@HighLineCanalConservancy announces community open house series in #Denver metro region

Highline Canal Denver via MetroMix
Highline Canal Denver via MetroMix

Here’s the release from the High Line Canal Conservancy:

The High Line Canal Conservancy, which is dedicated to preserving the recreational and environmental future of the High Line Canal, announced the dates and locations in Denver and Aurora for “Chapter Two: A Fork in the Road,” a series of community open houses dedicated to shaping the future of the High Line Canal. The goal of the open houses is to develop a shared vision for what the Canal could become. We have come to a fork in the road: what are the risks for the Canal’s current trajectory? What can be done to better preserve, protect, and enhance the Canal’s future?

“We believe the future of the Canal should be shaped by the 11 distinct communities through which it travels,” said Harriet Crittenden LaMair, executive director of the High Line Canal Conservancy. “We developed these open houses so that anyone can drop in at any point during the scheduled time frame to share ideas and better understand the current issues facing the Canal.”

The High Line Canal Conservancy team will share feedback based on what they’ve heard so far and will be looking for feedback on potential ideas to preserve, protect and enhance the Canal. Friends and neighbors are welcome!

The dates and locations of the interactive open houses are:

  • Wednesday, July 20, from 11am-1:30 p.m. at the Expo Recreation Center
    10955 E. Exposition Ave., Aurora CO 80012
  • Wednesday, July 20, from 4-8 p.m. at Eloise May Library
    1471 S. Parker Rd., Denver CO 80231
  • Thursday, July 21, from 4-8 p.m. at Eisenhower Recreation Center
    4300 E. Dartmouth Ave., Denver CO 80222

All three sessions will be identical, so guests are invited to attend the event most convenient to them and stop by for as long as they would like.

Here’s how to stay updated on High Line Canal project updates:

Help us spread the word: Please invite your friends and neighbors to participate too!


The High Line Canal Conservancy was formed in 2014 by a passionate coalition of private citizens to provide leadership and harness the region’s commitment to protecting the future of the High Line Canal. With support from each jurisdiction and in partnership with Denver Water, the Conservancy is connecting stakeholders in support of comprehensive planning to ensure that the Canal is protected and enhanced for future generations. For more information, please visit http://www.highlinecanal.org.

The July 8 Western Climate briefing is hot off the presses


Click here to view the briefing (scroll down):

Latest Monthly Briefing – July 8, 2016 (Micro-Briefing)


  • June was a very hot Western US Seasonal Precipitation and very dry Western US Seasonal Precipitation month for the region, with much of the region seeing less than 50% of normal precipitation, and above-normal precipitation only in scattered areas. It was the hottest June on record for Utah, the 2nd hottest for Wyoming, and the 3rd hottest for Colorado.
  • The dry June did not greatly impact the spring snowmelt and runoff, which was already well underway. As forecasted, below-average runoff has predominated at Utah forecast points, with near-average to above-average runoff in Colorado and Wyoming. April-July Lake Powell inflows are on track to exceed the official forecasts, at around 6750 KAF (95% of average).
  • The vast majority of reservoirs in Colorado and Wyoming have above-average storage for this time of year, with most major reservoirs near capacity or spilling. Utah’s reservoirs are split between below- and above-average storage.
  • The 2015-2016 El Niño event has finally ended, and ENSO-neutral conditions are now present . ENSO forecasts ENSO Prediction Plume indicate a roughly 75% chance of La Niña conditions during the coming fall and winter. Both the CPC outlook 3-mo precip forecast, 0.5-mo lead and the experimental SWcast outlook SWcast show little or no tilt for July–September precipitation for our region
  • .

    #AnimasRiver: No fish die-off from #GoldKingMine spill

    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 CBS Denver:

    On Friday the EPA mobilized contractors to stabilize the mine and the waste pile…

    Wildlife officials shared some good news, saying their testing shows the fish survived with no evidence of die-offs. But the problems are far from over…

    The spill drew attention to the thousands of abandoned mines throughout the West that may also pollute rivers.

    And on Friday EPA crews returned to the mine to start work stabilizing the entrance. Here’s a report from Dan Elliott writing for the Associated Press. Here’s an excerpt:

    Construction crews will return this weekend to the scene of a massive mine-waste spill in southwestern Colorado to stabilize the mine opening with steel and concrete, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.

    The EPA said the work is designed to keep rock and dirt from collapsing at the entrance to the Gold King Mine and to make sure it’s safe to enter during future cleanup efforts. The stabilization work will last through October…

    In an email to The Associated Press, the EPA said it is very unlikely the work being done at the mine this year would trigger another spill. “The EPA has taken precautions to prevent any unanticipated discharges,” the agency said.

    The contractor hired to do this summer’s work, Environmental Restoration LLC, was also on the scene at the time of the August blowout. But the EPA and outside investigators have said it was government officials, not the contractor, who made the decision to begin the work that led to the spill.

    The EPA pledged to alert downstream communities if anything goes wrong this summer, using a notification plan put in place after the August blowout. The agency was widely criticized for not alerting all the tribal, state and local governments affected by the spill.

    Wastewater is still running from the mine, and if the rate increases during this summer’s work, a temporary treatment plant installed last fall can handle a higher flow, the EPA said.

    The $1.8 million plant went into operation in October. Officials said at the time it could handle 800 gallons per minute, while wastewater was flowing from the mine at about 560 gallons per minute.

    The plant is scheduled to run through November of this year. Colorado lawmakers have urged the EPA to keep it operating, and the agency said Friday it is looking into that.

    Monument water leak located — KKTV.com


    From KKTV.com:

    Crews hired by the Triview Metropolitan District Water Board found a major leak on Saturday that they believe is the cause of more than 50 million gallons of missing water.

    The leak was in a pipe in an older part of the Triview system, near Bear Creek Elementary School in Monument. Coincidentally water board officials had held a public meeting at the school just a couple of hours before the leak was discovered to talk with water customers about the missing water, and what they were doing to solve the problem.

    The board first started noticing a problem back in June when their water usage jumped drastically, averaging around 2 million gallons of water per day, more than the 1.8 million gallons their wells could handle…

    In all the water board estimates more than 50 million gallons of water were lost in the month of June.

    The part of the system with the leak has been shut off, and is expected to be repaired within the next few days. The shut off should not affect residential water customers, it mainly services parks.

    The water board vice president Mark Melville tells 11 News they expect to remove the current watering ban on Monday, and customers would be able to go back to watering their lawns up to three days per week.

    Melville said he was extremely excited when he was told the leak had been found.

    Mark Melville/Triview Metropolitan District Water Board President: “It was a tremendous relief because our residents are counting on us to provide them with all these resources. When you’re out you realize how key water is and I felt personally like we were letting them down.”

    There is no word yet on how the millions of gallons of lost water and the cost to find and repair it will affect water customers’ bills, but possible rate increases will be discussed at the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, July 12th.

    #ColoradoRiver: “..in the Colorado Constitution, the Continental Divide doesn’t exist” — Jim Pokrandt

    Denver Water's collection system via the USACE EIS
    Denver Water’s collection system via the USACE EIS

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

    A proposal to divert Colorado River water to Denver recently has won the endorsement of Gov. John Hickenlooper and the approval of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

    But Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir expansion project may be just as notable for its general lack of opposition west of the Continental Divide. That’s thanks to a wide-ranging agreement, effective in 2013, in which Denver Water obtained concessions including a promise that numerous Western Slope parties to the agreement wouldn’t oppose the expansion project. In return, Denver Water made a number of commitments to the Western Slope.

    Now Western Slope interests are working on a similar agreement with Northern Water and others on what’s called the Windy Gap Firming Project, which would store Colorado River water in a proposed Boulder County reservoir.

    These approaches represent a far cry from how the Western Slope used to respond to transmountain diversion proposals.

    “This is the new paradigm. It’s not the old school. In the old school it was like … we’ll see you in court,” said Jim Pokrandt of the Colorado River District, a party to the 2013 Denver Water deal.

    For Denver Water, what’s called the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement provided greater certainty for its customers through means such as resolving longtime disputes regarding West Slope water. For the Western Slope, the deal meant dozens of obligations by Denver Water, such as millions of dollars in monetary payments to various entities, protections of Colorado River flows and water quality, a commitment to further water conservation and reuse efforts by Denver Water customers, and a provision aimed at helping assure maintenance of historic flows in the Colorado River even when the Shoshone Power Plant in Glenwood Canyon is not operating. That hydroelectric plant has a senior right helping control flows in the river.

    Another key point in that deal is a promise that Denver Water and its customers won’t try to further develop Colorado River water without agreement from the river district and affected counties.

    The cooperative agreement has 18 signatories but more than 40 partners, primarily West Slope governments, water conservation and irrigation districts, and utilities. Among them are the Ute Water Conservancy District and multiple irrigation districts in Mesa County.

    Pokrandt said the 2013 deal is a win-win for both sides of the Continental Divide.

    “That said, yes, more water would be moving east” if the Gross Reservoir project proceeds, he said.

    The project, also sometimes called the Moffat Collection System Project, would nearly triple the capacity of the Boulder County reservoir. Denver Water is targeting water in the Fraser River, a tributary of the Colorado.

    “Right now there are some periods of time when Gross Reservoir is full at its current size and their water rights are in priority but they can’t take any more water,” Pokrandt said.

    The project has an estimated cost of $380 million, and Denver Water hopes to obtain the remaining major permits by the end of next year. CDPHE in June certified that the project complied with state water quality standards, and Hickenlooper endorsed it last week.

    “The state’s responsibility is to ensure we do the right thing for Colorado’s future, and this project is vital infrastructure for our economy and the environment,” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “The partnerships and collaboration between Denver Water, the West Slope and conservation organizations associated with this project are just what the Colorado Water Plan is all about.”

    That recently adopted plan in some respects took its lead from the Denver Water/Western Slope deal in seeking to address the state’s future water needs in a cooperative rather than confrontational manner statewide.

    Pokrandt conceded that not everyone loves the Gross Reservoir proposal…

    Trout Unlimited takes a more positive view of the Gross Reservoir project, pointing to its inclusion of a “Learning by Doing” program requiring monitoring of the health of the Fraser River and adjusting operations as needed. The Gross Reservoir proposal envisions drawing water from the Western Slope in wetter years and seasons, but providing the Colorado River watershed with extra water during low flow periods and investing in restoration projects.

    “Moreover, Denver Water has entered into partnerships on the Front Range to ensure that the project alleviates chronic low-flow problems in South Boulder Creek. Both sides of the Divide benefit,” David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited, said in a news release…

    Denver Water Chief Executive Officer Jim Lochhead said in a news release, “The Denver metropolitan area is tied to the economic and environmental health of the rest of the state, and Denver Water is committed to undertake this project in a way that enhances Colorado’s values.”

    Pokrandt said Western Slope water interests face the reality that under the state Constitution the right to appropriate water shall not be denied if the water can be put to beneficial use and a party can obtain the necessary financing and permitting.

    “There’s not a legal stance to say no, so that’s why the river district was even formed in 1937, was to negotiate these things, because no is not an answer in the legal arena because of the Colorado Constitution,” he said.

    When it comes to water rights, Pokrandt said, “in the Colorado Constitution, the Continental Divide doesn’t exist.”

    #COWaterPlan: Pueblo area lawmakers weigh in

    Photo via the Colorado Independent
    Photo via the Colorado Independent

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    Colorado’s Water Plan was ordered by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2013, and completed last year by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

    It built on 10 years of efforts by nine basin roundtables and the Interbasin Compact Committee, a 26-member panel representing diverse political and geographic areas across the state.

    One hiccup in the plan came in 2014, when some members of the state Legislature demanded a more active role, perhaps ignoring that the engine driving the train was conceived and constructed by lawmakers in 2005. In the end, most lawmakers have concrete ideas on how to move the plan ahead in years to come in a cooperative way.

    In the final plan, the emphasis is on both state and local responses to water needs, it calls for new revenue — $3 billion by 2050 — which will certainly require cooperation from the Legislature. Sprinkled throughout the plan are recommended regulatory changes as well, all of concern to lawmakers.

    The Pueblo Chieftain, working with the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, reached out to state lawmakers from the Pueblo area to get their ideas on how the water plan will be implemented. Responding were Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo; Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa; Rep. Clarice Navarro, RPueblo; and Rep. Daneya Esgar, DPueblo.

    How do we fill the gap in the Arkansas River Basin within the Colorado Water Plan and Basin Implementation Plan?


    “It depends on the basin, because each one is different.

    “As I talk to my colleagues, everyone has a unique perspective in the state Legislature. I think there’s a lot to be celebrated. The state has put forward a good plan, but it’s a challenge because each basin is different.”


    “With a projected population of 10 million people in 2050, Colorado’s Water Plan attempts to study and prepare for the future. Since agriculture uses 86 percent of the state’s water, the pressure for transfer will increase. A 560,000 acre-foot shortage is predicted by 2030 for municipal and industrial uses. Conservation, storage, transfers, and other issues are an ongoing discussion.

    Recreation in this state is estimated at $7 billion-8 billion per year on nonconsumptive use of our water. . . .

    “There are issues in which need continuing monitoring such as, in 2013 alone, more than 13,500 acre-feet of water was lost in Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs due to faulty infrastructure. Broken water mains, leakage, malfunctioning meters and waste caused nearly 4 billion gallons of water to be lost before it ever reached these cities’ 2.1 million residents. . . .

    Therefore, it is my strong belief that upgrading the metro areas’ antique water delivery systems is the better way to ensure urban residents have an adequate water supply.”


    “The water plan talks about three main objectives which will all help meet the gap between our current water supply and our projected need. Efficiency is one of those components and we, indeed, need to get better at efficiency.

    Conservation is another component which would help. Everyone needs to be aware of how to better use their water.

    “For example, when people are watering their yards or businesses we shouldn’t see water running down pavement.

    The third component is storage. We can become more efficient, and we can conserve, but if we have no place to keep that water for future needs, we have done it all in vain. Although new storage is an option, so is expanding existing storage and we should not forget about underground storage. All three are key to meet our future water needs.”


    “I’m not sure that we will ever ‘fill’ the gap in the Arkansas River Basin. The water in the basin is already spoken for and appropriated, and the population of Colorado just continues to climb. I’m not convinced that we will ever be able to fill the supply of water that we need to sustain this growing population, so we must find ways to keep the water we do have, and to keep the gap from spreading even more.

    “We need to be creative and diligent when it comes to the Arkansas River Basin. We need to be able to find innovative ways to conserve, store and repurpose the water we do have in our basin.

    “One of the ways I’ve heard to accomplish this goal is to really look at responsible storage and flow for the entire area.

    Agriculture depends on the water for farms and livestock, consumers depend on the water for their gardens and lawns, and our economy and Colorado lifestyles depend on the water for recreation throughout the entire Arkansas River Basin.”

    What projects do you plan to fill the gap?


    “Every approach will depend on the basin, and I don’t have any specific projects in mind. It will take a robust conversation.

    In general, I would say we need to look at fixing the gap when it’s smaller, because that’s easier than watching it grow.

    “I was talking to someone about the evaporative losses in Lake Pueblo. I’m a big fan of the reservoir and it’s no secret I use it to go fishing and boating with my boys and wife.

    Lake Pueblo is a unique community gem that’s a destination for the entire state of Colorado.

    “People take for granted the valuable resource we have and we need to be prepared so we don’t lose it to other uses. I think increasing storage could be a huge economic benefit.”


    “It may easier to expand existing storage capabilities than creating new storage, and this is being looked at under the plan. I would like to see how the mitigation of Fountain Creek by Colorado Springs is going to prevent the devastation to the Arkansas River.

    “Transferring water out of the basin is certainly not in the area’s best interest. A continuation of funding in water conservation districts is imperative under the circumstances.


    “There are a number of opportunities for efficiency and conservation projects that can, and should be used by residents as well as businesses. Those would not only help with the water shortages, but it would also save money.

    Many people are already realizing the benefits of xeriscaping and droughtresistant lawns, and as others see the results, the trend will be to do the same.

    “When it comes to projects regarding storage, there are a number of small projects that have been talked about for years. Our basin roundtable is already talking about which options may be best to try and move forward on, and as to how to incentivize efficiencies and conservation. They are the experts and I will listen to them on how to best prioritize our water gap.


    “As a state representative, I plan to work closely with the experts on water in Colorado, farmers, ranchers, and the conservation community to find the right projects to help stop the gap from getting bigger for the Arkansas River Basin. We have to have honest conversations and collaboration to keep the water in our basin.”

    How do we keep the gaps for agriculture and municipalities from becoming bigger?


    “Agriculture has a big target on its back, and I don’t think people appreciate the benefit it has to downstream users. We need a regional approach that involves the entire basin.


    “Snowpack is always the predominate issue. “1. Municipalities need to make sure that their replacement decrees are in place to adequately serve their purposes. Inhouse water will always be available, but domestic use may not “2. Technology and advanced water practices for consumptive use should be studied and implemented.

    “3. The conduit should be promoted for better quality water needs and conservation.

    “4. The number one water right should be protected and that is the interstate compact.

    “5. The prior appropriation rule of law for Colorado users should be adhered to.

    “6. Updating canal by-laws is a very useful tool in protecting water transfers.”


    “The water plan outlined those problems and those three main ideas are important for both agriculture and municipalities. Water storage needs to be that leveling factor to help us keep the water that we are entitled to use. When the river runs high, we need to keep that water so that we can use it when the river is limited.

    It makes absolutely no sense to send extra water to Kansas when we have needs here.

    “While agriculture has led the charge in becoming more efficient, they will need to find ways to produce more with less.

    Incidentally, agriculture has done that very well over the last century.

    Municipalities have also done a good job at creating incentives and finding ways to be more efficient. However, both will need to do even more in the future to meet the growing demands.”


    ”We need to depend on science to help us better use water that is allocated to Colorado’s important agricultural needs. As water shortages across America continue, there will be new and innovative ways to water crops and livestock. Colorado needs to be sure that we really look and see if these new methods could work here.

    “When it comes to municipalities, we need to do a better job of educating consumers when it comes to conservation.

    Folks didn’t completely understand why the rain barrel bill was so important to me. The simple tool of a 55-gallon barrel that collects rain that would have ran directly to the gutter, helps people understand how much water they may actually be consuming. Also, we need to be innovative when it comes to landscaping. I know that Coloradoans love their lawns, I do, too, but we have to have real conversations about more water-conscious ways to landscape our beautiful neighborhoods.”