Water 2012, Colorado’s Year of Water is wrapping up. We’ll hear some results and look to the future during a celebratory luncheon on January 30, but have you been wondering what actually happened during 2012? Beyond a great website, did 2012 have an impact? Nicole Seltzer, executive director of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and Chair of the Water 2012 Management Team started the year in January 2012 with a blog post of her hopes and plans for the year. Seltzer just published a guest column in the Pueblo Chieftain with some insight as we bring the year to a close, take a look:
When I embarked on planning a year-long celebration of Colorado’s water, I honestly did not know what to expect. Were there others out there who would help seize the opportunity? Would anyone pay attention to water for an entire year?
As dozens of Colorado water professionals now help to wrap up Colorado’s “Year of Water,” I can proudly say, yes, we made a difference!
More than 100 communities held Water 2012 events this year, reaching almost 550,000 Coloradans with a message of “celebrating water.”
There were library displays in Fort Collins, author talks in La Junta and Steamboat, fine art shows in Denver and Durango, newspaper series in Alamosa, Pueblo and Grand Junction, proclamations by Gov. John Hickenlooper, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and several city councils, children’s water festivals in numerous towns, and so much more.
When asked what difference Water 2012 made, those involved said it increased the exposure of residents in their communities to water information, which in turn strengthened their basic knowledge of the importance of water. The increase in water-related programs available in Colorado communities grew participation at water related events, as well as the number of people discussing water. All in all, Colorado is more “water literate” at the end of 2012 than it was at the beginning.
We also had an unexpected success. Nearly 90 percent of the water educators involved in Water 2012 strengthened their ties with other water educators. Never before had those charged with teaching Coloradans about water’s importance come together on a consistent basis to learn from each other.
Aside from increased water awareness and linkages between water educators, what is the legacy of Colorado’s Year of Water? I believe that the Colorado Water 2012 volunteers started something that will only grow bigger and better. While we won’t have “Water 2013” to keep us focused, Colorado’s water educators have seen what is possible when they come together as a community and create something whose whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Water is the lifeblood of Colorado. An inadequate supply of clean water threatens our economy and our way of life. From the family farmer to the ski resort executive, we all rely on this undervalued and often underappreciated resource.
My hope for Colorado in 2013 is that we sustain the momentum created in 2012 to continue educating our children and community leaders that we must make smart water choices in our lives.