Grand Junction: Drought as Disaster seminar — Monday at CMU


Here’s the link to the fall speakers series at Colorado Mesa University.

The series is open to the public.

More education coverage here.

Denver Public Works to Co-Host Colorado Rotary Water Symposium featuring USAID Executive


Here’s the release from Denver Public Works.

In conjunction with Rotary International District 5450, Denver Public Works Wastewater Management division will co-host the first annual Colorado Rotary Water Symposium this fall. The water quality conference will feature Chris Holmes, head of International Water Programs within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The conference will take place on October 13, 2012 in the Wastewater Management Building at 2000 W. 3rd Avenue.

Representatives from the public, private and educational sectors will provide an update on Colorado’s current water situation and its challenges for the next 50 years, followed by a presentation on Rotary International’s projects in developing countries. This one-day event will conclude with a call to action for participants to act quickly on solutions for the future of Colorado’s water.

Featured speaker at the event, Chris Holmes, is responsible for the coordination and implementation of key global water policy initiatives and the integration of USAID water programs and policies. Mr. Holmes, who is the first USAID executive to serve in this position, brings years of experience in international economic development, environmental protection and humanitarian assistance sectors.

Exhibitors will include non-profit organizations working on water issues in Colorado and around the world. The conference is open to the public. To register for the event, please see

Colorado Water 2012: Willow Creek restoration illustrates the challenges for overcoming a mining past


From the Valley Courier (Guinevere Nelson):

The Willow Creek Reclamation Committee (WCRC) was created to find solutions to these problems. To change the effects of historic mining practices, the committee needed to know how these metals interacted with water. To solve these problems, the committee takes water samples twice a year, coinciding with seasonal high and low flows.

Water samples are taken in two methods; the first method involves taking water directly from the stream to the bottle, the second method involves forcing water through a small (0.45 micron) filter. The WCRC is interested what this second, filtered, method indicates. The filtered sample takes larger undissolved molecules out and reveals molecules that are hooked to water and thereby biologically available to whatever may be swimming around in the creek. Through examination the committee has considered pH and heavy metals, fish and zinc, and the creek’s hydrology.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

New growth sprouting from root systems in the High Park burn area as summer winds down


From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

This rapid emergence of new life — less than two months after the flames — hints at the potential for future aspen forests that state and federal experts say could be more diverse, healthy and resilient. “That sprouting would not be happening without the fire,” Lebeda said.

The ecological benefits of wildfires are a bright side of the burning that ravaged more than 116,000 acres of forest this year and destroyed more than 600 homes along Colorado’s Front Range. Six people died in this year’s wildfires. It’s largely a matter of letting in light where forests previously were unnaturally dense. Wildfires also release nutrients to the soil.

More restoration coverage here and here.

Fort Collins: The city is waiting until later this month to start blending Poudre river flows into it’s water supply


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The city of Fort Collins is planning to mix Poudre River water into the city water supply later this month, most likely after a rush of silty water moves downstream and out of Poudre Canyon.

Fort Collins gets its drinking water from both the Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir, the water for which is pumped beneath Rocky Mountain National Park from the Colorado River.

Ash, silt and debris washing off the Hewlett and High Park fire burn areas prompted the city to stop taking water from the Poudre River in early June, and no Poudre water has been used since then because of poor water quality.

More Cache la Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

Douglas County aims to file an appeal of the recent ruling about the Sterling Ranch development


From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

“The board will appeal the judge’s decision directly to the Court of Appeals,” county spokeswoman Wendy Holmes said Tuesday. The board voted unanimously to appeal 18th Judicial District Judge Paul King’s decision and has 45 days to file the appeal, she said.

Meanwhile, here’s an analysis of the reality of growth and development along the Front Range, from Bart Taylor writing for the Planet Profit Report. Here’s an excerpt:

Despite protests of the Denver Post, King’s decision isn’t an indictment of Sterling Ranch, but a reasonable reading of a statute.

The proposed community southwest of Denver has been lauded as a water-efficient, sustainable community of the future, but it’s also a poster child for the challenge facing the south metro area of Colorado’s Front Range. Most Douglas County communities south of Denver rely on non-renewable, diminishing aquifers. By Douglas County standards, Sterling Ranch has lined up a diverse supply, including an agreement to buy 190 million gallons of water annually from close neighbor Aurora to support the 12,000 or so homes planned for the community. King said it wasn’t enough.

As a result, Colorado’s business leaders would do well to contemplate a pro-business water platform around which economic interests can rally.

Harold Smethills, the development’s managing partner, promised to move ahead. King’s decision seemed to surprise others. David Tschetter, chairman of the Colorado Association of Homebuilders, told the Denver Post the ruling “will have a negative impact on development, no question…Who knows what water-usage needs are going to be 30 years from now?”

But if pressed, Tschetter would agree that Douglas County’s water problem is spooking development, King’s ruling notwithstanding. Despite membership in a loose coalition called the South Metro Water Supply Authority, most communities in DC are pursuing their own water plans. Some are faring better than others. Aurora, in a position to sell water to Smethills, may be the region’s most innovative water operator. None, arguably, have developed a comprehensive program that guarantees residents and business renewable (non-ground water), affordable, sustainable supplies – and mitigates regional concerns.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

Arctic sea ice falls to record low extent



Click on the thumbnail graphics for yesterday’s extent map and the chart for this season. From the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

Throughout the month of August, Arctic sea ice extent tracked below levels observed in 2007, leading to a new record low for the month of 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles), as assessed over the period of satellite observations,1979 to present. Extent was unusually low for all sectors of the Arctic, except the East Greenland Sea where the ice edge remained near its normal position. On August 26, the 5-day running average for ice extent dropped below the previous record low daily extent, observed on September 18, 2007, of 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles). By the end of the month, daily extent had dropped below 4.00 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles). Typically, the melt season ends around the second week in September.

From the Christian Science Monitor (Pete Spotts):

As of Sept. 7, the Arctic Ocean’s expanse of summer ice this month spanned less than 1.54 million square miles, nearly six times the size of Texas and some 45 percent less than for the average for the same month through the 1980s and ’90s, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. And the ice is still retreating; the summer melt season typically ends in mid to late September.

The previous record low was set in 2007, a result of an unusual set of conditions – clear skies during most of the summer and wind patterns that drove large amounts of ice past Greenland and into the North Atlantic. This summer, no such “perfect storm” for ice loss appeared.

Instead, much of the ice left over from winter – coming out of a summer that until now had been the second lowest melt-back in the satellite record – was thin enough to break no matter which way the wind blew, according to NSIDC researchers.

2012 Colorado November election: 3rd District candidates Pace and Tipton square off at the Club 20 summer meeting

Click here to read The Denver Post (Lynn Bartels) recap.

Joe Hanel (@joehanel) — who writes for The Durango Herald — live-Tweeted from the meeting using Twitter hashtag #copolitics.

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.