Colorado River District Annual Seminar: Will What’s Happening in California Stay in California?

California drought takes its toll on Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, north of Sacramento, as seen in April 2015. (Photo by Ray Bouknight, Flickr)

California drought takes its toll on Lake Oroville State Recreation Area, north of Sacramento, as seen in April 2015. (Photo by Ray Bouknight, via Flickr)

Two of the most important women in Western water leadership will be addressing the Colorado River District’s popular Annual Water Seminar in Grand Junction, Colo., that takes place Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Two Rivers Convention Center.

Headlining the event are Jennifer Gimbel, the assistant secretary for water and science at the U.S. Department of the Interior; and Pat Mulroy, senior fellow for climate adaptation and environmental policy at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’ Brookings Mountain West. Mulroy is also a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program in Washington, D.C. She retired in 2014 as general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Jennifer Gimbel

Jennifer Gimbel

Gimbel is well known in Colorado for her work as director at the Colorado Water Conservation Board before she moved to federal positions with the Department of the Interior that culminated with her ascendancy to the post that oversees the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Geological Survey and Colorado River administration. Mulroy oversaw the Southern Nevada Water Authority for 21 years where she got results as well as headlines in positioning Las Vegas for growth in the face of limited water supply.

Pat Mulroy

Pat Mulroy

The theme of the seminar is “Will What’s Happening in California Stay in California?” The day’s speakers will draw an arc of water supply and policy concern from the Pacific Ocean to Colorado, looking at the basics of climate and weather generated by the Pacific, dire drought in California and what that means to the interior West, the still-on-the-horizon planning to deal with low reservoir levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead, and finally, an analysis of Colorado’s Water Plan, which is still in draft form.

Klaus Wolter, a preeminent analyst of El Niño-La Niña conditions in the Pacific will preview the growing El Niño conditions and what they will mean for snowpack this winter. He is a research scientist at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory’s physical sciences division in Boulder and world-renowned in his field.

Also at the seminar, Colorado River District staff will speak to its policy initiative that the new paradigm in Colorado water planning is how to protect existing uses, especially irrigated agriculture in western Colorado, in the face of diminishing supplies and potential demand management necessities. Issues of planning for a new transmountain diversion (TMD) remain a big focal point in Colorado’s Water Plan, but drought and reservoir levels will command the system before a TMD can be honestly contemplated.

Other speakers will address irrigated agriculture’s role in water planning, efficiency and conservation planning, financing and more. Find a detailed agenda and registration form here. The cost of the seminar, which includes lunch, is $30 if pre-registered by Friday, Sept. 4, or $40 at the door. Register at the River District’s website: or call Meredith Spyker at 970-945-8522 to pay by credit card. Video recordings of the presentations will also be posted to the River District’s website following the seminar.

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