2023 River District Annual Water Seminar Seeks ‘Durable Solutions’ for the Colorado River

Interstate representatives, author Heather Hansman, and Senator Michael Bennet to headline September 22 event at Colorado Mesa University

Thursday, August 31, 2023 

Grand Junction, Colorado — The Colorado River District’s landmark Annual Water Seminar returns on Friday, September 22 at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. This year’s seminar theme, “Wanted: Durable Solutions on the Colorado River,” recognizes the need for innovative and forward-looking policy, management, and investment in western water resources to ensure water security for future generations on the West Slope and beyond. The full-day event includes keynotes and panels from experts, stakeholders, and community members who will discuss and explore long-term, sustainable solutions to bring the overdrawn Colorado River back into balance.

“The time for reactive, stopgap measures is long gone,” said Andy Mueller, Colorado River District General Manager. “We know that we have a variable, diminishing water supply from the Colorado River and its tributaries, and we need to start managing our reservoirs and making policies that reflect what science has made clear. Durable solutions require difficult and honest conversations, and we look forward to inviting our water users and West Slope residents to join in some of those this year.”

Across Colorado, this recent water year was a gift. It delivered unexpected bounties of healthy snowpack, a cool, wet spring, and revived Colorado reservoirs which filled and spilled. Water managers at local, state, and federal levels exhaled a collective breath, but this year was likely only a temporary reprieve. While climate change-induced aridification remains our long-term reality, the Lower Basin’s continued overuse remains the next biggest threat to Colorado River resources upstream. New water management strategies and solutions offered must be able to weather the hotter, drier future we collectively face.

Don’t miss out on this exceptional opportunity to listen engage in dialogue about the future of the Colorado River. Mark your calendars for September 22, 2023, and register early to secure your spot at the Colorado River District’s Annual Water Seminar: Wanted: Durable Solutions on the Colorado River. In-person attendees will receive light morning snacks, lunch, and a happy hour beverage at the end of the program sponsored by Palisade Brewing and American Rivers. Visit our website or contact us directly for registration details and to learn more about the event.

Learn more at: https://www.coloradoriverdistrict.org/annual-water-seminar-2023/

2023 Annual Seminar Keynote Addresses by:

Andy Mueller – General Manager of the Colorado River District

In this morning keynote, General Manager Andy Mueller will speak to durable solutions the Colorado River District views as necessary next steps to bring the Colorado River back into balance within the existing framework of the “Law of the River.” The Western Slope of Colorado provides up to 70% of the Colorado River’s natural flows, but climate change-induced aridification threatens the future of this already diminishing supply for a rising population of over 40 million people. Federal, state, and local policy all play a role in how the water management decisions made today will impact generations of water users to come. And as the Colorado River Basin enters a period of renegotiation surrounding the 2026 operating guidelines of Lakes Mead and Powell, decision makers from all levels of governance have an obligation to establish water policy that addresses ongoing imbalances across the river system, the current impacts to dependent communities, and establishes forward-focused, adaptive solutions to sustain the next generations of Colorado River water users.

Heather Hansman – Journalist and Author, Downriver

Award-winning journalist and author Heather Hansman will present the lunchtime keynote, taking the audience on a tour of her solo, pack raft journey of the Green River in 2019 – the source material for her book Downriver. Paddling the river’s source to confluence, a 730 mile adventure, Hansman recounts the impact of the experience as both a former raft guide and environmental reporter and how it has shaped her views of the current and future states of water in the West both then and now. Heather will also provide the audience with her perspective on writing about water as a non-fiction author and engage in a live Q&A with River District staff and audience members.

Michael Bennet – U.S. Senator for Colorado

Senator Michael Bennet will take the stage for a keynote speech about the priorities and progress of the Farm Bill in 2023, including a focus on how it may address funding needs of Colorado agriculture and surrounding communities. The 2023 Farm Bill will outline the next five years’ spending for national conservation, food, farm, and nutrition programs. The Conservation program contains most of the programs that our farmers use to modernize irrigation and increase efficiency and playing a role in counteracting the impacts of drought. This foundational legislation is expected to put greater emphasis on climate resilience and organic agriculture this year.


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