Gov. Jared Polis has named Western Colorado University Professor Alina Luna, Ph.D., to the newly formed Water Equity Task force, a group aimed at better understanding existing equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) challenges related to Colorado water issues. The panel, managed by the Water Conservation Board, will inform the Colorado Water Plan set for completion in 2022.
“In Colorado, water is the lifeblood of our state and critical for our economy, agriculture, wildlife and environment,” Polis said in a press release. “This Task Force is another important piece in creating a Colorado for all and will inform our Colorado Water Plan by ensuring that future efforts in planning for Colorado’s water future are increasingly inclusive.”
A Wealth of Knowledge and Experience
Luna has been on the forefront of addressing issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and internationalization at Western. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table in discussing how equity impacts all areas of life and culture.
“I am grateful to Governor Polis for validating the importance of equity, diversity and inclusivity; and for recognizing that challenges to these do, indeed, exist,” said Luna. “The creation of such a task force is a meaningful commitment to better understand these issues, and also acknowledges that voices have not been heard which ought to have been. In this particular case, we will be pursuing a water plan for all; but such intentional and proactive measures should also be applied by other leaders of state institutions in order to address long-standing inequities.”
The Colorado Water Plan Task Force
In 2015, the Colorado Water Plan was completed, outlining goals to meet the state’s future water needs. Gov. Polis thought further to include input from a broad and diverse populace who are not always represented in local stakeholder groups.
The task force will consist of nine stakeholders with insights into Colorado’s current water planning efforts and basin roundtable structure; two members representing Colorado’s federally recognized Native American Tribes, the Southern Ute and the Mountain Ute tribes; and nine members representing community leaders who are not traditionally engaged in water issues, such as Luna.
“It is absolutely a great (and unexpected) honor to be invited to join the task force,” said Luna. “I am among the members representing those ‘not traditionally related to water issues,’ so I was thankful that Sonja Chavez, General Manager of the Upper Gunnison Water Conservancy District, would be part of the task force as well. Another exciting aspect for me was knowing that the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain tribes also would be represented.”
Making a Plan
The Water Equity Task Force, which represents the nine basin regions across Colorado, will meet over the next year to draft a set of concepts for consideration in the Colorado Water Plan update by the end of March 2022. The group will plan and develop a public workshop tentatively set for late 2021 to incorporate additional partners and voices to this effort.
Find details and updates on this project through the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
Learn more about Western’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion & internationalization.
Author Credit: Chris Rourke
Photo Credit: Western Marketing