“…nobody is digging a new tunnel tomorrow” — Jim Pokrandt #ColoradoRiver #COWaterPlan

April 13, 2014
Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands -- Graphic/USBR

Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands — Graphic/USBR

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

…it’s important to note that “nobody is digging a new tunnel tomorrow,” and organizations like the Glenwood Springs-based River District are active at the table in working to protect Western Colorado interests in the face of growing Front Range water needs, [Jim Pokrandt] said.

“There are a lot of top-10 lists when it comes to rivers and water conservation,” Pokrandt said in reaction to the listing last Wednesday by the nonprofit conservation group American Rivers. “It’s a good way to generate publicity for these various causes.”

American Rivers calls on Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to prevent new water diversions and instead prioritize protection of Western Slope rivers and water conservation measures in the Colorado Water Plan, which remains in discussions through a roundtable process that involves stakeholders from across the state.

Already, about 450,000 to 600,000 acre-feet of water per year is diverted from the Colorado basin to the Front Range, Pokrandt noted.

The prospect of more diversions “is definitely being advocated in some quarters from those who say a new project is not a question of if, but when and how soon,” he said.

“We’re saying that’s a big ‘if,’ because there are a lot of big issues around that.”

Pokrandt said any new trans-mountain diversions are “questionable, if it’s even possible.” That’s primarily because of the Colorado River Compact with down-river states that guarantees their share of river water.

“It’s important that we don’t overdevelop the river, and any more transmountain diversions should be the last option out of the box [for Front Range needs],” said. “First and foremost, it behooves all of Colorado to be more efficient in our water use.”[...]

Pokrandt notes that many municipalities across the state, not just the Front Range, are scrambling to find water to take care of projected population growth. That means more water demand on both sides of the Continental Divide.

“But there’s a big question about how much water is really left to develop,” he said. “There’s also an economic benefit to leaving water in the river without developing it, so there’s that issue as well.”[...]

Another Colorado river on the American Rivers endangered list this year is the White River, which was No. 7 due to the threat of oil and gas development and the risk to fish and wildlife habitat, clean water and recreation opportunities.

The White River flows from the northern reaches of the Flat Tops through Rio Blanco County and into the Green River in northeastern Utah.

“Major decisions this year will determine whether we can safeguard the White River’s unique wild values for future generations,” said Matt Rice of American Rivers in their Wednesday news release.

From the Vail Daily (Melanie Wong):

The conservation group American Rivers releases the annual list, and rivers that are threatened include sections of the Colorado that run through Eagle County, including headwater rivers, which include the Eagle River.

According to the group, the river is threatened as many Front Range cities look for future water sources to meet growing municipal and industrial needs. Some of those communities are eyeing various parts of the Colorado for diversion.

Advocates hope the list garners some national awareness and spurs lawmakers to prevent new water diversions and prioritize river protection and water conservation measures in the state water plan.

“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are at a critical tipping point,” said Ken Neubecker, of American Rivers. “We cannot afford more outdated, expensive and harmful water development schemes that drain and divert rivers and streams across the Upper Colorado Basin. If we want these rivers to continue to support fish, wildlife, agriculture and a multi-billion dollar tourism industry, we must ensure the rivers have enough water.”[...]

For decades, Front Range growth has been fed by Western Slope rivers. Around a half million acres of water is already being diverted east from the Upper Colorado and growing cities need more. The problem with diversions, said Neubecker, is that the water leaves the Western Slope forever, citing a proposed project to tap into Summit County’s Blue Mountain Reservoir and divert water from the Blue River.

“Grand and Summit counties are justifiably worried about a Green Mountain pumpback, and so should Eagle County, because that project isn’t possible without a Wolcott reservoir,” he said. “With water diverted to the Front Range, we never see it again. It has serious impacts on us as far as drought and growth. It’s a finite resource.”

Historically, there have been agreements that have benefited both the Western and Eastern slopes, and river advocates said they want to see more such projects. The Colorado Cooperative Agreement, announced in 2011, involved the cooperation of many Eagle County entities. The Eagle River Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 1998, was also a major victory for mountain communities, significantly capping the amount of water that could be taken at the Homestake Reservoir and keeping some water in Eagle County.

Another settlement with Denver Water in 2007 was a big win for the local water community, said Diane Johnson, of Eagle River Water and Sanitation. “Denver Water gave up a huge amount of water rights, pretty much everything leading into Gore Creek, and as for a Wolcott Reservoir, it could only be developed with local entities in control,” she said. “Things are done more collaboratively now. It’s not the 1960s and ’70s anymore, where the Front Range developed the rivers without thought of how it affected local communities.”[...]

A new Colorado State University report commissioned by the Eagle River Watershed Council studied the state of the Eagle River.

“It’s clearly showing that the biggest threat to this portion of the Upper Colorado is reduced flows. It’s impacting wildlife for sure, most notably the fish,” said the council’s executive director Holly Loff.

With less water, the average river temperature is rising, and many cold-water fish have either been pushed out or killed as a result. Less water also means less riparian (riverside) habitat, an ecosystem that supports 250 species of animals. Of course, less water also affects river recreation and means there’s less water to drink.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


Make Water Provocative: Building a Foundation

April 13, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

Interpretation is not just the delivery of information.  It is revelation, a moment when an audience member makes new and meaningful connections.  So how can interpreters facilitate these interpretive moments?

If you’ve ever been an interpreter, you know that you never really leave this type of work behind, even if you no longer practice it daily.  A lasting remnant from this part of my career was my memorization of the so-called “interpretive equation.”  This equation details what is needed to achieve an “interpretive opportunity,” the moment when interpretation takes place.

The equation, written in non-mathematical formula, goes something like this:  Knowledge of the resource, and knowledge of the audience, combined with the appropriate techniques for both, are necessary to produce an interpretive opportunity.

In other words, any successful interpreter needs:  knowledge of the resource, knowledge of the audience, and appropriate interpretive techniques for a given situation.

View original 1,179 more words


Make Water Provocative: A Series on Interpretation

April 13, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

CFWE's Program Assistant Jennie Geurts

CFWE’s Program Assistant Jennie Geurts

Have you ever walked away from a program – perhaps a campfire talk, or a tour of a water diversion, or even a PowerPoint presentation – feeling inspired, identifying new connections that you had not previously realized, eager to learn more, determined to try new things?

If you have, you have fulfilled every interpreter’s dream. Those reactions are what interpreters hope to inspire in audiences. But how do we achieve this? Although a magic formula remains frustratingly elusive, interpreters have honed some best practices and principles over the years, which may be helpful in your program development. This interpretive series will outline a few of these practices.

Before I came to CFWE, I worked as an interpretive ranger for the National Park Service. I learned interpretive principles recommended by the Interpretive Development Program, and I was certified for guided interpretive programs. I later applied…

View original 391 more words


American Water Resources Association and One World One Water Center at Metro State University are hosting a Networking Event on Thursday, April 17

April 12, 2014

sanjuan

From email from the AWRA – Colorado Section:

The American Water Resources Association and One World One Water Center at Metro State University is hosting a Networking Event on Thursday, April 17 in Denver. This is a great networking opportunity for…students to learn about the water resources profession in Colorado. We have extended the RSVP deadline to April 16​.

Click here for the pitch and to register.

More education coverage here.


“We’ve got to start thinking about rivers as rivers” — Ken Neubecker #ColoradoRiver #COWaterPlan

April 11, 2014
Blue River

Blue River

From the Summit Daily News (Alli Langley):

The Blue and the Snake are in trouble. These two Summit County rivers are part of the Upper Colorado River Basin, which was named the second most endangered river in the country Wednesday by American Rivers, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit focused on river advocacy.

“If you want to have healthy rivers and a recreational economy and agriculture on the West Slope, there really is nothing left to take,” said Ken Neubecker, associate director of the organization’s Colorado River project…

The nonprofit’s biggest fear is a new diversion, Neubecker said, because taking a lot of water out of the Colorado anywhere would have serious repercussions.

American Rivers and other conservation organizations say the Colorado Water Conservation Board, charged with creating the state water plan, should make sure it prioritizes river restoration and protection, increases water efficiency and conservation in cities and towns, improves agricultural practices and avoids new transmountain diversions.

Rivers on the Western Slope are already drained and damaged, Neubecker said. He called it wrong to divert more water instead of focusing on alternative methods to meet the gap between water supply and demand.

New supply development concepts via the Front Range roundtables

New supply development concepts via the Front Range roundtables

Right now, he said, details on a new diversion project have been vague, but Front Range proposals have considered developing the Yampa, Flaming Gorge and Gunnison and taking more water out of the Blue, Eagle, Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers…

The Colorado River and its headwaters are home to some endangered fish species. They support wildlife, agriculture and multi-billion dollar tourism industries.

And they provide some or all of the drinking water for the resort areas of Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Winter Park and Crested Butte and most of the urban Front Range.

To meet its customers’ water needs, Denver Water is focused on Gross Reservoir enlargements as well as conservation and forest health efforts, said CEO Jim Lochhead Thursday.

Colorado’s largest water provider has no current plans to construct a new transmountain diversion, he said, but the state as a whole should consider that option.

A new diversion is “probably inevitable at some point,” he said. “We want to do that in partnership with the West Slope.”

And after signing the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement last year, the utility has to.

The agreement does not allow future water development without the permission of all parties, including Western Slope representatives. Lochhead said, it “establishes a framework where we are really working together as partners instead of the old framework of East Slope versus West Slope.”

But the push is not coming from Denver Water.

“They’re really not the ones that are after a new diversion,” Neubecker said. “They got what they want.”

Pressure for more water from new or existing transmountain diversions comes mainly from north and south of Denver, the Arkansas and South Platte basins and especially Douglas County, he said. Those areas should look at conservation efforts more seriously, he said, and “pay attention to land use policies that basically encourage wasteful water use.”[...]

“We’ve got to start thinking about rivers as rivers” instead of engineering conduits for delivering water, Neubecker said, and “understand that we may think that growth should be infinite, but the resources like water that support the growth are not.”

From the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent (Mike McKibbin):

There is no more unclaimed water in the Colorado River Basin, so if the state’s population nearly doubles by 2050, as some have projected, the consequences for everyone along the river – including Rifle – could be dire. That was the message Louis Meyer, a civil engineer, president and CEO of SGM in Glenwood Springs, told City Council as he detailed the ongoing Colorado Water Plan process at an April 2 workshop…

Of the counties in the Colorado River basin, he noted, Garfield is projected to have the most growth, around 274 percent, or 119,900 people, by 2030.

“The Front Range is expected to have serious water shortages by 2020, unless they find more water,” he said. “They can’t take any more from agriculture on the Front Range, so they want a new supply from the Colorado River basin.”

“We have a target on our back,” Meyer continued. “But we have no more water to give.”

If every entity on the Front Range implemented some strict conservation measures, such as banning all new lawns and perhaps the removal of some existing lawns, Meyer said, the water gap could possibly be eliminated in coming years.

“But if we put that in the [water] plan, we need to do the same thing in our basin,” he added.

All storage water in Ruedi and Green Mountain reservoirs is allocated, along with nearly every other reservoir in the state, Meyer said.

Water quality issues are already becoming acute, Meyer said, because there is less water in the Colorado River.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


The Arkansas Basin Roundtable is sponsoring a dozen meetings to gather input for their basin implementation plan #COWaterPlan

April 9, 2014
Arkansas River Basin -- Graphic via the Colorado Geological Survey

Arkansas River Basin — Graphic via the Colorado Geological Survey

From The Pueblo
Chieftain
(Chris Woodka):

Ready to dive in? A dozen meetings have been scheduled to get input from communities on the Arkansas River basin’s portion of the state water plan. The meetings, sponsored by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, are in response to last month’s decision by the roundtable to reach out into the sprawling basin to gather input as the state moves toward developing a draft water plan by the end of the year under an order by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The meetings also address concerns by some state lawmakers that community outreach on water issues is lacking, despite nine years of roundtable meetings throughout Colorado.

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable has launched a website (http://arkansasbasin.com) that lists the meeting times and places, as well.

Included are the roundtable’s monthly meeting, 11:30 a.m. today at Colorado State University-Pueblo; and the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, April 22-24 in La Junta. Smaller community meetings will begin next week, with meetings in Trinidad and Walsenburg on April 16. Upcoming meetings will be in Gardner, April 25; La Veta, April 29; Springfield, April 29; Lamar, May 1; Salida, May 6; Hugo, May 7; Las Animas, May 20; Rocky Ford, May 27; and Fowler, May 27. Meetings also will be scheduled for Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Simla.

The website also includes more detailed information about the water plan through a link to the state water plan website at http://coloradowaterplan.com.

From The Pueblo Chieftain editoral staff:

When the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum convenes for its 20th annual gathering April 23-24 in La Junta, there should be just one topic at the top of its agenda — water for agriculture. Those attending this year’s forum will take time to discuss the Colorado Water Plan, which is currently being developed thanks to an executive order by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Arkansas River basin water users and officials will talk about a number of topics — including drought, irrigation rules and weed control — during the two-day gathering. But their discussion and eventual input into the water plan shouldn’t stray from agriculture and the need for consistent water supplies in Southern Colorado.

Agriculture is the backbone of the region’s economy. Without a reliable water supply that will ensure a sustainable future for farmers and ranchers in the Arkansas Valley, our most important industry and our overall economy will be in jeopardy.

Water interests in the Arkansas River basin need to send a clear and unified message through the Colorado Water Plan process that agriculture, more than growing cities, should be the state’s No. 1 priority when it comes to the allocation of water resources.

If we don’t stay together in that belief, growing communities to the north will continue to come shopping for water in Southern Colorado, leading to the loss of productive farms and ranches throughout the region.

There are effective tools available to hang on to Arkansas River water, including conservation easements with farmers and ranchers to tie water rights to specific land. A legislative measure to forbid the transfer of more water out of a basin of origin could be part of the debate as well.

Our water resources are valuable and finite. The new water plan needs to acknowledge that fact, and strengthen agriculture’s grip on its fair share of the available resources.

Meanwhile it’s full steam ahead with work on the Rio Grande Roundtable basin implementation plan according to this report from Charlie Spielman writing for the Valley Courier:

This is the sixth article in the Narrow the Gap water series addressing the Rio Grande Basin Water Plan. VALLEY In 2004, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) completed the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) Phase 1 Study. One of the key findings of the study was that while SWSI evaluated water needs and solutions through 2030, very few municipal and industrial (M&I) water providers have identified supplies beyond 2030.

Beyond 2030, growing demands may require more aggressive solutions. Since the SWSI Phase 1 Study was completed, Colorado’s legislature established the

“Water for the 21st Century Act.” This act established the Interbasin Compact Process that provides a permanent forum for broad-based water discussions in the state. It created two new structures : 1) the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), and 2) the basin roundtables. There are nine basin roundtables each located in one of Colorado’s eight major river basins and the Denver metro area.

The CWCB determined that the forecast horizon for the water demand projections needed to be extended to the year 2050 to better represent the long-term water needs that the state will face. The West Slope basin roundtables suggested the 2050 timeframe for the demand projections so that potential growth rates on the West Slope could be better characterized. Infrastructure investments and commitment of water supplies also require a longer view into the future. In addition, several of the SWSI Identified Projects and Processes (IPPs) with Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) requirements have used a planning horizon of 2050. Finally, the 2050 timeframe matches the ongoing energy development study conducted by the Colorado and Yampa-White Basin Roundtables. (CWCB, M&I Water Projections.)

The Municipal and Industrial Rio Grande Basin Water Plan workgroup knows that unless action is taken, water shortages for San Luis Valley cities and towns will be inevitable. So the team set about laying out frame work for the Rio Grande Basin’s Municipal and Industrial uses. By working together the committee has uncovered some interesting facts:

  • The Division of Water Resources doesn’t characterize any wells as “industrial” but as commercial.
  • There is a healthy photovoltaic solar electric business established in the San Luis Valley, and future growth of this sector seems assured. As an added bonus, this generating capacity uses relatively little water.
  • Reasonable projections of future oil and gas drilling indicate that the industry’s future water use will probably not be extensive.
  • Opportunities for significant water requirements for hydro power plants appear limited at this time.
  • Total municipal and industrial water use in the Rio Grande Basin is likely to remain at less than 1-3 percent of the agricultural water use. A situation that is much different, when looking at other cities and towns in river basins across the state.
  • The several municipalities in the Rio Grande Basin that obtain their water from confined aquifer wells provide significant water to the surface system and to the unconfined aquifer in the form of treated waste water. Presently these towns receive no credit or benefit from their contribution. Moving forward these municipalities will need to secure their well water resources by obtaining water augmentation plans or by joining a sub-district . The implementation of new water rules and regulations will lay out a specific blueprint of how these communities can move forward. Further complicating the water outlook for San Luis Valley municipalities is the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) lowering of the maximum arsenic limits tolerances to 2 parts per billion . This action will greatly increase water treatment costs.

    Water is nearly as “invisible” as air. Unfortunately this creates a complacency that has led to failing infrastructure and severe water shortages in unexpected places like Atlanta, Georgia where, according to Charles Fishmen author of “The Big Thirst” , several million people have been added to the population in the past 20 years without increasing its water supply.

    The key for municipalities is to improve their outreach and education efforts about conservation and population. When simple conservation techniques are implemented, the water savings are quite remarkable. Lowering water demands as a result of water efficiency can assist providers in avoiding, downsizing, or postponing the construction and operation of water supply facilities and wastewater facilities as well as eliminating , reducing, or postponing water purchases. In addition to these water supply benefits , there are other societal, political, and environmental benefits.

    At present there appears to be no communities within the upper Rio Grande Basin at risk regarding the development of adequate water supplies and /or obtaining augmentation water. Planning and conservation, however , will allow them to move smoothly towards 2050. The Rio Grande Basin Roundtable would like input in the development of the Rio Grande Basin Water Plan. The most effective methods to become involved are: attend the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable monthly meetings the second Tuesday of each month at the SLV Water Conservancy office , 623 Fourth Street in Alamosa; submit comments directly online at http://www.riograndewaterplan. webs.com or attend any one of the five Basin Water Plan subcommittee meetings. The lead consultant is Tom Spezze (tom@dinatalewater.com).

    Charlie Spielman, represents municipal and industrial water users on the Rio Basin Roundtable and also serves as chair of the M&I subcommittee for the Rio Grande Basin Water Plan.

    More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


    La Junta: Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, April 23-24 #COWaterPlan

    April 7, 2014

    Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth

    Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth


    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    A proposed state water plan, drought impacts, irrigation rules and weed control will be discussed at a regional forum in La Junta this month. The Arkansas River Basin Water Forum is planned April 23-24 at Otero Junior College. There also will be a community workshop from 6 to 9 p.m. April 22.

    This is the forum’s 20th year of bringing people from all parts of the Arkansas River basin together to discuss

    On the morning of April 23, James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, will discuss the state’s water plan now being developed under an executive order by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

    That afternoon, participants in the forum will have the opportunity to give their input into the basin’s portion of the plan.

    The Bob Appel Friend of the Arkansas award will be presented at the luncheon.

    On April 24, irrigation rules and the importance of agriculture to the Arkansas River basin will be in the spotlight.

    Conservation and heritage will be discussed at the luncheon, with invasive species the topic for the afternoon.

    For information, visit http://arbwf.org or call the CSU Extension Office, 545-2045, or Jean Van Pelt, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, 948-2400.

    More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.


    CWFE’s President’s Award Reception, May 2

    April 6, 2014

    From the website:

    Registration is now open! Support the Colorado Foundation for Water Education at our annual President’s Award Reception.

    May 2, 2014
    History Colorado Center, Denver
    6-9:30 pm

    Register Here

    This spring we’ll honor Alan Hamel with the President’s Award and Sean Cronin of the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District with the Emerging Leader Award.

    alanhamelpuebloboardofwaterworksadminbuildingchieftainAlan Hamel, 2014 President’s Award
    Caring for People and Watersheds
    Growing up in Pueblo in the 1950s, Alan Hamel liked to swin in the Arkansas River. His father, Bob, owned an automobile repair business. His mother, Jean, worked as a psychiatric technician at the state hospital. in those days, Pueblo was a gritty industrial town largely dependent on Colorado Fuel and Iron, its steel and iron mill the principal employer. Ethnically diverse, a town of working men and women located at the confluence of the Arkansas River and Foundation Creek, Pueblo had a long history of manufacturing rails for the narrow gauges that opened up the Colorado Rockies for mining, timbering, settlement and recreation. Read more about Alan Hamel

    seancroninviacffwe042014
    Sean Cronin, 2014 Emerging Leader Award
    Shifting Rivers, Changing Course
    Sean Cronin got used to planning for drought in his former job as a water resources manager for the City of Greeley, but since the devastating September 2013 flood in northern Colorado, he’s been coping with way too much water.
    As excutive director of the St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District, Sean is helping to piece together relationships necessary to construct more resilient water systems and riverine habitat for the near and long term. Read more about Sean Cronin


    Fort Collins: April Innovation After Hours Presented by the Colorado Water Innovation Cluster, April 10

    April 6, 2014

    waterfromtap
    Click here for the pitch and to register:

    You’re invited to join the Colorado Water Innovation Cluster for next week’s Innovation After Hours which is packed with exciting, quick and informative updates from Colorado’s water sector!

    This month, we focus on one of our region’s upcoming initiatives called the Net Zero Water Planning Template which is creating a path to net zero water, and provide a networking opportunity for creative people to meet and exchange ideas.

    More education coverage here.


    Say hello to The Water Values Podcast with David McGimpsey

    April 5, 2014

    PalisadePeachOrchardClick here to listen. From email from David McGimpsey:

    I thought I’d let you know about a project I’ve been working on. I launched a podcast about water this week. I posted the first three sessions of The Water Values Podcast to http://thewatervalues.com. The episodes are also available on the website and a number of podcast directories, including iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-water-values-podcast/id843026539) and Stitcher (http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=46602&refid=stpr).

    I’ve had some great guests from all over the country so far – Matt Klein, a former Indiana enviro regulator and former water utility exec; Jack Wittman, a hydrogeologist who’s worked all over the country; John Entsminger, the new GM of the Southern Nevada Water Authority; Jim Salzman, a Duke University professor; Jenn Vervier, the Director of Sustainability and Strategic Development for New Belgium Brewery; Mike McGuire, the California-based engineer, author, and water blogger; and Ellen Wohl, a Colorado State University professor. (As indicated above, only 3 of these episodes have been released to date). I have some great guests lined up, too.

    More education coverage here.


    CFWE: “We want to have a larger presence in the Arkansas Valley” — Nicole Seltzer

    April 4, 2014
    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters Magazine

    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters Magazine

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    The Colorado Foundation for Water Education wants to step up its efforts in the Arkansas River basin.

    “No matter who you are, if you understand water better in the Arkansas basin, it will benefit everyone,” said Scott Lorenz, who joined the foundation’s board this year.

    Lorenz lives near Rye and manages the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association, a wellaugmentation group. He and Nicole Seltzer, CFWE executive director, visited Thursday with The Pueblo Chieftain editorial board, along with other groups and individuals throughout the Arkansas Valley.

    “We’ve been notably absent from the Arkansas basin,” Seltzer said, explaining that the foundation formed statewide in 2002 as a response to severe drought that caught the state off-guard. “We want to have a larger presence in the Arkansas Valley.”

    The foundation can have mutual benefits.

    “We provide a lens for the wider state and resources for local water educators,” Seltzer said.

    Those resources include publications — Headwaters magazine and a series of Citizens Guides that look at water issues. CFWE also organizes workshops and tours, including one of the Arkansas River headwaters set for September.

    The group also sponsors a program for emerging water leaders, which is how Lorenz became involved with CWFE.

    Lorenz plans to use his time on the board to increase awareness of the importance of agriculture. There are young farmers who are optimistic about the future of farming, but to do that they also need to protect the availability of irrigation water.

    “Sometimes we make ourselves the target,” Lorenz said. “I think CWFE will focus on the facts. One of those is that we have to have water on the land to be viable.

    More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.


    CU-Boulder offers well users guide for testing water in areas of oil and gas development

    April 3, 2014

    chemistryglassware

    Here’s the release from the University of Colorado at Boulder:

    A free, downloadable guide for individuals who want to collect baseline data on their well water quality and monitor their groundwater quantity over time was released this week by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Colorado Water and Energy Research Center (CWERC).

    The “how to” guide, “Monitoring Water Quality in Areas of Oil and Natural Gas Development: A Guide for Water Well Users,” is available in PDF format at http://cwerc.colorado.edu. It seeks to provide well owners with helpful, independent, scientifically sound and politically neutral information about how energy extraction or other activities might affect their groundwater.

    The guide spells out the process of establishing a baseline for groundwater conditions, including how best to monitor that baseline and develop a long-term record.

    “Baseline data is important because, in its purest form, it documents groundwater quality and quantity before energy extraction begins,” said CWERC Co-founder and Director Mark Williams, who is also a fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and a CU-Boulder professor of geography.

    “Once a baseline has been established, groundwater chemistry can be monitored for changes over time,” Williams said. “The most accurate baselines are collected before energy extraction begins, but if drilling has already begun, well owners can still test their water to establish a belated baseline and monitor it for changes. That might not be scientifically ideal, but it’s a lot better than doing no monitoring at all.”

    CWERC’s guidance builds on the state’s public health recommendations that well owners annually test water for nitrates and bacteria. The guide encourages well water users to collect more than one pre-drilling baseline sample, if possible.

    CWERC recommends collecting both spring and fall samples within a single year because water chemistry can vary during wet and dry seasons. Well owners should measure the depth from the ground surface to the water in their wells in the fall, during the dry season, so that they can keep track of any changes.

    “Colorado’s oil and gas regulators have established some of the most comprehensive groundwater monitoring regulations in the country, but those regulations do not require oil and gas operators to sample every water well in an oil or gas field,” Williams said. “So we wanted to develop a meaningful tool for people who want to test their water themselves or those who need information to help negotiate water testing arrangements as part of surface use agreements with drillers in their area.

    “Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the well owner to know their own well and understand their water. This guide will help Coloradans do just that.”

    The guide specifically outlines what well water users may want to test for and provides a list of properly certified laboratories that offer water-testing services. In addition, the guide assists individuals in interpreting the scientific data, chemical references and compound levels that are outlined in the laboratory results they will receive and any industry tests or reports related to drilling in their area.

    CWERC studies the connections between water and energy resources and the trade-offs that may be involved in their use. It seeks to engage the general public and policymakers, serving as a neutral broker of scientifically based information on even the most contentious “energy-water nexus” debates.

    CWERC was co-founded in 2011 by Williams and Joseph Ryan, a CU-Boulder professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, with funding from the CU-Boulder Office for University Outreach.

    To download a free copy of the guide, visit http://cwerc.colorado.edu. For questions about obtaining the guide or to order a printed version, visit the website or call 303-492-4561.


    Colorado Springs: 100+ attend Camp Creek flood meeting #COflood

    April 3, 2014
    Camp Creek channel via City of Colorado Springs

    Camp Creek channel via City of Colorado Springs

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Matt Steiner):

    A crowd of more than 100 people echoed a mantra in unison that multiple Colorado Springs officials stressed at a flood preparedness meeting on Tuesday night.

    “Up, not out,” the said loudly after being prompted by police Lt. Dave Edmondson…

    City officials, including Emergency Manager Brett Waters and others talked about the 2013 floods that struck the city and El Paso County in July, August and September. Waters said his colleagues and the residents need to “take flood risk very seriously,” noting that flash floods coming out of the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar are going to be an issue “for at least the next 10 years.”

    Tim Mitros, the city’s development review and stormwater manager, showed slide after slide of the dangers that lie in the Camp Creek drainage in the hills to the west of Colorado Springs. The pictures illustrated barren, burnout out slopes that have already, and could, send tons of dirt rocks and other debris into the channel along Garden of the Gods Park. and into the Pleasant Valley neighborhood.

    “We’ve got to keep the sediment up in the burn area,” Mitros said.

    Mitros said city crews will begin building a large sediment detention pond on the east end of Garden of the Gods Park in the next month. At that time, workers will also begin doing repairs to the channel in the middle of 31st Street near Pleasant Valley. They will be adding a “protective layer of concrete” to badly damaged parts of the creek between West Fontanero Street and Echo Lane.

    The work is the beginning stages of a $37 million project to rebuild the channel from Garden of the Gods Park to Colorado Avenue, Mitros said. The city already allotted $8.8 million to do work in Camp and Douglas creeks. MIiros said the final designs for the entire project will be unveiled at another Camp Creek watershed public meeting from 5 to 7:30 p.m. April 29 at Coronado High School.

    National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Stark also talked about the dangers of debris in the Camp Creek and Douglas Creek areas. She said storms in September that ravaged the Front Range from El Paso County north to the Wyoming border left tons and tons of debris sitting just above the city.

    “The next big rain event could bring that stuff down,” she said.

    More Fountain Creek watershed coverage here.


    Windsor: The West Greeley Conservation District eduction program made a stop at Skyview Elementary School

    March 31, 2014

    WaterCycleKidsUSGS
    From The Greeley Tribune (T.M. Fasano):

    Pam Wright wants to educate today’s youth about how precious water is, and will be, in their lives.

    Wright, the public outreach and education coordinator for the West Greeley Conservation District, brought her rolling river education trailer to Skyview Elementary School in Windsor on Thursday and taught students about water cycles, erosion, how humans impact the water table and how pesticides and chemicals can enter a river or lake through ground water. Toy people, sand, rocks, trucks, cars, animals, farm equipment, trees and brush were sprinkled throughout the trailer that represented the dynamics of a watershed. Once the flowing water caused erosion, the students had to move around the models and fix the river’s surroundings.

    “I really stress that this water situation is not going to change,” Wright said. “We’re going to be drinking the same water in the future, so it’s important for them to take care of it not only for themselves but for future generations. We stress the importance of healthy soil. Especially since we’re such an ag community, we do a lot of work out in the community, too.”

    Second-grader Gavin Leagjeld, 7, a member of the after-school Roots & Shoots club that is working on a project to rehabilitate Skyview’s wetlands east of the school and make it into an outdoor classroom, was all about sticking his hands into the flowing water and makeshift sand by the river. Gavin learned about the dangers of polluting the water.

    “If farmers keep using fertilizer or chemicals and if it goes into the river as ground water, it could pollute the river or ocean,” Gavin said.

    Fifth-grader Blaine Tonnies, 10, said he liked what he learned.

    “Since we’re younger, we should probably learn it now so later we don’t (pollute),” Blaine said. “I really like nature, plants and animals.”

    Skyview teacher Kendra Jacoby, who is an adviser for Roost & Shoots along with fellow teacher Roxanne Visconti, said it’s exciting to see the first- through fifth-graders learn about what will impact them in their future.

    “It’s huge, especially because we are in Colorado and our arid climate, they need to know that the water that we have is the water that we have. There is never going to be any more,” said Jacoby, a SOAR and Gifted and Talented Education teacher.

    Visconti said it’s vital for students to learn what’s happening around them.

    “They are very engaged. That’s what we want this to be, is them giving of themselves and learning about what surrounds them and not just going back and forth to school every day,” said Visconti, a first-grade teacher.

    Second-grader Emma Johnson, 8, said she learned how a river can be polluted.

    “If you’re too close to the river, you can pollute in it or you can spill oil into it and it can make it really bad for the animals who drink it,” Johnson said. “Because if they drink it they’ll die or get sick.”

    Wright said she takes her riparian water trailer, the conservation district has two of them, and visits 20 to 30 schools annually throughout Weld County. She said she has an entire curriculum for different grade levels.

    “Right after the flooding in the schools in Greeley and Evans, we were busy out in those schools,” Wright said. “There was not one kid I dealt with that wasn’t affected by those floods in one way or another. Their main question was: ‘Is this going to happen again?’”

    Wright said it’s never too early for the kids to learn.

    “For those little kids to realize that their water source is never going to change, that they’re drinking the same water the dinosaurs did, that always sticks with them,” Wright said. “It’s never too early to start teaching them the importance of where their water comes from. It needs to be started early.”

    More education coverage here.


    New Leadership is Growing

    March 31, 2014

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    Class of 2014 during their March training with CFWE and MORF Consulting in Greeley

    Class of 2014 with CFWE and MORF Consulting in Greeley

    CFWE is proud to announce our 2014 class of Water Leaders! This diverse and talented group of mid-level water professionals have started a journey to develop their leadership potential. The first training on March 17-18 focused on self-awareness and functional team-building. The group also examined how regional leaders have effectively built water teams in northeastern Colorado by numerous guest presentations and excursions at the Poudre Learning Center in Greeley.  Subsequent trainings will be in Fraser on May 15-16, Pueblo on July 31-August 1 and Denver on September 18-19. Join us in welcoming them to your community!

    Congratulations to:
    Jason Carey, River Restoration
    Adam Cwiklin, Town of Fraser
    Aaron Derwingson, The Nature Conservancy
    Julia Galucci, Colorado Springs Utilities
    James Henderson, 711 Ranch
    Dawn Jewell, City of Aurora
    Laurna Katz, Denver Water
    Aimee Konowal, CDPHE Water Quality Control Division
    Steve Malers, Open…

    View original 75 more words


    The Spring 2014 Water Information Program newsletter is hot off the presses

    March 31, 2014
    US Drought Monitor March 25, 2014

    US Drought Monitor March 25, 2014

    Click here to read the newsletter.


    A look back at old-school irrigation efficiency — Greg Trainor #COWaterPlan

    March 28, 2014

    Flood irrigation -- photo via the CSU Water Center

    Flood irrigation — photo via the CSU Water Center


    From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Greg Trainor):

    In the early 1980s, I worked for the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) on the Colony Oil Shale Venture at Parachute, Colo. I was a staff member in ARCO’s Community Development Group that was working on the development plans for the Battlement Mesa New Town. The New Town was designed to house the thousands of oil shale workers that were expected to move to western Colorado for oil-shale jobs.

    ARCO had been in the oil-shale business for some time and had purchased property on Battlement Mesa 30 years earlier in anticipation of oil-shale development. Upon purchase of these properties, ARCO leased the lands back to the original owners, allowing them to continue farming and using the water rights attached to the ranch lands. This continuation of use of the agricultural water rights ensured that the rights would not be abandoned, and the water would be available when the oil shale industry had need for it.

    One of my responsibilities with ARCO was to manage these leased ranch lands, working with previous owners, tracking water use, and ensuring a communication link between the land owner (ARCO) and the ranch lessees.

    One of ARCO’s lessees was a man named Dan Duplice, a sheep herder and farmer. Dan lived on Battlement Mesa and owned a band of sheep that traveled each summer from Battlement Mesa, across the Colorado River, and up the steep, hair-raising trails that connected the Colorado River valley floor with the thousand-foot-thick horizontal bands of the oil shale cliffs. At the top of these cliffs were the spruce-fir zones and open, grassed parks of the Roan Plateau.

    Dan had farm lands on Battlement Mesa that were fed by a small ditch that crisscrossed the lower elevations of the mountains that rose above Dan’s farm. Known as “Pete” and “Bill,” these peaks held snow at high elevations as well as on their lower slopes. It was the “low water” that Dan, and now ARCO, had rights to. With an early and short run-off of this “low water,” Dan had to take early advantage of the flow when it appeared.

    On my travels of Battlement Mesa, I would find Dan standing at the head of his alfalfa fields where the ditch emptied into his laterals. He would carefully bring the water to his creases, allowing only enough water down the crease to wet it down to the end of the field. Then he would move the water from one set of creases over to a new set and repeat the process. Dan would stand there with his shovel, husbanding the flow down the field, making sure that it got the water it needed and that no water left the bottom of his fields.

    Having spent most of my adult life in western Colorado, I was more used to standard “flood irrigation,” where irrigators would open up their laterals and flood their fields with all the water the creases would carry. Then, leaving their sets to return later in the day, irrigators would allow their water to flow down across the field and out the end of the field as return flow, usually into the small drainages that would carry the return water to the Colorado River.

    Today I participate in the Colorado Basin Roundtable, one of nine roundtables across Colorado working on development of the Colorado Water Plan, which the governor says is supposed to point the way forward to meeting the needs of growing cities and towns while also preserving agriculture, the environment and recreational opportunities. It’s a tall order.

    Agricultural water efficiency improvements are often suggested as a tool to address shortages and to leave more water in streams for environmental and recreational purposes. As I participate in the discussions, I think of Dan Duplice and my observations of him 34 years ago.

    Dan Duplice invested a significant amount of time to the special care of the flow and management of the available water. Despite the small amount of water carried by his ditch, the result was the production of an incredible amount of tall, thick alfalfa before this ditch water trickled out.

    In times of drought and increased competition for water, the kind of careful management of water practiced by Dan Duplice may have to become more widespread. His experience showed that good yields can still be had when water is tight — but it’s not easy. He spent a lot of time in those fields with a shovel.

    More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


    From the Ice Core Lab: Reflections on CFWE’s Climate and Water Workshop

    March 26, 2014

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    By Lisa Wade, Riverside Technology

    The thermometer on the wall displays a chilling -36°F as we enter the giant freezer. What could possibly need it to be this cold? The answer– ice cores collected from around the world.

    P1030411

    Climate and Colorado’s Water Future Workshop participants tour the freezers in the National Ice Core Laboratory.

    They are stored in the US National Ice Core Laboratory, which I was touring as part of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s Climate and Colorado’s Water Future Workshop. The Ice Core Lab is responsible for preserving ice collected from remote locations, such as Greenland, Antarctica, the Andes, and the Himalayas. Scientists drill the ice cores, package them up very carefully, and ship them back to the Ice Core Lab. Here, analysis on the ice provides insight into Earth’s climate. Scientists look at the oxygen isotopes, which are related to the temperature of the clouds…

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    EPA: Addressing Crucial Water Issues in Our Communities — Nancy Stoner

    March 24, 2014

    waterdrop
    From the Environmental Protection Agency (Nancy Stoner):

    This year, we here at EPA celebrate the 20th anniversary of President Clinton signing Executive Order 12898, which directed federal agencies to address environmental disparities in minority and low-income communities. We’ve certainly accomplished a lot since the order was signed, but sadly, too many people still breathe dirty air, live near toxic waste dumps, or lack reliable access to clean water. But we continue to make progress in all of those areas, and here in EPA’s Office of Water, I’m proud of how we’re helping communities across America—both rural and urban—address their most crucial water issues.

    Last fall, I was in Laredo, Texas and visited a community near the U.S.-Mexico border called the colonias, which until recently did not have regular access to clean water. Thanks to funding from EPA’s U.S.-Mexico Border Infrastructure Program, 3,700 people in the colonias now have access to a modern sewer system. We also have a program that provides funding for the planning, design and construction of wastewater infrastructure for American Indian and Alaskan Native communities. Providing access to clean water to people who have never had it before is one of the most important things we have the power and resources to do.

    In 2012, I traveled to Baltimore to help announce funding from EPA’s Urban Waters program that’s being use to educate residents in the Patapsco watershed about the benefits of water conservation and give people the know-how to reduce water usage at home. Urban waterways can provide myriad economic, environmental and community benefits, and EPA is helping dozens of communities across the country reconnect with these important, valuable resources.

    Our drinking water program is also providing substantial funding to help improve small drinking water systems across the country, which comprise more than 94% of the nation’s public drinking water systems. Small systems, those that serve fewer than 3,500 people, face unique financial and operational challenges in providing drinking water that meets federal standards. Last year, we provided close to $13 million to help train staff at small systems and give them tools to enhance system their operations and management practices.

    This year, I’m proud to celebrate 20 years of EPA’s work to make a visible difference in communities across the country. We’ve made so much progress over the last two decades, and I know we’ll make even more over the next 20 years.

    More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.


    Restoration: #ColoradoRiver delta

    March 23, 2014
    Photo via the Los Angeles Times

    Photo via the Los Angeles Times


    Historic water pulses through the Colorado River delta for revival starting today

    March 23, 2014

    Coyote Gulch:

    This is a big day for the Colorado River delta.

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    1ColoRi-R2-024-10A The dry Colorado River Delta will receive a resurrecting flow of water this spring, one that Scientific American calls “an unprecedented experiment in ecological engineering” thanks to a historic agreement between the United States and Mexico.

    Starting today, the pulse will be released from Morelos Dam, which sits on the international boundary, and will travel 75 miles to the Gulf of California. Below the dam, the Colorado is usually completely dry. This pulse of water will mark the first time that the United States and Mexico have put water back into the parched riverbed for environmental purposes.

    From Scientific American:

    The mighty Colorado rises on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains and drains seven US and two Mexican states along its 2,300-kilometer course (see ‘River run’). Before the 1930s, when dams began to throttle the river, its water ran unfettered into the Gulf of California. But…

    View original 503 more words


    NWS Boulder office: March 23rd is World Meteorological Day #COwx

    March 23, 2014

    From the World Meteorological Organization website:

    World Meteorological Day 2014

    Weather and climate: engaging youth

    World Meteorological Day is celebrated every year on 23 March to commemorate the entry into force in 1950 of the convention that created the World Meteorological Organization. The day also highlights the huge contribution that National Meteorological and Hydrological Services make to the safety and well-being of society.

    This year’s World Meteorological Day theme is “Weather and climate: engaging youth.” Today’s youth will benefit from the dramatic advances being made in our ability to understand and forecast the Earth’s weather and climate. At the same time, most of them will live into the second half of this century and experience the increasing impacts of global warming. WMO encourages young people to learn more about our weather and climate system and to contribute to action on climate change.

    More education coverage here.


    South Platte River Basin: ‘…no simple answers’ to the issue of groundwater management in the area — Bill Jerke

    March 13, 2014
    Map of the South Platte River alluvial aquifer subregions -- Colorado Water Conservation Board via the Colorado Water Institute

    Map of the South Platte River alluvial aquifer subregions — Colorado Water Conservation Board via the Colorado Water Institute

    From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

    The question was asked: Is the conversation about agriculture issues more emotional today than ever before?

    Responding before the crowd at the University of Northern Colorado for the day’s panel on Colorado agriculture, Paul Sater, a Kersey-area farmer, threw in his two cents.

    His answer was “yes.”

    Sater said only a generation or two ago, everyone was just a grandfather or other relative away from the farm or ranch, and now, with only about 1 percent of the population involved in ag, an unknowing public has questions — leading some to even have suspicions.

    “In absence of reason, you have emotion,” he said. “That’s where we are today.”

    Taking the emotion out of the ag-conversation equation and providing information for voters on Colorado agriculture was the goal of the League of Women Voters of Greeley-Weld County, who hosted the event.

    On the panel was Bill Jerke, a LaSalle-area farmer and former Weld County commissioner and state legislator; Brent Lahman, relationship manager at Rabo AgriFinance in Loveland; Ray Peterson, a Nunn-area rancher who serves as president of the Weld County Farmers Union and as a board member of the Weld County Livestock Association; Luke Runyon, agribusiness reporter for KUNC and Harvest Public Media, the latter of which is a reporting collaboration of several public media stations across the country that covers issues related to food and food production; and Sater, a rancher and farmer with experience in the dairy industry.

    One of the topics brought up most was that of the use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food production.

    The farmers and ranchers on the panel explained to the crowd that humans have been genetically modifying crops and livestock for thousands of years, through cross-breeding.

    “Now, it’s just being done in a lab,” Jerke said. “That’s the only difference.”

    Jerke also stressed that he has no issue with labeling food that contains GMOs on a voluntary basis, but not making it mandatory, which has been a ballot measure in some states recently.

    Jerke said he was fine letting the producer or processor use the “GMO-free” label simply as a marketing tool, like the “organic” label is used.

    He and others on the panel further noted, though, that true GMO-free food might be tough to come by, because of genetic engineering’s deep roots historically in human food production.

    Peterson stressed the need for genetic modifying, explaining that his wheat crop one year was wiped out by pests before he began using a wheat variety that was resistant to it.

    On the issue of water, Jerke stressed that there’s “no simple answers” to the issue of groundwater management in the area, and noted the ongoing depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer. One of the world’s largest aquifers, underlying portions of eight states, including far east Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, is being mined and not replenished at an alarming rate, he said, and could become a major issue for the U.S.

    He further stressed agriculture’s needs for completion of two area water-storage projects still in the works — the Northern Integrated Supply Project, which if approved would include two new reservoirs and provide 40,000 acre feet of water to northern Colorado, and prevent the drying up of about 60,000 acres of farmground, according to supporters’ studies; and the Chatfield Reallocation, an endeavor that would raise the Denver-area lake by as much as 12 feet, and, in doing so, provide additional water for area farmers and others.

    In reference to the Chatfield project, Jerke said he didn’t understand why the studies and mitigation efforts to raise an existing reservoir just by 12 feet would cost the estimated $183 million.

    Sater stressed that one of his biggest needs in agriculture is labor, but there’s no affordable way to bring to the U.S. the migrant workers who are willing to do the work.

    “I do need labor, but don’t know what to do about it,” Sater said.

    Lahman said some of his customers tell him that labor shortage is the No. 1 issue they have.

    More South Platte River Basin coverage here.


    The March 2014 Colorado Stewardship Project newsletter is hot off the presses

    March 11, 2014
    Justian I first codifier of riparian rights

    Justian I first codifier of riparian rights

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

    Public Trust Ballot Initiative Introduced

    A proposed Public Trust Doctrine Ballot Initiative is progressing through the state’s review process. The proponents made changes to their initial version and re-submitted the amendment on February 25. It is set for a Review and Comment Hearing March 11 at 1:30pm.

    The current version of proposed Initiative 83 would amend the Colorado Constitution by adding a new section to Article XVI (the provisions of the constitution that govern mining and water rights). This amendment would, among other issues, establish an “inalienable right” of the people of Colorado to clean air, clean water (including groundwater), and the preservation of the environment and natural resources (called “Public Trust Resources”), as common property of all people including future generations.

    For additional summary of proposed Initiative 83 click HERE or visit http://www.cowaterstewardship.com.

    CWSP and the Colorado Water Congress are monitoring all initiatives that could affect water resources. To view the full initiatives tracking document click HERE.

    More 2014 Colorado November election coverage here.


    The current OWOW newsletter is hot off the presses

    March 5, 2014

    bootprintearth

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

    The One World One Water Center is now accepting applications for the Spring 2014 OWOW Scholarship.

    Qualified MSU Denver students must have declared the water studies minor and/or have enrolled in one or more water classes. Scholarship winners can be awarded up to $500! Visit the OWOW website for a full list of requirements and a link to the online submission form.

    More education coverage here.


    Ask Questions About Colorado’s Water Plan #COWaterPlan

    March 4, 2014

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    Colorado’s Water Plan will provide a path forward for providing Coloradans with the water we need while supporting healthy watersheds and the environment, robust recreation and tourism economies, vibrant and sustainable cities, and viable and productive agriculture.

    So it says on the homepage of the Colorado’s Water Plan website, and so many across the state are working to achieve. This Wednesday 3/5,  listen to Denver and Boulder’s community radio station KGNU (or tune in online) from 8:35-9:30 am for a panel discussion and call-in show on Colorado’s Water Plan. Listen to and ask questions of the Colorado Water Conservation Board Director James Eklund, Sean Cronin Chair of the South Platte Basin Roundtable, and Abby Burk Colorado Western Rivers Action Network Coordinator for the National Audubon Society.

    Have a question for the experts? Call in at 303-442-4242 this Wednesday morning!

    Interested in getting involved in Colorado’s Water Future? Check…

    View original 16 more words


    The Colorado Water Trust is coordinating and facilitating a number of sessions at CCLT’s Conservation Excellence Conference

    March 2, 2014

    Saguache Creek

    Saguache Creek


    Click here for the pitch, to view the session descriptions, and register. Here’s an excerpt:

    The Colorado Water Trust is coordinating and facilitating a number of water sessions at the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts’ Conservation Excellence Conference in Denver in March.

    The Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) promotes and supports land conservation at a state level and serves as the collective voice for land conservation in Colorado. CCLT’s annual Conservation Excellence Conference offers conservation professionals opportunities for learning and networking in Denver on March 17, 18, and 19.

    Because water is often crucial to the conservation values of conserved lands, the Colorado Water Trust has worked closely with CCLT and the land conservation community over time. We provided general guidance, technical assistance, and educational programming specific to land conservation transactions to help professionals make informed decisions about water rights.

    This year, the Colorado Water Trust is coordinating and facilitating a number of sessions and workshops at CCLT’s Conservation Excellence Conference as part of our continuing efforts to assist the land conservation community in understanding water issues.

    More education coverage here.


    Money for Water

    February 23, 2014

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    By Mark Scharfenaker, Denver resident

    When I moved west from Michigan in the early 1970’s I was dumb and dumber about water.

    But the first Earth Day had awakened me and many others to the perils of pollution, EPA and the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts had just emerged  and I began wading trout waters with a fly rod in my hand and joy in my young heart.

    credit: Wikipedia

    Who knew that…

    • Those strange riverside structures were USGS streamflow gauges?
    • The big dams that store big water were funded by taxpayers and built by the federal  Bureau of Reclamation?
    • The US Forest Service is an Agriculture agency charged with keeping  forest snows shaded to extend the flows of meltwaters to  the massive network of  irrigation ditches that stitch the western landscape together?
    • Toxic waters were still seeping from old mines into nearly every watershed ?
    • Windy Gap…

    View original 762 more words


    Say hello to CFWE’s Water Educator Network

    February 17, 2014

    bouderchildrenswaterfestivalmay2012dailycamera
    Click here to go to the website. From email from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education (Kristin Maharg):

    I’m reaching out to the Colorado Water 2012 community to let you know how the Colorado Foundation for Water Education has since built upon the successes of that coalition. With support from Xcel Energy and partnering with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, we are developing the Water Educator Network to offer tools, trainings and collaborations that are relevant to your work, easily accessible and simple to implement.

    As a teaser of this all new program, we’d like to invite you to attend a FREE lunchtime webinar on February 25. For those of you involved in your local watershed festival, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to gear up for spring festival season, learn from long-time organizers and discuss ways to improve the overall experience. Register today for the Water Festival Planning and Coordination webinar.

    Visit the Water Educator Network web page to see how CFWE is gearing up to deliver technical assistance and resources to our community. After an “orientation” webinar on March 19, CFWE staff will reach out to you again to become a member of this exclusive network for only $100/year. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

    More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.


    New Survey: Conservation Could Impact 2014’s Ballot Box — Colorado College

    February 16, 2014

    conservationinthewestpollstateoftherockiescoloradocollege

    Here’s the release from the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project:

    Conservation and land use issues could have the power to sway how westerners vote in 2014 elections, according to the new Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll.

    “The West is a major political battlefield this year, and the poll tells us congressional candidates would be wise to consider their position on conservation and land use issues carefully,” said Colorado College economist and State of the Rockies Project faculty director Walt Hecox, PhD. “Westerners want their air, water and land protected, and where a candidate stands on these issues could potentially sway votes.”

    This year’s bipartisan survey of 2,400 registered voters across six states looked at voter attitudes on a list of issues, including land use, water supplies, air quality and public lands’ impact on the economy. The results show overwhelming -­‐ 85 percent -­‐ agreement that when the government closes national parks and other public lands, small businesses and communities’ economies in the West suffer. In a follow up message to elected officials and land managers, 83 percent believe funding to national parks, forests and other public lands should not be cut, as it provides a big return on a small investment.

    “The Rocky Mountain region is politically diverse, with communities running the spectrum from red (predominantly) to purple to blue,” said Colorado College McHugh Professor of Leadership and American Institutions and regular Colorado political commentator Tom Cronin. “These poll results reinforce that a love for protected lands ties western voters together. Westerners across the political spectrum support the work of public land managers and expect conserved public lands to remain that way.”

    Other public sentiments expressed in the survey include that:

    • 72 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to promote more use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
    • 69 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports enhancing protections for some public lands, like national forests.
    • 58 percent of Westerners are more likely to vote for a candidate who votes to increase funding for land-­‐managing agencies like the U.S. Forest Service.

    The survey also holds warning signs for candidates, including that:

    • 72 percent of Westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports
    selling public lands like national forests to reduce the budget deficit.
    • 67 percent of Westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who reduces
    funding for agencies like the U.S. Forest Service.
    • 54 percent of westerners are less likely to vote for a candidate who voted to
    stop taxpayer support for solar and wind energy companies.

    “Hispanics view the protection of our public lands as a moral obligation. It’s natural that this community would be drawn to candidates who support conservation,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of the Hispanic Access Foundation. “With the tremendous growth of the Latino voter bloc, especially in the Western states, we’re going to see engagement in environmental policy and advocacy for our public lands at levels we’ve never seen before.”

    The results reflect the strong connection Westerners feel to their public lands, with 95 percent saying they have visited public lands in the last year. More than two-­‐ thirds of those surveyed said they would recommend an out-­‐of-­‐state visitor visit the outdoors, like a national park, rather than an attraction in town.

    The government shutdown’s effects on Westerners are ongoing. When asked how they felt about the resulting closure of public lands, 89 percent responded with a negative emotion like annoyed, angry, concerned or upset. Potentially as a result of seeing what happens when public lands are no longer available, opposition to the sale of public lands increased from last year’s poll, with 74 percent now rejecting this idea.

    The 2014 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of six western states (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY, MT) for a total 2,400-­‐person sample. The survey was conducted from January 7 through 13, 2014, and yields a margin of error of +/-­‐2.9 percent nationwide and +/ -­‐4.9 statewide. The full survey and individual state surveys are available here, on the Colorado College website

    Click here for the presentation slides.

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

    More than three-quarters of Colorado voters say they oppose diversions of water to heavily populated areas of the state, according to a survey conducted by Colorado College.

    The annual Conservation in the West poll, conducted for the college by Democrat and Republican pollsters, also found that a majority of Coloradans, 55 percent, favors allowing communities to regulate hydraulic fracturing and that 22 percent want the state to regulate fracking, the approach used to free up trillions of cubic feet of natural gas from formations deep below the surface.

    The finding of strong opposition to more diversions is unsurprising, said Bonnie Petersen, executive director of Club 20, the Western Slope advocacy organization.

    “Agricultural interests and many Club 20 members don’t like diversions, and there are additional groups who want to see stream flows for recreational purposes and they recognize diversions as a threat,” Petersen said. “People familiar with the West understand the impacts of diversions.”

    Respondents favored devoting more time and resources to better use of the current water supply and encouraging the use of recycling, the survey said.

    On hydraulic fracturing, 28 percent of Colorado respondents supported tougher laws and 29 percent said there should be better enforcement of existing laws, the survey said.

    The results underscore the need for greater education about hydraulic fracturing, Petersen said, noting the practice has been in use in western Colorado for 60 years “and there has not been an issue.”

    Across the West, 72 percent of respondents said they were more likely to vote for candidates who favor the promotion of energy sources such as wind and solar power.

    Another majority, 69 percent, said they were likely to vote for candidates who support greater protections for public lands, such as national forests, and 58 percent said they’d be likely to support candidates who want to increase funding to agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service.

    The survey polled 400 registered voters in Colorado and 2,400 in the six Western states of Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

    The survey was conducted Jan. 7 to Jan. 13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.

    More conservation coverage here. More 2014 Colorado November election coverage here.


    New free online lessons available to household well owners to protect water quality — La Junta Tribune-Democrat

    February 15, 2014
    Typical water well

    Typical water well

    From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat:

    our new, free online lessons are available to household water well owners at the National Ground Water Association website http://www.WellOwner.org, the Association announced today.

    The lessons were developed by NGWA with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Well owners can register by going to http://WellOwner.org or going th the following sites:

    · Arsenic in Well Water: What Is It and What Do You Do? — http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=1003&evt=arseniclesson
    · Bacteria in Well Water: What Is It and What Do You Do? — http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=963&evt=Bacteria
    · Nitrate in Well Water: What Is It and What Do You Do? — http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=973&evt=Nitratepre-test
    · Radon in Well Water: What Is It and What Do You Do? — http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=960&evt=Radon.

    Other online well owner lessons previously made available cover what to test your water for, how to get a test and interpret the results, and the basics of water treatment. Well owners also can access two recorded webinars on water testing and water treatment.

    NGWA Public Awareness Director Cliff Treyens encouraged household water well owners to take advantage of these new resources, as well as the toll-free Private Well Owner Hotline at (855) 420-9355 and the free monthly emailed Private Well Owner Tip Sheet. Subscribe to the tip sheet by going to http://www.wellowner.org.

    “It’s never been easier for well owners to get the basic information they need to be good water well and groundwater stewards,” Treyens said. “These resources will help well owners to improve and protect their water quality.”

    More groundwater coverage here and here.


    Water Books from the Board of Trustees

    February 13, 2014

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    The CFWE Board meets three times per year across Colorado

    The CFWE Board meets three times per year across Colorado.  Here we are in Jan. 2014 at the Ralph Carr Justice Center in Denver.

    CFWE is blessed to have a diverse and helpful Board of Trustees.  All 22 of them are committed to making CFWE the best water education organization in the state of Colorado, and I greatly appreciate their expertise and guidance.  Its not surprising that they, like our staff, are a bunch of “water geeks” who spend countless hours in their personal and professional lives thinking about our most important resource.

    At each of our three yearly Board meetings, our Board Development Committee Chair, Chris Treese, does a round of introductions so we can learn a bit about each other.  At our January meeting, the question asked of each member was “What is your favorite water-related book?”  This was such a great list, I wanted to share it…

    View original 236 more words


    The latest One World One Water Center newsletter is hot off the presses

    February 7, 2014

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

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is looking for up to 40 volunteer notetakers for the March 6, 2014 Basin Roundtable Summit. Volunteers will be needed from 7am-2pm, will need to bring their own laptop, and will receive complimentary breakfast and lunch. This is a wonderful opportunity to network and learn more about the Colorado water community, CWCB, and the important role basin roundtables play in their communities.

    If interested, please contact Kate McIntire no later than February 12, 2014.

    More education coverage here.


    Water Is… Poetry

    February 5, 2014

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    As you well know, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education appreciates the written word…  we publish Headwaters magazine, this blog, and the wonderful poet, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs, serves as our publications chair– it only makes sense. Back in 2012, a water haiku challenge posted on this blog was wildly popular– so here we are again, this time opening the doors of expression to all water poetry. Need some inspiration? CFWE debuted our new magnetic poetry display board at the Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention last week– check out the words on the board, and the phrases folks came up with.  Comment to share your lines and words– let your creativity flow, splash and swell powerfully. 

    wateris

    View original


    The Winter 2014 issue of Headwaters: The Fine (and Fun!) Art of Engaging People Around Water, now available

    February 5, 2014

    winter2014headwaterscoverviacfwe

    Click here to read the issue. The publication is from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.

    More education coverage here


    Colorado Foundation for Water Education: Climate & Colorado’s Water Future Tour, March 7

    February 3, 2014
    Antarctic ice core waiting to be shelved at the National Ice Core Lab March 2010

    Antarctic ice core waiting to be shelved at the National Ice Core Lab March 2010

    Click here to go to the CFWE website and reserve your spot. Here’s the pitch:

    Each spring, CFWE is joined by a group of 50 wonderful workshop participants who bundle up to tour the National Ice Core Laboratory. During the tour, we learn how climate data is extracted from polar regions, receive interactive teaching tools and learn how climate impacts water resources and the environment. Take a look at the agenda and check out photos from 2013 on Facebook.

    Click here for my writeup of the 2010 workshop.

    More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.


    “Colorado’s obligations under the ESA are ‘above and beyond’ the requirements of the compact” — Wildearth Guardians

    February 3, 2014
    Rio Grande and Pecos River basins

    Rio Grande and Pecos River basins

    From the Taos News (J.R. Logan):

    Wildearth Guardians has given notice that it plans to sue the state of Colorado over the amount of water pumped out of the Río Grande before it crosses into New Mexico each year. The group argues that irrigation in the San Luís Valley leaves so little water in the river that it imperils habitat of two endangered species — the Río Grande silvery minnow and the Southwestern willow flycatcher.
    Jennifer Pelz with Wildearth Guardians told The Taos News that while the lawsuit is based on requirements under the Endangered Species Act, it is meant to address the health of the Río Grande in general. “My focus is the river, the silvery minnow just happens to be the canary in the coal mine,” Pelz said.
    Sporadic flows in the Río Grande have long alarmed environmentalists because of the effect on vegetation and wildlife that have adapted to the natural cycle of ups and down. The current drought has left some parts of the Río Grande dry, and diversions up and down the river have significantly altered its natural pattern.

    River guides in Taos County have also taken issue with how water in the river is managed. Some have pointed out that Colorado irrigators pull out as much as 98 percent of the river during peak irrigation season, which often coincides with rafting season. They contend that low flows are killing business and hurting the local economy.

    However, Colorado farmers point out that the drought is hurting them as well. Officials there point out that the state is still meeting its obligations under the Río Grande Compact, which spells out exactly how much water Colorado must deliver to the state line every year.
    The notice from Wildearth Guardians contends that Colorado’s obligations under the Endangered Species Act are “above and beyond” the requirements of the compact.

    Pelz said the notice is meant to bring Colorado into the discussion with wildlife managers and irrigation districts in New Mexico to talk about how to manage flows for the health of the river. “We’ve always known that [Colorado] had a role,” Pelz said. “Now is the time that everything is on the table.”

    More Rio Grande River basin coverage here and here. More Rio Grande silvery minnow coverage here.


    The 2013 ‘State of the Rockies Report Card’ is hot off the presses #ColoradoRiver

    February 2, 2014

    2013stateoftherockiesreportcardcoverviacc

    Click here to go to the download page at Colorado College. Here’s an excerpt:

    The Colorado River Basin, covering a major portion of the eight-state Rockies region and extending into Mexico, has been the unified focus for all parts to the State of the Rockies Project during summer 2011 and the 2011-12 academic year and again for summer 2012 and 2012-13 attention. This basin encompasses portions of seven states in the American Southwest and continues into Mexico, supplying water to households, communities, businesses and farms, as well as natural ecosystems. Roughly 40 million people rely on the river for water, energy, food, and healthy ecosystems. Climate studies indicate the potential for inadequate water supplies throughout the 1,700-mile river system from the ori- gins of the Green River high in Wyoming’s Wind River Range to its historic outlet over the Colorado River Delta, emptying into the Sea of Cortez. Along its twisted path arise majestic mountains, deep canyons, tributaries, and a wealth of flora and fauna. The basin is indeed a natural treasure of world- class caliber, but heavily threatened. We have dedicated two years of focus on the Colorado River Basin in order to help assure that the next generation inherits a natural and economic system as spectacular, diverse, and bountiful as has existed in the past, but is in transition today. The changes currently underway and those needed for the future must have new voices, especially those of today’s youth, for they will live with the results.

    More education coverage here.


    The latest newsletter from the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is hot off the presses

    January 23, 2014

    Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

    Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013


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

    Basin Roundtables around the state are busy drafting their “basin implementation plans” to feed into the Colorado Water Plan the governor wants drafted by December of this year. Upcoming meetings in Carbondale (1/23) and Silt (1/29), as well as the Annual Water Course in Grand Junction (2/3, 10 & 17) will focus on the plan & provide opportunities for citizen input. You can get more information & provide input on the Colorado and Gunnison Basin planning efforts, as well as the statewide effort, here.

    More education coverage here.


    Arkansas Valley Super Ditch update: ‘The objective is to develop a tool to look at lease-fallowing effects’ — Rick Parsons

    January 22, 2014
    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    A comprehensive study of Arkansas River water use that will aid the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch in temporary water transfers is nearing completion. “The objective is to develop a tool to look at lease-fallowing effects and quantify the amount of water to be exchanged,” Rick Parsons, an engineering consultant, told the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District on Wednesday. The district has helped Super Ditch since its formation in 2008 as a way to allow farmers to lease water without selling their underlying water rights, preventing the dry-up of farmland. The district and Super Ditch are working on a pilot program with Fowler this year.

    The Super Ditch has contemplated several strategies for moving water, including filing an exchange decree in water court, using existing substitute water supply plans and creating pilot projects under last year’s HB1248. The problem has been getting water users to agree to how those exchanges will avoid damaging other water rights.

    Since 2011, Parsons has been compiling information about how water is used in the Arkansas River basin, looking at river operations from 1980-2013. His model should be complete in May. The Super Ditch needs a model that will be generally accepted by other water users, Parsons said. Parsons has met with the state, Colorado Springs Utilities, Aurora and the Pueblo Board of Water Works to glean information. He also has worked with ditch companies to obtain additional data.

    The major obstacles at this point are reconciling data from different sources and understanding reservoir operations. Some Lake Pueblo operations related to Southern Delivery System are not clear because of proprietary information held by Colorado Springs Utilities, Parsons said. Reservoirs on the Colorado, Holbrook and Fort Lyon systems are operated by private companies.

    “There are a million numbers in this model, and a million in the state database. Some of them are wrong,” Parsons said. “If this is used in a court document, it will be challenged to the nth degree. It has to be as transparent as possible.”

    More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here and here.


    CSU Sponsors First Poudre River Forum Feb. 8

    January 21, 2014
    Cache la Poudre River

    Cache la Poudre River

    Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Jennifer Dimas):

    The Cache la Poudre River is life-blood for Northern Colorado. In recognition of its importance to the area, the community is invited to the first Poudre River Forum, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8 at The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland. The forum, “The Poudre: Working River/Healthy River,” will focus on all of the river’s stakeholders, representing perspectives from agricultural, municipal, business, recreational and environmental backgrounds. Topics to be discussed include:

    • The water rights of agricultural and municipal diverters;
    • Where the water in the Poudre comes from and what it does for us;
    • Ecological factors such as flow, temperature, fish and sedimentation.

    The forum will feature presentations and dialogue, including remarks by State Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs about how the Poudre itself was the site of early conflict and cooperation leading to the development of the doctrine of prior appropriation in the West, and how water law has evolved in recent years.

    Following the event, a celebration of the river will be held until 6 p.m. with refreshments and jazz by the Poudre River Irregulars.

    Pre-registration is required by Jan. 31. The cost is $25; students 18 and under are free and scholarships are available. To register, visit http://www.cwi.colostate.edu/thepoudrerunsthroughit

    The event is sponsored by The Poudre Runs Through It Study/Action Work Group facilitated by CSU’s Colorado Water Institute.

    More Cache la Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.


    2014 Water Course: What Citizens Need to Know about the Colorado Water Plan — CMU #COWaterPlan

    January 12, 2014
    Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

    Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

    Click here to go to the website for the pitch. Here’s the agenda:

    Session 1: Physical Realities of Colorado Water Supply and Demand (Feb 3)

  • Featuring Dr. Gigi Richard and representatives from the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables.
  • Session 2: Laws, Compacts and Agreements for Meeting Future Water Needs (February 10)

  • Featuring attorneys Aaron Clay, John McClow and Peter Fleming.
  • Session 3: The Colorado Water Plan: Process and Perspectives (February 17)

  • Featuring Mike King, Executive Director of the CO Department of Natural Resources & a panel with perspectives from the South Platte River Basin, the Colorado River Basin, Trout Unlimited and agriculture.
  • More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


    Public Trust Doctrine effort spurs the Colorado Water Congress to respond

    January 10, 2014
    Justian I first codifier of riparian rights

    Justian I first codifier of riparian rights

    From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

    One of Colorado’s oldest, most powerful water groups is raising a war chest to battle an initiative that would place the public’s interest in the state’s hallmark rivers and streams ahead of the interests of private water-right owners, changing the state Constitution.
    The notion that the public has an inherent interest in free-flowing water is well-established in other states, which embrace what’s known as the “public trust doctrine.”

    California, Wisconsin, Montana and New Jersey, for instance, have such a doctrine, according to a 2009 report from the Center for Progressive Reform, a nonprofit policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. In Wisconsin, for example, the public interest in a water source is paramount and a water permit only can be granted if its use does not obstruct navigation, reduce flood-flow capacity or harm the public interest.

    This would mark a radical shift from Colorado’s prior appropriation system, which favors individual water rights owners, especially those with older water rights. During drought periods, water is provided to those with senior water rights while those who have junior, or newer, water rights don’t get water.

    But the Colorado Water Congress, which represents private water-right owners, contends the Public Trust Doctrine runs counter to state law and 150 years of case law. The legal principle would make rivers and streams public property, superseding water rights of property owners in some cases.

    Richard Hamilton, a retired aquatic microbiologist from Fairplay, is behind recent efforts to introduce a ballot initiative to ask voters to enact the public trust doctrine in Colorado. Hamilton and Phillip Doe have tried several times since 1988 to enact a public trust doctrine.

    “The state does not now act as a steward of the people’s property,” Hamilton said.

    “It goes ahead and decides what is the best interest of everybody and the government makes up its mind as to which of those interests shall supersede the public’s ownership.”

    Hamilton said his measure failed last year because the state did not give him enough time to gather signatures for a ballot initiative. He said he does not know whether he will pursue a ballot initiative this year.

    The Colorado Water Congress, nonetheless, is spending $325,000 on a campaign to oppose any effort to launch a public trust doctrine initiative. Founded in 1958, the not-for-profit lobbying organization represents water-right owners. The Colorado Water Congress claims an 85 percent “success rate” on state water legislation it endorses, and Colorado governors rarely have signed bills it has opposed.

    More Public Trust Doctrine coverage here.


    Colorado Water Plan the focus of three-evening course — Glenwood Springs Post Independent

    January 10, 2014
    Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

    Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

    From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Hannah Holm):

    …the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is focusing its annual three-evening water course on what citizens need to know to understand what’s at stake and how to make their voices heard as the Colorado Water Plan is developed.

    This course is open to the public. It will be held on Colorado Mesa University’s campus in the University Center Ballroom from 6-9 p.m. on three consecutive Mondays: Feb. 3, Feb. 10 and Feb. 17. The cost is $45 for the whole series, or $20 per session, with scholarships available for those who can’t afford the cost.

    Feb. 3 – Physical Realities of Colorado Water Supply and Demand

    On Feb. 3, Dr. Gigi Richard will provide an overview of how Coloradans currently meet their needs for irrigation, drinking water and recreation, and what factors are necessary for healthy streams. She will also touch on the climate factors that affect our water supplies. Speakers from the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables will then discuss the water needs that have been identified for these two river basins, which meet in Grand Junction. The basin roundtables are groups of stakeholders responsible for assessing water needs and recommending projects in their river basins. Plans developed by basin roundtables across the state are to be building blocks for the statewide water plan.

    Feb. 10 – Laws, Compacts and Agreements for Meeting Future Water Needs

    On Feb. 10, attorney Aaron Clay will provide an overview of Colorado water law, focusing on how it relates to strategies for meeting future water needs. Then John McClow, Colorado’s representative to the Upper Colorado River Basin Commission, will discuss the importance of the Colorado River Compact, the 1922 agreement on how to allocate the Colorado River’s water between states. Peter Fleming, attorney for the Colorado River District, will then discuss recent and still-developing agreements designed to help address growing water needs on the Front Range while addressing the West Slope impacts of piping water over the Continental Divide.

    Feb. 17 – The Colorado Water Plan: Process and Perspectives

    On Feb. 17, Mike King, executive director of Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources, will discuss the need for a Colorado Water Plan and how the plan will be developed. Mr. King’s presentation will be followed by a panel that provides perspectives on how the Colorado Water Plan could affect the East Slope, the West Slope, agriculture and the environment. The public will also have the opportunity to provide input regarding what they would like to see in the plan.

    More education coverage here.


    Collaboration may be the key to solving Colorado’s water problems

    January 6, 2014
    Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives

    Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jack Flobeck):

    Years ago, Mary Lou Smith of Fort Collins gave presentations on “Collaboration,” as an alternative to compromise or capitulation. Most of the water folks who heard Mary Lou learned that most times a compromise ensured that one side of the question or even both sides, would be mad and feel cheated by the negotiated decision.

    But, when they found some common ground and participated in discovery and equilibrium, they all felt like they had contributed to the decision.

    To amplify the collaboration story, we should consider the advantages of working in groups with wide experiences and skills. Think of the pain that could have been avoided if there had been just a single scientist, economist, or a plain old rancher with horse sense; at Bishop’s Lodge, N.M.; in 1922 when a cadre of attorneys ‘guaranteed’ the lower basin states 7.5 million acre feet a year of Colorado River water, when we could have agreed to 50 percent of what was in the river at that time. Every water study group should have some bedrock advisers, as well as scientists, biologists, engineers, hydrologists, and yes, dam experts.

    What does 2014 hold for us in the arid West? Part of the answer is certainly local, but a great part is definitely national, as the overall national economy will determine our ability to borrow, construct, or divert.


    The winter edition of the Water Information Program newsletter is hot off the presses

    January 5, 2014
    Snow plow working in the San Juans

    Snow plow working in the San Juans

    Click here to read the latest newsletter. Click here for their RSS feed.


    You, water and the “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act” — Steamboat Today #COWaterPlan

    January 3, 2014
    Yampa River

    Yampa River

    From Steamboat Today (Bill Badaracca):

    Steamboat Springs — Water is critical to Colorado’s future and every Coloradan has a stake in our water future. At first it may seem that the various water interests are competing with one another. But, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that these interests are interconnected and interdependent. We all are connected by water. We drink it, wash with it, eat the food it grows, use the energy it helps extract, enjoy the environment it supports and share in the wealth it brings to Colorado’s economy.

    As Colorado’s population continues to grow into the 21st century, the demands on its water supply will continue to increase. Current projections of these demands indicate that there will be a gap in the water supply. The “water supply gap” represents the short fall between the projected demand for water in the future and the actual supply available to meet that demand. The size of the gap will depend on how well we are able to cooperate to use our water supply effectively.

    To address the water supply gap, Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order in May of 2013 directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to develop a statewide water plan for the future water needs for Colorado. The statewide water plan will be finalized no later than Dec. 10, 2015.

    The executive order is constructed to be inclusive of a wide range of organizations and the general public in the development of the statewide water plan. You can learn more about the statewide plan and how you can get involved in the process by visiting the statewide water plan web site, http://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cowaterplan.

    To broaden the water planning process, the Colorado Legislature passed House Bill 05-1177, known as the “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act,” in 2005. The purpose of this legislation was to create a locally driven process where the decision-making power rests with those living in the state’s eight major river basins.

    Two new entities to help study future water needs and develop a statewide water plan for the future water needs of Coloradans were created by this legislation. The Inter Basin Compact Committee and the basin roundtables are the two entities that this legislation created.

    There are nine basin roundtables, one for each of Colorado’s eight major river basins and one for the Denver Metro Area. The basin roundtables are designed to facilitate locally driven discussions and solutions on water issues that affect each basin.

    Each basin roundtable is required to develop a basin-wide water needs assessment, consisting of four parts:

    1) The evaluation of the basin’s consumptive water needs for municipalities, industry, energy extraction and agriculture;

    2) The evaluation of the non-consumptive water needs to maintain a healthy environment and meet the recreational needs of the basin;

    3) To evaluate the available surface and ground water supplies and to identify any un-appropriated water within the basin; and

    4) To propose solutions to meet the identified current and future needs within the basin and to achieve a sustainable water supply to meet those needs over time.

    The Inter Basin Compact Committee (IBCC) was established to broaden the range of stakeholders actively engaged in the state’s water policy decisions and to encourage dialogue and cooperation between the stakeholders. The IBCC’s role in the development of a statewide plan is multi-faceted.

    One facet of the IBCC’s role is to provide a forum to develop and disseminate information to create a statewide perspective on Colorado’s water future. The IBCC also serves as a forum to address the socio-economic, recreation and environmental impacts of water development and management along with the potential impacts of Colorado to use its entitlements and still meet its Interstate Compact requirements.

    The IBCC is charged with providing information and resources to each basin roundtable to help enable them to develop their individual basin wide plans. The IBCC is also charged with helping guide the process of negotiating inter-basin compacts and agreements.

    The basin roundtables and the IBCC have been at work since 2005 in developing the individual basin plans that will serve as a foundation for the statewide plan. 2014 will be a critical time for the public’s voice to be heard as the first draft of the statewide water plan is due to be submitted to the Governor’s office on Dec. 10, 2014.

    As the individual basin planning process enters the new year, everyone is encouraged to participate in the planning process. You can learn more about the planning process and how your voice can be heard by visiting the CWCB web site, http://www.cwcb.state.co.us.

    More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


    Colorado Water Congress Mentoring Program start up January 1

    December 30, 2013
    Browns Canyon via BrownsCanyon.org

    Browns Canyon via BrownsCanyon.org

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

    January 1, 2014 is the first day of the Colorado Water Congress Mentoring Program- a chance for students and advancing professionals to connect with industry experts and engage in new opportunities.

    Using a LinkedIn group as a platform, the program will offer an online Question and Answer session hosted by volunteer mentors. Each month will feature two new mentors (one practitioner and one academic) who can offer advice and discuss their specific area of expertise. Quarterly calendars will list the mentors who will facilitate an upcoming month, as well as their topic of discussion.

    Mentor Program Agenda
    Jan 2014

    Amy Beatie, Colorado Water Trust
    Tom Romero, DU Sturm College of Law
    Expertise: Water Law & the Environment
    Feb 2014
    Julie McKenna, Brandeberry & McKenna
    Public Affairs
    Tom Cech, Metro State University
    Expertise: Lobbying for Water Policy
    Mar 2014
    John Currier, Colorado River District
    John McCray, CO School of Mines
    Expertise: Water Resource Engineering

    Click here to join the POND group.


    Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project: Episode One

    December 28, 2013

    More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.


    Mile High Water Talk blog: Your Denver Water Video

    December 26, 2013

    Here’s the link to the blog post.


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