CWCB: The Colorado Flood Threat Portal is online and pumping out data


Here’s the link to the Colorado Flood Threat Portal. Click on the thumbnail graphic for the forecast map from earlier today.

Thanks to John Henz at Dewberry for the link.

More CWCB coverage here.

‘Hurrah for Quillen!’ — Justice Greg Hobbs

Coyote Gulch and Ed Quillen October 20, 2010

Justice Greg Hobbs sent this tribute over in email earlier today:

Hurrah for Quillen!

This incomparable

Curmudgeon Wit gloried in the

great First Amendment.

Reprinted, with permission.

Ed Quillen was a columnist for many years with The Denver Post. They are planning a tribute by publishing excerpts from Ed’s columns from past years. Here is an excerpt from their obituary:

Columnist Ed Quillen, who listed one of his major talents as “complaining” and who used his sharp pen and wit to poke fun at politicians and to chronicle the foibles of life in the Rocky Mountain State, died Sunday of a heart attack at his home in Salida.

Edward Kenneth Quillen III’s widow, Martha, said he was at one of his favorite pastimes — sitting in an easy chair and reading a history book — when his heart stopped. Paramedics were not able to revive him. He was 61 and had just tidied up his office in anticipation of writing his next column. His last column ran in The Denver Post the day he died…

Conservatives called his work everything from outhouse material to slander. Liberals delighted in his skewering of conservative establishment types and his exposing of the inanities that are part and parcel of politics…

“He had no idea how many people liked what he did,” [Martha] said…

His fictional foil in many columns was Ananias Ziegler, “media relations coordinator for the Committee That Really Runs America.” Ziegler would spout whatever canned comments were coming from politicians that week, and Quillen would shut him down with his sharp-eyed observations.

Here’s the Post’s article announcing his death:

“Colorado has lost one of its most thoughtful and colorful characters,” said Curtis Hubbard, editorial page editor. “For decades, Ed’s humor and keen eye shed light for Denver Post readers on topics ranging from our current politics to the state’s rich history. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.”

He was a lifelong Coloradan, historian, folklorist and political activist. His website ( contains 2,751 columns, blog postings and essays starting in 1984, when he wrote his first story for The Denver Post in Empire Magazine.

We will be running excerpts from some of his more memorable columns in our Sunday Perspective section.

In a former life I was an IT manager for a large Front Range city that diverts water from both the Fraser River and the Blue River to the Front Range so my ears really perked up when Ed described his GNU/Linux tech setup in a column. Here’s are Ed’s own words describing his website:

Bytehead technical trivia

This site is hosted by Quicksilver Interactive Media, a fine company owned by my son-in-law, Brad Goettemoeller.

The files were converted to HTML with a variety of home-rolled SNOBOL4 programs running under 64-bit SuSE Linux. My thanks to Phil Budne who ported the obscure but simple and potent SNOBOL4 programming language to a variety of platforms, including GNU/Linux. And to my friend and neighbor Mark Emmer who taught me SNOBOL4. He ported it, and its faster cousin SPITBOL, to MS-DOS, and he’s working on a Linux port for SPITBOL.

This site is plain and simple, and should work well with most common browsers. I have tested it with Firefox, Opera, and Lynx. So far as I know, it does not deposit any cookies on your system, nor does it collect any personal information.

Over the years, I’ve used a variety of computers for my daily work. I began with an Osborne I in 1984 that ran CP/M. I progressed through a variety of PCs running MS-DOS, and in 2002 switched to GNU/Linux. In the CP/M and DOS days, I wrote with WordStar; nowadays I use Jstar, a version of JOE (Joe’s Own Editor, and thank you Joseph Allen) configured to work like good old WordStar. My fingers are comfortable with its commands.

In case you’re curious, I generally type on a Logitech Elite keyboard, as it stands up pretty well to office grime and abuse. The same holds for the Logitech M-8T96 mouse beside it.

In June of 2010, I moved into a new computer; as usual, it’s one I built myself. It’s got an AMD 64-bit quad-core CPU and 8 gigabytes of DDR3, so it’s fast. It’s also almost silent, which was a pleasant surprise. I ran into a few assembly problems, and I thank my friend and neighbor Ernie Hatfield for his kind assistance.

The new hardware also included a 500-gb hard disk and a “green” video card that has no fan, along with an upgrade from Open SuSE 10.0 to 11.1. On the road, I use a Lenovo/IBM Thinkpad T43 which can boot either Windows XP Pro or Linux.

Columns were originally to a special Denver Post telephone number always answered by a modem; these days, they just go by email. On rare occasions, I’ve faxed columns to Denver, and once I even hand-delivered one.

It comes hard to praise the phone company, but in all these years, there’s never been a problem in getting my work over the 150 miles from Salida to Denver. That speaks well of the reliability of the service provided by Qwest and its corporate ancestors.

For a year or two, we got broadband internet from the local cable monopoly, Bresnan. The service was fast and fine as we upgraded from dial-up. As Martha put it, the difference was like getting indoor plumbing after using a hand pump in the yard. In both cases, you can get water when you need it, but turning the faucet is so much faster and easier. We switched to Qwest DSL because it was cheaper, but in September of 2011, we switched again and now get internet, telephone and elevision from our cable company, Optimum. So far, it’s been reliable, fast and affordable.

The first article that I saw about Ed’s passing on Monday was written by Michael Roberts for Westword. Here’s an excerpt:

Quillen outlined his history at the Post in this 2006 column. As he wrote:

If it’s true that time flies when you’re having fun, then I’ve sure been enjoying myself for the past 20 years. It was on Jan. 3, 1986 that my first regular column appeared on these pages, and it sure doesn’t seem that a fifth of a century has passed since then.

How did that come about? If you read certain right-thinking blogs, I was a virtuous Colorado boy who made the mistake of walking through the woods one night when I met a fellow who told me I could call him Mr. Scratch. He made me an offer. After I signed in blood, I became part of the Biased Liberal Main Stream Media.

The piece notes that Quillen wrote for a series of newspapers he edited, including the Middle Park Times in Kremmling (1974-77), the Summit County Journal in Breckenridge (1977-78) and the Mountain Mail in Salida (1978-83). At that point, he began freelancing, with the Post publishing a submission from him in 1984. Toward the end of the next year, Quillen proposed a regular schedule to then-editorial page editor Chuck Green, who took him up on the pitch. Beginning in 1988, Quillen’s takes appeared twice weekly in the Post.

Things began to change as times got tougher for print journalism. Quillen’s website points out that “in August of 2011, the Denver Post decided to save money by cutting me from six columns a month to four,” and he definitely didn’t see this change as a relief. He followed this note by making a plea for more freelance work. (He also wrote for the High Country News, among other publications.)

Additionally, Quillen kept up an active Facebook presence, with his most recent post on Saturday discussing the John Edwards mistrial…

…the opinionated Salida wordsmith stood apart from so many of his contemporaries. He was one of a kind, and he’ll be missed.

Aspinall Unit operations update: Releases from Crystal Dam to bolster streamflow in Black Canyon of the Gunnison River


From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be increasing to 500 cfs tomorrow, Wednesday, June 6th , in response to decreasing flows in the lower Gunnison River. Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the flow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 900 cfs for June and July. Flows are forecasted to drop below this level by the end of the week without additional releases from the Aspinall Unit. Therefore releases from Crystal Dam will be increased by 100 cfs late afternoon on Wednesday, June 6th.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

2012 Colorado November Election: The Colorado Water Congress is attempting to galvanize opposition to initiatives 3 and 45


Check out this blog post from the Your Colorado Water Blog. From the post:

These Initiatives, introduced by Phil Doe of Littleton and Richard Hamilton of Fairplay, aim to amend the state constitution in a way that would dramatically change water management in Colorado.

Here’s another article written by Jason Mumm that is running on the Stepwise Utility Advisors website. Here’s an excerpt:

The supporters of the public trust initiatives believe the 100+ year -old system of prior appropriation has worked against the public’s interests. The proposed initiatives would replace the existing process with one that would enable the state to determine what uses of water are in the beneficial public good, and which ones are not. The doctrine would appear to apply to all such uses, whether water rights were adjudicated in the past already, or not. In other words, the amendments, if approved, would cause all existing water rights in the state to immediately fall under a new review guided by the public trust doctrine. The Colorado Water Congress, opposes the initiatives for this reason.

No doubt that reviewing all of the state’s existing water rights and potentially reallocating them could be extremely chaotic, especially in a state where water resources are scarce. The current legal structure is a major expense in an of itself. The direct legal costs are astounding, but if one considers the amount of time and resources consumed from all parties, the cost is even higher. The public trust doctrine is used in other states and in the examples that we’ve seen, it tends to work reasonably well and appears to require far fewer resources of our municipal utility clients. What you find in those states that use some kind of public trust doctrine is an approach to water utility management much more focused on the facilities (e.g. treatment, pipes, etc.) than on acquiring and maintaining water rights for the source of supply. It’s a focus toward infrastructure and service, rather than natural resource management.

There are elements of a public trust approach that we like, but the proposed initiatives are fatally flawed because they fail to provide a means to equitably transition from one structure to another. Colorado’s legal system evolved from water scarcity. Within that structure is a very competitive market that is constantly determining the value of water rights and thus informing decisions of how water is used.

Thanks for posting the link in the comments, Mr. Mumm.

More 2012 Colorado November Election coverage here.

Drought news: ‘Nine of the past 13 years have produced below-average flows in the Colorado River’ — John Hazlehurst



Click on the thumbnail graphics for Klaus Wolter’s graphical depiction of second-year La Niña natural streamflow at Lees Ferry in Arizona and a Summit Daily News photo of Dillon Reservoir in 2002. Klaus’ chart will need an update after this record breaking year. Let’s hope that Dillon Reservoir won’t get as low.

Here’s a column from John Hazlehurst writing for the Colorado Springs Indpendent. Here’s an excerpt:

Droughts are the new normal in much of the West. The effects of global warming are being felt in higher temperatures, smaller snowpacks, diminished runoff and reduced stream flows. We have fire — we don’t have rain. Ten years ago, it was possible to dismiss the most pessimistic predictions of climate scientists as theoretical scare-mongering, but no longer.

Reality conforms to those predictions, with one exception: It’s happening a lot sooner than predicted. Nine of the past 13 years have produced below-average flows in the Colorado River, and that pattern will likely persist and deepen. Last year’s bounteous snowpack filled reservoirs, but such events may become as rare as basin-wide droughts once were.

Colorado Springs gets 70 percent of its water from the Colorado River. Prolonged drought may mean permanent, severe water rationing, even with the Southern Delivery System online. Local water managers may make soothing pronouncements about water, saying the city has two years of consumption in storage, but on April 15 (the date of maximum readings), snowpack in the upper Colorado River Basin was 21 percent of normal. On June 1, it was 8.5 percent of normal. Those are the lowest levels ever recorded, rivaled only by those of 2002.

From the Summit Daily News (Caddie Nath):

Summit County water districts are preparing early for possible drought conditions this summer, implementing voluntary water restrictions, while the Summit Board of County Commissioners considers implementing a stage-one fire ban…The ban would apply only to unincorporated parts of Summit County, but Gibbs said the U.S. Forest Service is also considering a stage-one ban for the entire White River National Forest and it wouldn’t be unusual for the towns to follow suit…

Meanwhile, as dry conditions persist and the last of Summit County’s snowpack disappears, the Town of Frisco and the East Dillon Water District already have voluntary water restrictions in place. “We entered the year in our aquifer with higher than normal levels,” East Dillon Water District administrator Bob Polich said. “But they have dropped rapidly.”[…]

“In our case, we’re purely talking speculation because we’re in the peak of our aquifers right now,” Polich said. “We have to monitor when it gets to the end of July and August. There’re so many factors that are going to be involved (including) whether monsoonal flows come in July.”[…]

The Snake River water district is currently not under any kind of water restriction, although the policies are in place to implement restrictions if it becomes necessary. Water for the Snake River district is drawn from an alluvium and connected to a system of wells. Water levels have remained high enough to avoid restrictions…

Most of Summit County saw less than an inch of precipitation through the first three weeks of May, and some parts received less than half an inch. Recent drought maps put the better part of the county in the “severe” drought category, the third highest of six categories, according to data from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.