Enter to win 2 tickets to the premier of the “Great Divide” movie

Havey Productions' Great Divide film on water in Colorado will debut in Spring 2015.

Click here to enter. From the website:


The Great Divide, a feature length documentary film from the Emmy award winning team of Havey Productions, in association with Colorado Humanities, will illustrate the timeless influence of water in both connecting and dividing an arid state and region. From Ancient Puebloan cultures and the gold rush origins of Colorado water law to agriculture, dams, diversions, and conservation; the film will reveal today’s critical need to cross “the great divide,” replacing conflict with cooperation.


If you don’t win, check out one of the dates on the film tour.

Enter by July 30. The winner will be chosen by random. Tickets will be e-mailed to the winner.

CWCB approves transmountain diversion framework #COWaterPlan #ColoradoRiver

Conceptual vision of potential transmountain diversions from the South Platte Roundtable Basin Implementation Plan
Conceptual vision of potential transmountain diversions from the South Platte Roundtable Basin Implementation Plan

From The Pine River Times (Carole McWilliams) via The Durango Herald:

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is drafting the plan. Meeting at the casino Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to include the conceptual framework in the water plan. The board was scheduled to continue meeting Thursday.

CWCB member John Stulp called the conceptual framework “a guidance document for future negotiations.” The guidance notes that future TMDs will avoid increasing the risk of a compact deficit, the amount of water Upper Colorado River Basin states are obligated to deliver to Lower Basin states as measured at Lee’s Ferry in the Grand Canyon. Declaration of a compact deficit could have serious impacts to Western Slope water users.

Board member John McClow added, “On the West Slope, TMD is the number one issue in the water plan. I think this framework addresses that very well. It’s a concern on the Front Range, as well.”

Several CWCB members and other speakers said the conceptual framework and the state plan is a big step forward.

Durango water engineer Steve Harris agreed, but he objected that the plan doesn’t include a cost versus water-yield comparison of TMDs with alternative water sources.

“We think it’s very important that (it) be included,” he said. “I understand it’s not included, and it should be.”

Southwest Water Conservation District Director Bruce Whitehead called the framework “an elegant balance that was achieved. If it strays too far in any direction, we may lose that delicate balance.”

The water plan includes Basin Implementation Plans created by nine water basin roundtables around the state. Whitehead said the Southwest Basin Roundtable “supports first the development of resources (such as storage projects) in the basins that have the biggest supply gaps.”

He agreed with Harris that alternative supplies versus TMDs should be considered in the state water plan, not just in the Southwest Basin Implementation Plan.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Seven-point draft conceptual agreement framework for negotiations on a future transmountain diversion screen shot December 18, 2014 via Aspen Journalism
Seven-point draft conceptual agreement framework for negotiations on a future transmountain diversion screen shot December 18, 2014 via Aspen Journalism

#Drought news: D0 removed from most of western Colorado

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:


This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw some minor improvements in the Northeast while continued generally hot and dry conditions led to minor degradations in the southern portions of the Mid-Atlantic states and Southeast. Further west, recent rainfall activity continued to improve conditions in western Colorado and Texas while southeastern Idaho saw deterioration in conditions as a result of above-average temperatures and precipitation deficits during the past 60 days. In recent weeks, anomalously wet conditions in northeastern California led to minor improvements in areas of exceptional drought. Overall, temperatures were above normal across northern portions of the Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains, and the Southeast during the past week. In contrast, unseasonably cool temperatures were observed across the remainder of the West, Central and Southern Plains, and Midwest. Precipitation accumulations this week were greatest (in excess of five inches) in southern portions of the Midwest where a series of upper- level disturbances along a stationary front led to heavy shower and thunderstorm activity that impacted the region resulting in significant flash flooding in Kentucky. Elsewhere, pockets of heavy rainfall were observed in portions of Texas and eastern Oklahoma…

The Plains

Across the central and southern Plains states, temperatures were well below normal for the period while the northern Plains were above normal. Most of the region was generally dry during the past week with the exception of moderate-to-heavy rainfall accumulations in eastern Oklahoma and some isolated pockets in eastern Kansas. Short-term precipitation deficits and low streamflow led to the expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in northwestern Kansas extending just across the border into southwestern Nebraska. In the northern Plains, small areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) were eliminated in southwestern North Dakota and southeastern South Dakota…

The West

During the past week, average temperatures were two-to-ten degrees below normal across most of California, the Intermountain West, and the Southwest. Southern portions of the Pacific Northwest were cooler than normal while northern portions were two-to-eight degrees above normal. The continued overall hot and dry conditions in the Pacific Northwest led to movement of the impact lines on this week’s map to reflect the short-term impacts being reported across the region. Hot and dry conditions during the past 60 days have impacted the region’s agricultural sectors, fisheries, and wildland fire conditions. Warm water temperatures in Oregon have led to fish mortality in both the Deschutes and Willamette rivers. According to the July 6, 2015 USDA NASS Crop Progress and Conditions report, non-irrigated crops in parts of Washington are showing signs of stress. Pastures in central Washington are reported as being short and extremely dry. In southeastern Washington, the winter wheat harvest is expected to be two weeks ahead of schedule. On the map, short-term precipitation deficits and low streamflows led to the expansion of Moderate Drought (D1) in southeastern Idaho. In northeastern California, recent thunderstorm activity led to a one-category improvement in areas of Exceptional Drought (D4) in Modoc County. According to the NRCS in Alturas, the recent rains have improved rangeland conditions as well as area groundwater, ponds, and springs in some locations. In western Colorado, east-central Utah, and southwestern Wyoming, areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) were removed in response to above-average precipitation (both short- and long-term), normal streamflow activity, and improved soil moisture….

Looking Ahead

The NWS WPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for dry conditions across an area extending from northern California to the Pacific Northwest while portions of the Southwest are forecasted to receive monsoonal moisture with forecast accumulations in the one-to-three inch range – primarily centered over Arizona. Moderate precipitation accumulations (two-to-three inches) are forecasted for eastern portions of the central and northern Plains while the Midwest, Northeast, and parts of the Southeast are expected to receive light-to-moderate accumulations (one-to-three inches). The 6–10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures along the West Coast while northern portions of the Southwest and Intermountain West are expected to experience below-normal temperatures. Meanwhile, the eastern half of the country has a high probability of above-average temperatures, especially in the Southeast. Out West, there’s a high probability of above-average precipitation forecasted for western portions of the Southwest, southern California, Intermountain West, and eastern portions of the Pacific Northwest. Likewise, the Midwest and Northeast have a high probability of above-average precipitation while Texas and the Southern Plains are forecasted to be dry.

From The Denver Post (Jesse Paul):

Only about 2 percent of the state, limited to the extreme northwest and southwest corners, is still under a designation of “abnormally dry.” Last week, 25 percent of Colorado, limited to the Western Slope, was under that category.

US Drought Monitor April 7, 2015
US Drought Monitor April 7, 2015

Three months ago, 75 percent of the state was listed as being under drought.

The last time Colorado had so little drought was in July 2009, federal statistics show…

Forecasters have credited record rainfall, coupled with about 10 months of cooler temperatures, with helping to break Colorado’s dry trends.

“It takes awhile to get into drought,” Mark Wankowsi, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Pueblo office, told The Denver Post in May. “And it takes awhile to get out.”

The next CWCB Water Availability Task Force meeting is July 22

Blue River
Blue River

From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The next Water Availability Task Force meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 from 9:30-11:00a at the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Headquarters, 6060 Broadway, Denver in the Bighorn Room.

More CWCB coverage here.

The latest newsletter from the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts is hot off the presses

Saguache Creek
Saguache Creek

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

Colorado Department of Revenue Issues Emergency Ruling on Gross Conservation Easements

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, the Department of Revenue issued an emergency rule which explicitly adds nonprofits as a category of qualified taxpayers:

“A nonprofit corporation, regardless of whether it has unrelated business taxable income, can claim a gross conservation easement credit for a conservation easement donation it makes to a qualified organization; except that a nonprofit corporation which has a state governmental entity as a shareholder cannot claim such a credit.”

Thank you to everyone in the community who submitted valuable comments and feedback to the Department of Revenue. This is a wonderful outcome for conservation in Colorado!

Read DOR’s emergency rule here.

More conservation easements coverage here and here.

“People are the Rodney Dangerfield of water use” — Patricia Wells #COWaterPlan

Sloans Lake
Sloans Lake

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Maybe because it was nearing lunchtime, the conversation about the state water plan turned to food Wednesday as the Colorado Water Conservation Board digested the final draft of the document at its meeting in Ignacio.

“I think you may have bitten off more than you can chew,” John Mc-Clow, a board member from Gunnison told the board’s staff.

“We haven’t opened our mouth,” CWCB Executive Director James Eklund replied. “This is the menu. We should be hearing more through the public comment process.”

Although saying changes from the first draft of the plan showed progress, McClow noted there were 83 funding actions listed in the plan and more focus was needed.

The board was divided about how much detail the plan should mention about specific projects and the ways to fund those projects, outlined in Chapter 10 of the newly released Colorado Water Plan. The board had looked at 181 “critical” projects during a June 23 work session, but differed on whether the projects were endorsed or simply identified.

“I would like to have a little more time to look at the list again,” said Alan Hamel, who represents the Arkansas River basin on the board.

Board members April Montgomery (Southwestern Colorado) and Travis Smith (Rio Grande basin) wanted more detail in Chapter 10, but were also concerned that the plan promote recreation, forest health and agricultural values. Montgomery wanted more clarity about whether a project’s chances of being funded depended on it being listed as “critical.” Smith said there was little in the plan about how projects would be prioritized.

Board member Patricia Wells, Denver Water’s general counsel, disagreed on the need for more detail in the 500-page plan, saying no one would read a long, detailed list of projects. She was also critical that the plan put so much emphasis on urban conservation, rather than promoting the value of people living in cities.

“Eighty-six percent of the people live in urban areas…they are the economy,” Wells said. “The only mandate in here is that the people use less water…Residential outdoor water is 2 percent of the water use in Colorado, but it contributes to the quality of life…People are the Rodney Dangerfield of water use. I think we should give them a break.”

Her comments were largely offset by conservation groups that addressed the board. Western Resource Advocates, Trout Unlimited and American Rivers speakers all praised the plan.

“Our impression is favorable,” said Drew Peternell of Trout Unlimited. He singled out stream management plans, which are cited as a way to meet environmental and recreational needs. “This will give us tools to identify what are the flow regimes we need to support nonconsumptive needs.”

Comments on the plan will be accepted through Sept. 17, and the final version of the plan will be submitted to Gov. John Hickenlooper in December.

The entire plan can be viewed at coloradowaterplan. com. Past documents and instructions for submitting comments also can be found on the site.

More CWCB coverage here. More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.