Montezuma County is being asked to apply for a Colorado State Historic Fund Grant for the McElmo Flume

McElmo Creek Flume -- Photo / Cortez Journal
McElmo Creek Flume — Photo / Cortez Journal

From the Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

Built in the 1880s, the flume was a marvel of engineering, delivering water to Towaoc and area ranches. It operated until 1992, but was replaced by the concrete canals of the McPhee Project and has since fallen into disrepair.

But buffing it up is seen as good for tourism and also for preserving history.

When driving through towns while on vacation, people look for pullouts featuring historic landmarks, interpretive sites and viewpoints.

The McElmo Flume, off of U.S. Highway 160 near the fairgrounds, has that potential. The Colorado Department of Transportation sees its value.

CDOT has committed to constructing a paved pullout and parking lot at the flume. The $250,000 project is being paid for by the National Scenic Byway Program as part of the Trails of the Ancients tourism loop. The interpretive site will feature a sidewalk to a viewpoint overlooking the flume and may go in next summer. Stone walls, education panels and an informational kiosk also will be built.

“But as it is right now when people walk to the overlook it is not much too look at, so we are seeking funding to restore and stabilize this piece of local history long term,” said Linda Towle, a historic site advocate and volunteer. “It reverted back to county ownership, so they must be the grant applicant for the restoration.”

The county agreed on Monday, Sept. 16 to chip in $2,500 toward the renovation. The grant-application deadline for the $122,700 to repair the foundation and steel supports is Oct. 1.

Giving visitors a chance to slow down, pull over and learn of the region’s innovative past is good for tourism and shows respect for previous generations, Towle said.

“It was the first water source to Towaoc, and shows a lot of ingenuity. It needs stabilization or it will fall over,” she said. “Everyone wants the top fixed, but we have to fix the bottom structure first so it will stay standing permanently.”

More San Juan River Basin coverage here and here.

Say hello to the Colorado Flood 2013 website from the Colorado Climate Center

Storm pattern over Colorado September 2013 -- Graphic/NWS via USA Today
Storm pattern over Colorado September 2013 — Graphic/NWS via USA Today

Click here to go to the website. Here’s the release from Colorado State University:

An unusually persistent and moist weather pattern in Colorado Sept. 9-15 led to rainfall totals that have been observed in only a handful of events on the Front Range in the past century.

That’s one of the conclusions in a report released Sept. 25 at the Front Range Flood Panel in Boulder. “Severe Flooding on the Colorado Front Range September 2013” was prepared by the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University; the CIRES Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ESRL Physical Sciences Division.

“Flooding in September is rare but not totally unprecedented. It has been a long time since we’ve experienced something like this, though,” said Nolan Doesken, State Climatologist and a co-author of the report. “Southwest Colorado had extreme flooding in September in 1970 but for the Front Range you have to go back to 1938 to find anything that comes close.”

Analysis of conditions, data, impact

The report includes an analysis of weather conditions that created the storm, the rainfall totals in different locations, the hydrological impact of the storm, and a discussion of the changing climate and flood risk along the Front Range in light of the September event.

Research is underway at CIRES and NOAA to determine how human-caused climate change may have influenced this event and whether the risk of similar events occurring in the future will increase. The most plausible influence of climate change is that slightly more water vapor was made available for precipitation.

Several CSU Atmospheric Science faculty will also be engaged in research focusing on the meteorological processes of storm formation, cloud processes and atmospheric modeling.

To see the complete report, go to the Western Water Assessment website.

To see the latest data on the storm as it becomes available, go to the new website created by the Climate Center to house various analyses and precipitation reports from the week-long storm and subsequent flooding, It features charts, graphs, photos, records that place the storm in historical perspective, and a wealth of additional information on this historic weather event.

Water Caucus of Western Latino elected officials launches Oct. 1

Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam -- Photo /
Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam — Photo /

From email from Nuestro Rio:

ADVISORY: Water Caucus of Western Latino elected officials launches Oct. 1

WHAT: Launch of Nuestro Río Regional Water Caucus (of Western Latino elected officials)

WHEN: Tuesday, October 1, 2013, 10:45 a.m.

WHERE: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Conference, Washington Convention Center, Room 157

WHO: Colorado Rep. Joe Salazar; New Mexico House Majority Leader Rick Miera; Nevada Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis; Coconino County, Arizona Supervisor Liz Archuleta

WHY IT MATTERS: Nuestro Río advocates for saving the Colorado River by implementing commonsense options that are both cost effective and have broad political support, including improving urban conservation, improving agricultural efficiency, and establishing water banks. Nuestro Río will outline the actions it would like the Administration and members of Congress to take preserve and restore the Colorado River, which was named the most endangered river in the country.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

A look at ‘Fill Mead First’ operations from a supplier point of view #ColoradoRiver

Dry Lake Mead (2010)
Dry Lake Mead (2010)

From (David DeMille):

On Monday, the Washington County Water Conservancy District issued a letter to The Spectrum & Daily News outlining its issues with the Fill Mead First plan. The district argues the method would jeopardize supplies in the upper basin and, if implemented today to fill Lake Mead’s deficiency of 13.81 million acre feet, would completely drain Powell.

“In other words, GCI wants us to surrender enough water to sustain the entire state of Utah’s consumptive use for more than five years,” Ron Thompson, WCWCD general manager, and Dan Christiansen, general manager of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, write in the letter.

Fill Mead First would also threaten the legal allocation rights to upper basin states as outlined in a multistate compact signed in 1922, according to the letter, and could have “catastrophic economic consequences.”

But advocates for Fill Mead First disagreed, saying Monday that they aren’t proposing to drain Lake Powell. Under GCI’s proposal, Lake Powell would be kept close to an elevation of 3,490 feet, high enough to allow for seasonal flow variations, power generation, reservoir-based recreation and flood control…

At a meeting in St. George last week, Denis Strong, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources, said Myers’ study depended on inaccuracies in the way seepage is measured. Strong argued that Lake Mead may be a larger offender than Powell because it loses more water to evaporation.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Federal Dam operations will march on during the shutdown

The new north outlet works at Pueblo Dam -- Photo/MWH Global
The new north outlet works at Pueblo Dam — Photo/MWH Global

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Federal operation of dams and power plants that are part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project will continue during a federal shutdown. The Bureau of Reclamation controls storage and releases from Pueblo Dam, Twin Lakes, Turquoise Lake and Ruedi Reservoir as part of the project.

It also operates the Mount Elbert power plant located at Twin Lakes.

“All of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project will continue to be operational,” said Kara Lamb, spokesman for the regional Bureau of Reclamation office.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here and here.