Water in the West 2018

The inaugural Water in the West Symposium, presented by CSU and held at the McNichols Civic Center Building in downtown Denver, sold out with more than 400 attendees, and showcased more than 30 speakers from across the state and nation representing diverse perspectives in water. The Symposium mirrored the programing and conversations that will be ongoing at the CSU Water Building, the first building to be constructed at the National Western Center.

Please click the hyperlinks below to view video of the sessions or view slides from presenters, where applicable. To stay up to date about the Water in the West Symposium and other NWC-related events, sign up for our newsletter.

Thursday, April 26


  • Amy Parsons – Executive Vice Chancellor, CSU

Opening Remarks

  • Tom Vilsack – Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Challenge and Opportunity: Introduction to the CSU Water Building

Colorado Water Plan: Snapshots and Next Steps

  • Becky Mitchell Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board (slides)

Colorado Impact: Water Success and Challenges Across Sectors
Moderated by Doug Kemper – Executive Director, Colorado Water Congress

  • Mizraim Cordero VP of Government Affairs, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Bart Miller – Healthy Rivers Program Director, Western Resource Advocates
  • Don Brown – Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture
  • Mike Reidy – Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Leprino Foods Company (slides)
  • Dan Haley – President and CEO, Colorado Oil & Gas Association (slides)

Water Forum for Gubernatorial Candidates
Moderated by Russell George – Chairman, Boettcher Foundation Trustees

Taps and Bottle Caps: Water Sustainability in the Beverage Industry
Moderated by Jim Francis – Founder, Beverage Business Institute, CSU

  • Bruce Karas – VP of Sustainability, Coca-Cola North America
  • Marco Ugarte – Sustainability Manager, MillerCoors

City Water Strategies

  • Jerry Tinianow – Director, Office of Sustainability, City and County of Denver

Seeking Solutions: Colorado Leads in Water Research
Moderated by Reagan Waskom – Director, Colorado Water Institute

  • Mazdak Arabi – Associate Professor, Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, CSU (slides)
  • Brad Udall – Senior Water & Climate Research Scientist/Scholar, Colorado Water Institute (slides)
  • Jim McQuarrie – Chief Innovation Officer, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District (slides)
  • Meagan Schipanski – Assistant Professor, College of Agriculture, CSU (slides)

Trout Tank Winners Pitches
Introduced by Jocelyn Hittle – Director of Denver Program Development, CSU

  • Andrew Todd – Founder and President, Running Rivers (slides)
  • Mike Smith – Managing Partner and Founder, RenewWest (slides)

Colorado Water: Water Legacy and Vision

  • John Hickenlooper – Governor of Colorado

Friday, April 27

Welcome and Day 1 Recap

  • Amy Parsons – Executive Vice Chancellor, CSU

Dollars for Droplets: Financing Water Projects
Moderated by Diane Barrett – Chief Projects Officer, City and County of Denver

  • Tom Vilsack – Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
  • Ted Kowalski – Senior Program Officer, Colorado River Initiative, Walton Family Foundation
  • Rich Thorsten – Chief Programs Officer, Water.org (slides)
  • Tom Halverson – President and CEO, CoBank
  • Gili Elkin – General Partner, Israel-Colorado Innovation Fund (slides)

Federal Focus: Water in the West
Hosted by Kelly Brough – President, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce    

Water and Food Dialogue

  • Sonny Perdue – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
  • Tom Vilsack – Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Special Announcement

  • Deborah Hamlin – CEO, Irrigation Association (slides)

Closing Remarks