At it's annual River Stewardship Gala last night, Colorado Trout Unlimited honored Denver Water with the 2016 River Stewardship Award for their work in urban conservation and collaborative efforts in water stewardship. 25 years after the Two Forks Dam battle- a plan that would've constructed a 615' tall dam along the South Platte, Denver Water has now engaged their former adversaries as partners in an effort to conserve our state's watersheds.
“That’s a remarkable and encouraging sign of progress in protecting the rivers that help sustain Colorado’s wildlife, communities and recreation economy," said David Nickum, Colorado TU Executive Director. "In the years since the Two Forks veto, Denver Water has truly changed its culture.... Colorado TU is pleased to recognize Denver Water for its leadership in promoting partnerships that not only supply water to Denver citizens, but also promote stewardship of Colorado’s rivers as well.”
“Part of what makes Colorado an amazing state are our great cities, variety of recreational opportunities and beautiful natural environment. Denver Water is committed to continuing to collaboratively work together with partners from all sectors to keep our rivers healthy,” said Jim Lochhead, Denver Water CEO/manager. “We’re honored to receive the 2016 River Stewardship Award from Trout Unlimited and look forward to continuing our work with them in the future.”
As part of working with conservation organizations like TU, Denver Water has incorporated "Learning by Doing," a monitoring and adaptive management program to maintain and restore or enhance the aquatic environment. Under the LBD project, Denver Water has agreed to be flexible in delivering flows of water as well as invest in habitat and water quality restoration and conservation efforts.
The Learning by Doing initiative also incorporates the South Platte Protection Plan- an alternative to designating parts of the South Platte as a Wild and Scenic River after the Two Forks Dam veto. The South Platte Plan promoted collaboration among water suppliers, local governments, recreationists and conservationists. These groups worked together on managing flows, support investment in river-related values, and partnerships for water quality and watershed health. The Plan also inspired the creation of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte- a group that has helped direct millions of dollars into watershed restoration efforts.
Denver Water currently provides water supply to about 25 percent of Colorado's population with less than 2 percent of all the water used in the state. They have worked with customers to reduce water use by more than 20 percent over the past 10 years, despite a 10 percent increase in population.