Pioneer explorer John Wesley Powell told Americans that two-fifths of the country couldn't support agriculture without irrigation.
One hundred twenty-five years later, the man with the enormous responsibility of tracking and administering Colorado's water supply has won the Colorado State University College of Engineering Honor Alumnus Award for 2000.
Hal Simpson, state engineer and director of the Colorado Division of Water Resources, is a second-generation state resident who grew up on a dryland wheat farm near Greeley. He attended Colorado State, earning a bachelor's degree (1967) and a master's degree (1969) in civil engineering.
He has been actively involved in the university's water programs, supporting conferences and faculty research. Simpson's major responsibility involves the state's disbursement of water. His division administers 152,763 water rights and oversees delivery of more than 18 million acre-feet of water to irrigation, storage, municipal and other facilities.
Prior to being named to the state engineer's post in 1992, Simpson spent 20 years as deputy state engineer, advisor on interstate compacts and director of litigation activities, among other posts.
Simpson has received plaudits for his fairness and commitment, while focusing on the needs and concerns of Colorado citizens. He developed equitable rules and procedures that helped Colorado's position before the Supreme Court in a lawsuit brought by Kansas. He also has been involved in promoting new technologies, improving dam safety and establishing a public information program.
A Denver resident, Simpson is active in church and community affairs.