Water in good hands

Nov 162006
Authors: Brandon Owens The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Saying Reagan Waskom is passionate about water would be an understatement.

Water is his job and his life.

“I’m one of those guys who thinks about water all the time,” he said. “I love water.”

One reason is because of its recreational uses – he loves to swim and fish. The other is his career.

Waskom, who has been at CSU for 20 years, was recently named the director of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute and the CSU Water Center.

He has worked at the CSU Water Center since 2000 and has served as the interim director since December.

The institute has been a big part of CSU since 1965 and provides a critical link between water researchers and water users and managers in Colorado.

“Given his knowledge, energy and connections across the state of Colorado, I think Reagan will do an excellent job directing CWRRI and the Water Center,” said Robert Ward, the previous director who retired last December. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and energy to water and its presence on the CSU campus.”

Waskom’s family had a major impact on his initial interest in water. He came from an agriculture background in Texas, where he learned from his grandfathers the importance of water.

“At an early age, they helped me experience its importance in irrigation and fishing,” Waskom said.

Waskom’s original interest was water’s role in agriculture. He has worked in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences within the College of Agriculture Sciences as the Cooperative Extension Water Resource Specialist since 1991.

While he enjoys his job, Waskom has had to overcome the major obstacle of politics in the Colorado water industry.

“Water in Colorado is very political,” he said. “We’re always fighting about water in the West.”

But he attributes his success to the learning from mistakes, experience and observing his mentors.

“Every public agency has its own culture,” he said. “It’s about connecting with people and solving a problem. Robert Ward was the master at this and I was able to observe him for many years.”

Waskom has several goals and aspirations as the new director. One goal is to build CSU’s presence in water resources on a global scale. He also wants to help position CSU to provide the water research information that the state needs to navigate difficult times in meeting water resource needs.

Waskom noted several water problems that need to be solved in the near future.

“The state is growing very rapidly,” he said. “It has outgrown water portfolios in the way it’s currently being administered.”

Another major problem is the evidence of a changing climate.

“It’s getting warmer and the snow melts are coming earlier in spring,” Waskom said. “Higher temperatures mean more evaporation. These things are coming together to present major problems in the West.”

With the future of water in Colorado at stake, he hopes to stress the importance of his job, especially here in Colorado.

“When you’re looking at water, land and resources in the arid West, water touches everything,” he said. “I think this is the best job at CSU.”

Staff writer Brandon Owens can be reached at campus@collegian.com.

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