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One Of The World’s Driest Cities Is Reviving Its 1,000-Year-Old Water Infrastructure

From Ancient-Origins.net (April Holloway):

Peru has been facing a severe water crisis as chronic problems, such as polluted water supplies, and environmental change combine to undermine the water security of the entire country. However, a new plan has been put forward by Lima’s water utility company, Sedapal, to revive an ancient network of stone canals that were built by the Wari culture as early as 500 AD, in order to supply the population with clean, unpolluted water.

Peru’s highly populated arid Pacific coast depends on water from glacial melt to compensate for the region’s lack of rainfall, but Peru’s glaciers have been retreating at a rapid and increasing rate, leaving many areas without adequate access to water. Lima’s failing public water system has been unable to address the problem, and privatization has been the preferred formula of the government for fixing the deficiencies – a move that is widely unpopular with the majority of the Peruvian people.

All that may be about to change, as Lima’s water utility company has decided to look to the ancient past for solutions to the modern-day problems.

New Scientist reports that “researchers have discovered that the most cost-effective way is to revive a system of ancient stone canals, known locally as amunas, that were built in the Andes by the Wari culture between AD 500 and 1000, centuries before the rise of the Incas”.

The Wari (Spanish: Huari) civilization flourished in the Andean highlands and forged a complex society widely regarded today as ancient Peru’s first empire. Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world’s great cities of the time. Relatively little is known about the Wari because no written record remains, although thousands of archaeological sites reveal much about their lives, including the fact that they were great urban planners.

The Wari built an advanced water conservation system that captured mountain water during the rainy season via canals. The canals transported the water to places where it could feed into springs further down the mountain, in order to maintain the flow of the rivers during the dry season.

The ancient canals left by the Wari are in a state of disrepair, but Condesan, a Lima-based non-governmental organization, has said that re-grouting the amunas with cement would allow them to resume their original purpose.

Old canal of Wari culture photo via Ancient-Origins.net
Old canal of Wari culture photo via Ancient-Origins.net

What are you waiting for? Register for the AWRA Colorado Section Annual Symposium, May 1

future ahead concept
Graphic via PowerHouse360.com

From email from the AWRA Colorado Section:

The AWRA Colorado Symposium will be Friday, May 1st, and early registration has been extended to Wednesday, April 22. Registration fees will go up after the 22nd.

The theme of our symposium this year is Colorado 20/20…Clearly Seeing our Future; A look at the near-future water challenges we face and potential solutions. One of our greatest hurdles as water managers is to prioritize our efforts to solve the short-term issues, while not losing focus on the long-term objectives. This year’s symposium will feature presentations on the near-term issues we will grapple with as a State, and that will be the cornerstone for solving the long-term water needs of the future.

The Symposium agenda is available on our website:
and you can also register on our website:

Please join us for an exciting day that will include networking opportunities; speakers from academia, government, and the private sector; a silent auction packed with water-related gifts for all; and not one but three keynote speakers that will feature talks on the Central Arizona Project, a historical perspective on the State Water Plan, and a travelogue presentation on international water and cultural resources.

Aspinall Unit operations meeting Thursday #ColoradoRiver

Aspinall Unit dams
Aspinall Unit dams

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

The next Aspinall Unit Operations meeting will be held this Thursday, April 23rd, at the Western Colorado Area Office in Grand Junction, starting at 1 PM.

The address of the WCAO is 445 West Gunnison Ave, Suite #221

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Snowpack/runoff news

Westwide SNOTEL snow water equivalent as a percent of normal April 20, 2015 via the NRCS

From KUNC (Jackie Fortier):

Recent snowstorms have pushed Colorado’s snowpack up to 62 percent of normal. But according to experts, those storms didn’t provide relief to the driest areas in the southern half of the state.

“The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins are the lowest,” said Brian Domonkos, a hydrologist with the Colorado Snow Survey Program. The mountains where the Rio Grande River originates in Southern Colorado are only at 38 percent of normal, “and they saw very little help in the terms of snowpack from this storm.”

On the flip side, the South Platte River basin, which provides water for Denver and the northern Front Range saw the most moisture. The storm that moved in April 15 and lasted for days brought more than 40 inches of snow in some parts of northern Larimer county.

“The better basins in the state are the South Platte and the Arkansas,” he said. “In terms of moisture this storm seems to have benefited the South Platte the most. They had about 2.4 inches of snow water equivalent come from this storm mainly because it was an upslope storm and that’s where the highest mountains are.”

Cortez plans to install 3,000 smart water meters this summer

Wireless meter reading explained
Wireless meter reading explained

From The Cortez Journal (Jessica Gonzalez):

Funding is in place for the City of Cortez to embark on a $1.2 million replacement of more than 3,000 manually read water meters with automated meters.

Mayor Karen Sheek and City Council approved loan and grant funds from the Colorado Water Conservation Board at the April 14 council meeting.

Through this project, the city intends to replace its current meters with automated meter readers, which use radios to collect data via a drive-by or a fixed-base receiver on every metered account in the city’s system.

The project is being funded through $250,000 in grants from the CWCB and the Department of Local Affairs, $350,000 from the city’s fund balance and $850,000 loan from the CWCB. Once bids are opened in mid-May, there will be a more precise picture of exactly how much the city will need to borrow via loan funding, said Phil Johnson, director of Public Works. It’s likely to be less than the $850,000 total…

The Public Works Department contends that the replacement project will bring the water meter system into the future with more streamlined billing and data management. It also says that it encourages conservation by providing users with more accurate water-consumption information…

After the bid period in mid-May, work is expected to begin early summer. The entire system is expected to be on automatic meters by October…

The Public Works Department will be providing regular updates on the project on the City of Cortez website, he noted, but stressed that it’s a necessary change in a time where water conservation is crucial.

“It’s a step into the future going to help us run our operation more effectively and it’s an efficient tool to help Cortez save water,” he said.

More infrastructure coverage here.

No watering restrictions for Broomfield


From the Broomfield Enterprise (Megan Quinn):

Despite a dry March, Broomfield will not impose summer water restrictions this year after learning it will receive its typical allocation from its main water supplier.

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District last week announced it would provide users their typical amount of water from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, because the storage reservoir is more full than normal. The district typically allocates about 70 percent of its supply for water users unless resources are limited. Last year, the allocation was 60 percent.

That means Broomfield residents won’t have to scrimp on water this summer, but officials are still asking residents to use only what they need…

Broomfield gets more than half of its water supply from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and the rest from Denver Water and the Windy Gap project. All three rely on mountain snowpack.

Water runoff from snowpack is a major indicator of how much water there will be for cities in the coming year.

Even though precipitation was just 21 percent of average in March, Northern Water’s overall water supplies are much higher than normal, said spokesman Brian Werner.

C-BT, which provides water for Broomfield and 32 other cities and towns, was “at an all-time high” for April 1, and other local storage reservoirs were above normal, Werner said.

On top of that, a large snowstorm on Thursday dumped more moisture in the high country, which “will help slow down the melt and keep us in good shape,” he said…

In Broomfield, single-family residential users account for 56 percent of total water use, according to the city’s 2013 water rate study.

Park Services Superintendent Gary Schnoor said Broomfield also is monitoring its water use. Conserving water is just as important for Broomfield as it is for its residents, especially because the parks department uses the most water of any department in Broomfield.

To conserve and reuse that water, about half of Broomfield’s parks, about 553 acres, are watered with reclaimed water.

“We pay per 1,000 gallons, just like you do at home. It’s one of our big budget items,” he said.

Caleb Davis, an irrigation systems coordinator for the city, said the dry March weather meant employees had to start watering parks a little earlier than usual.

Rain and snow can help save the city’s water supply. Last year, Broomfield used 380 million gallons of water on the parks and landscape.

Worst case, the parks department could use up to 500 million gallons during the driest years, Davis said.