Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s New Executive Director, Jayla Poppleton! — Greg Hobbs

Sometimes you go
round and round,

search and search,
and come back



Greg Hobbs 1/11/2017

From email from Eric Hecox:

I am pleased to share the exciting news that the Colorado Foundation for Water Education has a new Executive Director, and we welcome our very own Jayla Poppleton into that leadership role.

Many of you know Jayla as the longtime editor of Headwaters magazine. As senior editor for Headwaters since 2009, Jayla’s vision, creativity, and dedication to excellence have made CFWE’s flagship publication an invaluable resource for Colorado’s water community. In addition to Headwaters, Jayla previously oversaw CFWE’s full suite of print and digital content. During her tenure with CFWE, Jayla has established a significant network in Colorado’s water community, building relationships with members and fostering partnerships and donor relationships. She has continued to play an increasingly valuable role in strategic organizational decisions for the Foundation.

Last year, Jayla completed the CFWE Water Leaders program, further developing her own leadership skills and also gaining insight into delivering that longstanding program at a superior level. Jayla brings the strong programmatic knowledge as well as the leadership and management qualities needed to uphold CFWE’s track record of delivering excellent programs that inform, engage and inspire Coloradans toward meaningful involvement with local and statewide water issues.

Jayla’s personal strengths combined with her passion for growing and equipping Colorado’s water stewards make her appointment as the new leader of CFWE a great opportunity for the Foundation and broader water community. Jayla brings a deep understanding and commitment to CFWE’s mission and has many thoughtful ideas for moving the Foundation forward strongly. I encourage you to reach out and meet Jayla if you haven’t already, and to share your thoughts about the future direction of CFWE. Jayla and the rest of the Foundation’s staff will be hosting an “open house” session at 9:00-9:30 am during the Wednesday workshops on Jan. 25 at Colorado Water Congress’ annual convention, which would be a great opportunity to stop by and say hello.

We are so excited to have Jayla in this role and look forward to working with her, in partnership with the water community, to usher in the next chapter of CFWE’s work to provide impactful water education in Colorado. Please join me in welcoming Jayla as CFWE’s new Executive Director!

Merino: The trials and tribulations of reverse osmosis

Ashcraft & Brown Building, Merino, Colorado, as it appeared on a 1909 postcard. Image courtesy of Ken Wilson.
Ashcraft & Brown Building, Merino, Colorado, as it appeared on a 1909 postcard. Image courtesy of Ken Wilson.

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The Merino Town Board learned during its regular meeting Monday night that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Hazardous Waste Group had some pretty stringent criteria for granting the town a permit to build and operate the “brine pits” needed for the new water treatment system. There was no way, the trustees said, they could afford what the state was proposing.

The reverse osmosis system Merino plans to use results in effluent containing all of the contaminants that have been filtered out of the water. That effluent is pumped into a series of ponds in rotating order. Once one pond is filled, the effluent is directed to another pond while the first pond evaporates out and the dried waste is removed and sent to a landfill. Because the dried waste is considered hazardous, Merino has to be able to remediate the pond site, should it ever be abandoned.

The CDPHE had proposed that the town set aside $10,000 a year for ten years to go toward that eventual reclamation. But even the $100,000 that would result was less than one-third of what Merino’s consulting firm, Rocky Mountain Water Solutions of Broomfield, estimated it would cost to remediate the abandoned brine ponds. Town officials said Monday night they had been told CDPHE thought that estimate was high, but didn’t indicate what they thought a more accurate number might be.

The funds to be set aside would have to come from revenue generated by the town’s water enterprise fund. Water rates were recently increased in anticipation of building the new water treatment facility. And town officials said they have no idea what it’s going to cost to run the new system; they have estimates based on other towns’ experiences, but conditions and estimates vary widely.

The problem is, regardless what the real number is, it’s doubtful Merino can afford it, and the town certainly couldn’t afford the $100,000 over ten years the state agency was suggesting.

Boyd Hanzon, Merino’s contact at RMWS, said Monday night that CDPHE was setting up a conference call for Tuesday morning to discuss the reclamation amount. Hanzon was told, if the state sticks to its $100,000 goal, all bets were off.

“We’d have to start over with engineering fees, consultant fees, the whole thing,” said Trustee Dan Wiebers. “Would they go for, say, $5,000 a year for ten years and then stop? Would they let us just run the things for a year or two until we know how much it’s going to cost?”

Hanzon said those all were questions the trustees needed to ask during the conference call.

“So, basically, the future of this project hinges on this one phone call,” Wiebers said.

“I think they’ll be pretty reasonable,” Hanzon said, “but it could be a very stressful call.”

By Tuesday afternoon, the stress levels has subsided markedly. Reached at his office, Hanzon said the CDPHE officials had tentatively agreed to an amount Merino’s trustees thought they could live with, but he wasn’t prepared to say what that amount is yet.

“I’ll be working on getting that finalized. We should know something in about a week,” he said.

Once this issue is settled, Hanzon said, Merino will be able to move ahead almost immediately in awarding contracts to begin building the system.

Reverse Osmosis Water Plant
Reverse Osmosis Water Plant

#Drought news: A plethora of Pacific storms hit Colorado

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


A plethora of Pacific storms and moisture slammed into California and most of the West, dumping copious amounts of precipitation on the northern two-thirds of the state and Sierra Nevada. This very wet week maintained the great start to the Water Year (since Oct. 1) across the West where NRCS SNOTEL basin average precipitation was above or much above normal at nearly every major basin while basin average snow water content was at or above normal in most Western basins. With more than a foot of precipitation falling on the Sierra Nevada (locally 20.7 inches at Strawberry Valley, CA), most major reservoirs were at or above its Jan. 10 historical average, USGS monitored streams were at near or record high flows, Jan. 10 state snow water content was at 135%, and the Northern Sierra 8-station, San Joaquin 5-station, and Tulare Basin 6-station precipitation indices topped their wettest previous year as of Jan. 10. Accordingly, major drought improvements were made not only to California but at many areas of the West, including parts of Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. There were a few areas in southern California, however, that have yet to receive a bountiful Water Year and see any hydrologic improvements, so no changes were made there. Elsewhere, by the time the storms reached the Nation’s mid-section little moisture was available, so most locations observed little or no precipitation during the week. Farther east, an influx of Gulf and Atlantic moisture into the storm systems produced light to moderate precipitation across the eastern third of the U.S., resulting in a few improvements but mainly keeping conditions unchanged. The precipitation included a Jan.6-7 snow storm from Tennessee and northern Georgia northeastward across western North Carolina and eastern Virginia and along the mid-Atlantic and New England Coasts. Much colder air enveloped the lower 48 States as temperatures averaged below normal across most areas. Weekly anomalies of -10 to -25 degF were found across the Northwest and northern High Plains and -5 to -15 degF in the Great Plains and Midwest while seasonable readings were found in the Southwest, Florida, and parts of New England. Improvements were made on the leeward sides of the Hawaiian Islands (except Oahu) thanks to a wet December…

The Plains

Similar to the Midwest, minimal precipitation and subnormal temperatures prevailed across the Plains. In Texas, precipitation was limited to the northern Panhandle (0.2-0.4 inches) along with some small trimming of D0, and in the extreme southeastern coast (0.2-0.6 inches). Meanwhile, short-term dryness and drought expanded in the northeast where it was dry this week. Central Oklahoma saw 0.1-0.3 inches of liquid equivalent precipitation in the form of snow (2-5 inches), but this wasn’t enough to deter additional deterioration as reported impacts from ranchers and farmers indicated ground level conditions were worse than what the indices and products suggested. Reports from former state agriculture officials indicated that 60% of the farm ponds in Woodward, Harper, western Woods and Major, Ellis, and northern Roger Mills counties were dry, and that pastures and winter wheat crops were wiped out. It is possible that major relief from the 5-year 2010-2015 drought was more concentrated from south-central through east-central Oklahoma, and that recent dryness, warmth, and windy conditions have exacerbated the impacts across northern and western Oklahoma. Nevertheless, the combination of short-term (out to 90-days) dryness and worse than expected ground-level impacts prompted an expansion of D2 into north-central Oklahoma, and D1 in southwestern and northern Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, northwestern Arkansas, and into Missouri (see Midwest Summary). Farther north, light precipitation (0.1-0.3 inches) and frigid air was enough to keep conditions unchanged in the remainder of Kansas, eastern Colorado, Nebraska, and the western Dakotas…

The West

As mentioned in the Summary, major changes were made in many areas of the West due to this week’s parade of moisture-laden Pacific storms and an already wet Water Year (WY), with California the greatest recipient of drought improvements this week. With more than 2 inches of precipitation falling from southwestern Washington southward to Los Angeles, CA, including over a foot along the northern and central California coast and on the Sierra Nevada range, significant increases were made to the capacity of the state’s major reservoirs as most were above the normal Jan. 10 historic levels and still filling with most USGS monitored streams at near or at record high flows. The state’s Sierra snow water content (SWC) was also well above its Jan. 10 normal, with the north (13.5”, or 111%), central (16.9”, or 130%), and south (17.9”, or 171%) producing a state average of 16.2”, or 135%. The Northern Sierra, San Joaquin, and Tulare basin station precipitation indices all exceeded their wettest year (1982-83; 1968-69 for Tulare) as of January 10 with 41.9 (203%), 30.8” (199%), and 20.0 (190%) inches, respectively. In fact, the Northern Sierra index gained 13.2 inches since Jan. 1, or 26% of its ANNUAL average in 10 days. Oroville Reservoir started the New Year with a deficit in its conservation pool of 750,000 acre-feet, but has gained 350,000 acre-feet in the past 2 days. Since northern portions of California also benefited from a decent Water Year last year, 1- to 2-category improvements were made. In contrast, with long-term drought impacts more severe and widespread in southern sections since the 2015-16 WY marked its fifth consecutive year of drought, only a 1-category improvement was made to most areas since above ground (reservoirs) and underground (wells) water supplies still lagged below normal. And in southern Santa Barbara, Ventura, southern Kern, and northwestern Los Angeles counties, D4 remained intact as the WYTD has been below normal while hydrologic impacts lingered. For example, Lake Cachuma (205,000 acre-feet facility) currently has 16,386 acre-feet, including a measly 191 acre-feet gained during the past 2 days. Lakes Casitas and Piru in Ventura County and several reservoirs in Los Angeles County are still well below normal and have not received any recharge. Lastly, even with the rains, no stream flows have been generated in the Santa Ynez, Ventura, and Santa Clara watersheds. Elsewhere in the West, decent snows (0.5-3 inches liquid equivalent) blanketed northwestern Nevada, eastern Oregon, central Idaho, western Montana, southeastern Wyoming, central Colorado, and central Utah, increasing the WYTD basin average precipitation and snow water content to above normal (along with numerous drought indices either normal or wet at various time periods), resulting in a 1-category improvement. Some reservoirs were still below normal in these areas, but the decent snow pack should greatly contribute to a good spring snow melt runoff and recharge if conditions are maintained. In the northern Rockies, however, although the WYTD precipitation has averaged above normal (100-128%), the basin average SWC has averaged below normal (68-91% on Jan. 10). This area will need to be watched for possible D0(S) development if the precipitation and SWC drop below normal during the remainder of the winter. In the Southwest, although precipitation was generally light (0.2-1 inch) or zero (in southeastern California, southern Arizona, and southern New Mexico), wet weather the previous 2 weeks with some improvements warranted status quo this week. Similar to the northern Rockies, southern New Mexico will need to be watched for D0 development as the Jan. 10 SWC is well below normal (15-49%) while the WYTD precipitation is near or above normal (92-116%)…

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days (January 12-16), heavy precipitation is expected to shift away from California to the south-central Plains (where recent conditions have steadily worsened) as the 5-day QPF from WPC predicts 3-5 inches of precipitation over central Oklahoma. Welcome precipitation (1-3 inches) is also forecast for northern and central Texas, western Oklahoma, most of Kansas and Missouri, the Ohio Valley, and eastern Great Lakes region. Light precipitation should linger over the southwestern quarter of the Nation (including California) and in the Northeast. Little or no precipitation should occur across the northern sections of the Rockies and Plains, and in the Southeast. Subnormal temperatures are expected in the West and central Plains while above-normal readings occur in the southern Plains and eastern half of the Nation.

During January 17-21, the odds are tilted toward above median precipitation in the West and eastern half of the U.S., with sub-median precipitation favored in the southern Plains and western Alaska. Much of the lower 48 States should see above-normal temperatures, especially the eastern half, while subnormal readings are strongly favored in Alaska.

#Snowpack news: San Juans lead the way = 164% of median

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

From (Maya Rodriquez):

When the winter wonderland in the mountains fades away come spring and summer, the liquid it leaves behind will make its way into a series of reservoirs, rivers and streams across the state.

“That’s a major part of our management of our water supply,” said Travis Thompson, spokesperson for Denver Water. “Eighty percent of Denver’s water comes from mountain snowpack.”

Right now, that snowpack is booming. For two of the main basins Denver Water relies on, it’s well above average: 140-percent for the Colorado River watershed and 133-percent for the South Platte, compared to where we would normally be at this time of year.

“For Denver Water, all snow is a great thing,” Thompson said.

Not all snow is created equal, though. Water managers say some snow is “juicier” than others – meaning, it carries a higher water content. That’s what we’ve seen in the snowfall of the past few days. The difference between so called “juicy” snow versus “fluffy” snow can be a big one when it comes to our water supply. “Juicy” snowfall contains about twice as much water, as the same number of inches of “fluffy” snow.

“So, the storms that we’re seeing right now, it’s a little bit warmer, which means it has a little more moisture in it,” Thompson said. “It’s less of that kind of fluffy, champagne powder if you will that doesn’t carry as much water with it.”

Is it possible to have too much snow, that can lead to too much runoff? Reservoirs were in good shape in 2014 and 2015, so it’s possible that this season’s massive snow could make reservoirs too full — but it’s still too early in the season to tell.

“Our goal is to be at 100-percent full for our reservoirs, once runoff season is over,” Thompson said. “So, we’re always adjusting levels to try and make sure that happens. Sometimes if you do see too much, we may have to do some releases earlier in the year to try, whether it’s preventing too much water at that time.”

If reservoirs get too much water, the only solution is releasing some of it – and that’s a delicate balance to keep water ready when we need it.

From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Ryan Summerlin) via The Aspen Times:

This has been a really unusual event, which has to do with the amount of snow and its water content, said Ethan Greene of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The state has seen heavy precipitation over the past 10 days and significant, heavy snow came in fast over the past 24 to 48 hours, he said.

The high amount of water, from snow and freezing rain, means a huge amount of weight on the snowpack, Greene said…

In the meantime, the forecast shows more snow coming through Friday, so more [avalanche and rock slide] mitigation work will be required, CDOT officials said.

Finally, here’s the westwide basin-filled map for January 11th.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 11, 2017 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 11, 2017 via the NRCS.

53rd annual Colorado Farm Show January 24-26, 2017

Click here to go to the Colorado Farm Show website for more information and to register.

Here’s an introduction from Rona Johnson writing for The Fence Post:

The 53rd annual Colorado Farm Show is all about agricultural production, education and innovation and is designed to resonate with farmers, ranchers and consumers.

The theme, Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, stems from the farm show organizers’ commitment to educating the consumer about agriculture, said spokesman Erich Ehrlich.

“And for Colorado, it’s right in their backyard,” he said. “The state’s heritage and history are rich in agriculture and we want to make sure people know and understand that agriculture is alive and well.”

Ehrlich also wants people in Colorado to understand that the benefits of the state’s agricultural industry are not limited to this area.

“A lot of people don’t realize that Colorado is one of the largest exporting states in the union,” Ehrlich said.

A topic of international interest is the changing climate. Dave Aguilera, a meteorologist with CBS4 Denver KCNC-TV, will kick off a panel that will address climate, atmospheric science, water and nitrogen fertilizer. Brad Udall, of the Colorado Water Institute will moderate the discussion among state climatologist Nolan Doesken, Scott Denning, professor in the Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, John Stulp, special policy advisor to the governor on water and Raj Khosla, CSU College of Agriculture professor.

The farm show, which will be held Jan. 24-26 at Island Grove Park in Greeley, covers topics of interest to everyone, including the future of dairy development, markets for fruit and vegetable growers, processing hemp into value-added products, the current supply and demand situation for beef producers and drafting and enforcing leases for landowners and hunters.

Organizers of this year’s event are introducing a new program on Jan. 26 called Colorado Ag Education Day. Topics covered at this event are GMO, antibiotic use in livestock, the Colorado Farm to School Program, irrigation and drones.

“We are introducing this as a first-year event so we are excited about that, Ehrlich said.

Erhlich added that the event has more than 300 exhibitors and vendors. And all three days are free and open to the public.

For more information on the Colorado Farm Show, go to