Tour to raise awareness about Colorado River issues

‘Everybody needs to understand the implications of their water use on a personal and policy level’

Water experts, policy makers and resource managers will lead a two-day tour of the Colorado River headwaters June 20-21. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Stretched thin by periodic drought, climate change and competing demands, the Colorado River has long been a symbol of of western water issues. Many of those concerns were heightened recently as the Colorado was named as the country’s most endangered river in the country, and a far-reaching federal report showed a looming 3.2 million acre-foot gap between supply and demand.

There’s a growing realization that the river’s supply is not limitless, but managing the resources is complex and requires thoughtful consideration. To help educate the public, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education is once again offering a two-day tour of the Upper Colorado, covering everything from trans-basin diversions to abandoned mine reclamation.

The tour is an opportunity to join CFWE staff, legislators, local water managers, water professionals, public officials and educators on a fast-paced journey of the Colorado River headwaters.

“Everybody needs to understand the implications of their water use on a personal and policy level,”  said CFWE director Nicole Seltzer. “This year the Upper Colorado Basin tour is especially important. From tour participants to speakers, there are a lot of people who are interested in and passionate about the headwaters of the Colorado River.”

The tour starts at Keystone and will head north to Grand County the first day, with stops at Lake Granby and Windy Gap Reservoir to talk about the Colorado-Big Thompson headwaters partnership, and the Windy Gap bypass agreement, which should improve the health of the river below the reservoir in a reach that’s been hammered by low flows.

Afternoon presentations include information on how water managers try to meet the needs of a recovery program for endangered native Colorado River fish and benefits of recreational instream flows.

On Friday (June 21), the agenda includes stops at the Wellington Mine water treatment plant, a multimillion dollar project that cleans toxic heavy metals from the Blue River near Breckenridge, and a trek over Vail Pass to learn about sedimentation issues in Black Gore Creek.

“The Colorado River is the lifeline of the West,” Seltzer said. “As a headwaters state, Colorado is unique–this tremendous river begins with us. We enjoy it, fight over it, use it and impact it as it winds across the landscape. Here, water is a scarce resource and the competition for that resource is going to get more and more difficult in the future.”

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education, a non-profit organization with a mission to promote better understanding of Colorado’s water resources and issues, helps to inspire, teach and connect Coloradans to their water.   The annual River Basin Tour is one of the many CFWE educational programs.  Get involved at


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