Fountain Creek: Public prefers regional stormwater solution

Fountain Creek Watershed
Fountain Creek Watershed

From the Colorado Springs Business Journal (Marija B. Vader):

The 50 people who attended a public stormwater meeting Thursday unequivocally endorsed a regional–not city-wide–approach to the stormwater problem in El Paso County…

The next two public meetings will be held: Nov. 6, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Cheyenne Mountain High School Cafeteria, 1200 Cresta Road, and Nov. 19, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Leon Young Service Center, 1521 S. Hancock Expressway.

The meetings include a focus-group discussion led by a moderator to ensure accurate and in-depth data from attendees. Representatives of all three city and county groups will be in attendance.

More stormwater coverage here.

DBJ Special Report: The fracking debate

The hydraulic fracturing water cycle via Western Resource Advocates
The hydraulic fracturing water cycle via Western Resource Advocates

Click here to go to the Denver Business Journal’s special report page for hydraulic fracturing. Here’s the introduction:

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — a practice widely used in the energy-rich West to extract natural gas from deep underground — has triggered controversy between the oil and gas industry and environmentalists.

Fracking refers to injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into rock at high pressure, fracturing the rock and creating or extending channels for gas to escape that might otherwise remain trapped.

Some contend that the chemicals used in fracking can contaminate underground drinking-water supplies. The industry has long argued the practice is safe.

The Denver Business Journal has been covering the debate over fracking and efforts to increase regulation and disclosure of chemicals used.

Here are recent highlights of the DBJ’s coverage in print and online, most of it by DBJ energy and environment reporter Cathy Proctor.

Most recent articles appear first. (Articles that appeared in the last month in the print edition are accessible to subscribers only.)

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Ed Quillen Anthology Event, November 10 in Salida, November 12 in Boulder

Don’t miss one of the events. I told Ed once that I loved his humorous approach to his column. He said, “I can’t tell you how I do it, it just comes.”

His funny side was never far from the surface. Earlier in the century he asked me to write a column for Colorado Central Magazine. I asked if it was a paying gig, he responded, “Colorado Central pays a nickel a word, often late.”

Here’s the announcement from

Please join us at an event celebrating the life and career of Ed Quillen and the release of Deeper into the Heart of the Rockies


Sunday, November 10, 2013 7:00 p.m., back room of the Victoria Tavern.

A book release celebration honoring the late Ed Quillen.

Allen Best, Abby Quillen, George Sibley, Mike Rosso, Susan J. Tweit, Jeff Donlan, and Hal Walter will read favorite selections from the book.

Admission is free.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013 6:30pm, Main Campus – Benson Earth Sciences, 2200 Colorado Ave., Boulder, CO, Room: 180.

The Center of the American West presents, Words to Stir the Soul: Deeper into the Heart of the Rockies. A book release event honoring the late Denver Post Contributor and Preeminent Western Public Intellectual, Ed Quillen.
Readers include:

Allen Best, Christopher Braider, Art Goodtimes, Patty Limerick, Ed Marston, Betsy Marston, Laura McCall, Tom Noel, Cohen Peart, Laura Pritchett, Abby Quillen, and Martha Quillen.

Thanks to Coyote Gulch reader Greg for the heads up.

Free online course shares CSU’s renowned expertise in water resources


Here’s the release from Colorado State University:

Colorado State University’s newest free online course, popularly known as a MOOC, or massive open online course, is open for registration. “Water, Civilization, and Nature: Addressing Water Challenges of the 21st Century” begins Jan. 27, 2014 and runs through March 23.

“CSU OnlinePlus strives to deliver current and cutting-edge online programs to meet the changing needs of students and industry demand,” said Jordan Fritts, CSU OnlinePlus interim associate provost. “In support of Colorado State University’s land-grant charge to expand access to high quality education, we’re excited to offer this water MOOC as a relevant resource for our own campus community.”

Anyone can register for a MOOC. Students don’t have to be admitted to Colorado State University, don’t have to meet any prerequisites or have a certain GPA, and best of all, they don’t have to pay a dime.

The variety of student populations participating in MOOCs across the globe enriches the experience with perspectives from different backgrounds.

The University’s first two MOOCs offered this summer saw more than 1,000 students from nearly all 50 states, and 41 other countries around the world, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Ghana, Japan, India, Hungary, Sweden, and more.

Water, Civilization, and Nature: Addressing Water Challenges of the 21st Century

CSU showcases its nationally renowned reputation in the water industry in this free online course that addresses recent water issues.

“During the course students will have an opportunity to explore a wide variety of pressing challenges related to water, learn about innovative approaches to addressing these challenges, and see how the issues affect both the larger groups of people and individuals like themselves,” said Glenn Patterson, MOOC facilitator and CSU water faculty.

Climate change, water disasters, and agriculture and irrigation issues have impacted our water supply, creating questions and amplifying challenges we as a community continually face. Patterson and nine other expert Colorado State faculty with expertise in water resources tackle those questions and more in this free online course.

“This MOOC is a new way for our faculty to share the breadth and depth of their water research,” explained Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute and Colorado State University Water Center. “We hope this course inspires students to think more deeply about water and offers a fun and different way to learn more about water issues.”

Registration for “Water, Civilization, and Nature: Addressing Water Challenges of the 21st Century” is open now at the OnlinePlus website. Those interested in other MOOCs can visit the website for course details and registration information, or contact the CSU MOOC team with questions, (970) 491-5288

More education coverage here.

Climate Change Literature Synthesis Third Edition Now Available


Here’s the release from Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

The third edition of the Literature Synthesis on Climate Change Implications for Water and Environmental Resources from the Bureau of Reclamation is now available. The report offers a summary of recent literature on the current and projected effects of climate change on hydrology and water resources.

It is organized around the five Reclamation regions, which correspond roughly with the Columbia River basin, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River basin, the upper Colorado River basin, the lower Colorado River basin, and the Great Plains.

This report contains information surveyed through 2012. It was assembled by Reclamation and was subjected to external review by staff from each of the five National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments centers located in the western United States.

The information in this report is meant for use in a range of planning studies including environmental impact statements, biological assessments, and feasibility studies. The need for the report was first identified by the multi-agency Climate Change and Water Working Group in 2008. Previous versions were published in 2011 and 2009.

Click here to read the report. Here’s the introduction:

The Bureau of Reclamation’s (Reclamation) mission involves managing water and power systems in an economically efficient and environmentally sensitive manner. Mission requirements often involve conducting planning studies for the longer term, potentially involving proposed system changes (e.g., changes in criteria that would govern operations for the long term, changes in physical system aspects). For these longer-term studies, questions arise on how consideration of climate change might affect the assessment of benefits and costs for the various planning alternatives under evaluation. Such questions may lead to the analytical treatment of climate change implications for the study. However, such analysis would be predicated on a documented understanding that chosen analytical methods and usage of climate change information are consistent with the scientific understanding of climate change and the published scientific and assessment literature.

This report aims to support longer-term planning processes by providing region- specific literature syntheses on what already has been studied regarding climate change implications for Reclamation operations and activities in the 17 Western States. These narratives are meant for potential use in planning documents (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] environmental impact statements, biological assessments under Federal/State Endangered Species Act [ESA], general planning feasibility studies). It is envisioned that this report would be a living document, with literature review and synthesis narratives updated annually to reflect ongoing research developments.

More Reclamation coverage here.

The winter forecast is still fuzzy for northern Colorado

Experimental forecasts from Klaus Wolter via the Colorado Climate Center
Experimental forecasts from Klaus Wolter via the Colorado Climate Center

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Ryan Maye Handy):

After two years of devastating drought — which the September rains alleviated for much of the state — snow in October might seem like a sign of good things to come, but it doesn’t guarantee a good ski season.

Unlike in previous years, Colorado will likely not fall into an El Nino or La Nina weather pattern this winter. The federal Climate Prediction Center recently released its snow forecast for the nation, and gave Colorado a “ neutral” prognosis — there will not be a warmer and wetter weather cycle passing over the state, known as El Nino, nor will there be a drier and colder cycle, known as La Nina.

“It’s a bad cop-out,” said National Weather Service forecaster Mike Baker of the state’s snow outlook. “There are equal chances of above or below or equal snowfall.”

For the past three years, Colorado has fallen into one of two weather patterns. During the 2010-11 winter season, the state was in an El Nino cycle, a system that pushes warm, moist air over the San Juan and Sangre De Cristo mountains in the south. In Colorado, El Nino cycles have a reputation for creating good snow years, Baker said.

Above-average snowfall made that winter particularly memorable, only to be followed by two remarkably dry and cold winters, memorable only for their lack of snow. Those were La Nina years, when cold, dry winters left much of the state without snow, Baker said.

But a “neutral” weather cycle this year will bring a mix of the two, Baker added.

“There is no set pattern. With the neutral storm track the weather can be all over the place. There is no rhyme or reason,” he said. “Well, we really don’t have a good handle on what might happen this winter.”

Dick Wolfe to San Luis Valley pumpers — [Lacking sub-district plan or augmentation] ‘You are going to get shut off’

San Luis Valley Groundwater
San Luis Valley Groundwater

From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Wells will be shut down. Colorado Division of Water Resources State Engineer Dick Wolfe and Deputy State Engineer Michael Sullivan reminded the large crowd attending a well rules advisory committee meeting on Thursday they mean business about implementing groundwater regulations.

“You are going to get shut off,” Wolfe responded to a question on Thursday about what will happen to irrigators who neither have an augmentation plan in place nor belong to an organized water management sub-district after the grace period for the groundwater regulations is over.

“That’s the intent of the rules. We made it very clear. There are three options: groundwater management plan accepted by the court, like a sub-district; augmentation plan; or you get shut off.”

Sullivan reiterated, “You form a sub-district, get an augmentation plan or you turn the wells off and go to Hawaii or wherever you go and quit irrigating.”

Although it has been two and a half years since the well rules advisory committee met, the timeline for state regulations of groundwater use in the Rio Grande Basin is now moving rapidly forward.

Wolfe and Sullivan said they expect to have all the pieces of the rules in place in about six months. The rules would then be submitted to water court for approval. The groundwater rules will affect thousands of wells throughout the Rio Grande Basin, encompassing the San Luis Valley. Domestic wells are exempt, but most irrigation, commercial and municipal wells will be covered under the rules.

Whether or not there are protests to the rules and delays through the courts, the time clock for compliance with the rules starts ticking when they are submitted to the court, they said. That is when they are considered promulgated, Wolfe and Sullivan explained. Wolfe said the rules are effective 60 days after they are published with the water court. The state engineer has built in timelines for people to comply with the rules. For example, irrigations have one year following the promulgation of the rules to get an augmentation plan filed with the court or join a sub-district .

“We have built into this some realistic and achievable benchmarks people can meet,” Wolfe said. He recognized that many people are already making decisions about what they are going to do to comply with the state rules.

“These rules are coming. They are going to be put in place, and if you don’t meet these benchmarks, drastic things are going to happen.”

“You can start now,” Sullivan encouraged irrigators in regards to becoming a part of a sub-district or submitting their own augmentation plan. He said if someone gambled on court delays holding the rules in abeyance, that person would probably lose.

“If you don’t meet your benchmarks, you are basically done,” he said.

Wolfe said he hoped there would not be any protests to the rules because he has given the public every opportunity to be involved in the rule-making process. He added, “and the legislature told us this is what we have got to do. If this fails, something will happen. The legislature will have to step in. I am very confident we will get through this.”

He said it is possible the court could remand the rules back for corrections and refinement, but he was hopeful that all of the work upfront and all of the public involvement beforehand would result in success.

Wolfe also encouraged those who are forming subdistricts throughout the San Luis Valley to get them organized and not wait until the groundwater rules are promulgated. Data is available now, or will be in the next few months, for the remaining sub-districts to become organized and develop plans for water management.

One of the biggest factors for the delay in subdistrict and groundwater rules implementation has been the refinement of the Rio Grande Decision Support System, the computer model used to calculate depletions from well users to surface water rights, streams and the aquifers. The groundwater model now has most of the data available for the sub-districts to proceed.

Wolfe encouraged those attending Thursday’s meeting to email his office with suggestions on how the proposed regulations could be improved. He and his staff reviewed the proposed rules and the changes that had been made since the last advisory committee meeting more than two years ago.

Wolfe and his staff will return to the San Luis Valley the end of November or first part of December for another advisory committee meeting.

More San Luis Valley Groundwater coverage here and here.