Skip to main content

Southwest Water Seminar

For 40 years in southwestern Colorado, water managers, irrigators, municipal representatives, tribal members, environmental advocates, recreation enthusiasts, and interested citizens have come together each year for the SWCD’s Southwest Water Seminar. It’s a unique opportunity to interact with other individuals who are passionate about water resources and hear expert speakers from around the state and region.

Four women smiling on a panel, in front of a mountain backdrop, audience heads visible in the foreground.


Fluid Horizons: Navigating The Waters Of Innovation

An event poster for the Southwestern Water Conservation District's 40th Annual Seminar on March 27th, 2024, titled "Fluid Horizons."

Join us for the Southwestern Water Conservation District’s Annual Water Seminar: “Fluid Horizons: Navigating the Waters of Innovation.” In its four-decade history, the seminar has evolved alongside our water challenges. While the first seminar discussed full reservoirs, today’s focus is on scarcity. With the renegotiation of the operational guidelines for Lakes Powell and Mead, a changing climate, and emerging technologies, this year’s seminar is primed to address pressing issues in water management and how innovation may be the key to solving our most pressing challenges. 

Scheduled for Wednesday, March 27, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Sky Ute Casino Resort in Ignacio, our comprehensive agenda includes panels on interstate and tribal matters, innovative solutions in agriculture, and community-level initiatives. This event provides a unique opportunity for networking and collaboration among water stakeholders, including members of water districts, tribal representatives, government, environmental advocates, recreation enthusiasts, and concerned citizens. Don’t miss this chance to engage with expert presenters and contribute to the conversation on water resource management in southwestern Colorado. Everyone with an interest in water is welcome to attend. 

The Full Program Agenda is Now Available!

Click here to Open the PDF of our Seminar ProgramAgenda
Four people at a panel discussion with name tags, sitting in front of a backdrop with mountain imagery.

The 38th Southwest Water Seminar, “Navigating Shortage,” was attended by 170 people both in person and online.

Missed the seminar? All sessions are now available SWCD’s YouTube Channel.

Read seminar coverage from the Cortez Journal and Durango Herald:

Seminar asks what prolonged drought means for southwest Colorado
Tribes assert water rights on the Colorado River
Adjusting for drought requires innovation, planning

Some text goes here

Below are several presentations given at the seminar: 

Click here to review the final 2022 program.

Video: Southwest Basins – Our Forests and Rivers

Southwest Colorado in the Aridification Bullseye

Becky Bolinger, CSU Assistant State ClimatologistRob Genualdi, Division 7 Engineer, Colorado Division of Water ResourcesHeidi Steltzer, Fort Lewis College

Navigating Shortages for Southwest Colorado Water Users

Susan Behery, U.S. Bureau of ReclamationKen Curtis, Dolores Water Conservancy DistrictBen Wolcott, Mancos Valley Rancher

Tribal Engagement – A New Dynamic on the Colorado River

Manuel Heart, Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chairman

100 Years of the Colorado River Compact

Eric Kuhn, Author and Former Colorado River District ManagerKelsea Macilory, PhD Candidate, Colorado State UniversityBeth Van Vurst, SWCD General Counsel, Van Vurst LawBecky Mitchell, Colorado’s Commissioner to the UCRC

Water 22 – It All Starts Here

Elaine Chick, Water Information Program

Balancing Protection and Use of our Natural Resources

Hattie Johnson, American WhitewaterJim White, Colorado Parks & WildlifeDon Schwindt, Family Farm Alliance

Water Quality Impacts as Flows Drop

Peter Butler, Bonita Peak Community Advisory GroupJohn Cyran, Western Resource Advocates



SWCD’s 37th Annual Seminar, “Headwaters to Headgates: Uniting Leaders and Lessons for Southwest Colorado,” had another record number of attendees. U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton, Becky Mitchell, Colorado Commissioner to the Upper Colorado River Commission, as well as KKTV meteorologist Brian Bledsoe were among the speakers. Click here to read a Durango Herald article based on a presentation at the seminar.

Below are several presentations given at the seminar.

Click here to review the final 2019 program.

Weather We Like it or Not

Brian Bledsoe – KKTV

Laser Mapping of Mountain Snowpacks

Jeff Deems – National Snow & Ice Data Center

Phase III Preliminary Results: Colorado River West Slope Risk Assessment

John Currier – Colorado River Water Conservation District

Making Waves in Water Education

Jayla Poppleton – Water Education Colorado

Proposing a Reverse Auction Exchange: Compensating Farmers for Reductions in Consumptive Use

Steve Ruddell – Economist, David Stiller – Consultant



SWCD’s 36th Annual Water Seminar, “Weathering the Weather: Resilience in Managing Our Water Resources Today,” was attended by almost 200 people, and highlighted lessons for our local communities in preparing for and responding to sudden challenges. Experts discussed how wildfire impacts water supplies, the state’s response to emergencies such as the 2013 front range flooding, the western slope’s risk in the context of Colorado River obligations and drought, as well as avoiding devastating infrastructure failure, among other related topics. Hear an interview about the seminar with Executive Director Bruce Whitehead or read coverage of the event in the Durango Herald.

Below are the presentations given at the 2018 seminar.

Click here for the full 2018 program.

Forests, Wildfires & Water Supplies

Andy Colosimo – Colorado Springs UtilitiesSteve Hartvigsen – San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership

Water Wizard Quiz: Are You Ready for an Emergency?

Dave Grey – Water Wizard

Five Years Since the Front Range Flood

Sean Cronin – St Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy DistrictEric Wilkinson – Northern Water Conservancy DistrictKevin Rein – State Engineer

Floating the Tough Years: An Agile Recreation Economy

Becky Mitchell – Colorado Water Conservation BoardCathy Metz – City of Durango

Protecting Our Supplies & Communities

Matt Gavin – Colorado Dam Safety

Recounting the Oroville Dam Spillway Failure

Bill Croyle – Retired CA Division of Water Resources

System Resilience: Planning for Drought on the Colorado River


2017 Annual Water Seminar

The 2017 theme was “Solving the Water Funding Puzzle.” Across the West, the struggle to finance water projects and programs is constant. Speakers from state, federal and local perspectives discussed opportunities to continue essential water programs, address aging infrastructure and implement the water plan. Below are presentations provided by the speakers.

Click here for the 2017 program

Seminar coverage in the Durango Herald (editorial).

Seminar coverage in the Pine River Times.

Bill Levine (DNR) SWCD SeminarJim Maras (USDA) SWCD SeminarDick Brown (Lobbyist) SWCD SeminarEmily Brumit (CWC) SWCD SeminarKirk Russell (CWCB) SWCD SeminarPat Steadman (Former State JBC) SWCD SeminarDave Grey (The Wiz) SWCD SeminarMike Brod (CWR&PDA) SWCD SeminarCelene Hawkins (TNC) SWCD SeminarKen Curtis (DWCD) SWCD SeminarNathan Fey (American Whitewater) SWCD Seminar


Join our mailing list