Water Is… Poetry

Your Water Colorado Blog

As you well know, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education appreciates the written word…  we publish Headwaters magazine, this blog, and the wonderful poet, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs, serves as our publications chair– it only makes sense. Back in 2012, a water haiku challenge posted on this blog was wildly popular– so here we are again, this time opening the doors of expression to all water poetry. Need some inspiration? CFWE debuted our new magnetic poetry display board at the Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention last week– check out the words on the board, and the phrases folks came up with.  Comment to share your lines and words– let your creativity flow, splash and swell powerfully. 

wateris

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Secretary Vilsack Announces Regional Hubs to Help Agriculture, Forestry Mitigate the Impacts of a Changing Climate

Cache la Poudre River
Cache la Poudre River

Here’s the release from the USDA:

‘Climate Hubs’ will provide regional networks on climate science, forecasting impacts as part of President’s Climate Action Plan

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the creation of the first ever Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change at seven locations around the country. “Climate Hubs” will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama pledged that his Administration will continue to do everything in its power to act on climate change. Today’s announcement is part of the President’s Climate Action Plan to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put America on track to a cleaner environment.

“For generations, America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners have innovated and adapted to challenges. Today, they face a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate, which impacts both our nation’s forests and our farmers’ bottom lines,” said Vilsack. “USDA’s Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate.”

The Secretary first announced his intention to create the Hubs last summer. The Hubs will provide outreach and information to producers on ways to mitigate risks; public education about the risks climate change poses to agriculture, ranchlands and forests; regional climate risk and vulnerability assessments; and centers of climate forecast data and information. They will also link a broad network of partners participating in climate risk adaptation and mitigation, including universities; non-governmental organizations; federal agencies such as the Department of Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Native Nations and organizations; state departments of environment and agriculture; research centers; farm groups and more.

Across the country, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are seeing an increase in risks to their operations due to fires, increases in invasive pests, droughts, and floods. For example, in the Midwest, growing seasons have lengthened by almost two weeks since 1950. The fire season is now 60 days longer than it was 30 years ago, and forests will become increasingly threatened by insect outbreaks, fire, drought and storms over the next 50 years. These events threaten our food supply and are costly for producers and rural economies. Drought alone was estimated to cost the U.S. $50 billion from 2011 to 2013. Such risks have implications not only for agricultural producers, but for all Americans.

The Hubs were chosen through a competitive process among USDA facilities. In addition to the seven Hubs, USDA is designating three Subsidiary Hubs (“Sub Hubs”) that will function within the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest. The Sub Hubs will support the Hub within their region and focus on a narrow and unique set of issues relative to what will be going on in the rest of the Hub. The Southwest Sub Hub, located in Davis, California, will focus on specialty crops and Southwest forests, the Southeast Sub Hub will address issues important to the Caribbean, and the Midwest Sub Hub will address climate change and Lake State forests.

The following locations have been selected to serve as their region’s center of climate change information and outreach to mitigate risks to the agricultural sector:

Midwest: National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa
Midwest Sub-Hub in Houghton, Mich.
Northeast: Northern Research Station, Forest Service, Durham, N.H.
Southeast: Southern Research Station, Forest Service, Raleigh N.C.
Southeast Sub-Hub in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Northern Plains: National Resources Center, Agricultural Research Service, Fort Collins, Colo. [ed. emphasis mine]
Southern Plains: Grazinglands Research Lab, Agricultural Research Service, El Reno, Okla.
Pacific Northwest: Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forest Service, Corvallis, Ore.
Southwest: Rangeland Management Unit/Jornada Experimental Range, Agricultural Research Service, Las Cruces, N.M.
Southwest Sub-hub in Davis, Calif.

“This is the next step in USDA’s decades of work alongside farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to keep up production in the face of challenges,” Vilsack said. “If we are to be effective in managing the risks from a shifting climate, we’ll need to ensure that our managers in the field and our stakeholders have the information they need to succeed. That’s why we’re bringing all of that information together on a regionally-appropriate basis.”

The Climate Hubs will build on the capacity within USDA to deliver science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to support decision-making related to climate change across the country.

For more information, visit http://www.usda.gov/climatechange.

More climate change coverage here and here.

Main breaks 101 – Raising our infrastructure GPA

Mile High Water Talk

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 grade for America’s drinking water infrastructure was a D, which is no surprise considering there are 240,000 water main breaks each year in the U.S.

With a significant portion of our system installed right after World War II, Denver Water is no stranger to main breaks and leaks. Not only does this mean disruption to our customers, it also means we’re losing our most precious resource – water.

But, we’re working hard to limit these issues and help raise the GPA of the nation’s water infrastructure.

Check out the curriculum for Main Breaks 101:

Home Room – The basics.

Denver Water operates and maintains more than 3,000 miles of pipe – enough to stretch from L.A. to New York. The treated water distribution pipes in our system vary in size, from ½-inch diameter service lines to a 108-inch diameter conduit.

Cracks and breaks…

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The Winter 2014 issue of Headwaters: The Fine (and Fun!) Art of Engaging People Around Water, now available

winter2014headwaterscoverviacfwe

Click here to read the issue. The publication is from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.

More education coverage here

Snowpack news: What a difference a week makes for southeastern Colorado #COdrought

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Snow that began overnight Thursday and continued through Tuesday has significantly improved Colorado’s snowpack outlook. Last week at this time, water watchers were looking at the skies trying to determine where this year’s supply would come from. Snowpack charts appeared to be flatlining for a third consecutive year. This week, state snowpack totals in most of the state’s basins improved to above average — an encouraging sign that may not mean much if March and April fail to produce.

The Arkansas River basin is at 114 percent of median, while the Upper Colorado River basin, which provides supplemental water for the Arkansas Valley, is at 121 percent. The Rio Grande basin remains the driest in the state with just 82 percent of average.

Snow data from the Natural Resource Conservation Service Snotel sites shows a foot or more of moisture in the snowpack of many of its sites at higher elevations in both the Arkansas and Colorado basins.

Snow totals since Friday range from 3-9 inches in Pueblo County to about 2 feet in Lake County near Leadville, according to Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network weather spotters. Tuesday’s snow even left 2-4 inches east of Pueblo in Otero and Prowers counties.

Ski areas report higher accumulations since the weekend, with 16 inches added to a 100-inch base at Wolf Creek; 6 inches, 82-inch base at Monarch; and 2 inches, 72-inch base at Ski Cooper.

That should translate into more water supply, at least in the short-term. At the end of January, winter water storage was almost 70,000 acre-feet, just 85 percent of average. However, it was 50 percent better than at the same time last year.

From Aspen Public Radio (Marci Krivonen):

The massive winter storm that blanketed our region last week brought more than just smiles to skiers, it delivered needed moisture to the snowpack. Colorado’s mountains store water used for crops, in homes and for recreation so, it’s important to have a good supply. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with the Roaring Fork Conservancy’s Sarah Johnson. (Click through to listen to the interview.)

From The Greeley Tribune:

anuary in Greeley was a wet one. Greeley received 9.7 inches of snow, which is 3.4 inches above normal, and recorded the 11th snowiest January on record, according to numbers provided by the Colorado Climate Center. That snow in January resulted in 1.06 inches of precipitation — 0.58 inches above normal, and making it the fourth-wettest January on record.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Noah Bates took the February 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of January. The readings were taken before the Jan. 30-31 snowstorm that dumped 1-2 feet of snow in the mountains.

Snowpack in the high-elevation mountains above Middle Park is now around 120 percent of the 30-year average.

It’s still early in the season but we are doing good. Last year’s snowpack at this time was only 73 percent of average.

Snow density is averaging 24 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 2.9 inches of water. Lower depth of the snowpack is very granular, which is responsible for the weak snow stability.

Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1940s. Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. March is historically the snowiest month, and the April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time.

Pueblo: ‘Unlimited growth may be good until you run out of resources’ — Steve Vandiver #COWaterPlan

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Pueblo’s business community has become complacent about water and needs to get involved in the state’s water planning, local business leaders said Tuesday.

“We’re fortunate in Pueblo that we’ve had people watching out for us. It’s time for the business community to step up and run some cover for our water leaders” said Rod Slyhoff, president of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce.

Slyhoff was among local business leaders and elected officials who attended a water forum Tuesday at the Pueblo Convention Center. The forum was sponsored by two statewide business groups, Accelerate Colorado and the Colorado Competitive Council.

The statewide groups are preparing a list of recommendations to submit to Gov. John Hickenlooper as a statewide water plan moves toward completion.

The forum featured comments on a variety of water-related topics.

There was some disagreement between Slyhoff and Mizraim Cordero, director of the Competitive Council, over a legislative bill that would allow flex water rights. Cordero supported the bill while Slyhoff said it might lead to more farm dry-ups.

James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said the water plan is attempting to balance water needs for a statewide population that likely will double in 30 years.

“We don’t have enough water to address all the needs of the state. If people in this state want a say in water, the water plan is the place to do it,” Eklund said.

Terry Book, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works, said the utility’s mission of providing the highest quality water at the lowest possible price includes assisting in community and economic development.

The utility’s economic development efforts have included investing $5 million on incentives to lure industry, he said.

However, the effort also can bring unintended consequences, Book said. Efforts to quickly expand service to the St. Charles Industrial Park for Vestas presented the utility with a new layer of regulations to address, he said.

Jack Rink, president of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., said the average businessperson looks for guidance on complicated issues such as water from those who regularly deal with the subject.

“Let us know when we can make an impact and you’ll find we can be supportive,” Rink said.

Gary Barber, chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, explained how his group was able to bring new voices into the planning process. “The real pressure is on agriculture and that forced us to have a dialogue,” Barber said.

Steve Vandiver, general manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, said it’s highly unlikely any more water will be available with conservation alone. He suggested building more reservoirs.

As for another option, slowing down the influx of people coming to the state, “When I’ve said (that) . . . you guys beat me senseless,” Vandiver said. “Unlimited growth may be good until you run out of resources.”

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.