I’m back!

June 30, 2015
Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) Macroscale Hydrologic Model

Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC)
Macroscale Hydrologic Model

Yesterday I finished up my work for the CVEN 5363 Hydrologic Modeling class at CU Boulder so now I’ll have some of my time back for blogging. I managed to get a few posts up during June and the WordPress reblog capability enabled my posting of articles from the Summit County Citizens Voice, Your Colorado Water Blog, Mile High Water Talk, and Parting the Waters. I hope that you readers will come back by now and again, now that the Ol’ Coyote is back in the publishing business.

For those of you wondering whether or not it is worth your time (and money) to take Dr. Livneh’s course I say, “Sign up for the course as soon as you can.” Its worth it as an introduction to hydrologic modeling and doubly worth it if you believe you’ll need experience with the VIC model.

2015 Martz Summer Conference day 1 notes #martz2015

June 12, 2015
White violets growing along the Meadow Creek trail in Frisco, Colorado.

White violets along a trail near Frisco — Photo via Bob Berwyn

The first day of the conference was so much fun — great conversations during the networking sessions, well-prepared and interesting speakers and a Twitter-fest. I’ll be live-Tweeting again today @CoyoteGulch.

Click here to view my day 1 notes (Tweets). I fat-fingered the hash tag during the presentation on the Salton Sea. To see those Tweets click here.

Denver: The Outdoors Summit, June 11

June 1, 2015
Smith Ditch Washington Park, Denver

Smith Ditch Washington Park, Denver

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

We are reaching a tipping point. While Colorado has made progress in conserving land and rivers and enhancing outdoor recreation, there is still work to be done, and there is a new problem to address:

Kids today spend half as much time outdoors as their parents did. Colorado may boast the nation’s healthiest adult population, but its youth obesity rate is rising rapidly. Barriers like time, transportation, money, access, and lack of interest and understanding about outdoor experiences keep kids from getting outside and developing the lifelong passion for the great outdoors that is vital for the well being of Colorado citizens, our wildlife and our way of life.

Colorado’s next generation also will live in a state with up to three million more residents, meaning ever-expanding urban areas and increasing pressure on our parks, rivers, trails, open spaces and wildlife habitat.

Sponsored by Governor Hickenlooper, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Great Outdoors Colorado, The Outdoors Summit is an unprecedented gathering of national and state leaders, advocates and visionaries to launch new initiatives to protect, preserve and enhance Colorado’s great outdoors, and to close the widening gap between our youth and nature that threatens their future and the future of Colorado’s way of life and outdoor brand.

More education coverage here.

Granby: “State of the River” meeting recap #ColoradoRiver

May 29, 2015
Historical Colorado River between Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs

Historical Colorado River between Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Hank Shell):

During the meeting, officials from the Upper Colorado River Basin’s biggest water interests including Northern Water, Denver Water and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spoke about some of the basin’s biggest issues, including the state of runoff and snowpack in the region and the movement at Ritschard Dam on Wolford Mountain Reservoir.

Though snowpack seemed to falter during what proved to be a rather dry March, it’s been building steadily over the last three to four weeks, explained Don Meyer with the Colorado River District.

The variations in snowpack have pushed the basin into “uncharted territory,” he said.

“I think the message here is think 2010 in terms of snowpack,” Meyer said.

Though he added that snowpack is not analogous to runoff, Meyer said 2015 “will likely eclipse 2010 in terms of stream flow.”

Victor Lee with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation echoed Meyer, adding that recent cold temperatures across the region have allowed snowpack to persist.

Though snowpack is currently below average, it could linger past the point at which the average snowpack tends to drop…

If the current snowpack does translate into high runoff in Grand County, there may not be anywhere to put it, Lee said.

Front Range reservoirs are full, and storage in Lake Granby is the highest it’s ever been for this time of year, according to Lee’s presentation…

Though it could be a good runoff year for Grand County, Meyer said that snow-water equivalent above Lake Powell is still well below average, making it a dry year for the Upper Colorado River Basin overall.


Officials aren’t sure when the settling and movement at Ritschard Dam will stop, but it poses no threat to safety, said John Currier with the Colorado River District.

“We really are absolutely confident that we don’t have an imminent safety problem with this dam,” Currier said…


The Bureau of Reclamation will increase flows from the Granby Dam to 1,500 CFS around May 29 and maintain those flows until around June 8, Lee said.

The releases will be part of an endangered fish recovery program and will be coordinated with releases from other basin reservoirs to enhance peak flows in the Grand Valley where the plan is focused.

Wolford Mountain Reservoir will also participate in the coordinated releases, Meyer said.

The program hopes to re-establish bonytail chub, Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker and humpback chub populations to a 15-mile stretch of the Colorado River above Grand Junction.


After receiving its Record of Decision last year, the Windy Gap Firming Project’s next major hurdle is acquiring a Section 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for the construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir, said Don Carlson with Northern Water.

The permit regulates dredged or fill material into water as part of the Clean Water Act.

Northern Water hopes to acquire the permit this year, with construction possibly beginning in 2016 or 2017, Carlson said.

The project seeks to firm up the Windy Gap water right with a new Front Range reservoir. The project currently stores water in Lake Granby.

Because it’s a junior water right, yield for the project is little to nothing in dry years.

Northern Water also hopes to establish a free-flowing channel of the Colorado River beside the Windy Gap Reservoir as part of the Windy Gap Reservoir Bypass Project.

The new channel would allow for fish migration and improve aquatic habitat along the Colorado River.

That project still needs $6 million of its projected $10 million cost.


Moffat Tunnel flows are hovering around 15 CFS as Denver Water is getting high yield from its Boulder Creek water right, said Bob Steger with Denver Water.

The increased yield from that junior water right means flows through Moffat Tunnel will remain low through early summer, Steger said.

“The point is we’ll be taking a lot less water than we normally do,” he said.

Denver Water expects its flows through the tunnel to increase in late summer as its yield from Boulder Creek drops, Steger said.

Williams Fork Reservoir, which is used to fulfill Denver Water’s obligations on the Western Slope, is expected to fill in three to four weeks, Steger said.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

The case that % of normal can be misleading after runoff starts

May 23, 2015

Down in the comments for this post, Coyote Gulch reader Gunnar wrote:

Thanks as always for your tireless work. I would be interested in seeing a primer post from you explaining why “% of normal is misleading after runoff starts.”

You’ve mentioned this a few times in your posts, but I am unclear about why.

So here’s a dive into current conditions to make the case that % of normal can be misleading if you are hoping for adequate late-season water.

Below are the most recent Basin High/Low graphs for the South Platte River Basin and Arkansas River Basin in Colorado. You can click on either thumbnail to view the gallery.

Note that current snow water equivalent has blown through the median on both graphs.

South Platte diverters are confident that they will have some late season water, both because the snowpack peak just before melt-out started was close to average, and due to the current SWE volume being at 93% of that peak. The South Platte Basin still has 15 inches of SWE to melt-out and that’s a lot of water.

Down in the Arkansas it’s a different story. The current snowpack peak is 77% of the 2015 peak which was 88% of the median peak. The basin has 8 or so inches of SWE to melt-out and that’s a lot of water as well. It just depends on how fast in comes off.

This time of year it makes sense to look at the Natural Resources Conservation Service streamflow forecast issued the first of each month. Below is the May 1 statewide map and narrative. You can click on the thumbnail for a readable view.

May 1, 2015 Colorado streamflow forecast map via the NRCS

May 1, 2015 Colorado streamflow forecast map via the NRCS

Water Values podcast: Steve Cavanaugh discusses the untapped water supply that every utility has — non-revenue water

May 19, 2015

Congratulations to Metropolitan State University of Denver Graduates! — @CoyoteGulch (Class of 1978)

May 16, 2015

More education coverage here.


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