Loveland: Castle Rock (Denver Basin groundwater) wins the Rocky Mountain Section AWWA taste test

Taste test Winner.Castle Rock. September 14, 2015 Rocky Mountain Section AWWA.
Taste test Winner.Castle Rock.September 14, 2015 Rocky Mountain Section AWWA

Congratulations to the water treatment personnel at the City of Castle Rock. From email from the Rocky Mountain Section of the AWWA (Greg Baker):

Who has the tastiest water in the Rocky Mountains? According to the judges at a taste test at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works (RMSAWWA) annual conference in Loveland, Colorado, Castle Rock Water has the best water in the region. Nine municipalities from a three state region competed for the title of best drinking water based on taste, odor and appearance. The winner of this competition will represent the RMSAWWA at the national “Best of the Best” taste test at the AWWA Conference in Chicago next June.

The winners of today’s competition were Castle Rock Water taking first place, East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District in second, with Denver Water and Aurora Water tying for third place.

Judging this event were Cory Reppenhagen, with 7News in Denver, Erin O’Toole, reporter with KUNC Radio in Ft. Collins, Colorado, Pinar Omur-Ozbeck with Colorado State University, David Dani with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and John Donahue from North Park Public Water District in Machesny, Illinois.

The RMSAWWA is the regional section for the AWWA, which is the largest non-profit, science-based organization for drinking water professionals in the world. The RMSAWWA covers Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico and has over 2,400 members, representing water utilities, engineering consultants and water treatment specialty firms.

Denver Basin aquifer map
Denver Basin aquifer map

The latest newsletter from the Continental Divide Land Trust is hot off the presses

Moon set over the Tenmile Range via The Summit County Citizens Voice
Moon set over the Tenmile Range via The Summit County Citizens Voice

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

Full Moon Tour under September’s Harvest Moon Moon

Come enjoy an evening with CDLT under September’s Full Harvest Moon. September’s moon is also the largest supermoon of the year and even graces us with a total lunar eclipse.

Date: Sunday, September 27, 2015
Time: 6p.m.-8p.m.
Place: Cobb & Ebert Placer
Price: $10 Suggested Donation
Naturalists: Rachel Winkler, and Kim Dufty
Register: Call (970) 453-3875, or email

Directions to Cobb & Ebert Placer:
From County Road 450 or Wellington Road proceed east to French Gulch Road. Continue east for about 4 miles to the parking area with USFS Trailhead signs.

Trail Info:
This is an easy to moderate hike. Families are welcome, although it is not necessarily recommended for children under 10. Sorry, no dogs on this outing please.

What to Bring and Additional Info:
-Please bring water, snacks, hiking shoes, layers of clothes, walking poles (if you want)
-Dress warmly. Temperatures will drop as the night progresses.
-If we cancel due to weather, we will try to let everyone know by noon that day.

For more information contact Rachel at, or (970) 453-3875

“The bottom line is that trout need cold, clean water” — Jim White

A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 -- photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin
A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 — photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently completed a survey of trout populations in the Animas River through Durango and near Silverton. The results provide a mixed picture for trout.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife conducted a survey last year as part of the normal every-other-year cycle. But because of the Silverton mine waste spill in August, CPW aquatic biologists decided to perform a survey again this year. The survey in Durango was conducted Aug. 27-30; the survey in Silverton was done Sept. 8-10.

Neither survey showed any acute effects on fish from the mine spill.

To do the survey, biologists use a technique called electro-fishing to deliver a mild shock to the water which temporarily stuns the fish. They are then scooped up, measured, weighed and identified for species type.

In Durango, the survey was conducted in two segments: from behind the La Plata County Fairgrounds to the 9th Street Bridge; and in the section from Cundiff Park to the high bridge.

Compared to last year, the overall biomass — a measurement of the total weight of fish per surface acre — increased in both sections of the river. Much of the increase, however, can be attributed to routine stocking by CPW — about 40,000 fingerling trout per year, explained Jim White, aquatic biologist for the agency in Durango.

In the section above 9th Street, biomass — weight of all trout combined per surface acre — increased from 27 pounds in 2014 to 66 pounds this year. In the lower reach, overall biomass increased from 75 pounds to 110 pounds. Both sections meet the biomass standard of 60 pounds of fish per-surface-acre set for Gold Medal water status.

But the number of large fish in the river remains low. The number of fish greater than 14 inches improved slightly from last year, from nine to 11 fish per acre. There must be at least 12 fish or more per acre longer than 14 inches for the river to achieve Gold Medal status.

White is most concerned about the lack of trout in the 7-to-12 inch size in the river. Those are the fish that are two- or three-years-old that should eventually grow to reach 14 inches in a couple more years.

“We’ve been seeing these gaps in age class for the last six years,” White said. “We’d like to see more of the young fish we stock recruit into the overall population.”

The survey also found little evidence of any natural reproduction by trout. The number of fry – very young trout – found in the river has been in decline since the late 1990s.

White explained that the Animas River in Durango is negatively affected by several factors: the flow of tainted water from area mines; and run-off from hillsides, golf courses, lawns, city streets and parking lots that add sediment, contaminants and nutrients to the water. Also, in the last decade there has been less water in the river due to declining snow fall. With less water there is less habitat available and the increase in water temperature is detrimental to trout.

In the river near Silverton, only a few fish were found in the canyon below the confluence of Cement Creek to Elk Park. CPW surveys show that the decline in the number of fish in that section of the river occurred between 2005 and 2010. A few miles east of Silverton above Howardsville, small brook trout were found in the river as they have for many years.

“The bottom line is that trout need cold, clean water,” White said.

#COWaterPlan: Storage is on the minds of many in Weld County

LadyDragonflyCC -- Creative Commons, Flickr
LadyDragonflyCC — Creative Commons, Flickr

From The Greeley Tribune (Bridgett Weaver):

Legislators from across the state agreed the Colorado Water Plan is dependent on all parts of the state working together, but Weld County residents had a few concerns with the proposed plan.

Weld residents and representatives raised concerns of prior appropriation, which includes property and water rights, and of the need to add water storage to the South Platte Basin.

State senators and representatives who are part of the water resources review committee gathered Monday evening at Island Grove to discuss the state water plan and hear public comment on it.

“We are a state that needs to work together,” Rep. J. Paul Brown said.

Weld is in the South Platte Basin, which includes much of northern and eastern Colorado as well as the Denver metro area. The area is expected to grow by 2.5 million people by 2050, pushing water demand higher than supply.

Joe Frank, chairman of the South Platte Basin Roundtable, agreed with the need to work together, saying, “We need the Western Slope, (and) they need us. We’re all one state. The problem is here, but ultimately it is a statewide problem.”

But Frank also recognized the importance of the South Platte Basin in the water plan.

Frank outlined the South Platte Basin Implementation Plan, which included four overarching themes. The themes considered were a good Colorado plan needs a good South Platte plan; solutions must be pragmatic, balanced and consistent with Colorado law and property rights; the South Platte River Basin will continue its leadership role in efficient use and management of water; and a balanced program is needed to plan and preserve Colorado river basin options.

Many in Weld see a need to extend the state’s storage, while others think conservation is the answer to future water issues.

Frank said the South Platte Roundtable Basin strongly believes storage needs to be a high priority in the water plan.

“We really strongly advocate for the development of additional above-ground storage,” he said. “That’s one thing that we really highlight in every section.”

Additional storage was a hot topic.

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said he has been involved in the process of writing the water plan and it’s been extremely grueling but healthy.

“Although we have differences and we will continue to have differences, the process has been a very collaborative one,” Conway said.

He said at the first meeting he attended about the water plan, someone said something that has stuck with him since.

“The days of folks simply folding our arms and saying ‘no’ are over,” Conway quoted.

He said the goal now is to find a water plan to benefit everyone and to benefit future Coloradans.

“I’m here to encourage water storage,” Conway said.

He said thousands of acres of land have dried up over the years, and it’s been devastating to agriculture in Weld County and eastern Colorado.

But Conway is worried that conservation is not enough to rectify these situations.

“Conservation should be a big part of this,” he said, “but the bottom line is, folks, we can’t conserve ourselves out of this.

Conservation is a very important part of this, but water storage is too.”

Jim Hall, representing Northern Water and the South Platte and Metro Roundtable Basins, said development of a water plan is an incredible undertaking. He encouraged legislators to recognize the wisdom of locals.

“While the plan currently points out that there has been a lack of additional storage over the last few years,” it needs to address it more immediately.

“It needs to include more storage now,” Hall said.

A local resident, Peter Bridgeman, said he was at the meeting out of concern for the future of his grandchildren.

“Water conservation will not solve our impending water crisis,” he said. “Our demands are much larger than our supply.”

Most importantly, those in attendance agreed that everyone needs to work together for solutions to the ever-present problems of water.

“We all drink it, we all use it,” said Bruce Johnson, a resident with 12,000 acres of irrigated land in Weld. “We need to be thinking about that for our offspring and the people who are coming down the pipeline.”