Blue River watershed: Longtime water commissioner Scott Hummer moves on

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From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjun):

The former Blue River Basin water commissioner was the first to take up the Blue River basin post more than 20 years ago, and on April 1, he starts a new position in Larimer and Weld counties.

Hummer also gets sentimental when he thinks of his participation with the Summit County Open Spaces and Trails program — and its protection of more than 13,500 acres in its nearly 15 years of existence. He’s particularly hopeful that the department is successful in securing ranch land in the Lower Blue River area. “I hope (the accomplishments) leave the kind of legacy of why people come to this place,” he said of the organization he’ll likely miss most…

[Lane Wyatt, co-director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments Water Quality and Quantity group] said Hummer’s been able to bridge the gap between ranchers and environmentalists during his tenure, which doesn’t happen often. He said Hummer understands how personalities drive what happens in water. And Hummer himself is more than his gruff exterior — like when he cared for his ailing wife for years. “He was an angel,” Wyatt said. “He did everything to make her life easier.”[…]

Hummer’s job has brought him into contact with “everyone who owns a water right,” he said, and he remembers being welcomed by some, disdained by others. The basin has approximately 2,600 adjudicated water rights and includes 1,300 individual structures — canals, ditches, reservoirs, wells, pipelines — that need attention, he said. He’s worn many hats — engineer, accountant, politician, attorney, shoulder to cry on, someone to cuss at. In many ways, water commissioners are the on-the-ground experts other officials turn to for information. Hummer’s jurisdiction covered an area that provides one-fifth of the water to Denver’s millions of users. The Upper Blue River provides one-tenth of Colorado Springs’ water. And among the state’s reservoirs, Dillon and Green Mountain are the fourth and eighth largest, respectively, and with great influence on the Front Range, Hummer said.

“To move in and initiate water administration in arguably the most complex and controversial basins in the state was a challenge to say the least,” he said. And it’s not just irrigation. It’s diversions, it’s junior and senior water rights, it’s power plants, it’s dam safety, and more. “The sheer variety of players in this basin demands oversight and knowledge that’s different than the other basins,” he said…

Hummer will be working with the New Cache La Poudre Irrigating Company and Cache La Poudre Reservoir Company, managing a canal diversion and small reservoir system that extends into the plains. His job is to ensure the water gets to the farmers’ headgates as they order it. “It’s the opportunity to do something different. It’s the opportunity to go back home so to speak and the challenge of working on the other side of the headgate is intriguing,” he said.

More Blue River watershed coverage here and here.

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