#ColoradoRiver: The Grand River Ditch — Greg Hobbs #COriver

The Grand River Ditch

A State Engineer Map of 1907-8 shows the Grand River Ditch diverting from Water District 51, upper Colorado River drainage, across the Continental Divide into Water District 3 in the upper Poudre River drainage (shown in red middle left hand side); also showing Chambers Lake (upper left hand side of map)

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July 20 inspection of Grand River Ditch led by Dennis Harmon, General Manager, Water Supply and Storage Company. From left to right Randy Gustafson (Water Rights Operation Manager, City of Greeley), Dennis Harmon, and Michael Welsh (Historian, University of Northern Colorado).

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The Grand River Ditch has an appropriation date of 1890 for 524.6 c.f.s of water diverted from the Colorado River Basin to irrigate 40,000 acres of land in the Poudre Basin through the Larimer County Ditch. The water flow of the ditch is continuously measured at this gauging station on La Poudre Pass.

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West of the Divide, the Grand River Ditch contours towards and around the Never Summer Range in Rocky Mountain National Park (established in 1915 after construction of the Grand River Ditch) for 14.77 miles to Baker Gulch.

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A wetland at the western side La Poudre Pass,

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gives birth to the baby Colorado River.

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Discarded horse slip scrapers bolted together perhaps to armor the spillway of a small now-breached dam in the vicinity of the ditch.

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The Grand River ditch is located above the Little Yellowstone Canyon with spectacular views of the Never Summer Range.

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The mining town of Lulu City was located down in the valley where, not far beyond, Lake Granby now gathers water for delivery east to Northern Colorado through the Adams Tunnel.

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In the early 21st Century a stretch of the Grand River Ditch was washed away and repaired. Rehabilitation of the mountainside is proceeding under supervision of the National Park Service. Water Supply and Storage Company contributed $9 million in settlement of NPS claims.

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The easement Water Supply and Storage Company owns for the Grand River Ditch also serves as a hiking path along a number of gushing creeks.

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The ditch is fitted with gates that are opened to bypass creek water after the summer season comes to a close.

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The water flowing through La Poudre Pass drops into Long Draw Reservoir located in the Roosevelt National Forest east of the Continental Divide.

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Moose and deer share wetland meadows of a long summer evening.

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Water Supply and Storage Company stores Poudre River water in Chambers Reservoir.

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Greg Hobbs and Dennis Harmon on the Continental Divide.

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Greg Hobbs, July 20, 2016.

#COWaterPlan: Colorado Ag Water Alliance workshop recap

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Stephanie Alderton):

During the Colorado Ag Water Alliance workshop in Brush on Wednesday, speakers encouraged eastern plains farmers to think outside the box when using water.

MaryLou Smith, a Colorado State University professor and member of the university’s Colorado Water Institute, gave a talk about why farmers should think about using their water differently in order to prevent shortages. Several other speakers spoke about practical ways to do that, as well as some projects that have already begun. Part of the workshop’s goal was to introduce producers to the opportunities for alternative transfer methods under the new Colorado Water Plan.

The Plan encourages farmers to conserve water, but Smith said that’s only part of the equation.

“We recognize that ag water conservation can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” she said. “So we actually talk more about, ‘How might ag producers use their water differently?'”

She said Colorado often faces water shortages between agricultural and urban uses, and urban policy makers often blame ag producers for not conserving enough water. Her organization works with farmers to find a solution to these problems, although she said “there is no easy answer.” A few problem-solving steps she put forward included improving irrigation efficiency, using updated equipment like soil moisture sensors and trying new farming methods like split-season fallowing. These methods, Smith said, might help “take the target off farmers’ backs” when it comes to disputes about water shortages.

Dick Wolfe, [State Engineer] for the Colorado Division of Water Resources, addressed the “use it or lose it” mentality farmers often have toward their water rights, saying they should focus on finding beneficial uses for water instead of just using it up at any cost.

“How much water do you need to put to beneficial use for that crop, if you need to do it without waste?” Wolfe asked farmers.

Like many speakers throughout the day, he said he wanted to encourage dialogue between his organization and the producers who have to deal with water regulations on the ground.

At the end of the workshop, a panel of producers presented water-saving projects that are already underway. Chris Kraft, a Morgan County dairy farmer and member of the Fort Morgan Ditch Company, spoke about the longstanding ag and energy lease that exists between Fort Morgan farmers and the Pawnee Power Plant (now Xcel Energy). Agricultural producers have found a way to share water with the power plant instead of instituting a “buy and dry,” by selling all their water rights.

[…]

The other panelists mentioned several similar ongoing projects. Greg Kernohan, from the company Ducks Unlimited, talked about the Colorado Ag Water Protection Act, which he helped promote; Todd Doherty, of Western Water Partnerships, presented the South Platte Ag/Urban Pilot Project, an attempt to share water between farmers and the city; and Gerry Knapp, of the City of Aurora, talked about ag and urban partnership concepts as well.

Rain barrel workshop Aug. 2 — The Pueblo Chieftain

Rain barrel schematic
Rain barrel schematic

From Colorado State University via The Pueblo Chieftain:

Colorado State University Extension will offer the Yard and Garden Series, Rain Barrel Workshop scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 2 at the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, 31717 E. United Ave.

The cost is $15 per person or $25 per couple sharing materials.

The workshop will include learning about the new rain barrel law, how to use rainwater in your landscape and how to make your own rain barrel.

Register by mail with check payment, payable to Extension Program Fund, 701 Court St., Suite C, Pueblo, CO 81003 or in person with cash or check payment at the extension office at 701 Court St. Participants also may register online through Eventbrite, http://pueblo.colostate.edu/hor/upcoming-rain.shtml, payable by credit/debit card.

Preregistration with payment is required by July 26. No walk-ins accepted. Seating is limited.

For more information, call 583-6566.

Ag Secretary Vilsack supports initiative on Climate Smart Agriculture

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Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Joanne Littlefield):

With Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices, farmers and ranchers constantly adjust to weather variability to assure their economic and ecological resilience.

CSA is a major U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited campus on May 20 to discuss CSA initiatives at CSU, a followup to a daylong forum held on campus May 5.

Vilsack shared his assessment of global climate change and the challenges confronting global food production and distribution. He applauded CSU’s engagement with Colorado producers as well as USDA’s Northern Great Plains Climate Hub, located at the Agricultural Research Service in Fort Collins. CSU is a partner in the Climate Hub with land-grant universities in Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Nebraska. The Secretary visited the Climate Hub and the USDA’s ARS office in Fort Collins prior to his on campus meeting.

In addition to recognizing the efforts of the Climate Hub and CSU’s research, teaching and engagement climate programs, Vilsack answered a broad array of questions from a small group of agricultural leaders who had also attended the May 5 forum.

CSA initiatives

CSU leaders emphasized that its CSA initiatives enhance partnerships with Colorado producers, where ideally farmers and ranchers will take the lead in working with their neighbors. CSU Extension, the Colorado Water Institute (CWI) and the College of Agricultural Sciences are actively seeking collaborations with farmers and ranchers and their respective organizations.

“These initiatives are focused on improving Colorado’s food systems and food value chains as they adapt to variable weather and climate,” said Lou Swanson, vice president for CSU’s Office of Engagement. “The College of Agricultural Sciences and our Office of Community and Economic Development have programs focused on agriculture and food systems innovations that are equally impactful in rural and urban areas of Colorado.”

Faculty from a variety of colleges and departments, along with CWI and CSU Extension, are providing the primary engagement and outreach programing for these CSA initiatives. A principal program goal, in collaboration with Colorado’s farmers and ranchers and their organizations, is to improve their economic and ecological adaptability and resilience as weather patterns change. A guiding engagement principle is emphasis on co-creating programs and developing applied research with farming and ranching communities.

Both USDA and CSU are founding and active members of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture.

More information on CSA and CSU’s initiatives, including identifying faculty and staff working in this area is available on the Engagement website.

The Spring 2016 issue of the magazine Colorado Water, dedicated to Climate Smart Agriculture, is available online.

Library, Colorado Springs Utilities host water workshop for kids — @csgazette

Cloud in a bottle diagram via BestOfPicture.com
Cloud in a bottle diagram via BestOfPicture.com

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (William J. Dagendesh):

Landin kicked off the demonstration by explaining the value of water and asking where this resource comes from. “It comes from the sewer,” one boy blurted, to which the other children exclaimed with disgust.

Landin explained that Colorado Springs relies on precipitation from snow that falls west of the continental divide 100 miles away. A small portion comes from precipitation from the Arkansas River 40 miles away, she said, and that water travels through pipes down from the Rocky Mountains.

“Water falls to earth as rain, snow and precipitation,” Landin said. “Water later evaporates into the air, creates clouds and falls back to earth as fresh water.”

That’s when Landin discussed Utilities’ water treatment role. “Has anyone cooked spaghetti with unclean water?” Landin asked as children grimaced and shook their heads. “Of course not, that would taste yucky. This is why Utilities cleans up the water before you use it.”

Landin also conducted several water-related games to demonstrate how people receive and use water. In the water system relay, children rolled whiffle balls down half cylinder makeshift ramps to show that most of Colorado Springs’ water is imported from more than 100 miles away, and that the system infrastructure is vast and complex to ensure customers have quality water.

A vapor shower demonstrated that water is used in many ways and that everyone needs to use it wisely to ensure a sustainable future. The white vapor that spilled out of a bucket in a fun way emphasized that taking shorter showers is a great water-conserving idea.

The disappearing water trick game, “Where’s the Water?” emphasized that everyone must conserve and use water wisely. A chemistry experiment showed children how waste water can be restored to its usable state. Two volunteers stirred a chemically treated makeshift waste water-filled beaker only to watch the liquid return to its unclean state.

“It takes a lot to clean up waste water,” Landin said.

The cloud in a bottle and cloud cannon experiments showed that precipitation produces water and that everyone depends on nature for the amount of water available. The latter experiment, in which Landin shot wisps of cloud vapor into the crowd from a black plastic trash can cloud cannon, proved popular with youngsters…

Following the demonstrations, children received a Water Warriors Activity Book filled with water-related crossword puzzles, and fun money and water-saving tips. Energy and water conservation stickers reminded youngsters to take shorter showers and to turn off the water when brushing their teeth.
“This event is an experience kids can carry with them throughout life,” Landin said as children collected their activity books and stickers.

Citizens can learn more about water conservation during the Southern Delivery System Waterfest from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on July 23 at the Edward W. Bailey Water Treatment Plant, 977 Marksheffel Rd. During the event, guests will get to touch a cloud, create a snowball, cool off with a fire hose and participate in a water scavenger hunt.

Tours of the new water treatment plant also will be offered. Everyone is encouraged to wear flat, sturdy shoes and to bring a small item for inclusion in the SDS time capsule scheduled for burial at noon. To learn more visit sdswater.org.

Urban Water Conservation Through Native Landscaping. A Colorado River Day Webinar — Audubon

Photo via Audubon (Abby Burke).
Photo via Audubon (Abby Burke).

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

You Can Help Rivers: Create Habitat!

Urban Water Conservation Through Native Landscaping. A Colorado River Day Webinar.
Thursday, July 21, Noon – 1 p.m. MT
Register here.

Co-presented by:
Abby Burk, Western Rivers Program Lead, Audubon Rockies
Don Ireland, Habitat Hero Award Winner and Volunteer HOA President, Cherry Creek 3

Did you know native landscaping can save both significant water and money? When we say significant, we mean it! Find out how a neighborhood in southeast Denver saved 15 million gallons of water and $100,000 annually by transforming to native landscaping and incorporating water efficiency into everyday life.

The Cherry Creek 3 Homeowner’s Association (HOA) won the 2015 Colorado WaterWise Conservation Award for their efforts! HOA Volunteer President Don Ireland will talk about how he and fellow volunteers led this 251-condo development into a new era of water conservation while simultaneously establishing a new landscaping plan that has attracted many new birds and pollinators into the neighborhood. This HOA, without formal training in water conservation but with a burning desire to “do the right thing,” has been a poster child for water conservation and Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero program around the Front Range and beyond.

Register for this webinar today.

You may also be interested in these upcoming webinars from Audubon’s Western Rivers Action Network:

  • Wednesday, July 20, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: Lake Mead Structural Deficit and Why it Matters
    Presented by Kevin Moran, Senior Director of Water Programs, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Wednesday, August 7, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: Diversity and Inclusion in Conservation and Advocacy
    Presented by Chandra Taylor Smith, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, National Audubon Society
  • Wednesday, September 21, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: River Funding and Restoration Efforts
    Presented by Jennifer Pitt, Director – Colorado River Project, National Audubon Society and Scott Deeny, Arizona Water Program Lead, The Nature Conservancy