As part of our Basin Voyage Program, participants were asked to write a final reflection paper on what they learned on their journey through the Yampa River Basin. The following paper is reprinted here with permission from Andrew Cook, Basin Voyage 2014 participant.
Throughout this trip our group was presented with a number of problems. These problems all centered around a common resource — water. Over the past week we have discovered that water is not something that we should take for granted. Freshwater is a limited resource that should be protected.
When we met with all the stakeholders at the ranch I realized just how important water conservation and distribution is to everyone in Colorado, from the people to the animals. Coming into Keystone and the Yampa River Basin I thought that freshwater would be around to be used freely for many years to come. After hearing the concerns of so many in the water industry, however, I now know that we must work hard to protect and conserve the water. Everyone must work together, no matter how different their viewpoints, to research and develop new ideas that will benefit the state of Colorado for decades to come.
Dams and reservoirs play a major role in water conservation and distribution because they can be utilized for the benefit of all stakeholders. However my view on dams and reservoirs was much different at the beginning of our research. At the start of the program I was assigned to represent the Colorado River District, which must supply all of Western Colorado with appropriate water to uphold their businesses. I believed that dams and reservoirs could only harm the citizens of Western Colorado and that they could receive no benefit from a big company barricading part of the river. Now that I have fully researched these water storage plans I have come to the conclusion that these reservoirs can actually aide the Colorado Water District in providing water to these people.
I also learned that the same water conservation habits that many practice in Colorado should be brought back to my home state of Texas. which also has a dry, arid climate. This climate causes our state to suffer the same water scares as in Colorado. I believe that if we were able to educate the public in Texas in the way Colorado educates its citizens, we would be able to conserve a lot more water, which could help us during droughts or in other times of need.
I personally will try to manage how often my family will water our lawn which is one of the big consumptive uses of water that we must deal with in Houston. Hopefully the future is bright for water conservation in all parts of the country. Due to this trip I now know how important it is to not only conserve water myself, but to educate others on how they too can help save our freshwater.