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


Click on the thumbnail graphic for the precipitation summary. Click here to snag a copy of all the summaries from the Colorado Climate Center.

Drought news: All of Colorado is still classified in one stage of drought or another


Click on the thumbnail graphic for the current Colorado drought map from the folks at the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Brush: City Council approves stormwater rate hike


From the Brush News-Tribune (Katie Collins) via The Fort Morgan Times:

Stormwater rates will experience a three-cent hike as of Oct. 1, meaning that owners or occupants of property in Brush will see an increase to their city bill near the end of October.

The rate hike follows on the heels of the city’s Stormwater Activity Enterprise, established by a previous ordinance that assigned that enterprise the fiscal responsibility for both street cleaning and stormwater system maintenance and operation.

With Brush looking to tackle not only drainage issues downtown, but in four other areas of the municipality, the increase will aid in providing funding for such projects.

Although the City of Brush did not raise stormwater rates in 2011, the three-cents per lineal foot hike has generally been an annual increase and this move will set rates from the previous $.16 per month per lineal foot of a property’s frontage to $.19.

Colorado Water 2012: ‘There are over 200,000 acres of wetlands across the Valley’ — Rio De La Vista


Here’s the latest installment of the Valley Courier’s Colorado Water 2012 series, a discussion of the importance of the San Luis Valley wetlands to the area. Here’s an excerpt:

Wetlands are a valuable component of our semi-arid landscape for many reasons. They are an important aspect of the hydrology, storing water through the drier parts of the year, minimizing flood impacts, and supporting vegetation essential to both wildlife and livestock. In Colorado, only 2 to 3 percent of the landscape is either wetlands or river zones, called riparian areas. But over 75 percent of all wildlife depend upon those zones at some point in their life, including species that are either endangered or at risk. Wetlands also have a crucial role in sustaining agricultural production and they can also provide additional economic benefits and opportunities, such as recreational fishing, bird watching, duck hunting, and many more.

There is a vital water/wetlands connection wherever water is scarce. The Rio Grande and Conejos Rivers and the many smaller streams flowing into the SLV have helped to shape and influence the types of wetlands that exist here. Floodplain wetlands along the larger rivers feature backwater sloughs, oxbow lakes, and wet meadows. The vegetation communities in these areas range from tall emergent species such as softstem bulrush and cattail in semi-permanent to permanent wetlands to short emergent species such as sedges and rushes in wet meadows or seasonally flooded wetlands. Galleries of narrowleaf cottonwoods and willows also exist along rivers and creeks, ideally with understories of currant and wild rose…

The San Luis Valley Wetland Focus Area Committee (a collaborative group of organizations and agencies working on behalf of wetlands) held a workshop in mid-June to provide landowners and land managers a wide range of information about managing wetlands. This article draws upon the information from that program, and a handbook is being compiled from the many presentations. This free publication will be available to the public both in print and electronically. The booklet will address optimal management practices and recommendations on grazing, haying and mowing, burning, and water and weed management, as well as providing information on wildlife, land and water conservation options, and the many economic benefits of wetlands. It will also include a directory of resource organizations and agencies.

To learn more and obtain a copy of the handbook, please contact Ruth Lewis at the Natural Resources Conservation Service at 589-5661 extension 134 or the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust at 657-0800. The completed handbook will also be posted on line at

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Custer County: The Round Mountain board approves water and sewer tap fees


From the Wet Mountain Tribune (Nora Drenner):

During their regular monthly meeting on Sept. 6, the board of directors unanimously approved raising the fee from $9,000 to $10,500, which equates to $6,000 for a water tap and $4,500 for a sewer tap. The fee increase takes effect April 2013 to give property owners adequate time to purchase the taps at the current price even if they choose not install them until a later date.

More infrastructure coverage here and here.

Orchard City is making progress on water loss in their system


From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

Repair of a major leak in the transmission line along Highway 65 is being credited with cutting the amount of water lost from the town system. Mayor Don Suppes had told the DCI that the rupture in a fairly new steel line had occurred on the bottom of the conduit and so it was not readily visible to workers. The water leaking out had created an underground channel running into Surface Creek. The amount lost could well have been into the tens of thousands of gallons per day, Suppes had explained…

At the beginning of August, well upwards of 30 percent of the town’s treated water was going missing. Following repair of the big leak, losses were cut to “the 15 percent range,” Suppes said. The Highway 65 repair “had to account for the bulk (of the losses),” he said. “But we still have some leaks out there.”

Suppes explained later in the meeting that “over the last eight months we have found a lot of town water lines that are borderline failure. They are going to be a major budget hit to us.”

More infrastructure coverage here and here.

Restoration: Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocks Hermosa Creek with Colorado River cutthroat #coriver


Here’s a look at restoration efforts on Hermosa Creek, from Dale Rodebaugh writing for The Durango Herald. Click through for the Herald video taken on Wednesday at the headwaters. Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists and volunteers, including Trout Unlimited, planted 11,000 fingerlings about 3 inches long and 200 10-inchers in the main stem of Hermosa Creek upstream from Hotel Draw. Fish were carried in bags from trucks and emptied into Hermosa Creek at various points. If the fish had to be carried any distance, they were transported in super-oxygenated water to ensure they arrived in good condition.

Michael Martinez, a fish culturist at the Parks and Wildlife hatchery in Durango, brought the fingerlings Tuesday from the Rifle Falls hatchery in Garfield County…

Native cutthroat trout don’t compete well with other species, so efforts to increase their population – they occupy only 14 percent of their historic habitat – focus on giving them exclusive use of certain waters…

In pre-Columbian times, the Colorado River variety was found in all cool-water habitat above present-day Glen Canyon…

More restoration coverage here and here.