NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin

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Here’s the link to Henry Reges’ notes from yesterday’s webinar.

CWCB: Public comment period for draft technical reports for Colorado’s Water Supply Future

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Eric Hecox):

This email notice begins the public comment period for several technical reports that CWCB has produced in preparation for the 2010 statewide update. Comments are due back September 30th to Eric Hecox at

Please visit (scroll halfway down the page to access the link to the reports) to download these documents.

Available for public comment are the following draft documents:

· Current and 2050 Agricultural Demands Technical Memo
· Alternative Agricultural Transfer Methods Grant Program Summary of Key Issues Technical Memorandum
· Nonconsumptive Needs Phase 2 Update
· Soon to be posted will be the Municipal and Industrial Gap Analysis

In addition, the final versions of several reports are also completed and ready for use. These include:

· 2050 Municipal & Industrial Water Use Projections
· Reconnaissance Level Cost Estimates for Agriculture and New Supply Strategy Concepts
· Watershed Flow Evaluation Tool Pilot Study
· Nonconsumptive Needs Assessment Focus Mapping Report (Phase 1)

These reports will each be compiled into a comprehensive statewide needs assessment to be considered for approval by the Colorado Water Conservation Board at their meeting in January 2011.

CWCB staff will be working with the roundtables between now and September 30th to answer questions and encourage roundtables to provide feedback on the document.

More CWCB coverage here.

CWCB: State of Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan Public Meeting

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The Colorado Water Conservation Board will hold a public meeting webinar August 16th at 10am to discuss the findings and solicit feedback on the 2010 revised Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response plan. This will be a web and call-in meeting only.

The Drought Plan was comprehensively revised to comply with the FEMA’s 3-year planning cycle and is a part of the State’s Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. The revision process has resulted in a State Drought Plan that uses state of the art planning techniques to prepare Colorado for drought. The plan also includes a groundbreaking vulnerability assessment of state assets, as well as various sectors affected by drought.

When: August 16th 10am-12noon
Where: Webinar and call-in ONLY; please RSVP for web access link
Phone Access #: 303.866.3441 ext. 7627

The State of Colorado’s DRAFT Drought Mitigation and Response Plan is now available on the CWCB website for public comment. The public comment period on the mitigation plan, the response plan, as well as all associated appendices and documentation, will officially close on August 20, 2010. The documents can be down loaded at

More CWCB coverage here.

Precipitation news: Above average July for Summit County

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Thanks to intense monsoon thunderstorms, July precipitation edged just above normal in Summit County for the second month in a row, bringing the year-to-date total to about 95 percent of average, according to Breckenridge weather watcher Rick Bly.
In July, 2.57 inches of water accumulated in Bly’s backyard weather gauge, compared to the historic average of 2.32 inches.

Denver Water stops diverting through the Roberts Tunnel so Dillon Reservoir is spilling again

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice:

Denver Water officials said the cool and rainy weather cut demand for water recently, so Dillon Reservoir is once again full to the brim, with some water spilling through the glory hole. Inflows to the reservoir were at about 350 cubic feet per second as of Tuesday morning, but that volume is expected to drop again rapidly when the rains stop.

Rains only provide a temporary boost to stream flows, and with the early melt-out of the high country snowpack, there’s not much backup moisture to sustain the flows. Blue River Basin water commissioner Scott Hummer said the entire Upper Colorado River Basin remains on the National Drought Monitor under the “abnormally dry” category, and before the monsoon kicked in, Colorado River flows had dropped to near record low levels.

More Blue River watershed coverage here and here.

Castlewood Dam failure and flood — August 3, 1933

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Here’s a look back at the catastrophic failure of the Castlewood Dam on Cherry Creek, from Jeffrey Wolf writing for From the article:

Heavy rain put too much pressure on the Castlewood Dam, located in what is now the Castlewood Canyon State Park near Franktown. The 300 feet of rock and concrete gave out and a wall of water rushed through Cherry Creek. It flooded farmland, swept away buildings, and tore down bridges 30 miles away in downtown Denver. It was the worst flood ever in Denver and the damage was extensive.

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District asks U.S. Representative Polis for a delay on the ‘Hidden Gems’ wilderness legislation

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Update: I corrected the headline to read “Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.” Thanks to reader Diane for the information.

From the Vail Daily (Lauren Glendenning):

The two-year delay, according to a water district letter to Polis, would allow the water district more time to research the potential impacts of a wilderness designation and identify areas where wilderness could hinder the water district’s efforts. “Since wilderness designation creates the highest level of restriction for human activities, including those aimed at protection and restoration of the land and its natural functions, once this designation is created, it is unlikely ever to be undone,” wrote Linn Brooks, assistant general manager of the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, to Polis on July 27. “We believe that it is well worth taking this extra time to understand the consequences of such an action.”

Concern with restoration efforts has been heightened in recent years following the Hayman Fire, widespread beetle kill and the emergence of watershed issues related to climate change — all of which have effected peak runoff flows and base flows, presenting a serious threat to the water quality and quantity, according to Brooks.

Diane Johnson, spokeswoman for the water district, said wilderness designations have provisions that claim that things such as firefighting and watershed management are still allowed, but she said those provisions look good on paper but rarely get practiced. The water district’s letter says that administrative-process requirements, such as watershed restoration, are “so much greater for activities that take place in wilderness that managers will generally choose to spend their limited funds outside of wilderness where they can accomplish projects with less cost, time and exposure to litigation.”

More Hidden Gems coverage here.