As previously reported, the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum recently recognized Terry Scanga with the Bob Appel “Friend of the Arkansas” Award.

The Water Forum presents the Appel Award each year to recognize an individual who has “worked to improve the condition of the Arkansas River” in Colorado and “has helped to promote the best management practices in the usage of water in the Arkansas River Basin.”

Arkansas River Outfitters Association Executive Director Bob Hamel presented the award to Scanga, long-time general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. Scanga also serves on the Colorado Interbasin Compact Committee, which coordinates efforts between river basins to address statewide water issues.

Greg Felt, Upper Ark District Vice Chairman and Colorado Water Conservation Board member, read comments from nominations submitted by himself and others, including Colorado Division of Water Resources Director Kevin Rein, Colorado Water Congress Executive Director Doug Kemper, Arkansas Basin Division Engineer Bill Tyner, and founding member of the Upper Ark Conservancy District Ken Baker, who received the award in 2018.

Terry Scanga, left, and Ken Baker show their Bob Appel awards from 2020 and 2018, respectively (courtesy photo).

Baker commended Scanga for his success in leading the conservancy district “into the world of business enterprise” and for ensuring that local schools and other community organizations, including Colorado Farm to Table, receive water at no cost.

Tyner praised Scanga’s leadership on the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, calling him a “pillar of stability and knowledge” as one of few remaining charter members of the Roundtable. “He’s one of the finest gentlemen to work with.”

Kemper said Scanga is an “outstanding representative of the entire Arkansas River Basin,” noting his leadership on the district’s blanket augmentation plan, which allows local residents and businesses to acquire augmentation water without the costly, time-consuming process of going to water court.

Rein commended Scanga for his work on the conservancy district’s Trout Creek Park Multi-Use Project, which is pioneering underground water storage in the Arkansas Basin.

Felt, also chairman of the Chaffee County Commissioners, spoke “on behalf of a grateful Chaffee County.” He noted Scanga’s “dedicated commitment to educating water leaders” and his “lasting contribution to the Colorado water world.”

Felt and others acknowledged Scanga’s ability to apply creative thinking to resolve difficult water issues.

Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, attended the award presentation via Zoom videoconference. He congratulated Scanga, adding, “It’s long overdue for you to receive this award.”

Water attorney Kendall Burgemeister said much of the conservancy district’s work is attributable to Scanga. From a “statewide perspective … I struggle to think of another district that engages in the diversity of projects that the Upper Ark District does.”

Almost every speaker and nominator expressed appreciation to Scanga for helping educate them about water issues in Colorado.

Scanga, for whom the award presentation was a surprise, responded, “Thank you for all the kind words. It’s been an honor. … Ken Baker and the district founders deserve a lot of credit. They make me look good.”

From left, former Upper Ark District Chairman Bob Senderhauf, original General Manager Ken Baker, current General Manager Terry Scanga, Chairman Tim Canterbury, Board Member Mannie Colon, Vice Chairman Greg Felt, and Board Member Tom French remove their masks long enough to toast Scanga’s receipt of the Bob Appel Award. Several others attended the award presentation via Zoom (courtesy photo).

One of the earliest recipients of the Appel Award was Denzel Goodwin, who received the award in 2006. Like Baker, Goodwin was a founding member of the district. He served as its chairman for 25 years and served on the Southeastern District board for 16 years.

Other local recipients of the award include Reed Dils, who received the award in 2008 in part for his work to establish the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area and his efforts to develop the Voluntary Flow Management Program.

In 2014, Greg Policky, an aquatic biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife for 33 years, received the award for work that included helping address heavy metals pollution, thereby allowing 102 miles of the upper Arkansas River to attain a Gold Medal fishery designation.

The “Friend of the Arkansas” Award was established in memory of Bob Appel, who provided strong leadership for the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum.

The award is typically presented at the annual Arkansas River Basin Water Forum conference in April, but the 2020 conference was canceled due to the pandemic.

Past recipients of the Appel Award serve as the award selection committee.