Colorado State’s Droughtlab Welcomes Water Managers, Public Officials and Researchers to the Colorado Drought Conference

Note to Editors: Media are invited to attend. Call Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 in advance for details and to secure a spot at the conference.

Colorado State University’s DroughtLab is hosting the Colorado Drought Conference: Managing Water Supply and Demand in the Time of Drought from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Lory Student Center on the university’s main campus. The conference, being attended by water managers, public officials and leading water and climate researchers, will analyze current water management issues and examine options to mitigate negative impacts of drought for the future.

"The 2002 drought stretched Colorado’s water managers to the limits of their capabilities in meeting the state’s many competing demands for water and forced citizens to carefully examine their use of water resources," said Robert Ward, director of the university’s Water Center and the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute. "This drought conference is gathering the state’s water leaders from science, government and the public to discuss how to best address these issues."

The goals of the 2002 Colorado Drought Conference are to:

  • examine recent efforts to match water supply with water demand under rapidly developing drought conditions;
  • critically examine state-of-the-art science regarding the management of drought; and
  • analyze options that Colorado citizens and water managers have to match available water supply with demand for 2003 and beyond.

The conference is broken into four main sessions, featuring individual presentations and moderated panel discussions.

  • Session one: "Drought: A Recurring Atmospheric and Hydrological Event." Includes several researchers describing the science behind the variability of Colorado’s moisture and water availability.
  • Session two: "Lessons Learned while Managing Water in Colorado during the 2002 Drought." Features an analysis of water rights administration during 2002 in addition to a moderated panel discussing the experiences of water conservancy districts and cities during the 2002 drought.
  • Session three: "Drought Mitigation Successes and Failures in 2002 – Plans for 2003." Includes a moderated discussion where representatives from water management and user groups discuss their efforts to mitigate the effects of greatly reduced water availability during 2002 and their plans for 2003.
  • Session four: "Options for Short and Long-term Drought Preparedness." Detailed examination of options for Colorado to better prepare for future droughts.

The conference also includes poster papers available for review during breaks. Poster papers cover a range of topics from water supply and development to sprinkler application efficiency. Poster paper authors will be on hand to discuss their topics.

The entire program, including presenters, topics and times, is on the Web at

The proceedings of the conference will be published and shared with water managers, municipalities, researchers and concerned water users across the state and throughout the nation. By capturing the thinking of water managers at key management decision making moments and recording the processes associated with making water management decisions, DroughtLab leaders hope the published proceedings will assist future water managers and students in understanding the complexities and uncertainties facing water managers and users.

Representative Diane Hoppe, chair of the Colorado House Agricultural Committee and a member of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute Advisory Committee for Water Research Policy, will provide an introduction to the conference. DroughtLab co-directors, civil engineering professor Jose Salas and Roger Pielke Sr., director of the Colorado Climate Center and state climatologist, will make presentations and be involved in panel discussions.

Representatives from Colorado State’s Colorado Climate Center and Water Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Centers for Disease Control, National Climate Data Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and water managers from several state municipalities also will participate in presentations and discussions.

In addition to DroughtLab, co-sponsors of the Colorado Drought Conference include the Colorado State Water Center, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado Water Congress, Colorado Division of Water Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the university’s Western Center for Integrated Resource Management.

DroughtLab is a joint initiative of Colorado State’s Water Center and Colorado Climate Center that brings together the knowledge of more than 100 researchers from 22 academic departments at Colorado State. DroughtLab serves as a framework for researchers to collaborate and develop encompassing information that helps water managers reduce Colorado’s vulnerability to drought.

For more information about the 2002 Colorado Drought Conference, contact Marian Flanagan or Shirley Miller at (970) 491-6308.