By George Sibley
Gunnison Basin Roundtable Education Committee
Officials across the state, from Grand Junction to Greeley, and even Governor Hickenlooper, have declared 2012 to be the "Year of Colorado Water" — despite the alarming absence of that "guest of honor." Currently, all the river basins in Colorado are well below the average winter precipitation that is the state's — and the whole Southwest's — primary source of water.
Why is 2012 the "Year of Colorado Water"? The idea of a "Year of Colorado Water" began with the realization that three of Colorado's more important water organizations are celebrating their 75th anniversaries this year — but we are not even going to say what those three organizations are right now because they all have longish titles mixing up basically the same set of words ("Colorado," Conservation," "Water," et cetera), and that is usually the point where eyes start to glaze over and minds wander off to images of eternally babbling streams . . . .
Locally, Water 2012 activities will focus on the current water situation in the Gunnison River Basin, because that is where we live, and its rich history of water development by those who were here before us. You are, for example, invited to Gunnison on June 4 to tour Blue Mesa dam and hear about its history, and the Hotchkiss area on August 6 for farm tours and a celebration of how the Paonia Reservoir brought water to North Fork orchards and farms (details will appear in the Delta County Fair book). Even if you cannot come to those events, you will have the opportunity through media stories to assemble a coherent picture of how that past has shaped the present — and what from that past we should and should not try to carry into the future.
The Colorado Foundation for Water Education has led the charge in organizing the "Year of Water," but the Gunnison Basin Roundtable is carrying the torch in Delta County and upstream. The Roundtables are two of nine representative bodies statewide, in other river basins, created by the legislature to encourage more public involvement in water decision-making for the coming decades, during which Colorado's population may approach twice what it is now. Each roundtable is made up not just of water managers, but also representatives from local governments, and agricultural, environmental and recreation interests. Among their tasks are to assess and seek ways to meet the region's water needs — both for "consumptive uses" (drinking water, irrigation & industry) and "nonconsumptive uses" (rafting, growing cottonwoods, providing fish habitat — anything that doesn't take water out of the stream).
The Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is supporting the Gunnison Basin Roundtable in these efforts. We will also be working closely with a number of "grassroots" water organizations in our valleys that need your support as much as you (whether you know it or not) need theirs.
We encourage you to participate in Colorado's "Year of Water" as much as you are able to — visit www.water2012.org to find information on events, a book club, a blog, art exhibits and other ways Coloradans are connecting to their water this year. You will come away with a deeper and richer appreciation of what makes Colorado special — and how carefully and respectfully we must treat the year's "guest of honor." We also encourage you to learn more about what the Gunnison Basin Roundtable and other Basin Roundtables around the state are up to — and let them know what you think! Information on the Roundtables can be found at www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter.
Blue Mesa Dam Tour & Commemoration Activities — June 4 in and around Gunnison.
11 a.m. — Tour Blue Mesa Dam. For reservations, call 970-641-6065 by May 31.
3:00-5:00 p.m. — Gunnison Basin Roundtable open meeting, Western State College Center Ballroom.
5:30-6:30 p.m. — Open reception with desserts, hallway outside Western State College Center Ballroom.
6:30 p.m. — "State of the River" Program: Learn about stream and reservoir storage levels, the history of the Colorado River Storage Project and see pictures of the Blue Mesa Dam construction.
The Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is working with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about how water works in our region. Information on this project can be found at www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter.blog comments powered by Disqus