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


Sorry, last week’s NIDIS update from the Colorado Climate Center got buried in my inbox. Here’s the link to the presentations. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the precipitation summary.

Colorado Springs Utilities has a new design for retention ponds, they hope to save $64 million in the Jimmy Camp Creek drainage


From The Colorado Springs Gazette (John Schroyer):

Colorado Springs would save an estimated $64 million on construction expenses for stormwater retention ponds in the Jimmy Camp Creek watershed, under a new design compiled by the city engineer’s office.

The plan, outlined in a manual that must be approved by City Council by next May, would direct homebuilders to include a series of smaller retention ponds for stormwater runoff as they develop subdivisions, retail parks and the like…

Currently, stormwater runoff is controlled by dozens of much larger ponds, each of which covers about 45 acres. The problem is that with such large bodies of water, it’s hard to prevent large-scale erosion and watershed flooding. With smaller ponds, both of those problems are significantly reduced, said Dan Bare, senior civil engineer for the city.

The ponds — which are basically small dams — trap storm and spring runoff and moderates the flow of the water into local tributaries, such as Fountain Creek, to prevent flooding and erosion as much as possible. The smaller ponds would range from five to 10 acres, and would be much less obtrusive, Bare said during a presentation to city employees on Sept. 15. And because the smaller ponds are easier to maintain, require smaller channels and wouldn’t have to absorb as much runoff all at once as the larger ponds, the city would save millions in capital costs as Colorado Springs grows.

More stormwater coverage here.

The Colorado State University Water Resources Archive uses $50,000 from the CWCB to double the size of their digital database


Here’s the link to the webpage. From email from the Archive:

Colorado’s Water Heritage Preserved Online

The Colorado State University Water Resources Archive recently completed a year-long project to improve free, online access to materials related to water supply and law in Colorado. Using a $50,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the Archive electronically scanned over 30,000 documents and doubled the size of its digital database.

The Water Resources Archive is Colorado’s only repository dedicated specifically to preserving the history of water in the state and the American West. Its online holdings now cover over a century of water history and provide access to the studies, debates, and legislative deals that have made Colorado’s water laws what they are today. Most of the documents in the Archive are unique and unavailable elsewhere. Online access to these materials is intended to aid those who do not have the time or money to travel to Fort Collins to view documents but want to educate themselves about water.

Archival materials documenting groundwater issues and interstate river compacts were the focus of the digitization project. Online patrons can now examine data sheets, reports, letters, and drafts of laws focused on but not limited to the Arkansas, Rio Grande, and South Platte river basins. There are also speeches, meeting minutes, newsletters, and maps. Additionally, several thousand images of dams and waterways in the western United States and around the world are now online. Digitized items can be found by visiting the Water Resources Archive website at

More education coverage here.

Energy policy: Renewable energy installations are increasingly being co-located with water reuse, reclamation and desalinisation facilities


From (Jerome Muys/Van Hilderbrand):

One approach to reducing greenhouse gases has been more reliance on renewable energy. But energy projects, both conventional and renewable, typically require large amounts of water. That means the long-term physical and legal availability of water resources will play an important role in the siting of renewable energy facilities.

In the U.S., federal programs such as the Endangered Species Act and the push to reserve water rights for parks, wilderness areas and tribal lands are further limiting water availability for development.

To remedy this, two trends are emerging. First is an effort to co-locate renewable energy projects with water reuse, reclamation and desalinisation facilities. Second is a growing interest in new water conservation technologies being developed in Israel and other countries which have a long experience of dealing with water shortages.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Clear Creek Watershed Festival included education about the history of the watershed


Dr. Ellen Wohl’s book Virtual Rivers: Lessons from the Mountain Rivers of the Colorado Front Range looks at Front Range Creeks currently and tries to reconstruct the past, before the influences of humankind, primarily logging, mining and water diversions. At the recent Clear Creek Watershed Festival history was front and center as well. Here’s a report from Ian Neligh writing for the Clear Creek Courant. From the article:

The festival was hosted by the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation, which dedicates itself to improving the ecological, recreational and economic conditions in the Clear Creek Watershed. The festival educates by offering fun activities as educators look at pieces of the watershed, thereby teaching visitors about the watershed in its entirety…

“This is part of Colorado’s tradition. This is part of our culture. Colorado would not be Colorado, Idaho Springs would not be here, Denver would not be there (if gold hadn’t been found),” Long said.

Down several educational booths, Deb Zack with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety talked with people about the side effects of mining. “We’re here to support the local efforts to educate the public about the hazards of abandoned mines and trying to get the word out about what we do,” Zack said. She and others in her department look for grant money to mitigate abandoned mines on people’s property and to close them off as a free service. “Honestly I work in this area, reclaiming abandoned mines, so I’m interested in meeting a lot of the people who are my neighbors — and people out here know their land better than I ever could,” Zack said.

More Clear Creek watershed coverage here.

Durango: A look back at the area’s worst flood in history, October 5, 1911, virtually all crops in the Animas Valley were destroyed

Here’s a look back at the October 5, 1911 flood, Durango’s worst flood in history, from Ann Butler writing for The Durango Herald. Click through to read the whole article and take in the cool photo slideshow. Here’s an excerpt:

Rainfall in semi-arid Southwest Colorado is usually a blessing, but in 1911, it was another story after 36 hours of rain dropped 3.42 inches of rain in Durango and 4 inches in Silverton. The storm centered on Gladstone, north of Silverton, which received a Western Slope record, a jaw-dropping 8 inches, a record that still stands today. The deluge that resulted on Oct. 5 that year was described as the “worst flooding in history of southwestern Colorado,” in the Silverton Standard & Caboose of Oct. 13, 1911. That’s still true today, 100 years later. The Animas River was running at 25,000 cubic feet per second in Durango. The average for that gauge on Oct. 5 is 441 cfs. The “remnant of a tropical storm in the Pacific,” as the state climate office described it, the precipitation was heavy throughout the region, resulting in flooding in every drainage system…

If there was a hero after the flood, it was Otto Mears, nicknamed “The Pathfinder” because he built several toll roads and railroads in some of the most difficult terrain in the San Juan Mountains. The estimated damage to his infrastructure alone was $25,000, about $568,000 in 2011 dollars. “Mr. Otto Mears is entitled to the thanks of the community for his promptness in repairing the damage to his lines,” the Standard said. “It is characteristic of the man, and these lines will add much to the convenience of Silverton and the entire San Juan for a long time before we have any other transportation.”[…]

In 1911, after all the damage reports were in, a writer for the Mancos Times-Tribune took a philosophical approach to the devastating event. “Taken all in all,” he wrote, “the rains this season have inflicted great damage to the farmers and done a great deal of good. We still have enough for all of us to live on, so what’s the use to complain. Most of us can’t stand prosperity, and we will be better people by reason of our having less to squander and spend foolishly. Adversity makes men, but prosperity makes monsters.”

More Animas River coverage here.

CWCB: Comments on draft conservation guidelines due by October 29


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

The public comment period will end at 5:00pm on October 29, 2011. We encourage you to review the Guidelines and documents and provide the CWCB with comments. Please direct any questions or comments to Veva Deheza, Section Chief, Office of Water Conservation & Drought Planning, at 303-866-3441 ext. 3226.

House Bill 10-1051, an Act Concerning Additional Information Regarding Covered Entities’ Water Efficiency Plans requires covered entities to annually report water use and water conservation data to the CWCB to be used for statewide water supply planning. The Bill also directs the CWCB to adopt guidelines regarding the reporting of water use and water conservation by covered entities, and to report to the Legislature regarding the Guidelines.

The Draft Guidelines Regarding the Reporting of Water Use and Conservation Data by Covered Entities and Appendices are posted on the CWCB website.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

There are about 100 entities covered by the 2010 HB1051, which seeks better data reporting on conservation to meet state goals. About 55 of those already have a plan on file, including the state’s largest water utilities, Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora.

“Right now, conservation plans are usually updated every seven years, but there can be a lot of changes in that time,” said Kevin Reidy, CWCB conservation technical specialist. “More frequent collection of data will provide more accurate information, and it plays into the larger Statewide Water Supply Initiative.”

The CWCB last year discussed how to measure water savings as a part of meeting the municipal water gap identified in SWSI. While the larger utilities have tracked how much water is used more closely since 2002, there is no standardized reporting method. The draft guidelines do not require a particular format for reporting water use, but list required categories as identified in the legislation. For instance, the guidelines look at the water use per household, lawn irrigation practices and precipitation within a service area. Metering and water rate structures are looked at, while system losses and leakage also are taken into consideration.

“It’s important to know where conservation measures are being taken and what kind of conservation is effective,” Reidy said.

More conservation coverage here.