Water Education Foundation Bus Sets Sail for a Three-day Water Tour

Written by: Doug Hendrix

Attendees of the WEF Tour were provided with a brief walking tour of the Big Bend Conservation area near Laughlin, Nevada. <em>Photos by Dan Scott, Tour Director, Water Education Foundation</em>
Attendees of the WEF Tour were provided with a brief walking tour of the Big Bend Conservation area near Laughlin, Nevada. Photos by Dan Scott, Tour Director, Water Education Foundation
On Wednesday, March 2, the Water Education Foundation’s (WEF) annual tour of the lower Colorado River set sail from the parking garage at Hoover Dam for a three-day bus tour of the Reclamation facilities, riverine environments and municipal projects along the river. Each year, WEF organizes conferences and tours profiling many of the West’s primary water and river basins so people can learn firsthand about water, its importance and myriad uses, with input from experts on all sides of the issues.

In support of the annual water education-focused tour, Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region provided subject matter experts and interpretive education aboard the bus, as well as presentations from water and resource managers at many of the Reclamation-managed water storage facilities and project sites along the tour route. Tour stops included Hoover Dam, Big Bend Conservation Area, Lake Havasu, Imperial Diversion Dam, the All-American Canal, Warren H. Brock Storage Reservoir and the Salton Sea.

The annual Lower Colorado River tour, hosted by WEF with financial and technical support from Reclamation, offers Federal, state and nongovernmental organization (NGO) participants with an in-depth look at the facilities, infrastructure and environments that exist within the lower Colorado River Basin. The tour also offers participants an overview of the complexities of meeting the current and future water demands and resource needs of the competing interests along the river.

Topics discussed during the annual tour included issues of water supply, water quality, environmental restoration, flood management, groundwater and water conservation. These issues were addressed by a wide range of speakers from Reclamation, local water districts, state government agencies, and NGOs, many of which also provide financial support and interpretive assistance to WEF for the annual event.

Over the course of the three days, tour participants heard from 30 to 40 water and resource managers, and explored destinations along the last 300 miles of the Colorado River in the United States before it crosses into Mexico. Dams, irrigation canals, municipal pumping plants, wetlands, farms and cities were the traditional stops along the way as the bus traveled down the Colorado River from Hoover Dam through Lake Havasu, Parker Dam, the Yuma and Imperial valleys, and the Salton Sea, concluding at farming sites in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs.

The Water Education Foundation is an impartial, nonprofit organization whose mission is to create a better understanding of water resources, and foster public understanding and resolution of water resource issues through facilitation, education and outreach. WEF’s history dates back to 1977, when California was in the second year of a major drought and water was at the forefront of the news. Today, the Sacramento-based non-profit Foundation remains a vital source of nonpartisan, in-depth information about water resource issues in the West.

Published on March 10, 2016