#ColoradoRiver District Annual Seminar, September 16 #COriver

Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam

Click here to register. From the website:

The Colorado River District’s popular one-day Annual Water Seminar is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main Street, Grand Junction, CO
Theme: “Colorado River Waves of the Future: Fitting the West to the River’s New Normal”

Cost, which includes lunch buffet, is $30 if pre-registered by Friday, Sept. 9; $40 at the door. For information, contact Meredith Spyker. at 970-945-8522

Registration Form

Speakers will address the Lower Basin living within its water means and dealing with its “structural deficit,” how the Upper Basin is planning to deal with low levels at Lake Powell, sorting through the confusing programs addressing ag fallowing, a discussion of Use It or Lose It myths and a panel addressing what comes next after the Colorado Water Plan, especially with declining financial resources – plus more.

Draft agenda:

  • Temperatures Matter: Jeff Lukas, Western Water Assessment
  • How the Lower Basin is Attacking the Structural Deficit: Suzanne Ticknor, Central Arizona Project
  • How the Upper Basin is Attacking Low Water Levels at Lake Powell: Eric Kuhn, Colorado River District
  • Sorting through the Demand Management Weapons: Water Banking/System Conservation – who’s doing what: Dave Kanzer, Colorado River District
  • Lunch Program – “Killing the Colorado” author Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica
  • Use It or Lose It – Separating Truth, Myth and Reality: Justice Greg Hobbs
  • Colorado’s Water Plan – What Now? Panel Discussion with Colorado Water Conservation Board’s James Eklund; Colorado State Representative Don Coram and Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment’s Anne Castle
  • Eric Kuhn along the banks of the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, general manager of the Colorado River District. Photo via the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
    Eric Kuhn along the banks of the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, general manager of the Colorado River District. Photo via the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

    Book Day: Water is For Fighting Over, and Other Myths… — John Fleck


    From InkStain (John Fleck):

    My friends in the University of New Mexico water community, faculty and students, threw a party for me last night to welcome me as the new director of UNM’s Water Resources Program and celebrate Book Day Eve. A bunch of Albuquerque water people came too. It was a blast, nobody got drunk and trashed the place, and I signed a bunch of books.

    It was great to share with the people who have surrounded and supported me these years as I toiled on something that would otherwise have been lonely.

    I wish y’all, my Inkstain readers, could have been there too, because the conversation here has been a big part of what made the book popular. Readers of Water is for Fighting Over: and Other Myths about Water in the West will find much that is familiar. This has been my sketchbook, where I worked out the ideas that ultimately became the book, and I thank you all especially for also making it a less lonely endeavor.

    With the official publication date today, I’m now asking for help to get the word out.

    If you’d like to buy a copy from Island Press, use the code 4FLECK, which is good for a 20% discount. You can also get it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local independent bookseller. And this month only, you can get the e-book for just $3.99.

    I hope you will consider sharing the book with your own networks. You can help in a few ways:

  • Forward this message to your own contacts or share the news on your social media networks. Feel free to include the discount code, 4FLECK.
  • If you’d like to review it for a publication or website, you can request a review copy from press@islandpress.org.
  • If you’d like to use it in a class, you can request an exam copy here.
  • Encourage your organization to ask info@islandpress.org for details about a discounted bulk purchase.
  • Review the book on Amazon, Goodreads, or another review site.
  • Here’s an interview with John Fleck from Brad Plumer writing for Vox. Here’s an excerpt:

    For a journalist, few things make better headlines than a good resource crisis. Which is why reporters writing about water issues in the American West are often attracted to the prospect of apocalypse — that the region is going to run out of water someday.

    With California facing the worst drought in the historical record and Lake Mead dropping to its lowest level ever, there are plenty of worries that the region’s vast agricultural regions will one day wither and cities will run dry. The West’s water woes can even seem like karmic retribution. In the 20th century, humans brazenly built vast dams and reservoirs in this dry region to sustain irrigation districts and golf courses and fountains in Las Vegas. Now Mother Nature is showing us the folly of our ways.

    It’s a sexy story. But it’s not always an entirely accurate story. As longtime water reporter John Fleck argues in his thought-provoking new book, Water Is for Fighting Over, the constant doom and gloom about water in the West misses something extremely important that’s been going on in recent years. Even in the face of scarce water and apocalyptic fears, communities have managed to adapt and thrive in surprising ways.

    Yes, the West faces daunting water problems, particularly as climate change starts to shrivel up the crucial Colorado River, which supplies water to seven states from Colorado to California. But there’s also a case for optimism. Farmers and cities in the West have shown an impressive ability to adapt and even cooperate across state lines to overcome water scarcity.

    Those stories aren’t sexy. They don’t always get headlines. But learning from those successes is crucial if places like Phoenix and Los Angeles and Las Vegas and the Imperial Valley (which supplies a huge chunk of our fruits and vegetables) are to survive a hotter, drier future.

    Fleck, who is now writer-in-residence at the Water Resources Program at the University of New Mexico, has long been one of my go-to reads for understanding water in the West. We talked by phone recently about his new book, why he’s cautiously optimistic about the West, and how a region that’s perpetually water-stressed might cope with the very serious threat of global warming.

    Colorado Water Officials Association 2016 conference, Water: Uniting Across Divides, September 28 -30

    Lakewood, Hogback View From Green Mountain, via MountainHomesOfDenver.com
    Lakewood, Hogback View From Green Mountain, via MountainHomesOfDenver.com

    Click here for all the inside skinny. From the website:

    Bringing together water officials, professionals, and users from across the state.

    From September 28th through the 30th the Colorado Water Officials Association will host its 2016 conference, Water: Uniting Across Divides, in Lakewood, Colorado. Each year, an annual conference is held in varying locations around the State to raise money for local scholarships and other worthy causes while promoting the mission of CWOA. CWOA’s mission is to educate Colorado’s citizens to the importance of water rights administration, water issues and to further the professional development of its members. Comprised of Colorado Division of Water Resources and Colorado Water Conservation Board employees, CWOA is unique in that its members connect with thousands of citizens across Colorado each year regarding water-related issues. This year’s event will feature a golf scramble fundraiser on the 28th, the main conference and banquet dinner on the 29th, and training, team building, and tours for state employees on the 29th. Special thanks to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for their continued support of this event!

    Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer's office
    Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer’s office

    2016 Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference recap #cwcsc16 #COWaterPlan


    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    Colorado’s Water Plan envisions spending $100 million annually on water projects, but existing sources of funding are drying up.

    The Legislature’s interim water resources review committee heard some of the reasons for that, as well as recent poll results that indicate the state’s voters might be ready to back a large-scale funding approach.

    Revenues from the state’s mineral severance tax, which are used in part to fund water project loans, will drop significantly this year as a result of a state Supreme Court decision and depressed oil and gas prices, said Bill Levine, budget director for the Department of Natural Resources.

    The court decision agrees with BP Petroleum’s assertion that Colorado had been overtaxing companies by including production costs that should have been deductible. State revenues took a double hit, both from the lower present value — about half of the price two years ago — and complicated tax code provisions that factor in losses from prior years.

    “We’ve hit the cliff and gone over the cliff,” Levine said.

    As a result, revenues that totaled $271 million in 2014 dropped to $57 million this year. In addition, the state is looking at repaying potentially $20 million to BP and other companies based on the court case.

    Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, took issue at blaming the Supreme Court for the predicament.

    “This is the cost of the Department of Revenue making poor decisions 10-15 years ago. The Supreme Court is not to blame,” he told Levine.

    On the bright side, for water interests, state voters are supportive of spending money for planning, conservation, enhancement of river habitat, new water supplies and new storage projects, Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli told the committee. Those concepts have an 80-90 percent approval rating.

    He cautioned the committee that sometimes those rosy numbers change by the time an actual measure is proposed, such as in 2003, when Referendum A was defeated in every Colorado county.

    The $2 billion measure, which newspaper editorials branded a “blank check” showed early support among voters.

    “A small passion against (a proposal) can grow to defeat,” Ciruli said.

    Other polling results showed that attention has shifted to water quality from results of similar questions in 2013, when storage was more important because of an ongoing drought.

    The survey also showed voters put more trust in local government than state, and far less in federal solutions.

    “But the public is ready for implementation (of water projects),” he stressed.

    #Drought news: D0 dropped in SW #Colorado, added in NW

    Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

    This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw a swath of above normal precipitation stretching from western Texas northeastward through parts of western Oklahoma, much of Kansas, northwest Missouri and into northern Illinois. A combination of moisture flowing in from the Southwest and Southeast along with a stalled frontal boundary brought abundant precipitation to areas of Texas and New Mexico. The heaviest rains during the period fell in western Texas and southeast New Mexico where at least 5 inches were measured. Approximately 5 inches of rain also fell in northwest Missouri and northeast Iowa. Elsewhere high pressure remained in control along the east and southeast coast line limiting precipitation to nothing more than typical summer time convection, resulting in drier than normal conditions all along the Eastern seaboard. Louisiana continued to experience wetter than normal conditions, further pushing their statewide precipitation total to a possible record amount for August. Virtually no precipitation was observed west of the Rockies. Temperatures for the period ranged from 6-8 degrees below average in the Four Corners region to 6-8 degrees above average in eastern Ohio. Generally speaking, above average temperatures were observed in the eastern half of the Country along with the Northwest, while below average temperatures occurred in the Northern Plains and south into the Southwest and Texas…

    Plains and South
    Areas in eastern Kansas saw at least 1 inch more precipitation than what is typically expected. Some areas measured as much as 6 inches more than normal. D0 was removed in the east part of the state. Widespread rains contributed to the removal of some D0 in western Kansas. Precipitation during the USDM period in Oklahoma was generally above normal, especially in the west part of the state. Anomalies were 4-5 inches above normal in some locations. In central Oklahoma 7-day percent of normal precipitation was less than 5 percent in an area stretching from Norman to south of Tulsa. Deficits at 30-days resulted in expansion of D0. It was reported that as a result of the longer term deficits, fire danger in Oklahoma has increased. A mixed bag of precipitation amounts fell in Iowa during the 7-day period. Areas in the northeast and southwest had amounts greater than 500 percent of normal. On the flip side, the west central part of the state only recorded 25 percent of normal or less. Based on this, 1-category improvements were made in the south central and southeast. D0 was expanded in northwest Iowa, bleeding into southwest Minnesota. A crop report from Wayne County, Iowa indicated that there is sufficient top soil moisture with the recent rains. However, sub soil moisture is still short to very short. Drought conditions in Nebraska were reduced along the south central, northeast and northern panhandle. Meanwhile, abnormally dry conditions were expanded in southwest Nebraska. Precipitation in Texas was much above normal in the western portion of the state for the 7-day period, with totals approaching 500 percent of normal. A small area along the coast and the Louisiana border also received above normal rains during the period. The last 30-days, a much wider swath of precipitation fell along the east. These conditions led to D0 improvements in central, western and southeastern Texas…

    West, Northwest and Southwest
    Light precipitation fell in parts of Wyoming, southern Utah, much of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Average temperatures were generally 2-6 degrees F below normal in those areas. Some readings were as much as 8-10 degrees F below normal. Based on 30 and 60 day departures, D0 was expanded in the south and an expansion of D1 was made in western Montana and eastern Idaho. In Colorado, a 1-cat improvement was made in the southwest based on 30- and 60-day percent of normal precipitation. The Southwest monsoon produced another round of precipitation for eastern New Mexico during the period. But it was not enough to affect drought conditions there. It is the dry season, so little to no precipitation is not surprising in California. Drought conditions there will remain status quo for the time being…

    Looking Ahead
    According to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), the heaviest precipitation will fall along the coast of Florida and the Carolinas over the course of the next 24-48 hours. This is associated with Tropical Storm Hermine. As the Tropical Storm moves along the eastern seaboard, it is forecasted to leave several inches of rain in its wake. During the next 5 days, precipitation is expected to be in the 1-2 inch category across the New Mexico and Texas border region stretching north and eastward into Oklahoma and into the Dakotas. Maximum temperatures during the next 3-5 days will be in the 90’s across much of the southern plains and Tennessee valley, while mid-60’s will be seen in the High Plains. According to the CPC, chances are greater than normal to have above average temperatures in the eastern half of the country while the High Plains may experience below average temperatures. During the same period odds are in favor for above average precipitation to fall in the Great Lakes region. Below average precipitation is expected in the Southwest and much of the East Coast. Looking further out at 8-14 days, odds are favorable that above average temperatures will occur in Northeast while the High Plains continues to be below normal. Precipitation during the period is likely to be below normal in portions of the Southeast, but above normal for the Midwest.

    Schwartz v. Tipton – the battle for Colorado’s Third Congressional District

    Here’s a recap of the 3rd Congressional candidate’s appearances at last week’s Colorado Water Congress Annual Summer Conference from Marianne Goodland writing for The Colorado Independent:

    With Democrats doing everything they can to link Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to down-ballot candidates, one of the races to watch in Colorado may be that of the often overlooked Third Congressional District.

    Why the Third, which covers most of the Western Slope and a swath of southern Colorado to Pueblo? And why now?

    National Democrats believe this may be the year they take control of the U.S. Senate and make inroads into reclaiming the House, and that means looking at races that might not have been in play in the past. Groups like Emily’s List and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red-to-Blue have invested in two bid by Democratic women in Colorado – for the Sixth Congressional District seat held by Republican Rep. Mike Coffman and for the Third Congressional District seat held by Republican Rep. Scott Tipton.

    Third-term Congressman Tipton faces off this fall against Democrat and former state Sen. Gail Schwartz.

    He’s a somewhat baby-faced and plain-talking 59-year old from Cortez. She’s an ever-smiling, and admittedly short ball of energy who has made her life in some of Colorado’s most popular and upscale ski towns, most recently Crested Butte.

    Many factors set these two candidates apart, including how they view the future of the Third District.

    Tipton is focused on the economy and jobs that are tied to the district’s energy industry, and hopes to persuade Congress to turn over Colorado’s federally-owned lands to the state.

    Schwartz’s focus is on employment, too, but it’s combined with an interest in protecting Colorado’s public lands and building up the outdoor recreation industry that she believes will help replace some of the jobs lost in mining.

    Schwartz has lived in Colorado since graduating from the University of Colorado in 1971. She moved to Aspen back then, working with a company that designed ski areas in the United States and Canada. She also had a hand in developing some of the Roaring Fork Valley’s first affordable housing.

    She has been in public service since the 1980s, sitting on the state’s Commission on Higher Education and the University of Colorado Board of Regents before being elected to the state Senate in 2006. She was term-limited in 2014 and points out she has never lost an election. She defeated an incumbent Republican regent in 2000 and an incumbent Republican senator in 2006.

    Schwartz, 67, and husband Alan moved to Snowmass Village in the 2000s, although more recently they’ve called Crested Butte home. They have three daughters and two grandchildren.

    Tipton, who was born in New Mexico, has lived almost his whole life in his mostly-Western Slope congressional district. He holds a degree in political science from Fort Lewis College and is the first member of his family to graduate from college. Until recently, he owned Mesa Verde Pottery, which at its peak employed 22 workers and has been in business for more than three decades. Tipton and his brother sold the business to the Ute Mountain Utes tribe in 2014. He and wife Jean have two daughters.

    Tipton first ran for Congress in 2006, losing to Democrat John Salazar. He then headed to the state Capitol, serving in the 2009 and 2010 sessions. At the end of 2010, he challenged Salazar again for the Third District seat and won by 5 percent, to date his closest margin of victory. Tipton has been in the U.S. House since that 2010 election.

    The Third Congressional District covers more than one-third of the state by land-mass. Its largest population centers are Grand Junction to the west and Pueblo to the east.

    Some 35 percent of Colorado is managed by the federal government. Most of that is in the Third. For voters there, recreation and tourism (including hunting and fishing) compete with ranching, which uses public lands for grazing cattle.

    And everyone competes for water. The district includes the headwaters for the Rio Grande, Yampa, White, North Platte and the Gunnison rivers, to name a few. The mighty Colorado River, although it starts in Rocky Mountain National Park, cuts through the district on its way to Utah, Southern Nevada and Arizona. The district also includes many of the state’s most popular ski resorts: Aspen, Crested Butte, Snowmass, Steamboat Springs, Telluride and Wolf Creek are among them.

    Politically, the Third has leaned Republican for the past several election cycles. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney won it by 6 percent, with 52 percent of the vote to President Barack Obama’s 46 percent. John McCain won the district four years earlier with a 3 percent margin – 50 percent to Obama’s 47 percent. Obama won Colorado as a whole in both those elections, with a statewide victory over Romney by 5 percent in 2012 and a 9 percent win over McCain in 2008.

    According to the Secretary of State, the district has more than 519,000 registered voters. Republicans lead there with 180,121. But unaffiliated voter numbers aren’t far behind, at 178,743. Democrats trail at 153,244. The district’s boundaries were changed in 2011 to make it more competitive, which meant folding in a larger percentage of Democrats

    The U.S. Census reported an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent in 2014. But that was before the closure of several of the district’s largest coal mines, including the Elk Creek and Bowie #2 mines, both in Delta County. Shutting down both mines over the past two years has resulted in the loss of about 1,000 high-paying jobs. Job losses in oil and gas have also plagued the district.

    That’s part of what drives Tipton: helping those hard-hit communities find ways to survive.

    “We have a tale of two economies,” Tipton told The Colorado Independent recently. “Denver is doing reasonably well. Resort communities are doing well. But when we go into other communities, people are worried about keeping jobs and too many are looking for them. I’m driving past stores that were once occupied and now are for sale or lease. It’s about jobs and the family’s future.”

    Hoping to help out those communities, Tipton has co-sponsored and carried bipartisan legislation such as a hydropower and jobs bill, signed into law in 2013 by President Obama. Tipton and Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden also sponsored a bill to encourage small businesses access to capital from small banks and credit unions.

    Why should Tipton return to Congress?

    Kraig Andrews of Grand Junction, a project manager for a construction company, likes Tipton’s accessibility and efforts on behalf of Mesa County. Andrews said Tipton has pushed to keep public lands open for the outdoor recreation industry in Mesa County, where 80 percent of the lands are federally-managed. “We thrive on outdoor recreation here,” Andrews said, citing the county’s man mountain biking, hiking, hunting and fishing businesses. Tipton advocated for keeping trails open on federal lands that had been cut off by the Bureau of Land Mangement, Andrews said.

    As Andrews tells it, Tipton has gained the trust of residents in the Third District. “Congress needs more than a loud mouth. One person can make a difference, especially if that person works well with others,” he said. “He works for the people.”

    Schwartz, in her eight years in the Senate, also worked on jobs creation. She sponsored legislation on rural broadband that employs workers to build and maintain internet infrastructure and on a “cottage foods act” that allows people to produce foods in the homes for local sales.

    Rochelle Needham of Gunnison County has known Schwartz for years, and applauds her devotion to the environment and love of nature. “She’s worked tirelessly for the Thompson Divide” near Carbondale that the Bureau of Land Management had considered opening to drilling in 2014. Schwartz is poised and skilled at working around people who can be difficult to work with, Needham said. Diana Glazer, also of Gunnison, said Schwartz more accurately reflects the needs and positions of people on the Western Slope, especially on water and the environment.

    So far, Tipton has raised nearly $1.2 million in his bid for his fourth term. He has received money from the Koch Industries PAC and the Right to Rise PAC, which was formed to support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential run. He also has taken contributions from a variety of energy companies and oil, gas and coal-backed political action committees. Among his individual donors: several members of the Coors family, billionaire Philip Anschutz, American Furniture magnate Jake Jabs, Pueblo Chieftain publisher Bob Rawlings, and conservative education reformer and oilman Alex Cranberg.

    Schwartz has reported raising about half of Tipton’s amount – $622,960 as of June 30. She has taken contributions from California environmentalist Tom Steyer, businessman and philanthropist Rutt Bridges, Stryker Medical Equipment heiress Pat Stryker, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, and actress Melissa Gilbert of Little House on the Prairie fame, who’s running for Congress in Michigan. Schwartz’s campaign also is funded by Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood and a variety of labor unions, including education and trades groups.

    Schwartz’s biggest brush with controversy may well have been in 2013, when she co-sponsored a bill to raise the renewable energy standard for some of the state’s rural electric co-ops. Among the bill’s notable features: it exempted a handful of rural co-ops, including Holy Cross Energy in Schwartz’s district, which supplies electricity to the Aspen and Vail ski resorts. Opponents, including the free-market Independence Institute, claimed Schwartz and co-sponsor Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs did not know how the utilities worked and that the bill would drive up energy costs for rural Coloradans. Gov. John Hickenlooper called the bill “imperfect,” but signed it anyway.

    Schwartz has been accused of siding too much with environmentalists, which led to an attack ad in the 2010 election from the dark money group Western Tradition Partnership. The ad featured Schwartz’s head superimposed over the body of Donald Trump, saying, “You’re fired!” to the voters of her Senate district.

    Tipton also has had his share of missteps. In 2011, he apologized to the House Ethics Committee after his daughter used his name to attempt to gain contacts for her employer, a broadband company. A month later, it was reported that Tipton spent $7,000 with vendors who did business with his nephew’s company – the same broadband company that employed the Congressman’s daughter. In 2012, Tipton used taxpayer money to promote a campaign event, inadvertently listing it on his congressional website.

    Earlier this year, Tipton was criticized for offering a bill authored by SG Interests, a Texas oil and gas company whose employees have contributed more than $37,000 to his campaigns over the past six years, according to OpenSecrets.org.

    Schwartz and Tipton sat down last week (separately) to talk with The Colorado Independent about what matters in the district and what they’ll do to win votes. Both made their campaign pitches to water leaders at last week’s Colorado Water Congress summer conference in Steamboat Springs.
    During Schwartz’s remarks to the Water Congress, Republican Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio asked her about her views on the Obama administration’s “war on coal.” Schwartz replied that she represented the three Delta County mines in her Senate district and just the day before had visited the Trapper Mine in Craig. “I’ve advocated for both coal and oil and gas,” she told him.

    Schwartz told The Independent that she has worked on a number of mining issues, from dealing with mine safety issues to finding funding for infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, that mine employees travel on.

    She counts among her accomplishments her work advocating for an exemption on the federal “roadless” rule that prohibits road construction on certain National Forest lands. Schwartz explained that the exemption allowed coal mines to build vents to vent methane gas. That greenhouse gas can be captured from vents, she noted, citing a program in which the Aspen Ski company uses coal mine methane as an energy source.

    Schwartz also touted that she stood up to the environmental community on methane captures being included in the state’s renewable energy portfolio. The Colorado Petroleum Association recognized her efforts to help the industry with its “Legislator of the Year” award in 2011.
    Schwartz said the free market, not government regulation, should determine the nation’s energy portfolio. She also advocates for opportunities to develop renewable energy – specifically biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric power.

    Four of the state’s seven headwaters are in the Senate district Schwartz represented. She says it’s important to protect those waterways from wildfire damage, and to bring more water-efficient technologies to farms and ranches. A lot of agriculture relies on public lands and on keeping them in public hands, she said. “The movement to sell them off undermines our economies, our water quality and water quantity.”

    Defense of public lands is among Schwartz’s strongest attacks on Tipton’s record. She points out that the GOP platform calls on Congress to pass legislation requiring the federal government to turn over federal lands to the states, which can then sell them off to the highest bidder.

    Tipton co-sponsored the Federal Land Freedom Act of 2015 that would “empower states to control the development and protection of all forms of energy on all available Federal land.” Schwartz claims that bill would effectively turn over Colorado’s public lands to energy developers, jeopardizing the Third District’s outdoor recreation economy and threatening thousands of jobs. “This is simply code for privatizing and selling” public lands, Schwartz said, because no state can possibly afford to manage its public lands.

    Still, Schwartz is critical of what she see as government overreach on certain public lands, which she notes has led to tensions like the Bundy standoffs in Utah and Oregon.

    In CD3, many blast the Endangered Species Act, which recently listed the Gunnison sage grouse as a threatened species. Many West Slopers believe the species can be protected without federal intervention. Schwartz backs delisting the bird and says it should be treated the same as the greater sage grouse, which the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service removed from its list of potential endangered species last year. The money the state has put into mitigation efforts for the birds has been tremendous, she said. “The state has made its best effort, and the federal government needs to respect those efforts.”

    Although she has the backing of some environmental groups, Schwartz had strong criticism for some in the environmental community, saying that certain groups’ instinct to “stop everything” isn’t helpful. “We have to protect habitat and species, but in a way that respects the state’s approach,” she said.

    As for her presidential pick, Schwartz demurred. There’s strong support for both Clinton and Trump in the district, but her “race is where we can come together on issues like water and climate change,” she said. “People want leadership, especially on protecting public lands.”
    Schwartz differentiated herself from Tipton by noting that he votes 95 percent of the time with his party. “I’m willing to reach across the aisle and not be locked down with ideologues on either side of the aisle,” she said. “I have a record of getting things done and gaining support.”

    In his remarks to the Water Congress last week, Tipton touted his support for states’ rights, especially water rights, and chastised Washington for federal overreach, especially with environmental regulations. He’s currently sponsoring a bill that would mirror one passed this year in Colorado to tell the federal government “hands-off” on Colorado water rights.

    Control over water is a hot issue in the district. In 2011, the U.S. Forest Service demanded that ski resorts turn over their water rights in exchange for renewing their leases on public lands. The ski companies sued and the Forest Service rules were tossed because the agency hadn’t properly followed federal procedural guidelines. Late last year, after a five-year fight, the Forest Service backed down. The water rights issue also affected farmers and ranchers who graze herds on Bureau of Land Management public lands. The BLM had demanded they also cede water rights, but later also backed down.

    Tipton blasted the Forest Service rule, calling it “theft” of water rights and complaining that it’s a symptom of a broken process in Washington – one where rules are put into place and never again reviewed. Congress needs to get involved with the rulemaking process, he said.

    About the Endangered Species Act, he said the law doesn’t provide a clear idea of the target numbers each state needs to match on protecting species. “We appreciate the Act for what it did” for eagles, Tipton said. But it needs to be more specific on the issue of the sage grouse, for example.

    Tipton noted that unemployment in the district is now about 10 percent, well above the state or even national rates. He believes cutting back on federal regulations would stimulate the economy and bolster job growth, and he intends to continue that fight into the next Congress.

    Like Schwartz, Tipton touted ability to reach across the aisle, saying that every bill that he has been able to pass out of the House did so with bipartisan support. He has sponsored five bills that have been signed into law, most recently a measure requiring the executive director of each federal agency to develop a software licensing policy. Tipton serves on the House Financial Services Committee and on two related subcommittees. He previously sat on the House agriculture, natural resources and small business committees.

    But Tipton’s voting record as a whole is hardly bipartisan. The web site Ballotpedia said that for 2013, Tipton voted 98.2 percent of the time with his fellow Republicans. In 2014, it was 94.2 percent. InsideGov rates him as “very conservative” on individual rights, domestic issues and defense, and “moderately conservative” on economic issues. GovTrack rates him among the more conservative members of Congress, saying he “usually” votes with his caucus.

    Does that play well in the district? The Denver Post, in its 2012 endorsement, advised Tipton to take a more moderate path. The newspaper didn’t endorse any Third district candidate in 2014.
    As for his views on the presidential candidates, Tipton was clear. Clinton has made a “commitment to a third [Obama] administration,” he said. “We aren’t seeing the jobs or the recovery.”

    Regarding GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, he said, “Do I agree with the Republican nominee every time? No.” But, he added, the role of Congress is not to be a rubber stamp for any administration.

    Denver: 2100 acre-feet for South Platte environmental flows

    The South Platte River typically all but vanishes as it passes through Denver’s industrial neighborhood north of downtown, downstream of the Burlington Ditch diversion, near the Cherokee power plant. Photo/Allen Best
    The South Platte River typically all but vanishes as it passes through Denver’s industrial neighborhood north of downtown, downstream of the Burlington Ditch diversion, near the Cherokee power plant. Photo/Allen Best

    From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

    The Denver Water and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said they’ve obtained 2,100 acre-feet of water that they will use strictly for environmental purposes…

    “We’re trying to make the South Platte the best it can be for this city. … It’s not going to be like a Danube,” Denver Water manager Jim Lochhead said. “We can make it what it is, which is a plains river that creates an appreciation of the connection to water in this city. The city would not exist without that water supply.”

    The idea is that putting more water into the Platte at the southwestern edge of metro Denver will mimic long-lost natural flows, to the extent possible given the channelization of the Platte after the 1965 flood that destroyed buildings in the floodplain. More water also would help a fish hatchery where state wildlife workers breed rainbow trout.

    For more than two decades, Denver conservationists have worked at reviving the Platte corridor, building cycling-oriented pathways and riverside parks. It’s been complicated because metro Denver grew up around the river and, for more than a century, people exploited it as a sewer with industrial plants and discharge pipes draining into the water. Now as kayakers, surfers, skaters, waders and others flock to the river, city leaders face rising demands for more water, cleaner water and wildlife.
    But just beyond Denver, farmers await every drop of the treated wastewater metro users put back in the Platte, water used to grow food. There’s so much demand for South Platte water across booming northeastern Colorado that parts of the river run dry.

    By 2018, project leaders say, new environmental flows from Chatfield will keep that from happening — and create curves and pools favoring aquatic bugs and fish.

    “Now we’ve got some water so that we can start to build the river back to being a natural-looking river. It is limited. The river won’t have access to the true floodplain. But we can build smaller floodplain ditches so that the river will look more like a sinuous river coming through Denver,” CPW senior aquatic biologist Ken Kehmeier said.

    “The water will be used mostly during the low-flow times of the year,” the 65 or so days when water rights holders have the ability to dry up sections of the river, Kehmeier said.

    “It will mean water stays in the river downstream of Chatfield, including the hatchery. That’s where the trout will come from. And brown trout in the river now, with this extra water, will be able to reproduce naturally.”

    Lining up storage for the water proved crucial. Denver Water has committed to work with the Greenway Foundation to buy space for 500 acre-feet in an enlarged Chatfield Reservoir. This water adds to 1,600 acre-feet of water to be used only for environmental purposes that federal engineers required as “mitigation” for Colorado’s repurposing of the reservoir from flood control to water supply. The 500 acre-feet would be owned by the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, a downstream agricultural entity, which agreed to pay annual operational and maintenance costs.

    Storing water in Chatfield costs $7,500 an acre-foot, Denver Water officials said. They’ll spend $2 million to buy storage space, on the condition the Greenway Foundation does the same…

    This push to put more clean water in the Platte through Denver coincides with broader environmental efforts. Federal, state and city engineers have been mulling possibilities for restoring other metro waterways, for which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dangled possible funding.