Chinook wind primer #cowx #Colorado

From the National Weather Service Facebook page:

What is a Chinook wind, and what are the weather conditions needed to produce these potentially damaging downslope winds? Please refer to the following slides.

Dolores River film explores water conflicts common in West — The Durango Herald

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

A new documentary slated for a January release lays bare the rigid conflicts over water use along the drought-stricken Dolores River, as irrigators, rafters and others strive for some sort of balance.

About a year ago, Dolores River Boating Advocates received a grant from Patagonia to create a film about the spectrum of issues that surround the Dolores River.

River filmmakers Rig to Flip won the bid and spent more than 50 days filming this summer. Now in post-production, project director Cody Perry said the documentary – “River of Sorrows: The Dolores River Project” – will premiere in Dolores on Jan. 15.

“The Dolores River represents some of the most important issues facing communities throughout the West,” Perry said. “It’s really a case study on the dangers of a transbasin diversion.”

The Dolores River was dammed in the late 1980s, effectively forming McPhee Reservoir, and various stakeholders drafted the Dolores Project Plan, which set out to secure water supplies – in years past water flows would either run dry or dangerously low because of overuse.

Most of the water was allocated to irrigate more than 70,000 acres of otherwise arid land, allowing farmers to extend the planting season through September. However, the top priority on the list was communities outside the river’s basin reliant on the water for domestic purposes: namely, the city of Cortez and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

When all was said and done, annual downstream releases of the Dolores were more than cut in half. Add that to nearly two decades of drought in the Colorado River basin, and it’s no wonder tensions have arisen over water rights.

Critics of the Dolores Project, namely boaters, say the plan leaves little room for fisheries and recreation to thrive on the river. Though those two uses are part of the plan, high levels of water are released only in years of excess, which have become increasingly rare.

“My approach to managing the district is that all of these things matter,” said Mike Preston, general manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District. “Providing water to farms is highly critical to those families and the local economy, and providing water to the community is obviously very important.

“But we are equally obligated by law to take care of the fishery, and provide boating days,” he said. “I take those obligations as seriously as the others.”

Lee-Ann Hill, program coordinator for the Dolores River Boating Advocates, said because water managers allocate only a few days a year to large releases, it’s difficult to plan trips in advance and sustain a livelihood…

“We wanted to portray the matrix,” she said. “Every user has an idea that’s probably through the lens of their dominant use. But at the end of the day, we need to use this source together.”

And Hill, who has rafted the Dolores River in good years, can’t express enough to those who have never had the chance how important it is to reopen the lower portions of the river.

“It’s magical,” she said. “It’s been compared to other legendary rivers and canyons, like the Grand Canyon and Salmon River, and it’s true. Passing through it is a really different experience. It just resonates.”

Perry acknowledged that in making a film as an avid rafter, backed by a boating advocate group, it was important to let the people invested in the Dolores River from all sides tell the story.

“We don’t really have an agenda, or believe in that kind of thing,” he said. “If anything, it’s the people telling the story. The story exists out there will all these constituents, and we’re really guided by a single question: What do we stand to inherit here?”

Preston said when an outsider comes in and puts a spotlight on something as sensitive as the Dolores River, it can go either way: The film can needlessly stir up emotions, or be a useful tool for communication and education…

The filmmakers are now asking for donations through an IndieGoGo page for the final editing costs associated with the documentary. Perry said he plans to show the film throughout the region and, he hopes, beyond.

US 36 mitigation: “The project was a good marriage of interests” — Patrick Hickey

From the Forester Daily News (Janet Aird):

US 36 Habitat Mitigation Project

Several wetland drainages, including a protected and critical willow habitat in the riparian zone of South Boulder Creek, are home to two federally protected species: the tiny Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and the beautiful but elusive Ute ladies’ tresses orchid, says Patrick Hickey, project manager and wetland and wildlife specialist with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). This type of habitat is generally threatened by development throughout Boulder and the Front Range of Colorado.

In 2004, a project to widen US Highway 36, which connects Boulder and Denver, threatened one of these wetlands. CDOT began consultations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to minimize impacts and mitigate for the unavoidable ones.

CDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), USFWS, and the city of Boulder collaborated on the project, which took place on a parcel known as the Granite Property, a degraded 24-acre parcel of land just about a mile downstream of the protected wetland.

The Granite Property had suffered from extensive grazing and dumping and had an abundance of noxious weeds. Weeds are designated as noxious when they are injurious to natural habitats, ecosystems, humans, livestock, or agricultural and horticultural crops.

“The project was a good marriage of interests,” says Hickey. “The city wanted to protect the site from being developed. We met our environmental obligations by purchasing and restoring the parcel for mitigation, which will be managed as a nature preserve by the city.”

The project took place in the spring of 2014. The new habitat includes a considerably larger area than was originally affected by the highway widening, because the USFWS requires a larger amount of land to mitigate for the land that is lost. The FHA provided most of the funding.

CDOT created, restored, or enhanced 15.9 acres of wetlands and restored 8.4 acres of upland buffer habitat, for a total of 24.3 acres.

The main goal of the project was to recreate a matrix of habitat types on the Granite Property to suit the two threatened species. This included willow habitat, a relatively dense combination of grasses, forbs (wildflowers), and shrubs. The secondary goal was to transplant some of the orchids, along with large segments of the wetland sod associated with them, says Hickey.

There was no requirement to relocate the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, which uses several of the drainages across some 3 acres within the highway project limits, including one that was directly adjacent to the constructed wetland. The year before the project began, the threatened area was mowed so the mouse would hibernate elsewhere during the winter.

“We hoped if we created a better habitat on the Granite site, then the adjacent mouse population would be able to expand its local range. The assumption was, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” he says. “We intend to monitor the site to determine if that is true.”

Jacobs Engineering, based in Pasadena, CA, designed the wetland and CDOT provided support. Both Jacobs and CDOT provided construction oversight. Rocky Mountain Excavation of Castle Rock, CO, was the prime contractor and did all the major earthwork.

Generally, the water table in these wetland areas ranges from zero to 24 inches below the surface during the growing season. Part of the Granite Property was already wetland. Rocky Mountain excavated another half of the land to create a larger one.

“The lower surface elevation was necessary to connect the wetland habitat to the supporting water table,” explains Hickey.

On the driest land, Rocky Mountain excavated some 6 inches, primarily to remove the weed-infested soil. Crews excavated other areas to a depth of 3 feet to allow more diverse wetland vegetation to grow. No groundwater was exposed.

Western States Reclamation, which has offices in Frederick and Loma, CO, and in Kayenta, AZ, handled all the vegetative and erosion control components of the project except for the mowing. Crews used heavy equipment to drive pilot holes into the cobbly gravel soil for the coyote willow (Salix exigua) stakes and planted more than 9,700 stakes in specific areas of some 6.4 acres of the wetland.

They also planted 6,000 riparian shrubs, including chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), golden current (Ribes aureum), Wood’s rose (Rosa woodsii), and Western snowberry (Symporicarpos occidentalis) in more than 13.7 acres. They overseeded with native grasses such as blue grama (Chondosum gracilis), side oats (Bouteloua curitipendula), and sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus). In addition, they put in native pollinator attractors such as prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera), sidebells penstemon (Penstemon secundiflorus), and white sagebrush (Artemisia ludoviciana).

In the protected wetland, the orchids were growing in an area of about a tenth of an acre. Transplanting them posed an interesting challenge.

“The orchids don’t come up every year,” says Hickey. “We surveyed the site for several years to understand where they were occurring.”

Western States Reclamation dug up five orchid plants by hand and excavated large sections of the soil associated with them. This ensured that their root systems would be undamaged. It also ensured that seeds, mycorrhizae, bacteria, and other elements necessary to the orchids’ health and reproduction would be transferred to the constructed wetland.

Within the constructed wetland, Rocky Mountain excavated an existing 40-foot by 800-foot section of a swale to approximately 18–24 inches deep. Western States Reclamation crews placed the orchid sod in the swale, which raised the soil level up to that of the surrounding land.

“We overseeded the wetland areas to increase species diversity,” says Hickey. “The local native grasses and forbs weren’t really present anymore.”

The same upland wetland species were used throughout, including Canada wildrye (Elymus Canadensis), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides), Dudley’s rush (Juncus dudleyi), purple verbena (Verbena hastate), large leaf avens (Guem macrophyllum), and golden banner (Thermopsis montana).

The city of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Program will maintain the site, he says. “The city is very active in open-space preservation. This parcel will be closed to the public and maintained as a nature preserve.”

Western States Reclamation is maintaining the wetland, mainly watering, weeding, performing noxious weed control, and other vegetative maintenance, with the assistance of LT Environmental in Arvada, CO, which is responsible for the weed monitoring and reporting.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results of the project,” says Hickey. “We had a very wet year with some big flood cycles, which is helpful for the plant communities we’re trying to establish.”

Approximately four months after construction, the willow habitat had expanded. Approximately 90% of the planted willows were doing well. The native herbaceous understory species also had expanded. Some 95% of the planted shrubs survived, and the native seed was germinating well.

“I give a lot of credit to Western States Reclamation,” says Hickey. “I think their execution of the project was very good, which is reflected in the early seeding and planting success. That’s a function of their maintenance effort and favorable climatic conditions. They really exceeded our expectations.”

Profile of Contemporary Agriculture in Costilla County

From Environmental and Food Justice (Devon G. Peña):

Moderator’s Note: This is the last in a three part series and includes the source bibliography. The author is Co-Founder and President of The Acequia Institute and prepared this report during August-September 2015. The report is intended as a contribution to local agricultural, scientific, and environmental education for Costilla County residents, farmers, and public officials. The information or views presented in this report do not reflect the official views or policies of The Acequia Institute or its Board of Directors and Officers or the University of Washington. [ed. Part 1 and Part 2 here]

Profile of Contemporary Agriculture in Costilla County

According to the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group (2007), agricultural income remains a vital component of our local economy as indicated by the fact that more than 21 percent of Costilla County income is directly earned from the direct sale of farm produce and livestock. This includes sales of beef cattle and sheep; row crops like fall potato and spring wheat; field crops like alfalfa; specialized grains (maize, barley, canola); and some legumes (soybean, common bean). Costilla County is the third largest producer of fall potato and fourth in alfalfa and hay output among SLV counties. According to the USDA Agricultural Census for 2009, Costilla County in 2007 had crop sales of $22,840,000 and livestock sales of $3,820,000. The same census shows that Costilla County sales of vegetables, melons, potatoes, and sweet potatoes ranked 5th in the state in 2007 while sales of livestock varied between 46th for beef cattle and 37th for sheep, goats and their products.

The USDA census found that the biggest subsector of the Costilla County agricultural economy remains forage, or land used for all hay and haylage including alfalfa, grass silage, and ‘greenchop’. With more than $30 million in sales for 2007, Costilla County alfalfa and hay producers still only ranked 23 out of 64 in sales statewide.

Together, the alfalfa, and to a lesser extent today potato producers, in Costilla County are a substantial local presence especially in the northernmost third of the county comprised of modern industrial monoculture operations in the vicinity of Ft. Garland and Blanca and in the southernmost third of the county with a smaller number of similar operations centered around the railroad grid towns of Jaroso and Mesita.

More recent data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (2013) indicates a modest increase in alfalfa production: Alfalfa was set at 86,000 tons harvested on 25,000 acres in 2013 compared to 76,500 tons on 17,500 acres in 2012. The NASS data further indicate that beef cow production held steady in Costilla County between 2008 and 2013 in total sales with a low of 5000 (in 2009, 2010, 2013) and a high of 5300 (in 2012). In the Culebra acequia communities, local alfalfa production largely goes toward winter feed for modest individual herds ranging between 30 and 400 cows.

The Upper Rio Grande/Rio Arriba Watershed  (highlighting location of center-pivot sprinkler circles)  Note: Green dots are center-pivot farm and ranch operations, most with junior groundwater withdrawal rights and subject to court-ordered mandates designed to mitigate damages to farmers with senior surface rights (including acequias) and to augment deliveries to the Rio Grande Interstate Compact.  Source: NASA/MODIS files at:
The Upper Rio Grande/Rio Arriba Watershed
(highlighting location of center-pivot sprinkler circles)
Note: Green dots are center-pivot farm and ranch operations, most with junior groundwater withdrawal rights and subject to court-ordered mandates designed to mitigate damages to farmers with senior surface rights (including acequias) and to augment deliveries to the Rio Grande Interstate Compact. Source: NASA/MODIS files at:

GMOs in Costilla County

As noted above, defined by tonnage at the farm-gate, the principal crops grown in Costilla County are alfalfa and potatoes with legumes (soybean) and grains (maize, barley, sorghum) a very distant third. In Costilla County, we are fortunate to be moving ahead of the curve as commercialized crops currently do not include significant acreage dedicated to GMO alfalfa . Presumably, most alfalfa acreage has not gone into a wide rotation cycle so that farmers anticipating the replanting stage have not yet widely tapped into the two-years of marketing of the Monsanto version of herbicide-resistant alfalfa (the Roundup Ready trademark). We have an opportunity to block Monsanto’s entry into the market for alfalfa before it gains traction. Acreage dedicated to GMO potatoes remains unconfirmed since the Simplot GMO potato is only now starting to be marketed. The proposed ordinance under review in Costilla County does not ban GHMO potatoes. It is worth noting, however, that of the 64 counties in Colorado, Costilla has been ranked as high as the State’s third largest potato and fourth largest producer of spring wheat. The closure of a potato processing plant located in Fort Garland appears to accompany a shift among a growing number of newer commercial operators adopting alfalfa, canola, soybean, and maize in their crop rotations.

The production of conventional non-GMO potatoes has been big business in Costilla County’s northern Trinchera watershed and most of these operations are historically located between the Ft. Garland-Mountain Home Reservoir area and the irrigated circles along U.S. 160 and including the areas south, all the way to the western county line at the turn-off to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Our pilot field inspections (conducted during the summer growing seasons between 2013-15) reveal that there are two principal locales with potential for GMO alfalfa, maize, and potato production in proximity to the Culebra Center of Origin and Agrobiodiversity. One set is approximately 10 miles north/northwest of the Acequia Institute’s own 181-acre farm in the Viejo San Acacio bottomlands off Highway 142. This set includes a string of 8 large center-pivot sprinkler circle operations along County Rd. 12 northbound toward Blanca. One of these operations, about 18 miles north/northwest of the Acequia Institute, and operates more than two dozen center-pivot circles producing a rotational mix of alfalfa and specialty grains including oats for intercropping with new alfalfa. These are successful fairly large-scale commercial producers and most appear open to the adoption of GMO crops and their associated adjutant and chemical treatment protocols. The southern part of the county appears to have only one area where GMO alfalfa, and possibly maize, may be produced but most producers so far remain nonGMO. This area consists of about two dozen center-pivot monoculture operations located in and around Mesita and includes alfalfa production as close as 6 miles SSW from the Culebra acequia villages; The location of these operations is plotted in Figure 8 above and Figure 9 below. We note that as of November 2015, we have only two confirmed growers that have adopted GMO alfalfa and GMO corn. If the county adopts a ban on GMO crops, it will be fortunate to be getting ahead of the curve by adopting controls before the threat of transgenic contamination becomes a widespread problem.

Center-Pivot and Acequia Farms. The green belts along the Río Culebra and tributaries in San Acacio, San Luis, Chama, Los Fuertes and other unmarked villages are the principal acequia farm bottomlands in Costilla County. The  center-pivot circles are concentrated in the Blanca-Ft. Garland vicinity to the N and the Mesita-Jaroso vicinity due W and SW of the acequia bottomlands.  Source: Google Maps (screenshot).
Center-Pivot and Acequia Farms. The green belts along the Río Culebra and tributaries in San Acacio, San Luis, Chama, Los Fuertes and other unmarked villages are the principal acequia farm bottomlands in Costilla County. The center-pivot circles are concentrated in the Blanca-Ft. Garland vicinity to the N and the Mesita-Jaroso vicinity due W and SW of the acequia bottomlands. Source: Google Maps (screenshot).

Implications for Culebra Center of Origin and Agrobiodiversity

The Costilla County Land Use Code and Comprehensive Plan finds it to be in the public interest to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. Among the parameters the County has established to attain and sustain this goal is the protection of acequias and acequia farmlands.

The biosafety and other scientific risk assessment of GMO crops has demonstrated that the planting of genetically engineered crops is not a reasonable and prudent farm practice because genetic drift from windborne and insect carried pollens from one farm can create significant economic harm to organic farmers and other farmers who choose to grow non-genetically engineered crops (Quist and Chapela 2001; Gepts and Papa 2003; Cleveland et al 2005; Mercer and Wainwright 2008). One recent meta-analysis of gene flows between transgenic (GMO) and land race cultivars found that maize accounts for 25 percent of all introgression events since 2001 (Price and Cotter 2014).[i] The contamination threats posed by GMO crops is thus of special concern to the indigenous acequia farmers of Costilla County who are seed savers and plant breeders of several land race and introduced naturalized ‘heirloom’ parent lines of maize, bean, squash, fava, and other culturally and ecologically significant crops.

Farming practices that utilize GMOs are likely to compromise the welfare of the organic and acequias farmers of Costilla County. Acequia farmers, many of whom cannot afford the costs associated with USDA organic certification but who nevertheless play vital roles in the agricultural economy, are the principal seed savers and plant breeders of original locally adapted varieties of corn, bean, and pumpkin/squash.

Maíz de concho from Almunyah Dos Acequias.Viejo San Acacio, CO Photo by Devon G. Peña
Maíz de concho from Almunyah Dos Acequias.Viejo San Acacio, CO
Photo by Devon G. Peña

Pollen drift from genetically engineered maize and alfalfa can and eventually will contaminate the native land race, conventional hybrid, organic, and heirloom plants and seed stocks of Costilla County farmers and gardeners. This is an effect widely documented by scientific studies and termed “introgression events” (Gepts and Papa 2003; Cleveland et al 2005; Mercer and Wainwright 2008). The acequia and organic farmers working within the rules of our adopted and extant Culebra watershed protection overlay zone, do so in such a manner such that the new transgenic technologies interfere with the citizen’s use of their lands within the Culebra watershed protection zone boundary in the manner to which they are historically and culturally accustomed.

The acequia farmers of the Culebra watershed are celebrated as multigenerational seed savers and plant breeders. Over the past 164 years, we have developed unique land race varieties of maize including maíz de concho. Chicos del horno are listed in the Slow Food USA ‘Ark of Taste’ as an endangered food and artisan production practice and these land races constitute part of the center of origin for native populations of maize. These local center of origin varieties are known to possess several unique and invaluable genetic characteristics including: adaptation to a very short growing season (with an average of 74 days from sowing to harvesting); adaptation to diurnal temperature extremes; and resistance to the desiccating effects of intense UV radiation at Costilla County’s high elevation. These land race varieties thus constitute an important gene pool of diversity and part of the in-situ and in-vivo conservation of our country’s seed stocks, and as a northern extension of the Mesoamerican/Aridoamerican centers of origin and diversity for Zea mays.

Given the proven and widespread environmental impacts of introgression events caused by gene flow, and the center of origin status of local maíz de concho and other traditional heirloom crops, there is a need for Costilla County to implement a science-based regulatory policy. This can proceed as a land use and zoning matter to ensure that indigenous acequia farmers protect their property rights to the genetic integrity of seed stocks for production, seed saving, and plant breeding activities in a manner that eliminates the threat of contamination from transgenic introgression events that can alter the integrity of the genomes of native seed stocks.

The creation of a GMO-Free Protection Zone to protect the vital land races pertaining to the Culebra Center of Origin and Agrobiodiversity could become a first step toward an alternative and realist policy based on the extension of equal protection to indigenous acequia, organic, and conventional non-GMO farmers and home kitchen gardeners in Costilla County. Such a policy would be consistent with federal environmental justice standards and guidelines for all federal agencies promulgated by four different administrations since Clinton signed Executive Order 12898 in 1994 and Obama re-affirmed and strengthened interagency collaboration in 2009.

Such a step would also complement the substantial land and water conservation projects that are already unfolding across Costilla County. These include 167,000 acres donated by Louis Bacon to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and encompassing a significant swath of the northernmost section of the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant from the summits of Mt. Blanca/Sisnaajini to the piñon-juniper woodlands north of Blanca-Ft. Garland and montane, alpine, and subalpine forests south by southeast of the same. There are also two new unique conservation easement projects completed in 2014 and arranged by Colorado Open Lands, a non-profit land trust and conservation organization. These protect several hundred acres of historic acequia bottomlands and water rights in the Río Culebra watershed at Almunyah Dos Acequias in Viejo San Acacio and the Culebra Creek Ranch in Chama.

Fort Collins to spend $7M fixing water pipeline — The Fort Collins Coloradan


From the Fort Collins Coloradan (Kevin Duggan):

Fort Collins is preparing to spend about $7 million to repair a mountain water pipeline damaged by a slow-moving landslide south of Cameron Pass.

A portion of the 54-inch iron pipeline that carries Michigan Ditch to city-owned Joe Wright Reservoir was broken apart by tons of dirt and mud sliding downhill last spring.

The landslide has been active for many years, said Carol Webb, water resources and treatment operations manager for Fort Collins Utilities. Short-term repairs have been made to stabilize the pipeline, including realigning a section affected by the slide area in fall 2014.

“It’s been moving several inches at a time for quite a while,” Webb said. “But this last time it moved several feet.”

The slide separated the pipeline at its joints, filling it with mud and taking the ditch out of commission. As a long-term solution, the city plans to bore an 800-foot tunnel through bedrock behind the slide to protect the pipeline from further disruption, Webb said.

Construction is expected to begin in spring with the goal of having the pipeline ready to carry water in time for the 2017 spring runoff…

Michigan Ditch is about six miles long. It captures water from the upper Michigan River basin and carries it into the Poudre River basin.

City officials expect to tap into reserve funds to pay for the project. City Council likely will be asked to appropriate funds in January, Webb said.

The construction project has been prequalified for a loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, but the city is leaning toward funding the work itself, Webb said.

The city’s water supply is not expected to be negatively affected by the pipeline problem. Abundant snowfall last spring filled Joe Wright Reservoir and the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, meaning the city should be able to meet its needs and water-release obligations through fall 2016, according to a memo to City Council.

About 2,500 acre feet of water is released from Joe Wright Reservoir each year to meet terms of a water-use agreement involving the city, Platte River Power Authority and the Water Supply and Storage Co.

Another 900 acre feet is released from the reservoir and nearby Chambers Lake to meet the terms of an agreement between Fort Collins and Greely to support aquatic life in the Poudre River, according to city documents.

Water testing on Yampa River could lead to more regulations after reclassification — Steamboat Today

From Steamboat Today (Scott Franz):

City officials in Steamboat Springs say some high water temperature readings taken in the Yampa River just west of Hayden in recent years could soon lead to a big change in how a 57-mile stretch of the river is regulated by the state.

The stretch of the Yampa that runs from the confluence of Oak Creek south of Steamboat to the Moffat County border is poised to be listed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as an impaired waterbody.

City officials are concerned that the listing could eventually lead to some costly, multi-million upgrades to such things as the wastewater treatment plants that discharge water into the river.

They are questioning the methodology used to arrive at the listing and are hoping a proposal to monitor the health of the river in more areas will help municipalities along the river avoid costly new regulations.

“Given the variability of altitude, temperature, and aquatic life throughout the 57-mile segment, the City questions whether the standard applied to such a long reach is appropriate,” city officials recently wrote in a memo to the Steamboat Springs City Council.

Kelly Heany, the city’s water resources manager, said the Water Quality Control Commission will consider whether to list the Yampa as an impaired waterbody at its Dec. 14 meeting.

“It could potentially have a costly impact n the wastewater treatment plants in Hayden, Milner and ours,” Heaney said.

She said the added regulations could call for such things as the installation of expensive cooling towers at these wastewater treatment facilities.

The classification could also add more regulations to construction de-watering permits, industrial discharge permits and stormwater permits.

Heaney will attend the Dec. 14 hearing to outline the city’s plans and the extensive efforts it has undertaken already to protect the water quality of the Yampa.

Heaney said the city does not have enough temperature data from the entire stretch of the Yampa to oppose the listing on the impaired waterbody list.

So city officials are proposing to invest more in monitoring the quality of the Yampa at more locations to better understand what impacts the temperature changes.

Yampa/White/Green/North Platte river basins via the Colorado Geological Survey
Yampa/White/Green/North Platte river basins via the Colorado Geological Survey

Managing Agriculture and Water Scarcity in #Colorado (and Beyond) — CFWE


From the Colorado Foundation for Water Education website

Colorado agriculture is a major $40 billion industry and is also the state’s dominant water user. Irrigated farmland covers just 9 percent of the state’s privately owned land area, but accounts for 86 percent of its total water diversions. Growing demands from competing water users threaten to reduce irrigated farming and ranching in coming decades. At the same time, the continued variability of water supplies due to drought, groundwater overdraft, and other factors may impact future water availability, delivery and timing for agricultural and other water uses…

Growing demands from Colorado’s many water users threaten to reduce irrigated farming and ranching in coming decades. In the face of water scarcity Colorado growers are adapting their farming practices to use less water. Read about those challenges and ways in which water manager, agricultural producers, and ditch companies are addressing water scarcity through the report, “Managing Agriculture and Water Scarcity in Colorado (and Beyond),” prepared by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education in partnership with CoBank. Read the report here.

#COWaterPlan: Colorado Ag Water Summit set Dec. 15 — High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal


From the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal:

Water experts from across the state are set to convene for the 2015 Colorado Ag Water Summit, taking place Dec. 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the First National Bank Building at The Ranch in Loveland (5280 Arena Circle).

The event is hosted by the Colorado Agricultural Water Alliance—a group of leaders from the state’s ag industry, whose goal is to empower agriculture stakeholders to make the most informed and viable decisions regarding Colorado’s water.

The event is open to the public. Anyone interested in attending can learn more and register at, or at

This year’s summit is titled, “We have the Colorado Water Plan … Now what is the future of Colorado agriculture?” During the day, topics will include the Colorado Water Plan, the loss of ag water due to growing demands elsewhere, the future of food production in the state, lessons learned from the California drought, Colorado’s “use it or lose it” water laws, and the future of water regulation in the state, among other topics.

The approximately two dozen water experts and state officials slated to speak at the summit include:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper;

Gregory J. Hobbs Jr., former Colorado Supreme Court justice;

John Stulp, special adviser on water to Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper;

Dick Wolfe, state engineer and director of the Colorado Division of Water Resources;

Ajay Menon, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University;

Amy Beatie, Colorado Water Trust executive director;

A.G. Kawamura, former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture;
Charlie Bartlett, Colorado Agricultural Water Alliance president, Colorado Corn Growers Association vice president and Colorado Corn Administrative Committee board member; and

Several others.

“Colorado’s water challenges no doubt demand our utmost attention and a united focus,” said CAWA President Charlie Bartlett, who farms near Merino, Colorado.

In 2010, the Statewide Water Supply Initiative study showed that Colorado would need between 600,000 and 1 million acre-feet per year of additional water by 2050 to meet its municipal and industrial needs. That same study showed that water being diverted from farms and ranches to meet Colorado’s projected municipal and industrial shortfalls could result in as many as 500,000 to 700,000 acres of irrigated farmground drying up by 2050.

“Agriculture in Colorado faces big challenges when it comes to water,” Bartlett continued. “The discussions at this year’s summit will be aimed at finding the right balance in meeting Colorado’s diverse water needs, and also examining how we can do that while honoring Colorado’s water law and protecting our state’s $40 billion-plus agriculture industry—a top two or three contributor to Colorado’s economy each year. The task at hand is a difficult one, and progress can’t be made without having conversations like the ones we’ll have at this year’s water summit.”