South Platte River Basin: R.I.P. Joe Shoemaker


From Westword (Patricia Calhoun):

Joe Shoemaker passed away yesterday, but he left an incredible legacy.

Just take a walk over to Confluence Park — or any of the parks along the Platte — on any morning, and you’ll see the trickle-down effect of his work, as residents of Denver enjoy a true urban oasis.

From The Denver Post (Joanne Davidson):

“My dad finished his life in the way he lived it,” recalled his son, William Jeffrey “Jeff” Shoemaker of Denver. “He had been in declining health for the past several months, and when it became clear that the end was near he willed himself to hold on until every member of our family, including his newest great-granddaughter, could be there.”[…]

A celebration of life will be at 10 a.m. Aug. 28 at Confluence Park. In addition, Shoemaker will be remembered at the Greenway Foundation’s signature fundraiser, the Sept. 20 Gala on the Bridge…

Joe Shoemaker was born Aug. 13, 1924, in Hawarden, Iowa. He attended Iowa State University for two years, completing his education at the U.S. Naval Academy. Penny Dykstra Shoemaker, his wife of 60 years, died in 2008. In 2009 he married Karen Ozias.

In addition to his wife and son, Jeff, Shoemaker is survived by daughter Jean Watson-Weidner of Lakewood; sons Joseph J. Shoemaker of Denver and James Dykstra Shoemaker of Highlands Ranch; nine grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

Joe and Penny Shoemaker moved to Denver in 1956 when he was the 18th attorney to be hired at the Holland & Hart law firm. He was chief of staff for then-Mayor Dick Batterton, who later appointed him manager of public works and deputy mayor.

From The Colorado Statesman (Morgan Smith):

The other memory that the photos bring back is the laughter. When David Gaon from Denver and I were appointed as the House Democrats to the Joint Budget Committee right after the 1974 elections, no one was talking about laughter. Joe was considered to be this iron-fisted conservative who was squeezing the life out of the human services programs that we Democrats believed in so strongly. Confronting him as JBC committee members was going to be a struggle.

Well, there were struggles but, as a committee, we soon began to function as a team more so than any other legislative committee I ever served on. We enjoyed being together, trusted each other and had a lot of laughs. Why? Because of the tone of respect that Joe immediately created as Chairman and because he understood the importance of compromising and working things out. To many in politics today, “compromise” is the ultimate dirty word but compromising is how you get things done and keep your state or country moving forward.

Drought news: ‘The monsoons have taken the edge off the drought in Western Colorado’ — Nolan Doesken


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“The monsoons have taken the edge off the drought in Western Colorado. . . . The Eastern Plains have been baking,” said Nolan Doesken, state climatologist, during a workshop on drought and its impacts Wednesday at the Colorado Water Congress summer convention. Statewide impacts have been severe. Plants have been stressed, requiring more water when less is available. Higher water temperatures and debris flows from burn areas are killing fish. Farmers are losing crops. Cities have increased water-treatment challenges because of fire damage in watersheds.

Monsoon rains in the mountains have provided more water, but the water supply is far behind average in every basin in the state, even those that received record precipitation last year, Doesken said. “We usually don’t look at July as the month that’s going to save our water, but it has helped,” Doesken said…

The state is on the highest level of alert for agricultural drought, said Taryn Hutchins-Cabibi of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Horsetooth Reservoir’s pool elevation sat at 5,381.4 feet on Wednesday, a level the lake normally doesn’t dip to until October.

The last time the reservoir reached this level by the middle of August because of weather and water use was on Aug. 11, 1989. It reached such low levels later in August three other times: Aug. 20, 1981; Aug. 25, 1994; and Aug. 28, 2006, said Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Kara Lamb…

Carter Lake west of Loveland has dropped to 57 percent full.

Werner said plenty of water is available in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project system — the source of much of Fort Collins’ drinking water. Water can be piped over the Continental Divide from Lake Granby if Horsetooth Reservoir continues to be drawn down, Werner said. Lake Granby was 70 percent full Wednesday. Lake Estes in Estes Park is 82 percent full.

The Lower Ark Board asks Reclamation to cancel SDS contract until Colorado Springs finds adequate stormwater funding


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board voted Wednesday to send a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation that asks it to immediately revoke the contract.

“We are asking Reclamation to revoke the contract immediately until Colorado Springs provides evidence that institutional mechanisms, rather than empty political promises, will be used to implement stormwater improvements and maintenance,” the letter states.

The letter says Colorado Springs should be spending $18 million-$20 million annually on stormwater projects…

The Lower Ark district insisted on a stormwater enterprise for SDS to reduce impacts on Fountain Creek during earlier rounds of negotiations over water issues with Colorado Springs. The letter also points out how Colorado Springs leaders gave assurances in 2009 that stormwater projects would be funded, despite a decision by City Council to abolish the stormwater enterprise.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Pueblo Dam: Key infrastructure for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

…despite the prominent presence of fun at Lake Pueblo, its primary purpose is to store water for the farms and cities of the Arkansas River basin, as well as provide flood protection.

Built as terminal storage for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, Lake Pueblo has taken on other uses over the years. Because it is not always full, excess-capacity contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation allow others to use it. The most controversial contracts have been awarded to Aurora, which uses the Fry-Ark Project to take water out of the Arkansas River basin — a purpose not included in the 1962 Fryingpan-Arkansas Act. The Southeastern Colorado and Lower Arkansas Valley water conservancy districts waged protests against that practice, but settled differences through additional payments and conditions placed on Aurora.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The winter water storage program began voluntarily in 1975, after the completion of Pueblo Dam, but had been a part of project planning since the 1930s.

“We had dirt ditches and deep canals that would fill with weeds and snow. You would spend days cleaning them out, and they’d fill again when you got your next run,” [John Schweizer] said, recalling freezing winter days.

“As far as I’m concerned, the Pueblo Reservoir was the greatest improvement to the valley. It has been a real boon to agriculture.”

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here and here.