Preserving the Source

A header that says "Preserving the Source: A newsletter from the Water Resources Archive" accompanied by a blue and white circular logo of a water droplet floating above waves.

May 2023, issue #62

Water Resources Archive

Knowing Our Neighbors

A map of the South Platte River Basin in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska

Do you know your neighbors? Who do you define as your neighbors? In a water sense, Colorado’s neighbors are not only the surrounding states, but also those which are hydrologically connected.

Being a good neighbor starts with knowing a little something about each other. The better we can understand an adjacent watershed, the ditch company whose channel runs through our property, or a downstream diverter, the better we can get along.

Hopefully, if you’re paying attention to news items about the Colorado River situation, Nebraska’s work on the proposed Perkins County Canal, or the current flooding of western streams, you’re thinking in a neighborly way. My student assistants and I, while working on new collections documenting different areas of Colorado, can’t help but learn about our neighbors.

I have also pondered past neighborliness. A new book I was asked to review, The Foundations of Glen Canyon Dam: Infrastructures of Dispossession on the Colorado Plateau by Erika Marie Bsumek, focuses on the clash of worldviews regarding land use and ownership as Mormons and other whites settled in the area and displaced Native Americans. We can always be better neighbors.

This summer in Fort Collins, we will be able to get to know academic neighbors from across the country when they are in town for the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) annual conference. They’ve all been invited for tours of the Water Resources Archive!

If you want your own tour to get to know us better, please contact me at any time.

– Patty Rettig, Archivist, Water Resources Archive

Water Resources Archive

Water Resources Archive in the News

Ival Goslin standing next to a dam at Lake Powell. His arm is raised and he is smiling.

Contributing historical context for improved understanding and decision making is a role the Water Resources Archive plays directly and through hosting researchers.

We also provide interesting visuals, such as the photo above: Ival Goslin, former executive secretary of the Upper Colorado River Commission, at Glen Canyon Dam celebrating the filling of Lake Powell in 1980.

Water Resources Archive

Water Puzzler

An image of the South Platte River Compact

The South Platte River Compact between Colorado and Nebraska was completed 100 years ago, on April 27, 1923. Colorado commissioner Delph Carpenter wrote that its origins made it “probably the first effort to use the treaty powers of the states in the settlement of interstate controversies respecting the waters of western streams,” predating the 1922 Colorado River Compact.

Indeed, Western Irrigation District v. The Riverside Irrigation District et al., which was brought in the same year that Carpenter first argued Wyoming v. Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court and was essentially a proxy for Nebraska v. Colorado, gave him added cause to contemplate improving interstate cooperation on water supply issues. The case prompted both “negotiations and continuous studies of water supply, engineering and other problems,” ultimately leading to resolution through the South Platte Compact. When writing to Governor Sweet to encourage Colorado ratification of the compact nearly a decade after the case began, Carpenter revealed his optimism in stating that this compact would assure “permanent peace with our neighboring state.” Today, Nebraska and Colorado are at risk of a new lawsuit, this time over the Perkins County Canal, part of the South Platte Compact from the beginning.

What year was the lawsuit that led to the South Platte River Compact brought?

(a) 1912   (b) 1914  (c) 1916

The answer is…

Water Resources Archive

Now Online: Blue River Basin, David J. Miller

One image from the collection that features the Blue River Basin

We have two new finding aids online, giving details about vastly different collections. One is for our Blue River Basin Collection. The collection is comprised almost entirely of photographs along with some maps and data. More than 500 photographs, mostly from the 1990s, feature the river, tributaries, reservoirs, dams, diversion infrastructure, and high-water events. Locations within Colorado Water District 36 depicted include Dillon Reservoir, Green Mountain Reservoir, and the counties of Grand, Summit, and Lake. (Photo above: Straight Creek, high runoff in 1995.)

The other is for our Papers of David J. Miller. This collection documents the lawyer’s extensive work on a number of water issues occurring in Colorado during the mid-twentieth century. The letters, reports, and court documents detail that part of Colorado’s history related to both the establishment and dissolution of irrigation and conservancy districts, including the Blue River-South Platte Water Conservancy District, whose failure led to today’s Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Water Resources Archive

Begin the Summer with a Donation

Have you done some spring cleaning and found some important old files? Please let us let us know about them if they need a good home.

Are you inspired to help us all be better neighbors? Much of the historical work that the Water Resources Archive facilitates is made possible or enhanced by funding from the community. If you are able to contribute to preserving this important documentation for learning about the histories of different watersheds, please consider donating today.

Water Resources Archive

Begin the Year with a Donation

Image of drop of water falling on book

Much of the historical work that the Water Resources Archive facilitates is made possible or enhanced by funding from the community. If you are able to contribute to preserving this important documentation for centuries into the future, please consider donating today.

Water Resources Archive

Puzzler answer:

(c) 1916

Learn more about the South Platte Compact (including original comments concerning Nebraska’s Perkins County Canal) through Delph Carpenter’s 1925 report and many other documents in his archival collection.

This electronic newsletter provides updates about the Water Resources Archive. To be added to this distribution list, please send an e-mail that includes your name and a request to subscribe.

This newsletter is created by Patty Rettig.
Designed by Demi Connelley

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