Say hello to HangingFlume.org


HangingFlume.org has a new makeover with a ton of photographs. Buy their book to help fund their efforts.

Here’s an excerpt from the Home page:

It isn’t to say that the idea of building a flume was so crazy. Flumes for placer mining were common at the time. Flume construction methods had been used in California for years and required only minimal skills. To cross arroyos and washes, water could be funneled through flume boxes supported by trestles. But in the canyons of the Dolores and San Miguel Rivers, minimal engineering skill was not enough. This flume would have to be ten miles long, and to complete the entire route at the proper gradient, the Flume would have to cling to seven miles of sheer rock walls, at times suspended hundreds of feet above the river.

The Hanging Flume is perhaps one of the most risky and lofty plans in mining history . . . and for the purposes of placer mining, pretty much a complete failure. But as a heritage tourism site, it still holds our attention, long after the memory of its father, the mysterious Nathaniel P. Turner and hundreds of grunt workers have faded. Recent preservation efforts promise that we will enjoy the Hanging Flume for generations to come.

More San Miguel River coverage here and here.

September Storms Set to Set New Colorado Rainfall Record

Plume of subtropical moisture streaming into Colorado September 2013 via Weather5280
Plume of subtropical moisture streaming into Colorado September 2013 via Weather5280

Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Kortny Rolston):

It’s official – almost. Colorado set a new 24-hour rainfall record when 11.85 inches fell from midnight to midnight on Sept.12, 2013.

The measurement was taken at a rain gauge maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey at Fort Carson, south of Colorado Springs. It eclipses the previous record of 11.08 inches set in 1965 in Holly.

The Colorado Climate Extremes Committee unanimously approved the new record. It now goes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center for review. The agency must approve it before it enters the official U.S. record books.

“We anticipate it will be approved, but there’s no guarantee,” said Nolan Doesken, the state climatologist based at Colorado State University and chair of the committee. “It won’t appear in the national database until then.”

Committee members include representatives from the National Weather Service offices serving Colorado (Boulder, Grand Junction, Pueblo, and Goodland, Kan.), the NWS Central Region Headquarters in Kansas City, and the University of Nebraska’s High Plains Regional Climate Center.

Before a statewide weather record is declared, several criteria must be met, including:

• The measurement must be taken at a well-functioning gauge maintained by a trained observer/data technician.
• Someone other than the observer must independently evaluate the measurement.
• The observation must be part of a series of observations or network of stations that can establish a climatology for the location and provide context.
• The measurement must be nominated for consideration.
• The observation must be archived indefinitely where the public has unrestricted access to it now and in the future.
• The previous record must be verified.
• Approval by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

The new record was nominated by the National Weather Service office in Pueblo.

“The data showed there was a significant amount of rain in a short period of time,” said Jennifer Stark, the meteorologist in charge at the Pueblo office. “More than two thirds of the precipitation (8.7 inches) recorded that day fell between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. when a band of heavy rain stalled over the site.”

While 11.85 inches may be the new record, it does not mean it was the most rain that fell in 24 hours in Colorado during September’s severe storms.

“This is the amount that fell in an official gauge and that has been scientifically verified by the committee,” Doesken said.

The most rain ever reported to have fallen in Colorado in a single day was 24 inches near what is now Bonny Reservoir. The May 1935 estimate was based on water measured in a rancher’s new water stock tank so it is not recognized as an official record. (Experts believe it is a reasonable measurement based on the flooding of the Republican River and loss of life.)

“It’s not an official record, but we still use it when we talk about the history of rainfall in Colorado,” Doesken said.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education: Climate & Colorado’s Water Future Tour, March 7

Antarctic ice core waiting to be shelved at the National Ice Core Lab March 2010
Antarctic ice core waiting to be shelved at the National Ice Core Lab March 2010

Click here to go to the CFWE website and reserve your spot. Here’s the pitch:

Each spring, CFWE is joined by a group of 50 wonderful workshop participants who bundle up to tour the National Ice Core Laboratory. During the tour, we learn how climate data is extracted from polar regions, receive interactive teaching tools and learn how climate impacts water resources and the environment. Take a look at the agenda and check out photos from 2013 on Facebook.

Click here for my writeup of the 2010 workshop.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Exit interview: Mulroy talks about her life as Las Vegas’ water chief — Henry Brean @RefriedBrean #ColoradoRiver

Pat Mulroy via The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Pat Mulroy via The Earth Institute at Columbia University

Pat Mulroy is exiting the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Henry Brean caught up with her to talk about her legacy and plans for the future. Here’s his report. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

For a quarter century, Pat Mulroy kept water flowing to the nation’s driest city.

Her work to stretch and supplement Nevada’s meager share of the Colorado River helped fuel the explosive growth of the Las Vegas Valley, which saw its population triple during her time as water chief.

In the process, she earned a reputation as a clever tactician and a tough, sometimes brash negotiator. She also cultivated numerous critics and a few outright enemies, who accused her of arrogance, empire building and worse for her single-minded pursuit of more water at almost any cost.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here. More Pat Mulroy coverage here and here.

2014 #COleg HB14-1026: ‘…would turn Colorado’s time-honored anti-speculation doctrine on its head’ — Pueblo Chieftain

Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters
Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

From The Pueblo Chieftain editorial staff:

THE WATER buffaloes are relentless in their devious pursuit of easier, quicker ways to take Colorado’s irrigated agricultural water and market it to the urban Front Range. If they have their way, these voracious urban-suburban interests would destroy rural communities while fueling lucrative but unwise population growth up north.

The latest wolf at the door is House Bill 1026, which cleared the state House Agriculture Committee on a 10-3 vote Monday. This so-called “flexible water markets” — or flex water rights — bill would turn Colorado’s time-honored anti-speculation doctrine on its head by allowing speculators to convert ag water rights to any use of their choosing — essentially at any time.

“Our big fear is that this could be a Trojan horse for municipalities to come in and take water from farms,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

We share Winner’s alarm at the threat of speculation, which current Colorado water law prohibits.

However, even if speculation somehow was prevented with a bill amendment, [HB14-1026, Water Flexible Markets] still would pose a grave threat to the Arkansas Valley’s rural economy and future viability.

House committee amendments that did make it into the bill were touted as making it more palatable. However, that’s just so much propaganda.

One amendment would allow a change to flexible markets water rights only within the basin of origin. This might prevent Aurora, which is in the South Platte basin, from raiding the Lower Arkansas Valley again. However, it wouldn’t stop the same damage from being inflicted within our basin by, say, Colorado Springs.

Another amendment would allow a water judge to reconsider previous approval of a “flex water right” to “remedy or preclude” injury to other water rights. But it’s stated in such convoluted language that the “big guy’s” high-priced water lawyers and experts would bury the opposition in court.

There’s a lot of other things wrong with HB1026 and absolutely no compelling reason to pass it. The wolf is again at the door and must be stopped before destroying its prey.

More 2014 Colorado legislation coverage here.

“Colorado’s obligations under the ESA are ‘above and beyond’ the requirements of the compact” — Wildearth Guardians

Rio Grande and Pecos River basins
Rio Grande and Pecos River basins

From the Taos News (J.R. Logan):

Wildearth Guardians has given notice that it plans to sue the state of Colorado over the amount of water pumped out of the Río Grande before it crosses into New Mexico each year. The group argues that irrigation in the San Luís Valley leaves so little water in the river that it imperils habitat of two endangered species — the Río Grande silvery minnow and the Southwestern willow flycatcher.
Jennifer Pelz with Wildearth Guardians told The Taos News that while the lawsuit is based on requirements under the Endangered Species Act, it is meant to address the health of the Río Grande in general. “My focus is the river, the silvery minnow just happens to be the canary in the coal mine,” Pelz said.
Sporadic flows in the Río Grande have long alarmed environmentalists because of the effect on vegetation and wildlife that have adapted to the natural cycle of ups and down. The current drought has left some parts of the Río Grande dry, and diversions up and down the river have significantly altered its natural pattern.

River guides in Taos County have also taken issue with how water in the river is managed. Some have pointed out that Colorado irrigators pull out as much as 98 percent of the river during peak irrigation season, which often coincides with rafting season. They contend that low flows are killing business and hurting the local economy.

However, Colorado farmers point out that the drought is hurting them as well. Officials there point out that the state is still meeting its obligations under the Río Grande Compact, which spells out exactly how much water Colorado must deliver to the state line every year.
The notice from Wildearth Guardians contends that Colorado’s obligations under the Endangered Species Act are “above and beyond” the requirements of the compact.

Pelz said the notice is meant to bring Colorado into the discussion with wildlife managers and irrigation districts in New Mexico to talk about how to manage flows for the health of the river. “We’ve always known that [Colorado] had a role,” Pelz said. “Now is the time that everything is on the table.”

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here and here. More Rio Grande silvery minnow coverage here.

Coyote Gulch: 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 220,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.