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The pushes and pulls of water in the west

A new look at using data to bring competing water interests together instead of driving them apart


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Finding and creating value is a primary business goal. While there are myriad ways to accomplish this, Ponderosa Advisors, creators of Water Sage, have found that collaborating with organizations allows us to stay neutral on hot-button issues and still reach the disparate stakeholders we serve.

Water Sage is an online land and water data aggregator platform. The platform improves visibility into the complex world of Colorado water and how it’s tied (or not) to the land it runs through.  More than that, it’s a one-stop shop for map visualization, analytics and access to public records. And it’s changing the way the people see water by increasing the speed at which information can be accessed and decisions can be made. It crosses party lines and sector goals. It can be used effectively by the trifecta of water resource management stakeholders (municipal/industrial, agricultural and environmental) that want different uses for the limited water we have available and for which we have historically been at odds. Water Sage is in an enviable space because we have built a place that supports all pushes and pulls for water in the west.

Colorado is a leader in collaboration, forward-thinking and data/tech-focused solutions, and one of the best things about being a business professional in here is how active the business community is in supporting local nonprofits. When your product can benefit different stakeholders by making research and due diligence more effective, it’s important to find relationships that will help educate people on your solution. Water Sage focuses on collaborating and partnering with many organizations to bring our platform to a wide range of users. What’s more, as a private sector entity, Ponderosa Advisors is uniquely positioned to create and maintain robust solutions that allow the water resources industry to focus on completing projects and making management decisions without needing to spend time and money on costly software development.

For example, we recently partnered with Colorado Foundation for Water Education (CFWE) to provide access to Water Sage for all participants of their annual Water Fluency continuing education course. This is a three-month course for individuals from all walks of life who want to better understand water resource management in Colorado. Participants hail from all water resource management sectors and have come to the course to be able to make better, more informed decisions about water. Because one of the benefits of Water Sage is helping people quickly visualize how and why water resource management works in Colorado, both Ponderosa and CFWE agreed it would be a valuable addition to their already incredibly informational curriculum.

Likewise, Water Sage has helped pave the way for land conservation organizations to improve their water rights due diligence and evaluations through coordination with Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). GOCO funds open space conservation projects, and because of the complex relationship between water and land in Colorado, GOCO requires water rights due diligence in its grant-funded projects.  Because of the success our land conservation clients have experienced using the Water Sage platform, Ponderosa Advisors preemptively reached out to GOCO to demonstrate the benefits Water Sage can bring to this due diligence process to a broader group of land trusts. As a result, as of 2017, grant applicants have the option to include Water Sage access in their grant applications to meet and improve upon the water rights due diligence standard.

As an organization, we strongly value the partners and relationships we’ve formed both in and out of Colorado. We have partnerships with realtor and bank associations in Montana and several non-profit water resource organizations in California. We’re always looking for ways we can further expand our reach through identifying key partners in the water resource industry. We’ve found it to be a powerful business strategy which provides value to all parties. At the end of the day, developing solutions adds value and sets successful businesses apart from the others.

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