A 1000 Year Rain – Commemorative Edition will be available here at the Trail for sale this coming Tuesday…. http://t.co/Bg2FCaVxxy
— Trail Gazette (@EPTrailGazette) December 6, 2013
‘Keeping the last wild river in the [#ColoradoRiver] Basin intact is important to a healthy environment’ — Susan BruceDecember 2, 2013
Here’s a post arguing to keep the Yampa River riparian system as a baseline for a healthy river from Susan Bruce writing for the Earth Island Journal. Here’s an excerpt:
Governor John Hickenlooper’s directive to the Colorado Water Conservation Board earlier this year to create a Colorado Water Plan by 2015 has put the Yampa, which has the second largest watershed in the state, under the spotlight.
Efforts to dam the Yampa go back to the proposed construction of Echo Park Dam, which Congress vetoed in 1952, bowing to a groundswell of public outcry led by David Brower, then with the Sierra Club. But in a compromise he later regretted, Brower supported the construction of two other dams: Glen Canyon on the Colorado River and Flaming Gorge on the Green River. The Green and Yampa rivers used to have similar flows and ecosystems. The construction of the Flaming Gorge Dam in 1962 modified the Green’s hydrograph, reducing sediment flow by half and tapering its seasonal fluctuations to a slower, more consistent flow, opening the way for invasive species like the tamarisk tree to crowd out native ones.
More recently, in 2006, there was a proposal to build a reservoir near Maybell, CO, and pump water from the Yampa to a reservoir about 230 miles away for municipal and agricultural use on the Front Range. But the plan was scrapped due to environmental and cost concerns; the reservoir would have cost between $3 billion and $5 billion.
The oil and gas industry is also eyeing the Yampa. Shell Oil had plans to pump about 8 percent of the Yampa’s high-water flow to fill a 1,000-acre reservoir, but it shelved the proposal in 2010, citing a slowdown of its oil-shale development program. Still, oil production in Colorado is at its highest level since 1957 and gas production at an all-time high. While industrial and municipal water needs are projected to increase with population growth, the largest water user, agriculture, will continue to divert the lion’s share of Colorado’s water, around 80 percent. All of which mean the pressure to suck up Yampa’s water is only going to grow.
The most unique characteristic of the Yampa is its wild and unimpeded flow, in particular the extensive spring flooding that washes away sediment, giving the river its brownish hue. This “river dance” helps establish new streamside forests, wetlands, and sandy beaches, as well as shallows that support species like the endangered Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker. By late fall, the water barely covers the riverbed in some stretches…
The rafting industry, which contributes more than $150 million to Colorado’s economy, has a strong voice when it comes to the Yampa’s future. Although damming the Yampa would provide a more consistent flow over a longer season, George Wendt – founder of OARS, the largest rafting company in the world – speaks for most outfitters when he says he would rather see the Yampa retain its natural state.
Conservationists also argue that the Yampa’s full flow helps meet Colorado’s legal obligation to provide water to the seven states within the Colorado Basin and Mexico. Measures being considered to protect the Yampa include an instream flow appropriation by the Colorado Water Conservation Board that would reserve Yampa’s water for the natural function of rivers, and a Wild and Scenic River designation by Congress.
Many proponents of keeping the Yampa wild point to its value as a baseline – an ecosystem naturally in balance. “If things go awry on dammed rivers, which they do, we have a control river, so to speak,” says Kent Vertrees of The Friends of the Yampa. “Keeping the last wild river in the Colorado Basin intact is important to a healthy environment and so future generations can experience in situ millions of years of history little changed by man.”
From the Valley Courier (Lauren Krizansky):
Colorado youth are tomorrow’s water leaders, and in the Valley they are getting a head start. Natural resource education opportunities are abundant between the Sangre de Cristos and the San Juans, and teachers are connecting their students to one of the Valley’s most priceless resources – water – through Colorado Academic Standards approved lessons in nature’s classroom.
“Water, where it comes from affects us and what happens in our community,” explained Conejos Water Conservancy District Manager and Conejos County Conservation District Supervisor Nathan Coombs to a group of North Conejos School District students earlier this year. “And we have to measure water to know if it is going to the right places… the value of water is tremendous.”
After breaking down water management in the Conejos District to a few key vocabulary words – priority, compact, curtail, diversion, aquifer, ground water and surface water – Coombs brought it to life standing over the Conejos River on the Manassa Ditch No. 1 with the 65 middle school students, discussing the 97 diversions between the Platoro Reservoir and where they were standing. “In the river, it doesn’t matter where you are,” Coombs said. “It’s all about your number.”
He added, “In water, we never use the word fair. It is not part of the vocabulary.”
After detailing how the rivers in Colorado deliver water to seven states, Rio Grande Compact obligations and how it takes 44 hours in a raft to float on the Conejos River from the reservoir to Las Sauces, the students couldn’t stop asking questions and volunteering answers.
Water leaders like Coombs make these experiential lessons an option for Valley teachers with help from interested classroom teachers and environmental educators like the Rio Grande Water Conservation Education Initiative (RGWCEI) specialist Judy Lopez.
“This gives the students a real life connection,” said Conejos science teacher Andrew Shelton while watching his students turn on to their natural environment this fall. “This is a farming community , and it really hits home with them.”
RGWCEI works with the Valley’s conservation districts , school districts, community members and producers with a goal to create an educated populous that not only respects the Valley’s natural resources, but also understands the big part agriculture plays in conserving those resources, Lopez said.
“Not only are they getting lectures, but hands on experience that will ultimately build an intrinsic value system,” she said. “Science today tends to be taught within the context of labs and boxes. These experiences create problem solvers.”
About 85 percent of Valley students either stay here or return after college, she added, making natural resources lessons during younger years much more important .
“The youth are going to value the Valley more,” Lopez said. “They will be responsive to the natural resources as citizens, parents and families.” Students of all kinds Natural resource education in the Valley isn’t limited to the K-12 classroom. Last spring, the Rio Grande Leaders Course graduated a number of locals looking to understand and protect the Valley’s water. The Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD), San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District (SLVWCD), Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project (RGHRP) and RGWCEI sponsored course provided 25 community members the opportunity to engage in education and networking to prepare to take a future role in safeguarding , developing and managing the Valley’s water resources. It included information on Valley hydrology, water rights administration, notable court cases, current events and local partners and projects. Course attendees included young farmers, federal agency employees and other interested individuals , making for interesting dialogue and numerous perspectives on water use.
“It opened my eyes,” said Aliesha Carpenter, originally from La Jara and now married to a fourth generation Center potato farmer during the course’s closing ceremonies in March. “It wasn’t just about agriculture. It was about wildlife, the Sand Dunes and life for people. Without it, our agricultural economy would disintegrate. There needs to be a younger generation in agriculture.” Bureau of Land Management (BLM) assistant field manager Paul Tigan added, “I think the course helped with the understanding of the long term context of water management in the Valley. Federal employees have a tendency to come into a place, stay for a few years and then move on. This is a good opportunity to develop a context and to understand .”
RGWCEI is also reaching out to education professionals through its annual teachers workshop series. The series, now in its seventh year, offers educators from all backgrounds the opportunity to learn how to teach in the outdoors and from the outdoors. It includes a one-week experiential learning course annually over a three-year timeframe. The series is broken into three sectors: From Watershed to Cup Year One: Following Water Through the “Creekulum;” From Watershed to Sustainability Year Two: Building a “Stream” of Consciousness; and From Watershed to Table Year Three: Following Water Down the Food Chain. The series is based out of the Trinchera Ranch in Fort Garland, but uses the entire Valley as its classroom.
“It’s a way for teachers to reconnect,” Lopez said. “They learn how to teach in the outdoors, and it gives them a background. A teacher’s biggest fear is that they don’t know enough. They get to be on the ground with natural resource specialists and leave with hands on lessons , creating more confident educators.”
Completion results in three graduate credits, an extensive education in the Valley’s natural resources and their systems and the ability to build natural resources-based activities through the K-12 Project Wet curriculum, an outdoor environmental education tool. State supported initiative
In May 2010, the Colorado Kids Outdoors Grant Program Legislation, HB10-1131 was signed into law, recognizing the importance of the outdoor environment on the health of the state’s residents, especially youth.
It aims to prepare students to address present and future environmental challenges and innovations that impact quality of life, according to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Colorado Environmental Education Plan (CEEP) published in 2012. Colorado’s environment , economy and communities depend on informed citizens who can make decisions about air and water quality; the health of farms, ranches, forests and wildlife; how to meet energy and other resource needs; how to create and sustain healthy communities; and how to provide opportunities for residents to partake in the state’s natural beauty while protecting it for future generations.
In 2011, a partnership was born between CDE and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to write CEEP, and to foster awareness needed to promote, coordinate and sustain standards-based environmental education across the state.
The plan is designed to support implementation of the Colorado Academic Standards while developing students’ knowledge and skills related to the environment and getting students to spend more time outside, according to CEEP. The timing of this plan is advantageous as districts, schools and teachers are revising curricula and improving instructional practices to address the strategic imperative of developing all students’ postsecondary workforce readiness. Its strategies support teachers in addition to encouraging the integration of high quality environmental education opportunities and use of the outdoors in ways that are relevant, connected and meaningful for their students.
More education coverage here.
River of Words is a poetry and art competition for students grades K–12 throughout Colorado. The theme for the contest is watersheds and the environment, and the competition is designed to help youth explore the natural and cultural history of the place they live, and to express what they discover in poetry and visual art.
Denver Water has sponsored the River of Words competition for three years.
Click here to read the newsletter.
‘As the population of Colorado grows, so will the tension on water supplies and water quality’ — Kate BurchenalNovember 27, 2013
Did you know that Colorado is home to more than 700,000 miles of rivers, streams and creeks? Think about that: 700,000 miles. Considering that the Earth’s circumference is approximately 25,000 miles, end to end; Colorado’s waterways could circle the globe 28 times. And if we want to take this comparison to outer space, then one could travel to the moon and back and still have more than 200,000 miles to spare! Ready for more staggering numbers? Colorado’s population recently surpassed the 5 million mark, 5.18 million actually, which equates to 7.4 people per river mile.
Here in Eagle County, we love the waterways that meander through our towns and lives. Eagle County houses the entire 77 miles of the Eagle River from the headwaters on Tennessee Pass to its confluence with the Upper Colorado in Dotsero. We also play host to 55 miles of the Colorado River as it skirts through the northwestern part of the county. Fifty-five miles amounts to a mere 3.8 percent of the total length of the river, but we are nevertheless glad to have that access and proximity to the mighty Colorado.
As the population of Colorado grows, so will the tension on water supplies and water quality due to potential for increased pollution. But there’s passion among our population. People are moving to Colorado in droves to gain access to our skiing, rafting, hiking, fly-fishing and clean-air-breathing! And most of us care deeply about our watersheds and show that dedication if given the chance. So, why not put that passion to work monitoring water quality on our rivers?
Colorado River Watch
Since 1989, Colorado River Watch has provided such an opportunity by “work(ing) with voluntary stewards to monitor water quality and other indicators of watershed health and utiliz(ing) this high-quality data to educate citizens and inform decision makers about the condition of Colorado’s waters.” It coordinates water sampling by volunteer groups from around the state: middle and high school classes, local governments, environmental organizations and concerned individuals.
During the years, River Watch has collected data from more than 3,000 sites around Colorado on more than 300 of our local waterways. Each month, volunteers collect water samples from their stations to test for six main parameters: heavy metals, dissolved oxygen, pH, alkalinity, nutrient levels and hardness. Twice a year, volunteers add the collection of macroinvertebrate samples to understand the health and composition of the bug population.
Every sample is processed and carefully chronicled by River Watch in its Fort Collins lab. This information is then used by the Water Quality Control Commission (the administrative agency responsible for developing state water quality policies) to set statewide standards for allowable levels of constituents in the water, particularly metals. That’s right, River Watch training and quality control standards are so stringent that information collected by average residents is utilized to set state standards!
Here in the Eagle Valley, we have more than 12 stations in the hands of numerous River Watch partners: The Eagle River Watershed Council, the town of Vail, individuals and local classrooms. We want to get even more people out on the water taking part in this exciting program whether it is a class, a community group, an afterschool activity program or a family. It’s a great learning tool and a wonderful way for everyday people to have a hand in state water quality issues.
Kate Burchenal is the education and outreach coordinator for the Eagle River Watershed Council. The Eagle River Watershed Council has a mission to advocate for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River basins through research, education and projects. Contact the Watershed Council at 970-827-5406 or visit http://www.erwc.org.
If you haven't heard, CFWE's annual Citizen's Guide Giveaway is going on NOW... today is actually the last day to apply for up to 100 FREE GUIDES for your organization, classroom, community or cause. Send in your outreach plan and apply!!! Need some inspiration? Read about CFWE staff's top Citizen's Guide picks...
Jennie Geurts: My favorite publication is the…
‘For over 10 years, water use out of the #ColoradoRiver and its tributaries…has exceeded inflows’ — Hannah HolmNovember 20, 2013
Presentations from the conference are available on the web at http://www.coloradomesa.edu/watercenter/UpperColoradoRiverBasinWaterForum…
For over 10 years, water use out of the Colorado River and its tributaries for farms and cities has exceeded inflows from rain and snow. One wind storm in 2013 left 419 pounds/acre of snow on the San Juan Mountains, part of a trend of increasing dust falling on snow, which speeds melting. Mountain snowpacks are melting out up to six weeks earlier than they did historically. On the human side, subdivisions are encroaching on farms, and river-based recreation now economically dwarfs agriculture in some areas. Many of the growing cities that rely on the river lie outside the river basin, using pipes and canals to transport water across mountain ranges.
The weather influencing our environment, and the people who inhabit and rely on it, just aren’t behaving the way they did 50-100 years ago, or even 20-30 years ago. While conditions are changing, the legal apparatus and much of the infrastructure we use to manage water are old. The “first in time, first in line” prior appropriation doctrine was established during the early days of mining in Colorado, and many of the ditches that still convey water to hayfields and orchards aren’t much newer. The Colorado River Compact, the cornerstone of the “Law of the River” that apportions the water resources of the Colorado River and its tributaries between the headwaters and down-river states, dates back to 1922.
A central issue of debate among scholars and water managers is whether this legal apparatus, and the physical apparatus that grew up alongside it, is adequate to address our changing natural and social conditions. Both were designed to help communities withstand the variability of our region’s climate, with reservoirs to capture runoff from wet years to meter out during dry years, and rules to handle scarcity in an orderly way, as well as transfer water rights as demands changed.
As a result, the security of access to water for millions of people and millions of rows of lettuce, alfalfa, cotton and peaches has greatly increased. But in helping our communities survive and thrive, despite the variability our climate has dished out over the past 100 years, it has left us even more vulnerable to the larger swings that both ancient tree ring studies and climate change models tell us could be in our future.
On a large scale, proponents of our existing systems point to their flexibility. The states involved in the Colorado River Compact meet regularly and have refined the agreement in numerous ways. These include allowing the lower basin states and even Mexico to bank saved water in Lake Mead for future uses, and to help support a project to reconnect the Colorado River to the sea. The parties also cooperated on the Bureau of Reclamation’s massive Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, released in December 2012, which raised the alarm about an intensifying supply-demand imbalance. Stakeholders from each state are now working together to study solutions in the areas of curbing urban demands, enhancing agricultural efficiency, and protecting flows to serve environmental and recreational purposes.
On a smaller scale, farmers and conservation advocates across the basin are increasingly working together to fix leaky canals and headgates in order to improve water management options for farmers while improving streamflows for fish and recreation. Habitat restoration projects are also underway, from small streams and wetlands in the headwaters to industrial contamination sites on the Colorado main stem. On the urban demand side, water providers are helping thousands of homeowners be more efficient with their water use through individual water audits.
Will these efforts be enough to enable our region to smoothly adapt to future conditions? This is an open question, to be answered in part by what the climate dishes out, and in part by the perseverance and creativity of scientists, water managers and stakeholders across the region.
Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:
Join us for the 2014 Annual Convention, Jan. 29-31 at the Hyatt Regency DTC in Denver, Colorado. The annual convention is the premier water industry event in the state, attracting 500+ attendees that convene for networking and collaboration on the important water issues in Colorado.
Early registration is now open and offers members a discounted rate for registering before Dec. 31. There are many sponsorship opportunities available and many exhibit spaces to choose from.
As an added bonus to this year’s Convention, CSU will host its annual Water Tables event the evening of January 30.
Northern Water to host meeting about reporting requirements for oil and gas production and exploration, November 18November 16, 2013
Here’s the release from Northern Water via The Greeley Tribune:
A meeting in Greeley next week will focus on water-reporting procedures for users providing water to oil and gas operations. The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy is hosting the meeting, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Columbine Room A at the University of Northern Colorado’s University Center, 2045 10th Ave.
As Northern Water officials explained in a press release, the significant increase in oil and gas activity in northern Colorado requires a portion of the region’s water supply. In response to the water needs, the Northern Water board adopted rules governing the use of its Colorado-Big Thompson Project water and Windy Gap Project water for such purposes.
The rules require water users providing project water to oil and gas development to periodically report usage information to Northern Water.
To further describe the reporting requirements, Northern Water officials developed water-use reporting and accounting procedures that became effective June 1, 2012. Northern Water officials are now proposing modifications to those procedures. The purpose of Monday’s meeting is to discuss the proposed modifications.
Here’s a guest column written by US Senator Mark Udall running in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent where he urges action on the probable supply shortages on the Colorado River. Here’s an excerpt:
At a U.S. Senate hearing I recently led, we examined a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation study that found the demand for water along the Colorado River Basin could exceed the available supply by more than 3.2 million acre-feet — enough water to supply more than 3.2 million families across the basin — by 2060.
This could be just another study that gathers dust on the shelf, but Colorado and the West cannot allow that to happen. The study is a call to action.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the basin states have jump-started the conversation by assembling stakeholders that represent water providers, industrial users, agricultural interests and non-consumptive water users to collaborate and commit to strategies that reduce demand through innovation, conservation and better management of supply. A balanced mix of these strategies applied across the Colorado River basin will be critical for us to prepare for the future and reduce our water-shortage vulnerabilities.
While additional infrastructure is likely to be needed to serve the state’s growing population, Colorado should focus its short-term efforts on improving water efficiency and conservation practices. We must lead by example and better use existing infrastructure, improve water delivery mechanisms and continue creating resourceful conservation practices.
I will keep fighting in Washington to make important reforms that save water and promote a conservation mindset. One of the proposals I am working on is a bipartisan plan to create “smart water” projects to improve the efficiency of water treatment and delivery systems. I also will keep championing common-sense and job-creating projects, like the Arkansas Valley Conduit and Fountain Creek project in southern Colorado, which ensure we use the water we have more efficiently and promote smarter growth.
It’s been said that we don’t inherit the land and water from our parents — we borrow it from our children. No one instilled this ideal in me more than my mother. She was a member of the NRA, a sharpshooter and an avid angler. She encouraged my siblings and me to get outside and feel the dust in our hands, tackle the steepest climbs and ski the tallest mountains.
She understood that these experiences are among the most important inheritances we pass down to our children and grandchildren. Yet, without a strong Colorado River, none of these Western experiences — or our long-term economic success — will be possible.
Don’t miss one of the events. I told Ed once that I loved his humorous approach to his column. He said, “I can’t tell you how I do it, it just comes.”
His funny side was never far from the surface. Earlier in the century he asked me to write a column for Colorado Central Magazine. I asked if it was a paying gig, he responded, “Colorado Central pays a nickel a word, often late.”
Here’s the announcement from EdQuillen.com:
Please join us at an event celebrating the life and career of Ed Quillen and the release of Deeper into the Heart of the Rockies
Sunday, November 10, 2013 7:00 p.m., back room of the Victoria Tavern.
A book release celebration honoring the late Ed Quillen.
Allen Best, Abby Quillen, George Sibley, Mike Rosso, Susan J. Tweit, Jeff Donlan, and Hal Walter will read favorite selections from the book.
Admission is free.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 6:30pm, Main Campus – Benson Earth Sciences, 2200 Colorado Ave., Boulder, CO, Room: 180.
The Center of the American West presents, Words to Stir the Soul: Deeper into the Heart of the Rockies. A book release event honoring the late Denver Post Contributor and Preeminent Western Public Intellectual, Ed Quillen.
Allen Best, Christopher Braider, Art Goodtimes, Patty Limerick, Ed Marston, Betsy Marston, Laura McCall, Tom Noel, Cohen Peart, Laura Pritchett, Abby Quillen, and Martha Quillen.
Thanks to Coyote Gulch reader Greg for the heads up.
Here’s the release from Colorado State University:
Colorado State University’s newest free online course, popularly known as a MOOC, or massive open online course, is open for registration. “Water, Civilization, and Nature: Addressing Water Challenges of the 21st Century” begins Jan. 27, 2014 and runs through March 23.
“CSU OnlinePlus strives to deliver current and cutting-edge online programs to meet the changing needs of students and industry demand,” said Jordan Fritts, CSU OnlinePlus interim associate provost. “In support of Colorado State University’s land-grant charge to expand access to high quality education, we’re excited to offer this water MOOC as a relevant resource for our own campus community.”
Anyone can register for a MOOC. Students don’t have to be admitted to Colorado State University, don’t have to meet any prerequisites or have a certain GPA, and best of all, they don’t have to pay a dime.
The variety of student populations participating in MOOCs across the globe enriches the experience with perspectives from different backgrounds.
The University’s first two MOOCs offered this summer saw more than 1,000 students from nearly all 50 states, and 41 other countries around the world, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Ghana, Japan, India, Hungary, Sweden, and more.
Water, Civilization, and Nature: Addressing Water Challenges of the 21st Century
CSU showcases its nationally renowned reputation in the water industry in this free online course that addresses recent water issues.
“During the course students will have an opportunity to explore a wide variety of pressing challenges related to water, learn about innovative approaches to addressing these challenges, and see how the issues affect both the larger groups of people and individuals like themselves,” said Glenn Patterson, MOOC facilitator and CSU water faculty.
Climate change, water disasters, and agriculture and irrigation issues have impacted our water supply, creating questions and amplifying challenges we as a community continually face. Patterson and nine other expert Colorado State faculty with expertise in water resources tackle those questions and more in this free online course.
“This MOOC is a new way for our faculty to share the breadth and depth of their water research,” explained Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute and Colorado State University Water Center. “We hope this course inspires students to think more deeply about water and offers a fun and different way to learn more about water issues.”
Registration for “Water, Civilization, and Nature: Addressing Water Challenges of the 21st Century” is open now at the OnlinePlus website. Those interested in other MOOCs can visit the website for course details and registration information, or contact the CSU MOOC team with questions, (970) 491-5288
More education coverage here.
The October edition of ‘Preserving the Source’ is hot off the presses via the Water Resources ArchiveOctober 28, 2013
Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:
Archive Update: New Collections and Professional Development
This fall, the Water Resources Archive acquired one new donation and finished organizing another. The Archive’s newest collection is all about fish! The Papers of William J. Wiltzius contains the research scrapbooks of author, fishery biologist for the Colorado Game and Fish Department, and expert on early private fish culture in the state Bill Wiltzius. Wiltzius, who recently passed away, decided years ago to give his papers to the Archive when his good friend and fellow Archive donor, Jim Meiman, suggested doing so. He worked on his research up until the end. The updated Papers of Frederic A. Eidsness, Jr. now includes 12 more boxes of speeches, congressional testimony, correspondence, reports, journal articles, and newspaper clippings related to Eidsness’ work on water quality for the Environmental Protection Agency. Eidsness plants to write a book about his time at the EPA using these materials.
More education coverage here.
I’m a bad blogger. I totally forgot to do a post about next week’s South Platte Forum. I believe that there is still time to register for all the fun and great information.
Click here to register.
Also, the Colorado Water Congress POND committee is holding a silent auction to help with flood relief in the basin at their event on Wednesday.
Click here to register for the POND event.
From Colorado Mesa University (Hannah Holm) via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:
On Nov. 6-7, water experts and users from around Colorado and other states in the Colorado River Basin will converge on Colorado Mesa University for the third annual Upper Colorado River Basin Water Conference.
The theme of the conference is “Sharing Experiences Across Borders,” and it will provide an opportunity for the exchange of fresh information and fresh ideas on how to address our region’s water challenges.
Regional water leaders will explain how they are planning to address increased demands on dwindling water supplies and discuss whether changes are needed in how water is allocated between states. Scientists will present new insights on what river and stream flows could look like in the future, as well as relate how the weather systems that caused catastrophic flooding on the Front Range in September affected our side of the mountains. Farmers will talk about some of the challenges they face related to environmental issues, and examples will be given of how stream and habitat restoration has been accomplished at the Moab mill tailings site and on ephemeral streams in Colorado’s high country. Literary and historic perspectives on water in the West will also be offered.
Some of the high-profile speakers will include:
Keynote speaker James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board
Dan McCool, University of Utah political science professor and author of the 2012 book “River Republic: The Fall and Rise of Americas Rivers”
Sandy Fabritz-Whitney, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources
Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River District
In addition to listening to formal presentations, participants will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with each other and learn about participants’ projects and experiences.
The conference will be held in the University Center on CMU’s campus. It begins at 8 a.m. and continues until late in the afternoon both days, with an evening reception on Nov. 6. The full program, registration and lodging information can be found at http://www.coloradomesa.edu/watercenter.
The public is welcome to participate in this conference. The conference fee of $140 includes breakfast and lunch both days, as well as the reception. One-day and student rates are also available, and CMU students and employees can attend for no charge. A limited number of scholarships are also available for those who would otherwise not be able to attend. For more information, check the website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Water Center at CMU at 970-248-1968.
Here’s a blog post detailing the response of the CU Boulder research community to the flooding in Boulder County, written by Colorado Foundation for Water Education intern Abby Kuranz running on Your Colorado Water Blog. Click through and read the whole post. Here’s an excerpt:
The University of Colorado-Boulder is situated in the foothills-plains interface of the Flatirons, where Boulder Creek flows through the city center. Boulder Creek, which typically runs at about 300 cubic feet per second, maxed out at 5,000 cfs during the 5-day deluge…
As cleanup in Boulder continues, roads are re-opened, and hiking and biking trails are rebuilt. CU-Boulder researchers are also picking up the pieces. While many researchers will need to adjust and redesign long- and short-term projects, others are using the rare opportunity to gather data for unique comparisons in an effort to accurately characterize the hydrologic event.
By David Miller, school programs director for Keystone Science School. He has a passion for water education and getting students to experience the outdoors.
When H2O Outdoors began four years ago, I never imagined we would have the partners and diversity of students that are in the program today. By being open to any high school student in Colorado, the program brings in a wide variety of perspectives that contribute to the overarching process of learning from each other, collaborating in a fictional decision-making process, and helping students learn the ways adults in the water field must work together to solve complex water problems throughout the state.
Click here for the pitch. From the website:
Sharing Experiences Across Borders
Topics will include:
Understanding and Using Water Suppy and Streamflow Information Following up on the Colorado River Basin Supply & Demand Study: Report from Work Groups Agricultural Experiences and Challenges Across the Upper Basin
The Navajo Water Rights Settlement
Should changes be made in inter-state water administration?
Bonus: “Water Law in a Nutshell” class by Atty Aaron Clay on Nov. 8
Here’s an opinion piece written by Russ George running in the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. Here’s an excerpt:
Water is in short supply. In the coming decades, there could be a gap between water supply and demand of as much as half a million acre-feet or more per year. The entire state is put at risk by this scenario, but it is particularly threatening to Colorado’s rural communities. Unless we do something to manage our water future differently than we do today, more and more agricultural water will be bought to supply our growing cities, thereby drying up hundreds of thousands of acres of productive farm land and jeopardizing the economy and livelihoods of rural Colorado. Northeastern Colorado alone is expected to lose approximately 20 percent of agricultural land currently under production from purchase agreements already in place.
This water supply future is unacceptable. We must have a plan that uses our best thinking and problem solving to provide an adequate and secure water future for all Coloradans. In May of this year, the governor issued an executive order directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to develop Colorado’s Water Plan. This is an unprecedented undertaking for Colorado, but fortunately much of the work that is needed to develop the plan is already done…
The CWCB, IBCC, and Basin Roundtables have reached consensus on a variety of actions that will lead to a better water future, including support for alternatives to permanent “buy-and-dry” of agriculture, conservation, projects that meet certain criteria, and more. Colorado’s Water Plan will not be a top-down plan full of state mandates and requirements. Instead, it will be built on the foundation of the work of the CWCB, the IBCC and the Basin Roundtables. And that is a strong foundation.
The citizens in each basin are in the process of developing a water plan for their region. Because this effort is under way, we don’t yet know all that Colorado’s Water Plan will include. What we do know is Colorado’s Water Plan will be balanced and will reflect Colorado’s best values. The governor’s executive order specifies that Colorado’s Water Plan must promote a productive economy that supports vibrant and sustainable businesses and cities, viable and productive agriculture, and a robust skiing, recreation and tourism industry. The plan must further efficient and effective water infrastructure promoting smart land use and a strong environment that includes healthy watersheds, rivers and streams, and wildlife.
Colorado’s Water Plan will reaffirm the Colorado Constitution’s recognition of priority of appropriation while offering recommendations to the governor for legislation that will improve coordination, streamline processes and align state interests.
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.
From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
A former state Supreme Court justice who served as a water judge advocates more flexibility in water law as a way to preserve irrigated agriculture in Colorado. And some down-home schooling for water judges and justices.
“One of the challenges is to find a way to integrate the state engineer and water court into a framework that permits flexibility,” Rebecca Love Kourlis said during last week’s workshop on valuing agricultural water.
The workshop was hosted by the Colorado Ag Water Alliance and the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. Its goal was to provide policy makers with an economic basis for finding the true value of water used in farm settings.
State lawmakers today are not as connected to their farming roots as those who re-codified Colorado Water Law in 1969, said Kourlis, the daughter of former Colorado Gov. John A. Love and executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.
At the same time, Colorado has 13 water court judges or alternates and seven Supreme Court justices — just 20 people — to interpret the laws. So it is imperative that the judicial branch has a firm understanding of the needs of farmers when making water decisions.
“You in this room need to talk to water judges about the system. They need to know your concerns and have grounding,” Kourlis said.
She sparked some debate when she said that farmers and ranchers are wary of the court system and “avoid it at all costs.” One farmer replied that he sees the courts as a “safe haven” to protect his water rights, while a rancher said the cost of going to court for individual farmers is prohibitive. Colorado water law basically prohibits injury to other water rights in any change of use case, but engineering studies are expensive. Kourlis said those viewpoints need to be conveyed to judges and justices.
“The value of Colorado agriculture and the pivotal nature of water rights cannot be underestimated,” she said.
More water law coverage here.