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Water Lines: February offers water-focused education in western Colorado

Hannah Holm
WATER LINES
Free Press Weekly Columnist

February offers western Coloradans a wealth of opportunities to learn about agricultural irrigation and general water issues. In addition to the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University’s annual three-evening water course Feb. 11, 18 and 25, the Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA) will hold its annual convention Feb. 11-13 at Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction. The Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies will also hold a snow school for water managers Feb. 11-13 in Silverton.

While the Water Center’s water course will offer insights into how agricultural water use relates to other water uses, the DARCA convention will offer the opportunity to dive into technical issues irrigation water providers wrestle with, as well as the significance of the Colorado Water Plan for agriculture. The snow school in Silverton, on the other hand, will take participants upstream both conceptually and physically, as they gain an in-depth understanding of how snowpack dynamics and climate change could affect water supplies.

WATER COURSE: WATER FOR AGRICULTURE



The Water Course will be held on consecutive Wednesdays — Feb. 11, 18 and 25 — from 6-9 p.m., in CMU’s University Center Ballroom. Presentations will also be live-streamed online. Session 1, on Feb. 11, will focus on the climate and legal context for agriculture in Colorado; Session 2, on Feb. 18, will focus on current water use and the economics of agriculture; and Session 3, on Feb. 25, will focus on the future of irrigated agriculture in Colorado and the Colorado River Basin. To learn more about the water course, visit http://www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter.

DITCH AND RESERVOIR COMPANY ALLIANCE CONVENTION



On Feb. 11, DARCA’s pre-convention workshops will cover technological and data tools for ditch managers. On Feb. 12, speakers will discuss the California drought, water marketing, and financing tools before the focus turns to Colorado’s water plan. On Feb. 13, participants can choose from workshops on the corporate formalities of ditch companies, water court and appellate processes, and ditch rider issues and rights.

While the DARCA convention is primarily geared towards ditch company board members, staff and share-holders, anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of western water issues would be well-served by attending. Agriculture is the primary consumer of water in our region, and how ditches are managed affects the recreational and environmental values in rivers and streams, as well as our region’s ability to grow food. In addition, ditch companies increasingly provide irrigation water to subdivisions as well as farms.

To learn more about the DARCA convention, visit http://www.darca.org/annualconvention.

SNOW SCHOOL FOR WATER MANAGERS

Held in Silverton Feb. 11-13, this snow school will combine classroom instruction with hands-on field sessions to enhance participant understanding of snowpack processes, snowpack monitoring, and snowpack data. The Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, which is hosting the school, monitors study sites in the Senator Beck Basin Study Area near Red Mountain Pass that capture weather, snowpack, radiation, dust-on-snow, soils, plant community and hydrologic signals of regional climate trends.

To learn more about the Snow School for Water Managers, visit http://www.snowstudies.org/education1.html.

This is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning, and to let the roundtables know what you think, go to http://www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter. You can also find the Water Center on Facebook at Facebook.com/WaterCenter.CMU or Twitter at Twitter.com/WaterCenterCMU.


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