@OWOW_MSUDenver and @botanic partner to meet #Colorado’s supply challenges

Here’s the release from Metropolitan State University at Denver (Dan Vaccaro):

Denver’s urban university and botanic garden team up to make an even bigger impact on water issues in Colorado.

The next time you’re sitting in traffic on Interstate 25 (this afternoon, probably), consider this: Colorado’s population is expected to grow by 1.5 million by 2030. And that doesn’t just mean more traffic. It means more pressure on the state’s scarcest natural resource – water.

Between the population boom and rising global temperatures, the imagination doesn’t need to wander far to see what the future of Colorado might look like. Hint: If you thought lawn-watering restrictions were bad, how about living in a world like the one imagined in the movie “Mad Max: Fury Road”?

Thankfully, there are people and organizations teaming up to tackle water issues in the state. This past spring, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the One World One Water Center at Metropolitan State University of Denver signed a partnership that will have long-term implications for the future of water education and stewardship in the Centennial State.

“Both organizations were already pursuing similar objectives,” says Jennifer Riley-Chetwynd, director of marketing and social responsibility for the Denver Botanic Gardens. “By joining forces, we can do so much more and have a bigger reach for our work.”

The plan includes stronger collaboration between MSU Denver professors and Botanic Gardens scientists, shared research projects and the pursuit of joint funding. Wherever possible, the aim is to involve students. The end goal, Riley-Chetwynd says, is to make an even bigger impact on watershed restoration and health.

As part of the agreement, Riley-Chetwynd also becomes co-director of the OWOW Center in addition to her work at the Botanic Gardens, helping to further unite the organizations. She already serves as an affiliate faculty member in the Journalism and Technical Communication Department at MSU Denver.

For Tom Cech, co-director of the OWOW Center, the partnership will help better educate future water leaders and stewards. “Our goal has always been to raise awareness of current water challenges and opportunities both in the Colorado community and among our students,” he says. “This partnership amplifies those efforts.”

While MSU Denver students have interned at the Botanic Gardens, Cech sees increased opportunities in light of the new agreement. He also imagines more events like the recent Shed ’17 water summit, co-hosted by the organizations June 29 at the Gardens.

The event brought together nearly 200 leaders from across the state and country to discuss water challenges and co-create solutions. Topics at the conference included the importance of watershed health and outdoor recreation, agriculture’s role in Colorado’s water future, and the evolution of conservation. The keynote speaker for the event was Mike Nelson, chief meteorologist at Denver7, who spoke about climate change.

Another distinctive feature of the agreement is the development of a co-branded logo, which will appear at water-related events, an aspect that Deputy Provost Sandra Haynes describes as “unique.”

“It is a testament to the breadth and depth of this collaboration between two of Denver’s most recognized institutions,” she says.

Haynes hopes the partnership will also provide more exposure for innovative university programs such as the water studies and urban agriculture minors.

This partnership comes at an important time in state history, Riley-Chetwynd says. A statewide water plan released in 2015 creates a roadmap for the future of water in Colorado. One of the main principles is removing silos to ensure that diverse groups are working efficiently and effectively.

“We need to work together to answer questions about how to deal with our population growth, where our water will come from and how we will keep urban communities viable without endangering our environment,” she says. “No one group can do all of that alone. It’s the only way forward if we’re going to make Colorado’s future sustainable.”

If all goes according to plan, the only “Fury Road” in Colorado will be I-25, particularly during rush hour.

Shed ’17 recap

Brad Udall’s panel at Shed ’17. From left, Brad Udall, Sam Mamet, Martha Rudolph, Maggie Fox.

What a hoot at Thursday’s Shed ’17 summit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Great program and an outstanding venue, the Denver Botanic Gardens. Organizers included volunteers from Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Water, Aurora Water, City of Boulder, Center for Resource Conservation, Colorado Division of Water Resources, Colorado Water Conservation Board, the the One World One Water Center at Metropolitan State University at Denver. (Go Roadrunners!)

Mike Nelson’s keynote focused on Climate Change. He cited the increase in frequency of large-scale storminess and emphasized that humnankind is changing the water cycle. He is working for the future of his grandchildren he said at the end.

To close out the presentations Brad Udall outlined major events related to climate change since last fall’s election. He ended with a series of maps showing public opinion strongly in favor of policies to combat the effects of climate change.

A panel discussion followed Brad’s presentation. Sam Mamet explored climate change from the municipal perspective. He talked about the challenges to the folks on the front lines, city and town administrators, boards and councils, and their role in planning for a warmer future. Funding heads the list of concerns for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. Close behind is the uncertainty about policy, rule-making, and priorities for the new administration. Maggie Fox urged climate educators to find common ground with those they seek to influence. She was adamant in her plea for everyone to stay engaged and active politically.


We heard a great story from the recreation folks. Recreation is a muti-billion dollar industry and is responsible for many jobs across the state. The industry also has many interests aligned with the environment. Recreational In Channel Diversions, for example, can call out juniors to help keep water in the stream. The wave feature at Glenwood Springs is a great recreation draw in the valley.

Conservation efforts are morphing towards a focus on resiliency and bolstering the natural environment. Kevin Reidy pointed out a large statewide uptick in interest for developing and revising conservation plans. In the Roaring Fork Valley entities worked together to develop a regional plan.

Farmers are still resistant to Alternative Transfer Methods. One reason is the desire to sell their water rights when they retire. Another is the heightened risk that comes with agriculture year after year — the reality that good years are what get farmers through the other years. There is great uncertainty at the beginning of each growing season.

John Echohawk spoke just before lunch. He catalogued the struggle to litigate Native American water rights. Most of the time the tribes are successful leveraging the Winters v. United States Supreme Court decision and the date a reservation was established. The cost of litigation is prohibitive.

Thanks again to the committee that put this together. Sean Cronin did a great job keeping the agenda on track. It was a treat touring the gardens.

@OWOW_MSUDenver: Center Upcoming Events: Shed ’17, Student Water Field Conference, Water Conflict

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

“Shed ’17” Watershed Summit

The Watershed Summit is rapidly becoming the region’s top event for water industry leaders. The event’s focus on “Water Is Your Business” seeks to add new voices to the discussion, introduce innovative ideas, and break down silos. Topics include water conservation, watershed health, climate change, water’s economic impacts, and agriculture – including emerging trends and opportunities.

Registration scholarships are available to qualified participants. Please note that the scholarship deadline has been extended to June 16th. Scholarship Application

Registration and More Shed ’17 Information

@MSUDenver: Rising curtains, rising tides — “The power of theatre for social change is immense” — Marilyn Hetzel

In observance of Earth Day, we spotlight an MSU Denver theatre ensemble changing lives, one drop at a time.

From Metropolitan State University of Denver (Cory Phare):

In observance of Earth Day, we spotlight an MSU Denver theatre ensemble changing lives, one drop at a time.

If you promote water conservation in the Denver area, chances are good that you’ve already heard of Water Wise.

John Stulp, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s top water advisor, has – and that’s how the MSU Denver theatre troupe got to bring its brand of advocacy-based performance to the 2017 Colorado Water Congress’ annual convention this past January.

The Water Wise ensemble does what’s known as theatre for social change. And, as Marilyn Hetzel, Ph.D., chair of the University’s Department of Theatre noted, it’s a vehicle for delivering important messages that leave a lasting impression.

“The power of theatre for social change is immense,” she said. “They’re stories that can teach.”

Water we going to do about it?

The Water Wise troupe owes its founding in part to when Tom Cech felt the impact of this kind of performance firsthand.

“My wife, Grace, and I attended [Dr. Hetzel’s] production of ‘Here’s to Ears,’ and it was fabulous!” said Cech, the director of MSU Denver’s One World One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship program. “There were no props – they just told a great educational story about hearing protection.”

Cech reached out to Hetzel, and they strategized a way to develop and stage a similar production – only this time in conjunction with Denver Water, Aurora Water and the City of Boulder’s water department. The agencies had originally contacted MSU Denver looking for innovative ways to enhance their water education programs.

The show needed to convey the importance of conservation and a deeper understanding of natural resources. It would be performed at annual water festivals, and performances would also be integrated within the conservation-rooted school curricula already in place for fourth- through sixth-graders in the region.

For Miles LaGree, the question of logistics was part of the creative solution when he approached writing the theatrical piece as a member of the original Water Wise theatre group.

“The challenge was taking a list of facts, and then translating them into theatrical performances without any props or scenery,” said the senior ensemble member, who is wrapping up a bachelor’s degree in applied theatre technology and design. “How were we going to do the show with just us?”

The answer was simple: a powerful narrative, with an innovative means of conveyance.

Thus, Water Wise performances were born.

Rapid growth, rapid connections

When you do something well, word tends to get around. And just as a soft trickle builds from headwaters into a mighty roar downstream, buzz got louder about what the ensemble was doing.

That’s what led to the Colorado Water Congress stage, where Water Wise circa 2017 performed for members, including engineers and water providers from around the state. After the troupe’s performance (greeted with thunderous applause), representatives from across Colorado approached the group to discuss future performances.

According to Cech, another key value of theatre for social change was demonstrated: constructing a career pipeline to keep the message flowing.

“With the students from the troupe still in the room, we asked [conference attendees], ‘How many of you are hiring right now?’” said Cech. “Hands shot up, and immediately we had connections; students provided resumes to people who were interested in what they had to say and what they could do. That’s how it works.”

Transformative states that matter

According to Natalie Brower-Kirton, senior water conservation specialist with Aurora Water, who served on a post-performance panel at the event, the very process of developing the piece proved transformative for students.

“[Ensemble students] made an empowering and positive message about where our water comes from, why Colorado is unique, and what people can do to conserve it,” she said. “The best thing is not only that they reached a large audience but that they became water advocates themselves.”

LaGree attested to this. He also pointed out that theatre works particularly well as a vehicle because it’s a live art – and one that most younger students haven’t had much experience with.

“Not many kids are heading down to the Buell, so it’s great to bring the work to them,” he said. “And to see that fire lit in their eyes from the performances – that’s what it’s all about.”

And so, lighting that passion for conservation is really the greatest impact of Water Wise theatre for social change. As Cech and Brower-Kirton attest, it’s an indisputably valuable tool for organizational change, and why Hetzel fondly refers to theatre as “equipment for living.”

It’s why LaGree speaks of his time with Water Wise and the lessons learned from Hetzel as “more valuable than anything money could buy.”

“It’s seeing that light turn on in the kids’ heads, knowing they’ve learned something,” he said. “Those smiling faces are what let you know firsthand that it’s effective, that what you’re doing matters.”

@OWOW_MSUDenver: OWOW Center Spring Newsletter

Photo credit Patagonia.com.

From the One World One Water Center at Metropolitan State University at Denver newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

P.A.U.S.E. for Fly Fishing

Peter Stitcher of Ascent Fly Fishing knows that there is no such thing as a “lucky fly that will produce every trip to the river”. However, if you P.A.U.S.E. – mother nature can be your guide to a rewarding day at the river.

Parking Lot: As you step out of your car, be sure to take note of the bugs that collided with your windshield and grill. The wings of mayflies and grasshopper legs will be a strong clue for what flies to use that day.

Above the Water: Swallows flying over the water, swarms of invertebrates over the water and streamside vegetation are signs that you should use your dry flies.

Under the Water: Observe the surface of a rock that you pull from the curren t. Pick a fly that mimics the color and size of the bugs on the rock.

Spider Webs: Locate spider webs along the river and “match the Hatch”. Find a fly that resembles what the spider has caught.

Eddies: The swirling and reverse currents attract the most active bugs in an on the water. Check your fly box for the closest resemblance.

“For the fly fisher who takes a moment to PAUSE and observe, the rewards will be immediate, the fish will be more frequent, and the experience on the water will be that much richer!”-Peter Stitcher.

Not your grandparents’ rain barrel — @MSUDenver

From the Metropolitan State University Insider:

If you have grandparents then you’ve probably seen a rain barrel. You know the one – a lidless plastic garbage can with a window screen balanced on top, placed just beneath a downspout. The high-end models even feature a rock holding the screen in place. And the water, well, let’s just say even the plants are a little suspicious of the quality.

Ironically, rain water collection was illegal in Colorado until last year (not that it stopped your grandparents). When that century-old law was scratched from the books in 2016, it seemed like a good time to rethink – or even better, redesign – grandpa’s humble rain barrel.

That’s what professor Ted Shin had in mind when he assigned the task to students in his Intermediate Industrial Design Studio class at Metropolitan State University of Denver. But this class project had an added wrinkle – a design competition with cash prizes doled out to the winners.

Industrial design students show some of their early sketches of a rain barrel. Photo: Tom Cech

“The goal is to create a better, more functional rain barrel; to take a relatively simple object and try to imagine it in a new way,” says Shin, chair of the Industrial Design Department. “The competition element just makes it a little more fun.”

To raise the stakes, students were split into seven teams. Each was given six weeks to complete the same task: design a 55-gallon barrel that prevents mosquito breeding, eliminates the first polluted flush of rainwater off a roof, allows for efficient transport to landscaping sites, and looks good doing it.

Teams will present their design concepts on March 15, including ideation, sketches and even small-scale models. The competition will be judged by working professionals from Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Water and sustainability consulting firm the Brendle Group.

The top two teams will receive cash prizes, and if they impress the right judge, maybe even get their design out of the classroom and into the real world.

Student concepts for a new and improved rain barrel. Industrial design students will compete for cash prizes on March 15. Photo: Tom Cech.

The event is sponsored by the One World One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship at MSU Denver. Center Director Tom Cech played a crucial role in developing the project. He also recruited the judges and provided early feedback to students on their concepts.

For Shin, this type of real-life project not only prepares students for how they’ll work in the field, but also imparts another important lesson: “Design is not just about making pretty things. Working on a project like this also helps students think about how their work can have a positive impact on the environment and public health.”

Not to mention backyard gardeners – even grandparents.

Student concept for a new and improved rain barrel. Photo: Tom Cech

@CWCB_DNR #COWaterPlan update now online

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Click here to read the document:

Colorado’s Water Plan sets forth the measurable objectives, goals, and critical actions needed to ensure that Colorado can maintain our state’s values into the future. This is an update on implementation progress.

SUPPLY DEMAND GAP

  • Reducing the supply and demand gap is ultimately tied to actions in conservation, storage, land use, and ATMs. Updating the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) to provide accurate and current technical information for many of these efforts is fundamental to success. The SWSI update process kicked off July 2016.
  • The CWCB and the IBCC are working to revise the Water Supply Reserve Fund criteria and guidelines to explicitly link funding requests to the goals and measureable outcomes identified in the Basin Implementation Plans and Colorado’s Water Plan. This will ensure that our funding decisions are congruent with the goals of Colorado’s Water Plan. Draft criteria and guidelines were presented to the CWCB Board in July and the IBCC in August. Final criteria and guidelines will be presented to the CWCB Board for approval in November.
  • STORAGE

  • The CWCB is financially supporting a variety of storage efforts and innovations, including a study of storage options in the South Platte (required under HB 16- 1256), exploring groundwater storage technology, and conducting a spillway analysis to identify existing storage that could be expanded.
  • Earlier this year, state and federal partners, as well as community stakeholders, completed a Lean event on the water project permitting process. The Lean team is focused on implementing its recommendations to streamline the permitting process while maintaining rigorous environmental protection.
  • CONSERVATION AND LAND USE

  • The CWCB is developing a variety of trainings that will be held over the next couple of years for local governments, utilities, and land use planners to increase water-saving actions and the integration of land use and water planning. The first of the trainings focused on “Breaking Down Silos: Integrating Water into Land Use Planning Webinar Series” was held on September 13th. There were over 100 participants in the webinar. There will be two other webinars and a train-the- trainer session over the next few months.
  • For the Colorado Water and Growth Dialogue, the second exploratory scenario planning workshop was held in July 2016. The Keystone Policy center is working with Denver Water, Aurora Water, and the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) to model the data to quantify the future scenarios.
  • The CWCB is looking at lessons learned from the legislation on indoor watersense fixtures to inform the legislation on outdoor watersense requirements called for in the plan.
  • AGRICULTURE

  • The CWCB and IBCC are hosting an Ag Viability Summit in partnership with the Colorado Ag Water Alliance (CAWA) on November 29. The agenda will include discussions about how to encourage regional planning for system-wide conservation and fleshing out the needs for an ag viability grant program.
  • The CWCB is participating in a workshop at CU on meeting the Alternative Ag Transfer Mechanisms (ATM) goal in Colorado’s Water Plan on October 7th. Discussions will include creative ways to support and facilitate ATM projects. CAWA, the Ditch & Reservoir Company Association, and Colorado Cattlemen’s Association have also been working on ATM education and development.
  • The Arkansas Basin pilot water sharing project with Catlin Canal is in its second year with favorable results that suggest statutory changes aimed at incenting alternatives to buy-and-dry transactions.
  • WATERSHED HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT & RECREATION

  • We are looking at providing an additional $5 million (through the CWCB funding plan) to the Watershed Restoration Program to work with roundtables and stakeholder groups to develop watershed restoration and stream management plans and projects for the priority streams identified in Basin Implementation Plans (BIPs) and other watershed planning documents.
  • The CWCB helped put on workshops at the Colorado Water Congress summer conference in August 2016 on Stream Management Plans: what they are and how to develop one. Another workshop will be hosted on Tuesday, October 11th at the Sustaining Colorado Watersheds conference.
  • The CWCB will be including climate change impacts in the SWSI update.
  • EDUCATION

  • The CWCB is working with the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and the One World One Water Center at Metro State University of Denver to develop a proposal for a Water Education Assessment to improve long-term water education program evaluation, identify gaps in water education, and develop case studies of successful programs and best practices to share statewide. The assessment will help align funding with educational priorities statewide.
  • The CWCB created an e-newsletter to update stakeholders on Colorado’s Water Plan implementation and the work of the CWCB Board and staff, IBCC, basin roundtables, and local communities. The next issue will go out the first week of October.
  • INNOVATION

  • The CWCB is working to connect with and create partnerships with the innovation community, including the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) and Something Independent, to create pathways for the private sector and the water community to work together to tackle the state’s water challenges and focus on innovating with water data.
  • FUNDING

  • Funding is critical to many of our implementation efforts. The CWCB will continue to align funding decisions with Colorado’s Water Plan. We are developing a 3-5 year funding plan that will create a repayment guarantee fund, bolster the WSRF program, and support several education, conservation, reuse, and agricultural viability actions called for in the plan. The following funding plan is being developed by the CWCB staff, which will seek approvals from the CWCB Board and the legislature through the annual project’s bill, to kick-start water funding for plan implementation:
  • o a one-time investment of up to $50 million (as available) into a repayment guarantee fund;
    o an annual transfer of $10 million for the Water Supply Reserve Fund;
    o an annual transfer of $5 million for the Watershed Restoration Program;
    o and an annual transfer of $10 million for additional non-reimbursable CWCB programming to implement Colorado’s Water Plan.

    USE OF $5 MILLION FROM 2016 PROJECTS BILL

    Of the $5 million transferred in the 2016 Projects Bill to assist in the implementation of Colorado’s Water Plan, staff is recommending the following approximate amounts to the Board for appropriation in 2017:

    $1 million will support efforts with watershed-level flood and drought planning and response;
    $.5 million for grants to provide technical assistance to irrigators for assistance with federal cost-sharing improvement programs;
    $1.2 million for water forecasting and measuring efforts;
    $1.3 million to update reuse regulations as well as to fund a training program for local water providers to better understand AWWA’s methodology for water loss control; and
    $1 million to support the Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods Grant Program.