#Snowpack news: The March 1, 2016 #Colorado Water Supply Outlook is hot off the presses


Click here to read the report.

Here’s the March 1, 2016 snowpack by basin:


Here’s the March 1, 2016 streamflow forecast by basin:


Finally, here’s the monthly precipitation by basin for Water Year 2016:


San Juan Clean Water Coalition to hold launch party Monday

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

From the San Juan Clean Water Coalition via The Durango Herald:

Six months before the Gold King Mine blowout, a grass-roots movement prompted elected officials in Southwest Colorado to propose a site-specific good Samaritan legislation for counties within the San Juan Mountains.

The idea was to implement a pilot program that would provide adequate protections for parties undertaking remediation projects in the hopes the legislation could spread to other communities dealing with mines polluting watersheds.

Ty Churchwell, Animas River coordinator for Trout Unlimited, said businesses, organizations and individuals formed the San Juan Clean Water Coalition to engage and educate towns such as Ouray, Rico and Lake City, while at the same time support lawmakers.

“Every water source from the San Juan Mountains has mine-related problems, so it was a perfect place to do a pilot legislation,” Churchwell said. “And then Aug. 5 happened, and everything changed.”

The Gold King Mine was breached by Environmental Protection Agency contractors on Aug. 5, releasing 3 million gallons of tainted water into the Animas River.

Now, senators Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, are pushing a measure that would expand the reach of treating leaking mines, an endemic problem in the West caused by years of unregulated mining.

In response, the goals of the clean water coalition broadened.

The group advocates a five-point plan: a permanent water treatment plant in the Upper Cement Creek basin; legislation to facilitate remediation of mines across the West; proper watershed monitoring; economic recovery from the spill; and community involvement.

Churchwell said the group has grown into a coalition of more than 100 businesses and hundreds of individuals.

“River recreation is a key component of Durango’s healthy recreation/tourism-based economy,” Duranglers Flies and Supplies co-owner Tom Knopick said in a prepared statement. “The health of our businesses and the success of our clients depend on it.”

The clean water coalition will hold a launch party at 5 p.m. Monday at Animas Brewing Co.

Churchwell said the event will be an opportunity for community members to learn how to become more involved, as well as celebrate the river.

“If nothing else, post-Gold King spill, this community recognized our very essence and being are tied to the health of our river, and as such, we are all the Animas,” he said.

Tough week for ag with loss of great people — Jerry Sonnenberg


From The Greeley Tribune (Jerry Sonnenberg):

The last week of February was a tough one for agriculture. I am not speaking of low commodity prices or weather conditions, but rather the loss of four icons and proven leaders in our industry.

Bill Wailes passed this past week, but his passion for improving agriculture will never be forgotten and was underscored by his induction into the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame.

“My desire is to make sure our industry is sustainable — that means profitable and environmentally sound. The animal welfare part of it has to be the best it can be,” said Wailes, whose department, the largest in the College of Agricultural Sciences at CSU, has become a leader in food safety and animal behavior and welfare.

“Bill Wailes has been one of the most positive and enlightening people I have met,” said Katlin Hornig, a student leader in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “He never fails to make sure his animal science students understand their animals’ value in life and within our industry.”

Charlie Bartlett from Merino also went to a place where water is plentiful and your tractor never breaks down.

Mr. Bartlett was a leader in the water community and served as the Chairman of the Colorado Ag Water Alliance, whose goal was to empower agriculture stakeholders to make the most informed and viable decisions regarding Colorado’s agricultural water.

“We all need each other in this state. I provide food that I produce, but I also need medical care, attorneys, all kinds of other goods and services that the people in the cities provide,” Bartlett said. “At the same time, much of the water we use on the farm goes back to cities, just in a different form. Milk, for example, is 80 to 90 percent water. Are these things that we’re willing to give up?”

He not only was a leader in the water community, but also served on a number of boards working on agriculture issues. Mr. Bartlett’s most recent years of work with Colorado Corn have been key to expanding markets within that industry.

“Ben Houston was highly beloved and had a renowned reputation across the country for his quality of cattle and expertise,” said Bill Hammerich, Chief Executive Officer of the Colorado Livestock Association.

Houston was a pioneer in the livestock breeding arena, utilizing artificial insemination since 1952, decades before the rest of the industry. When asked how he would like to be remembered, Mr. Houston replied without hesitation, “as a person who has helped improve the genetics of beef cattle and to further the meaningful Houston family traditions.”

Mr. Houston also helped lead the livestock industry as he has served on many boards in agriculture, including the Colorado Cattle Feeders and the National Western Stock Show, among many others. He also served as council to the governments of Turkey, Japan and Costa Rica on livestock issues and has worked with producers in the former U.S.S.R. and the Republic of Ukraine.

Diane Hoppe also passed this past week and will forever be remembered in the water community as the go-to person who worked to solve water issues.

As a Colorado State Representative for eight years representing northeastern Colorado, she served as chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee and the interim Legislative Water Committee; she also helped create the Colorado Foundation for Water Education to help people not associated with water to understand the issues surrounding the use of water. As the current chair of the Water Conservation Board, her leadership indeed will be missed.

Each of these icons in the agriculture industry will be missed but their accomplishments will live on forever. The world is a better place because of each of their lives and contributions.

— Jerry Sonnenberg represents District 1 in the Colorado State Senate.

The Yampa, White, and Green Roundtable is down two members

Basin roundtable boundaries
Basin roundtable boundaries

From the Community Agriculture Alliance via The Rio Blanco Herald-Times:

Living at the headwaters of the Yampa and White rivers and many of their tributaries makes it very easy for us to take water for granted. We turn on the faucets and water flows. We open our headgates and water rushes through. We put our boats into the rapids and water takes us downstream. We toss a line into a high mountain lake and a fish attaches itself to the hook.

But things may change. The population in Colorado is predicted to double by 2050. Drought, wildfire, flooding or climate change could create circumstances we cannot currently imagine. Existing municipal and agriculture infrastructure will age and the costs of replacement are rising. Our demands will grow while the supplies dwindle.

So who is watching out for Northwest Colorado? Who cares if we have enough water to meet our needs? Who is taking the challenge to guarantee that our water will continue to flow?

Many individuals and groups are working tirelessly on water issues. And the group that funnels everyone together is the Yampa-White-Green Rivers Basin Round Table (YWG RT). Since being formed by a gubernatorial order in 2010, our basin roundtable has met hundreds of times spending thousands of hours to assure that Northwest Colorado is ready for the future.

The board of YWG RT is comprised of 32 positions representing a variety of water stakeholders and interests in Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties. Members are elected and/or appointed to their positions per the requirements of the statute and the roster is filled with people who have a passion for preserving the water in our region. Their officers are elected annually and must represent the Yampa and White river basins.

Currently, YWG RT is has two vacancies on its board and is seeking applicants to fill these at-large positions. An at-large position may represent environmental, agriculture, recreation, domestic water provider, industrial or community interests. The applicant must reside in the geographical area defined by the Yampa, White and Green river basins. It is not mandatory to own or represent water right holdings to be eligible to serve in this position. Applications for these positions must be submitted by Wednesday March 1 and will be reviewed at the Round Table meeting in Craig on March 9.

After years of analysis and base-line studies, development of the Basin Implementation Plan and collaboration with regional and state groups, the YWG RT is now ready to promote “on-the-ground” projects. They have grant funds available to assist with the cost of projects that focus on actions that can help Northwest Colorado meet immediate challenges or adapt to changing conditions that face our water supply and demand.

There are things to be done to preserve the quantity and quality of the waters we treasure. Don’t let the issues flood by. Become educated and take an active role in determining which way our water will flow.

The next Yampa-White-Green Round Table is Wednesday March 9 at the American Legion Shadow Mountain Clubhouse, 1055 County Road 7 in Craig starting at 6:15 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and attendance is encouraged.

For information about applying for a roundtable position or grant funding, contact Mary Brown, Round Table Chair at 970-361-0068 or marytaylorbrown@gmail.com

Marsha Daughenbaugh is the Executive Director of the Community Agriculture Alliance, Inc.