Spencer Williams – From River Guide to Water Innovator

Spencer Williams spent his summers as a river guide in Colorado’s Upper Arkansas River Valley, and those experiences on the water led him to law school and into a career as a water rights attorney. He now works for Ponderosa Advisors, advising clients on water rights and water markets across the American West. Spencer also works with Ponderosa’s new software platform Water Sage, an innovative software program that is redefining water research across the West.

In this episode, we dig into the details of water in the West—What exactly a what right is, how water rights can be severed from the land, and the history of water as a property right. We talk about water as an investment, and how big money is currently rushing into the West’s water markets. We discuss Spencer’s work at Ponderosa and Water Sage, and we also tell some stories from his days as a river guide. It was a fun and informative conversavation about an important topic. I hope you enjoy!


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Episode Notes

Topics Covered

4:30 – How Spencer describes his work
7:00 – Water Rights 101
9:00 – History of water in Colorado
10:10 – Water as a property right
12:00 – Ability to severe water from the land
16:15 – Wells versus water rights
18:33 – “First in time, first in right” explained
21:50 – Ranch buyer “rules of thumb” for evaluating water rights
25:30 – Non-use and water rights abandonment explained
28:55 – Water rights as an investment
35:30 – Spencer’s experience as a river guide
37:00 – Describing Colorado’s Upper Arkansas River Valley
40:00 – Arkansas River flow management explained
42:45 – More river guiding stories
45:00 – Water Sage explained and discussed
54:00 – Future plans for Water Sage
55:35 – Spencer’s thoughts on the future of water in the West
57:35 – Favorite books
59:17 – Favorite documentaries
59:45 – Favorite location in the West
1:00:15 – Recommended location and activities
1:01:40 – Biggest challenge facing Colorado
1:03:05 – Spencer’s request of the listeners
1:05:00 – Spencer’s contact info
Information Referenced

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