A Citizen’s Perspective on Her Water Utility

By Kristin Maharg

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

Members of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Members of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

The CAC was created in 1978 as a result of public concern about growth issues and environmental impacts, forming a citizens group charged with representing public interests. There are ten of us from the West Slope, city and suburbs of Denver, amongst others, that advise the Board of Water Commissioners on matters of citizen participation. One of our biggest topics this year has been Denver Water’s new rate structure stakeholder process. I had no idea how involved and complicated this could be! Now when I open my water bill, I appreciate what it all means for a utility’s cash flow, conservation incentives and customer affordability.

On top of Strontia Springs dam with Denver Water and Aurora Water intake structures in the background.

On top of Strontia Springs dam.

Instead of our typical monthly meeting, in July the CAC went on a full day tour of Denver Water’s East Slope infrastructure. How nice it was to sit back and let someone else direct a water tour! As a record-breaking wet spring, I wondered how the challenges of a water provider would be different than in a drought year…

After stopping at the historic Kassler Treatment Plant where water passed through giant open sandboxes to filter debris, we traveled up Waterton Canyon where families of bikers, hikers and anglers enjoyed the beauty of the South Platte River… while looking out for bighorn sheep! At the top we reached Strontia Springs Reservoir, which serves as the final vessel for raw water supply distribution to Marston and Foothills treatment plants. In somewhat of an art deco design, Strontia was spilling for another record of 56 days this year… all that water unusable to Denver Water, closing the canyon below for safety, blowing out the wooden High Line diversion and ultimately filling up Chatfield Reservoir. Later we’d have lunch around those flood waters and get a glimpse of what Chatfield Reallocation will look like as the water level increases from 5332 to 5344 feet.

Dave Bennett and Scott Roush over lunch at Chatfield.

Dave Bennett (Denver Water) and Scott Roush (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) over lunch at Chatfield.

The CAC also talked about emerging water quality issues on our field tour. Most fascinating was the piece about managing flows for fisheries 100 miles up the watershed between Spinney Mountain and Elevenmile Canyon reservoirs. Trout prefer low flows when they spawn in the spring, which is clearly not when our rivers are low. Strontia Springs is apparently one third full of sediment as a result of the Buffalo Creek and Hayman fires, resulting in operational and treatment challenges. Interestingly, when those pine needles burn, manganese is released as a by-product. Down at the Foothills Treatment Plant, we met with a modest yet enthusiastic staff, who turn that murky runoff into crystal clear drinks. Another treatment challenge is the sheer scope of their distribution system… keeping out pathogens for the two weeks it takes for a drop to arrive at DIA.

Double Curved Arch dam releasing 1250 cfs

Double-curved arch design from 1980s, releasing 1250 cfs on July 16, 2015.

Whatever city or watershed you consider yourself a citizen, the key take-away for me as a CAC member is to promote cooperative and creative solutions for our future water demands. When our water utilities explore regional planning, direct potable reuse and more aggressive rate structures – all the while considering the technical and legal constraints of our water right system – we have a role as consumers of that resource to understand the implications of those solutions. What will it take to ensure healthy water supplies for all users? What are you willing to do to bring water to your tap? Share your thoughts and ideas!

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From runoff to peak flows: The Rio Grande

By Christi Bode

The Continental Divide with a view of the Rio Grande and Gunnison watersheds.

The Continental Divide with a view of the Rio Grande and Gunnison watersheds.

The root of the emotion around water is the fear of losing it. For many in the West, water is not a symbol of affluence but of order, of control over the uncontrollable. The days of blind optimism are long past, as Colorado and its nine river basins plan for a future that no one is completely sure of. Lines will start to converge on a graph as the gap

Sunrise over the foothills in April, 2015.

Sunrise over the foothills in April, 2015.

between supply and demands draws closer. Statistics, reports and analytics are all helpful, but these will only give a limited perspective of what the headwaters of the Rio Grande River truly is, delivering life-giving peak flows from the forested San Juans above. By foot, plane and raft, I’ve seen and felt the river in its purest form, branching into an irrigation system regulated by state compacts, treaties and water rights. Trying to wrestle the origins of the upper Rio Grande into one documentary, as I’ve learned, is shortchanging the natural power of this river and the people who work relentlessly to maintain its shape.

Rio Grande Reservoir thawing in April, 2015.

Rio Grande Reservoir thawing in April, 2015.

The exceptionally warm, dry breeze on my skin brought an eerie discomfort during my early April visit to the San Luis Valley; a sharp contrast to the monsoonal climate I left four hours behind in Denver. Concerns throughout the basin grew, as the skies didn’t deliver its expected late season snowpack with averages hovering well below the rest of the state. The mood felt grim, as the river was expected to reach peak spring flows nearly a month early. I would soon see for myself what 35 percent looked like.

Sunrise over the Sangre de Cristos, overlooking the San Luis Valley, April 11, 2015

Sunrise over the Sangre de Cristos, overlooking the San Luis Valley.

My pilot, Steve, and I ascended the valley floor just as the morning sun crested over Mt. Blanca, refracting off dust kicked up by farming equipment and unveiling newly planted quarters. Flying westward, the foothills of the San Juans cradled the flat farmland behind us and I anticipated the first patches of snow. I relied on Steve to narrate our fly path and coordinates as we weaved through the range; he answered my looming question before I had the chance to ask it.
“Wow. This is what it should look like in June.”

La Garita Wilderness, approximately 10 miles northeast of Creede

La Garita Wilderness, approximately 10 miles northeast of Creede in April, 2015.

Over the La Garita Wilderness, sweeping past Wheeler Monument and turning southwest toward the town of Creede, the Rio Grande makes her first appearance. We follow her silver path through the quiet morning, gradually thinning into a smaller thread. The Rio Grande Reservoir comes into clearing, the river dividing contrasting slopes of timber and burn scars from the 2013 West Fork fire complex. Views of widespread spruce beetle kill, minimal runoff
and a thawing reservoir in mid-April created a somber mood and wondering if this region would spend another summer choking on smoke.

Rio Grande River corridor near Del Norte.

Rio Grande River corridor near Del Norte.

Luckily, Miracle May arrived in the basin, delivering late season snowpack and generous rainfall.
Before loading the raft into the river, Steve Vandiver, General Manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, assesses if there’s enough headspace for us to pass under the bridge at the Del Norte gauge. On this mid-June day, the river hit its spring peak that morning; he confidently nods his head and moves toward the truck. I take a second look, awe-inspired by the high, lively current of the Rio.

“Are you sure?”

He chuckles and then we move along.

Steve Vandiver enjoys a river float.

Steve Vandiver enjoys a river float.

The river carries us along at a swift pace through lush, green riparian corridors and wetlands, under skies that are promising even more rain. This precipitation won’t save us from all of our drought-related ills, but seeing nature’s vibrant hues from a seat cruising the Rio Grande in all her glory is a sight to remember. Everything on the river is temporary.

ChristiBode headshotChristi Bode, Denver-based film producer and photographer, finds her favorite stories in the some of the most unsuspecting places. From editorial assignments involving unicyclists on Independence Pass to documentary work in the headwaters of the Rio Grande, Bode is inspired by how people are shaped by their surrounding environment. Part documentarian, part producer – a contrast that lends her work a sharp point of view with an approachable feel full of context and story.

Christi always enjoys a good drive to the Middle of Nowhere that tends to evolve into Absolutely Somewhere. email:christi@moxiecranmedia.com website: www.moxiecranmedia.com IG: @christi_b

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Photos to make you drool…a book about the last major free-flowing river in the American Southwest

YampaCover_Layout 1Grab a drink, relax and get ready to enjoy some magnificent Colorado splendor in this latest release from Colorado photographer John Fielder. “Colorado’s Yampa River, Free Flowing and Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green” transports you to the state’s northwest corner, home of the last major free-flowing river in the American Southwest’s Colorado River system: the Yampa.

Yampa Canyon (2)

The Yampa River flows through the Yampa Canyon in Dinosaur. Photo by John Fielder

Together with author Patrick Tierney, a long-time student of the Yampa River in capacities ranging from river ranger and guide to researcher and former director of the Yampa River Awareness Project, Fielder leads readers on a 249-mile journey from the Yampa’s headwaters to its confluence with the Green River in the heart of Dinosaur National Monument. Along the way, the river drops 6,000 feet. It first trickles through wildflower-laden meadows in the Flat Tops Wilderness, later carries tubers and kayakers through a whitewater park in downtown Steamboat Springs, then begins gathering force as it meanders through vast agricultural plains, and finally winds into the desert slickrock landscape of Dinosaur National Monument where it continues its tens-of-thousands-year-old practice of carving the 2,500-foot-deep Yampa Canyon. The authors recount harrowing experiences with thunderstorms in the high country and bridges at high water as well as awe-inspiring encounters with upside-down rainbows and soaring peregrine falcons. Around 150 of Fielder’s photographs and then-and-now images grace the pages.

By exposing readers who may have never ventured to this wilder corner of the state or encountered this rare gem of a river, the authors hope to generate appreciation and concern for what, in today’s world, is a dying species: the untamed river. Except for a few small diversions and storage reservoirs high in the watershed, the Yampa flows each season with nearly the full force of its natural runoff. Tierney writes that “it’s the flow” that is so crucial to maintaining the Yampa’s unique bio-physical system, which sustains both rare and endangered species as well as local economies along its course.

Flat Tops Wilderness

The Flat Tops Wilderness near the Yampa River’s headwaters. Photo by John Fielder.

But even more than scientific reasons for protecting the Yampa’s flow, Tierney suggests readers experience the river for themselves. He writes in an excerpted passage: “Data is helpful, computers useful, reports required, and legal briefs necessary, but these will only give a limited perspective of what the Yampa River truly is and why its life-giving peak flows and lush riparian corridors should be protected.To fully appreciate the natural treasure called the Yampa River, you must take a few days and feel its power, get splashed, smell its aromas, hear the call of a sandhill crane from its wetlands, touch its rocky foundation, observe its remote reaches, and let the river—its riparian richness and million-year-old canyon walls—put you under their spell.”

The Yampa River Awareness Project, run by the Steamboat-based nonprofit Friends of the Yampa, is an attempt to do just that by introducing new policymakers, water managers, nonprofit employees and journalists to the river every year through an annual float trip. This year’s trip included individuals from organizations that ran the gamut from water providers to energy companies to the governor’s office. Last year, both Fielder and Tierney were in attendance. While Fielder wandered off to scout each amazing new photograph, some of which appear in the book, Tierney was leading discussions on river protection mechanisms and imparting his vast store of Yampa River experience to the group.

I was fortunate to be along on that trip and to be at the receiving end of Tierney’s passionate storytelling and knowledge sharing. It was also the first time I met Fielder, though he has been an active member and supporter of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education for years. One thing led to the next, and I became part of the book project myself, serving as its editor outside of my role at CFWE. I’m thrilled to now hold the product of Fielder and Tierney’s hard work, as well as a bit of my own, in my hands and welcome the opportunity CFWE will have to help share it in our community as part of the ongoing discourse surrounding Colorado’s Water Plan and the tradeoffs inherent in our future. (The plan’s second draft was just released today, and can now be viewed and commented on online. Final comments are due by September 17, 2015.​)

With the book hitting stores last week, Fielder and Tierney hope it will find its way into the hands of anyone from the general public to decision makers in the water arena. Says Fielder, “We hope that people who view and read the book will agree with Pat and I that Colorado and the West will be far better off ecologically and economically if Yampa River water remains within its banks. We encourage them to express this opinion to the Colorado Water Conservation Board via www.coloradowaterplan.org.”

​Tierney adds: “Writing [the book] pushed me to expand my knowledge of the river and that led to a greater appreciation of what the river provides today and what could be lost if it is taken for granted and not cared for in the future. Hopefully, it also does that for readers of the book.”
Watch for Tierney and Fielder, who will be touring Colorado to promote the project at bookstores via book signings, and by presenting musical slide shows with commentary with accompanying book signings at venues across the state. Fielder will also mount an exhibit of photographs from the project with various partners, including the Steamboat Springs Art Council and Symphony, Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Dinosaur National Monument, and dozens of others. Visit http://www.johnfielder.com for a complete list of events. The book is currently available from Amazon, www.johnfielder.com, and Colorado book retailers.
Jayla Poppleton is the content program manager for the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and senior editor for Headwaters magazine, CFWE’s flagship publication covering pressing challenges and promising trends in Colorado water. She enjoys getting out of Denver to experience Colorado’s vast, varied and beautiful places in her free time, and looks forward to an inaugural family river trip with her husband and three sons later this summer on a mellow stretch of the Colorado River. Someday she will take them on the Yampa.

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Then there’s the water: The Rio Grande Basin

By Christi Bode

May, 1999. Driving westward, Dad gingerly sips from a mega-sized coffee cup as we approach our tenth hour on Interstate 70. Leaving the hometown familiarity of the Connecticut River valley, along with its lush rolling green hills and plentiful fresh waters, the flat expanses of the west looked naked to my East Coast eyes. I felt betrayed by the “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” signage we saw several miles ago.  Low and behold, there they were – my first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains. The landscape grew on me, filling the void of salty waters and enveloping hardwood forests. I liked the breathing space and the drama of visible distance. The land presents itself in particulars and is alluring to the curious mind.

Then there’s the water.

The West comes with its own set of vocabulary: drought, wildfires, snowpack, aquifers, water rights. Observing the Front Range’s rapidly changing landscape over the past 15 years has left me wondering how we’re all going to fit into this environment, rather than how it will fit around us. The beige and tan hues of new suburban developments reminded me of my first monotonous views of the plains. Where is Colorful Colorado going?

I found my answer along a drive down 285 South a few years ago, during the height of growing season. Bounded by the jagged peaks of two mighty mountain ranges in south-central Colorado lies the San Luis Valley, a fertile high plain desert that had been a blank canvas to me until that August day. Some days I’m not so sure if I found it or it found me.

The grandeur of the valley’s landscape is what originally captivated my attention, but the fierce integrity of those who live here is why I’ve kept coming back. From the passenger’s seat of a potato truck to surveying fields of fallowed land, basin roundtable meetings to phone conversations about the latest water meeting; over time I’ve learned why people here are able to accomplish something remarkable. This proactive community is rallying together, creating internal solutions to formidable challenges that faces this region, along with the rest of Colorado and American West, in years to come.

The West is thick with stories and disputes are brewing globally as water is becoming the new oil.  Water, a seemingly pure element, must be one of the most complex and opinionated topics to tell of. Someone recently told me you don’t go into the water business if you don’t have hope for the road ahead. Colorado and its nine river basins are strategically planning for the future and laying the brickwork for a comprehensive state water plan. Over the next several months, I will be exploring these collaborative efforts as they address current and future challenges ahead, as outlined in the Rio Grande Basin’s implementation plan. Please follow my video series on my website and through a series of blog posts here as I explore this unique region, its conservation and renewal efforts, innovative water business practices and the implementation of a water plan during a critical time in state history.

ChristiBode headshotChristi Bode, Denver-based film producer and photographer, finds her favorite stories in the some of the most unsuspecting places. From editorial assignments involving unicyclists on Independence Pass to documentary work in the headwaters of the Rio Grande, Bode is inspired by how people are shaped by their surrounding environment. Part documentarian, part producer – a contrast that lends her work a sharp point of view with an approachable feel full of context and story.

Christi always enjoys a good drive to the Middle of Nowhere that tends to evolve into Absolutely Somewhere. email: christi@moxiecranmedia.com website: www.moxiecranmedia.com IG: @christi_b

Read more about the Rio Grande Basin in the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s Valley With a View issue of Headwaters magazine. 

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Taming the South Platte—an urban waters bike tour perspective

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

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

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

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

During the introduction to the tour at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chatfield visitor center, state park manager Scott Roush acknowledged that parts of the shoreline will be permanently flooded. Hundreds of cottonwood trees will die, but new groves will spring up at a higher level along the shore.

The jostling over huge amounts of water is typical along the Front Range. There are 20,000 acre-feet at stake in Chatfield Reservoir, enough to fuel a local real-estate boom, which, truth be told, is already under way, and not everyone is convinced that places like Centennial have their water figured out.

But the urban-waters bike tour isn’t about politics — it’s about learning how people live with the South Platte, from the new residential neighborhoods in the dry hills around Chatfield on down to the industrial, urban heartland of southwest and south-central Denver. How do you manage something that is a potential threat, and at the same time, a precious resource?


CFWE’s Kristin Maharg leads bike tour participants along the South Platte.

With the introductory speeches done, a couple dozen cyclists from around the Metro area don helmets, fill their water bottles and saddle up for the ride along the storied river.

Rolling past the reservoir’s factory-size outlet-works, where the river pours into the cobbled plain below, Aguilar says it’s good for citizens, and lawmakers, to see these water-works first-hand. A new state water plan will go to the Legislature at the end of the year, and there may be some tough budget decisions ahead.


Skot Latona of South Platte Park discusses the 1965 floods and recent improvements to the river.

Skot Latona of South Platte Park discusses the 1965 floods and recent improvements to the river.

“It’s nothing like 1965,” said South Platte Park supervisor Skot Latona, pointing at the metal flood sculpture that commemorates the the high-water mark of the historic flood. But this year, the river has also delivered quite a punch, flowing at a near-record level.

Today, there is so much water in the channel that Latona can’t show the group a new set of riverside viewing and fishing decks. “They’re underwater,” he said wryly, explaining how the community responded to the 1965 flood.

Instead of digging a super-deep channel to trap the river during high flows, Littleton helped pioneer the concept of restoring a floodplain that allows the river to spread out naturally, as much as possible in an urban environment, Latona explains.

But the modern era of river management has brought other problems. At times, the river’s natural flow in Littleton is so low that treated effluence from wastewater plants makes up the vast majority of the flow farther downstream. The natural flow can go as low as half a cubic foot per second (about 3.5 gallons), while the treated wastewater volume is 7 or 8 cubic feet per second (about 52 gallons).

Latona’s handout for the tour includes a litany of common urban river problems, from invasive plants and litter to urban pollution. But the brochure makes it clear that Littleton doesn’t yet know exactly how the changes in Chatfield Reservoir will affect the park, one of the kinds of questions a coordinated state water plan could help answer.

The South Platte here in Littleton is one of the most-tested stretches of river in the state. Konowal says scientists search for bugs, algae and chemicals, and also measure temperatures. Based on those readings, the health department determines if the river is meeting environmental targets.

Those standards are high for the South Platte, which is used for drinking water, recreation and crop watering, and also provides habitat for some threatened fish species.

In a methodical, science-based process, the water experts create detailed maps showing exactly which South Platte tributaries may be close to the threshold for potentially dangerous E. coli bacteria or where the water is becoming too warm for fish and bugs. If the thresholds are crossed, the state must, under the Clean Water Act, develop a cleanup plan.

Previous cleanup projects have resulted in a reduction of toxic heavy-metal contamination in the South Platte. Periodic five-year reviews by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment ensure that the state stays up-to-date with federal environmental standards.

The urban zone

From South Platte Park, the bike path runs alongside the river and right into south Denver’s urban sprawl. At the C-470 underpass the water laps at the edge of the trail, with tangled willow shrubs sprouting in the cool shadow of massive concrete abutments.

Everything that happens along a river’s course – from high alpine headwaters through the cities and fields downstream – is connected, says scientist Scott Griebling, who studies endangered bird species in Nebraska that depend on South Platte water.

The closely watched birds need certain river conditions to thrive. But the way the river is used in Colorado doesn’t provide those flows, so huge swaths of cottonwood trees are taking over the birds’ habitat.

As scientific understanding evolves, most ecologists say that water managers need to think about river environments in bigger terms– including everything from the high mountain headwaters down to the river mouths – as they decide how to divide the flows.

Flush hard

Dennis Stowe takes a seat, after describing the water treatment process.

Dennis Stowe takes a seat, after describing the water treatment process.

Dennis Stowe, manager of the Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant, may not be thinking about the piping plover when he begins his presentation, but his urban neighbors in Thornton come to mind.

“Flush twice. Thornton really needs the water,” Stowe says, using a tired old water joke to illustrate the close connection between what comes out urban sewage systems and back into the South Platte River. Of course he offers the paper cup challenge beloved by water treatment operators. In one hand, he has tap water, in the other, the outflow from the plant.

Nobody takes him up on the taste test, but the point is made. By the time it runs through the system at the rate of 23 million gallons of water per day, it’s clean as can be — it has to be — because just a little farther downstream, boaters play in the water, fishermen cast for bass and other communities tap the river for their needs.

Water plan

A state water plan could help even at this nitty-gritty level by ensuring that people all along the state’s rivers understand the connections between what happens upstream to what happens ustownstream. For example, destroying wetlands in the high mountain valleys changes how fast and how much water flows downstream.

The water plan can also create more awareness about how climate change could disrupt the delicate cycles of precipitation and temperatures that govern flows, and it could spell out a plan for making flood control and water treatment systems more resilient to changes.

A recent state-sponsored study singled out the state’s water supplies as being especially vulnerable to disruptions. Some climate projections suggest there will be an increase in extreme weather, including big rainstorms. If those storms were to coincide with warmer spring temperatures and rapidly melting snow, it could lead to record-setting extreme flooding, which would put all those carefully planned water systems to a big test.

Gain your own first-hand experiences to learn about Colorado water. Save the date to join the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s upcoming Vine to Wine tour in the Grand Valley July 24.

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Putting Water Conservation on Center Stage

The Water Wise Theater Troupe performs for thousands of elementary school students. Photo courtesy of the One World One Water Center.

The Water Wise Theater Troupe performs for thousands of elementary school students. Photo courtesy of the One World One Water Center.

By Nona Shipman

On May 19, 2015 a group of Metropolitan State University of Denver students performed a special show for 1,200 sixth graders at the Denver Metro Water Festival. This was their last performance—the group had previously performed in Denver, Aurora and Boulder. With a little help from Denver Water, Aurora Water, Boulder County, and the One World One Water Center at MSU Denver, the student group collaborated to create a one-of-a-kind water conservation themed spoken word performance that educated and engaged thousands of Colorado students.

Although the student theater troupe only toured in April and May of 2015, conversations around planning this troupe started back in 2013 between Tom Cech, the director of the One World One Water Center, and Dr. Marilyn Hetzel, Chair of the MSU Denver Theater Department. Hetzel had previously created a student-led performance with Kaiser Permanente about hearing protection. The success of that project sparked the creation of a water conservation performance using MSU Denver university students that eventually became the successful “Water Wise” student theater troupe.

The Water Wise Theater Troupe learned about water through informational sessions before scripting their performance. Photo Courtesy of the One World One Water Center.

The Water Wise Theater Troupe learned about water through informational sessions before scripting their performance. Photo Courtesy of the One World One Water Center.

The university students went above and beyond what was asked of them. A special theater course was created for MSU Denver students that included a pre-interview with Hetzel, a pre-test about water, two informational sessions, a post-test, and a commitment to performances off of Auraria Campus and after the conclusion of the spring semester. The students, led by Hetzel, spent several months formulating the water conservation performance from the knowledge they had gained and even scheduled to rehearse outside of class hours. The performance focused on Colorado’s unique water system, availability of fresh water, and water wise actions that individuals can implement at home. The success of the project is, in large part, due to the outstanding work by the theater troupe and Hetzel.

The “Water Wise” theater troupe was truly a one-of-a-kind experiment that was met with praise from schools, communities, and water professionals across the Front Range. It is never too early to start learning and living a water wise lifestyle. In collaboration with Denver Water, Aurora Water, Boulder County, and the MSU Denver Theater Department, the One World One Water Center is looking forward to continuing the development of this unique experience in future semesters for Colorado students.

Nona Shipman is the manager of the One World One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship located at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is an environmentalist and pet enthusiast. Learn more about the OWOW Center and Water Studies here.

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Tickets on Sale Now for The Great Divide Film Premiere

great divideThe Great Divide, a feature length documentary exploring the historic influence of water in connecting and dividing an arid state and region, will premiere at the University of Denver’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 6, 2015. Tickets cost just $20.00 and are on sale now.  Proceeds will place the film in all public schools and libraries across the state. Can’t make the premiere? CFWE, with the Colorado Water Congress, is working with Havey Productions to take the film on tour around the state this fall. Stay tuned for dates to see the film in your corner of the state.


The Great Divide is being produced by the Emmy award-winning team at Havey Productions, in association with Colorado Humanities.  The crew has filmed in every corner of Colorado and all of its major river basins. Millions of people, billions of dollars and an enormous amount of economic activity across a vast swath of America from California to the Mississippi River are all dependent on rivers born in Colorado’s mountains.  In a time of mounting demand and limited supply, the need for all citizens to better understand and participate in decisions affecting this critical resource is paramount.

“The water we take for granted each and every day gets its start here in our state,” filmmaker Jim Havey said. “Our goal for this film is to raise public understanding and appreciation of Colorado’s water heritage and we hope to inspire a more informed public discussion concerning the vital challenges confronting our state and region with increasing urgency.”

From Ancestral Puebloan cultures and the gold rush origins of Colorado water law to agriculture, dams, diversions and conservation; the film reveals today’s critical need to cross “the great divide,” replacing conflict with cooperation. An advisory council comprised of a diverse statewide group of water experts, including the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s executive director Nicole Seltzer, has helped to ensure an accurate portrayal of Colorado’s water heritage.

“This film offers a very promising way to restore or create an appropriate sense of wonder over the arrangements that support human settlement in this state,” said Patty Limerick, Faculty Director at the Center of the American West.”

“Water is precious and very few people really understand where it comes from. Appreciating its importance, the limitations on water quantity and the significance of water quality are all critical areas for the citizenry of Colorado to really understand.” stated former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.

Watch the film trailer here:  www.thegreatdividefilm.com.  For more information on how you can get involved, call Havey Productions at 303-296-7448.

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