Information & Outreach Update

2023 External Affairs Achievements

The River District’s External Affairs team continued successful outreach and engagement across the Western Slope and at state and regional levels throughout the 2023 calendar year. The spring State of the River season connected 1,000 West Slope water users with district staff and local partners at 9 events in Grand, Summit, Eagle, Garfield, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Montrose, and Mesa Counties, while the flagship Annual Water Seminar in Grand Junction last September brought in over 350 attendees for a full day of in-depth panels and keynotes. ‘Durable Solutions’ remained a theme throughout 2023 River District events as a reminder to decision-makers that a single, wet hydrologic year, while worth celebrating, should not eclipse long-term planning for a hotter, drier, and more uncertain water future.

Online, the River District remains a core source of water news and information. The popular bi-weekly News Drop has a dedicated audience of almost 6,000 subscribers – an increase of nearly 500 since January of 2023 – all of whom remain highly engaged, with a remarkable e-newsletter open rate between 40% and 50% (compared to the 18% industry standard). The team remains dedicated to continued expansion of the District’s online audiences and maintaining a consistent, quality level of water news and informational content.

As 2023 drew to a close, the External Affairs team worked diligently with internal cross-discipline teams and external partners to official launch the Shoshone Water Right Preservation Campaign on Tuesday, December 19, 2023 with the formal signing of a Purchase & Sale Agreement (PSA) between the Colorado River District and Xcel Energy to transfer ownership of the historic Shoshone water rights for $98.5 million.

The 19 additional water entities and governments that have worked for nearly two decades on the Shoshone permanency effort sent multiple representatives to celebrate the milestone along with elected officials, other stakeholders, and members of the public. Over 80 attendees, including attending press, resonated with the words of Representative and River District Board Vice President, Marc Catlin, who asked the packed room, “How does history feel?”.

Speakers on the celebratory program included representatives from all five Colorado River mainstem counties – Grand, Summit, Eagle, Garfield, and Mesa – three state elected officials including Speaker Julie McCluskie and Senator Dylan Roberts (five total Colorado electeds were present), and representatives from the environmental, recreational, and journalistic communities.

The official video marking the launch of the campaign can be viewed here.

River District Communications & Outreach in 2024

As the River District dives into 2024, the External Affairs team will host a robust State of the River series, with 10-11 events across the Western Slope in partnership with local governments and water entities. This year’s State of the River program aims to increase Community Funding Partnership program engagement and funding opportunities for our constituents, with added outreach in the Yampa-White-Green and Gunnison River Basins.

Communications from the District’s diverse teams in 2024 will drive public attention to West Slope issues and priorities, including increased hydrologic uncertainty, aging infrastructure, and access to funding and other resources for long-term water security and community adaptation in a hotter, drier climate. The River District’s 2024 Annual Water Seminar is also already planned for Friday, September 20, 2024, and will once again be held at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

With the official launch of the Shoshone Water Right Preservation Campaign in December, the External Affairs team looks forward to supporting the Colorado River District Board, staff, and Shoshone Coalition partners in relationship building, fundraising, broad public support, and other interdisciplinary efforts to bring Shoshone across the finish line.