Sustainnovate conference to focus on conservation of water in the West

February 28, 2017

Daryn Vlad

[email protected]

     Water. It’s a precious resource that we take for granted more often than not.

     To teach students and community members the importance of water, the Office of Sustainability will host its Fifth Annual Sustainnovate Conference and Expo on March 8.

     The theme of this year’s summit is Water in the West.

     The event will bring together local organizations to teach attendees about ways to preserve water and ensure that our future water is not only plentiful but also clean and safe to drink.

     The conference’s goal is to bring together students, staff, faculty and community members to water concerns in Colorado. Topics include climate change, the Dakota Access Pipeline and the EnergyWater Nexus, among others.

     The past three years of the conference have been themed around organic food, climate change and sustainable transportation.

     People should be aware of the possibility of running out of drinking water and work toward preserving it, according to Kevin Gilford, assistant sustainability director.

     “We don’t pay very much for our water, so we tend to not value it, but as soon as the supply is interrupted, we will realize how essential it is to every aspect of our lives,” said Gilford.

     “It’s not just a day-long conference, but actions the day after, and years after that.”

     On March 7 at 5:30 p.m., Chad Pregracke, known for his organization Livings Lands and Waters, will be on campus to share his story of how he brought together 87,000 volunteers to help remove waste from America’s rivers on.

     Gilford hopes that Pregracke will set a positive example about starting an organization like his and encourage everyone with the idea that it can start with just one person.

     “You too can start something like that on your own. You too can make a difference,” said Gilford.

     The event will end with local beer and whisky and a presentation from Jake Black, a professional snowboarder from the Protect Our Winters Riders Alliance.

     The sustainability crew hopes to see around 200 people at the event from campus and the community.

     “We’re hoping that people learn from this event, connect with each other and with other organizations doing similar work,” said Gilford.

     “But ultimately, we want to see some action (and) more initiatives to preserve our water supply.”

     The Office of Sustainability welcomes students, faculty and community members to stop by if they have any ideas or concerns regarding sustainability and conservation of the planet, said senior mechanical engineering major Brittany Burns.

     Burns gathers data for the Energy and Water team as part of the Office of Sustainability.

     “It’s a great way to learn about what’s going on. You get to learn about all three pillars: The social, economic and environmental aspects. We can even teach you how to reduce your utility bills,” said Burns.

     The day of events also includes free lunch from UCCS Food Next Door and a Sustainabrew Hoppy Hour and local whiskey tasting from 5-7 p.m.

     Students interested in attending this conference are required to register online at

     For more information on the event, contact Kimberly Reeves at [email protected].