet as many water-related examples, but the WISE (Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) project’s 2014 purchase of the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District’s Western Waterline is structurally akin to a P3, Dykstra says. Though funded by 10 south Denver metro area water systems that are government entities, all had to agree to financing, restrictions, responsibility and risk, just as private investors would. Looking ahead, challenges for P3s include political awareness and acceptance. ”The concept that these are ’free’ government enterprises now being turned over to the private sector has a lot of backlash,” says Dykstra. ”It takes some political courage from whoever is doing it.” In addition to courage, public-private partnerships take finesse to negotiate an agreement that works locally. In Colorado, they have to be structured carefully to avoid constitutional violations. They must also be agreeable to the investor, balancing risk with the opportunity to make a worthwhile profit. Regardless of the challenges, there’s a ton of opportunity, Dykstra says. ”Let’s face it, there are power struggles between water providers,” he says. ”If a private enterprise could come in and be the catalyst for cooperation and facilitation of large multi-party projects, I think that would be a huge benefit.” n

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Denver, CO | Round Rock, TX | (303) 455-9589 LREwater.com |

@LREWater

Growing the capacity of water educators throughout Colorado. Expanding in 2016 to provide increased offerings for rural communities! Whether you’re engaging communities about water in classrooms, on campus, along rivers, or at the Capitol, the Water Educator Network is customized to your professional development needs. As a member, you gain access to: • a central resource directory • experts and technical advice • quarterly trainings

And receive regular updates on: • best practices • proven curriculum • funding and training opportunities • new programs

Learn more and sign up today at www.yourwatercolorado.org/water-educator-network.

A program of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education With financial support from CoBank

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S P E C I A L F E AT U R E

How will we meet the plan’s conservation and environmental goals?

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icture an automotive assembly line. Across the factory floor, workers labor in isolation to piece together the car’s engine, transmission and chassis into a cohesive whole. On the surface, the vehicle that emerges looks drivable, but until it hits the road there’s no way to be certain that it will get you to your destination. Colorado’s first-ever water plan, the 10-year grassroots project that cobbles together solutions from the state’s nine river basins to bridge a projected mid-century gap between water supply and demand, is a bit like that car. When Gov. John Hickenlooper triumphantly

hoisted the final plan at a midNovember ceremony in Denver, the hundreds of Coloradans who contributed to its formation paused to take a congratulatory breath. Yet even then, questions BY NELSON HARVEY

were swirling about how the voluntary plan would work—how the state’s utilities, businesses, advocacy groups and individual water users would internalize its recommendations and take responsibility for its goals—and whether they would, by the plan’s own measurement of success, be able to close the municipal water supply and demand gap without compromising other values. Here, in our first installment of a 2016 Headwaters series on the plan’s implementation, we turn those questions on two of the plan’s nine defined measureable outcomes: water conservation plus watershed health, environment and recreation.

WAT ER CONSE RVAT ION

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he water plan sets an ambitious ”stretch” goal of conserving 400,000 acre-The water plan sets an ambitious ”stretch” goal of conserving 400,000 acrefeet of municipal and industrial water annually by 2050. That level of conservation would go a long way toward closing Colorado’s projected gap between water supply and demand—about 560,000 acre-feet per year in 2050 under a business-as-usual paradigm—and sharply reduce the need for new water supplies procured through controversial measures like new transbasin diversions or the dryup of irrigated agriculture. Drew Beckwith, water policy manager for Western Resource Advocates, says achieving the goal will mean reducing per-capita water demand by about 1 percent per year between 2010 and 2050, so that each Colo-

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radan’s demand 35 years from now will be 35 percent lower than it is today. ”We’ve been achieving that rate of conservation over the last 15 years in Colorado, and water providers have told the state that they plan to continue doing it in the future, so there is lots

of evidence that it’s possible,” Beckwith says. Getting there will require long-term collaboration between state agencies and water utilities and their customers, whether those customers are motivated by their environmental ethos or a hefty water bill. To reach the goal, utilities will have to implement measures outlined in the ”high conservation” scenario laid out in the 2010 Statewide Water Supply Initiative report by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the agency that oversaw the water plan’s creation. That scenario, which CWCB water conservation specialist Kevin Reidy calls ”difficult but not impossible” to achieve, involves things like at least half of all utilities introducing individual water budgets for their customers, where water use targets are

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ISTOCK

Stretch now to avoid strain later


WAT E R SH E D H EALT H , E NVIRONME NT & R EC R EAT ION

HEATHER DUTTON, RIO GRANDE HEADWATERS RESTORATION PROJECT

Protecting water at the source set and financial penalties imposed for above-average use. Other possibilities: Between 70 and 100 percent of municipalities might adopt conservation-oriented plumbing and building codes, and at least half of the water-hungry turf in the state might be replaced with low wateruse plantings. Much of the responsibility will rest on the shoulders of water providers and customers, but the water plan pledges that the state will also take steps to encourage conservation. One is to make comprehensive water resource planning by utilities a pre-condition of any state support of—or funding for—new water projects, thus requiring utilities to show they’re on track with conservation before receiving state funds. (Although utilities delivering at least 2,000 acre-feet of water per year are already required to submit conservation plans to the CWCB, the new mandate would require they integrate those plans with other aspects of their operations.) ”We believe that we can use incentives to push people in the right direction,” says Jacob Bornstein, CWCB program manager for the basin roundtables and Interbasin Compact Committee. The water plan also recommends exploring a new state law that would require all outdoor irrigation equipment sold in Colorado to meet federal WaterSense efficiency standards. Compared to the challenge of achieving the conservation goal, keeping tabs on progress will be relatively easy, thanks to a 2010 state law—House Bill 1051— requiring water providers (those that sell 2,000 acre-feet of water annually) to report their annual water use and conservation data to the CWCB to aid in water supply planning. ”Going forward we’ll have data that we can use to monitor our progress,” says Beckwith. ”Also, if individual utilities are doing well with conservation we would expect them to publicize that. Maybe through a combination of record keeping and self-promotion, we will get there.” n

T

he connection between the health of Colorado’s forests and the quality of our water seems abstract, until you consider that 80 percent of the water we use for drinking, irrigating and washing flows through a forested watershed before it gets to the tap. Protecting clean water requires protecting vast swaths of forest that often cross jurisdictional and political boundaries, areas that face threats as varied as wildfire, flood, invasive species and abandoned mines. Even for the savviest collaborator, it’s a formidable challenge, and one that the water plan addresses head-on by recommending the creation of locally based protection and management plans for 80 percent of the watersheds considered ”critical” to Colorado’s water supply—along with 80 percent of locally prioritized streams—by 2030. ”These plans look at everything that impacts watershed health, from fire to transportation to agriculture,” says Carol Ekarius, executive director of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP), a watershed protection group, and co-founder of Coalitions and Collaboratives, Inc., which gives technical support to emerging watershed groups. ”Having these plans in place in your watershed gives you the ability to find grants and do projects that move the needle in the right direction.” In the Arkansas River Basin, a group called the Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative that was founded in the summer of 2015 with the help of a $265,000 CWCB grant has already hit the ground running. The group, established by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable as part of putting its Basin Implementation Plan in motion, is working to assemble a watershed protection plan, while simultaneously creating maps of vital infrastructure to guide firefighters battling blazes near the town of Victor; thinning forests and cutting firebreaks around Turquoise Reservoir near Leadville; and researching where to place sediment and debris basins in the Huerfano H E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

and Cuchara drainages to minimize sediment runoff during floods. Aside from supporting groups like these by helping to pay for the staff and facilitators who keep them running, state agencies could speed the formation of new groups by sharing best practices around the state, says Gary Barber, an independent water consultant in Colorado Springs and former chair of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. ”The CWCB could cross-pollinate, acting like bees in a field of flowers,” Barber says. ”They could show individual basins what has been done in other basins and allow them to replicate those things.” There’s also an urgent need for the state to boost funding for environmental and recreational water projects generally: The water plan estimates that covering 80 percent of critical watersheds and streams with protection plans alone could cost $18 million, and meeting all of the state’s environmental and recreational water needs such as river restoration work or the establishment of whitewater parks could require between $2 and $3 billion by 2050. The current funding pot for such projects pales in comparison: About $11 million in state funds is available each year, or just $385 million between now and mid-century. One idea the water plan floats to close the gap is a state-sponsored ”green bond fund” that would sell state-issued bonds to environmentally concerned investors content with slightly below-market returns, using the proceeds to fund water projects. Another possibility is public-private partnerships that pair state funds with contributions from corporations to pay for projects overseen by local watershed groups. Though funding is still in question, Ekarius says she’s pleased with the water plan’s direction: ”We all depend on ecosystem services from these watersheds. It’s great to see the state saying that we have to take care of these systems, so that they take care of us.” n 17


The Shifting Cs: From Conflict to Collaboration

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onflict has been our central water narrative in Colorado. It’s been shovel-wielding neighbor against neighbor, city against farm, Eastern Slope versus Western Slope, and, purely from a Colorado perspective, us versus those water-wasting scoundrels downstream in California, Arizona and Las Vegas. In headlines, for sure, and sometimes in fact, we have always been at war over water. Water matters, absolutely. We all know that. But is conflict the only way to understand Colorado’s water history—or future? Or might cooperation and its close cousin, collaboration, also help us understand where we’ve come and guide us better through the 21st century? Your computer dictionary will probably use cooperation and collaboration interchangeably, but the Webster Third New International Dictionary suggests a distinction. Cooperation comes with allies, but collaboration especially occurs with an enemy or an opposed group. Parsing collaboration, you find the root word “labor.” To labor requires “expenditure of physical or mental

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effort, especially when fatiguing, difficult or compulsory.” Teammates on sporting teams should, at least in theory, be cooperative. But to understand collaboration, a more useful example can be found in legislative bodies. The most successful efforts come when individuals can find the common ground that allows members of different political parties to toil together toward a common goal. Colorado’s water history has had moments of conflict, cooperation and collaboration. The lone argonaut, stooped in Clear Creek or the Blue River, panning for flecks of gold, was quickly replaced by organized laborers who directed water to hydraulic sluices and then picked minerals away from mines. Cooperation. Soon came the agricultural enterprises, with shared labor again essential to the construction of ditches to convey water beyond the river edges. Many of our towns began as colonies organized specifically to pool labor in pursuit of a common goal of developing water resources for new farms. Union Colony, now known as Greeley, was the first, but was followed by a long string of agricultural cooperatives in the places we call Longmont and Fort Collins, Nucla and Silvercliffe. The mutual ditch companies were organized in efforts of co-labor.

There was, from the very start, cooperation. And yes, conflict too—such as when too many canals were beveled into the same rivers to deliver water to expanding farms. Robert G. Dunbar, in his 1983 book, Forging New Rights in Western Waters, tells the familiar story of Union Colony farmers who discovered that by Independence Day of 1874, just a few years after the colony’s founding, there was too little water in the Cache la Poudre River to supply their ditches. “Crops, gardens, and fruit trees were perishing.” Colony founder Nathan

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CHAS CHAMBERLIN

Meeker and associates traveled upstream on the Poudre to find out why: New canals had been constructed, taking all the water in a drought year. There was conflict, but no irrigation shovels were swung in anger. Instead, there was discussion, compromise and ultimately legislative action that “provided Coloradans with a method of acquiring, determining and administering the appropriation right.” It was imperfect, he goes on to note—and we have been arguing ever since about how it could be improved. However, George Sibley, author of Water

Wranglers, points out that certain conditions in the appropriations doctrine nurtured cooperation. One example is the constitutional guarantee of access, even when across another’s property. “It’s a lot easier for two or three or 10 families to work on a common mother ditch than to have each one cutting across somebody else’s land to get water,” he says. In the 20th century, Coloradans frequently asked the federal government to become the banker for major water projects. Conflict in these cases was often followed by H E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

The fate of this stretch of Highway 287 north of Fort Collins, the planned site of the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project’s Glade Reservoir, remains unknown and may depend on its backer Northern Water’s ability to address concerns from the opposition.

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collaboration. The Colorado-Big Thompson Project provides a good example. In the 1930s, as farmers of northeastern Colorado were beset by drought, they set out to seek federal aid to divert further waters from the Colorado River across the Continental Divide. Led by Congressman Ed Taylor, a Democrat from Glenwood Springs, the Western Slope muscularly resisted: Every acre-foot of water diverted had to be matched with an acre-foot of storage to benefit farmers and others along the Colorado River and its tributaries. The feds insisted upon compromise. At length, the Western Slope lowered its demands, and together the two sides won the necessary federal money. The Western Slope got Green Mountain Reservoir, between Silverthorne and Kremmling. The cross-Divide diversions delivered water from Boulder to Fort Collins, and allowed

floo-uhnt water fact

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farms to flourish along the South Platte River to Julesberg. When the pact was forged in 1937, there were no ski areas, except at Berthoud Pass, and no Endangered Species Act. The compromise was imperfect, as became more glaring decades later. The diversions diminished the Colorado River and tributaries in Middle Park, an area with no benefit from the storage at Green Mountain Reservoir. But Green Mountain provides benefits to ski area operations, endangered fish, and Grand Valley irrigators to this day. Much the same model for compensatory storage was used for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, launched by President John Kennedy in a speech in Pueblo in 1962. Conflict preceded collaboration. Water eventually went east over the Continental Divide, but the same federal dollars built Ruedi Reservoir on the Western Slope near Basalt.

The Colorado Big-Thompson Project is the second largest of Colorado’s 44 transbasin diversions, which together move more than 1.1 million acre-feet of water each year across river basin boundaries. Source: Colorado Division of Water Resources

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ince the raft of environmental legislation in the late 1960s and 1970s, both federal and state, we have a new dynamic. Beneficial use as defined by Colorado statutes for the purpose of allocating water rights has been broadened to include water left in streams and rivers, for both environmental and recreational purposes. Values have shifted, with profound consequences. They have driven the need for even more cooperation but also, increasingly in the last few decades, for collaboration among parties that previously were disinclined to toil together in seeking common solutions. Consider the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In mandating efforts to recover threatened populations of fish in the Colorado River and migratory birds in the Platte River, the law has required disparate interests to find ways to cooperate to ensure adequate deliveries of water to downstream river segments. It doesn’t matter whether you like the law. So, in summer, individuals from Denver to Berthoud to Grand Junc-

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CITY OF GREELEY MUSEUMS, HAZEL E. JOHNSON COLLECTION (991.42.1203E) / PHOTOGRAPHED BY HANNA, ROBERT E., 1875–1969

á Pioneers co-labored to construct one of four major ditches from the Cache la Poudre River devised to support the newly founded Union Colony, now known as Greeley. The colony’s founders, meeting first in 1869 in New York, envisioned a community built from the ground up, with improvements collectively funded for the common good.


DENVER WATER

á Sent packing, church and all, the town of Dillon was forced to relocate in 1962 to make way for Dillon Reservoir, the basin where Denver would store Blue River water and send it through the Roberts Tunnel to the growing city.

tion—and even Salt Lake City—gather in a phone call most weeks to talk about how to ensure delivery of sufficient water for endangered fish in critical river segments near Grand Junction. These newer values have also been evident in several high-profile proposals beginning in the late 1970s. All involved transbasin diversions. All suggest lessons about conflict and collaboration. The first involved construction of the Foothills Water Treatment Plant by Denver Water in 1983. The plant treats water from the South Platte River as well as that imported from the Blue River via Dillon Reservoir and the Roberts Tunnel. It was strongly opposed by environmentalists, but Dan Luecke, an environmental scientist and water resources expert, says he thinks those groups got it wrong with their approach. They made it a fight over growth, and water availability alone does not constrain growth. Instead, they should have offered an alternative. “They didn’t treat the interests of their opponents as legitimate interests,” he says.

But more broadly, he says there was no opportunity or arena for collaboration. Collaboration was also elusive at Two Forks, the billion-dollar dam on the South Platte River planned by Denver and the surrounding metro area in the 1980s. Governor Dick Lamm’s water roundtable offered an arena, but no collaboration occurred because, in Luecke’s analysis, “Denver wouldn’t take its eye off the Two Forks ball.” This time, environmentalists took seriously the need of water utilities to address growing demand, but made the case that there was a “technically sound, reasonably priced, environmentally less-damaging option to the big dam.” At length, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed—and in 1990 vetoed the project. “But this wasn’t collaboration either,” says Luecke adding that the confrontation did, however, set the stage for collaboration that would come later, in the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program created by Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska in 1997 to restore habitat for the whooping crane, least tern, and other speH E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

cies. In the wake of Two Forks, Denver and other water providers also stepped up water conservation programs. “Conflict, I think, is embedded in the law and in the institutions,” says Luecke. “The collaborative notion, in my view, has had a lot to do with the broadening definition of beneficial use and the imposition of regulations associated with both federal and state law of what constitutes beneficial use of the water.” A third major confrontation was over expanded diversion of water from the Eagle River headwaters around Mount of the Holy Cross. Using state authority delegated in 1974, Eagle County rejected a permit for a transbasin diversion called Homestake II. But even before that authority had been fully confirmed by the Colorado Supreme Court, leaders from the Vail area had reached out to the Colorado River Water Conservation District to guide a sort of third-party process. They were frustrated, recalls Chris Treese, director of external affairs for the Colorado River District, “with how much taxpayers’ 21


money was being spent on legalities that would not be productive.” Front Range cities with water rights in the basin sat down with local interests to see what could be achieved to resolve litigation. The resulting agreement, the Eagle River Memorandum of Understanding, was “born in conflict and frustration,” says Treese, but has kept them out of the courtroom for several decades now. Instead, the different parties have been talking and investigating, seeking to produce solutions that benefit all. One early example: Aurora and Colorado Springs release water destined for Eastern Slope use from the original Homestake Reservoir to benefit local, Eagle Valley needs.

á The level of flooding in Dinosaur National Monument’s Echo Park, near the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers, that would have resulted if Echo Park Dam had been built. Conservation groups, alarmed by the prospect of dam building in the national park system, stopped the project in the 1950s.

U.S. Senator John Carroll presents President John F. Kennedy an engraved fryingpan at a celebration of the newly approved FryingpanArkansas Project in 1962.

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ince Homestake II and Two Forks, using collaboration to avoid courtroom showdowns has become a more frequent strategy. This has been particularly evident in incremental transbasin diversions from the Colorado River and its tributaries in the headwaters. The most striking example is the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, which frames a compromise—cooperation and collaboration, too—for stepped up diversions by Denver Water through the Moffat Tunnel to Gross Reservoir, located southwest of Boulder. Like the Eagle River negotiations, these discussions were lengthy, continuing for more than five years, and held largely out of the public eye. They were preceded with meet-and-greets in the nature of a community potluck. But the greeters were representatives from the board of Denver Water, from Grand County, and from other water interests in the Colorado River Basin. Lurline Curran, former county manager in Grand County, grew up in Kremmling and lived there when angry bumper stickers appeared reading “Dam the Denver Water Board.” Denver’s diversion from the county had begun in 1928 through the Moffat Tunnel. But Denver had remaining water rights and, after the 2002 drought, a compelling argument for more water. To reach agreement, Denver Water and the Western Slope representatives met repeatedly and in many locations, not the traditional adversarial settings. That time allowed relationships and deeper understanding to develop. “We became people to each other, people who were doing the best for the entities we represented. And then, as we got to know the people, we got to know what it was like to walk in each other’s shoes. And then we were able to make considerations that we wouldn’t have considered otherwise,” says Curran.


TOP: ROBERT G. ZELLERS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION (20005544) HISTORY COLORADO / BOTTOM: DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL

The agreement announced in 2010 has 18 signatories and 40 partners, most from headwaters counties and others along the Colorado River. In what Denver Water calls a “historic collaboration,” the utility is allowed to develop water in Grand County while specifying methods bankrolled by Denver to protect watersheds in the Colorado River Basin. Denver also agreed not to oppose what are called recreational in-channel diversions, or RICDs, which aren’t really diversions at all, but rather water rights filed to preserve flows at levels needed to accommodate rafting, kayaking and other recreational purposes. Specifically identified were segments on the Colorado River downstream from Gore Canyon and in Glenwood Canyon. The most daring, innovative aspect of the agreement is something called “learning by doing,” a form of adaptive management driven by the idea that both diverter and basin of origin will share in management of the Fraser, Williams Fork and Colorado rivers even as diversions increase. The parties will labor together, seeking to maximize what is needed by each. They are partners now, their partnership framed by law, but also by an agreement forged in lengthy conversation. “A lot of it was trust, just the time it takes to actually talk through what your interests are—what your real interests are—what you need, what your concerns are,” says Susan Daggett, who was on Denver Water’s board of directors during negotiations. But she cautions that trust can easily be destroyed. She recalls that Denver was holding onto conditional water rights on the Western Slope just in case they could be used for other transbasin diversions. At some point, Denver decided to abandon those rights, because they threatened to become barriers to the trust that was being developed. “The trust is kind of conditional,” Daggett says. Missteps can reanimate old, ugly stories that have existed for decades, causing them to “come roaring back to life.”

á Crews bored through 13 miles of hardrock to build the Adams

Tunnel, the 13-mile cross-mountain feature of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. The project moved forward after Northern Water and other backers agreed to build Green Mountain Reservoir to compensate the West Slope for the diversions.

An April 1990 cartoon, by Christopher A. Boyer published in the Denver Business Journal, illustrated the controversy surrounding Two Forks, a million-acre-foot reservoir proposed by Denver Water and 42 suburban partners. The EPA vetoed the project in late 1990..

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vercoming this history of conflict to produce collaborative solutions also requires an element of faith. Can the elected officials and other representatives in these collaborative efforts persuade those back at home that a proposed path is good, the best way forward? Will their institutions and constituencies follow along? Much is on the line for a representative charged with looking out for the best interests of his or her agency for the next 50 to 100 years.

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Daggett, now the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute, brings up another C-word: creativity. With urban Colorado inevitably needing more water in the future, she sees need for creativity in accommodating agriculturalto-urban water rights transfers in ways that do not harm the vital interests of rural areas. “The old tools don’t work for us anymore,” she says. A new tool introduced a decade ago came from Russell George, a water lawyer from Rifle who was elected to the state legislature in the early 1990s. Like other legislators from the Western Slope, he says, he was expected to work for basin-of-origin protection legislation. But that idea got no traction—and wasn’t likely to. Water rich, the Western Slope was population poor and always would be compared to the urban Front Range corridor. About that time, George was reading Dan Tyler’s biography of Delph Carpenter, the Greeley water lawyer generally considered to be the father of the Colorado River Compact. George had the idea that the major river basins across Colorado needed to have conversations, similar to those the seven basin states had engaged in to achieve a compact for the Colorado River. That essential idea, codified by legislators in HB 05-1177, established the roundtable process that continues to this day and led to Colorado’s Water Plan, finalized in November 2015. The plan itself is now held up by some as the greatest collaborative water effort in Colorado ever. Tasked by Governor John Hickenlooper to the Colorado Water Conservation Board in 2013, it involved hundreds of stakeholders representing a vast range of water-related interests from every region in the state. Open to public participation and scrutiny, the plan was adopted after considering more than 30,000 public comments. It lays out needed state and local actions, including the diverse proposals of nine regional roundtables whose values have at times been at odds with one another, in an effort to sustainably meet Colorado water needs through 2060. George believes the process established in 2005 created the framework for this collaboration. It forced water diverters to differentiate needs from wants with the elemental questions: What’s it worth to me, and what will I pay to get it? Is this really what I need? Testimony given by basin roundtable representatives in November 2015 echoed what Curran says: The process forced them—sometimes painfully 24

at the start—to walk in each other’s shoes. Conversation leads to understanding. Understanding: the precursor to collaboration. Another example of cooperation and, perhaps, collaboration—and one of the types of creative, water-stretching and multi-stakeholder projects the water plan seeks to foster moving forward—can be found in metropolitan Denver. Since the 1980s, Colorado’s most dominant water conversation has revolved around what to do about Denver’s southern suburbs, among the nation’s wealthiest and, for about 20 years, the fastest growing. Add to that: unsustainable. They were reliant— and still are—upon declining stores of nonrenewable groundwater. In the last decade, that story has been changing. Some of it involves conservation, including revised land use policies. Such policies have generally been fostered by individual water providers. But in water supply projects, there has been greater collabora-

“…it would be the ultimate collaboration, I think, if we can get farmers and ranchers out there working side by side with us to build infrastructure.” RON REDD, MANAGER FOR PARKER WATER AND SANITATION DISTRICT

tion. “You need economy of scale,” says Eric Hecox, director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “They [water projects] are just too expensive and too complicated for individual entities to do on their own.” A centerpiece of that new collaboration is the WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) project. It draws water from wells along the South Platte River near Brighton, downstream from the Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation District’s treatment plant, and pumps the water to Aurora for purification. The water can be used to the extent that it has been introduced into the basin by Denver and Aurora from outside the South Platte Basin. It also includes the fully consumable portion of transferred agriculture water. The parties in WISE vary in their size, tolerance of risk, and other respects, points out Mitch Chambers, who was on the South Metro Water Supply Authority board of directors for several years. His description of dynamics in the negotiating process among

South Metro districts parallels those of Curran in Grand County’s relationship with Denver Water. It took four or five years to develop relationships and then trust, to begin to understand the motivations of others. “Collaboration takes a lot of effort to sort of get on the same side and figure out what is good for both,” says Chambers. If the process is driven by establishing winners and losers, he says, it’s likely a failure. Success, he adds, isn’t measured by getting everything you want: “But you get more than what you had before you started.”

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arker Water and Sanitation District has been a hub for some of this collaboration in the WISE project. It has a central location and, very importantly, access to a relatively new reservoir called Rueter-Hess, now coupled with a state-of-the-art water treatment plant. Ron Redd, the manager for Parker Water, was hired because of his instincts toward collaboration. A native of Montana, he had spent years at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides wholesale water for 19 million people. But he also studied the consolidation of seven water districts in the Las Vegas area into the Southern Nevada Water Authority in 1991. There is value in consolidation, for more efficient delivery of services, as Vail and Eagle Valley districts learned when they decided around 1980 to dissolve boundaries and create a larger, more efficient Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. Nothing of that sort of consolidation is proposed in South Metro. But under Redd’s direction, Parker has been seeking opportunities for sharing pipeline capacity, reservoir storage, and other costs. Instead of consolidation of districts, he seeks partnerships and business arrangements. “Instead of taking over somebody, our goal is to make this service so attractive that they want to keep buying it [the services, e.g., sharing pipeline or reservoir storage],” he explains. Parker is now about six months away from completing schematics on what may be viewed as an innovative ag-to-urban project. A decade ago, the district bought agriculture water from near Iliff, about 10 miles downstream from Sterling. The water is laden with salt, and Parker is investigating the possibility of cleaning it up with the aid of farmers or municipalities along the way. These collaborators could get some of this higher-quality water before the rest is pumped 140 miles to Rueter-Hess. The project would cost $360 million. “It’s not the typical buy and dry you hear about,”

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á Representatives of the Colorado water and business communities, together with Colorado Water Conservation Board staff and board director April Montgomery (bottom right), gather with Governor John Hickenlooper (bottom left) as the final draft of Colorado’s Water Plan is delivered in November 2015.

CHRISTI BODE

Redd says. Instead, “it would be the ultimate collaboration, I think, if we can get farmers and ranchers out there working side by side with us to build infrastructure.” Redd also sees a collaborative approach being a prerequisite for an even more ambitious project, a pipeline from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, located at the Wyoming-Utah border. He thinks it might happen, but it won’t come cheap: The latest estimate is $5 billion. No one existing organization can come up with that kind of money. Too, it would have potential impacts that have not yet been fully sorted out. An important part of Colorado’s Water Plan is a “conceptual framework” that specifies the risk be acknowledged in any future transbasin diversion that a project might deliver water only in the wettest years. The framework outlines a col­laborative process for identifying how such projects could be evaluated in light of that risk and the potential impacts.

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re we in a new era of collaboration? Books have a tidy way of organizing content by chapters,

but it’s artificial. The storyline overlaps the chapters. So it is with collaboration. Arguably this new chapter began in the 1980s and most certainly after the rejection of both Homestake II and Two Forks in the 1990s. Faced with this brick wall, Front Range water providers have been approaching projects differently. Collaboration isn’t necessarily the first impulse for all. Water leaders have different constituencies. But clearly it’s a different world from the 1960s or even the 1970s. Colorado is also different from 50 years ago in this fundamental way: We are far closer to the bottom of the water bucket. Just how much water remains to be developed is disputed. Some say projects already in the pipeline could use up all unallocated water, while others see hundreds of thousands of acre-feet remaining. The changing climate might also change the amount. “It’s a sliding scale depending upon how much your risk tolerance is,” says Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River District. As with Parker’s incipient idea for accessing its water near H E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

Sterling, there will also have to be collaboration in the South Platte Basin between cities and agricultural producers. You might expect that increased scarcity would yield greater conflict, and it might. But the blunt political—and economic— realities suggest a greater impulse toward collaboration. It might be cheaper in the long run than courtroom brawls that often deliver verdicts that please nobody. That’s not to diminish the difficulty of collaboration. By its very root word, labor, it implies sweat. It implies overcoming cherished stories about water wars and enemies. It requires the vision of leaders, but also steady communication with their constituencies. It requires a firm embrace of the process, strong enough to survive when the going gets tough. n TAKE THE NEXT STEP Find more information on cooperative water projects, interbasin sharing agreements, and the conceptual framework in Chapter 8 of Colorado’s Water Plan at coloradowaterplan.com. 25


BEYOND THE BUZZWORD More than a trendy cliché, collaboration as demonstrated by these boots on the ground proves its worth.

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or years, it was a training ground in the art of war, a high elevation base in the Eagle River Valley where an elite World War II fighting force called the 10th Mountain Division learned winter survival skills and the CIA groomed Tibetan guerrilla fighters in the 1960s. Yet today, Camp Hale northwest of Leadville is a training ground in the art of collaboration. A group led by the National Forest Foundation is spearheading a restoration project there aimed at undoing some of the damage caused during the camp’s construction in 1942, when wetlands were filled and the channel of the Eagle River straightened. The effort has united a wildly diverse group of more than 40 stakeholders, from Front Range water providers to mining interests, historical preservation groups, conservation organizations, and even a local sheepherder. Since 2012, these strange bedfellows have been meeting to draft a restoration master plan, now under review by the U.S. Forest Service, that calls for between 200 and 300 acres of wetland restoration and five to seven miles of river improvements. “Our goal is to design a project that restores the area, preserves the history, and meets the water needs of the Eastern and Western slopes,” says Marcus Selig, Southern Rock-

ies regional director for the National Forest Foundation, who oversaw the drafting of the management plan. The effort is emblematic of a changing water climate in Colorado. Whether driven by increasingly scarce water supplies, looming and expensive state and federal regulations, competition for limited grant funds, or common interests, Coloradans are collaborating to solve their water problems like never before. The innovative and sometimes unlikely partnerships springing up around the state are well suited for a future of increasing scarcity, where water is stretched between climate change and population growth. Here’s an examination of what’s driving some of the most progressive water-based collaborations around the state.

Give a little. Take a little Although the disparate stakeholders that came together at Camp Hale agreed on the need to repair the ecosystem, differences emerged on how to accomplish that work, and the solutions the group crafted are textbook examples of compromise. Some groups, for instance, argued for the preservation of the existing narrow stream channel as a historical artifact, despite its lack of ecological value. To appease them, the group

BY NELSON HARVEY

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R.J. SANGOSTI / GETTY IMAGES

Collaboration on the restoration master plan at Camp Hale is led by the National Forest Foundation’s Marcus Selig (right), shown here with U.S. Forest Service staff Matt Grove (left), a fisheries biologist, and Aaron Mayville (center), deputy district ranger, as they survey the mainstem of the Eagle River to identify potential future stream alignment options.

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devised a way to dewater the channel and leave it in place while restoring the river to meander around it. “We also made sure that the river’s meanders will miss some of the existing artifacts, like the remnants of the field house, the rifle range and an ammo bunker,” says Selig. Another challenge for the group was designing a restoration project that accounts for future diversions from the river’s headwaters above Camp Hale by cities like Aurora and Colorado Springs or the Eagle Park Reservoir Company, all of which own water rights that could enable such diversions. Because many of these rights are conditional, Selig says, it’s difficult to determine how much lower the river could be in the future, but his team will work closely with water right holders to ensure that the restoration project squares with their plans. “We have to design the project in a way that won’t impact potential upstream development,” Selig says, “and in a way that works with the amount of water that will actually be flowing through there in the future.” The Camp Hale case shows that collaboration can be expensive: Once the Forest Service concludes its environmental review of the Camp Hale restoration plan—likely by the summer of 2016—the stakeholder group will begin restoration work that’s estimated to cost more than $10 million. (Developing the plan alone has cost around $450,000, raised from a mix of nonprofits like the Gates Family Foundation and the 10th Mountain Division Foundation, corporations like the Climax Molybdenum Mine, and government agencies like the Colorado Water Conservation Board.) The restoration work will be paid for using wetland mitigation fees that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers imposes on developers for damage to wetlands elsewhere, along with corporate, nonprofit and private donations. The group’s ambitious goal, Selig says, is to begin restoring the Camp Hale ecosystem by the spring of 2017.

The devil you know: Local solutions over state mandates Collaboration between groups with diverging interests is tough, but even when interests are aligned it doesn’t always come easily, and it’s particularly hard to swallow when it requires paying for something that used to be free. Beginning in 2003, that’s precisely what David Robbins found himself asking rooms full of San Luis Valley farmers to do, as they confronted the precipitous decline of 28

their groundwater brought on by overuse and years of drought. “Our engineers told us that we were overusing the hydrologic system in dry times,” Robbins recalls. “We needed to find a way to reduce the amount of irrigation that was occurring.” Robbins is the attorney for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, the main agricultural water provider in a high, rural southern Colorado valley where potatoes, barley, wheat and other crops underpin the local economy. Capitalizing on the ethic of self-reliance that predominates there, he made a simple pitch to farmers: Reduce pumping and bring the aquifer into balance on your own, or the state will intervene to do it for you. It was hardly an idle threat. In the spring of 2006, responding to the owners of surface water rights in the South Platte Basin who complained that over-pumping of tributary groundwater wells was deplet-

”We have to design the project in a way that won’t impact potential upstream development…” Marcus Selig, Southern Rockies regional director for the National Forest Foundation ing their water supply, state regulators shut down more than 400 wells whose owners had not filed formal augmentation plans—court documents showing how they would buy water to replace out-ofpriority depletions. Farmers in the San Luis Valley were determined to avoid a similar fate. “What happened in the South Platte wasn’t a rational economic approach to solving the problem, it was just based on whether or not you had enough money or water to do an augmentation plan,” Robbins says. “Some people had neither and went out of business. In the San Luis Valley, we wanted to manage the transition away from irrigation so we didn’t dry up some areas entirely while others continued to farm.” By 2012, after two rounds of litigation TAKE THE NEXT STEP Learn more about the Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Alternative Management Plan and track progress at www.upcowildandscenic.com.

and a seemingly endless series of meetings spent cajoling reluctant farmers, a solution emerged: establish a system of regional groundwater subdistricts, defined by geography, that charge annual fees to farmers within their boundaries for each acre of land cultivated and each acre-foot of water used. Those funds are then used to buy water to offset groundwater depletions, either by injecting it back into the ground, sending it to users downstream, or paying cash to farmers injured by groundwater pumping. The subdistricts also pay farmers to fallow some of their marginal land, lightening demand on the aquifer as a whole. Whether this inventive strategy will bring the San Luis Valley’s water supply into balance remains to be seen. The first subdistrict (six others are now forming) began operating in 2012 in the highly productive agricultural area around the town of Center. Its goal is to take 40,000 acres out of production over 20 years, to stabilize the aquifer at levels somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 acre-feet below where they were in 1976, when record keeping began. A combination of wet weather and reduced pumping through fallowing agreements and efficiency improvements has put about 200,000 acre-feet of water back into the aquifer since 2012, but conservation district program manager Rob Phillips says it will take about 700,000 acre-feet of additional recovery to bring the aquifer into balance over the next 16 years. Still, farmers are collectively paying to help save their own aquifer, a prospect that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago.

Getting out ahead: The specter of federal regulation If state regulation is viewed with suspicion in a local-control state like Colorado, the prospect of new federal regulation can inspire outright fear and trembling. Thankfully, that fear can lead to collaboration between unlikely allies, as it has in recent years in the Colorado and Dolores river basins as groups have formed to devise local alternatives to federal jurisdiction under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This 1968 federal law, designed to protect rivers with “outstandingly remarkable” natural, cultural or recreational values (ORVs), is supported in principle by many conservation and recreational interests. In practice, though, many view the additional federal oversight that accompanies a designation—along with the possibility that the federal government could acquire a “re-

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á A diverse set of stakeholders has worked on a restoration master plan for the Eagle River Valley’s Camp Hale since 2012. The group blends water utilities, historical preservation devotees, conservationists and mining interests.

STEVEN C. DEWITT, JR. (2)

â Remnants of the ammo magazines at the rifle range at Camp Hale are reminders that the site was once a training ground for war rather than collaboration, as it is today.

served water right” to protect the river—as cumbersome and potentially threatening to local water management. Pulling together, the stakeholder groups in the Colorado and Dolores river basins are dedicated to convincing federal land management agencies that the rivers can be managed locally in a way that protects their ORVs while also safeguarding water rights. “The real concern in Colorado is that an

extra layer of federal oversight makes everyone’s jobs even harder,” says Rob Buirgy, project manager for the Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Alternative Management Plan, which governs a 84-mile reach of the Colorado River from Kremmling to Glenwood Canyon that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management nominated for potential Wild and Scenic status in 2007. With a Wild and Scenic designation, Buirgy H E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

says, “it’s harder for the water providers to manage their apportionments and plan for drought or population growth, and it’s harder for the recreation and environmental communities to get their needs met at the local level. People tend to rally around local management for local needs.” Still, the range of interests involved in local management—from environmentalists to water providers to ranchers—makes crafting a local alternative a daunting task. The difference between success and failure hinges on factors as diverse as the personalities involved, the availability of funding for a dedicated facilitator to keep negotiations going, and the willingness of stakeholders to understand and respect divergent points of view. The Upper Colorado group formed in 2008 to develop an alternative plan for the river that would enable local management to continue while safeguarding its fishing and boating values. The group’s membership is broad, including representatives from Front Range utilities like Denver Water, government agencies like Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and nonprofit groups like American Whitewater and Trout Unlimited. In 2013 the group worked with the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to appropriate three instream flow water rights on the river. With a priority date of 2013, these rights are junior to pre-existing senior rights, but when in force they ensure a flow of between 500 and 900 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the river year round to protect fish like trout and flannelmouth and bluehead suckers. “The Colorado River is such a busy river with so many interests on it,” says Linda Bassi, section chief of the CWCB’s Stream and Lake Protection Section, who worked on the instream flow case. “We never would have appropriated flows on the mainstem of the Colorado without this stakeholder process, because some of these same interests [in the stakeholder group] probably would have come out and opposed it.” In 2015, the group scored an even bigger victory when it convinced the BLM to adopt its management plan as a “preferred alternative” for the 84-mile stretch of river, deferring a decision on Wild and Scenic suitability. Going forward, the stakeholder group will advise the BLM on the status of the river’s boating and fishing ORVs, using a series of guides and indicators to quickly detect any changes in river health and gauge their plan’s effectiveness. Buirgy attributes the group’s success in part to having well-defined goals and a clear 29


á Scouting a stretch of the the Catamount section of the Colorado River in 2014, the Upper Colorado Wild and Scenic Stakeholders Group

purpose. “If you want to protect the diversity of life on this planet, that’s a little harder to sink your teeth into than goals like maintaining or improving the fishing and boating on one stretch of river,” he says. Given their differing goals—from protecting fishing and boating opportunities to watering cities—Buirgy is proud of how the stakeholders in his group have come to see one another’s perspectives over seven years of working together. “I think one of the major hurdles was everyone had to be able to step back and look at this joint commitment through each other’s eyes,” he says. Yet as the group begins implementing its management plan, many challenges loom, including passing the torch from retiring members to new members and establishing an endowment to secure the group’s long-term funding. In the Dolores River Basin, concern about another potential Wild and Scenic designation helped motivate a similar collaborative group whose members have been working since 2008 on a more locally influenced form of federal protection. An entity called the Lower Dolores Plan Working Group, which consists of agricultural and domes30

tic water districts and management entities, representatives of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, conservation groups, boaters, anglers, energy interests, private property owners and others, has proposed establishing a National Conservation Area (NCA) on the Dolores River below McPhee Dam. The proposal would require congressional approval and would allow the continued use of McPhee Reservoir for irrigation, power generation, municipal and industrial use, and other purposes while banning new oil and gas exploration or new dams within the conservation area. It would also authorize the Native Fish Monitoring and Recommendation Team, an existing local entity formed in 2011 and staffed by working group members, to monitor the status of whitewater boating flows and the health of native fish in the river. The team would continue working to prevent fish from being listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act—designations which could threaten local water rights. The NCA idea would not involve the appropriation of any new water rights; in fact there is no unappropriated water left on this

stretch of the lower Dolores. A legislative sub-committee of the working group released a draft federal bill in early 2015 that, in the words of working group facilitator Marsha Porter-Norton, “does not have any kind of mandated water right associated with it, but would give federal recognition to a local collaborative effort to protect the river.” Still, some local irrigators were concerned that the NCA proposal did not go far enough to protect their water rights, prompting the board of the San Juan Basin Farm Bureau and the Montezuma County Board of County Commissioners to vote against the idea in early 2015. To resolve their concerns, the counties and water providers involved in the NCA proposal agreed to hire David Robbins to conduct an independent legal review of the draft bill. He found that failing to craft a local solution could leave the door open for more federal restrictions on the river, including Wild and Scenic designation, Endangered Species Act protections, or even the designation of a National Monument in the area by President Barack Obama before he leaves office. That conclusion has helped restart negotiations over the final wording

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ELLEN OLSON

is prepped by Rob Buirgy to consider the historical and environmental values they’re working to protect.


of an NCA bill, which Robbins himself is helping to facilitate. “What got us through that difficult spot was having someone look at some specific concerns from a legal perspective,” says Porter-Norton. “Eventually, if you’re working in the worlds of water and federal legislation, you will need a legal expert to take a look at how your proposal impacts water rights, water supplies and other interests.”

TOP: MARK SKALNY FOR THE NATURE CONSERVANCY / BOTTOM: CHRISTI BODE

Brother, can you share a dime? Defraying the expense of regulation Even when federal regulations—the Clean Water Act, for instance—are viewed as both inevitable and beneficial, they can also be expensive to abide by, and that cost inspires its own form of collaboration. In the field of wastewater treatment, communities have long banded together to share expensive infrastructure, meet regulatory requirements, and reduce risk. Now, some drinking water providers are beginning to follow suit. “Collaboration in the wastewater arena has been happening for a long, long time, and the [drinking] water treatment arena is just starting to catch up,” says Barbara Biggs, former government affairs officer at the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District in Denver, who left in 2014 after working for the district for 23 years. Metro was created in 1964, when Denver area governments recognized that they could capitalize on economies of scale, attract more skilled employees, and reduce their individual liability by sharing costly wastewater treatment infrastructure. Today, Metro contracts with 60 governments along the Front Range for wastewater service, charging each member by the gallon for its wastewater and assuming all liability for treatment-related mishaps. As our scientific understanding of how to keep riparian ecosystems healthy has improved, Biggs contends, the regulations that govern wastewater treatment and releases into rivers have tightened accordingly. Today, it’s nearly impossible for small communities to afford the equipment to meet those standards, so they often join forces and share the costs. Until recently, fierce competition to acquire and develop new water supplies has mostly kept water providers in growing cities on the Front Range from collaborating in the same way. Yet with the growing popularity of potable reuse projects, Biggs points out, one person’s wastewater is increasingly another’s water supply, and the

á No Chico Brush project participant and the largest sweet corn grower in the Uncompahgre Valley, John Harold has championed the local soil health movement and is now pushing for improved irrigation water use.

â Developing a water management plan to stabilize the declining aquifer in the San Luis Valley’s first groundwater subdistrict has been a priority for the Subdistrict # 1 Board of Managers.

expense and regulatory burden of those reuse projects—along with the expense of new reservoir construction projects meant to store water in wet years—is forcing water providers to ramp up collaboration. Still, working together won’t be easy for drinking water providers—they’ll have to resolve differences in strategy, timing and risk tolerance and devise new and creative ways of financing and permitting projects backed by multiple water entities. H E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

Common goals, uncommon reasons: When interests overlap Agricultural interests and environmental groups have a long history of distrusting each other in Colorado and across the West. For years, farmers have blamed conservationists for pushing policies that protect species but restrict land use, while environmentalists have begrudged farmers for the ways that overgrazing, pesticide run31


off, and other side effects of agriculture impact the environment. Yet in recent years, as drought has impacted streamflows and as utilities have combed the state for new water to serve growing populations, farmers and environmentalists have begun to find common cause on water conservation. Whether it’s piping ditches, improving diversion structures, or moving from flood to sprinkler irrigation, “the farmer’s interest is preparing for a future in which there may be more scarcity,” says Drew Peternell, Colorado River Program director for Trout Unlimited. Environmentalists, for their part, favor efficiency because it conserves water, improves water quality by reducing nutrient runoff, and dampens the need for new diversion projects. “Conservation and agricultural groups are realizing that when water is in short supply, their interests are going to lose out before the interests of cities, so they are finding ways to build their power by partnering up,” Peternell says. Across the state, farmers and environmentalists are teaming up with recreational groups to write grants for projects that serve the interests of all three. In a climate of scarce water resources and even scarcer grant dollars, these multi-purpose efforts often have a competitive edge over onedimensional projects, says Heather Dutton, executive director for the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, a multistakeholder group working to restore the Rio Grande between South Fork and Alamosa. “Collaborative projects that serve a diverse range of interests do seem to catch funders’ eyes more readily than singlestakeholder projects,” she says. “Collaboration for us is in finding that sweet spot where interests overlap. I have never heard a farmer say that they want to improve their headgate, but they don’t want to help fish in the process.” In a recent project in the Sevenmile Plaza area between Monte Vista and Del Norte, Dutton’s group raised funds to replace a diversion dam in the Rio Grande owned by farmers of the McDonald Ditch Company, moving it upstream and installing a new structure that allows for passage by fish and boats. The project will improve farmers’ ability to divert their full water right, while alleviating their concerns about liability for boaters injured by the antiquated dam or fish species harmed by its impassibility. “The existing dam is really inefficient—it’s made from piles of rubble, concrete and rebar, and it’s a bottleneck that causes flooding in the community,” Dutton says. “Removing that will be a huge improvement.” 32

Northwest of Alamosa in the Gunnison Basin, a similar effort called the No Chico Brush project is uniting farmers and conservationists to install irrigation efficiency improvements. The group’s more than 30 member entities include The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Colorado State University, and the Colorado River District, along with between 25 and 30 farmers and ranchers. They won an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in early 2015 to improve efficiency both on and off farms in the Gunnison Basin. With irrigated agriculture in the basin more than 100 years old, the soils in many areas are severely depleted. By improving irrigation efficiency, farmers and ranchers there hope to build soil health by slowing the flush

“Collaboration for us is in finding that sweet spot where interests overlap.” Heather Dutton, executive director for the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project of nutrients and reducing the leaching of salt and selenium, which harms endangered species like the Colorado pikeminnow and the razorback sucker. Efficiency measures like piping ditches also reduce seepage of irrigation water, enabling farmers to stretch water supplies further during drought. “Because there are so many benefits to efficiency, we found partners who didn’t care about fish but cared about agricultural sustainability and vice-versa,” says Sonja Chavez, who administered the USDA grant for the Colorado River District as a consultant before recently joining the district’s staff. “Everyone was able to find something they liked.” While the No Chico Brush and Rio Grande Headwaters projects unite farmers and conservationists to improve water delivery infrastructure, another collaborative project in the Gunnison Basin is bringing the two sectors together to share water itself. About 20 miles east of Montrose near the foot of the San Juan Mountains, farmers and ranchers divert water from the Little

floo-uhnt water fact

Cimarron River, a tributary of the Gunnison, into the McKinley Ditch. A five-mile stretch of river below the ditch diversion point often runs dry in late spring and early summer, degrading an ecosystem that supports brown, brook and rainbow trout at higher elevations. In 2012, the nonprofit Western Rivers Conservancy bought a 214-acre ranch irrigated with McKinley Ditch water after the bank foreclosed on the rancher who had owned it. The conservancy then sold the water rights associated with the land—just under six cfs, or about 18 percent of the water decreed to the McKinley Ditch—to the Denver-based Colorado Water Trust. The Trust, in turn, partnered with the CWCB in 2014 to create the state’s first water-sharing agreement between agriculture and instream flows. The plan is to allow a farmer leasing the land to use the water right for irrigation during the early part of the growing season, but to redirect the water—now protected by an instream flow right held by the CWCB—back into the river later in the season if the Little Cimarron River threatens to run dry. “I think we recognized that the tools already existed to try this, and you can use the water court system to your advantage and it can be flexible if you ask it to be,” says Colorado Water Trust staff attorney Zach Smith. The proposal is still working its way through water court, and the Trust is in discussions with other irrigators on the ditch to determine how to accurately gauge the water they divert back to the Little Cimarron. If successful, the idea of splitting a water right between agricultural and instream flow uses could have broad statewide implications. “There is so much energy now around finding alternatives to buy and dry,” says Colorado Water Trust executive director Amy Beatie, “and around finding solutions that are not zero-sum in the sense that they simply take water from one use and give it to another.” Today, that energy permeates Colorado’s water landscape, as everyone from urban water providers to environmentalists and ranchers seems willing to pursue multi-purpose, multi-partner projects to meet their diverse needs. The state’s water users don’t agree on everything, but they are coalescing around a central fact: In the face of growing water scarcity, collaboration is a must. n

The Colorado Water Trust has completed 23 projects since its inception in 2001, securing 18,658 acre-feet of water for instream flow use over that time on 348 river miles, or just under 4 percent of the river miles protected statewide through Colorado’s instream flow program. Source: Colorado Water Trust

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á The Poudre Water Sharing Working Group, composed of irrigation companies and domestic water

providers, discuss agriculture-urban water sharing strategies in March 2014.

COLLABORATION BY DESIGN Successful outcomes rely on social science and artful engineering.

STEPHEN SMITH

E

ven in the best of times it’s difficult to forge a collaborative path when faced with a contentious issue. But in Colorado, where priorities over water use can vary so greatly, reaching consensus can be particularly challenging. “There are lots of characters in the water business and you are going to end up with some folks who are obstinate,” says Dave Bennett, Denver Water water resources project manager, who has spent more than 30 years dealing with oft-disputed water issues. “Water in Colorado is such a scarce resource and always has been. People are real careful about it, and they can be really defensive about things.” No two issues are ever exactly the same. But there are some truisms about how to construct a game plan for tackling even the most vexing obstacles and having all parties come away feeling they have achieved a tangible and worthwhile outcome that serves their constituents.

Getting the timing right

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key starting point on the collaborative path is identifying the right moment to begin meaningful dialogue with opposing groups on a given issue. Todd Bryan, senior program manager at the Denver-based deliberation consulting firm CDR Associates, has spent more than 20 years mediating disputes in the environmental field. He gauges the ripeness of any potential conflict by judging whether it is either “upstream” or “downstream.” “An upstream problem is where you sort of know you can see the train wreck coming, but it hasn’t gotten there yet,” says Bryan. “You try to get stakeholders together to head that off, because when issues get downstream the conflicts become really intense or there are lawsuits. They are just harder to resolve.” Bryan says one good way for parties to make sure they engage at the right time is

by watching the advocacy sector. If a group makes rumblings in the media about filing a lawsuit or lobbying hard for government intervention on a controversial topic, that should be a red flag that broad discussions between divergent stakeholder groups need to begin, if they haven’t already. According to Bryan, taking initiative before you get to a legislative or regulatory action is crucial. Once a government entity imposes regulations or laws there are generally winners and losers, and this makes further negotiation unlikely as the party that’s come out on top has little incentive to compromise. That said, certain stakeholders may not be ready to meet until an issue reaches a tipping point. Mely Whiting, counsel for the Colorado Water Project at Trout Unlimited, cautions that while you can try to prepare for a problem upstream, you need to be equally ready to tackle the issue when it reaches the more quarrelsome downstream arena.

BY JOSH CHETWYND

H E A DWAT E R S | W I N T E R 2016

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“My experience is that there is usually a carrot and a stick situation when it comes to water issues,” she says. “On the one hand, the stick, which is some event with consequences like litigation, has to be there. The carrot is having an alternative collaborative process that is better than litigation.” When you reach that carrot-stick moment, Whiting says it’s important to be “opportunistic” and begin laying the groundwork for collaborative discussions quickly.

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Setting the table

o plan an effective collaborative process, it’s essential to determine the sweet spot wherein all the relevant stakeholders are represented, but the table isn’t so crowded—and loud with differing views—that reaching an agreement becomes impossible. Finding that balance is more art than science. The general rule of thumb among experts is to begin by being broadly inclusive and later hone in on the most relevant players to continue the nitty-gritty negotiations. “There isn’t a magic number, but often times it might be appropriate to start with a larger number and then winnow the group to a smaller committee representative of all the different, competing positions,” according to Geoff Blakeslee, Yampa River project director for The Nature Conservancy and the environmental representative on the Yampa/White/ Green Basin Roundtable. Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute and chair of the Colorado State University Water Center, believes that a “dual track” approach can be very effective. A public track is organized that allows interested stakeholders to get informed on the details of an issue. Then a smaller group of empowered representatives is set up to propose solutions aimed at resolution. Bennett agrees with that approach: “Getting a lot of people involved at first [helps] you try to articulate the vision for a collaborative outcome. Without understanding what is important to these stakeholders you won’t get anywhere collaboratively. Once you build trust you can get to the point where folks can see a potential outcome and you can see collaboration as a potential path. Then you narrow down to a negotiation team.” To create trust among those at the table, MaryLou Smith, policy and collaboration specialist at the Colorado Water Institute, recommends identifying commonalities among parties right from the start. To that end, Smith often assigns some

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Positive and negative factors in collaborative processes POSITIVE

N E G AT I V E

COLLABORATIVE ATTITUDE

DYSFUNCTIONAL SHAREHOLDERS

• Respect, appropriate levels of trust

• Sufficient transparency, data are freely shared and explained

• Long history of conflict • Shareholder(s) seeking to undermine the process • Low disclosure, hidden agendas • Misrepresentation • Avoidance, mistaking status quo as low risk, desire to punish opponents

• Healthy balance of creativity, pragmatism and risk

LACK OF COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP

EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

• Conversation replaces debate

WRONG PROGRAM PACE, TOO LITTLE TIME ALLOWED FOR COMPLEX ISSUES

• Willingness to learn from each other

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

• Use of reliable data and processes COLLABORATIVE STRUCTURE

LACK OF NEEDED DATA OR EXPERTISE TO ASSESS DATA

• Issues are suitable for collaboration

EXTERNAL PRESSURES

• Flexibility and willingness to engage in self-reflection • Work to satisfy bona fide interests of all shareholders

• All needed shareholders participate with qualified and motivated representatives

(e.g. outside parties, funders, senior management, politics)

• Results-driven process

LACK OF CLARITY ABOUT DESIRED OUTCOMES

• Stakeholders are accountable to the process and each other

GROUP RELUCTANCE TO MAKE NECESSARY DECISIONS

• Stakeholders effectively address diversity and power asymmetry • Adaptation: the process is flexible and responsive to change and new perspectives • Stakeholders work both on the task as well as their functioning relationship

DECISION ERRORS AND BARRIERS

• • • • •

Oversimplication of the conflict Exaggeration of the conflict Overconfidence in own judgment Decision shortcuts Stereotyping, reactive devaluation

SOURCE: BASED ON WORK BY JOSEPH MCMAHON, COLLABORATIVE PROCESSES LLC

“homework” before a group convenes. She asks stakeholders to summarize in one page their issue of concern, and what they hope to get out of the process. Equally important, she asks them to include one thing they believe makes them unique from others in the group. She then compiles the statements into a package and sends it out a week in advance to initiate trust building. “They come to the first meeting already having a kick start in understanding who the people are and where they are coming from,” Smith says. This is just one among many strategies Smith covers in a two-day intensive workshop on “Best Practices for Collaborative

Water Decisions” being hosted by the Colorado Water Institute and CDR Associates across Colorado, the first of which was held in October 2015. Like Smith, Bryan is one of the workshop’s trainers. He shares that a facilitation technique to get everyone on track toward serving the common good is by shifting focus from “positional” negotiation tactics to “interest-based positions.” This means helping parties avoid getting mired in articulating a specific belief, such as ”I’m against fracking,” over and over again. Instead, the goal is to move the conversation toward the underlying issues that

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serve a group’s interest, such as “I want to protect groundwater or reduce noise,” Bryan says. “When you identify the interests, you can get from A to B. You have to eventually get there because otherwise one person will restate their opinion and the other party will attack it, and they will continue to bang their heads against the wall.”

I

Empowering leaders for negotiation

n putting together the group who will hash out any agreements, it’s essential that each member truly reflects the interests of the parties they represent and has the ability to make a deal stick. “You really want somebody in an upper leadership position who has the respect of their organization and other organizations and has the knowledge and expertise to talk about the problems and tangible solutions,” Bryan says. “If an agreement is reached, they also have to have the ability to get their [organization or group] to bind to the agreement so that they don’t have to go back to get their boss to buy in.” But what other specific characteristics should you be looking for when choosing a delegate for delicate negotiations? Good communication skills are vital to frame issues. Experience, which provides institutional knowledge about the task at hand, is extremely valuable as well. That said, an ability to empathize with—or at least respect—an opponent’s perspective is essential. “It is important as a leader to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and acknowledge that you are hearing their position and that they understand your position,” Blakeslee says. Of course, those at the table must always be prepared for a stakeholder representative who is unwilling to budge from his or her position, which may require that others redouble their efforts to build trust. “Distrust in [a competing] organization is how many come into this process,” Bryan says. “You need to allow relational trust to overcome organizational distrust. One of the things we do is try to get people to know each other so that they realize that they are more complex people than the stake they represent.” A final point on leadership: A deep bench is important. Water-related negotiations can take 10 years or more to conclude. Over that time, people may change jobs or even retire. While each stakeholder organization may have a primary point person at the table, secondary negotiators or alternates can

Building Collaborative Know-How

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s the world of Colorado water becomes more interconnected and influenced by changing social and physical conditions, there is a growing need to improve the way people work together. Whether you have an outgoing or quiet personality, the success of your work relies on an ability to solve problems with others. The drivers of human behavior and collaborative know-how are numerous and can be reinforced with practice and training. To this end, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education provides professional development programs to empower individuals and foster collaboration. CFWE’s Water Leaders program, which has graduated 111 alumni since 2006, targets professionals with a commitment to water resources who are looking to improve their communication, conflict resolution, and management skills. Through a competitive application process, 15 participants are accepted each year to undergo extensive self-assessment and executive coaching. They also have the opportunity to shadow prominent leaders and grow their network while applying their learning to water issues statewide. ”I have not experienced this type of collaborative program anywhere else,” says Cheryl Benedict of MORF Consulting, the leadership and organizational development firm contracted by CFWE for Water Leaders. Now entering her fourth year as facilitator and coach for the program, Benedict adds, ”CFWE and MORF both bring our A-game and a mindset of growth to be more effective with each course.” A foundational aspect of Water Leaders is learning how to build functional teams. That process requires that trust and vulnerability be established before a group can begin to engage in healthy debate and later move to commitment and accountability. Steve Malers of the Open Water Foundation and Water Leaders 2014 alum says, ”As a nonprofit social enterprise focusing on outcomes, I need to understand what stage of team building a stakeholder group has reached in order to understand how well they can get something done together. Water Leaders also helped me recognize when a leader has a particular skill set, which informs my own approach to communicating with them.” Another essential component of Water Leaders applies the Harrison Assessment to determine each individual’s tendency to accept personal decisionmaking authority versus a willingness to join together when the stakes are high. ”The new view on leadership is it’s really healthy to have multiple perspectives for the greater good of the decision,” explains Benedict. Malers cites a related example from the November 2015 American Water Resource Association’s national conference, where he was part of an open data session to leverage federal work for local practitioners that don’t have technical savvy. ”That session highlighted the need for collaborative risk-taking, which requires a certain level of transparency in your business model in order to leverage the output and open innovation of multiple organizations,” he says. CFWE’s commitment to fostering collaborative leadership doesn’t stop there. It extends to two other professional development programs. Water Fluency, in its second year, immerses 30 community leaders at a time in the language and concepts of Colorado water and provides tools for navigating the culture, complexity and future of water management and policy issues. And the Water Educator Network convenes local water educators for trainings and collaborations to increase the quality and effectiveness of their programs. The goal? Influencing positive change through the way people work together and problem solve around water. — KRISTIN MAHARG

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Collaborative Decision Making in a Multi-Stakeholder Process MEDIATION SESSIONS

INVITATION TO/INITIATION OF PROCESS This could be preceded by assessment interviews and assessment report • Who should be included? • What are the key issues? • What data/expertise are needed? • What are the process agreements?

PROCESS PREPARATION AND PLANNING

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

JOINT CONVERSATIONS ON CORE ISSUES

DEVELOPMENT OF POSSIBLE PATHS FORWARD

DECISION MAKING AND IMPLEMENTATION

• Identify success criteria of each • Confirm agreements stakeholder, e.g. "what are • Schedule needed actions • Expert input if needed your interests and needs?" • Have open, healthy and candid • Summarize legal or regulatory • Create any needed written conversations on each issue • Confirm parties understand issues if needed agreements or documents each other's interests • Confirm parties understand • Monitor to ensure planned • If needed, technical meetings • Develop several proposal (not necessarily agree with) actions are carried out of experts to clarify areas of "packages" that address all key each other's views of how the agreement and disagreement issues dispute developed • Data exchanges

• Confirm agreement on how parties will work together

• Expert presentations if needed • Look for creative options

Accomplish this with conference call or face-to-face meeting

• Review pros and cons of the various views (technical, factual or legal)

• Assess how well each proposed package meets the success criteria

• Clarify topics where there is agreement or disagreement

• Improve packages to better meet parties' interests

• Clarify what happens if no agreement is reached; what possible court outcomes?

• Stakeholder decisions about whether/how to move forward

SOURCE: BASED ON WORK BY JOSEPH MCMAHON, COLLABORATIVE PROCESSES LLC

help avoid a derailment in the process when a key stakeholder has a regime change.

R

Taking the long view

ome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are successful collaborations. Waskom says it’s important to recognize that taking slow-and-steady steps is more likely to yield results than quickly bringing people to the table. “There is a convening role, a facilitation role, a negotiation role and a mediation role, and all four of those are on a continuum,” says Waskom. “They are different and they are important.” Rushing to set up a first meeting or the second or third isn’t usually the best course of action, he says, adding that each element needs to be carefully considered. Even choosing when and where to hold an initial convening meeting for those interested in the issue should be decided carefully. For instance, finding neutral turf can be very valuable in making all involved feel comfortable. Once you delve into the process—and negotiations begin wearing on into years—keeping focus on tangible results is also extremely important, according to Whiting. “I have a very strict rule: I don’t engage in groups that

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get together and are window dressing—they meet and don’t do anything,” she says. “To me, the measure is there must be incremental progress, and it has to be real.” Whiting points to the River Protection Workgroups in southwest Colorado, a collaborative effort focused on protecting key stream segments in the region. The combination of environmental, recreational and other water user groups initially came together in 2006, and while it’s been a long slog, there have consistently been concrete milestones, keeping Whiting satisfactorily invested. The workgroup hopes to reach some of its big-target goals on legislation to protect the waterways in 2016. The negotiating landscape continues to change and a promising future beckons. Historically, an “old West” versus “new West” divide in Colorado has periodically crept in to hinder negotiations. Old West is typically characterized by a focus on resource extraction as the key economic base of the community. New West tends to keep a closer eye on conservation. Some of these tensions must still be navigated at the negotiating table. Bryan, for example, still sees a rural versus urban clash in some situations. In those instances,

his advice is to understand that people simply have different approaches and don’t be quick to judge. “Sometimes the way people communicate is a little different,” he says. “In some rural places outsiders are not trusted and perceptions might be different. You need to recognize that if you come from an urban environment.” Waskom believes members of the younger generations entering Colorado resource management generally bring very open minds to the process. Bennett agrees: “Younger people coming up in this business are perhaps more open to working together. As the resources get stretched thinner and thinner, younger people want to be part of the solution.” Smith, too, sees a generational difference: “I see young people coming into the water professions being much more aware about multi-sector collaboration. They’ve caught on that we are not going to solve any problems by fighting.” n TAKE THE NEXT STEP Find more collaborative tools, events and programming at Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation: collaborativeconservation.org.

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Good news for Colorado water educators!

The state’s popular and widely used fourth-grade Social Studies textbook Discover Colorado is back in a revised and updated edition—including a new feature, “Thinking about Colorado Water”, which highlights the central importance of water whether you are considering geography, history, economy, or government. Find more information at www.upcolorado.com

SGM

The University Press of Colorado is a nonprofit cooperative publishing enterprise supported, in part, by Adams State University, Colorado State University, Fort Lewis College, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Regis University, University of Colorado, University of Northern Colorado, Utah State University, and Western State Colorado University.

Quality, Sustainability and Reliability

COLORADO’S PATH

TO A SECURE WATER FUTURE Learn how collaboration ushered in a new era of water management at denverwater.org/CRCA

We deliver best fit solutions and responsive services for all your water resources planning, water rights and water quality needs in Western Colorado

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S O U T H M E T R O WAT E R S U P P LY A U T H O R I T Y

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Headwaters Winter 2016: The Collaborative Alchemy Around Water Today  

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Headwaters Winter 2016: The Collaborative Alchemy Around Water Today  

Explore today's focus on collaboration in water, and how Coloradans are coming together to forge alliances—and bridge impasses—between dispa...