The year 2012 is a big, wet milestone for water in Colorado. In a state almost entirely defined as desert or semidesert, 2012 is a milestone anniversary for many of the organizations and policies that protect our precious water resources.
Colorado Water 2012 started as an idea to celebrate these milestones. It has since grown into an unprecedented statewide celebration of water, its uses and its value. By celebrating these anniversaries collectively we hope to increase awareness about the importance of Colorado’s water resources.
Colorado Water 2012 launches with Governor Hickenlooper’s declaration of 2012 as the Year of Water at the Colorado Water Congress being held on January 25-27. Understanding the importance of water to the economic and social prosperity of our state, Governor Hickenlooper is supporting Colorado Water 2012 by officially declaring 2012 the ‘Year of Water’. See the video announcement http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtPVc7ASzPE.
Colorado Water 2012 is organizing several activities throughout the year including: Water 2012 Book Club: Featuring Colorado authors: Peter McBride, Jonathan Waterman, Craig Childs, Will Hobbs, Greg Hobbs, George Sibley and Patty Limerick, Library and Museum Displays scheduled yearlong and statewide, K-12 lesson plans and poetry contests, Higher education social networking events, and a traveling speaker presentation covering water challenges and successes in Colorado.
Click here to go to Your Water Colorado Blog for updates and to take part in the conversation.
Here’s the latest installment from the weekly Water 2012 series from the Valley Courier (Allen Davey). The article is a primer on the hydrology of the San Luis Valley. Here’s an excerpt:
Precipitation on the Valley floor is approximately seven inches per year…
The geological formation of the Valley has provided high mountain ranges around its edges that receive significant snow in the winter which then melts and flows together with water from summer rains into the Valley through streams and rivers. These mountains form a watershed of approximately 4,700 square miles. Water from these streams is then diverted by ditches and canals which provide irrigation water to crops on the floor of the Valley. Most of the streamflow is derived from snowmelt and averages about 1,500,000 acre-feet per year…
The San Luis Valley is located within a geologic feature called the Rio Grande rift. This rift can be visualized as a trough probably resulting from the earth’s crust pulling apart resulting in stress faulting and down dropping of a block of the crust. This several 1,000 foot deep trough extends in a nearly north-south direction generally along the center of the Valley.
Through the erosional process over millions of years in the nearby mountains, this trough has been largely filled with sand, gravel and clay layers. It is likely that many of the clay layers were formed through a soil evolutionary process with a large part of the process occurring at the bottom of a lake that covered the Valley floor. In 1822 trapper Jacob Fowler wrote in his journal of the probability of a lake, similarly in 1910 C.E. Siebenthal studied the Valley and described evidence of a historic lake, and finally U.S. Geological Survey investigators in 2007 published a report concerning ancient Lake Alamosa. The combination of erosional material filling this rift trough and Lake Alamosa’s existence created a very large aquifer system into which wells were drilled beginning in the 1880’s.
More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.