Say hello to Colorado Communities for Climate Action

West Fork Fire June 20, 2013 photo the Pike Hot Shots Wildfire Today
West Fork Fire June 20, 2013 photo the Pike Hot Shots Wildfire Today

Here’s the release from Colorado Communities for Climate Action (Stephen Saunders):

Nine Colorado communities, from large to small and east to west, have banded together to push for more action to tackle climate change at the state and federal levels. Colorado Communities for Climate Action (CC4CA) is this state’s first consortium to represent municipalities and counties in advocating state and federal actions providing the authorities, tools, and policy frameworks that communities need to reduce heat-trapping emissions enough to meet local climate-protection goals and help stabilize our climate.

The nine local governments serving as the founding members of CC4CA are Boulder County, the City of Fort Collins, the City of Boulder, Eagle County, the City of Golden, Pitkin County, San Miguel County, the City of Aspen, and the Town of Vail. On the day of its launch, the coalition already represents one-ninth of all Coloradans. Other local governments are considering joining the coalition, and those numbers are expected to grow.

Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones said, “Colorado has so much at risk from extreme weather, drought, and wildfires that we need to do more at every level of government to protect our public health and safety, environment, and quality of life. This new coalition will unite the voices of counties, cities, and towns to bring about the policies and support we need from the state and federal government so we can take care of our local communities and local residents.”

Jackie Kozak Thiel, chief sustainability officer for the City of Fort Collins, said, “Fort Collins has some of the nation’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals in the country, and we will be more successful as a region with state and federal support. We can make a difference to build resiliency in our communities if we collaborate to align action and policies, as well as share best practices with other jurisdictions and learn from each other.”

Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones said, ““The best way for local governments to achieve change at the state and federal levels is to work collectively to promote a shared policy agenda. supported by many communities. This type of collaboration provides much greater influence than any of our individual governments would have on our own.”

Eagle County Commissioner and board chair Jeanne McQueeney said, “At the local level, we need a better, more effective framework of state and federal climate policies that support our efforts. Our local climate actions should be part of a coordinated, overall approach to climate change.”

CC4CA is guided by a steering committee comprised of representatives of member local governments and administered by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, a nonprofit group with 12 years of experience working with Colorado local governments on climate change policy. The coalition has retained Frontline Public Affairs to represent it before the General Assembly and other state and federal offices, and is reviewing proposals from law firms to represent it before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

The coalition’s website is

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Colorado leaders from Fort Collins, Boulder, Vail, Golden, Aspen and four counties feeling impacts of climate change formed a political bloc this week to prod state and federal governments to act more aggressively to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The locals demand swifter implementation of a national Clean Power Plan, better public transit, denser housing that discourages driving, cleaner sources of electricity, tougher vehicle miles-per-gallon standards and bigger paybacks for residents who switch to electric vehicles.

“Colorado has so much at risk from extreme weather, drought and wildfires that we need to do more at every level of government to protect our public health and safety, environment and quality of life,” Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones said.

The launch of Colorado Communities for Climate Action (CC4CA) reflects rising local concerns about the greenhouse gases that scientists link to global warming. Colorado has faced increasingly ruinous wildfires, floods, forest die-offs, heat waves and water supply challenges as snowfall shifts to rain.

Particularly in snow-dependent resorts, elected officials say they’re hearing more from residents bracing for economic consequences.

“We’re really worried about the effects of warming on the ski industry. We think this is going to change the ski industry for the worse,” said Pitkin County Commissioner Steve Child, a CC4CA steering committee member. “We need to address climate change any way we can.”

The nine bloc members hired a lobbying firm to pressure state lawmakers and engage state agencies. They plan to hire a lawyer to represent local interests before the Public Utilities Commission, which decides matters such as how much homeowners can benefit by installing solar panels.

More cities will join, said Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, a nonprofit supporting the bloc. CC4CA members aim to communicate more with the governor to ensure an aggressive state policy, Saunders said.

Decision-making is based on consensus, and members are planning a retreat to hash out a strategy. While climate change results from global processes, members said, locals feel the impact and may be most able to slow climate change.

“The real levers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are at the local level. We do the land use, the transportation,” said Jackie Kozak Thiel, chief sustainability officer for Fort Collins.

Global warming kills a third of Great Barrier Reef’s corals


Summit County Citizens Voice

Similar mortality expected in other tropical oceans

Dead and dying staghorn co ral , central Great Barrier Reef in May 2016. Credit: Johanna  Leonhardt Dead and dying staghorn coral, central Great Barrier Reef in May 2016. Photo by Johanna Leonhardt.

Great Barrier Reef mortality map Map of mortality estimates on coral reefs along 1100km of the Great Barrier Reef. Map courtesy ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

Staff Report

For years, scientists have warned that global warming threatens to decimate the world’s coral reefs within our lifetimes and this week, the dire warnings played out in Australia, where new surveys showed that more than a third of the corals along the Great Barrier Reef died in the past few months after an extensive coral bleaching episode.

“We found, on average, that 35 percent of the corals are now dead or dying on 84 reefs that we surveyed along the northern and central sections of the Great Barrier Reef, between Townsville and Papua New Guinea,” said Professor…

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CWCB: May 2016 Drought Update

From the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Tracy Kosloff):

Cooler than average temperatures & wet conditions across most of Colorado has eliminated most D0, abnormally dry, conditions since late April. Only 3.8% of the state is currently experiencing D0 conditions. Recent storms improved snowpack in the central mountains and have brought much needed moisture to the Southwest basins. The forecast over the next two weeks shows continued cool temperatures and more chances for precipitation. The long term CPC forecast predicts a wet and cool first half of the summer changing to warm and dry conditions going into the fall.

  • Statewide water year to-date precipitation as reported from NRCS is at 137% of average as of May 25, with the west slope benefiting from late April & May storms receiving up to 4 inches in certain areas.
  • Reservoir storage statewide remains above normal at 112%. The Arkansas basin has the highest storage levels in the state at 118% of average; the Upper Rio Grande has the lowest storage levels at 91%, just slightly below normal although the basin has been steadily improving since 2013.
  • The Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) as of May 25th is near or above average across the majority of the state. At this time of year the index reflects reservoir storage and streamflow forecasts. May storms have helped increase SWSI values in the Southwest & Rio Grande basins.
  • May 1st streamflow forecasts are near normal to above normal in the northern half of the state and mostly below average in the southern half of the state. Due to May storms that have benefited the Southwest basin, the June 1 streamflow forecast should see more improvement.
  • Agricultural producers are experiencing a decent year so far benefiting from lower temperatures and higher humidity from statewide storms. Corn & bean planting is slightly below average at this time of year.
  • Upper Colorado River Basin May 2015 precipitation as a percent of normal
    Upper Colorado River Basin May 2015 precipitation as a percent of normal

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    …a year after “Miracle May,” the Arkansas Valley has left Cloud 9, and again will settle for a Cloud 5 or 6 and hopefully not plunge to earth again. Rainfall and snowpack are looking good this year, both still above average. More waves of rain or snow keep arriving every other week or so.

    But over the long term, the basin still is catching up when it comes to water storage. A graph, presented by the Natural Resources Conservation Service at April’s state drought task force meeting, shows that overall storage poked its nose above average along the Arkansas River only twice in 15 years. Two multi-year droughts and a decline in usable storage space were to blame.

    Spoiled in the ’90s

    The wet years from 1995-99 created the largest surplus of stored water yet observed in the Arkansas River basin. At times, there more than 600,000 acre-feet — enough to supply Pueblo’s basic needs for 20 years — in storage.

    The decade was a great time for optimism all along the Arkansas River.

    In the upper reaches a new state recreation area was getting off the ground and the rafting industry, bolstered by a voluntary agreement to keep water in the river during early summer, was growing.

    Kiowa County pushed hard to create a state park around the Great Plains reservoirs that are usually empty.

    The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District was drawing up plans to study where to put even more water, after the state fended off challenges by Kansas over increased storage in Lake Pueblo and Trinidad Lake.

    The Bureau of Reclamation bolstered Pueblo Dam, for safety reasons and for the possibility of enlarging the storage space behind it. There was so much water that some of it was released intentionally in order to fortify the concrete center portion of the dam.

    Crash of 2000s

    But Mother Nature turned off the spigot in 2000, acting much like a homeowner who decides to just let the lawn die. There was a swing of 1 million acre-feet, from 750,000 acre-feet above average to 250,000 acre-feet below in just three years. On top of that, in 2005, the U.S. Geological Survey determined there was also a soil moisture deficit of 1 million acre-feet over the same time span.

    The tone of water discussions changed dramatically, beginning in 2002.

    Those arguing for increased storage said building more storage would ease the pain and allow water users to survive the swings in drought. Colorado Springs, Aurora and Pueblo put in water restrictions in 2002. Aurora, which fought for and won storage space as an outsider, made its restrictions permanent and built its Prairie Waters system to reuse its water from other basins.

    But others weren’t sure the increased storage would just take more water from agriculture to fuel urban growth.

    Voters in five counties formed the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District for the purpose of preventing the cities from grabbing even more water, as Aurora was doing by buying up most of the remaining shares of the Rocky Ford Ditch it had left behind in the 1980s.

    The sense of urgency diminished, PSOP led to a battle royale between, at times, 11 entities that ended in a draw in 2007.

    Water planners faced the prospect of a refill of reservoirs that would take years, and dove into a statewide discussion, through basin roundtables and the Interbasin Compact Committee, about how to conserve, share and build Colorado out of a drought.

    Other factors

    At the same time, the Arkansas River basin continued to lose storage.

    Some reservoirs have been put under restrictions for dam safety reasons and are expensive and difficult to renovate. Colorado Parks and Recreation is renovating Two Buttes Reservoir south of Lamar, while a private developer has a plan to rebuild Cucharas Reservoir southeast of Pueblo.

    Others have been restricted for insufficient water rights, such as Lance Verhoeff’s small reservoirs that serve as bird and wildlife preserves on private land near McClave. Finding water to store in the reservoirs has been problematic. In Pueblo, Lake Minnequa was made into a city park, but required intervention by Pueblo Water and the Lower Ark district to retain water during dry years.

    Finally, all reservoirs eventually lose capacity because of silt. Capacity at Lake Pueblo, for instance was downgraded last year after a study showed where sediment has filled areas on the lake bed.

    New dams?

    Yet, there is the possibility that more dams could be built in the future.

    Several projects are already on the drawing board. They are expensive, however, and take years of planning.

    Excavation already is already underway at Stonewall Springs east of Pueblo, a site that could be used for recovery storage by cities, wildlife or downstream supply.

    The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District is looking at the possibility of a flood control dam on Fountain Creek. It’s not envisioned as a primary storage project, but some models have incorporated storage.

    Colorado Springs Utilities has plans for two dams on Williams Creek, a tributary of Fountain Creek located south of the city, one for terminal storage for Southern Delivery System and the other to regulate return flows.

    Pueblo Water has plans to more than double the size of Clear Creek Reservoir, south of Leadville.

    Just one hurdle to overcome: Where to find the water to fill them?

    Fort Collins: Area’s First Regional Water Collaboration Workshop, May 31


    Here’s the release from the City of Fort Collins:

    The City of Fort Collins is hosting a regional water collaboration workshop for water providers serving the City’s Growth Management Area (GMA), including Fort Collins Utilities, East Larimer County Water District (ELCO) and Fort Collins-Loveland Water District (FCLWD), Tuesday, May 31, 4-8 p.m., Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins.

    This workshop is focused on recognizing opportunities and discussion will identify needs over the next 20 to 50 years that can be cooperatively addressed. Plans show Fort Collins is expected to grow to approximately 250,000 people in that timeframe, offering a compelling reason to address water needs of the entire area.

    The City anticipates approximately 25 attendees, including Fort Collins City Council, professional staff from Fort Collins Utilities, and board members and professional staff from ELCO and FCLWD. This is a public listening session.

    Meeting attendees may submit comments at until June 14, or via a written form at the workshop.

    Note: Because members of City Council may attend this event, it is being regarded as a meeting of the City Council and is open to the public. While no formal action by Council will be taken, the discussion of public business may occur.

    For more information, contact Water Resources and Treatment Operations Manager Carol Webb at or 970-221-6231 or V/TDD 711.

    Video: You Can Make a Difference — @NOAA #ClimateChange

    Screenshot from the video "You Can Make a Difference" from the Utah Education Network.
    Screenshot from the video “You Can Make a Difference” from the Utah Education Network.

    “It’s never a bad idea to think about what your daily impact has on the planet.”

    Click here to watch the video.

    From the website:

    You Can Make a Difference!

    Rapid Climate Change affects the whole planet. But you might be surprised to know that one person, meaning you, can make a big difference.

    This video was funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and was produced in collaboration with KUEN TV in Salt Lake City.

    #Runoff news — West Salt Creek Slide: Pond breach gashes slide — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

    Grand Mesa mudslide before and after via The Denver Post
    Grand Mesa mudslide before and after via The Denver Post

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

    Authorities remained on alert after about a third of the water in the pond at the top of the West Salt Creek landslide burst out early Friday morning, ripping a deep gorge down the middle of the 3-mile-long slide.

    About 120 acre-feet of water rushed out of the pond about 2:30 a.m. after a snowstorm brewed up suddenly, according to authorities who sent out a plane at first light to survey the pond and assess any damages…

    The pulse of water from the so-called “sag pond” ran down West Salt Creek toward Plateau Creek and then into the Colorado River several days at least before Vega Reservoir was expected to top into its spillway into Plateau Creek, authorities said.

    No shifting of the slide block accompanied the sudden rush of water, alleviating fears that a water release might trigger another landslide.

    “This is what we were hoping for, in all honesty,” said Pete Baier, Mesa County’s deputy administrator for operations…

    Rather than flow over the dam and then cut downward, it appears that the water found a pathway out of the pond well below the top, said Garrett Jackson, a dam-safety engineer for the state Division of Water Resources.

    As the water escaped, it undercut the top of the block, collapsing it and sweeping it downstream in the sudden surge.

    Photos of the rushing stream show it white as it falls steeply, only turning turbid as it slows.

    That shows, “It’s not a new landslide,” Jackson said.

    From the Summit Daily News:

    Tenmile Creek is the polar opposite of Water World.

    Down on Pecos Street in Denver, the largest water park in Colorado is gearing up for the summer season with water slides, wave pools and everything else you’d expect at a manmade water playground. There are dangers to be sure, but everything at Water World is overseen by well-trained lifeguards and managed by tons upon tons of machinery, all designed to keep guests as safe as possible. All you need is sunscreen and a decent breaststroke.

    In Summit County, the early-summer scene is entirely different. On Tenmile Creek — the waterway found just outside of Frisco on the shoulder of Interstate 70 — whitewater rafting seems just as enticing as Cowabunga Beach and Turtle Bay in suburban Denver. The river is flowing at 247 cubic feet per second, which is relatively low compared to the May 27 average of 407 cfs. In other words, Tenmile is lower and friendlier than usual, at least on paper, and experienced kayakers are anxious for the true start of a stellar whitewater season.

    Pharmaceutical pollution widespread in Southeast U.S. streams

    Summit County Citizens Voice

    Many streams are at risk from pharmaceutical pollution

    Arc of the river. Pharmaceutical pollution from discarded medication and other sources have been found in streams all over the U.S. @bberwyn photo.

    Staff Report

    Traces of pain-relieving substances, diabetes drugs and allergy medicines are widespread in small streams across the Southeast, especially in urban zones like Raleigh, North Carolina, the U.S. Geological Survey found in a new study.

    The USGS in 2014 sampled 59 small streams in portions of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia for 108 different pharmaceutical compounds and detected one or more pharmaceuticals in all 59 streams. The average number of pharmaceuticals detected in the streams was six.

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