Who is WesternWaterGirl?
WesternWaterGirl is the online handle used by Teal Lehto, a water rights activist and digital content creator that is fighting for sustainable and equitable solutions to the current water crisis in the Colorado River Basin. Teal educates her followers on the crisis at hand and advocates for common sense solutions to be adopted by elected officials and water managers.
Teal grew up in Durango, Colorado, a small mountain town in the southwest corner of the state. The Animas River (a lesser tributary to the Colorado River) runs right through the heart of the town, and that's where her love affair with the rivers of the West first started.
As a young teen, Teal's first job was slinging rafting trips in the historic downtown district of Durango. After graduating high school, Teal became certified to river guide in Colorado and then became a fully fledged commercial guide in the summer of 2016. In 2017 she founded and captained a junior women's raft racing team, the San Juan Sirens, who won the 2017 US National Rafting Championship in Oklahoma City and subsequently represented USA in the 2017 World Rafting Championship (WRC) in Japan, the 2018 WRC in Argentina, and a 2018 World Cup Invitational in China.
Teal attended Fort Lewis College (FLC) for a BA in Environmental Studies & Political Science. While in college she was the Social Media Editor for the student-led news publication on campus, The Independent. More importantly, Teal founded and presided over H2Org, a student-led organization dedicated to water resource issues in the Southwest. H2Org provided water related information and opportunities for students on campus, with guest speakers from every corner of the water industry, field trips to nearby water infrastructure projects, and internship and mentorship opportunities within the water industry.
In April of 2022, Teal started the WesternWaterGirl TikTok account to communicate about these very same issues, and in only six months the platform reached over 40,000 followers. Her background in water policy from FLC and her real life experience with the running rivers gave her the perfect combination of communication skills and knowledge to deliver succinct messaging to the public regarding the water crisis facing the American Southwest.