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Annual Seminars

2014 Annual Water Seminar: Fri., Sept. 19, 2014
Two Rivers Convention Center, Grand Junction, CO


     Topics include:
  •     How we got to overallocation of the river: a look at history and a peek at the future
  •     Irrigation efficiency: the pluses and minus
  •     How to sustain ag
  •     What kind of future does ag want
  •     The Colorado River Pulse Flow: how water got to the Delta and what  it means for the environment
Registration form
For more info please contact: Meredith Spyker, 970-945-8522, ext. 221,

Recap of our 2013 Annual Water Seminar
"Shrinking in Supply - Growing in Demand"
Program titles are linked to a pdf of the stated presentation.
The terms "Video Footage" are linked to videos on YouTube. 

Change: It is for Certain
2013 seminar image Eric Kuhn, Colorado River District GM provides an insightful overview of troubling trends leading to alarming issues such as: 
     diminishing snowpack
     declining storage in and operational changes to critical Lake Powell

Video Footage

It's True: Spring is killing our Rocky Mountain Snowpack
Greg Pederson, U.S. Geological Survey lead author shares his study findings confirming concerns many have had for years: snowpack, Colorado's primary water source, is declining
Video Footage

Level With Us: Whither Lake Powell
2013 seminar image Malcolm Wilson, Chief, Water Resources Group, Upper Colorado Region of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation explains the record setting drought-induced decision to reduce water releases in 2014 from Lake Powell to Lake Mead and the potential concern for the millions who depend on the Colorado River

Video Footage

A Dry Subject: Drought and a Look Ahead
Aldis Strautins, Service Hydrologist with the National Weather Service Forecast Office, Grand Junction, describes the complex, developing atmospheric conditions and what they may indicate for snowfall this winter. Link to Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) as reference:
Video footage

The Las Vegas Story: What Happens in Vegas is Not Staying in Vegas
2013 seminar image John Entsminger, Senior Deputy General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, will talk about how climate change and reduced water deliveries to Lake Mead have put Las Vegas water planners on edge.
For a preview of the issue, watch this interview with Mr. Entsminger's boss, Pat Mulroy.
-From News3 Las Vegas-
-From the Las Vegas Sun-

Video Footage

Putting Conservation on the Table: The Sterling Ranch
Harold Smethills, Principal and Managing Director of Sterling Ranch, and Beorn Courtney, Director of Water Resources Engineering, Headwaters Corporation, describe the Water Conservation Plan for Sterling Ranch, a new community south of Denver. The plan involves several projects that integrate water demand management with water supply planning and include clustering homes, water efficient landscaping and rain water collection.

Video Footage

The Colorado Water Plan: A Call and Response

2013 seminar image James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), discusses Gov. Hickenlooper's recent Executive Order directing the development of a long-term Colorado Water Plan (CWP) and the challenges of implementing water supply solutions that meet Colorado's future water needs

Video Footage

A Response From Both Sides of the Continental Divide: How Does This Play Out
The Colorado Water Plan is to leverage and integrate nine years of work by Colorado's Basin Roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee and the CWCB.

A panel discussion will be conducted by Basin Roundtable representatives:
  • Colorado Basin Chair, Jim Pokrandt
  • Gunnison Basin Chair, Michelle Pierce
  • Metro Roundtable Chair, Mark Koleber
  • South Platte Basin Former Chair, Joe Frank
  • Southwest Basin Chair, Mike Preston
  • Yampa-White-Green Basin Chair, Tom Gray
Video Footage

Colorado River District seminar to focus on dwindling snowpack,
state water plan and Lake Powell woes
Since the 1980s, warmer spring temperatures in the Rocky Mountain region have been melting the snowpack earlier, with increasing temperatures tabbed as the main factor in the decline, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency carefully tracks streamflows and snowpack measurements, with decades of data now showing clear trends toward shorter winters, earlier spring runoff and an overall 20 percent shrinkage of the snowpack in the mountains of the western U.S. The researchers say at least part of the changes are due to global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, but that natural variability is also a factor. Regardless of the exact cause, the snowpack decline is already causing major headaches for water managers in the region facing dwindling supplies and increased demand.
-Coverage at Summit Voice-

Recap of our 2012 Annual Water Seminar: "The Past, Present and Future"

KEYNOTE:  Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water & Science, Department of the Interior

Colorado River water shortages - what's being done
Past: Our legacy - Water Wranglers - The 75-year History of the Colorado River District: A Story About the Embattled Colorado River and the Growth of the West
by George Sibley

Present: 2012 Drought - the challenges continue
-Agenda, Program, Press Release and Registration Form-

PowerPoint Presentations:

Wildfires: How They Start, The Fight, and the Aftermath
Chris Barth, Fire Mitigation Specialist/Public Information Officer
Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit

Colorado River Basin Supply & Demand Study
Carly Jera & Kay Brothers, Co-Study Managers

Colorado Works Through an Epic Drought; The Facts of the Matter
Nolan Doesken, State Climatologist, Colorado State University

Colorado River Basin Study - Conservation Organization Perspective
Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River Project Director, Environmental Defense Fund

Interview of author George Sibley by Eric Kuhn and Jim Pokrandt

Press Coverage: KREX  KKCO

2011 "Seeking Balance Under Imbalanced Conditions"
Supply and Demand on an Imbalanced Colorado River
Since 2007 a coalition of West Slope water users and Denver Water have been talking through a mediated agreement that will set a new tone and era of cooperation of how water is diverted to the East Slope while offering protections to the West Slope. This seminar provided an opportunity to learn about this work-in-progress.

2011 Water SeminarNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration How big was the runoff? What do the new 30-year averages mean to forecasting?
Kevin Werner, Hydrologist, Colorado River Basin Forecast Center
For most of the last century and all this one, the West Slope and Denver Water have been contesting the manner and means of how the waters of the Colorado River can be moved from west to east to serve the metropolitan area.

2011 Water SeminarRisk Management Strategies for the Upper Colorado River Basin
How should the risk of a Colorado River Compact curtailment on Colorado water users be viewed as new water development continues?
Eric Kuhn, General Manager, Colorado River District 
2011 Water SeminarRethinking the Future of the Colorado River
A project of the Colorado University School of Law"s Natural Resources Law Center that re-examines the structure and functioning of the "Law of the River,"the suite of laws and policies governing water allocation and river management.
Professor Mark Squillace, Director, Natural Resources Law Center

2011 Water SeminarBureau of Reclamation Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study
Supply and demand in the seven-state Colorado River Basin: What does the future hold as population grows,drought threatens and the climate changes?
Terry Fulp, Deputy Regional Director, Bureau of Reclamation's Lower Colorado Region
2011 Water SeminarStranger in a Strange Land: Lessons From an Extended Stay in Australia
Brad Udall of the Western Water Assessment, a collaboration of Colorado University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based in Boulder, lived in Adelaide, South Australia, from March to June 2011 working with the state's Department for Water. He will discuss his Australian experience and the many lessons that might be applied to Colorado's water problems.

2011 Water SeminarColorado River Cooperative Agreement Update
What's up with the historical, proposed peace agreement between Denver Water and the West Slope in the battle over the Colorado River? What are the next steps to ratification? What lessons does the proposal hold for the Colorado River Basin as it tries to develop a comprehensive approach to dealing with the Front Range? How it  might fit  the overall strategy to develop Colorado River water? 
Peter Fleming, General Counsel, Colorado River District
Dave Little, Director of Planning, Denver Water

West Slope Family Feud (or Not)
Does the West Slope have anything more to offer the Front Range to help close the water-supply gap that will stalk a predicted doubling of Colorado's population by 2050? The Colorado River mainstem is about to give more. What can the other  basin's do?
John McClow, General Counsel, Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, Colorado Water Conservation Board member, Interbasin Compact Committee member
Panel of Four West Slope Roundtable members responding
2010 "Minding the Gap"
Sept. 16, 2010, Grand Junction, CO
Program and presentations:
Andy Mueller, President, Colorado River District Board of Directors
Chris Treese, Manager, External Affairs
Can the West Slope and Denver Water Find Common Ground? An examination of a mediated solution on a water supply future
     Jim Lochhead, CEO/Manager, Denver Water
     Eric Kuhn, General Manager, Colorado River District
     Peter Fleming, General Counsel, Colorado River District
    James Newberry, Commissioner, Grand County
     Mark Hermundstad, Attorney, Grand Valley Participants
The Water Rights Market in the West
Matt Payne, Research Associate, WestWater Research, Vancouver, Wash.
"Mind the Gap: Will an Old Platform Work for a New Train?"
Doug Kemper,  Executive Director, Colorado Water Congress
Lessons from Australia: Where Low Supply Meets High Demand
Jennifer Gimbel, Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board
Molson Coors: How the Corporate World Views Water Vulnerability
Michael Glade, Director, Water Resources & Real Estate, Molson Coors Brewing Company

Media coverage part
Media coverage part 2

2009 "Dust in the Wind and Other Winds of Change"

September 18, 2009
Grand Junction, CO

Expert discussion panel explored the dust storms that hit the Colorado snowpack this winter, affecting runoff and reservoir operations. 

Opening by Colorado River District Board of Directors President Andrew Mueller

Dust on Snow Panel: What's the Dirty Secret of Dirty Snow?
Tom Painter, Snow Optics Lab, University of Utah, Moderator
Jayne Belnap, U.S. Geological Service (presentation)
Dan Crabtree, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (presentation)
Bill Reed, Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (presentation)
Impacts of Climate Change on Water and Ecosystems in the Upper Colorado River Basin, by Jayne Belnap and others

State Water Funding Hits Drought. Can Climate Change Save It?
Kathleen Curry, Colorado State Representative
Good to the Last Drop: Operations on the Colorado River in the Lower Basin
Terry Fulp, Lower Colorado River Deputy Director, Bureau of Reclamation (presentation)

Keynote Address:
Anne Castle, Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science,Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
Newly confirmed U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anne Castle addressed how changes in the Obama administration will effect water issues in the Colorado River Basin.

The Colorado River Water Availability Study: Reports on Consumptive Use and Hydrology Findings
Ben Harding, AMEC Earth & Environmental Inc.
Erin Wilson, Leonard Rice Engineers (presentation)

If There's Enough Water, Is There a Transmountain Diversion?
Eric Kuhn, General Manager, Colorado River District (presentation)
Eric Hecox, Section Chief, Colorado Water Conservation Board's Intrastate Water Management and Development Section (presentation)
Mark Pifher, Director, Aurora Water


2008 "What Would an Intra-State Colorado River Compact Look Like and How Would it Work?"

Can Colorado develop in-state agreements to ensure water is available for West Slope uses in the future? Or will it all go to the rapidly growing Front Range simple because it needs the water now? How should Colorado deal with the last increment of the Colorado River that can be developed?
By law, Colorado must allow about 70 percent of the river and its tributaries flow past  the state border to satisfy the Colorado River Compact and meet downstate obligations in California, Nevada and Arizona. It is a goal of the Colorado River District to avoid a compact curtailment in Colorado. In other river basins, such as the Arkansas and the South Platte local water users feel the economic pain of compact administration every year. How Colorado should deal with the last increment of the Colorado River that can be developed was examined at the 2008 Water Seminar.

2008 seminar media coverage

    Oil shale water woes: Denver, Western Slope officials cite huge demands for resource
Snarfing down an entire bag of potato chips shouldn't make you feel as guilty anymore, thanks to Denver Water and Frito-Lay. It's not about the oil the chips are fried in, but the water used to wash the potatoes, Melissa Elliott told 200 water leaders gathered at Grand Junction's Two Rivers Convention Center on Friday. "At the Frito-Lay plant in Denver, potatoes are washed in water that has been washed and recycled," Elliott said. "They save about 40 acre-feet of water a year." That's enough to meet the annual needs of 40 households.

However, the water required by snack food companies adds up to small potatoes when compared to the "800-pound gorilla" Dan Birch described to those attending the annual water seminar hosted by the Colorado River Water Conservation District.
-Coverage in The Steamboat Pilot-

Water group offers vision of how Front Range's future will flow
In 50 years, housing developments will be packed tight, water prices will be sky high and cities such as Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs will share their expensive water systems instead of insisting that everything remain separate, as they do today. Or that's what a powerful new coalition of cities, known as the Front Range Water Council, believes must occur to stave off looming water shortages.....

"We know there is a better way to do things," said Eric Wilkinson, manager of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which serves Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, among others.

Wilkinson's comments came Friday at a meeting of more than 200 water managers and elected officials gathering at the Colorado River District's Annual Water Seminar.
-Coverage in The Rocky Mountain News-

'Oil shale 800-pound gorilla' with predictions of water use
Oil shale will be the biggest consumer of Western Slope water in the coming decades, assuming it's developed at all. "Oil shale is the 800-pound gorilla" in the computations aimed at predicting the region's water use, Dan R. Birch, deputy general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, told more than 200 people Friday at the district's annual seminar in Grand Junction. Birch was addressing the preliminary findings of an energy supply water study commissioned by the Colorado Basin and Yampa-White Roundtables.
-Coverage in The Daily Sentinel-Water resources discussed at seminarIt's our most precious natural resource, water. At Friday's Colorado River district annual water seminar, speakers focused on how the state should deal with the last segment of Colorado River that can be developed.
-Coverage by KJCT-TV in Grand Junction-

Colorado River District July 2008 Press Release



2007 "Water: Fueling the Future?"

Future energy development and its demand on water supplies in Western Colorado was explored.  Looming questions, especially for oil shale development, concern water supply and water quality especially given the fact that Colorado faces limits on how much water it can develop from the Colorado River system and energy needs compete with population growth, agriculture, recreation and the environment.


2006 "River of Shortages: Drought, Demand and Consensus for the Colorado"

Focus was on the Seven States' shortages agreement forged earlier this year among Arizona, California, Nevada (the Lower Basin states) and Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico (the Upper Basin states).

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