Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Sunday, March 5, 2006

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Here's a story about SB37 from the Cortez Journal. They write, "The state Senate has given its final approval to a bill on water rights for kayak parks.

"Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, won unanimous approval of the bill after weeks of negotiations with kayakers and environmentalists. It passed its crucial second reading on Thursday and cleared the final Senate hurdle Friday morning.

"It now heads to the House, where boaters who are unhappy with the compromise can try to further amend it.

"Isgar has called the bill one of the most important water issues he's handled at the Legislature.

"The proposal has been contentious. The bill was amended Thursday by Sen. Dan Grossman, D-Denver, to reflect a temporary compromise among cities, farmers, boaters and environmentalists...

"Isgar said that recreational rights could help or hurt agriculture, depending on the specific case.

"His bill changes the system by giving a lesser role to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, requiring cities to build a structure in the river to enhance the boating experience, and placing limits on when the water will be delivered.

"A water court would still be in charge of granting the right.

"Isgar's bill - if it passes - will govern any applications made after the governor signs the bill into law.

"Thursday's compromise amendment addressed four sticky points: It lets cities apply for rights for 'boating,' broadening it from the original bill, which was limited to kayaking. Cities will no longer be required to file monthly reports on how they used the water. The water court can keep jurisdiction over the rights, unlike other types of water rights, but only parties to the original court case will be able to challenge the right once it's been issued. The original bill would have let anyone challenge the right for 20 years. If 85 percent of the water called under the right isn't available, the city won't get anything. The compromise lowered the threshold from 90 percent. Isgar said this is the most controversial part of the bill.

"'It forces the applicant to make a decision on what it is they really need,' Isgar said.

"Cities can also apply for three levels of water to accommodate beginning, intermediate and expert boaters, Isgar said, so in reality they will have three chances to make the 85 percent threshold.

"But Drew Peternell of Trout Unlimited said the section isn't needed because water courts already will deny an application that is unreasonably large."

Category: Colorado Water

8:16:34 AM    

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Business Online UK: "WHISKY is for drinking, water is for fighting over - or so Mark Twain once remarked. He was right. Water has played a central, albeit usually overlooked, role in conflicts throughout human history, far more so even than oil; and many of the wars of the 21st century will be fought over the clear, cool stuff.

"During the past 50 years alone, there have been 507 conflicts pitting country against country, and 21 instances of actual hostilities, as a result of disagreements over water. All of which puts in perspective the row in the UK over last week's decision to allow water companies to impose metering to force water consumers to face the true costs of their water consumption - it even makes the looming drought and hosepipe bans in the South of England almost bearable in comparison.

"Water historian Peter Gleick, director of and the author of a unique chronology of water wars, has discovered a huge history of conflicts and tensions over water resources, the use of water systems as weapons during war, and the targeting of water systems during conflicts. The earliest known example dates back to 3,000 BC. Well before the remarkably similar accounts of the Great Flood to be found in the Bible, ancient Sumerian legend tells the tale of the deity Ea, who punished humanity for its sins with a devastating six-day storm.

"There have been hundreds more instances of water wars across the ages, involving just about everybody from Nebuchadnezzar to Louis XIV and famous military operations such as the Dam Busters during the second world war. In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci and Machievelli planned to divert the Arno River away from Pisa during hostilities between Pisa and Florence. Astonishingly, Arizona and California almost went to war in 1935 over the construction of the Parker Dam and diversions from the Colorado River...

"At last count, there were 263 river basins shared by two or more countries and these were home to roughly 40% of the global population, according to Unesco. In most cases, the institutions needed to regulate how water resources should be used are either weak or missing altogether. One particular area of contention is the Jordan River basin, which is divided between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Its supply of water is critical to Palestine, Israel and Jordan, and very important to Lebanon and Syria. The problem, each time, is who owns the water, how the water should be shared out between different countries and under what conditions. Partly as a result, water has also played a critical but much under-reported role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other wars in the region. The six-day war, which pitted Syria, Jordan and Egypt against Israel, had partly to do with a disagreement over water. One of the reasons why Israel has been reluctant to pull out of the Golan Heights and the West Bank is because it feared losing control of water flows and handing over control of them to hostile forces. The absence of proper property rights in water also fuels tensions within countries, pitting town against town or region against region. There is a growing number of disagreements about who can or cannot use water from a particular source in the US. 'From Montana to Michigan, from septic systems to centre-pivots, we wage war over water - its cleanliness, its availability, its highest use, its commodification, its spiritual essence. And as history proceeds from the settling of the prairies to the sprawling of suburbs, the struggles are becoming increasingly intense,' says Douglas Clement of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis."

Category: Colorado Water

8:00:40 AM    

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Here's an article from the Denver Post about our old friend La Niña. They write, "The weather bedeviling Eller, Miller and the rest of Colorado is caused by a mass of Pacific Ocean cold water, about the size of the United States, stretching for 5,000 miles off the South American coast - called La Niña.

"La Niña pushes the jet stream north so it cuts right through Colorado, leaving part of the state wet and the other dry.

"While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officially announced La Niña had hit on Feb. 6, it has been brewing since late fall.

"Leadville and Trinidad are a microcosm of what's happening across Colorado, where heavy spring runoff in the north may portend floods, while a parched south promises early-spring wildfires.

"The snowpack in Leadville is 150 percent of average, while just 214 miles away, Trinidad's snowpack is 30 percent of average."

Category: Colorado Water

7:44:17 AM    

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Southern Colorado is looking at a year of drought, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "Last year at this time, the southern mountains of the Arkansas Valley were white-capped peaks and the landscape was dotted by puddles as winter storms raked the area.

"This year, warm days and lack of snowpack are raising fears that another drought like the one in 2002 is brewing...

"The best indicator is snowpack, which is greater than 100 percent of average for the state, but only 10 to 35 percent at measurement sites in the southern mountains. The moisture content of the snow is also low.

"At the Cuchara snow course, for instance, moisture measured 2.1 inches at the beginning of the month. [Don] Sanchez said it's usually 6 inches by now.

"Precipitation totals are down as well, even lower than in 2002. Walsenburg has had 1.23 inches this year, compared with 1.93 in 2002...

"Trinidad Lake, which serves irrigators along the Purgatoire River, is far from filling, at only about one-sixth of its capacity for usable water, said Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte...

"Walsenburg's five reservoirs are about 90 percent full and still filling, so he is not worried about running out of water. The reservoirs contain enough water to serve Walsenburg for about 18 months...

"In Trinidad, restrictions are likely without more snowpack or precipitation in the next two months, said City Manager Jim Fernandez."

Category: Colorado Water

7:23:38 AM    

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Luna B. Leopold 1915 - 2006: "Luna B. Leopold, 90, an earth scientist widely considered the nation's top expert on how rivers shape the land, and who edited his father's seminal ecological work, 'A Sand County Almanac,' died of congestive heart failure Feb. 23 at his home in Berkeley, Calif.

"Dr. Leopold, an outdoorsman all his life and former chief hydrologist of the U.S. Geological Survey, revolutionized the study of geomorphology by introducing quantitative methods into a discipline that had been purely descriptive. But he did not reduce nature to mere numbers -- his love for the natural world ranged from the study of local butterfly and sparrow populations to an intense attention to government decisions on mining, timber and water quality.

"At 85, he led a scientific review panel on the restoration of the San Francisco Bay wetlands and was working until the time of his death, a colleague said...

"He published about 200 books and articles, several of which are still used in the field. Much honored for his accomplishments, he received the National Medal of Science in 1991, was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and will be posthumously awarded the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Science next month...

"He was a scientist and a conservationist and served on the boards of the Sierra Club and the Environmental Law Institute. He was a persistent critic of timber clear-cuts, cattle grazing in wilderness areas and mining in the national parks. He had a home near Pinedale, Wyo., where he banded birds for 30 years and studied which butterflies came back most quickly after a thunderstorm."

Here's the link to his book Water Rivers and Creeks.

Category: Colorado Water

6:55:02 AM    

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