March 7, 2023

Flexible policies and collaboration needed for a water secure future in Colorado

We’d like to thank our panelists and everyone who joined us at our March 1st Colorado WestWater Forum for our candid discussion on the challenges and opportunities of adapting to water supply scarcity in Colorado.

The following is our recap and few key takeaways from the forum:

The risk of uncertainty is nothing new for Colorado water users. The future of agriculture has faced uncertainty from the growing pressure to transfer water to municipal water systems. Developers are facing increasing uncertainty around the reliability of Western Slope water supplies – a major source of dedication water to municipalities – and municipalities have been grappling with uncertainty around their financial, legal, and physical ability to acquire and develop new water supplies. With new uncertainties arising around the impending yet undefined Colorado River Basin cuts (and threat of litigation), Colorado’s greatest risk has become time. Coloradans have shown again and again an ability to innovate and adapt – developing both market based and policy solutions along with new technologies and unique water sharing agreements. Yet changes to water management in the Colorado River Basin may be coming at an unprecedented rate. In an open and candid conversation, our panelists discussed the challenges the agricultural, municipal, and development sectors have faced due to historical water supply uncertainties, and what solutions are needed to embrace new changes and thrive amidst future uncertainty. Of utmost importance, flexible policies, collaboration, and continued water sharing will be necessary to maintain a water secure future for all Coloradans.

The Colorado WestWater Forum at the Crawford Hotel in Denver.

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WestWater Forum: Perspectives on Addressing Water Supply Risks in Colorado

About the Panel

Emily Hunt

City of Thornton

Emily Hunt is the Deputy Infrastructure Director for Water at the City of Thornton, where she oversees source water supply strategy and utility policy. She serves on the Metro Roundtable, the Colorado Water Congress Board of Directors, and is the President of the Colorado Water Trust. Emily earned her bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, her master’s degree in Fluvial Geomorphology from the University of Denver, and has over 25 years of experience working on Colorado water matters.


Karen Kwon

Colorado River Sustainability Campaign

Karen Kwon is an attorney with more than 20 years experience in problem solving natural resource challenges and an expertise in water law and policy related to the Colorado River Basin. Karen currently serves as the Assistant Program Director for the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign where she works with conservation groups focused on advancing collaborative solutions to the water supply and ecosystem challenges existing throughout the Colorado River Basin. Karen’s experience and familiarity with the Colorado River stems from her roots as a native Coloradan and her tenure at the Colorado Attorney General’s office where she spearheaded the legal team charged with protecting and advocating for Colorado’s interests in federal and interstate water matters. Through her engagement in matters related to the Colorado River compacts, Interim Guidelines, Drought Contingency Plans, Long-Term Environmental Management Plan, and Minutes 319 and 323 to the US/Mexico Water Treaty, Karen has built a reputation for finding workable solutions to water supply questions among federal and state agencies, water users, conservation districts, Tribal Nations, municipalities, and non-governmental organizations.


Patrick McMeekin

Hartford Homes

Patrick began his real estate career in 2004 interning for Water Valley Land Company in Windsor, CO. In 2005, Patrick accepted a full-time position with Water Valley Land Company as the Director of Development. In this position Patrick was responsible for entitlement and construction of both residential and commercial projects located throughout Northern Colorado. In 2012 Patrick was promoted to Chief Operating Officer at Water Valley Land Company. In this role Patrick helped negotiate numerous public/private partnerships with local municipalities for the construction of regional infrastructure and negotiated raw water dedications to municipalities to secure potable water sources for future projects. As COO Patrick oversaw the real estate and resource assets of the corporation. In 2016, Patrick joined Hartford Homes as the VP of Land Development. In 2020 Patrick was promoted to the President of Land. Patrick’s responsibilities with Hartford entail managing the acquisition and entitlement of new development projects, overseeing horizontal construction, managing the HOA’s/Metro Districts of the company, and management of the company’s water rights portfolio.


Rob Graves

Morning Fresh Dairy

Rob Graves is a fourth generation dairy farmer and Co-Founder of noosa yoghurt. He grew up working on the farm and dairy before going to Colorado State University to study finance. After CSU, Rob went to Chicago to work as a commodity technical analyst and trader at Barnes & Co. He has over 25 years of experience with greenfield construction, process engineering and water resource development.


Adam Jokerst

WestWater Research

Adam Jokerst is the Rocky Mountain Regional Director for WestWater Research, a leading economic consulting firm in water market research, pricing, valuation, and transaction advisory services. Adam has worked on Western water issues for over 15 years and has overseen long-range water supply planning, water acquisition, water rights protection, and water storage programs. Prior to joining WestWater, he served as Deputy Director for Water Resources at the City of Greeley. Adam holds a B.S. in biological and agricultural engineering from the University of Arkansas and a M.S. in civil engineering from Colorado State University and is a licensed professional engineer in Colorado.