10/16 - 2016 Tour to Visit Colorado’s South Platte Basin

By: Steve Ress, Nebraska Water Center

The 2016 summer Water and Natural Resources Tour will be taking three or four days to visit sites and examine issues in Colorado’s South Platte River basin.

Dates for the South Platte tour have not yet been set, but mid-June dates are currently looking the most promising, organizers said. It also has not been decided whether the tour will be three days or four. Dates and tour length will likely be decided sometime after a late November trip to the area by organizers to look at possible tour destinations, arrange logistics and talk with possible speakers and cooperators.

The tour will likely key on basin water use and development in Denver and the surrounding front-range metropolitan area, including ongoing conversion of former agricultural water rights to urban and suburban use as the Denver metropolitan area continues to grow.

Operation and development of several metropolitan and small town water systems will likely be examined, possibly to include Frisco, Aurora and the Denver Water Board.

Much of the trip would be in the heart of Colorado’s high country as the tour examines municipal reservoir systems and looks at other water and natural resource related topics. These could include snowmaking operations, mining, logging and deforestation issues, reservoirs and water transport systems and many others.

Tour organizers are also looking at possibilities that could include a white-water rafting excursion, a Denver Rockies baseball game, a stop at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and the High Country Conservation Center in Frisco.

Presentations related to Colorado’s drafting of its first-ever, comprehensive state water plan and shared use of basin water under a Nebraska-Colorado interstate compact would also likely be part of the tour.

Other sites and attractions being discussed as possibilies for the tour have included the Prairie Waters Project in Aurora, the growth of high-value dairy farming operations along the South Platte River near Greeley, the Colorado Water Congress, the High Country Conservation Center and water projects being undertaken by the Northern Colorado and Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy Districts.

Organizers expect to announce tour dates and an itinerary by January 2016. Registration will likely open by early spring and will be through The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District in Holdrege. The tour will begin and end in the Denver area. Tour participants will be responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from the event.

More information on the tour will be available at watercenter.unl.edu as it develops.