Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

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Here's an article from today's Denver Post with details about the current snowpack. From the article, "The snowstorms, which began late March 7 and tapered off early Monday, boosted the overall snowpack for the greater San Juan Basin from just under 50 percent to 62 percent of the long-term average, [Jim] Pringle said.

"But some spots in the southwestern San Juans were clobbered. While Telluride recorded just over 3 feet of snow, the Wolf Creek Ski Area reported slightly more than 8 feet of new snow, Pringle said. Durango Mountain Resort received almost 5 feet. The area north of the resort between Red Mountain and Coal Bank passes on U.S. 550 received 5 to 6 feet of snow."

Category: Colorado Water

6:35:19 AM    

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Here's an update on the Gunnison River roundtable from the Montrose Daily Press.

"A Bureau of Reclamation speaker raised the ire of some representatives at the Gunnison Roundtable last week when he suggested the Endangered Species Act could trump contracts on the river.

"Since late last year, the Gunnison Roundtable has met and discussed major areas of concern on the river. The roundtables were created by the state legislature to create dialogue within and between watershed basins.

"At the last meeting, the Bureau of Reclamation discussed the history of dam projects in the basin and the current environmental impact statement being done on the river. The problem: The dams have changed the river and threatened the Colorado pike minnow and the razorback sucker.

"The bureau is trying to find a way to manage the river and fulfill its traditional obligations, like flood control, providing water for hydropower and water to irrigators, and at the same time improve the number of endangered fish.

"During the discussion, the bureau's Steve McCall was asked what impacts the changes to the river would be to current contracts, like the Uncompahgre Valley Water User's right to store water in Taylor Park Reservoir. McCall suggested that the contract did not have as much weight as the Endangered Species Act and the bureau could void them.

"Roundtable Representative Ken Spann said he was concerned that the bureau was over-stepping its authority and said the debate centered on state rights versus federal rights."

Category: Colorado Water

6:18:34 AM    

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Getting young students involved early in science is important. According to the Craig Daily Press that is just what Norm Yoast, a science teacher and river watcher, is doing. He's instructing his students to participate in the conversation around water management and teaching at the same time.

From the article, "Monitoring the massive expected runoff this spring for the Yampa River drainage will not be an easy task.

"Fortunately, Craig is home to Colorado's premier River Watch volunteer, Norm Yoast.

"As an eighth-grade physical science instructor at Craig Middle School, Yoast has spent the past 13 years as one of the River Watch program's most active and productive stewards, offering the river ecology curriculum as part of CMS's Extended Studies program.

"'It's just great science, it gets the kids out of the classroom and into the real world,' Yoast said...

"Yoast said his CMS River Watch group monitors 'more than any other school in the state,' keeping track of 12 stations on Fortification Creek and the Yampa, Green, Little Snake, Williams Fork and Elkhead rivers. Yoast's volunteer service also constitutes the longest standing River Watch group in the state.

"River Watch is the DOW's ongoing water quality monitoring program co-sponsored by the Colorado Watershed Network. Yoast believes firmly in the network's mission...

"The students provide information for DOW and the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to establish and improve Colorado's freshwater standards. In exchange, the state provides River Watch groups with the necessary lab equipment and chemicals for their samples -- a basic partnership that leaves Yoast ecstatic to receive any community donations for his group's research...

"Although he often covers many of the program's costs out-of-pocket, the spring snowfall makes Yoast eager to start another season of hands-on teaching.

"Once this snow starts to thaw, you're not going to see us here in the classroom for a while,' Yoast said."

Category: Colorado Water

6:04:14 AM    

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Groups involved with the problems in Fountain Creek are trying a new approach, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "The state will spend up to $37,500 for a study that could lead to a dialogue about a vision for Fountain Creek.

"A contractor will be chosen by early April to produce a conflict assessment on Fountain Creek by June, according to bid information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"The goal of the project is to hire mediators to interview interest groups in Colorado Springs and Pueblo about recent problems on Fountain Creek. The survey would culminate in a public meeting at the end of June, possibly leading to a long-term dialogue...

"The move is being applauded by Ross Vincent, senior policy adviser for the Sierra Club as a step ahead in a process that has in his view dwelled too much on the past.

"'This process is at a different level than what has gone on to date,' Vincent said. 'We need to start talking about the future, because the longer we remain focused on the past, the harder it will be to solve these problems.'"

Category: Colorado Water

5:46:17 AM    

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Southwestern Colorado has new friends in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The cities are kicking in some dough for cloud-seeding upstream in the Colorado River basin.

From the article, "The cities, maligned by Coloradans for their heavy use of the Colorado River over the years, have agreed to contribute $45,000 this spring to keep cloud-seeding programs going in the San Miguel, Dolores and Las Animas watersheds to boost snowpacks and, with luck, increase the spring runoff in the heavily used Colorado River.

"It is the first time Nevada, Arizona and California have helped Colorado in this way, said Rod Kuharich, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board...

"Tom Ryan, a staffer at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves Los Angeles and San Diego, said he made a scouting trip to Colorado about six weeks ago looking for existing cloud-seeding programs that could be expanded."

Here's another cloud-seeding article from ZDNet about the program starting up in Wyoming. From the article, "NCAR began its pilot project last month with initial cloud measurements and environmental assessments in Wyoming's Medicine Bow, Sierra Madre and Wind River mountain ranges. It also ramped up research this week, including some cloud seeding. 'This year, we're essentially doing the design of the whole five-year program,' said Bruintjes.

"Momentum has built for a modern-day research project because of technology that can deliver quantifiable results. In the air, scientists now have airborne surface radars, high-tech satellites and lasers at their disposal to capture data on weather changes. Scientists also use microwave radiometers on aircraft to measure cloud liquid. Those radiometers weren't available 40 years ago.

"On the ground, added computational power and high-resolution, computerized weather models help scientists magnify finite changes in weather processes in a way not previously possible. The computerized weather models map the terrain and the weather systems moving over it in detail. Instruments at select sites track precipitation rates, common meteorological variables, background air quality and ecosystem characteristics.

"With that, Bruintjes believes, previously unanswered questions can be resolved in the next two years. Cloud seeding 'does make larger drops and ice crystals, but there's a big black box in the middle: Does it produce more water on the ground?'

"Despite the absence of verifiable results in the field, cloud seeding is big business. Western states like Wyoming spend millions of dollars annually on weather modification to produce fresh water or snow, but they can't prove quantifiably whether it works."

Category: Colorado Water

5:35:33 AM    

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