Mile High Water Talk blog: Your Denver Water Video

Here’s the link to the blog post.

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

Month to date precipitation for the Upper Colorado River Basin and surrounding areas via the Colorado Climate Center
Month to date precipitation for the Upper Colorado River Basin and surrounding areas via the Colorado Climate Center

Click here to view the current assessment. Click here to go to the website from the Colorado Climate Center.

Conservation Colorado: Did you get our December water update in your inbox last weekend? Don’t miss it.

Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention, January 29-31

Lodore Canyon via Timothy O. Sullivan
Lodore Canyon via Timothy O’Sullivan

Click here to go to the website for all the lowdown. Click here to go to the website for all the links for registration, agenda, etc.

From email this morning from Doug Kemper:

This time last year, we were winding down Water 2012 – our celebration year. It was my hope that the water community would also use this event as a springboard to continue to elevate our game.

The Water Congress has had a series of successful years that will provide the financial resources to invest in the future of the organization. Much of this year has been a construction zone for us.

I wanted to give you a few quick updates on the Water Congress as well as our Annual Convention. Early registration for the convention has been incredible. Thus far, we are nearly double the number of registrants from last year. Discounted early registration will continue through the end of the year. Expect regular updates as the convention draws closer.

Bob Berman
Our keynote speaker at the Annual Convention Thursday Luncheon will be Bob Berman. He is one of the best-known and most widely-read astronomers in the world. He wrote the popular ”Night Watchman” column for Discover for seventeen years, is currently a monthly columnist for Astronomy, and is the astronomy editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. He is an amazing storyteller. The title of his keynote will be: The Sun’s Heartbeat, How Solar Cycles Affect Our Weather (And Why The Sun’s Current Strangeness is a Game Changer).

David Schorr
We are excited about our partnership this year with the CSU Water Resources Archives. The annual fundraiser, Water Tables, will be at our convention on Thursday evening, January 30 and will feature David Schorr from Tel Aviv University. If you’ve ever wondered why Colorado water law is the way it is, David Schorr’s work, The Colorado Doctrine, tells the story of our water development and the founding legislative and court actions that still govern water law. He will also have a workshop on Wednesday.

Water Congress Board
In January, we adopted new Bylaws. The primary intent was to diversify the Water Congress Board to better represent our members and we added new seats. In recognition of the historic significance of the Governor and Attorney General in creating the Water Congress in 1958, new Board positions were added for their offices. This month, John Stulp was appointed to the Board by the Governor and he joins Chad Wallace from the Attorney General’s office.

We have a really great mix on the Board of new perspectives and traditional values. Of course, adding new Board members means new expectations. So we added new staff.

New Staff
We have added two new full-time staff members – Emily Brumit and Fiona Smith. As described below, new staff will greatly expand our communication capacity and member benefits.

Emily Brumit was originally hired in May of this year to help with our communications. A recent graduate from Auburn with a degree in Political Science, her responsibilities will move to the areas of water policy coordinator and legislative liaison. She will be working at the State level with our lobbyists, Orf and Orf, to increase our presence at the State Capitol and with our new Federal Liaison Board Member, Christine Arbogast, to do the same at the federal level.

Fiona Smith has been interning with us for the past 4 months. Fiona has a tremendous skill set and work ethic. In January, she will start as our new Outreach Coordinator. Her focus will be on strengthening Water Congress member engagement (particularly those members in the more rural areas of Colorado), new member development, and editing our Enews.

Our new website rolled out in mid-year. It did not take long before our new staff began tailoring yet another evolution in our communications. In the first quarter of 2014, our advocacy will be driven by two new WordPress platforms. One will be used for our core activities and one for the new Colorado Water Stewardship Project. Members will continue to use the website as the portal for event registrations and getting basic information on the Water Congress as well as a work space for our standing committees.

Mary Stirling has been busy developing a new area on our website, labelled Reference. The purpose will be to ensure that we keep our historic viewpoints and water legislation in front of our members and link it to current relevant topics.

Eric Dorn is ensuring that all of the communication technology keeps functioning. New camera equipment arrives in a week and he will begin implementation of our video conferencing capability.

National Water Resources Association
This was a year of crisis for the NWRA. California and Texas dropped out of the organization creating a financial spiral that was the most serious threat in NWRA history. Considerable activity in the past several months included a complete change in management, staffing, and office location. A new strategic plan was adopted. In response, I am pleased to report that both California and Texas have voted to rejoin. But we just learned that Oregon has decided to drop out, at least for 2014. Much work remains ahead to deliver on the promises to reform the organization. I think we are up to the challenge.

I am excited about the Water Congress crew and the development of our new communications infrastructure. We look forward to ensuring that the Water Congress will continue to serve as the leading voice of Colorado’s water community for many years to come.

Poudre Runs Through It/Colorado Water Institute: Poudre River Forum, Saturday February 8

Cache la Poudre River
Cache la Poudre River

Click here to go to the website for the announcement:

About the Forum

The Poudre River is life-blood for Northern Colorado communities. Bringing those communities together to celebrate the river, learn more about it, and explore its opportunities and challenges is the focus of the first annual Poudre River Forum, Saturday, February 8, at The Ranch Events Complex.

The theme of the forum is The Poudre: Working River/Healthy River. Over the past year, agricultural, municipal, business, recreational, and environmental stakeholders have been meeting to teach one another about their different perspectives on the Poudre. The group’s mantra is “Let’s Make the Poudre River the World’s Best Example of a Healthy Working River.” In the spirit of that mantra, the group resolved to bring the Poudre’s communities together to learn more about the river and to celebrate it.

Understanding the water rights of agricultural and municipal diverters, learning about where the water in the Poudre comes from and what it does for us, and digging into details about ecological factors such as flow, temperature, fish and sedimentation, are all a part of getting the wide angle view of the Poudre. The group believes that only by traveling all those waters—the working aspect as well as the health aspect—will citizens have the background to form sound decisions about the Poudre’s future.

The Poudre River Forum will feature presentations and dialogue. State Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs will speak about how the Poudre itself was the site of early conflict and cooperation leading to the development of the doctrine of prior appropriation in the west, and how the law has evolved in recent years to make it easier for us to consider together both water rights and ecological needs.

The Poudre River Forum will take place at The Ranch Events Complex, 5280 Arena Circle, Loveland, on Saturday, February 8, from 10am to 4pm, followed by a celebration of the river until 6pm with donated local beer and jazz by the Poudre River Irregulars.

$25 pre-registration by January 31 is required. Scholarships available. Students 18 and under, free. Register now here!

The Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas to purchase conservation easement for the Boxcar Ranch

Bighorn Sheep Rams via the USGS
Bighorn Sheep via the USGS and Wikipedia

From The Mountain Mail (J. D. Thomas):

The Great Outdoors Colorado board announced Thursday that it has approved a $175,000 grant for the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas to purchase a conservation easement.

“We applied for the grant and it was certified by GOCO,” said Andrew Mackie, executive director of Land trust of the Upper Arkansas. “Now it’s all about closing on the Boxcar Ranch property, which could take a few months.”

The property was highly rated by GOCO, Mackie said. “The land was the highest rated property ranked by GOCO,” Mackie said. “It’s right on the Arkansas River, it has frontage access to the river, and the habitat is riparian. There is also year-round bighorn sheep activity on the land.”

The property also has active agriculture and water rights attached. “That is a big deal here in Colorado,” Mackie said. “On top of all that, the land is surrounded on three sides by public land, some of which is used quite often for recreational activities.”

The $175,000 grant was the final piece of the puzzle for the Land Trust’s attempt to purchase the property. “We had funding lined up before the grant with donations from National Scenic Byway, the Gates Family Foundation, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, Chaffee County and the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas,” Mackie said. “The owner of the property also donated part of the land as well.”

“The property has a lot of potential, and this was supported by the high rating from GOCO,” Mackie said. “The conservation value alone is why the property was ranked No. 1. The water and agriculture rights helped too.”

Mackie expects the Land Trust to close on the property by mid-2014.

More conservation easement coverage here.

Penrose turns dirt on pipeline project

Penrose Beaver and Northern station via Penrose History
Penrose Beaver and Northern station via Penrose History

From the Cańon City Daily Record (Charlotte Burrous):

“In 2005, (Penrose Water District) bought a ranch in Howard with water rights,” Penrose Water District manager Ron Gasser said. “We filed a change case in 2006, (and) we got that completed through court in 2010.”

These rights will augment the water used by PWD to provide a cushion during drought conditions for current residents and a back-up supply for emergencies, a press release said. However to be able to use the water, PWD has to construct a well field to divert the water through a pipeline to Brush Hollow Reservoir.

“It is (a little more than) 5 miles,” Gasser said. “The water pipe will start on the river near the Holcim Wetlands (then) follow C Street all the way through Penrose clear up to Third Street. Then, it’s going to go down Third Street and (then) on CR 42 on the west side of Penrose, where Brush Hollow is.”

More infrastructure coverage here.

The latest Colorado Water Stewardship Project newsletter is hot off the presses

Justian I first codifier of riparian rights
Justian I first codifier of riparian rights

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

The Colorado Water Congress Board unanimously adopted a resolution opposing a public trust doctrine at its December 6th meeting.

The resolution declared:
A public trust doctrine is unwise, unnecessary, disruptive to the fair and responsible allocation and stewardship of Colorado’s scarce water resources, and an unwarranted taking of vested property interests. –December 6, 2013

The resolution cites the risks to agricultural users and major concerns for Colorado’s economic stability. The Board also opposed the doctrine because it would increase uncertainty in the ownership and right to use water, and shift control from the local water providers to the courts in the form of litigation.

Board Chairman Regan Waskom said the Colorado Water Congress will strongly encourage its membership to adopt similar resolutions. “It is important that the water community be absolutely clear that the public trust doctrine, in whatever form it might be offered, would be a disaster for Colorado citizens and for good water management.”

View the Colorado Water Congress Resolution on a Public Trust Doctrine HERE.

More Public Trust Doctrine coverage here.

The Eagle River Watershed Council: Snowmaking & Ski Area Water Rights ski tour, January 13

Copper Mountain snowmaking via
Copper Mountain snowmaking via

From email from the Eagle River Watershed Council

Join us Monday, January 13th to see firsthand what snowmaking is all about!

9 – 11:30 a.m. meet @ the base of Lionshead Gondola

With the expert guidance of Dave Tucholke, Vail’s Snowmaking Manager, we will be strapping on our skis and touring Vail Mountain to learn more about snowmaking: the history, equipment and process behind the snow we have come to rely on each November. Tom Allender, Director of Mountain Planning for Vail & Beaver Creek, will share his knowledge of ski area water rights and explain the mountain’s “plumbing system” from source to snow.

This will be a unique look at Vail’s snowmaking from atop your very own skis!


Space is limited, so please RSVP to to reserve your spot now!

**We will be spending most of the morning on skis so we ask that only intermediate and expert skiers/boarders sign up**

More education coverage here.

The annual Big Dry Creek Watershed Association newsletter is hot off the presses

Colorado Boulevard crossing at Big Dry Creek below the Union Pacific Railroad during the September 2013 flood
Colorado Boulevard crossing at Big Dry Creek below the Union Pacific Railroad during the September 2013 flood

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

In September 2013, Coloradoans were reminded of the power of nature during a multi-day rainfall event. Communities along Big Dry Creek experienced significant damage to road infrastructure, businesses, homes, and agricultural lands.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service Hydromete- orological Design Studies Center (HDSC) devel- oped maps showing annual exceedance probabilities (AEPs) of the worst case rainfall for the Colorado event that started on September 9, 2013. The AEP is the probability of exceeding a given amount of rainfall at least once in any given year at a given location. It is an indicator of the rarity of amounts of rainfall and is used as the ba- sis of hydrologic design and regulation. The multi-day storm event delivered total rainfall amounts that exceeded 15 inches in some locations as it slowly moved through the area and caused extensive river flooding (HDSC 2013).

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

2014 Colorado legislation: Legislators are floating proposals for streamlining flood recovery projects #COflood

St. Vrain River floodplain November 2013 via the Longmont Times-Call
St. Vrain River floodplain November 2013 via the Longmont Times-Call

Here’s a report from the Associated Press (Ivan Moreno) via the Summit Daily News:

Destruction from September’s Colorado floods is prompting proposals that state lawmakers say are aimed at removing bureaucratic obstacles to expedite rebuilding efforts. Some of the proposals haven’t been finalized, but the legislative session that begins next month could see several bills in reaction to one of the worst disasters in state history.

“We’re going to learn more things as we go along. For some people, it’s going to take years to recover,” said Sen. Matt Jones, a Democrat on a bipartisan committee formed to study the impacts of the floods and come up with legislation.

A bill that Jones plans to introduce would allow counties to shift some their general fund dollars to their road and bridge funds for infrastructure repair — a transfer that current law forbids. The Colorado Department of Transportation already has made repairs to state highways to reopen damaged roads before a Dec. 1 goal. But local governments are still repairing roads and bridges, and they’re facing cash flow problems while they wait for reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Jones said. Letting counties use their general fund money for road and bridge repair would allow them to speed up work, he said.

Another proposal addresses the damage to irrigation ditches that farmers rely on. In some cases, the point of diversion for rivers and ditches is not the same as it was before the floods, lawmakers said. A bill would allow changes to the point of diversion without going through the lengthy administrative process of water court. The goal is to allow farmers to continue producing their crops as soon as possible, said Republican Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, who is sponsoring the bill.

Rep. Brian DelGrosso, the Republican leader in the House and a member of the flood committee, said the irrigation measure tackles a problem that’s not immediately visible to many.

“Everybody always sees the roads, they see the bridges, they see everything else that’s affected,” he said. “But it’s really hard to see some of the water infrastructure needs.”[…]

Other legislative ideas that are being considered but are not yet finalized:

— Giving schools impacted by flooding priority for grants under a capital construction program called Building Excellent Schools Today.

— Waiving or reimbursing property taxes for people who had their property destroyed.

— Not requiring out-of-state disaster workers to file or pay Colorado income taxes if they travel to the state to help.

More 2014 Colorado legislation coverage here.