Kathy Bower named Water Commissioner of the Year | CraigDailyPress.com

Kathy Bower named Water Commissioner of the Year

Hans Hallgren

— Kathy Bower’s cramped office in downtown Craig isn’t indicative of the large geographical area she manages as the Division 6 water commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources.

She can drive 20 miles north or south, 50 miles east or west, and still be in the area she’s responsible for overseeing. Yet, space is at a premium in her narrow office, which she shares with colleague Roberta Hume.

Nonetheless, plush office digs or not, Bower is excelling at her post. Proof of that lies with a recent award Bower received for Division 6, which encompasses a large area in Northwest Colorado.

Bower has been named Division 6 Water Commissioner of the Year.

“It was really a no-brainer who deserved it,” Division 6 engineer Erin Light said of Bower’s award. Light nominated Bower for the award.

Bower was more modest in her reaction to the award.

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“Well I guess I was kind of surprised in a way, but we did have a pretty rough summer,” Bower said, “or I should say, I had a rough summer.”

Summers are a particularly busy time for Bower, a time when she can rarely be found in the close quarters of her office.

As water commissioner, she’s responsible for a variety of duties, including things as complicated as balancing the needs of environmentalists seeking to protect endangered species, and ranchers hoping to divert much-needed water to irrigate crops.

Fortunately, for people in Division 6, Bower understands the important role water plays for many groups of people.

“I feel like it’s my job to be the go-between,” Bower said, “I understand what they’re going through.”

Water management and oversight runs in Bower’s family. Her father, Moffat County resident Jack Leonard, was a rancher and also worked as a water commissioner.

It was the same position Bower now holds.

With drought conditions in recent years, and changes in technology, state and national governments are keeping much closer tabs on who is using water, and just as important, how much they’re using, Bower said.

A complex set of laws are in place that state officials must enforce regarding water use and management. It falls on Bower to keep people informed about the laws.

“Times have changed,” she said. “Water is getting so critical.”

However, the job isn’t without its share of benefits. Namely, you never know what tomorrow might bring, Bower said.

“You never know where you’re going to go,” she said. And, with a chuckle, she added, “Oh well, I guess that’s what makes life interesting.”