Report — ‘Land & Water: A Quantitative Analysis of Land Conservation’s Impact on Water in Colorado’

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Here’s a link to the report. Here’s the introduction:

Water has been a prominent concern for agricultural, municipal, and industrial sectors in Colorado for quite some time, and its significance will only continue to increase. Over the last couple of years, conservation proponents have been placing a higher priority on water projects and organizations working with water. After several discussions with various conservation advocates, the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) realized that, although land trusts and open space programs are associated with land preservation and recreation, we, as a community, are not as strongly inked with water and watershed protection as we can be. The fact is when conservation organizations conserve land, they also protect water. Conserving land around rivers and streams protects valuable habitat and riparian zones that are crucial to a river’s health and water quality. Until now, the impact of Colorado land conservation efforts on water and watersheds was not quantified. Though undocumented, Colorado land conservation programs have been protecting water all along. This report quantifies how much water has already been protected by land conservation in Colorado. As funders increasingly focus on water, this knowledge will provide a platform for further protecting Colorado’s water through land conservation.

This report quantifies the miles of river corridor protected by conservation easements in the state. The research was performed by CCLT, in collaboration with the Colorado Water Trust, (CWT), and in cooperation with Great Outdoors Colorado, (GOCO). Even though water rights encumbered by easements and in-stream flows held by the state are not included in this report, protecting the land surrounding streams and rivers is a major step in protecting water in Colorado. Land and water are intrinsically linked habitats and environmental systems. Similarly, the land and water communities are intrinsically linked, and connecting their work can only strengthen the efforts of each. Land conservation already has a broad impact on water protection: this report recognizes what has already been done and provides knowledge to allow that impact to continue to grow. Highlighting land conservation’s affect on water is another way for land trusts to be strategic about obtaining funds and also to determine how those funds are used. The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust has shown the potential of tying land conservation to water with the success of their “Rio Grand Initiative”to protect the Rio Grande River corridor. From local land trusts to GOCO, up to the national level, with the Land Trust Alliance and the Department of the Interior, the information in this report is a valuable tool for prioritizing land conservation on all levels.

More coverage from Jeannie McGinnis writing for The Pagosa Daily Post. From the article:

The study, carried out by Matt Ashley for CCLT, focuses on protection of river and stream corridors and is the only report of its kind. The bulk of the research for the project was performed using the Colorado Ownership, Management, and Protection project (COMap) a detailed map of all protected areas in the state of Colorado.

The results show that over 2000 miles of 2nd and 3rd order stream and river corridors are protected by conservation easements in Colorado. The study omits 1st order streams which are intermittent. This represents a significant portion of valuable habitat and riparian zones that directly affect river health and water quality in Colorado.

Amy Beatie, Executive Director for the Colorado Water Trust said the report shows that land trusts target riparian lands for conservation because of their scenic, open space, and wildlife benefits. “For years, the Colorado conservation community has had to guess at the effect of private land conservation on the health of Colorado rivers,” stated Beatie. “Land and Water has succeeded in providing the groundwork to find a concrete answer. Rivers and streams are often the centerpiece of communities in this state – rural and urban alike – and their protection is widely supported.”

More conservation coverage here.

Nuestro Rio (the Colorado River) a National Latino Water Conservation Campaign will Launch in Washington, DC Next Week

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Here’s the release from Nuestro Rio via PRNewswire.com:

WHAT:
A reception to kick-off Nuestro Rio, a national Latino-led campaign that seeks to preserve the Colorado River and its tributaries for generations to come. This national campaign to engage Latinos in this conservation effort is the first of its kind.

WHAT:
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE:
The Source Restaurant
575 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

WHO:
Actress and philanthropist, Celines Toribio will welcome and introduce the goals of Nuestro Rio to invited guests. Department of the Interior, Secretary Ken Salazar has also been invited to speak about his views of the Colorado River and the growing demands on the river’s resources

WHY:
Latinos have a rich cultural history connected to the Colorado River, and now the River and its tributaries are under threat. The mighty River is drying up due to consumption, drought and climate change. In fact the River no longer reaches Mexico’s Sea of Cortez as it had for millions of years.Latinos and other Americans in the southwest depend upon the River to sustain their way of life and bolster the economy through recreation and tourism. Nuestro Rio’s goal is to educate decision-makers and the public about the need protect this lifeline in the West. They have begun by collecting 10,000 Latino signatures on a letter to Sec. Salazar and other decision-makers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming to urge action on this challenge.

Background:
The Colorado River is the most plumbed river in the nation. So much water is taken out that the water rarely makes it to the river’s delta. Right now, the Bureau of Reclamation is reviewing the current water demands on the Colorado River for the seven states that depend on those waters for hydration, agriculture, power, and economic viability. However, the debate over water rights typically centers on drinking water, agriculture, and electricity. People forget that the Colorado River is the cultural and economic foundation for everyone who lives in the Southwest, and thus requires a focus on the environmental health of the river itself.

Nuestro Rio is a network of Hispanics in the West. As advocates for a healthy, sustainable Colorado River, we are educating our communities, the public and decision-makers about the history of Hispanics and the Colorado River and the need to preserve the legacies of 20 generations of Latino life in the Southwest.

For more information please visit NuestroRio.com.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Odds are that La Niña will return this winter

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

While La Niña conditions (cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific) often return for a repeat performance after a strong episode like last year’s, the second time around is often much less intense, with a less pronounced effect on Colorado’s winter weather…

In a La Niña watch issued Aug. 4, the CPC said readings from the central Pacific show a strengthening of the below-average temperature readings at depth, and some atmospheric circulation patterns are still echoing last winter’s La Niña, including enhanced convection over the eastern Pacific, around Indonesia and New Guinea, with suppressed convection over the central equatorial Pacific. About half the long-range models are now forecasting that La Niña will reform in the fall.

State Engineer’s rules for non-tributary coalbed methane produced water affirmed by water court

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From the Associated Press (Catharine Tsai) via Loveland Reporter-Herald:

…the rules’ challengers are cheering because the ruling Thursday also said those determinations don’t have any legal effects outside of decisions on water well permits…

The San Juan Citizens Alliance and others had challenged the rules [ed. for non-tributary wells], which were adopted after a court decision on water pumped out during coalbed methane drilling. That decision said the water wasn’t just a waste product. Therefore companies for 40,000 existing wells that withdraw water during drilling potentially had to get water well permits or file plans for replacing the water if senior water rights holders were affected.

More coalbed methane coverage here and here.

Denver Water asks the General Assembly for legislation that would set tough standards for low-flow toilets

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Lawmakers on the Water Resources Review Committee agreed to prepare draft legislation that would make the restriction of toilet flows in Colorado stricter than federal Environmental Protection Agency standards adopted in 1996. But some on the committee wondered whether government has a place in citizens’ bathrooms…

Toilets installed after 1996 are capped at a 1.6 gallons maximum flush volume, and urinals at 1 gallon maximum under EPA standards. Melissa Elliott of Denver Water told the committee that the legislation the utility is pushing would cap new toilets at a maximum of 1.28 gallons per flush and 0.5 gallon for urinals. “We’ve actually done a survey in our service area in 2005,” Elliott said. “It showed the average toilet flush at 3.14 gallons. We still find ones that flush 7 gallons.”[…]

As Denver Water envisions the proposed law, it would not require immediate replacement of less efficient toilets, but it would apply statewide…

In October the Water Resources Review Committee hopes to have a draft of the proposed toilet-efficiency standard legislation for consideration and to hear from representatives of the industries that it could potentially affect.

More conservation coverage here.