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

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

Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation through May 15, 2017 via the Colorado Climate Center.

Next-gen engineers tackle real-world construction project – News on TAP

CU Boulder seniors pass the test — and their class — by designing their own version of Denver Water’s new Hillcrest site.

Source: Next-gen engineers tackle real-world construction project – News on TAP

Water Center announces seven grant recipients — @ColoradoStateU

Forest ecosystems around the world are under the gun from climate change, development, insect invasions and conversion to agriculture. This stand of lodgepoles in Colorado was clear cut after pine beetles killed most of the trees.

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

The CSU Water Center has selected four multi-disciplinary teams and three individual faculty members as recipients of competitive grants totaling $129,553 for 2017-18.

The seven projects involve 25 faculty members and eight students from across campus. True to the mission of the Water Center, these projects involve water research, teaching, and engagement through interdisciplinary collaboration and creative scholarship among faculty and students.

Among the topics research teams will explore include:

  • Metal impacts on stream ecosystems.
  • Quantifying the impact of permanently drying up agricultural land due to rural to urban water transfers.
  • Individual faculty members will examine:

  • Factors that drive residential and commercial water demand.
  • Fish conversation methods in extreme habitats.
  • Reducing forest fuels, protecting water supplies

    Tony Cheng, professor in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship in the Warner College of Natural Resources, is leading a nine-person team that will research the effect of reducing forest fuels on wildfire severity and post-fire erosion.

    “Drought and warming temperatures are increasing the risk of large, severe forest wildfires in Colorado and throughout the western U.S., prompting forest land managers and water providers to invest millions of dollars to reduce flammable fuel loads to protect water supplies,” said Cheng. “Our research team has been developing new methods to quantify the effectiveness of these forest management activities, with the intent of providing investors with metrics indicating return on their investments. The Water Center’s Water Research Team award will allow us to extend the reach and impact of our research to address this important issue.”

    Removing pharmaceuticals, personal care product chemicals

    Susan De Long, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, heads up a four-member group working to remove certain contaminants from water supplies.

    “Pharmaceutical and personal care product chemicals are now routinely being detected in lakes, rivers and even drinking water, because conventional wastewater treatment plants do not effectively remove these chemicals from our water,” De Long said. “Some of these chemicals have also been found in foods that were irrigated with water containing very low levels of these contaminants. Our research is focused on developing low cost, environmentally sustainable technologies to remove these contaminants from our waters using naturally occurring, safe types of bacteria. The Water Center funding is allowing us to advance our understanding of which bacteria are most useful using next-generation gene sequencing technologies.”

    ‘Green’ water planning

    Kelly Curl, associate professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in the College of Agricultural Sciences, is one of three water faculty fellows. Curl’s research focuses on integrating green infrastructure within land-use and water planning.

    “As our population continues to increase, it will become ever more critical that the inclusion of successful green infrastructure becomes integrated within land-use planning and water planning,” said Curl. “We must look to the regional scale for the success of water efficient landscapes within our built environment. I would like to thank the CSU Water Center for giving me the opportunity to initiate my research goals on this critical topic.”

    Faculty across campus

    The CSU Water Center brings together more than 200 faculty members from various colleges and departments to promote water-related research to students, staff and community members.

    The Water Center helps to foster CSU’s capacity to address various water-related topics while advancing the university as a center of water excellence and a leader in water scholarship. Through its organizational efforts, the Water Center brings together water faculty, staff, and students who are better equipped to work toward improving water in Colorado, the U.S., and internationally.

    CSU Water Center has funded 26 interdisciplinary research teams, 10 faculty fellows, and one symposium planning team since 2014, totaling more than $675,000. These projects have resulted in more than $11 million in external funding. The Water Center’s call for proposals is released in January of each year and is open to all CSU faculty and research scientists.

    Mesa “State of the River” meeting recap

    Colorado River Trail near Fruita September 2014

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

    The Colorado River is a still largely unrecognized asset that could flood the Grand Valley with economic opportunities, speakers said at a State of the River conference Monday.

    “We’re not maximizing use of the river from a commercial perspective,” Sam Williams, general manager of Powderhorn Mountain Resort, told about 50 people at the conference at the Avalon Theatre in downtown Grand Junction.

    Williams spoke on a panel with Palisade-area fruitgrower Bruce Talbott, Grand Junction Economic Partnership Executive Director Kristi Pollard, Alpine Bank Senior Vice President David Miller and Sarah Shrader, owner of Bonsai Design in Grand Junction and a founder of the Outdoor Recreation Coalition.

    “We sell lifestyle” when trying to attract businesses to the Grand Valley, and a large part of that is the presence of “this amazing asset we have,” the Colorado River, Pollard said.

    Shrader, whose company is developing an outdoor-recreation business park along the river, noted that other cities that have taken advantage of the river through town to use as an attraction have seen a turnaround in the business climate to one of optimism and activity.

    “This community is poised to do something really fantastic,” Shrader said.

    Involving businesses and people in the river can aid with the recovery of the four endangered fish species in the Colorado River Basin, as well as others, such as the Western yellow-billed cuckoo, by encouraging an ethic of stewardship, Shrader said.

    All of Alpine Bank’s branches sit on or near the banks of the Colorado or one of its many tributaries, Miller said.

    That has served as a reminder that the health of the river is directly tied to the health of the businesses along it, Miller said.

    Alpine Bank has moved to reduce its water use by 40 percent and has saved $12,000 annually in doing so, he noted.

    Agriculture in the east end of the Grand Valley — peaches and grapes specifically — has served to make his family business “the darling of the valley,” Talbott said.

    It’s been successful on the financial score, as the 2,500 acres of fruit lands generate some $60 million in ultimate retail sales, Talbott noted.

    Nonetheless, it’s clear that fruitgrowers and others are well served to look out for their water supplies because, “We farm at the consent of the public,” Talbott said.

    “We have to grow (crops) as inexpensively as possible” while looking to assure long-term water supplies, Talbott said.

    The meeting was sponsored by The Colorado River Water Conservation District, the Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center at Colorado Mesa University and the Business for Water Stewardship. Alpine Bank, the Tamarisk Coalition and Club 20 also supported the conference.

    From NBC11News.com (Carly Moore):

    There were many speakers at the ‘State of the River’ event, taking a critical look at the resource flowing through the valley. They explained the challenges the water supply faces…

    Experts are concerned because they believe the river is operating at a long-term deficit, meaning more water is used than the amount we gain from rain or snow.

    “Water is really important in Colorado because we are an arid state,” said Aaron Clay, a Delta water law attorney. “It takes water to make any economy run, whether it’s agriculture, manufacturing or municipal.”

    “So between people and industry asking more of the river system — and this is all states states on the river — and warming temperatures, that has put a burden on supply,” said Jim Pokrandt, the community affairs director of the Colorado River District.

    Gigi Richard, faculty director of the CMU’s Water Center, said the only source of water is precipitation. With a third of the Colorado River Basin getting fewer than 10 inches of rain each year on average, the Colorado River relies on melted snow pack.

    “In a sense we’re snow farmers,” Pokrandt said. “While some people may paying attention to commodity prices, our commodity is snow pack.”

    Richard said more than 80 percent of Mesa County’s water is used for agricultural irrigation.

    Though it’s valuable for family homes to conserve water as much as possible, Clay said that doesn’t put a dent in it.