Leaders in the Rio Grande River Basin

By Heather Dutton, Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project

Rio Grande LeadersIt is a critical time for the Rio Grande Basin. Our history is linked to a common thread: being water short. We are connected by a system of rivers and streams, and two aquifers, which are currently being used faster than they are being replenished. As such, the people of the Rio Grande Basin have got to answer
a complex question: How will we balance water use with supply in order to ensure there is a future for agriculture in the San Luis Valley? This is just one in a host of questions that people in our basin will have to work together to answer in the coming years. And I don’t just mean people of one generation with one set of ideas. We are going to need all the creative and engaged community members we can get to address current and future water related issues.

This need is why the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project (RGHRP), San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District (SLVWCD), Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD), and Rio Grande Water, Conservation, and Education Initiative (RGWCEI) came together to seek out the latest crop of water leaders by putting on a leadership seminar, the Rio Grande Leaders Course, in March 2013.

The goal of the Course is to develop community members’ interest and encourage participation in efforts to safeguard and develop water resources in the San Luis Valley by providing an opportunity to engage in education and networking with water management leaders. In short, we hope to foster the new generation of leaders in the local water community through educational lectures and networking.

The course will include a mix of classroom sessions and social events with some of the greatest water minds in the Rio Grande Basin and Colorado. Also, participants will be treated to some really great course materials and a complete set of citizen’s guides, including 100 free guides the RGHRP received from CFWE!

This is not the first time this course has been organized: the RGWCD has held these courses for many years. They recognized they needed to take young people and mid-level professionals under the communal wing and share knowledge about local water management. I took the course in 2010 and it only furthered my desire to be a part of this amazing community of people working on water issues and management.

One of the things that struck me was the way people in our small, and often forgotten about portion of the State (the vast area between Pueblo and Durango), have come together and stepped up when they needed to. Whether it was fighting water development by AWDI or trying to find a local solution to management of endangered species, people in the San Luis Valley will come together and work toward a resolution.

We are very excited to put on this course; our hope is demand will be so great we will have to put on another course next year! Interested parties can apply by downloading the application from rgwcd.org or picking one up at the SLVWCD offices at 623 Fourth Street, Alamosa. Applications can be mailed to the SLVWCD office or emailed to HeatherRDutton@gmail.com. Space is limited to 20 and applications are due March 1, 2013. For more information please call (719) 589-2230. Please share this information if you know anyone interested in getting involved in the water scene in the Rio Grande Basin!

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