CMU names water center in honor of West Slope activist

Colorado Mesa University has named its water center after the late Ruth Powell Hutchins in recognition of her years of activism in preserving Western Colorado water rights.

Hutchins, who died in 1997, devoted decades to protecting the water rights of small farmers and other water users. She helped found the Mesa County Water Association, which evolved into the water center at CMU. Her children have established an endowment for the center in honor of their mother.

CMU President Tim Foster, who worked with Hutchins on water issues when he served in the Colorado Legislature in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, said naming the center in honor of Hutchins is appropriate and well-deserved.

“Ruth Hutchins was one of my very favorite people. She was a combination of Annie Oakley, Margaret Thatcher and Mary Poppins,” Foster said. “She truly cared about water issues, not only in the Grand Valley, but statewide and nationally. She was committed to making the system work better and to the importance of meeting agricultural water needs.

“We are honored to have the water center carry her name and deeply appreciative of her family’s generosity,” Foster added.

The water center opened in 2011 after community discussions about how to blend the water association’s public education work with the expertise offered at the university.

The Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center at CMU will continue to perform and support research, education, outreach and discussions regarding water issues.