For a water guy, I am bad luck. Every time I move there is a drought. I moved to the Arkansas River Valley in 2002 to be a raft guide and dragged boats over rocks during the worst drought in Colorado history. I moved to Utah to ski the “Greatest Snow on Earth” and destroyed my new skis on rocks, while the locals complained about the worst conditions in over a decade. The longest duration drought in modern Oregon history officially started two days before I moved out to start my stream restoration career.
Like I said, bad luck. Or so I thought. I looked a little deeper into my past and found my move to the west from Louisiana in 1979 was at the beginning of a prolonged wet period. I moved to Colorado in the early 90’s and enjoyed some fantastic ski years in high school and college. And now I have just moved back to Colorado to work for the Colorado Water Trust, just in time for a record wet year. So it’s probably not bad luck and probably just the unpredictable reality of water in the West. While I am enjoying this high water return home, I know the next drought is probably lurking around the corner somewhere.
While I am unsure if I bring bad luck or good, I do know for certain I am very lucky to be moving back to Colorado at this interesting time. Colorado has made some giant leaps towards better water management and recognizing the value of waters’ environmental and recreational uses. Colorado now has several effective tools to legally restore and protect instream flows while protecting water users from harm. Water users across the state have put in years of collaborative effort to develop the Colorado Water Plan, which charts a course towards a sustainable water future. Additionally, I have seen collaboration between water buffaloes and the conservation community that wasn’t possible 10 years ago.
I am even more lucky to be working with the Colorado Water Trust. I have always felt you can’t have stream restoration without water, and the Water Trust’s sole mission is to restore flows to streams. Through experience, I have learned that the best restoration is done in partnership; I have seen how the Water Trust works with all water users to find innovative solutions to challenging problems. With the Water Trust, I see an organization poised to do big things. The organization has dedicated and experienced people who know Colorado water inside and out; they have name recognition and a reputation for developing successful flow restoration projects throughout the state; they have a dedicated donor base and I can tell great things are on the way. I am very lucky to be a part of it’s future.
So I am going to enjoy the good water this year, and if (or when) my bad luck returns I know that my state and the Colorado Water Trust are ready to tackle the inevitable challenges we all face in the uncertain future of western water.