First ever Water and Energy Conference deemed a success

Organizers: continued water and energy partnership possible for the future



“I think for some time to come now we will have an element of energy at our events.”

– Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress, on the successful partnership between water and energy leaders at the first ever Water and Energy Conference

Disappointment and uncertainty prevailed when organizers from the energy industry announced its semi-annual meeting would be held in Steamboat Springs and not Craig.

The Colorado Coal & Power Generation Conference was slated to return in May to the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion, but was postponed because of scheduling conflicts and issues with booking speakers.

Rather than lose the event entirely, organizers opted to team up with the Colorado Water Congress, an advocacy group that holds its annual meeting every other fall in Steamboat Springs.

Last week was the culmination of that partnership as more than 310 water advocates and energy leaders came together at the first ever Water and Energy Conference to discuss common challenges and opportunities facing their industries.

“I think we were very pleased,” said Jerry Nettleton of the Colorado Coal and Power Generation planning team. “The Water Congress has their fall meeting here every other year. We looked at it and decided there were a lot of common elements in terms of water and energy and some of the challenges and opportunities they face.

“That’s really what this conference was all about.”

Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress, said his board was pleased with the partnership and is already talking about returning to Steamboat next year.

“We’ve had a tradition of being in Steamboat every other year for about the last 15 years,” Kemper said. “When we’re not in Steamboat, we hold the Congress somewhere in the I-70 corridor. But my board has already asked me to look into bringing the conference and the energy partnership back to Steamboat next year.”

Nettleton agrees the water and energy partnership is a good one.

“I think there is a serious possibility to do this again,” he said. “It was kind of fun because we had the two different groups, but I think each group saw things a little different, learned a little bit and saw that we definitely do have some common ground and some mutual interests.”

Kemper said Craig will always play a role in future events.

“I was really impressed with the support we got from the City of Craig, who signed up as a co-sponsor of the conference,” he said.

Kemper, who had never visited a power plant or a working coal mine, said the tours of Craig Station and Trapper Mine were the highlights of the conference.

“I think my members appreciated the opportunity to tour Craig Station and Trapper Mine,” Kemper said. “Those were both very popular among people I spoke to.”

Although nothing is set in stone, it’s clear both sides feel there is enough interest to bring water and energy together at future conferences.

“We’re going to continue to have these conversations because water and energy are so connected,” Kemper said. “There are a lot of similarities in the ways we approach things and also a lot of very interesting differences.

“I think for some time to come now we will have an element of energy at our events.”

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