Celebrate Clean Water Act’s 50th with dragon boat races, education this weekend in Grand Lake
This weekend, residents of and visitors to Grand Lake can join the rest of the nation in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Clean Water Act, the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution and the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. This year’s theme is “Reclaiming Our Right to Clean Water,” and communities across the U.S. have been deciphering ways to do just that.
Here in Grand County, the job has fallen on a consortium of water groups collaborating as the Live Water Alliance which deems itself as non-political, nonpartisan and “created to constructively educate others about the water problems we are facing and how we can all do our part to make a positive impact for change.” Their focus is the Colorado River Basin, which the advocacy group American Rivers calls “the most endangered river basin in the U.S.” The intent of this weekend’s Live Water festival is to educate the public about the unique water issues Grand County faces, and to celebrate the region’s streams, rivers and lakes.
One of the alliance’s premises is that nature has its own set of inherent rights, similar to the concept of fundamental human rights. That’s not a unique idea: in recent years, a “rights-of-nature” movement has sprung up in 17 countries and in dozens of cities and counties throughout the U.S.
At its meeting last week, the Grand Lake Board of Trustees voted to adopt a resolution to recognize the rights of nature in Grand Lake and its watershed, pending approval from the town’s attorney.
Grand Lake is the fourth Colorado town to adopt the rights-of-nature designation. “It’s largely symbolic. There’s nothing dictatorial about it in terms of demanding particular legislation,” said alliance spokesperson Ken Fucik. “It’s a show of unity among people who adopt the idea that nature needs to be considered when making these decisions.”
This weekend’s events commence on July 16, with dragon boat races and a small craft scavenger hunt starting at 7:30 a.m. in Gene Stover Lake Front Park. A live-music fueled BBQ and beer bash follows from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the same spot. On July 17, the Grand Lake Community House will host an arts and science exhibit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival concludes with a Wild and Scenic Film Festival showing, also at the community house, at 3 p.m.
Drive past Grand Lake, Lake Granby or Shadow Mountain Reservoir of late and it will seem like they’re fuller than normal. They are, because of recent rains, said Fucik, who added a word of caution.
“I think the thing we can’t lose sight of is that while we have a good water year this year, we’re a long way from being out of a drought,” said Fucik. “We also continue to experience impacts in our watershed as a result of all of the diversions going to the Front Range. That long-term solution we have not yet figured out and it’s going to take more than one good year of rain to get us back to where we need to be.”
Meanwhile, you can head to the Live Water festival this weekend and educate yourself on Grand County’s water challenges and needs.
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