Documentary: “Killing the #ColoradoRiver,” Thursday, Aug. 4 — Discovery Channel #COriver

From The San Francisco Chronicle (David Wiegand):

Water is politics — you’ll hear that phrase used in the often-fascinating Discovery Channel documentary “Killing the Colorado,” airing Thursday, Aug. 4.

The film teams five award-winning directors to explore what happens when people alter the course of waterways such as the Colorado River. The impact of diverting, damming or otherwise interfering with how water flows can be felt far beyond the area immediately around the water. And in many cases, it has led to environmental fatalities…

California fostered the growth of its major metropolitan areas by taking more than its fair share of water from the Colorado River, whose watershed extends minimally into the state, but enough to make it perhaps too readily available…

As water has become scarce, the demand for it has increased along with the population. That’s simple math, but deciding who gets water and how they’ll get it is anything but simple. Water has become so valuable that several interview subjects declare that water is to the current century what oil was to the last.

In fact, the soaring value of water has sparked the rise of several companies that buy and sell water as they do with other commodities such as gold and pork bellies. Firms such as Water Asset Management have made the water business a billion-dollar industry.

The film is kind of a patchwork of chapters overseen by different directors, including Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (“Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt”), Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County: USA”), Jesse Moss (“The Overnighters”) and Alan and Susan Raymond (“Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House”).

“Killing the Colorado” is based on an investigation of water issues published through ProPublica by Abrahm Lustgarten, who appears with useful insight and commentary at various points in the film.

The film offers a detailed example of the implications of water diversion when it looks at a proposed project for the Gila River in Arizona. The river is the subject of a squabble between Arizona and New Mexico, which wants to use a greater share of the water. A diversion plan is in the works, but given how precious water is, especially in the American Southwest, opponents haven’t given up trying to block it…

The plan is going to be costly but will only benefit a relatively small number of people. At least that’s what folks on the Arizona side of the border argue.

We also see what happens when a community with water tries to make a buck off of it. In the case of Crowley, Colo., a lot of bucks. The town sold so much of its water that it decimated its own economy and went from being one of the state’s better-off areas to one of its most impoverished…

Farmers have always been either victims or scapegoats in water issues. They are often blamed for water shortages because they are by far the dominant consumers of water in this country. Yet, to get an idea of how little clout farmers have with regard to water decisions, just drive along Interstate 5 in California, especially as it cuts through the Central Valley. You’ll be greeted by signs along the road expressing outrage at Congress for leaving farmland high and dangerously dry.

Alfalfa, for example, is one of the best ways of feeding cattle. If farmers can’t grow alfalfa, it affects dairy farming and the beef cattle industry. Yet they are targeted for growing a plant that needs a lot of water to thrive.

However, if we think of water as a regional problem for the West, we’re missing an important point. Much of the food Americans consume is grown in California, which is slowly emerging from a drought. The Imperial Valley, in the southeastern part of the state, is part of the Colorado watershed. If someone in New York complains about the cost of a fresh kale salad, they can direct their irritation at the scarcity of water in the West.

“Killing the Colorado” is very good. It isn’t comprehensive, though, and parts of it are so clogged with arcane information, it’s sometimes hard to follow. Or swallow, as it were.

Nonetheless, the film is an eye-opener, even for those who think they already know how serious the country’s water problems are.

#Stormwater: Colorado Springs businesses closed amid flood cleanup — KOAA.com

Colorado Springs City Hall back in the day via the City of Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs City Hall back in the day via the City of Colorado Springs.

From KOAA.com (Lena Howland):

Thursday night’s wild weather left behind a trail of damage, causing problems for businesses as they went in to open up shop on Friday morning.

A handful of businesses had so much damage, they had to close down for the day…

After a hail storm wiped through the area, debris started to clog up a nearby drain, forcing water to rush through the doors of surrounding businesses.

Here’s a photo gallery from KRDO.com.

#ColoradoRiver: The July 2016 Northern Water E-Waternews is hot off the presses #COriver

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Reservoir Storage in Great Shape
Colorado-Big Thompson Project reservoir levels are in great shape. As of July 1, total C-BT Project reservoir storage was approximately 99 percent of capacity. On the West Slope, Lake Granby had 536,061 AF in storage, while on the East Slope, Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir held 108,383 AF and 154,386 AF in storage, respectively.

The relatively high storage volumes in July were partially due to low water deliveries. From the beginning of the water year through July 1, only 39,602 AF was delivered, including quota, carryover and Regional Pool Program water. Deliveries have increased in the past two weeks as a result of agricultural users requesting more water to meet peak irrigating season demands.

Map of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project via Northern Water
Map of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project via Northern Water

Fort Collins: Xeriscape Garden Party, August 5

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 12.02.58 PM

Click here for all the inside skinny. From the website:

The City of Fort Collins Utilities is sponsoring the 15th annual Xeriscape Garden Party on Friday, August 5, 2016. Come celebrate the Art of Landscaping from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at City Hall (300 Laporte Ave.)

Visit with local experts to learn about improving your sprinkler system, selecting low-water use plants, composting, recycling and more.

Event includes:
• Performance art by Fire Gate Productions, 6:30—8:00 p.m.
• Food trucks
• Demonstrations
• Interactive booths
• Activities for kids & families

Details:
Fri., August 5, 5:00—9:00 p.m.
Xeriscape Demonstration Garden
300 Laporte Ave.
Fort Collins, CO 80521

*Please kindly RSVP to help us prepare for the event.

1976 Big Thompson Flood

Jason Pohl hits a home run with his 40th anniversary story about the July 31, 2016 Big Thompson Flood. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

But Jerry Shaffer has learned to close his eyes and breathe deeply when memories surface of flailing through the milky, murky torrent of the Big Thompson Canyon. He can’t shake the mental scars of dodging missiles disguised as spewing propane tanks, crunched homes, and the bodies lifeless men, women, and children that overtook a popular tourist route to Estes Park the night of July 31, 1976.

And he’ll never forget holding a loved one’s body in his arms before the water whooshed him away, too.

All told, Colorado’s deadliest natural disaster claimed 144 lives, injured scores of others, and permanently altered memories and landscapes alike. It prompted new talks about living in flood country and became the “where were you” moment for a generation, ranking alongside Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001.

It started about 9 p.m. Saturday night, on the eve of Colorado’s 100th birthday.