The 16th Annual Project WET USA Water Education Conference is coming up August 7-9 in Denver, Colorado. As part of the run-up to the conference, the Water Education Blog will be highlighting some of the organizations sponsoring the Denver conference. Up first is the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District (CCWCD), a Project WET host institution in Greeley, Colorado. CCWCD Public Information/Education Officer and Project WET Coordinator Kathryn Parker spoke to Project WET about the water address of their area and the importance of water education.

Project WET (PW): Your website indicates that CCWCD was formed "to develop, manage and protect water resources in northeast Colorado." What are some of the ways you do that?

Kathryn Parker (KP): CCWCD owns an extensive portfolio of surface water rights along with multiple reservoirs and recharge ponds. We maximize use of the water by storing the water when it's available and releasing the water during high demand periods, insuring that our constituents who own groundwater wells are able to irrigate their crops while working within Colorado's prior appropriation system. Central is also very proactive in the areas of water quality monitoring, educational outreach and legislative efforts both statewide and federally.

PW: What makes the "water address" of northeast Colorado unique?

KP: The South Platte Basin is an area of the densest population in the state, and also includes the land area with the most agricultural production. With an average precipitation of 12" annually, both agricultural and municipal/industrial users rely on an extensive system of ditches and transmountain diversions. The South Platte River is over-appropriated and there's an immediate concern of how to keep enough water on the farms while still supplying towns and industry with the water they need.

PW: What role does education play in CCWCD's work?

KP: CCWCD strongly believes that the key to protecting our water resources while sustaining agriculture production is through education. We offer educational opportunities to our citizens from kindergarten through senior. Classes, speakers, fact sheets, newsletters, trainings, a water festival and our website are all cornerstones of our education programs.

PW: Why did CCWCD decide to support the Project WET USA Conference and, more broadly, the work of Project WET?

KP: Once we experienced the value of Project WET activities, it was an easy decision to become a host institution and coordinator for Project WET. Now we can quadruple the number of students and adults we reach with water education, by teaching the teachers. Having the national USA Conference in our back yard gave us the opportunity to give back to Project WET by helping sponsor the event.

To learn more about the conference or to register to attend, please visit the conference website.

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