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Year's end provides review of water

Posted: Thursday, Dec 27th, 2012

Photo by Stan Moyer The pump house at Platoro

Rio Grande Reservoir completes 100th year celebration; other water projects aging

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 our “water” future.

What started out as a small water awareness campaign by the Foundation for Water Education grew into a statewide water celebration.

Whether one was in Durango or Fort Collins, there was some kind of “Water 2012” event happening 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 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.

This engineering feat 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.

Around the state, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District also celebrated its 75th anniversary, the South Eastern Water Conservancy District celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Fry-Ark Project.

This 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 and the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project.

Attendees also ventured 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, at San Luis and then to see the Sangre de Cristo Trinchera Diversion Canal.

The next tour traveled 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 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 stream side trees and shrubs, and stability of river banks 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 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 slvwcdco1@qwestoffice.net.

If you 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 and all of the writers who contributed articles and radio shows.

Leah Opitz is coordinator of Water 2012 in the Rio Grande Basin.

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