Fall Newsletter

A note from the co-directors


As 2020 comes to a close, the One World One Water (OWOW) Center is grateful for the silver linings. In our case, it’s fitting that this expression of finding something positive from an otherwise negative situation was inspired by water (every cloud has a silver lining).


Perhaps the biggest silver lining for OWOW was the launch of our TomTalks video series – by pivoting to engage students, faculty and the outside world online instead of in person, we’ve created a varied library of water stories that can reach audiences in Denver just as easily as in Egypt (see our recent episode on the damming of the Nile). Another silver lining has been the support of MSU Denver, and in particular from our new leader in Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Elizabeth Parmelee. She continues to embrace the mission of the OWOW Center and has provided strong leadership for our efforts within the MSU Denver community and beyond.


We hope you have found some silver linings as well in this challenging year. We look forward to continuing our conversations with you – online or in person – in 2021.


Colorado Water

Drought Impact in CO


By Holli Riebel

Executive Director, Headwaters River Journey and Center 


This year has been, without a doubt, a challenging year in Colorado.  Changes in our climate and the impacts of rising temperatures and shorter winters have caused depleted soils and severe to extreme drought in 97% of our state. As a result, we have experienced a record number of devastating wildfires that have detrimental impacts to our rivers and water resources. The three largest fires, Cameron Peak, East Troublesome and Pine Gulch, have destroyed over 700,000 acres in Colorado and 6 million in the West according to news sources.  Sun and fire baked soils will make it difficult to capture the yearly snow runoff into our rivers, causing more risk for erosion and flooding. 

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Hydrologists and climatology experts across the state predict that we will experience agricultural and residential water shortages by 2050.  Grand County and other jurisdictions are developing Drought Preparedness Plans to become better stewards of the Colorado River providing actionable steps at each stage of drought. Coloradans need to make better choices now in the way we use and conserve water.  On average, Coloradans have done a pretty good job of saving water compared to others around the country, but as we face increasing threats to our water resources, we need to each take personal responsibility to conserve and increase our efficiencies for the long term.  Outdoor water irrigation makes up the largest portion of residential water use and there are easy ways that each of us can lower the amount we use on yards.  For years Denver Water and other organizations have educated us on xeriscaping, using efficient water-wise sprinklers and improving our lawn watering times. We can still enjoy the beauty and satisfaction of growing our own lawns but explore new innovative ways to conserve water such as investing in modern synthetic turf in place of unused small strips of grass, replacing overgrown shrubs with native drought resistant plants, and building more shade structures and planting more trees to lower water use.  These are all simple steps, but we must take action now and become better stewards of our precious water resources used in our homes, businesses, agriculture, and recreation. 


The Headwaters River Journey is located at the Headwaters of the Upper River Basin of the Colorado River.    Its mission is to bring awareness about the critical role the Headwaters play in our environment, economy and Colorado lifestyle and to educate ways each of us can take action in conserving our greatest resource – water. 

The OWOW Center is proud to collaborate with the Headwaters River Journey and Center to bring awareness to how Front Range water use impacts the Fraser River watershed.



Campus Water

Steam Weed Killer, Heating Upgrades, and Rainwater Use

In collaboration with AHEC Grounds, the new steam weed killer will reduce our use of Glyphosate (Roundup) by 50%, preventing a probable carcinogenic from leaching into our waterways.


Campus has also just finished updating all natural gas heating to steam heating to reduce the use of fossil fuels. 


The OWOW Center is helping the Auraria Sustainable Campus Program with a student-led rainwater capture and xeriscaping project new the Tivoli Student Union!


The Auraria Sustainable Campus Program (ASCP) is looking for an MSU representative for their advisory committee!

This committee advises the ASCP on what projects and programs the students want to see on the Auraria Campus. There are three voting members of this AC (one from each school) and this year the committee may take up a number of issues, including: adding social sustainability to the ASCP’s bylaws, asking the Auraria Board of Directors to pass a Climate Emergency Declaration and other important climate action work for the campus. Contact Chris Herr (chris.herr@ahec.edu) for more information!


Here are a selection of water stories we thought you might be interested in:


Community Events

Nov 21, 6:30-8pm

Virtual Cheese & Beer Tasting



Nov 23-24

Under the Ice



Dec 1-3

Institute for Science & Policy Symposium 2020



Dec 6, 2-3:30pm

Virtual Wreath Making



Dec 8

Colorado Gives Day



Dec 12, 6-7

Virtual Trivia Night




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Happy Fall, 



One World One Water Center