@DenverWater “WaterNews” April 2017

First established in a converted school bus 1973, the Children’s Museum of Denver opened its current building in 1984 and completed a substantial expansion in 2015. The hands-on, interactive exhibits are targeted toward newborn through eight-year-olds. The museum also offers a café, shop, school programs, field trips, and birthday party hosting. Photo credit TheClio.com.

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Denver Water is partnering with Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus to bring you WATER — a 2,200-square-foot hands-in water laboratory that shows how people interact with water.

Our customers can experience the exhibit at a discounted rate from May 8 to 14.

Present your March or April bill at the museum and receive $1 off admission for each family member and 5 percent off gift shop purchases.

From triggering a thunderstorm to flushing a larger-than-life toilet, the exhibit provides opportunities for children and adults to experiment with water in everyday, yet remarkable ways.

@CFWEWater: 2017 President’s Reception

Click here to go to the website to register.

Friday May 12, 2017 – 6 PM

Denver Art Museum

This year’s recipients:

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, Colorado River District

Diane Hoppe Leadership Award

Eric Kuhn, “big thinker, deep thinker,” is how his colleague Jim Pokrandt describes him. Thirty-six years ago, in the spring of 1981, Kuhn moved from southern California to join the Colorado River District’s staff as assistant secretary engineer… Read more about Eric Kuhn here.

Photo credit Marketplace

Drew Beckwith, Western Resource Advocates

Emerging Leader Award

Drew Beckwith, water policy manager for Western Resources Advocates, devotes himself to Colorado’s water conservation future. His particular focus is municipal water conservation and land use planning… Continue to read about Drew Beckwith here.

2017 Arkansas River Basin Water Forum: “Meet the Gap”

Here’s the release from ARBWF:

Retiring state engineer reveals all at Arkansas River Basin Water Forum

Those mystified about what the expression “use it or lose it” means to water rights will have the opportunity to hear Colorado’s State Engineer Dick Wolfe explain the myth and reality of the concept on April 26.

Wolfe, 55, is retiring from the position he has held for 10 years in June. But he agreed to explain how water rights can and cannot be abandoned at this year’s Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, April 26-27 at Hotel Elegante, 2886 S. Circle Drive, Colorado Springs.

“We started looking at what ‘use it or lose it’ really meant two years ago,” Wolfe said. “We wanted to sort out the issues for our stakeholders.”

What resulted was a special report from the Colorado Water Institute co-authored by Reagan Waskom, director of the CWI; Deputy State Engineer Kevin Rein; Wolfe; and consultant MaryLou Smith.

The report is written more like a conversation than an operating manual, and delves into the mistaken notion that every drop of irrigation water must be applied, or the owner of the water right will risk abandonment.

In practice, the owner of a water right must show the intention to abandon the water right for abandonment. However, the way in which water has been used affects the yield of a water right in change of use cases, according to the report.

The concept is important as the state moves into new concepts such as irrigation water conservation, rotational fallowing, and in-stream water rights donations.

Wolfe also plans to touch on his impending retirement, which he half-jokingly predicted when he told Gov. Bill Ritter in 2007 that he’d “like to have the job for 10 years and then retire.”

During his watch, there were major changes in administration of state water law in the Arkansas River basin.

The biggest change was the implementation of Surface Irrigation Improvement Rules, which were adopted to prevent expansion of water use by more efficient irrigation means such as sprinklers or drip tape. Wolfe addressed concerns by hosting months of meetings with irrigators and conservancy districts prior to filing an application in water court.

“The most unexpected thing was that we were able to address the concerns of 22 objectors without going to trial,” Wolfe said.

Another unexpected development was the rise of basin roundtables, which added new layers of review to already complicated water decisions.

Finally, filed under “unfinished business” is how water rights are administered for marijuana cultivation.

“That’s a statewide issue, but a lot of the activity seems to be centered in the Arkansas basin,” Wolfe said.

Registrations and information about this year’s forum are available at http://www.ARBWF.org or contact, Jean Van-Pelt, 719-251-2845, ARBWF1994@gmail.com

#Snowpack news: Nice bump across #Colorado, S.W. mountains looking good for #runoff

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

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Jon Pompia):

In Pueblo, 6 inches of snow fell, with Pueblo West receiving 7 inches. The region’s biggest accumulation, 14 inches, was reported in Rye…

As is common with spring storms, the snow that covered the region was moisture rich, with liquid water content measured as high as 1.13 inches.

“The best thing about today’s snowfall is that it is heavy and wet, spread over a wide area that had been very dry up until last week,” said Chris Woodka of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “We get the added benefit of a foot of new snow in the mountains, where snowpack was already deep.”

Woodka said the state’s snowpack, which has been above average since January, reached peak levels in February. Since then, it has remained above peak levels even though March was relatively dry.

“When you look at individual sites in the Upper Arkansas and the Upper Colorado River basins that most affect our water supply, we are at about 120 percent of average.

“That should translate into a very good water year, depending on how quickly or slowly it melts.”

The Upper Arkansas River Valley received plenty of welcome moisture with Tuesday’s snowfall, as well as some downed tree branches, spotty power outages and brief internet outages.

Canon City, Florence and Penrose residents awoke to 5 to 6 inches of heavy, wet snow and snow continued to fall throughout the day. In Florence, one tree branch took down a power line at Third and Robinson streets, according to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.

According to KRLN Radio weatherman Ed Norden, the rain and snowfall amounted to 0.88 of an inch of moisture as of 7 a.m. Tuesday in Canon City, which boosted the total moisture to 0.20 ahead of the yearly average. Residents also experienced brief sporadic power outages and internet outages Tuesday.

In western Fremont County, Texas Creek and Cotopaxi received 8 inches of snow, causing the Fremont RE-3 school district to close the Cotopaxi School for the day. Custer County residents reported 7.5 inches of snow at lower elevations and 16 inches of snow at higher elevations.

Monarch Mountain received 6 inches of new snow over a 24-hour period but heavy snow continued throughout the day Tuesday, and nearby residents in Maysville reported 11 inches of snow by midday.

Monarch Mountain is reporting a 91-inch base and has measured 333 inches of snow so far this season — that amounts to nearly 28 feet of snow this winter.

Here’s the Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map for April 4, 2017.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map April 4, 2017 via the NRCS.

Weekly Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West — @ColoradoClimate #ColoradoRiver

Upper Colorado River Basin March 2017 precipitation as a percent of normal via the Colorado Climate Center.

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

#Colorado Springs voters approve stormwater funding by a wide margin

Colorado Springs with the Front Range in background. Photo credit Wikipedia.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Colorado Springs voters’ reticence to fund stormwater projects ended Tuesday evening as all three ballot measures cruised to passage.

Ballot Issue 2, which asked voters to set aside $12 million in excess revenue for stormwater projects, jumped to an early lead with 66 in preliminary unofficial results.

Sixty-six percent of voters – 50,612 as of 9:05 p.m. – voted in favor of the measure, according to unofficial results.

The move came as a relief to Travis Easton, the city’s public works director.

“I’m pleased with that and we got more work to do now,” Easton said. “We’re ready to start those projects and anxious to get everything done.”

Specifically, the measure sets aside $6 million this year and another $6 million next year to complete 26 projects, rather than rebate the money back to taxpayers.

The vote marked another chapter in a years-long saga over funding flood control projects across the city…

In April 2016, the city entered into a 20-year intergovernmental agreement that city leaders signed with Pueblo County in April 2016. The agreement called on Colorado Springs to spend $460 million in that time on stormwater projects – lest Pueblo County leaders put a halt to the city’s prized Southern Delivery Project…

Mayor John Suthers…campaigned hard for the measure – stressing that using the extra money now would help the city meet funding requirements in the Pueblo deal during lean years.

The city must spend roughly $17 million a year on stormwater to meet its agreement.

Easton said Tuesday’s results showed that voters are more aware of stormwater issues facing the city, and they’re more trusting of city officials to deliver.

Post-fire considerations on eastern Colorado rangeland — CSU Extension

Firefighters from across Kansas and Oklahoma battle a wildfire near Protection, Kan., Monday, March 6, 2017. (Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

From CSU Extension (Don Schoderbek) via The La Junta Tribune-Democrat:

While range fires can be chaotic and deadly, most of the impact comes after the flames and smoke have ended. Replacing lost forage (as well as future grazing) will be a challenge. But recently burned pastures will come back stronger if livestock are not re-stocked too early. Post-fire, the period of recovery on rangelands is determined by moisture, past grazing management, recovery period, and severity of erosion post-fire.

Burned plants will need abundant moisture to recover. Stocking rates will still likely be depressed for the first few years following the rest period. See the chart outlining possible years of post-fire rest for two common shortgrass soil types. Each pasture is unique, and should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Seasonal moisture, Loamy sites (years of rest), Sandy sites (years of rest) abundant 0.5–2, 1–2 average, 1–3, 1.5–3 drought, 2–5, 2–several

With few exceptions, your range plants are still alive and will come back. Think of your forage community as a boxer healing between fights. Management objectives should focus on retaining and improving existing plants, restoring soil cover and water capture, and allowing for recovery of the forage community to support livestock production again.

1. Range management

The loss of reliable fence – and the ability to control grazing livestock – should alone be enough to avoid the temptation to turn cattle out following the first flush of green forbs.

Don’t be in a rush to begin grazing burned areas. At a minimum, burned pastures should not be grazed for one growing season. Ask yourself, how was the range condition before it was burned? If you have problem pastures, they could probably use some extra rest.

Fire presents an opportunity to change the layout or design of your pastures. This is probably the largest “silver lining” of a fire – the ability to re-develop fencing and water into a new system.

If possible, keep livestock water running (even if at a reduced flow). Your water tank might be the sole source of water for deer, antelope and birds of prey still living on the land.

Recommendations for four-wire fences usually incorporate a 12 ? ga barbless (“slick”) bottom wire, hung at 16”. This allows for movement of antelope, while keeping your cattle enclosed.

Establish permanent monitoring points, and account for them in your infrastructure plan, like you would a windmill or trailer. CSU-Extension has fencing supplies available for this purpose, and can assist in the design and implementation of exclosures and photo points.

More detailed monitoring information can be found in the Colorado Rangeland Monitoring Guide, available for free from the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association or CSU-Extension.

Try not to overgraze unburned pastures. This will create a lose-lose situation, with increased supplementation costs, decreased livestock gains, and doing long-term harm to the rangeland.

2. Livestock management

Do not plan to return to normal stocking rates for several years on burned areas. Base your future decisions on the amount of actual forage available on the ground.

When making herd management decisions (i.e. culling, maintaining, dry-lotting etc.), work within the time frame of the fire recovery time. In most cases, multi-year planning is required.

Continue to monitor livestock for secondary effects of the fire – partial blindness, respiratory problems, foot damage, and starving calves (udder damage).

Early weaning can expand your grazing period for a few weeks in a cow/calf herd.

3. Emergency erosion control

Some sandy sites are extremely vulnerable to erosion. In these sites, agronomic methods (such as seeding) are likely a waste, as any new plants will be buried or sheared by moving sands.

Management of sand blowouts should focus on increasing surface roughness. A low-rate manure application (2 – 3 tons/acre) and rolled out bales of hay/straw are some short-term solutions.

When controlling blowouts, start at the windward leading edge and lay the treatment down in parallel strips. Focus on the areas of erosion, and not the areas where soil is being deposited.

Other resources available:

University of Nebraska Extension has an excellent, modern guide called “Grassland Management with Prescribed Fire,” EC148. This document also covers post-fire recovery and management practices. Available for $1 at https://marketplace.unl.edu/extension/ec148.html

University of Wyoming’s Dr. Derek Scasta has published a detailed, relevant technical resource called “Wildland Fire in Wyoming: Patterns, Influences, and Effects,” B1271. This is available for free online at http://www.wyoextension.org/publications/html/B1271/.

Don Schoderbek is a Regional Specialist (Range Management) for CSU Extension, serving 31 counties across eastern and southern Colorado. His office is located in downtown Sterling. His phone number is (970) 522-7207, and his email is donald.schoderbek@colostate.edu.