Poem and photos: “Water Fluency” — Greg Hobbs

Water Fluency

Get ready you flows from mountain snows!
Get ready you host of high mountain reservoirs,
who stores last year’s melt into the golden leaves
who releases life-giving flows to trout over-wintering,
beneath the ice you Poudre Wild and Scenic!

At your mouth, out into the high plains, a Heritage Corridor
forges the old Union Colony into the newer Greeley/Ft. Collins,
who bears the work of the farming and the laboring peoples
who lifts a White Pelican along a bikeway throughout her flyway,
into the gathering communities of we the young Centennial state!

Greg Hobbs

Peterson Reservoir, Tributary to the Poudre Wild and Scenic River,


Flows into Poudre River National Heritage Corridor


Along the fence at Greeley’s Centennial Village Island Grove Park


The Poudre a working and singing river


Of soaring White Pelican


Of an onion farmer preparing to drip-irrigate a greening field


Kristin, Colorado Foundation for Water Education, welcomes the 2016 Water Fluency Leadership Class to a lunchtime BBQ


Nicole convenes the group on the grounds of the 1870 Union Colony


Mayor Tom Norton addresses


Learning and centering


Seaman Reservoir, upstream on the North Fork,


Readies to receive and deliver fresh-melt waters of the Great Divide.

Greg Hobbs 3/5/2016

Deputy Secretary of the Interior talks water issues in the west at CSU

Photo via Business Blog
Photo via Business Blog

From the Rocky Mountain Collegian (Diego Felix):

“Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting” is a phrase that U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor despises.

Addressing a half-full Lory Student Center theatre, Connor, who has served the public sector as federal offical for over 20 years, outlined strategies to combat water management and sustainability issues in the American West as part of the inaugural Dr. Norm Edwards Endowed Lecture Series.

Co-sponsoring the event were the Colorado Water Institute, the CSU Water Center and part of CSU’s Office of Engagement.

As the keynote speaker for Wednesday evening, Connor prescribed collaboration as the primary antidote to water conservation issues in the next century.

“To keep pace with increasingly complex challenges, we at the federal level also need to govern more effectively in bringing parties together in developing innovative solutions that will stand the test of time,” Connor said. “Sharing authority—that’s the model we’ve been moving toward over time.”

Before securing his current position in 2014, Connor had operated as commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation since 2009 where he who was responsible for improving hydropower-generation facilities and fostering Indian water rights settlements.

In 2012, Connor, who has been called “the most important water manager in the western U.S.,” helped in modifying a 1944 Mexico-U.S. water relations treaty in response to ongoing climate changes, in which both nations agreed to share water surpluses and shortages from the Colorado River.

Connor’s hour-long speech was followed by a Q&A session with a panel of CSU faculty and grad students. Among those on the panel was Stephanie Kampf, associate professor of ecosystem science and sustainability.

“There are new approaches that government agencies are having to take to deal with modern challenges,” Kampf said. “Especially that collaborative approach across watersheds that involves different states and entities interacting with each other.”

Kampf said that Coloradans should be concerned about changes in snow pack and how urban sprawl across the front range will impact the region’s water usage.

Also on the panel was Kelsea Macilroy, a doctoral candidate in sociology studying agricultural water conservation in the Colorado River Basin.

“The future of the water in the west is about that willingness to collaborate,” Macilroy said. “Really, when we think about water in the west, it’s not a future of fighting but a future of working together and having those conversations.”

Connor said the public should keep an optimistic outlook in moving forward concerning the handling of water management issues.

“One cannot be pessimistic about the west,” Connor said, quoting from Wallace Stegner’s 1969 book, “Sound of Mountain Water.” “When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it…then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.”

#Drought news: #ColoradoRiver Basin not out of the woods yet despite #ElNiño

West Drought Monitor Match 8, 2016
West Drought Monitor Match 8, 2016

From the Boulder Weekly (Tommy Wood):

Colorado River below average despite strong El Nino

Water levels and rainfall for the Colorado River basin were below-average in January and February, and will remain so until at least July 2016, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The basin is at only 61 percent of its seasonal average. Likewise, inflow into Lake Powell and Lake Mead is also below the seasonal average. These numbers come as a disappointment after many experts predicted that this year’s El Nino, which is one of the strongest on record, would increase precipitation in the American Southwest and help alleviate the crippling drought there. El Nino is part of a cyclical fluctuation of temperatures in the south Pacific Ocean. It’s generally accompanied by an increase in rain and snowfall in the southwestern United States. Meteorologists called this year’s El Nino the “Godzilla El Nino” because of its size and its potential to quench droughts in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.

Instead, that precipitation has been largely missing, and the drought has only gotten worse in the Colorado River basin. The U.S. Department of the Interior reported that the water levels of Lake Mead, which is filled by the Colorado River and provides water to much of California, Arizona and Nevada, have dropped 121 feet since 2001.

Likewise, that same period has been the driest stretch for the Colorado River in at least the past 100 years.

March and April are traditionally snowy months in the region, so there’s a chance that this year’s El Nino could still offer some drought relief, but so far, the returns haven’t been promising.

4 Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin projects and the #COWaterPlan

From the Summit Daily News (Kevin Fixler):

Colorado unveiled a statewide water plan this past November to better prepare for an estimated doubling of its population by the year 2050, from about 5 million to an estimated 10.5 million. In the meantime, both intra- and interstate interests are presently at work attempting to gobble up every ounce of the Colorado River before it flows to the next.

Between four separate proposed diversion projects across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming — three states that make up the Upper Basin section of the Colorado River — about another 250,000 acre-feet of water would be pulled from these vital headwaters…

Specific to Colorado, those projects are the Moffat Collection System Project (A Denver Water enterprise that would remove 18,000 acre-feet), and the Windy Gap Firming Project (A Northern Water undertaking to obtain 30,000 acre-feet). And then Wyoming is in the initial stages of the Fontenelle Dam Re-engineering proposal, which would claim the largest amount of water at 123,000 acre-feet, and finally Utah’s Lake Powell Pipeline, which would require 86,000 acre-feet.

The idea is, basically, to stockpile water for each individual community before it can get downstream. The impediment standing in the way though — aside from their respective project approval processes, of course — is senior rights to the water source, as per the Colorado River Compact of 1922, from the states of the Lower Basin: California, Nevada and Arizona…


All of these advancing claims on the Colorado River, on top of another plan suggested by Wyoming concerning 10 new Green River reservoirs over the next 10 years, several others in Colorado, as well as a small diversion project in New Mexico, are fast tapping the source out. The state’s water plan, produced through the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), was designed in part to help offset such concerns. But even this program is already running into its own set of troubles.

The director of the CWCB, James Eklund, recently scheduled a stakeholders meeting to discuss permitting of water diversions and additional storage but did not invite any of the counties and other entities associated with these headwaters. After learning of the meeting after the fact, the counties of Summit, Pitkin, Grand and Eagle (and joined by Gunnison and Park counties) sent a letter to Eklund stating that holding such meetings without this group was improper.

“We expressed our extreme disappointment,” said Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier, “and this was not in the spirit of the letter of the Colorado Water Plan. “It was great frustration that right after this was passed, and we think we have good understand, and there have been so many hours and hours of meetings about how we should move forward and not leave local government out, and there was this meeting.”


A headwaters local government representative will now attend the next such meeting. The letter’s message was clear, said Stiegelmeier, who is also the vice chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable.

“You may figure out how to comply with the EPA and all of the different federal agencies,” she said, “but if you’re not looking at local authorities and regulations, then you may be spinning your wheels and missing the boat. If you don’t include the local governments, you’re basically wasting time, and then it puts us on the defensive.”


The water plan, which is not law but merely a consensus agreement, has now moved toward the next stages. No longer are the proposals to secure more water throughout the state, in particular for its most populous cities, a theory, but it’s transitioned to figuring out how to pay for all of it, with estimates coming it at $100 million a year.

Statewide tap fees and taxes are two funding sources currently be investigated by the CWCB. In the meantime, these other water diversion plans from within Colorado, in addition to those of neighboring states, move forward.

Decisions on the next steps for the two Colorado projects are due some time in 2016, while the Lake Powell Pipeline is on a federal fast-track plan and could be executed as early as the next two or so years. The Wyoming projects are still in the early phases of development.