Tomorrow: Source to Sea — Down the Colorado River with Zak Podmore #ColoradoRiver

Zak Podmore and Will Stauffer-Norris
Zak Podmore and Will Stauffer-Norris

From email from the Eagle River Watershed Council:

Tomorrow, Thursday the 15th
Source to Sea:
Down the Colorado River
with Zak Podmore

Donovan Pavilion
5:30 pm reception & 6 pm presentation
tickets free, $10 suggested donation, cash bar

More Eagle River watershed coverage here.

2015 Colorado legislation: SB15-010 passes out of Senate Ag Committee

Denver Basin aquifer system
Denver Basin aquifer system

Headwaters Pulse: January 2015 — Colorado Foundation for Water Education

Crop circles -- irrigated agriculture
Crop circles — irrigated agriculture

Click here to read the latest newsletter from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. Here’s an excerpt:

The Efficiency Dilemma

Colorado today dedicates a whopping 89 percent of the water it uses to agriculture. That water is diverted into ditches and reservoirs to sate farm fields and pasture lands that, in turn, feed cattle and other livestock—and, of course, people. As agricultural water right owners face increasing pressure and competition from cities, efforts are underway to improve the efficiency of irrigation methods and keep Colorado ag viable. Through rapidly advancing technologies, producers are finding ways to stretch a limited resource, while at the same time accomplishing other goals, such as improving water quality, achieving labor savings and, often times, increasing the productivity of the land. It’s complicated, however, as efficiency comes at a cost, both financially and through changes to whole systems that have grown to rely on agricultural return flows—flows that diminish as upstream farmers grow more efficient.

Learn about the experiences of those who are forging ahead in “The Efficiency Dilemma,” covered in Headwaters Fall 2014 issue, which focused on the Eastern Plains region. Find the article here.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin

Upper Colorado River Basin precipitation to date January 1 thru 15, 2015 via the Colorado Climate Center
Upper Colorado River Basin precipitation to date January 1 thru 15, 2015 via the Colorado Climate Center

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center. Here’s an excerpt:

Water Year 2015 Precipitation:

Three months into the water year, much of the higher terrain of the UCRB is at or above normal precipitation.

The Upper Green River basin in Sublette, Lincoln and Uinta counties are above normal, while much of Sweetwater County is drier, receiving less than 90% of normal for the Water Year to date.

The Uintah Range in Utah are drier, reporting less than 90% of normal, with much of the southern side of the range less than 70% of normal.

The southern portion of the basin is drier, with much of the lower elevations seeing less than 70% of normal precipitation for the water year to date.

The San Juan Mountains and headwaters of the Gunnison River are at or above normal.

The Rio Grande basin is showing better percent of normal, with the higher elevations surrounding the San Louis Valley at or above normal. The Valley is drier, but still near normal (70% and above).

East of the divide in Colorado, the eastern plains recovered nicely in December, now reporting at or above normal precipitation for the water year. Portions of Weld, Washington, Phillips and Yuma counties are slightly drier, with areas between 70% – 90% of normal.

Portions of Otero, Crowley, Bent and Las Animas counties, where drought has been the worst, have seen better than 150% of normal for the water year to date.

The latest edition of Northern Water’s “Waternews” is hot off the presses

The latest briefing from the Western Water Assessment is hot off the presses

Westwide SNOTEL snow water equivalent as a percent of normal January 12, 2015
Westwide SNOTEL snow water equivalent as a percent of normal January 12, 2015

Click here to go to the Western Water Assessment website. Here’s an excerpt:


December brought above-average statewide precipitation to Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, with most mountain areas seeing wettter-than-normal conditions.

The snowpack has generally improved in the last month, with the majority of the region’s basins now reporting above-median SWE. Basins in southwestern Colorado, as well as southwestern and eastern Utah, remain near or below 75% of median SWE.

The first spring-summer runoff forecasts for the 2015 season indicate mixed prospects for the region’s basins, with mainly normal to above-normal runoff expected in Wyoming and northern and central Colorado, and below-normal to normal runoff for Utah and southern Colorado.

The tropical Pacific continues to experience “El Limbo” conditions, though the eventual emergence of a full-blown El Niño event is still expected by most forecast models.

Bureau of Reclamation Releases Funding Opportunity for Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Studies

The Denver Water recycling facility
The Denver Water recycling facility

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

The Bureau of Reclamation is providing a funding opportunity for communities in the West which may be seeking new sources of water supplies using water recycling and reuse technologies. Funding made available will assist communities in determining whether water recycling and reuse projects are feasible. This funding opportunity is part of the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART initiative, which focuses on improving water conservation, sustainability and helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use.
The Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Study Funding Opportunity Announcement is available at by searching for funding opportunity number R15AS00015. It is estimated that $1.3 million may be awarded this year.

Funding will be available in two funding groups. In the first funding group, up to $150,000 in federal funds will be available for smaller feasibility studies which can be completed in 18 months. For the second funding group – including larger feasibility studies which can be completed in 36 months – up to $450,000 in federal funds will be available. It is expected that most of the awards will be made in the first category. Feasibility studies are funded jointly by Reclamation and project sponsors. A cost-share of at least 50-percent of study costs is required.

The studies focus on examining municipal water reclamation and reuse, industrial domestic or agricultural wastewater, and naturally impaired groundwater and/or surface waters. Reclaimed water can be used for a variety of purposes such as environmental restoration, fish and wildlife and groundwater recharge, including municipal, domestic, industrial, agricultural, power generation or recreational use. Water reclamation and reuse is an essential tool in stretching the limited water supplies in the West. Since 1992, approximately $600 million in federal funding through the WaterSMART Title XVI Program has been leveraged with non-federal funding to implement more than $3 billion in water reuse improvements.

Funding applications are due on March 3, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. To learn more about the Title XVI Program, please visit

The latest thinking from the Gunnison River Basin Roundtable about a potential new transmountain diversion

Colorado transmountain diversions via the University of Colorado
Colorado transmountain diversions via the University of Colorado

American Rivers partnered with Google to produce a Street View of the Yampa River #ColoradoRiver

More Yampa River coverage here.

South Platte Roundtable meeting recap #COWaterPlan

South Platte River Basin
South Platte River Basin

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

The plan for the South Platte Basin, which covers all of Northern Colorado including tributary Big Thompson River, was discussed Tuesday at a public meeting in Loveland.

Members of the roundtable asked for public input on their plan to protect and balance all the interests in Colorado water within the law and the water rights structure.

The plan so far calls for creating new, multiuse projects that pull water from diverse sources, expanding conservation and reuse of water, exploring the use of groundwater and aquifer storage and stopping the old practice of “buy and dry” up agricultural water and land.

Livermore resident Zach Thode urged the board to delve beyond what they have already studied and, through a regional innovation group, offered to help.

“We have to come up with new ideas, or we will always end up in the same place,” said Thode. “I don’t see anything new and exciting in here. I don’t think this is steering us away from the path that we were already on. I encourage you to look at innovation.”

Eastern Colorado resident Gene Kammerzell offered one suggestion for a new path: Make sure landscapers adequately prepare soil before installing trees, grasses and plants. This simple act, said the man who serves on a groundwater coalition, could cut municipal water use by 20 percent.

Members of the roundtable encourage additional public comment before the final plan in completed by April 17. More information on the plan, future public meetings and how to comment is available online at

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Longmont councilors approve water rate increase

Water hauler early Longmont via the Longmont Times-Call
Water hauler early Longmont via the Longmont Times-Call

From the Longmont Times-Call (Karen Antonacci):

The city council also voted unanimously to pass an ordinance raising water rates with discussion asking the public to understand the decision.

Bagley said he received a couple of phone calls from concerned senior citizens of Longmont about raising the water rates and asked Barb McGrane from the city’s public works department for information about reduced rates for seniors.

McGrane replied that there is already a measure in place to help senior citizens with their water bill. Someone who qualifies for a certain tax or rental relief is eligible for the partial refund of their water bill as long as the application for the refund is made between Jan. 1 and April 15. More information for senior citizens is available at 303-774-4429.

Council Member Polly Christensen said she hopes the public realizes that with the rising cost of providing water, raising rates is a necessity.

“This is not just fun money,” Christensen said. “No one likes to raise taxes…but we have to fix pipes from 1970.”

Water rates in Longmont are proposed to rise an average of 9 percent a year and the rate structure collapsed from a five-tier plan to four tiers.

More infrastructure coverage here.

State provides $9.5 million for small community wastewater and drinking water system improvements

Here’s the release from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (Mark Salley):

Fifteen community drinking water and wastewater systems in small communities throughout Colorado will receive a total of $9.5 million to fund planning, design or construction of public water systems or treatment works necessary for the protection of public health and water quality.

Funding for the grants was provided by the state Legislature under Senate Bill 09-165 and SB14-025. Governmental agencies, nonprofit public water systems and counties representing unincorporated areas of fewer than 5,000 people were eligible to apply for grants of up to $950,000.


This list is subject to change based on contract negotiations. In the event a recipient cannot accept the grant in whole or part, the available funds will be distributed per the request for application and the small community grant program rules, Regulation No. 55.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Four projects in Teller County intended to improve water quality and wastewater treatment have received a hefty financial boost from oil and gas tax revenues. Colorado water officials recently awarded $9.5 million for 15 grants to small communities across the state – nearly $2.7 million of which will be spent in Teller County.

The money will go toward a mix of projects, including upgrades that could increase water capacity for one subdivision, and improvements that could assuage water quality concerns by some state regulators.

The state fielded 80 applications, making the grants very competitive.

“It was a very popular program this year,” said Tawnya Reitz, a project manager for the Colorado Water Quality Control Division’s grants and loans unit.

Tranquil Acres Water Supply, which serves a subdivision near Woodland Park, received $791,198 to upgrade its 1950s-era water infrastructure. It plans to re-drill wells, install new pumps and build a 100,000-gallon storage tank that could help alleviate water capacity issues, Reitz said.

The state awarded $498,870 to help finance water treatment upgrades so the City of Cripple Creek can meet new chlorine residual standards, she said.

The Florissant Water and Sanitation District received two grants, one for a drinking water project and another to better treat wastewater.

A $200,000 grant will help pay for the installation of a new filtration system, Reitz said.

A $950,000 grant is expected to partially finance new pond liners and a sequencing batch reactor for wastewater treatment, she said.

More water treatment coverage here. More wastewater coverage here.