News Column

Bringing History to Life on the Rio Grande

Feb 4, 2013

Chris Woodka

One of the high points of a water conference that stressed getting future generations interested in water invoked a figure from a century ago.

J.C. Ulrich, an engineer who designed Rio Grande Reservoir, read a few of his letters from the period of 1905-1912 during construction. He described the surveying work, conditions for the workmen, disputes with contractors and even the quality of food during construction.

Well, actually it was Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs in character -- complete with a stout black moustache and bowler hat -- reading the letters at the Colorado Water Congress Friday.

Some of the presentations at the conference looked at how younger people can be persuaded to enter careers in waterrelated fields. Hobbs, a fine actor known for dramatic reading of his own poetry, reprised the role of Ulrich that he created for the 100th anniversary of the reservoir last summer.

The reservoir's construction came after an 1896 embargo on building reservoirs in the Upper Rio Grande was lifted.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the 1938 Rio Grande Compact among Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

Water attorneys Bill Paddock and Dave Robbins explained how the compact divides water among the states. A treaty with Mexico also affects the river.

Disputes over the Rio Grande date back to the 1880s, when a drought, railroad and canal development converged on the upper portion of the river in Colorado. A 1906 treaty lifted the embargo and allowed the construction of the reservoir.


Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2013 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)

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