It’s Colorado Gives Day!

facebook-badge-i-gaveSurely you’ve heard by now and hopefully you’ve already supported your favorite nonprofits in Colorado…but if you didn’t know, today is Colorado Gives Day!

For about 9.5 hours more, until midnight tonight, Dec. 6, Coloradans across the state are invited to give where they live by donating online through coloradogives.org. But it’s more than just one day, it’s a movement that inspires and unites donors to support their favorite causes online. Plus, a $1 million incentive fund boosts every donation so there’s a benefit for all participating nonprofits.

At the Colorado Foundation for Water Education we hope you’ll remember us today, but also encourage you to support all the water organizations that matter to you—from local watershed groups to statewide advocacy groups and everything in between. There are a lot of great nonprofits doing important work in Colorado water and we all depend on your support.

CFWE remains Colorado’s only non-biased nonprofit water education organization that brings people together statewide to facilitate meaningful learning and purposeful dialogue about our water. We like to work with individuals, stakeholders, and organizations on all sides of any water issue—every voice is important. Support today on Colorado Gives Day allows us to continue bringing together diverse perspective about water and building relationships where uncommon allies work together. Through collaborations, publications like Headwaters magazines and Citizen’s Guides, resource materials, online learning, public presentations, community tours, workshops, hands-on experiences, the Water Educator Network, the Water Leaders Program, the Water Fluency Program, and Connecting the Drops radio shows, CFWE is bringing water education to thousands of people across Colorado. But with more resources, we can do so much more. Support CFWE on Colorado Gives Day here.

Celebrate philanthropy, make your voice heard by supporting the organizations you stand behind and join thousands of Coloradans in donating on Colorado Gives Day!

itscogives2016

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Colorado Foundation for Water Education, Events

CFWE Board Member Lisa Darling to Head South Metro Water Supply Authority

lisa-darling-headshotColorado Foundation for Water Education board member Lisa Darling, a leader with 25 years of experience in Colorado water resources, is the new executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. Darling has served on the CFWE board since 2012.

Darling will work with SMWSA’s 13 water provider members to continue the region’s progress toward securing a sustainable water future for its residents. Together, SMWSA members provide water to 80 percent of Douglas County and 10 percent of Arapahoe County.

“Lisa is a highly respected leader on Colorado water resources with a proven ability to advance our agenda for meeting the water needs of generations to come in the South Denver Metro area,” said Dave Kaunisto, president of the SMWSA board of directors. “She will be a tremendous advocate for our members as we continue to implement our strategic plan.”

Darling served 18 years with Aurora Water, the state’s third-largest water utility. For the past 10 years she managed the South Platte River Program. In that role she worked closely with SMWSA on the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership (WISE), a key component of the south metro region’s plan to transition to a renewable water supply. She also played a key leadership role in the Prairie Waters Project, a major component of Aurora’s plan to secure additional renewable supplies.

“I am honored and excited to work with South Metro Water Supply Authority’s members to advance their vision and continue the remarkable progress the region has made toward a sustainable water future,” Darling said. “I look forward to continuing the organization’s collaboration and partnership with leaders across the region and state.”

As part of her role, Darling will also lead the South Metro WISE Authority, which is responsible for completing the construction of and operating WISE.

The WISE project is a key component to the region’s plans to secure new sustainable sources of water. With collaboration among 10 SMWSA members, Denver Water, Aurora Water and East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District (ECCV), the project represents the largest partnership in the region’s history to invest in water infrastructure. When complete, WISE will create a significant new renewable supply for participating South Metro members. In turn, Denver will receive a new backup supply, and Aurora will get funds to offset costs of the Prairie Waters Project.

The South Denver Metro region has made tremendous progress toward its strategic goals over the past 12 years thanks to aggressive efforts to conserve water, maximize efficiency and invest in renewable water supplies. The region is on track to meet projected demand for the region as far out as 2065, though more work is needed to ensure that happens, according to a recent update to the region’s master plan.

“The South Metro Water Supply Authority has established itself as a leader in a number of important areas, including maximizing efficiency, developing strategic partnerships to bring online new renewable supplies and expanding storage,” Darling said. “Together with our leadership and members, we will continue to lead with an eye toward protecting and enhancing the quality of life of our region and the state.”

Darling will work with members to continue that progress with a focus on four key areas:

  • Securing additional renewable supplies
  • Developing additional storage
  • Managing water quality
  • Conserving and maximizing water efficiency

About South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA)

The South Metro Water Supply Authority is a regional water authority comprised of 13 water provider members that collectively serve about 80 percent of the population of Douglas County and 10 percent of Arapahoe County. SMWSA was established in 2004 to develop and execute a plan to provide a secure and sustainable water future for the region.

Through increased negotiating power and collaborative support for new projects, SMWSA is transforming the region’s water supply and creating a sustainable future for generations to come. For more information, visit: southmetrowater.org.

1 Comment

Filed under Colorado Foundation for Water Education, Uncategorized, Water Supply

Expanding the Role of Reclaimed Water

One of the main resources needed by any garden, including Denver Urban Gardens‘ (DUG) community gardens, is water. Since 1985, DUG has been working in the Denver Metro area to create sustainable, food-producing community gardens, and today operates more than 155 gardens, with 30 of those located on the grounds of Denver Public Schools (DPS).

2005-girl-watering-and-smiling-at-curtis-park

Photo Credit: Denver Urban Gardens

“School community gardens connect students, parents, teachers and the larger neighborhood community,” says Shannon Spurlock, director of public affairs and policy for DUG. “Our goal is to support the farm to school movement that introduces students to fresh, healthy, food choices that will lead them to make good food choices in the future.”

In the interest of sustainability, DPS has a long-term goal of switching all of their outdoor irrigation systems over to reclaimed water; however, an increase in the use of reclaimed water for irrigation could cause the number of school gardens to dwindle.

2009-youth-gardener-at-south-lincoln-park

Photo Credit: Denver Urban Gardens

Spurlock continues, “When a school’s irrigation system switches to reclaimed water, the school can no longer run a garden.” This limitation is due to Regulation 84, a public health policy that controls the ways that reclaimed water can be used, in order to protect public health and safety in Colorado. One of the ordinances that make up Regulation 84 states that reclaimed water cannot be used on crops meant for human consumption, which includes the school gardens run by DUG.

reclaimed_water_jars

Reclaimed Water

In Colorado, nonpotable reuse water—or reclaimed domestic wastewater that has received secondary treatment by wastewater treatment works, as well as additional treatment needed to meet standards for approved uses—is restricted to landscaping irrigation and some commercial and industrial uses. Key issues that concern the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) include the potential for bacterial and viral pathogen growth in storage and distribution systems, the development of antibiotic resistant genes and bacteria (ARG/ARB) that may be found in reclaimed water and having no clear treatment options, and the accumulation of salt due to reuse

DUG, Denver Water and WateReuse Colorado have been active proponents of amending Regulation 84 in favor of crop irrigation, as a way to make further use of a nonrenewable resource and extend the Denver Metro area water supply. DUG views the successful use of reclaimed water in other states, such as California, as an opportunity to safely increase the role of reclaimed water to agricultural irrigation, including community gardens.

“The use of reclaimed water on crops is not new,” Spurlock says. “We are benefiting from the technology and knowledge of others when it comes to food safety and security.”

23317759915_3d61f3250e_z

Reclaimed Water Greenhouse              Photo Credit: USDA

In California, crops have been irrigated with reclaimed water for 50 years. California Water Recycling Criteria allows for 43 specific uses of reclaimed water and encompasses the irrigation of all types of food crops, including those meant for human consumption. Different water quality requirements are necessary depending on how the final product will be consumed. Having a variety of treatment options supports water safety and reduces the potential for pathogens and ARG/ARB to be found in the water.

The California Ag Water Stewardship Initiative (CAWSI) addresses the issue of increased salt in reclaimed water, stressing the importance of farmers having access to water quality data that will allow them to adjust fertilization and irrigation practices accordingly for the most effective use of reclaimed water on crops.

23235267581_d3d2e87bec_z

Photo Credit: USDA

California’s success using reclaimed water for irrigation gives DUG cause to be hopeful about the future of expanded reclaimed water use in Colorado. Discussions between CDPHE and proponents of increased reclaimed water usage began in spring 2016 and are slated to continue to determine whether or not the amendment process will continue, and to ensure that public health protection remains a priority if Regulation 84 is amended.

By 2050, Colorado’s population is projected to surge from 5.4 million to 10 million people. This rate of growth places a strain on the state’s already stressed water supply, widening the gap between supply and demand, and leaving water providers searching for ways to stretch a limited resource. One possible way to meet the ever-increasing demand for water is through the use of reclaimed water, and should Regulation 84 be amended in the future, its effect may stretch beyond watering a neighborhood garden.

2011-fairmont-yfm-angel-harvesting-squash-lq

Photo Courtesy of Denver Urban Gardens

“Food connects our students to the land, our urban areas to rural farming, and gives everyone an opportunity to experience fresher, healthier, food that they might not experience, otherwise,” Spurlock says. “Families take what they learn in a school garden and start gardens in their own home. I have seen how growing food can have a positive influence on lives, and by amending Regulation 84 and incorporating reclaimed water into our daily lives, we can continue to have an impact.”

Watch for related coverage, including a story about water reuse and public health, in the upcoming issue of Headwaters magazine, focused on public health and water, which will hit mailboxes in early December. Not a Headwaters subscriber? Visit yourwatercolorado.org in December for the digital version. Headwaters is the flagship publication of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and covers current events, trends and opportunities in Colorado water.

1 Comment

Filed under Agriculture, Colorado's Water Plan, Headwaters Magazine, Water conservation, Water Quality

Giving Thanks For Colorado Water

Just over three years ago, I started what would become the first of several water courses that I would take while working on my second undergraduate degree in environmental science. It was during that semester that the reality of water’s importance in my life, and everyone else’s, was unexpectedly pushed to the forefront of my mind. Not only would I learn about the fragile relationship between water and humans in the classroom, but a 100-year flood was raging outside of our windows, driving home the importance for balance in the relationship.

Prior to taking this class, I, like many other people, never considered the process that water must go through in order to get to my home in drinkable condition. drinking_waterI did not think about the origin of my water, or that it is a nonrenewable resource that, in the future, might not be available. I was unaware of the laws that make water accessible to me, as well as the federal laws that make water safe for people, animals and the environment. I took for granted that each time I turned on the faucet, flushed the toilet, or started the washing machine, safe water would pour forth. It never occurred to me to be thankful for Colorado water.

I’ve since learned about the physical and chemical treatment processes that make water potable, and the delivery systems that pipe that potable water into our homes, schools and places of work every single day, without fail, at a reasonable price, for which I am eternally grateful. Along with this information came the knowledge that not everyone in this world, or even in this country, is as lucky to have access to the quality water and infrastructure that we do in Colorado. Across the world, more than 650 million people in developing countries and 13 million people in developed countries still do not have access to safe water and often, that water costs more than locals can afford (water.org).

For me, this serves as an important reminder to be thankful that I live in Colorado, where more than 99 percent of residents have access to affordable, safe drinking water, as well as improved sanitation facilities. I am so appreciative that when we take a drink from the faucet, we don’t have to worry that we will get sick!

800px-mohawk_lake_co

Mohawk Lake

We have infrastructure and water treatment in Colorado that ensures that, no matter how far water has to travel, when it  gets to the farthest point of a municipality, that water will STILL be free from dangerous microorganisms and pollution–it is truly astonishing what hard working people and technology are able to accomplish!  We are so fortunate to have access to safe, clean, water and this is the perfect time of year to acknowledge our thanks for the role that Colorado’s water plays in our physical and environmental health!

Thankfully, there are also many ways to get involved in protecting and conserving water in Colorado. There are numerous wonderful and dedicated people who are committed to keeping our water resources safe and clean. One such organization is Water for People, whose mission it is to make sure that all people have access to reliable and safe drinking colorado-rocky-mountains-national-park-deer-drinking-waterwater and sanitation. Stay posted for an interview with Water for People CEO Eleanor Allen in the upcoming issue of Headwaters magazine! Other organizations that share in the mission to protect one of our most valuable resources include the American Water Works Association and Colorado WaterWise. Countless people care about keeping Colorado water, and water around the world, safe for everyone! I appreciate their tireless work!

Another reason to be thankful is that Colorado is a headwaters state: home to the majestic Rocky Mountains and four powerful rivers whose waters begin in our state and flow to feed neighboring states, and even other countries—the Colorado River, the Arkansas River, the Rio Grande and the Platte River.

coloradorivermapnew1

Colorado is home to the headwaters of the Colorado River.

I am thankful that we have access to clean pristine mountain water that can be used over and over again on its travels across the western United States for drinking, agriculture, industry, recreational activities and hydroelectric power generation. Our water supply is limited, and we are privileged to live close to the headwaters, to see where our water originates, and to experience the various ways that water is used before it moves on to support other parts of the country that depend on Colorado water.

Colorado is a natural wonder to behold with its beautiful lakes, rivers, and snow-covered mountains that provide stunning views, as well as outstanding outdoor recreational opportunities that beckon to people

3847385140_915739a771_b

                            Colorado River                              Credit: Robert Nunnally

from around the world. Recreation that is dependent on the Colorado River brings 5.36 million adults to the river for these activities, supports 250 million jobs and funnels $26 billion into the economy (coloradoriverbasin.org). The Arkansas Headwaters area is recognized as one of the nation’s most popular locations for whitewater rafting and kayaking, and holds the distinction of being the most commercially rafted river in the entire country.

800px-arkansas_river_salida_co

Arkansas

The Arkansas River is renowned for its amazing fishing opportunities, and the area also provides opportunities for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking and even gold panning (cpw.state.co.us)! Living in or visiting Colorado offers people the chance to take part in all of the amazing activities that water provides for the state.

fraser_river_colorado

Fraser River

I now realize how lucky I am to live in Colorado, and I no longer take our water wealth for granted. So today, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wish to thank Colorado for its supply of life-giving water that is plentiful, clean, and affordable. I couldn’t live without you!

1 Comment

Filed under Water Quality, Water Supply

Solutions for Drinking Water Contamination Issues in Colorado Springs Area

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has ensured the safety of public drinking water supplies throughout the nation. As part of the federal program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for drinking water quality, and periodically requires the testing of public drinking water systems that serve more than 10,000 people to examine potential emerging contaminants to determine the need for future regulation.

In October 2015, water samples taken from public water sources in Security, Widefield and Fountain, Colorado, showed elevated quantities of Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs). PFCs are manmade compounds that can be found in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant sofas and carpets, food packaging, as well as Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, used to fight petroleum fires. The military airfields at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, are the suspected source of PFC contamination; however, further water and soil testing is necessary to determine the definitive origin.

PFCs are not currently regulated by the SDWA; however, according to the El Paso County Health Department, prolonged exposure to PFCs is linked to potential health hazards, such as developmental damage to fetuses during pregnancy, low birth weight, accelerated puberty, kidney and testicular cancer, and liver tissue damage. It is suggested that pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children may be at higher risk due to exposure to PFCs.

An EPA press release from February 22 indicated that, according to the October samples, some of the public water sources in Security, Fountain, and Widefield, had concentrations of PFCs above the health advisory level set by the EPA in 2009. It recommended that residents consider testing their well water or installing a reverse osmosis under-the-sink treatment option.

After the initial testing by the EPA, Security began to manage PFC levels in area wells by blending the water to lower levels, as well as using low-level wells, according to Roy Heald, general manager of Security Water and Sanitation Districts. They suspected that PFC levels in their well water would be on the high side when the new levels were announced just months later; however, it was difficult to prepare for the unknown standards that the EPA would set.

“We did not know how stringent the new EPA concentration allowances would be,” Heald says. “We could only estimate based on rumors.”

Local officials had no direct contact with the EPA until 24 hours before the agency issued a new health advisory announcement on May 19. They were caught off-guard when the EPA announced that acceptable levels of PFCs needed to be below 70 parts per trillion (ppt); the prior level was 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) for PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) and 0.02 ppb for PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonate), or a combined total of 400 ppt. Areas where both PFOA and PFOS are found are meant to adhere to the new standard of 70 ppt. Concentrations of PFCs in all 32 of Security’s wells were considerably higher than the EPA’s newest health advisory level, with one well reaching 1,370 ppt, nearly 20 times higher than the new limit.

People were concerned for their safety, health and the future of their water. You can learn more about this situation via these Denver Post articles: “Water contamination issues grip Colorado Springs-area residents” and “Drinking water in three Colorado cities contaminated with toxic chemicals above EPA limits.”

Needless to say, communities affected by high levels of PFCs in their water supply have been through a lot in the last 10 months. Local water and sanitation districts scrambled to find short-term solutions that would allow citizens to have safe water as quickly as possible. They have also been working to develop long-term solutions that will ensure the future welfare of well water in the Security, Widefield and Fountain areas, all while simultaneously continuing to run regular business operations. As of September 9, all wells in Security have been shut down. None of the wells are being used, and none of them will be used until treatment is implemented. The three zones that make up the total community are now receiving 100 percent surface water, which is being transported from Pueblo Reservoir through the Southern Delivery System (SDS), and there are no PFCs in the water, according to Heald.

The Widefield and Fountain areas have also transitioned from using well water to water piped in from north of Pueblo. Widefield set up free bottled water distribution at the onset of the situation and installed water dispensers in schools. All eight of Fountain’s municipal wells have PFC levels above the new EPA limit. In an attempt to lower these elevated levels, an engineering firm has been hired by the city.

Heald is quick to note that this is a short-term solution, at a higher cost; the diverted water costs three times more than local well water. However, money spent on the urgent situation has not affected customer rates. Yet. Currently, Security residents pay about $25 a month for their water service, but Heald insists that even if customers see an increase in their bills, the Security Water and Sanitation District will continue to have competitive rates for the area.

“The $3 million dollars that we have spent was, thankfully, from our reserves,” says Heald. “This district has been well-managed for 60 years and we had the reserves that enabled us to take emergency action; however, it was earmarked for other projects that, now, cannot be completed—like improving infrastructure. Continuing to spend money in this way is simply unsustainable.”

This short-term fix will carry the community through the winter. Additional infrastructure, in the form of a $825 million treatment plant and pipeline that will transport water 45 miles from Pueblo Reservoir in Colorado Springs, is being built to meet summer 2017 water demands. Beyond next summer, long-term treatment solutions for the wells will be employed in order to return to the use of groundwater wells.

“Rates are low in this area because the infrastructure is bought and paid for. The water rights are also bought and paid for,” Heald explains. “Long-term solutions involve treatment on our wells so that we can get back to using groundwater.”

A self-described eternal optimist, Heald praises the “phenomenal cooperative effort” of the surrounding communities, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and local health departments for their quick action and the success of applied solutions. “There are people who deserve more credit than they will ever get for getting us through this. We’ve done things that I didn’t know were possible.”

Learn more from Roy Heald about how Security plans to provide water that is PFC free:  Ron Heald Speaks on Security Water Supply.

And watch for related coverage in the upcoming issue of Headwaters magazine, focused on protecting public health through drinking water supplies, which will hit mailboxes the second week of December. Not a Headwaters subscriber? Sign up here, or visit yourwatercolorado.org in December for the digital version. Headwaters is the flagship publication of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and covers current events, trends and opportunities in Colorado water.

4 Comments

Filed under groundwater, Headwaters Magazine, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Colorado River District Annual Seminar Proceedings Now Available on Web

By Jim Pokrandt

panel-castle-coram-eklund-pokrandt_edited-1-1280x477

Pictured left to right at this year’s seminar: Anne Castle, Fellow at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment; Don Coram, Colorado State Representative; James Eklund, Colorado Water Conservation Board Director; Jim Pokrandt, Colorado River District Director of Community Affairs

 

Videos and speaker summaries from the Colorado River District’s Annual Seminar held in September are now online and can be found at www.coloradoriverdistrict.org. The seminar’s theme was “Colorado River Waves of the Future: Fitting the West to the River’s New Normal.”

More than 200 people attended the event, held in Grand Junction. Save the date for next year’s seminar: Friday, September 15, 2017, also in Grand Junction.

Viewers will be able to see presentations on funding issues for Colorado’s Water Plan; the effects of rising temperatures on the West; details of how the Lower Basin is trying to shrink its “structural deficit” between water supply and use; and Upper Basin State efforts to employ demand management in agriculture in response to low reservoir levels in Lake Powell.

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-11-10-37-am

Retired Justice Greg Hobbs presented at this year’s seminar. 

Not to be missed is retired Justice Greg Hobbs’ spirited defense of Colorado water law and his views on “use it or lose it” and agricultural use of water. Hobbs’ energetic presentation was spurred by the lunchtime keynote by ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, who detailed his observations from covering water use in the West.

The website includes a written synopsis of each presentation, as well as PowerPoints and video recordings for each speaker.

Jim_Pokrandt

 

Jim Pokrandt is the Community Affairs Director for the Colorado River District. 

1 Comment

Filed under Climate and Drought, Colorado River, Colorado's Water Plan, Uncategorized

Go Time for Colorado’s Water Plan: Meeting the Plan’s Educational Goals

go time bug

The final draft of Colorado’s Water Plan (CWP) was released in December 2015. In our 2016 Headwaters magazine series on the plan’s implementation, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education keeps you up to speed on how the plan’s action steps are progressing on the ground. Find past installments of the series in the Winter 2016 and Summer 2016 issues of Headwaters. You can also check them out on the Your Water Colorado blog via these links: Meeting the Plan’s Conservation Goals; Environmental and Recreational Goals; Storage Goals; Funding Goals; and Land Use GoalsHere we take an in-depth look at another of the plan’s nine defined measurable outcomes: outreach, education, and public engagement.

____________________________________________________

By Meagan Webber

Even though all Coloradans have unique backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, our common dependence on clean, reliable water sources makes us all stakeholders in the efforts to close Colorado’s projected water supply gap.

“Education, outreach and public engagement are the gateway to get citizens involved in the conversation, and hopefully actively engaged in water management at the local and state level,” says Mara MacKillop, public engagement specialist for the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). “Every Coloradan has a role to play in our water future and we need to give them the tools and information to participate, which is what Colorado’s Water Plan aims to do.”

In Section 9.5, which is devoted to outreach, education and public engagement, the water plan lays out a three-step approach to helping more Coloradans get informed and make water-savvy decisions. “This is exactly what the Colorado Foundation for Water Education is all about,” says Jayla Poppleton, CFWE Content Program Manager and Headwaters Senior Editor. “And we believe we’re positioned to play a leading role in helping the CWCB and water educators throughout the state achieve the plan’s education outcomes.”

The first of the action steps outlined in Colorado’s Water Plan is to create a new Education and Public Engagement Grant Fund in order to set money aside specifically for water education. The Water Supply Reserve Account (WSRA) is one of the main sources of funding for education, outreach and public education initiatives focused on Colorado’s water. However, due to the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling on the BP America vs. Colorado Department of Revenue case this past April, WSRA will not receive additional funding in the 2016-17 fiscal year. This means that basin roundtable accounts will also not receive additional funding and will have to rely upon their current balances to fund educational efforts. Thus, the CWCB has had to find creative ways to bridge this funding gap. The new grant fund would be part of the CWCB Water Projects Bill that has been in the works this summer. “If the bill passes, then on July 1, 2017, the new Education and Public Engagement Grant Fund will be ready to go. The framework is here but we have to wait to see what the legislature passes,” MacKillop says.

In the event that the fund is approved, the CWCB will be prepared. Under the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), the Public Education, Participation and Outreach (PEPO) workgroup will be hosting a workshop in October 2016 for liaisons from the basin roundtables to determine guidelines and criteria for dispersal of funds.

Vicki Phelps

Vicki Phelps helps with a watershed education outreach class for young children at the San Miguel River Colorado, July 6, 2015. Photo by Matt Nager

The second action step is the creation of a data-based water education plan. Before this water education plan can be developed, it’s crucial to assess current initiatives, looking for existing gaps in water education and ways to make successful programs replicable and scaleable. This is what the Water Education Assessment aims to do. The CWCB and Colorado Foundation for Water Education (CFWE) along with other groups have been collaborating to flesh out the assessment. These groups also seek to incorporate more significant evaluation aspects into water education programs to collect baseline data on what has been working and build from there, learning from the feedback all the while. This effort is still in its initial stages and will be developed further over the next few months, eventually leading to the creation of the proposed education plan. 

The final action step is to improve the use of existing state resources. Part of this involves working with the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) to find creative solutions to Colorado’s water challenges. This collaboration has already begun with initial conversations and a budding partnership between the CWCB and COIN. They are working on identifying specific challenges that COIN can help tackle. “It’s exciting to bring creative innovation into our water world,” MacKillop says.

Another part of this is to improve coordination between state agencies on outreach and education activities so that everyone is one the same page when it comes to Colorado water education. The communications committee of the CWCB is working on developing performance metrics and a corresponding database to let the public know about progress in implementing the water plan. They have also started issuing the CWCB Confluence Newsletter to keep Coloradans up-to-date on implementation. The first issue came out in August 2016 and bimonthly newsletters will follow, covering everything from Basin Implementation Plans (BIPs) to current CWCB activities.

Water education, outreach, and public engagement are essential to effectively and fully implement Colorado’s Water Plan,” MacKillop says. “Which ultimately means meeting our state’s future water needs, protecting our state’s values, and enhancing the long-term vitality and prosperity of Colorado.”

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized