CSU Spur campus hosts 5th annual Water in the West Symposium

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Collegian | Serena Bettis

The Colorado State University Spur campus’ Vida building sits across the street from the two other Spur buildings Feb. 23. The Spur campus will consist of the Vida, Terra and Hydro buildings, each focusing on a different aspect of agricultural education.

Allie Seibel, News Editor

Colorado State University’s Spur campus will host the fifth annual Water in the West Symposium Nov. 2 and 3. The symposium will host keynote speakers and panels featuring international figures in water conservation and science.

“The Water in the West Symposium is a place where people who work in various different sectors can come together and learn from one another,” said Jocelyn Hittle, associate vice chancellor for the Spur campus and special projects. “The symposium will feature people from agriculture to business and industry, government officials, elected officials and people in investment and finance. The idea is that a lot of people (who) won’t talk to each other will have the opportunity to share ideas, successes and solutions and learn from those outside of their work.” 

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CSU’s Spur campus, located in Denver, opened in January and currently has two buildings as part of its scientific outreach community. In January 2023, Spur will open Hydro: a third building focused on water.

“We started the Water in the West Symposium as an early offering of the Spur campus even though we didn’t have buildings yet, knowing that we would have this Hydro building that is coming online soon and that this is (the) kind of content we wanted to have coming out of Hydro and out of the Spur campus,” Hittle said.

I hope our audience takes away some ideas on how to help fight challenges — either small amount or a large amount. Since we bring together a variety of people, I hope every audience member hears a speaker that inspires them to seek a solution.” -Jocelyn Hittle, associate vice chancellor for the Spur campus and special projects

Each year, the symposium features a theme that guides discussion. The theme for the 2022 symposium is global samples of water usage and successes.

“We have speakers from South Africa, Portugal, Israel and Canada,” Hittle said. “These are speakers who have focused on solutions that cross borders and boundaries, and I think that piece is particularly relevant with conversations about what is happening in the American West.” 

The symposium intersects with the 100th anniversary of the Colorado River Compact, a document that governs the usage of water from the Colorado River in seven states: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California and Nevada.

The Colorado River Compact provides water for 40 million people and contributes to the economy to the tune of $1.3 billion a year,” said Jennifer Gimbel, senior water policy scholar for the Colorado Water Center. “It’s (an) important piece of economy and our way of life as residents living on the Colorado River.” 

At the symposium, Gimbel will moderate a panel between Edward Drusina, a former U.S. commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission, and Roberto Salmon of the Centro Luken de Estrategias en Agua y Medio Ambiente in Mexico. The panel will discuss challenges between Mexico and the U.S. regarding the low supplies of water in the Colorado River.

“(The speakers) are going to tell (a) great story on how they managed through challenges and how they were able to open up the negotiating table to have the states join in on those negotiations,” Gimbel said. “They’re two of my favorite guys; I call them my heroes.” 

Hittle hopes the wide array of speakers and topics will resonate with audiences and motivate them to help combat water challenges relating to both the Colorado River and other surrounding rivers.

“I hope our audience takes away some ideas on how to help fight challenges — either small amount or a large amount,” Hittle said. “Since we bring together a variety of people, I hope every audience member hears a speaker that inspires them to seek a solution.” 

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The symposium’s goal is to foster collaboration to share information, discuss problems and solve challenges relating to water usage.

“For me, what I hope the symposium showcases (is) how much we can do and how many problems we can solve if we combine the power of human ingenuity with the power of collaboration,” Hittle said. “My hope is that we collaborate and learn from each other because that is the key to unlocking our capacity to make positive change.” 

Reach Allie Seibel at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @allie_seibel_.