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One World One Water Offers Unique Minor in Water Studies at MSU Denver

MSU Denver students study hydrodynamics.

Tom Cech moved to MSU Denver to head the school's One World One Water (OWOW) Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship.

The One Water One World sculpture sits in front of MSU Denver's Student Success Building.

Under the leadership of Director Tom Cech, the new One World One Water Center at MSU Denver offers students in all departments a unique minor in water studies.
Tom Cech knows water.

It's been the center of his career for the three decades running. He's taught water classes at Colorado State University and University of Northern Colorado. He's written textbooks about water. 

Like the Nobel Prize-winning ex-CU geneticist of the same name, this Tom Cech is a standout among standouts in his field.
 
After spending 30 years at the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District in Greeley, Cech moved to Metropolitan State University at Denver in December 2012 to head the school's One World One Water (OWOW) Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship. An anonymous donor funded OWOW to the tune of $1 million in August 2011.Tom Cech moved to MSU Denver to head the school's One World One Water (OWOW) Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship.
 
"Water education is my passion," says Cech. "There's much more to being a good water steward than being a water lawyer or a water engineer. You need to be an educated citizen."
 
Over 100 students are enrolled in five different water-specific classes covering such subjects as water law and atmospheric science, and 20 students have taken on the new water studies minor since it was approved in early April. About 150 more are interested, says Cech.
 
 "The support for the program has been phenomenal," he says. "What's really cool about this program is that it's the only water studies minor for any department at a university. We wanted it to be open for even the theater department."
 
And that's not the only water drama in this story. OWOW is in talks with Denver Water to partner on a theater troupe to bring a touring water-centric show to area schools.
 
The importance of water education is rising, says Cech. "The drought is exemplifying the fact that Colorado is such a dry location," he explains. "So many people move here from wetter places and they don't realize just how scarce water is."
 
Don't expect a simple solution. "There's no silver bullet," Cech says. "There are going to be two million people moving here by 2030 and we've got to find water for them."

At best, conservation could cover the water needs of about 400,000 of these newbies. Other solutions are politically and environmentally dicey -- more reservoirs or a tunnel redirecting Western Slope water to the Front Range. 
 
Cech says Front Range municipalities and water districts could also buy water rights from farms and other irrigators. The South Platte River could see as much as 20 percent of current irrigation diverted back to the Front Range, says Cech, leaving many fields to go fallow.
 
Is this a rerun of what's transpiring in California's Central Valley? "We're heading that way," answers Cech. "That's why it's important for students to learn more about water resources."

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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