BY BOB SWEENEY
The second annual CSU “Water in the West” Symposium showcased water and the use of water at the sparkling new Gaylord Hotel Convention Center in Aurora.
Over 400 water stakeholders attended the sold-out event with 35 speakers from agriculture, government, and business. CSU has taken the lead in Colorado water education and is working with the National Western Center project in North Denver. The new campus will offer the CSU Water Building, one of the three buildings that make up the future CSU campus at the National Western Center. The new campus is expected to break ground in 2020 and open in 2022 and will include an animal health building and centers focused on food and agriculture. Each building will provide collaborative research and incubation spaces, and family friendly educational opportunities on themes of health, environment, energy, water and food.
This year’s symposium featured 35 speakers headlined by former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, an advisor to CSU on the new National Western Center.
Also partnering with CSU is the Denver Water headed by CEO Manager Jim Lochhead who ramrods the largest water agency in Colorado with 1100 employees that includes 4000 miles of watershed, and 3000 miles of pipe. The Denver Water is responsible for suppling water to 25 percent of the state population of over 1.4 million people along the front range of Colorado. The Denver Water board has been supplying the metro area with water for over 100 years and has developed a vast system of water storage across the state.
According to Becky Mitchell, Director of Colorado Water Conservation Board, they will partner with CSU to help develop four pillars that will include education, innovation, research and policy. Plans are to locate some of their water labs for applied research, water treatment, reuse, and recycling to the new campus.
Lochhead, in addition to heading up Denver Water is a Commissioner to the Upper Colorado Commission that deals with intrastate and interstate issues.
In his address symposium he related that the Colorado Water Plan came out in 2015, and since then significant progress has been made with more than 65% of the plan’s goals in scenario planning.
Lochhead states, “ We looked at how future conditions under various scenarios could impact how we plan our water future. This is especially important as we face a changing climate, and we will need to adapt.”
He also addressed the potential of “Demand Management” that deals with consumptive use of the Colorado river and downstream demands from lower Basin States. “This potential work is in progress and helps the state avoid the destabilizing impacts of a potential curtailment on the Colorado River,” he explained. Further, he outlined that the criteria for coordinated operation of Lakes Powell and Mead will expire in 2026. The Secretary of The. Interior must initiate consultation with the seven Colorado River Basin states to renegotiate these guidelines by December 31, 2020.
Lochhead concluded his remarks thanking the voters of Colorado for passing DD that takes a percentage of sport wagering to support water projects such as streamflow, agriculture, storage, recreation, and compact compliance innovations.