Water Fluency for Journalists

  • An independent nonpartisan news service on Western water

  • COLab is an independent, nonprofit, statewide journalism coalition, media resource hub, and ideas lab. We serve all Coloradans by strengthening high-quality local journalism, supporting civic engagement, and ensuring public accountability.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

You know that Colorado’s growing population and warming climate have put the state’s water future at risk. You may also know that recently, Lake Mead’s water level fell so low that it is likely to trigger the first-ever shortage declaration on the Colorado River.

But you may not know what this all means to your community and its water supplies, how you and your newsroom can get up to speed on water issues, and how you can inform your audience about these unprecedented developments most effectively. These are complex issues that take extra time to learn and report.

Over the next several months, Colorado journalists are invited to participate in four “Water Fluency for Journalists” workshops presented by Jerd Smith of Fresh Water News and COLab’s Susan Greene. “Water Fluency for Journalists” trainings are offered by Water Education Colorado and Fresh Water News.

Unable to attend the live sessions? As they become available the recordings will be shared below.


Session One: Hydrographs, history, and whose water is it anyway?

This session will set the context for Colorado water law, management and protection by covering basic Colorado hydrology, the history of settlement and water development in Colorado, and the foundations of Colorado water law and water rights administration that govern water use. Plus, we’ll look at protections for streams and water quality.

Recorded July 29, 2021.


Session Two: Drought, aridification, and sharing shortage in the Colorado River Basin

This session will be a deep dive into the Colorado River Compact and layered agreements that make up the “Law of the River,” the flawed hydrology that served as the basis for the original compact, the 20-year drought plaguing the basin, and drought contingency planning among the seven U.S. states that share the river, in cooperation with the nation of Mexico and Native American Tribes.

Recorded August 12, 2021.


Session Three:  Nature vs. Nurture: Policy and planning to stretch a scarce supply

This session will dig into Colorado’s source water supply, major users and how they access water, community- and regional-level water planning, as well as major policy drivers and influencers, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado Water Plan and other key water players working toward a sustainable water future in the face of drought and climate change.

Recorded August 26, 2021.


Session Four: The what, where, why of Colorado’s most pressing water issues

This session will cover the top water issues facing the state of Colorado and its communities, many of which look similar across the West, and will highlight creative solutions being pursued, from technological innovations to policy change to creative financing, to address these challenges. Plus, where can reporters begin as they dig into their local issues?

Visit this page if interested in registering for the live Zoom session scheduled for September 23, 2021. The recording will be available here within a week after Session Four.