‘As the Poudre Flows — Forest to Plains’ theme of Poudre River Forum

Scott Hummer, general manager of North Poudre Irrigation Company, talks about how his agency worked with Fort Collins Natural Areas and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to include a fish passage when the irrigation company replaced a diversion structure on the Poudre River that was destroyed by the 2013 floods. Work was completed [in February 2016]. (Pamela Johnson / Loveland Reporter-Herald)
Scott Hummer, general manager of North Poudre Irrigation Company, talks about how his agency worked with Fort Collins Natural Areas and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to include a fish passage when the irrigation company replaced a diversion structure on the Poudre River that was destroyed by the 2013 floods. Work was completed [in February 2016]. (Pamela Johnson / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Jim Beers):

The Cache la Poudre River, which flows from the mountains through Fort Collins, Timnath and Windsor to the plains east of Greeley, is at the heart of countless activities: from irrigating crops and lawns to providing drinking water for more than 365,000 people and hosting numerous recreational activities.

Those with connections to and concerns for the Poudre River will gather on Friday, Feb. 3 for the fourth annual Poudre River Forum. After its first three years at Larimer County Fairgrounds, the forum is moving down the river to Greeley as a reminder that the Poudre River is important to all who benefit from it — from its headwaters to its confluence with the South Platte. This year’s forum — the theme is “As the Poudre Flows — Forest to Plains” — will be held from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Island Grove Events Center, 501 N. 14th Ave., Greeley. Pre-registration is required for all participants.

Understanding the river, each other

Sponsored by the Poudre Runs Through It Study/Action Work Group, the forum serves as a community-wide gathering of people from agricultural, municipal, business, recreational and environmental backgrounds to learn about and discuss issues related to the Poudre River.

“The Poudre River Forum brings together those who use the river for agricultural and urban diversions and those who work to improve its ecological health. In the past those groups have not necessarily seen eye to eye,” said MaryLou Smith, PRTI facilitator. “Increasingly our participants are open to the idea that it takes collective vision and action to make the Poudre the world’s best example of a healthy, working river.”

Once again, this year’s event will be facilitated by the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. “The Forum is a great opportunity for the communities connected by the Poudre River to come together to better understand the entire watershed, and each other,” said Reagan Waskom, director of CWI.

Forests and water quality/quantity

Laurie Huckaby with the U.S. Forest Service, will present “The last 1,000 years in the Poudre according to the trees,” to kick off the topic of how important the upper watershed is to water quantity and quality.

“Water quality and forests are inextricably linked,” said Joe Duda of the Colorado State Forest Service, who will join Huckaby as one of the presenters. “Forest conditions and insects, disease and fire all can have profound impacts on water flow and quality. Only healthy, resilient forests can continuously supply clean water.”

Global lessons for local success

“Finding the Balance: Managing Water for People and Nature” is the message of keynote speaker Brian Richter. Richter has been a global leader in water science and conservation for more than 25 years, and currently serves as chief scientist for the Global Water Program of The Nature Conservancy in Washington D.C. Richter’s ideas about the importance of recognizing the balance of working river/healthy river are the basis for which PRTI was initially formed. He has consulted on more than 120 water projects worldwide, and has served as a water advisor to some of the world’s largest corporations, investment banks, the United Nations, and has testified before Congress on multiple occasions. Richter co-authored,with Sandra Postel, the 2003 book Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature and in 2014 wrote Chasing Water: A Guide for Moving from Scarcity to Sustainability.

Change affects all sectors

An afternoon panel session will probe the impacts of change — positive and negative — along the Poudre River and how they have been similarly and differently addressed by agriculture, urban, and environmental sectors. They will discuss what anticipated future changes might these three sectors see as opportunities or incentives for mutually beneficial collaboration that could result in a healthier, working river?

“It has been said that the only thing that is constant is change,” said John Bartholow, retired ecologist from U.S. Geological Survey, and panel coordinator/moderator. “The question is, can we learn to adapt to those changes sure to come on the Poudre in ways that benefit agriculture, municipalities, and the environment?”

The panel will include Eric Reckentine, deputy director, City of Greeley Water and Sewer; John Sanderson, director of science, Nature Conservancy of Colorado; and Dale Trowbridge, general manager, New Cache la Poudre Irrigating Company.

Videos, displays and music too

The day-long forum also includes “River Snapshots” highlighting more than 15 projects undertaken by a variety of groups on the Poudre last year; “My How the Poudre Has Changed,” featuring historical 1970’s footage of the Poudre; updates from both the cities of Greeley and Fort Collins on current water programs; and over two dozen river-focused displays from community organizations and agencies. The day concludes with a social hour including food, beer and other beverages, and river-themed door prizes.

Registration is $50 and includes lunch. Scholarships for students and reduced rates are available. The deadline to register is Friday, Jan. 27 at http://prti.colostate.edu/forum_2017.shtml.

For more information, contact event coordinator Gailmarie Kimmel at PoudreRiverForum@gmail.com or 970-692-1443.

#Snowpack news: Feeling very blue so far this January

Click on a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

And here is today’s Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 9, 2017 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 9, 2017 via the NRCS.

The January 1, 2017 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report is hot off the presses

Colorado Basin Outlook Report January 1, 2017 via the NRCS.
Colorado Basin Outlook Report January 1, 2017 via the NRCS.

Click here to view the report.

Here’s the January 1, 2017 snowpack by sub-basin from the NRCS.

Snowpack by sub-basin January 1, 2017 via the NRCS.
Snowpack by sub-basin January 1, 2017 via the NRCS.

Finally, here’s the first streamflow forecast map for 2017 from the NRCS.

Streamflow forecast by sub-basin January 1, 2017 via the NRCS.
Streamflow forecast by sub-basin January 1, 2017 via the NRCS.

Calling off kindergarten in the name of water supply

#Snowpack: Colorado don’t know nothing but the blues — and that’s a good thing

Colorado SNOTEL basin-filled map January 8, 2017 via the NRCS.
Colorado SNOTEL basin-filled map January 8, 2017 via the NRCS.

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Big snow is expected to buffet Colorado mountains Monday through Tuesday morning – up to 28 inches according to the National Weather Service – serenaded with wind gusts reaching 70 miles per hour on high ridges.

It’s the latest of several recent snowstorms that have raised snowpack to 125 percent of average in the South Platte River Basin, the main water source for metro Denver and northeastern Colorado food production.

But snow in Denver will keep melting. Weather Service meteorologists say metro area temperatures may reach 60 degrees Monday and that residents should expect highs around 50 degrees through midweek. Winds still will be blowing down through the foothills at speeds of 35 mph and greater.

For the mountains, storm warnings were issued Sunday for Monday through Tuesday morning. The heaviest snow will fall west of the Continental Divide, with some spreading to the east, meteorologist Kyle Fredin said.

“We’ve had three or four of these and this is another good one. It’s a little moister, more in the way of snowfall. But for driving – dangerous conditions in some instances,” Fredin said.

Snow’s been pelting the western states from Montana south, and some of the water-stressed West Coast regions may benefit.

“It is coming straight off the Pacific Ocean,” Fredin said, “and in California it is starting to fill reservoirs.”

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 8, 2017 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 8, 2017 via the NRCS.

The next administration must protect the #ColoradoRiver basin — Anne Castle/Eric Kuhn #COriver

Lake Mead from Hoover Dam December 13, 2016.
Lake Mead from Hoover Dam December 13, 2016.

Here’s an appeal to the incoming administration and Congress to open their eyes to science and economics and pay attention to the need to solve supply problems in the Colorado River Basin from Anne Castle and Eric Kuhn writing in The Denver Post:

[The President-elect]…the new leaders in his administration, and the 115th Congress each have important roles to play in helping Colorado and the six other states of the Colorado River basin forge a path toward water security. The independent Colorado River Future Project recently spoke with water leaders across the basin to collect specific recommendations to the incoming administration concerning the issues that must be addressed immediately.

The Colorado River system is Colorado’s foundation and future. It has been estimated that the river helps to contribute $189 billion to the Colorado economy each year and supports more than two million jobs. Each and every sector of the economy is tied to the river, from real estate to health care to our growing information technology industry.

The river system is facing challenges never seen before. Years of drought and imbalance between supply and demand have taken their toll. We are on the brink of the first-ever water shortage declaration, which could mean significant reductions in deliveries to Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico as soon as 2018, as well as increased pressure on Lake Powell supplies in the very near future. In order to avoid crippling impacts to our shared regional economy, Colorado River water users across the West must come to grips with the limitations of the river’s supplies. This will require creative leadership, compromise, and new funding.

The lower basin states of Arizona, California, and Nevada must come to closure on a drought contingency plan to stabilize water levels at Lake Mead, and the United States must finalize an agreement with our neighbors in Mexico to provide for sharing of both shortages and surpluses on the river and encourage water conservation.

The upper basin states, including Colorado, must put in place water saving mechanisms to reduce the risk of significant shortages in the future. An essential component is expanded Federal funding to bring supply and demand into balance in the Colorado River system through voluntary and compensated conservation measures that protect senior water rights.

These are not partisan issues. Conserving our limited Western water supplies is a priority for citizens and elected officials and a vital underpinning to support economic stability for agriculture, businesses, and citizens. Water leaders stand ready to work together with [the President-elect]…the new leaders in his administration and the new Congress to craft viable solutions and sustain this jewel and economic engine of the Southwest.

R. Eric Kuhn is the general manager for the Colorado River Water Conservation District. Anne Castle directs the Colorado River Future Project.