This is the 51st in a weekly series celebrating Colorado Water 2012.
By LEAH OPITZ
Water 2012 in the Rio Grande Basin Coordinator
VALLEY — It has been almost a year since Governor John Hickenlooper declared 2012 the Year of Water.
The past year was a time for all Coloradans to reflect, learn, and plan for their “water” future. What started out as a small water awareness campaign by the Foundation for Water Education grew into a statewide water celebration. Whether residents were in Durango or Fort Collins, there was some kind of “Water 2012” event happening in their town at some point this year. From book tours to displays in public libraries, from water project tours, to contests, Water 2012 offered something for everyone in the hope of getting Coloradans connected and active in water, both locally and at the statewide level.
Here in the San Luis Valley, Water 2012 marked a significant milestone in water history the 100th anniversary of the Rio Grande Reservoir, an engineering feat that represents the hard work, vision, and determination of the people of the San Luis Valley Irrigation District.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board, the statewide entity that serves to conserve, develop, protect and manage Colorado’s water resources through collaborative efforts among all of the basins marked its 75th anniversary, while around the state, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District celebrated their 75th anniversary, the South Eastern Water Conservancy District celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Fry-Ark Project, the incredible trans mountain diversion that delivers water from the Fryingpan River Basin on the Western Slope to Colorado’s Eastern Slope. The Foundation for Water Education also celebrated their 10th anniversary of comprehensive water education.
To celebrate, Water 2012 the Rio Grande Basin hosted tours of water projects going on around the San Luis Valley. From the Rio Grande Reservoir at the top of the watershed down to the Sanchez Reservoir, they drove many miles to get folks out to see what was going on with water. Folks had an opportunity to learn about new dam construction projects, new ditch construction projects, the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, and attendees even had a chance to venture underneath the dam at Platoro Reservoir to see the pump room.
The summer tour series started out with a caravan tour through Costilla County, stopping off at Sanchez Reservoir, the historic People’s Ditch, and then to see the Sangre de Cristo Trinchera Diversion Canal.
The next tour took folks down to Conejos County to see the North Fork of the Conejos River Diversion Project and the Platoro Dam Rehabilitation Project.
In August, the San Luis Valley Irrigation District hosted a group up in Mineral County at the Rio Grande Reservoir in celebration of its 100th anniversary.
Lastly, in October, Heather Dutton with the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project brought folks out to see how the RGHRP is working to improve the quality of water, condition of streamside trees and shrubs, and stability of riverbanks along the Rio Grande. The majority of these projects were funded through the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable, both from the basin and statewide funding accounts.
Other Water 2012 activities included weekly water articles in the Valley Courier and monthly shows on the local radio station KSLV. Valley residents have heard a lot about water this year. Hopefully interests have been sparked and folks have truly felt connected to their water here in the Valley and around the state.
Folks should take the opportunity to learn more about how they can be a part of water by getting involved, either through education or action through the many water resources that are available online through www.water2012.org or www.rgwcei.org, or www.cwcb.org. Valley residents are also encouraged to attend the monthly Rio Grande Basin Roundtable meetings that happen on the second Tuesday of every month at the Ramada Inn in Alamosa. For more information on these events, please contact the Chair of the Rio Grande Roundtable, Mike Gibson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If anyone missed any of the Water 2012 articles or radio shows, they are still online at www.rgwcei.org. Water 2012 in the Rio Grande Basin would like to thank the many contributors that helped make this year a huge success for water here in the Rio Grande Basin and around the state: The Rio Grande Roundtable, the Foundation for Water Education, Judy Lopez and the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative, all of the writers who contributed articles and radio shows, KSLV and the Valley Courier.