Say hello to CFWE’s Water Educator Network

Click here to go to the website. From email from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education (Kristin Maharg):

I’m reaching out to the Colorado Water 2012 community to let you know how the Colorado Foundation for Water Education has since built upon the successes of that coalition. With support from Xcel Energy and partnering with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, we are developing the Water Educator Network to offer tools, trainings and collaborations that are relevant to your work, easily accessible and simple to implement.

As a teaser of this all new program, we’d like to invite you to attend a FREE lunchtime webinar on February 25. For those of you involved in your local watershed festival, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to gear up for spring festival season, learn from long-time organizers and discuss ways to improve the overall experience. Register today for the Water Festival Planning and Coordination webinar.

Visit the Water Educator Network web page to see how CFWE is gearing up to deliver technical assistance and resources to our community. After an “orientation” webinar on March 19, CFWE staff will reach out to you again to become a member of this exclusive network for only $100/year. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Glenwood Springs proposed RICD application is drawing the attention of other #ColoradoRiver users

City of Glenwood Springs proposed whitewater parks via Aspen Journalism
City of Glenwood Springs proposed whitewater parks via Aspen Journalism

From the Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith):

The West Divide Water Conservancy District of Rifle filed a “statement of opposition” with District Court, Water Division No. 5 on Jan. 27.

West Divide said it is “the owner of vested water rights that may be injured by the granting of this application” to Glenwood Springs.

Other such filings are expected from Denver Water, the Colorado River District and the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

A “statement of opposition” is typically formulaic and opaque. The filer’s true intent can be hard to discern. It may be genuine opposition, curiosity, or an easy way to monitor a case.

In most cases, parties eventually agree to limits on the proposed water right, which are ultimately reflected in a decree from the water court.

“It’s a long process,” attorney Mark Hamilton of Holland and Hart in Aspen told the Glenwood Springs City Council on Dec. 19. “It can be a slow process. There’s a lot of opportunities for issues to be raised and resolved.”

On Dec. 31, Glenwood Springs applied to secure a steady flow of water in its proposed whitewater parks. It is seeking a base flow of 1,250 cubic feet per second (cfs), from April 1 to Sept. 30. It is also claiming the right to 2,500 cfs of water for 46 days between April 30 and July 23.

And it wants the right to 4,000 cfs of water for five days of big-water boating during peak flows between May 11 and July 6.

The rights would be dependent upon rock structures being anchored in the river to create play waves at No Name, Horseshoe Bend and on the stretch of river between the Grand Avenue Bridge and Two Rivers Park, just below downtown Glenwood.

Given the size of the water rights being requested, and because they are on the heavily managed Colorado River, Glenwood’s application is likely to draw interest…

Glenwood’s “non-consumptive” rights would be legally tied to the eventual building of six rock structures in the river, creating two play waves in each of the three parks.

The water would stay in the river, but would run over boulders secured in the riverbed to form waves at high, medium and low flows…

The whitewater park at No Name, about two miles upriver from downtown Glenwood, would use the existing parking lot and restrooms at the CDOT rest stop on Interstate 70. The structures would be just upriver of the rest stop and Glenwood Canyon Resort.

Horseshoe Bend is about a mile above Glenwood, where the existing bike path crosses over the highway and runs by a picnic shelter on BLM land, in a narrow and deep part of Glenwood Canyon.

The third park would be on a wide stretch of river below the Grand Avenue Bridge, but above the confluence of the Colorado and the Roaring Fork rivers, where a pedestrian bridge crosses the Colorado at Two Rivers Park.

The three new parks would be upriver of the existing “Glenwood Wave” in the Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park, in West Glenwood…

The River District board voted in January to file a statement in the case, citing protection of its water rights and interstate water agreements.

It also wants to maintain the recently approved Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, which speaks to managing the upper Colorado River…

A January memo from Peter Fleming, the general counsel of the River District, said Denver Water “might assert that the claimed flow rates do not follow the strict language of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement.”

As such, Fleming said, Denver Water “likely will oppose” Glenwood’s application.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

The latest newsletter from the Coalition for the Upper South Platte Watershed is hot off the presses

Upper South Platte Basin
Upper South Platte Basin

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

A lot of people depend on the Upper South Platte Watershed for drinking water, irrigation, and business. This makes millions of residents (and visitors, too) dependent upon our work of maintaining a clean water supply. In a spirit of collaboration, we’re very excited to be involved in a proactive program Denver Water is spearheading to protect source water within our watershed. Denver’s Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) program is focusing on the Upper South Platte Watershed in a first phase of planning that will extend to other basins in the future.

The SWAP is designed to keep our shared water resource clean and safe for everyone who depends on it by getting stakeholders involved in planning. By identifying potential pollutant sources and best management practices for protecting our water, the plan will provide a blueprint for implementing effective programs that address contaminants of concern. The process began by discussing prevention of septic system pollution with local experts, and will continue in the coming months with discussions about issues such as wildfires, forest health, agriculture, energy development, mining, land use and development, transportation, and recreation as they relate to water quality. Other water providers, county governments, state and federal agencies, and citizens are participating in this effort.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

‘All that dam building on the Colorado, across the West, was a big mistake’ — Barry Goldwater #ColoradoRiver

Colorado River Basin via the USGS
Colorado River Basin via the USGS

From The Durango Herald letters to the editor (Paul VanDevelder):

As all eyes in the West turn to the skies for relief from 14 years of “mega-drought,” as California Gov. Jerry Brown just put it, this is as good a time as any for the region’s states and municipalities to ask: “How did we get caught between a rock and a dry place, and what, if anything, can we do about it now?”

To answer that question, we have to go back to the boom-boom years of America’s dam building. No politician in the West was a bigger believer in the transformative power of impounded water than Arizona’s favorite son, Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was the Bureau of Reclamation’s biggest booster in Congress when the agency proposed mind-boggling water projects to tame the mighty Colorado River.

Never mind that the Hoover Commission, in a report commissioned by Congress, warned in 1951 that the Bureau of Reclamation would bankrupt the nation with senseless dams and irrigation projects, while holding future generations of Americans hostage to unpaid bills and unintended consequences. Caveats never stopped a federal water agency from building a dam.

At a time when Goldwater and the Bureau of Reclamation were enjoying a Golden Age of water projects, their chief nemesis was an environmental crusader named David Brower. Brower, president of the Sierra Club and founder of the Earth Island Institute, single-handedly led the fight against building Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. And lost. He called that defeat “the darkest day of my life,” vowed it would never happen again and blamed himself for it until his dying day.

Time and old age have a way of bringing people to their senses. Toward the end of his life, Goldwater took political positions that left most of his libertarian allies scratching their heads in bewilderment. Is Barry going senile? Did somebody poison his soup?

Goldwater’s public epiphany came about when PBS aired “Cadillac Desert,” a series based on Marc Reisner’s eponymous book. In the third episode, when Goldwater and Reisner were discussing the adjudication of the Colorado River, the silver-haired Goldwater looked out across the sprawling megalopolis of Phoenix and asked, “What have we done to this beautiful desert, our wild rivers? All that dam building on the Colorado, across the West, was a big mistake. What in the world were we thinking?”

That admission reverberated across the high mesas of the Southwest like summer thunder. A few months later, when Brower and I talked over lunch, I asked him, “What did you do when Goldwater said it was all a big mistake?”

The Archdruid, as he had been affectionately dubbed by the writer John McPhee, was then in his late 80s but just as fierce as ever. He cackled and then let out an expletive. “I reached for the phone and called (Goldwater) and I said, Barry, let’s do the right thing, help me take out Glen Canyon Dam. He said he would! Then he died a few months later.”

And Brower died a few months after that.

Taking out Glen Canyon Dam would not have altered today’s water crisis in the Southwest, but it would have made a resounding statement. It would have said, “Wild rivers rock.” It would have said, “We should have left well enough alone, we should have listened to John Wesley Powell in the first place, we should have limited settlement on arid lands.” It would have said, “We shoulda, we shoulda, we shoulda. …”

We will never see men like Goldwater and Brower again. Nor will we see people like their cohorts, such as Floyd Dominy of the Bureau of Reclamation and the writer Edward Abbey; they were men of a certain time in America that no longer exists.

We can’t go back to that America any more than we can return to the days before the Civil War, or to the Indian Wars, and fix things. We’re stuck with the aftermath of those decisions, many of them poorly informed, unwise or downright bad. And, sadly, as the Hoover Commission warned 63 years ago, the consequences will be with us for generations to come.

The Colorado River, though, is a special case. It has always been a special case; now, more than ever. The drought that grips the Southwest today is the worst in 1,250 years, say some experts, and it shows no sign of releasing its grip. No doubt, the region’s leaders despair over vanishing options. The Bureau of Reclamation has announced it may start rationing water from Lake Mead to downstream states by 2015. And no climate model is predicting rain.

The first state in line to lose water from diminishing reserves is Arizona. Suddenly, those 280 golf courses in the greater Phoenix area – not to mention the tens of thousands of swimming pools – look kind of ridiculous. What in the world were we thinking?

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.