Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

Central Colorado Water Conservancy District

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

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From The Aspen Times: "Colorado's state climatologist will be one of the featured speakers at an annual meeting next week that focuses on issues in the Roaring Fork River watershed. The State of the River meeting will be held Tuesday, May 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Eagle County Building in El Jebel. State climatologist Nolan Doeskin will discuss local and statewide climate issues and their potential impacts on water supplies.

"The meeting will also feature a presentation by Xcel Energy on its Shoshone Hydro Plant in Glenwood Canyon. Fish biologist Bill Miller will share results from his assessment of the impact of a flash flood last summer on Seven Castles Creek. The creek pumped tons of sediment into the Fryingpan River after a heavy downpour last August. Miller was hired to assess the effects on the habitat for trout and bugs.

"The meeting is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Colorado River District, the Roaring Fork Conservancy and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority. For more information contact Jim Pokrandt of the Colorado River District at 945-8522 x 236 or e-mail"

Category: Colorado Water
8:54:21 AM    

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From The Leadville Chronicle: "Lake County Commissioners and representatives from the United States Forest Service would like comments on their proposed improvements at the [Mount Elbert Forebay Dam and Reservoir] within the next 30 days. The two entities are proposing to install a vault toilet, a parking area and what Lake County Commissioner Ken Olsen calls 'an unobtrusive boat ramp' at the reservoir."

Category: Colorado Water
8:46:36 AM    

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Boulder is relying on voluntary water restrictions this summer, according to The Denver Post. From the article:

Boulder's bold move to go without mandatory water restrictions this summer is a result of its conscientious customer base, this winter's abundant snowpack and senior water rights portfolio, according to the city and a Boulder-based environmental policy center. The city expects its Boulder and Barker reservoirs to reach up to 96 percent full after the spring snowmelt. The reservoirs risk spilling over in early June, the city said. Boulder has had looser restrictions than its metro neighbors. The city has avoided drought conditions since 2003, when the city enacted a drought response plan that's kept its supply healthy with strict rules...

Boulder is asking residents to do many of the same things Denver, Aurora and others are requiring: limit watering to three days a week, no watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and don't waster water. Boulder also will inspect residents' sprinklers for free to help detect leaks, and offer free advice on homeowners' other landscaping and watering issues. Without rules, Boulder still ranks just behind Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs in reducing water use since before the last drought began in 2002, said Taryn Hutchins-Cabibi, a water analyst for Western Resource Advocates, a Boulder-based environmental law and policy city.

Category: Colorado Water
8:35:08 AM    

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The Nation Center for Atmospheric Research has a shiny new computer from IBM to help with climate analysis, according to DailyTech. From the article:

It's a well known fact that developing realistic models to simulate climate change scenarios is a challenge, arduous, and cerebral task that currently is done rather poorly. Many models feature glaring flaws, and most models lag behind true prediction, trying to be able to repeat previous weather patterns as proof of concept that there future predictions will hold true. And most have trouble even doing that. Half of the equation is coming up with a better understanding of the math and physics driving the problem. The other half of the equation to improve the struggling weather modeling community is allocating more computing resources. Weather models take massive amounts of number crunching to generate semi-accurate results. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is working to shore up the latter count with the addition of a massive new IBM supercomputer to its Boulder, CO research center. The center is arguably the nation's largest hotbed for climate and weather research. The new supercomputer, a Power 575 Hydro- Cluster, will not only allow it to improve its analysis, but also to conserve energy, thanks to an energy efficient design by IBM...

Part of the use of the cluster will center on climate change. Researchers hope to analyze effects that warming (or cooling) might have on the environment, such as future patterns of precipitation, droughts, changes in growing seasons, and warming's influence on hurricanes. The system will also analyze severe weather in the present. Researchers hope to use the system's power to develop more accurate weather forecasting models. These models will in turn help to forewarn citizens of impending severe weather. With tornado deaths in the U.S. jumping from 67 to 81 between 2006 and 2007, and with 75 U.S. tornado casualties already this year, these models can literally be life-saving...

One of the computer's first main tasks will be a heady and likely controversial one. The system will be tasked with developing climate simulations for use in the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN organization monitoring global warming and other climate change phenomena. The organization shared the Nobel Prize in 2007...

NCAR is under the administration of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). The National Science Foundation (NSF) primarily sponsors the center's research. Other funding comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense (DOD), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Category: Climate Change News
8:24:56 AM    

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From "Arapahoe County and a coalition of 19 cities, towns and local organizations working to beautify and enhance the connectivity of the South Platte River, were honored April 30 by the Denver Regional Council of Governments for their efforts to work together to improve the river corridor. The South Platte Working Group received DRCOG's Metro Vision Gold Award - the agency's highest honor in the Collaboration category - which recognizes public and private sector partnerships and service to the Denver Metro area."

More from the article:

The South Platte Working Group was convened by Arapahoe County in September 2006 as a collaborative, consensus-based, regional approach to protecting the South Platte River corridor. At that time, Arapahoe County believed that local governments could achieve much more along the corridor by working together rather than by working alone. In addition to Arapahoe County, the cooperating partners that make up the Working Group include: Trust for Public Land, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, Great Outdoors Colorado, the cities of Englewood, Sheridan, Littleton, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village and Centennial; the towns of Columbine Valley and Bow Mar, Arapahoe County Open Space and Trails Advisory Board, South Metro Land Conservancy, South Suburban Park Foundation, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Trout Unlimited, Urban Drainage and Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers...

The first major project completed by the Working Group was the 2007 acquisition of a 2.6 acre wetlands open space parcel called the Oxbow Property, which is adjacent to the South Platte River. This project will protect water quality, wildlife habitat and scenic views. In December 2007, Great Outdoors Colorado awarded a $5.25 million grant - its second largest grant awarded in the State last year - to Arapahoe County and members of the South Platte Working Group for the South Platte Greenway Legacy project, which extends from Englewood to the Arapahoe Countyline south of Littleton. When combined with more than $20 million committed by the South Platte Working Group, this pool of money will enhance the South Platte River corridor as a recreational and habitat amenity by purchasing land from willing landowners to set aside for open space. Funds also will be used to construct recreational improvements, including nature education areas and trails.

Category: Colorado Water
8:12:36 AM    

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From The Vail Daily: "Much like it did last year, Vail Resorts will donate water from its allotment upstream in the Homestake Reservoir for the Teva Games Steep Creek Championship. Vail Resorts will call for the release of water to produce 100 cubic feet per second (CFS) so it reaches the venue site of Homestake Creek between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on June 5."

Category: Colorado Water
8:07:11 AM    

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Here's some runoff news from The Aspen Times. From the article:

Ruedi Reservoir has been drained to about half of its capacity as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation makes room for a high level of spring runoff. The reclamation bureau has cranked up water releases from the Ruedi dam throughout the late winter and spring. The release into the Fryingpan River is currently about 330 cubic feet per second, according to agency spokeswoman Kara Lamb. The water level in the reservoir is at about 55,000 acre feet...Ruedi holds 110,600 acre feet, although the federal agency figures the practical capacity is closer to 102,000 acre feet. Contrary to some suspicions, this isn't the historic low level. Lamb said the reservoir level dropped to about 46,100 acre feet in March and April of 2003. But the differences are immense, she noted. Back then, the water level was depleted because the inflow was so low during the draught of 2002. Now, the agency is purposely lowering the level to make way for the above average runoff. Snowpack is measured in three places in the upper Fryingpan Valley by another federal agency. The readings at those sites ranged from 9 percent to 93 percent above average yesterday.

More runoff news from The Crested Butte News. They write:

After filling completely last summer for the first time since 2002, Blue Mesa reservoir is currently sitting at half-full, as water officials prepare for large amounts of spring runoff. At the same time, citizens of Delta have voiced concerns about flooding, as they await peak flows from the North Fork of the Gunnison River to combine with releases from Blue Mesa. The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD) discussed the reservoir situation during a regular meeting on Monday, April 28. UGRWCD manager Frank Kugel said Blue Mesa was dropping at a fast rate. At press time, the reservoir was 49 percent full, according to information provided by the United States Bureau of Reclamation.

UGRWCD attorney John McClow said strong flows were expected through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison throughout the spring, as Bureau of Reclamation water managers amp up water releases from Blue Mesa Reservoir, and other reservoirs in the Wayne Aspinall unit, to match an increasing amount of spring runoff. Aspinall also includes the Morrow Point and Crystal reservoirs. All three of the reservoirs were authorized in 1956 by the Colorado River Storage Project Act. The dams for each reservoir also generate hydroelectric power that is sold by the Western Area Power Administration, a division of the Department of Energy...

McClow said earlier in the day the bureau increased the release rate for the Crystal Reservoir, the final dam in the Aspinall series. "They're running at the capacity of the tubes and power plants," McClow said of the hydroelectric dam. "They are planning to spill Crystal, at least twice," he said...But the large releases into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison are causing flooding concerns in Delta, where the North Fork River and Gunnison River meet. McClow said public officials in Delta were concerned that the flows coming out of Blue Mesa might combine with above-average flows on the North Fork during peak runoff, which can occur between May and June, depending on the temperature...

Kugel said the runoff wasn't occurring as predicted, but local snow packs were decreasing steadily. At press time, the snow pack in the Gunnison Basin was holding 130 percent of the average water content. Kugel said, "Three weeks ago we were above the 1984 level[~]now we're below the 1994 level. It's a significant drop-off." Kugel said the declining snow conditions should alleviate local high-water concerns...

The UGRWCD is also keeping a close eye on the Meridian Lake Reservoir, which the district owns as a supply of augmentation water. Augmentation water can be bought by other water users who run out of water or who are affected by a "call""[~]a situation where one water user has priority over another. Kugel visited the reservoir a few days before the meeting, noting it was 94 percent full. However, he said, the measuring meter was several feet under snow and he would be monitoring the reservoir for an expected spill.

More coverage from The Leadville Chronicle. They write:

Colorado's statewide snowpack dipped to 115 percent of average on May 1, which is the lowest statewide percentage reported since back on Jan. 1 when snowpack totals were 110 percent of average. This month's decrease in snowpack percentage marks the second consecutive month where statewide snowpack percentages have decreased. The highest statewide percentage was recorded on March 1 at 135 percent of average. Even with the decreasing snowpack percentages, Colorado's water supply outlook remains in excellent condition across the state. The lower-elevation snow melt has produced above-average stream flows in many basins during April. Meanwhile, runoff forecasts for the remainder of the spring and summer months continue to call for near-average to well-above-average volumes. The highest volumes, as a percent of average, remain across southern Colorado, where mid-winter storms brought impressive snowpack totals.
Category: Colorado Water
7:49:32 AM    

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From The Pueblo Chieftain: "It was just like being in school for 1,700 fourth- and fifth-graders at Thursday's Discover Water in Pueblo water festival at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Well, except that the classroom might have included a boat, fire or a collection of trash found in waterways. Oh, your "teacher" might have been a park ranger, mad scientist or water wizard. And, if you weren't careful, you might have gotten soaked by high school kids demonstrating how to swing irrigation siphons into place...The annual event is sponsored by Bureau of Reclamation, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Pueblo Board of Water Works, St. Charles Mesa Water District, Pueblo West Metropolitan District and CSU-Pueblo."

Category: Colorado Water
7:48:34 AM    

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The Cherry Creek News "Research from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, and Kansas State University shows corn growers can safely delay the first irrigation without having a negative impact on yield. A nine-year field study was conducted in northwestern Kansas to evaluate the effects of delaying the first irrigation on corn grain yield and its physiological components. Results from the Pioneer-commissioned study at K-State Northwest Research and Extension Center in Colby, Kan., confirmed the corn vegetative stage prior to tasseling is the least sensitive to water stress."

Meanwhile, here's an article about strip tillage from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

Being "green" matters to farmers in more ways than one. They like seeing the color of a healthy crop, having cash in their bank accounts and taking care of the planet, especially in these conservation-minded times. So it was with great interest that a few dozen Larimer County farmers gathered Friday morning to learn about a tilling technique marketed as a way to produce higher crop yields while saving money by cutting the consumption of fuel, water and fertilizer...

Conventional tilling involves plowing the entire planting area and running over it several times with a tractor pulling various attachments to break up and soften soil. Strip tilling entails using a single tractor attachment that disturbs only the narrow areas where seeds will be planted. Strip-till machines furrow 10 to 12 inches into the soil and shape channels that eases the efficiency of getting water and fertilizer to the seeds. Seaworth said he used strip tilling on his fields for the first time this season and saved about 55 percent in fuel costs. The technique combined with high-tech equipment, such as a global positioning system, allows for the precise application of fertilizer. Seaworth said he expects to cut his fertilizer expenses by a third. Fertilizer runs about $700 a ton. Tilling robs the soil of moisture, he said. The strip technique reduces that loss, leaving enough moisture for a crop to get started without irrigation. "If you have to irrigate (a crop) up, you use a lot of water, and it's really expensive," he said.

The presentation was sponsored by the Seaworths, the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Larimer County branch of Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, local soil conservation districts, as well as manufacturers of farm equipment.

Category: Colorado Water
7:46:40 AM    

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Here's a recap of this weeks "State of the River" conference hosted by the Colorado River District in Granby, from The Sky-Hi Daily News. From the article:

At the State of the River meeting hosted by the Colorado River District in Granby on Tuesday, Denver Water Manager Chips Barry commented the water supplier is working to "mitigate the past" as it takes care of the future. The statement comes as Denver Water seeks to develop 18,000 acre-feet per year of new water to Denver users by developing a Moffat collection system. That means an added 10,000 to 11,000 acre-feet of water annually could be diverted from Grand County during wet seasons.

The Denver Water system already operates 16 reservoirs, 690,000 acre-feet of storage, four transmountain diversions, five canals, and three treatment plants to deliver drinking water to 1.2 million customers. Due to growth, it's predicted Denver Water's supply versus demand will hit a 34,000 acre-feet shortfall by 2030, according to information presented by Travis Bray of the Moffat project. At present, the draft environmental impact statement for the Moffat project is being finalized and will be under agency review through July. The Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to release the draft at the end of September for public review with a final EIS and record of decision by mid-2009.

Meanwhile, Grand County is pumping up negotiations with Denver Water commissioners as the county's Stream Management Plan seeks to provide hard science to the city water supplier and the Northern Water Conservancy District on the Front Range. The stream management plan, it's believed, will show how and why West Slope rivers should be protected in spite of future firming projects. And in what seems to be a first, Denver Water is hinting at rectifying any problems initial diversions have caused to the Fraser River, at least in the eyes of Grand County Commissioner and Colorado River District board member James Newberry. He says he is optimistic that new members on the Denver Water Board seem to be in-tune with possible environmental issues on the West Slope, going so far as to call it an "environmentally friendly Denver Water Board" that is disinclined to "destroy one area of the state to benefit another." Denver Water and Grand County have agreed to a contracted facilitator for negotiations that are under way. Both sides have established what the other wants, Newberry said, and are ready to pound out agreements in six to eight more meetings.

Thansk to Colorado Trout Unlimited for the link.

Category: Colorado Water
7:45:15 AM    

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