Reflections from our Donor, Events, and Community Partnerships Fellow as she bids farewell to Colorado Water Trust.
Welcome to a new Water Trust: re-engaged with the communities we work in and more impactful across the board. We are the pre-eminent environmental water transactions expert in Colorado, committed to a future where water is used efficiently and shared with low transactional cost or friction, allowing rivers and streams to flow more strongly. It is a future that climate change has forced our state to embrace, and we will lead the way.
After five and a half years, I’m leaving the Water Trust to pursue a new opportunity in Southwest Colorado working with The Nature Conservancy. I’ll still be working to support our rivers, just with more of a local focus. Five years might not seem like a long time, especially in the Colorado water world where projects may take twice that long to develop – but in that time, a LOT has happened.
How time flies, it feels like it was just a few months ago that I was walking up the stairs of the old Emerson School building, wearing a suit and nervous for my interview with Colorado Water Trust. That was May of 2016.
Over the last five and a half years, I have learned so much about rivers and our complex water system. I have also met so many wonderful, hard working, and intelligent people working in Colorado Water Trust’s world.
It is neither controversial nor shocking to claim that management of our water resources is important. Simultaneously, I would argue that water management is neither the sexiest nor most thrilling of conversation topics (though I would happily accept any dissent on this point). In part, these arguments help to explain the existence of only a small and tightly knit community of individuals and agencies that are actively involved in water management, despite its importance for all members of our state and our communities.
I am happy to share that after continuing to extend my stay as a Water Trust intern for almost 9 months, they have finally caved and hired me as the new Communications Fellow! Fresh off of an Environmental Studies degree from CU and previous experience working for organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Amigos de las Américas, I am thrilled to take this next step into an organization I care so much about.
This summer, many rivers will not have enough water to support the thriving ecosystems and communities around them. Most of Colorado’s rivers and streams face below average streamflows in 2021. Some rivers may even flirt with historic lows. We know that you probably have been see this in the news these days. But we wanted to highlight the potential dire situation, and how it might affect you, your communities and your rivers.
In the final installation of my blog series about Diversity and Inclusion in the Water World, I got to interview Cindy Medina, from Alamosa Riverkeepers. Cindy is a woman of color, a community activist, and a published author. Cindy and I were able to discuss the complexity of holding space for multiple minority identities.
The environmental movement is global, which implies diversity and the inclusion of all people. However, though this global movement affects not only humans but all life on the planet, “the vast majority of environmental leaders in the United States, are predominantly white,” said Carlos Fernandez, the State Director of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). For the fourth installment of my blog series on Diversity and Inclusion in the water/environmental world, I had the privilege to virtually interview Carlos Fernandez, an Argentinian-American, and a proud Latino leader in the Colorado conservation world.
“You’re too ‘dark’ to be Hispanic,” is the response Sonja Chavez got from her light-skinned, freckled, red-haired, Mexican peer after self-identifying as Hispanic. She responded, “well then you must be too white to be Mexican.” Since her youth, Sonja has had to deal with a misunderstanding of her Hispanic identity, which can be ambiguous for many Hispanic folks.
Some feel like it’s something straight out of a dystopian movie. Others say it’s already happening: out-of-state companies purchasing Colorado water rights as an investment for when water gets so scarce that the price skyrockets.
Sen. Kerry Donovan represents the 5th District in the state Senate.
“Water speculators aren’t in the business of using the water, they’re in the business of owning the water for future times when they can sell it,” said state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat. “And that’s why you see hedge funds coming into the state and buying water in a portfolio. That is what is concerning me.”
As a new member of the water conservation world, I am quickly coming to understand how much complexity and collaboration underlie the protection of our water resources. Every human, animal, and ecosystem is reliant on reliable access to water, making the management of water tricky business that brings many stakeholders to the table. It makes me wonder how progress is ever made when so many stakeholders are involved in even the smallest of decisions. Do these stakeholders view collaboration as an important part of their work or a necessary side-effect of involving many parties in the conflict?