Colorado River Basin: Say hello to ‘Change the Course’ #coriver


Click here for the pitch about restoring water to the Colorado River, from Change the Course. Here’s a report from Brian Clark Howard writing for National Geographic. Here’s an excerpt:

The Colorado River may have cut the Grand Canyon, but for much of its course the river is no longer so mighty. Most of the time, the Colorado no longer even reaches the sea.

The moisture the Colorado River brings to an arid part of the United States and a piece of northern Mexico has sustained generations of people and many generations of wildlife. But that water has long been over allocated, sucked dry by the 30 million people who rely on it for drinking and irrigation.

Once free, the Colorado now has many dams along its 1,450 miles (2,333 kilometers). Its life-giving water is divided up among seven U.S. states and Mexico according to a series of treaties and agreements. But precious little flows remain to support the rich ecosystems that once flourished along the river’s path.

As Wade Davis recently reported, the Colorado once supported a vast, sprawling delta where it met the Gulf of California:

As recently as the last years of the nineteenth century the wetlands produced enough wood to fuel the steamships and paddle wheelers that supplied all of the army outposts, mining camps, and ragtag settlements of the lower Colorado. Today the gallery forests of cottonwood and willow are a shadow of memory, displaced by thickets of tamarisk and arrowweed, invasive species capable of surviving in soils poisoned by salt.

Davis added that, as a result of the loss of rich sediments that were formerly deposited into the Gulf, “Marine productivity has fallen by as much as 95 percent, and all that remains to recall the bounty of the estuary are the countless millions of shells that form the islands and beaches on the shore.”

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Forecast news: 20% chance of snowfall over the northern mountains over the next few days #codrought #cowx

From The Denver Post:

Colorado’s northern mountains could pick up another 10 inches of snow from Wednesday night to Friday morning, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction says. The snow is courtesy of a series of upper-level atmospheric disturbances, said the forecasters who issued a winter weather advisory from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Friday for the region northeast of Rifle to the Wyoming line, including Steamboat Springs. Other parts of western Colorado also have snow in the forecast. Aspen has a 20 percent chance of snow Wednesday, 50 percent Wednesday night, 60 percent and 40 percent Thursday night. About an inch is expected Wednesday and up to 2 inches Thursday. Telluride has a 20 percent chance of snow Wednesday night through Friday morning.

Snowpack news: San Miguel, Dolores, Animas & San Juan snowpack = 91% of avg (best in state) #codrought



It’s nice to see a basin in Colorado showing up green on the statewide snowpack map. Let’s hope that the snowpack continues to climb. Click on the thumbnail graphics for yesterday’s statewide snowpack map along with the snowpack chart for the South Platte River Basin. The South Platte headwaters are very dry and the basin is tracking along the 2002 line.

Rio Grande River Basin: Dam repairs set for Beaver Creek Reservoir


Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will start a two-year construction project this summer to repair the dam at Beaver Creek Reservoir. If work proceeds as planned, the 4,400-acre-foot reservoir will be filled again by summer of 2015.

Problems with the 100-year-old dam structure were discovered in 2010. Since then the reservoir has been drawn down to about half of its capacity. The reservoir, located about 5 miles south of South Fork in the San Luis Valley, is owned by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the water is used for irrigation, fishing recreation and to maintain wildlife habitat. Because it sits high in the Rio Grande River drainage, the reservoir also plays a major role in overall water management in the San Luis Valley.

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife works closely with other water entities throughout the valley and Beaver Creek Reservoir is an important link in the overall system,” said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager in Monte Vista.

Fishing at the popular reservoir will be allowed to continue through this year. No fish have been stocked at the reservoir since 2011; however, there are still plenty of kokanee, brown trout and rainbow trout in the reservoir. Accessing the water requires walking down the steep-sided slopes of the reservoir, so anglers are urged to be careful.

Early in 2014 the reservoir will be drained completely to accommodate construction activity.
Stocking of fish will resume in 2015. Two U.S. Forest Service campgrounds near the reservoir will also remain open during construction.

In the first phase of the project the spillway will be rebuilt. That work will start in July and should be completed by about December.

Phase two is planned to start in April 2014 and will include building a new abutment support for the dam, improvements to the outlet tunnel and a building to house equipment. That work is planned for completion by early winter 2014.

The estimated cost for the project is about $15 million.

The reservoir is located on National Forest System Lands. If anyone wants to comment on the dam repair plan, comments should be sent to: Tom Malecek, District Ranger, 13308 West Hwy 160, Del Norte, CO 81132; FAX Number: 719-657-6035. The office business hours for those submitting hand-delivered comments are: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Oral comments can be made via telephone during normal business hours at 719-657-3321 or in person. Electronic comments may be submitted to or online at the project webpage under “Comment on Project”. Comments must be submitted by March 8.

More Rio Grande River Basin coverage here.

The latest Barr Lake Oasis newsletter is hot off the press


Click here to read a copy of the newsletter. Check out the dates for the bald eagle viewing.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper Colorado River Region #codrought #cowx #coriver


Click on the thumbnail graphic for the precipitation summary for February 1-9, 2013. Click here for all the summaries from the Colorado Climate Center.