Students dip toes in Denver’s water
Sunday, October 18, 2015 10:00 AM
Colorado’s Water Plan is a 416-page document detailing the best methods to meet the state’s water needs in the future. Water in Colorado is a contentious topic, and seven Colorado Mesa University students spent a weekend in September learning the ins and outs of the document at the Colorado Water Student Diplomat Program, hosted by Metropolitan State University of Denver.
CMU attendees were James Bright, Jonathan Carr, Josie Carlson, Will McDonald, Kameron Paige, Mark Domingo and Christopher Pack. Geology professor Gigi Richard and Hannah Holm, coordinator of the Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center at CMU, accompanied the group and gave presentations at the event.
The program originated at CMU last year, where it was known as the Colorado Student Water Field Conference. Students from universities across the state camped in Palisade and spent a weekend touring water facilities and exploring the Colorado River.
“We kind of tried to close the loop,” said Richard, who originally suggested the program. “They got to see the water coming out of the river in irrigation canals, they saw it applied to crops, they saw tomatoes being grown … They actually went to farms, saw the spray drip irrigation systems and then ate the food that was grown from that water.”
CMU and Metro plan to take turns hosting the event. This year, the Colorado Water Conservation Board helped provide funding for out-of-town students to attend the program and stay in Denver. Participants, who went through an application process, spent their time learning about Colorado’s Water Plan and the basics of Colorado water and water law.
“We did some tours around downtown Denver, learning a little bit about the rivers in the metro area and the challenges there are in managing those rivers from a quality perspective and from a water quantity perspective,” Richard said. “We talk about water a lot out here, but we aren’t quite as urban so that was kind of illuminating.”
Attendees spanned from students who had only taken an introductory course in water issues to students pursuing doctoral degrees. “I think there was a lot of cross-pollination of ideas,” said Richard. “It was really good for the undergrads to talk and work with students and see what a graduate school would be like. It was a real mix of water-related disciplines.”
Students will receive a stipend for presenting the information they learned during the program to their communities.
The event will return to CMU next year. “Students sit in the classroom so much and I think getting them out in the field is important,” said Richard. “It was a great weekend. The students were awesome and people were pretty excited about it.”
Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations