As water legends and water battles flowed through the historic Arkansas River into folklore and judicial precedent, the legacy of the Ranching family, the Everett's of Chaffee County, Colorado, left its brand on the colorful doctrine of “Colorado Water Law”.
Like his father, George E. Everett carried on the tradition of protecting water rights on the river. Among his many public service contributions, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District until September 23, 1977 when, along with his brother Dan, he was killed in an airplane crash en route to Cortez, Colorado. His son Glenn succeeded to the vacancy on the Southeastern board and continued the legacy of water leadership left by his father and grandfather.
Prior to his death, George E. Everett was working to create a water conservancy district in the upper reaches of the Arkansas River to directly represent water users and the water community in the upper basin. The inspiration of citizen Everett survived the airplane crash. Fueled by a crushing drought and irrigation wells pumping out of priority, the inspiration became a rallying call to fellow ranchers, water users, political friends, and everyday citizens to petition the Court for the new district. The tireless efforts of community leaders led to a court declaration forming the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District in the Spring of 1979.
The UAWCD, under the directorship of fellow ranchers, friends, and devotees of George E. Everett ranks among the significant leaders in water law and the water user community in Colorado. It is also one of the principal water managers of the water flows in the Arkansas River and its tributaries. In 2004 the UAWCD purchased water rights and land irrigated by George E. Everett and his wife Wilmoth for more than half a century. This chapter of his legacy will be continued.
The George E. Everett Memorial Award was created to preserve the legacy of George E. Everett, to serve as a guide for the preservation of water and its use in the historic traditions of the Arkansas River, and to dedicate, in his memory, an annual award to a person or persons who have made a significant contribution to the principals which guided George E. Everett and his family in pursuit of these goals.