Photo Journal: A Visit to the Upper Colorado River Basin
Sept. 16, 2022
Last week, WRRC staff member Jessie Hampton visited family in rural southwestern Colorado. She stayed along Cebolla Creek, which flows down to meet the Gunnison River in Blue Mesa Reservoir, one of three reservoirs that make up the Curecanti Unit of the Colorado River Storage Project. Local ranchers use their water rights on Cebolla Creek to irrigate hay meadows. Jessie took photos of places she visited on her trip to showcase different types of water usage and management in the area.
Final thoughts from Jessie
I have been visiting the ranch on Cebolla Creek for nearly 30 years. I have watched the water in Blue Mesa Reservoir rise and fall in accordance with the seasons, snowpack, rainfall, and demand for water. I have seen Cebolla Creek flow low enough to splash across in rubber boots and flood high enough to wash out bridges. While I am relatively new to the WRRC, I am already gaining a deeper understanding of how those high-elevation Upper Basin water levels affect life downstream. The ongoing drought in the southwest presents a host of challenges for water users throughout the Colorado River Basin. Is it possible to do more with less? How can we cut back, and whose water rights will be cut first? How do we collaborate to find solutions that cross state borders? These are difficult questions with no easy answers. I hope to bring my connections with the Upper Basin into my work with the WRRC, just as I brought newfound appreciation for the complexity of Colorado River water issues to my recent visit to beautiful Cebolla Creek.