South Platte River Basin’s Climate, Quality, Conflicts and Future Among Topics at Forum

The 17th annual South Platte Forum will examine key issues of the history and future of Colorado’s South Platte River basin. The forum, "From the Gold Rush to the Urban Crush: The Past, Present and Future of the South Platte River Basin," will be held Wednesday, Oct. 25, and Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Radisson Conference Center in Longmont. The forum is hosted in part by Colorado State University

"The South Platte River has a myriad of complex issues to be balanced to meet the needs of the many users. The South Platte Forum brings everyone to the table for frank, open discussions on the issues facing the basin," said South Platte Forum Chairman Don Kennedy "This year we are looking from the past to the future to give a more complete picture of the issues."

The opening day of the forum will include an overview of the evolution of water laws in the Western United States, a look at current conflicts and changes users of the river are facing and the future of the river under the Platte River Recovery Program. The opening day’s keynote speaker is Thomas Noel, a professor from the University of Colorado, who will discuss the South Platte River Renaissance. A historical perspective of Colorado’s population growth will be another topic during the first day of the conference. Other topics include well use, economic impacts and farmers’ responses to new augmentation rules, and the future of groundwater pumping in the South Platte River Basin.

On the second day of the forum, 7-News meteorologist Mike Nelson and Colorado’s State Climatologist Nolan Doesken, also a Colorado State professor, will discuss Colorado’s climate, including Colorado’s weather history and what weather can be expected this winter. Other topics include the river’s health, a look at the salinity of the water and whether the fish swimming in the South Platte River can be eaten. Later in the day, there will be a sessions on the statewide water supply initiative, conflicts and compromises.

The South Platte River primarily flows through Colorado and also parts of Wyoming and Nebraska. The headwaters of the South Platte are in Colorado’s central mountains at the Continental Divide. The river flows east and north through Denver and Colorado’s Front Range before veering to the northeast out of Greeley to North Platte, Neb. Along this 450-mile path, the river travels through the state’s largest city, feeds Colorado’s agricultural fields along the plains and is used for recreation.

The South Platte River Forum is sponsored by Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, city of Aurora, Denver Water, Parker Water and Sanitation District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado Water Resources Research Institute, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Registration will be available at the door, but advanced registration is suggested due to limited space. Registration is $115. For a complete schedule or to register, visit or e-mail