WHAT:  RMGA MEMBERSHIP MEETING – Colorado Foundation for Water Education

WHEN:  November 13, 2017, 6:30 – 7:00pm. – networking, 7:00-7:15 – short business meeting.  Then presentation about water by Jayla Poppleton, Executive Director

WHERE:  CFWE offices at 1750 Humboldt St, Suite 200, Denver, CO 80218  

PROGRAM:  Presentation of the basic information about water – where it comes from in Colorado, where it goes, and the importance of clean water to Colorado, and ways to educate the public to encourage active participation in keeping Colorado’s water clean. 

RMGA Membership Meeting Review 

Water Education Colorado

​The meeting started with a business meeting – the Nominating Committee Chair, Larry Foos, presented the slate for the 2018 Board, Dave Lively moved that we accept the slate as presented, Marc Godwin seconded, motion carried.  The 2018 Board will be:  Mike Pearl, President; Sherry Moon, Vice President; Barbara Johnson, Treasurer; Nancy Brueggeman, Secretary; and Larry Foos, Director at Large. 

Larry Foos read note from past Newsletter Editor Kay Willson thanking the membership for the photo plaque presented to her recently.  Larry noted that Adrian Swenson had contributed the photos. 

Tom Jensen talked about RMGA’s ad in the latest annual Tour Colorado magazine and website. 

Dave Lively gave us an overview of the proposed increase in National Park rates for cars, groups and tour buses.  The current rates for a coach are $200/day – expected to increase to $900/day on top of a $300 annual fee.  This is each park’s annual fee rather than $300 for all parks.  RMNP’s current daily fee is $20 and $30 for a week.  2019 fees will increase to $70/day.  The Senior Pass (lifetime) will increase to $80 – it’s good at any national park, any time.  Dave commented that Grand County (where he lives) is against these increases.  The National Park Service has a backlog of improvements and repairs that are urgently needed.  Current visitor numbers are so large that the parks are overused and repairs are constantly needed.

We then proceeded to the program – Water Education Colorado.  Jayla Poppleton, Executive Director, welcomed us and then presented a PowerPoint presentation about Colorado’s water history.  We each received a copy of the current issue of the magazine Headwaters that is published 3 times each year.  The magazine points out new threats and new technology and what’s happening in the state to keep Colorado’s water clean and safe.  Clean water is critical to Colorado life and it is a scarce commodity.  WEC’s role is in preserving Colorado’s water and deals with ten subjects in a series on water cleanliness, conservation, water fluency, compacts and legal issues.  This year they sponsored a tour of the San Miguel and Delores Rivers – attendees included state water committee and other state government officials.  WEC had a workshop recently about Regional Water Solutions in Colorado Springs.  Public land issues and management affect water usage and rights.  WEC also sends out a newsletter outlining upcoming events and workshops 

The WEC group’s new branding and logo focuses on the eight major water basins and collaboration, impact, knowledge and dialogue about water in Colorado. 

Some of the pressing issues are: demand (86% of Colorado’s water goes for agriculture), water leasing (farmers are leasing their water and not using it for crops and letting their land lie fallow since the water may be worth more than the crop), and drought.  Colorado averages 16” of rain/year, Denver – 14”, the San Luis Valley only 7”.  The state climatologist collects the data, and WEC uses the data.  Jayla told us that 90% of Colorado’s water flows to the west but 90% of the state’s population lives on the Eastern Slope of Colorado.

There are more than 40 trans basin diversions that move water from one basin to another.  Headwaters are used at capacity and Colorado needs to find more places to get water.  Water is considered a public resource BUT water rights are still privately owned.  The sale of water rights and their transfer goes through Water Court.  The compact may change hands but the date remains the same – oldest compacts get the first water, newest gets leftovers.  There are many attorneys who deal with nothing but water rights. 

There are 2,000 reservoirs in Colorado with a capacity to store 6.5 million acre feet of water.  It takes two acre feet to farm one acre of land (325,000 gallons).  Cherry Creek and Chatfield reservoirs were originally planned for flood protection.  Grand Lake is the largest lake in Colorado. 

Percentages of water withdrawals in the state: 86% - agriculture, 8% - municipal, 2.5% - recreation and fishing, 1.5% - industrial, 1% - augmentation, and 1% - recharge.  Colorado water feeds 18 other states and Mexico. 

Governor Hickenlooper’s water plan includes eight major basins as well as one in Denver.  This plan is trying to prepare Colorado for smart growth in the state – the expectation is that the population in Colorado will double by 2050.  Developers must demonstrate availability of water in order to develop.  The Denver Basin aquifer is a non-tributary aquifer and is not being replenished.  Water is coming from Chatfield Dam.  Denver has decreased it’s per person per gallon water usage though the population has grown, somewhat offsetting these savings.  Several groups monitor Denver’s water quality.  There have been innovations in desalination, better irrigation, solar data and water reuse. 

Jayla also mentioned that all trans-mountain water can be used to extinction.  The Colorado River runs through seven states and is distributed according to a 1922 compact.  It’s divided into two sections, the Upper and Lower sections.  The 1973 Endangered Species Plan diverts water for fish and migrating bird habitats and fish ladders. 

The Ogallala aquifer is under 14% of Colorado and the other states connected to the Ogallala aquifer on the plains to the east are all involved in trying to preserve water.  The Ogallala aquifer is fossil water and cannot be replenished at the current rate of depletion.  Colorado has focused on water management for the past fifty years – in contrast, California started just last year. 

The WEC is funded in various ways: by the state legislature, water conservation groups, membership dues, sponsorship fees, and grants.  The budget is $650,000 annually and personnel includes five staff members and one intern from Metro State. 


Jayla’s contact information:
Water Education Colorado
Jayla Poppleton, Executive Director

Written by Nancy Brueggeman CEO 

Water Education Colorado