The Importance of Water From a Non-Water Expert, and how Colorado Water Trust is Making an Impact

Ray Kennedy works with Trek Bicycle Corporation supporting their retail stores throughout Colorado and the Midwest, and volunteers on the Colorado Water Trust’s Outreach Committee.

I grew up in Minnesota, living on a pond in a suburb of the Twin Cities. Minnesota was an easy state to find a connection to water. Most weekends its locals could be found fishing, ice-fishing, or playing pond hockey on one of the 11,182 lakes across the state. Many mornings our alarm clock was the honking of 500 geese in our backyard, and at night we often would look out at turtles catching the sunset on a stump, or a family of muskrats paddling back and forth. Water was easy to see in most pieces of daily life.

Water plays a role in every aspect of our lives as Coloradans, and is arguably the most amazing and valuable—yet under-appreciated and little-known—resource we have. Water is special, and the more I learn about its importance, the more appreciation I have found for water’s role in my life here in the West and for others that intersect this great resource’s path.

My professional background and interests led me to the bike industry, where I have been fortunate to work with many great bike businesses and brands over the past decade. While there are so many Coloradans who are river guides, avid fly-fishers, and kayakers who find their weekend activities consumed by the joys of our amazing rivers, you are probably wondering why does a cyclist have such an interest in water?

In college, I studied Marketing and Economics, and many pieces of my life continue to involve marketing, public policy, and the outdoor industry. The common theme and interest that originally drew my attention to marketing is the same that drew me to water—learning about the hidden motivators driving our habits and decisions, and how these decisions impact our everyday experience with the world. Water’s importance in everything that makes Colorado an amazing place to live and recreate is invaluable, but it is noticeably under-appreciated, misunderstood, and “hidden”—water plays an invisible role in so many moments of our lives.

At first glance, water doesn’t seem to have anything to do with camping in Cottonwood Canyon, hiking up Green Mountain, eating a Palisade Peach, drinking wine from the Western Slope, driving through Black Canyon, running our dog at Cherry Creek dog park, enjoying a local brewery with friends, or any of the other quintessential things that help make Colorado, Colorado. 

The more I learn about water, though, the more clearly I can see its hidden beauty and connectedness to everything I interact with on a daily basis. On a hike up Green Mountain last month with a friend, we crossed a stream several times. Seeing snow at the peak, Gross Reservoir in the distance, and Boulder’s bustling streets below, was a powerful moment. The stream crossing our trail, even as a slow trickle given the season, was a grounding reminder of nature at work and the importance of water downstream to ensure we could continue living in such a beautiful place. Palisade peaches, Colorado’s breweries, camping next to Cottonwood Lake, and even early-season skiing wouldn’t be what they are without a balanced water system at work.

Even though we cannot all be “water professionals” (I will be the first to say that I am far from one, and likely never will be!), we don’t need to be in the water field to make a difference in the future of our home state. Knowing enough—that water intersects every piece of our daily lives, whether directly or indirectly, and that it is a limited resource—is the best start.

Colorado Water Trust continues to amaze me for one key reason: The Water Trust’s mission and supporters are wildly passionate about keeping Colorado’s rivers flowing, while balancing so many users’ needs fairly. Better than any organization I have come across, they find a way to balance the needs and requests of household water users, river guides, agricultural professionals, politicians, lawyers, and others to get behind one simple mission: to restore water to Colorado’s rivers.

I was drawn to volunteer with the Colorado Water Trust’s Outreach Committee for this reason. Doing a small part for Colorado Water Trust, even in the form of a small donation, can have a far-reaching impact on Coloradans, our millions of yearly visitors, and our future generations who will be able to enjoy the beauty we too often take for granted. We can see this first-hand in the Water Trust’s 20+ billion gallons of water restored to Colorado’s rivers since 2001. I invite you to consider joining us in our mission, and spreading the word.

Ray Kennedy
Outreach Committee Volunteer, Colorado Water Trust
Inventory Manager, Trek Bicycle Corporation