#Drought news: No change in depiction for #Colorado

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


After a rather wet May with near- to slightly below normal temperatures and generally favorable growing conditions, the central Plains and Midwest have abruptly become dry and warm during the past several weeks, raising concerns of rapid top soil moisture loss and declining crop conditions. In contrast, slow-moving Pacific systems crept across the Northwest and into the northern Plains, bringing unsettled weather to the region including measurable snow to higher elevations of the Sierras while also producing scattered thunderstorms to parts of the drought-stricken Dakotas late in the period. In the Southeast, a stalled front combined with the start of Florida’s rainy season, dumped moderate to heavy rainfall (2-8 inches, locally over a foot) along the coastal areas of the eastern Gulf and southern Atlantic coasts, especially in Florida. In Hawaii, recent drier weather on windward sides of Maui and the Big Island led to D0 expansion, while wetter weather in Alaska eased wild fire conditions…

High Plains

After a dry and hot (highs in the 90s and 100s degF) early June, a system finally tracked across the northern Plains, somewhat lowering temperatures but finally bringing rain (1-3 inches) to parts of the Dakotas by the end of the week. For the most part, the rains were not great enough to make sizeable improvements to the drought, but where 1.5 or more inches fell, especially in eastern sections of the Dakotas, drought was reduced. For example, 2-4 inches of rain fell on portions of Spink, Clark, and Codington counties in South Dakota, allowing for a 1-category improvement there. D1 was also slightly trimmed in south-central South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota where bands of 1.5-2.5 inches of rain fell. D0 was removed in extreme southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming where short and long-term SPIs were close to normal or even wet. In contrast, downgrades were made in northeastern Montana where April-June are normally the wettest months of the year. D0 and D1 were expanded westward, and D2 was added to encompass locations such as Glasgow, Circle, Fort Peck, Jordan, Brockway, and Saco that reported their first or second driest April 1-June 12 period on record. Totals ranged from 0.8-1.31 inches, or 14-29% of normal. In the central Dakotas, lower totals (0.2-0.5 inches) plus the heat (weekly anomalies +6 to 10 degF) did little to halt deterioration as the existing D2 area expanded westward and northward in ND and southward into SD. D0 also pushed into extreme northern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota. Even with the rainfall (and additional rains that fell after the 12Z Tuesday cutoff), it will take a while for the vegetation to respond to the moisture. Until then, cattle producers were waiting in line to reduce herd sizes, and a ND hotline for hay has been busy. Crop-wise, spring wheat conditions in the June 11 USDA/NASS report was rated poor or very poor in MT (31%), ND (17%), and SD (57%). Similarly, ND (53%), SD (45%), and MT (22%) pasture and range conditions were in similar poor to very poor shape. Elsewhere, 30-day percentages below 50% were found in eastern Kansas, hence D0 was added, based upon the criteria for short-term flash dryness as depicted in the Midwest and South…


June is normally dry and warm across much of the West, especially in the Southwest between the end of the wet winter season (Dec-Apr) and before the onset of the southwest monsoon season (Jul-Sep). Farther to the north, however, unsettled weather brought unseasonably wet and cool conditions to the Northwest (1.5-4 inches of precipitation to coastal Oregon, southern Cascades, south-central Idaho, and southwestern Montana), northern Great Basin, and northern California, including measurable snow to the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada. As of June 13, nearly all of the major California reservoirs were above their historic average capacities (except Perris and Cachuma in the south coast) while Sierra statewide average snow water equivalent was at 8.4 inches, or 169% of normal. In New Mexico, scattered showers (0.5-2 inches) in south-central portions were enough to trim back some of the D0 (also in southwestern Texas) north of the El Paso area. Elsewhere, no changes were made in the West…

Looking Ahead

During the next five days (June 15-19), WPC’s 5-day QPF forecasts widespread rainfall across most of the Midwest, Southeast, central Appalachians, and Great Lakes region, with the greatest totals (2-3 inches) from northern Missouri eastward into western Pennsylvania and southward into the Carolinas. Rain should also fall on coastal Washington and the northern Rockies. Dry weather should encompass the rest of the West, High Plains, Texas, and western Gulf Coast. Temperatures should average above-normal across the southern two-thirds of the U.S., with subnormal readings limited to the northern sections of the Rockies and Plains and upper Midwest.

For the ensuing five-day period (June 20-24), odds favor sub-median precipitation in the Northwest, Rockies, northern three-quarters of the Plains, and western Corn Belt, while above-median rainfall is likely along the Atlantic and eastern Gulf Coast States, Great Lakes region, and the eastern half of Alaska. Above-normal temperatures are likely in the western half of the U.S., Florida, and the northern and southwestern coasts of Alaska, with subnormal readings in the Great Lakes region, Midwest, and southeastern Alaska.

The effort to save #Colorado’s state fish — greenbacks

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Some slippery, spotted greenback cutthroat trout — Colorado’s long-lost and imperiled state fish — took a hit for their species Tuesday morning.

Not that the trout, lolling in a shady mountain creek southwest of Colorado Springs, had a choice.

They endured five Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists sloshing into their already-degraded habitat to collect genetic material – eggs and milt – as part of an unprecedented ecological rescue. CPW’s Cory Noble lugged a 30-pound LR-24 Electrofisher strapped to his back, beeping like a backing-up beer truck, red light flashing, shooting electricity into the water. Cutthroats stunned by the electricity found themselves netted and then squeezed by CPW senior aquatic biologist Josh Nehring.

“It’s a female,” he said, grabbing one and massaging her pale-yellow belly with his thumb. “I got one egg out of her.”

The point?

“To improve their genetics. It is very important. This is our only known reproducing population of greenback cutthroat trout,” Nehring said, leading this mission in a three-week blitz that has collected up to 5,400 eggs in a day.

“These fish were here before man was here,” he said. “It is a unique species, a native fish. It fills a niche in the environment.”

CPW crews haul the harvested pink eggs and milky-white milt to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery, atop the Arkansas River basin at Leadville. There, federal biologists running a captive-breeding program, using wild milt, artificially fertilized 73,000 greenback cutthroat eggs last year.

The greenback cutthroat rescue ramped up in 2012 when sleuthing by a University of Colorado team verified that the one true population of greenback cutthroat trout lives along a 3.5-mile stretch of Bear Creek southwest of Colorado Springs. While greenback cutthroats originated in the South Platte River basin, they vanished as humans settled the region. However, aspiring hotel resort operator Joseph Jones, owning property along Bear Creek in the 1870s, captured a few greenbacks and plopped them into Bear Creek hoping to draw tourists to his mountain retreat. And because of his actions, the species survived.

Greenback cutthroats were declared extinct in the 1930s, then rediscovered in 1953 and celebrated in 1994 as Colorado’s official state fish. For years, Colorado wildlife officials touting the state fish inadvertently pointed to other types of cutthroat trout. But the CU researchers determined that only the Bear Creek population carried the true genes — based on DNA analysis of cutthroats caught around Colorado compared with DNA from greenback cutthroat specimens preserved in East Coast museums. This revelation rankled some anglers who fished such Colorado high-country sweet spots as Rocky Mountain National Park and thought they caught the real thing…

CPW biologists on Tuesday said the Bear Creek habitat seems to be improving. Their latest greenback cutthroat population survey estimated 750 fish live along the 3.5-mile stretch, and they’re anticipating a new survey this fall will show a healthy increase. Greenback cutthroats are left to reproduce naturally along upper curves of the creek.

The rescue is gaining momentum. After collecting genetic material here to boost captive-breeding, CPW crews transplant thousands of greenbacks from the hatchery into native habitat in the South Platte River Basin — Zimmerman Lake west of Fort Collins, and several headwaters creeks, including Dry Gulch and Herman Gulch near the Eisenhower Tunnel, Rock Creek in South Park and Sand Creek west of Fort Collins.

Fishing for greenback cutthroats is illegal. Federal wildlife authorities have designated them officially “threatened” on the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act, the nation’s system for preventing extinctions.

The state and federal biologists face challenges. Deformities are appearing in captive-bred greenbacks — distortions of the jaw and the gills that fish use to breathe underwater. More than 100 years of isolation in Bear Creek has rendered greenback cutthroats extra susceptible to sickness.

This compels the intense focus on improving fish genetic diversity by infusing fresh genetic material. The genetic diversity builds resilience.

“We have seen better survival in the hatchery using wild genetics,” Nehring said. “It is important to make sure that the populations we are putting out on the landscape are healthy.”

And the captive-bred greenback cutthroats released into the South Platte basin face threats from invasive nonnative fish competitors. Those creeks now are full of brook and rainbow trout introduced for sport fishing. In order to re-establish greenback cutthroats in the wild, CPW crews plan to clear creeks manually and by injecting Rotenone poison to wipe out the nonnative fish…

Eggs are fertilized along the creek, using mixing bowls and syringe-like injectors, because the eggs cannot survive longer than a day. Then crews move the fertilized eggs along with any extra milt in plastic coolers to the hatchery.

Before the biologists trudged up Bear Creek, the greenback cutthroats hung out placidly in pools, occasionally darting into faster currents to snap up flies.

CPW intern Katelyn Behounek brought up the rear gripping a large net as the collection crew worked their way up the creek, kicking through eddies and riffles, making sure zapped fish were caught.

“When you are protecting the species,” Behounek said, “it is not a disturbance.”

Fountain Creek: @EPA lawsuit costs mount for #Colorado Springs

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

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

The city hired Ryley Carlock & Applewhite in February 2016 after the EPA and the other plaintiff, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, delivered to the city a notice of intent to sue, Mayor John Suthers says in an email.

Since the suit was filed, the case has cost taxpayers $431,890 from Nov. 10, 2016, through June 2, records show. That means the city has so far shelled out a total of $724,427 to the Denver law firm for the lawsuit, which alleges the city violated the federal Clean Water Act and Colorado Water Quality Control Act by failing to meet requirements of its stormwater discharge permit, known as an MS4.

That legal bill isn’t even half of what legal bills could amount to, however.

While the original engagement capped spending with the law firm at $200,000, it’s since been amended twice. After the initial limit was exceeded by August 2016, the agreement was changed to add another $200,000. It was again amended in December 2016 after it became clear that January’s billings would top the $400,000 limit.

The new limit is $1.9 million.

But the news isn’t all bad. Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, whose attorneys command rates up to $485 per hour, are discounting their fees to the city by 15 percent, according to city records. The firm’s top three lawyers listed on the city’s agreement are James Sanderson, Britt Clayton and Richard Kaufman. Sanderson lists his areas of expertise as environmental litigation, specifically dealing with the Clean Water Act. Clayton also has experience in environmental law, while Kaufman is a litigation and public policy expert.

The lawsuit in question was actually filed seven months after Suthers and City Council approved an agreement with Pueblo County to deal with runoff. That mid-April 2016 deal requires the city to spend $460 million on storm drainage projects in the next 20 years in exchange for Pueblo County allowing the Southern Delivery System water pipeline to be activated. The city has a construction permit in Pueblo County for the pipeline containing strict guidelines for matters ranging from funding for Fountain Creek drainage projects to controlling noxious weeds.

The city flipped the switch for SDS in late April 2016.

Suthers recently told a reporter the city’s legal bills in the EPA case have averaged $100,000 a month. That’s not the case; billings so far average $45,277 a month. Asked about that, Suthers says his statement was based on the City Attorney Wynetta Massey’s estimated cost “when the case got rolling.”

Suthers says Ryley Carlock & Applewhite has handled environmental matters for the city previously.

@NorthernWater proposes $53 million for mitigation for NISP

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

[Northern Water] unveiled a $53 million fish and wildlife mitigation and enhancement plan for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), which proposes to funnel Poudre water into two reservoirs for 15 Northern Colorado municipalities and water districts. Among the involved communities are Windsor and the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District. The city of Fort Collins is not one of the entities that would receive water from the project.

Northern Water’s mitigation plan includes strategies to preserve some of the Poudre’s peak flows, protect wildlife habitat near the project’s larger proposed reservoir, improve the river channel and keep more water than originally planned in the river through Fort Collins.

But that’s not enough, opponents say. Project opponent Save the Poudre argues the Poudre sorely needs the high springtime flows that NISP would use to fill its reservoirs…

Northern Water project manager Jerry Gibbens, who is leading NISP mitigation efforts, highlighted four key parts of the plan for those who don’t get through all 144 pages of the document.

Keep some water in the Poudre through Fort Collins: NISP aficionados have heard of this one. Northern Water plans to run 14,000 acre feet of diverted water down a 12-mile stretch of the Poudre in Fort Collins before recapturing it for storage. The goal is to prevent dry-up spots on the Poudre in Fort Collins and preserve flows between 18 and 25 cubic feet per second.

Preserve some peak flows: Basically, Northern Water would hold off on Poudre diversions for up to three peak flow days each year, depending on whether conditions are wet, dry or about average.

During wet conditions when the reservoirs are full, Northern Water would divert no water from the Poudre during the three peak flow days. On average years, Northern Water would aim for up to three high-flow days with no diversions.

“During dry years when we’re trying to get every drop, we probably won’t have any opportunity to bypass (diversions),” Gibbens said.

Improve the river channel: The plan earmarks money for a channel and habitat improvement plan along the river. Northern Water plans to focus on 2.4 miles specifically: 1.2 miles within a reach of the Poudre from the Poudre Valley Canal to the intersection of Highway 14 and Highway 287, and 1.2 miles in the Watson Lake area north of Bellvue. Northern would fund channel reconstruction and habitat improvements. Northern also identified five sites for riparian vegetation improvement.

Conserve wildlife habitat near Glade Reservoir: Northern Water plans to put a conservation easement on land it owns around the proposed location of Glade Reservoir, the project’s larger reservoir northwest of Fort Collins. Northern plans to buy more land in the area for the same purpose. A conservation easement would protect the land from being sold for urban development, Gibbens said.

The plan also addresses water quality monitoring, water temperature mitigation, fish and bird habitat and a host of other issues. Check out northernwater.org for the full plan – but do it sooner rather than later. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is accepting public comments on the plan for 60 days, until early August.

CPW will hold an open house to talk to the public about the plan at The Ranch in Loveland at 4-7:30 p.m. June 27. Later this summer, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission might suggest changes to the mitigation plan…

Gibbens said NISP won’t hamper the Poudre’s peak flows during about 82 percent of years, either because of Northern’s plans to sometimes preserve peak flows or because Northern Water’s water right is out of priority during peak flow days. Colorado water rights operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so those who own older water rights get to use the water before those who own newer water rights.

Still, NISP would result in lower average springtime flows on the Poudre, according to Northern Water’s projections. Project proponents point out it would also increase low flows during the fall and winter.

“We still will have diversions for water supply purposes, but we feel that this plan really allows those water supply withdrawals and environmental needs of the river to coexist and actually make the river a better river with the project than without it,” Gibbens said.

If approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NISP will yield 40,000 acre-feet of water per year to participants. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, enough to meet the water needs of three to four urban households for a year.

NISP participants include Windsor, Eaton, Firestone, Frederick, the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, Fort Lupton, Fort Morgan, Severance, Lafayette, Erie, Evans, Left Hand Water District, Morgan County Quality Water District, Central Weld County Water District and Dacono.

Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

Phoenix approves historic #ColoradoRiver conservation agreement #COriver

Water flows near Phoenix, AZ. Tim McCabe / Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service., via Wikimedia Commons

From AZ Business Magazine:

Mayor Greg Stanton and the Phoenix City Council unanimously approved an agreement with tribal, state, federal and philanthropic leaders to help protect the Colorado River and preserve water levels in Lake Mead.

The agreement with State of Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Walton Family Foundation will save the equivalent of 35 percent of the Colorado River water used by Phoenix residents each year. Specifically, it will fund a contribution of 13 billion gallons of Colorado River water to system conservation in Lake Mead this year.

The Colorado River – essential to Arizona’s water supply – is over-allocated and regarded as one of the most endangered rivers in the nation, and Lake Mead is at 40 percent capacity. To preserve the state’s long-term water supply, cities like Phoenix must take a more active and leading role, said Stanton. System-wide solutions like this agreement establish a long-term partnership between tribal, federal, state and local leaders and a philanthropic foundation that helps conserve precious water resources in Lake Mead.

“Smart water policy is essential to our economy and to every Arizonan,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “This historic agreement shows how by thinking creatively and working together we can protect our future Colorado River water supply and safeguard against the continued drought and climate change that are directly impacting Lake Mead.”

“With this action we will continue to plan responsibly for the future of our city, through partnership and collaboration,” said Councilwoman Kate Gallego. “Sustainable solutions to our water supply needs require collaboration. This agreement not only supports the overall health of the Colorado River; it also establishes a long-term partnership that helps conserve precious water resources in Lake Mead.”

“With the largest Colorado River water entitlement delivered through the CAP system, the Community has the ability to meet our needs and still make its supply available elsewhere in times of need,” said Gila River Governor Stephen R. Lewis. “We consider this agreement a continuation of our commitments made to the United States in January that will allow Arizona parties to continue their negotiations and efforts to adopt a comprehensive plan that meets Arizona’s water supply needs and also addresses the severe drought on the Colorado River.”

“This agreement will allow for the creation of tools that will be effective in protecting Lake Mead,” said Thomas Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. “Those tools will be enduring and inclusive, allowing for participation by a broad group of Arizona water entitlement holders and other constituencies.”

Under the agreement, the Gila River Indian Community will contribute 40,000 acre-feet of its Colorado River allocation to system conservation. The City will contribute $2 million towards the program. While the financial commitment in this agreement is for one year only, it is anticipated that the State of Arizona, the City of Phoenix, the Walton Family Foundation, and others may continue those contributions into the future to develop a regional system conservation program that will be open to additional water contributors and additional funders.

“Phoenix continues to plan for conditions on the Colorado River to ensure it is well positioned to contend with shortages,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams who chairs the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association. “We must protect and preserve the rivers and lakes that our city and state rely upon; this agreement is a prime example of working together with regional partners to create a smart approach for system conservation of the Colorado River and Lake Mead.”

“Economic development in the state of Arizona depends on a secure water supply,” said Councilman Jim Waring. “This agreement helps create resiliency on the Colorado River, economic security, and most importantly, certainty for the future of Phoenix.”

“The combined metropolitan areas in Arizona, Southern California, Colorado and Nevada served by the Colorado River represent the world’s 12th largest economy, and no matter how well Phoenix has planned to avoid a water shortage, the regional economy may suffer if reliable water supplies are threatened,” said Councilman Daniel Valenzuela. “This agreement shows the City of Phoenix is taking proactive steps to be sure we have enough water under any future circumstances.”

“Phoenix is a leader when it comes to smart, water supply planning, which is vital for our city’s future,” said Councilwoman Debra Stark. “As someone with a planning background, I know the importance of coming up with creative solutions for real issues. This agreement is a great partnership that has led to an innovative water conservation system.”

“I am proud that the City Council unanimously approved this agreement to help preserve the state’s long-term water supply through system conservation on the Colorado River and in Lake Mead,” said Councilman Michael Nowakowski. “With this vote, the City of Phoenix has a taken the lead in ensuring future generations will have a resilient water supply and a catalyst for economic prosperity.”

“I was part of the original water settlements for the City,” said Councilman Sal DiCiccio, “And it’s critical we continue to move forward with our conservation efforts. I am proud to support this innovative agreement that helps protect Phoenix’s precious Colorado River water supply.”

Funding for Phoenix’s portion will come from the Colorado River Resiliency Fund, which was approved by the Phoenix City Council in 2014. The Colorado River Resiliency Fund supports projects focused on water supply resiliency, including system conservation efforts.

“I particularly want to recognize the visionary leadership of Governor Stephen Roe Lewis and the Gila River Indian Community as we move forward with this partnership,” added Gallego. “The Gila River Indian Community has been an excellent partner for the City of Phoenix in this process, and I look forward to both our communities working together in the future. As a desert city, Phoenix knows the value of water and its importance for our future, and I’m extremely proud to take part in this innovative water resource partnership.”

Gila River watershed.

From The Arizona Republic (Alden Woods):

To stem falling water levels and help prevent a shortage, the Gila River Indian Community will leave 40,000 acre-feet of its river allocation in Lake Mead. In exchange, the city of Phoenix, state of Arizona and Bureau of Reclamation will each pay the tribe $2 million. The Walton Family Foundation will contribute $1 million.

The tribe’s water contribution is equivalent to 13 billion gallons of water, which equals 35 percent of Phoenix’s annual consumer use.

City and Gila River officials say it is the first agreement of its kind, with local, federal and tribal governments joining to conserve the region’s water. Cities have leased tribal water in the past but, under this deal, the water will not be used.

For years, the Colorado River system has been drained faster than it has been refilled. Water levels have dropped about 12 feet a year in Lake Mead, which today sits at 1,081 feet above sea level.

If that level falls below 1,075 feet, the secretary of the Interior will declare a shortage. Larger shortages would be triggered at 1,050 feet and 1,025 feet, severely reducing the city’s water access.

“It is unchartered territory,” Phoenix Water Services Director Kathryn Sorensen told the council. “Our economies can withstand controlled shortages of known quantities. We can plan for that, but it is difficult to plan for the unknown.”

Leaving water stored in Lake Mead will slow the decline in water levels and give water managers in the seven Colorado River states more time to work on long-term conservation plans.

It is the second water agreement between Phoenix and the Gila River community this year. In March, the city agreed to store 3,800 acre-feet of its water in aquifers along the Gila, restoring flow to the tribe’s namesake river. That deal allowed the city to set aside some of its Colorado River water in case of a future shortage. The city also paid the tribe a storage fee.

Already, that water has brought life back to the long-brown banks of the Gila. Birds and coyotes have returned, and plants have grown so quickly the tribe is now looking for volunteers to cut back the greenery.

Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis and Stanton are longtime friends from before their time in office.

“As neighbors, we can accomplish great things together,” Lewis said. “And historic agreements like this one make it easier to work on other matters that may impact our communities from time to time.”

The one-year agreement will be formally signed next month at the Gila River Indian Community, with hope that a long-term Arizona drought contingency plan will be in place by the end of the year.

Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands — Graphic/USBR

#Runoff/#snowpack news: Melt-out has rivers running high

Statewide snowpack Basin High/Low graph June 14, 2017 via the NRCS.

From TheDenverChannel.com (Mark Belcher):

Rivers are raging in Colorado now due to snow melt and a wet spring…

Deputies and first responders have been forced to make several water rescues already this year, leading to rafting restrictions across Jefferson County that will last until water levels decrease.

Authorities in Larimer County also expect the high water levels to persist as temperatures continue to rise. They anticipate tens of thousands of people to visit county waterways through the summer alone.

Follow these tips to stay safe while out on the waterways:

·Tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return and where and who to call if you don’t. If your plans change while you are traveling, put a note in your car on the driver’s side dashboard with the new plans.

·Wear a life jacket. Wear a properly fitting personal floatation device for all river activities. Don’t assume you have the swimming skills to keep afloat, even the strongest swimmers can drown.

·Keep a close watch on children, even if they are far from the water. Water safety for children is especially important as they can quickly enter the water and get in trouble when your attention is diverted for only a moment.

·Never walk, play or climb on slippery rocks and logs near rivers and streams.

·Stay away from riverbanks during times of high flowing water. The banks may have become unstable and give way underneath you.

From The Denver Post:

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader and the Golden Police Department will limit access to Clear Creek both within Golden, including at Vanover Park, and in unincorporated Jefferson County.

The order prohibits water activities including belly boats, inner tubes and single chambered rafts, as well as “body-surfers” and swimming.

People who use kayaks, paddle boards, whitewater canoes and multi-chambered professionally guided rafts and river boards can still access the river, but law enforcement officials urge people to use extreme caution due to safety concerns about swift moving water and floating debris. Anyone who gets on the river must use a Coast Guard-approved paddling life jacket and wear a water-use designed helmet…

Water across the state is running high and fast, but that’s normal for this time of year, when snowmelt and rain make the rivers swell, National Weather Service hydrologist Tony Anderson said.

@GreeleyWater wins 13th annual “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste Test

Cache la Poudre River

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

Greeley ought to bottle this stuff.

The water in your tap — the stuff you pay pennies per gallon for — just earned recognition as the best tasting water in the United States.

This week, the American Water Works Association rated Greeley’s water the best tasting in the nation, as Greeley beat out 33 other regional winners. The city also became the first to win the national competition and People’s Choice Award at the organization’s annual conference in the 13-year history of the competition.

Greeley also is the first Colorado municipality to win the award.

And then there’s this: This was the first year Greeley has entered the contest.

“I was hopeful,” Greeley Water and Sewer Director Burt Knight said. “But I never expected to win both awards.”

Still, Knight said the awards didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know.

“What it does is it confirms the choice our forefathers made when they went up to the mouth of the Poudre and built the treatment plant and pipeline in 1907,” Knight said. “I know we have high-quality water. All we needed to do is get everybody else to agree.”

Now that they have, Knight and others are pondering how, exactly, they’ll spike the football.

“It’s something we’ll need to think about leveraging,” City Manager Roy Otto said, adding the city has used its extensive water portfolio to attract businesses in the past. “But quality is something we need to spend time communicating to people — not only to residents, but others who might be coming to Greeley, as well.”

There are strict rules for the water competition. Greeley was sent special containers and coolers. Officials took water from one of the treatment plants and shipped it off to Philadelphia, where the annual convention was held.

Once there, contest officials remove any labels to ensure a blind taste test for judges.

To get there, Greeley had to win its regional competition last fall. And as a result of its national win this year, Greeley gets an automatic bid to the national competition next year.

Will the city enter?

“If you’re the Broncos, and you win the Super Bowl, you want to defend your title,” Knight said.

But that’s for next year. For now, Greeley officials are happy celebrating the victory.

Otto said he’s proud of the tradition and legacy of water in Greeley, saying the award is an affirmation of that.

W.D. Farr

“W.D. Farr has a big smile on his face in heaven right now,” Otto said, referencing the Greeley water pioneer.

After Farr died, Greeley bottled some of the town’s water, labeling it “Greeley Gold.” Otto still has a bottle.

“I would put Greeley’s water supply up against any bottled water across the country,” Otto said.

From The Denver Post (Tom McGhee):

Greeley, a city known for both agriculture and food processing businesses, can now boast it has the best tasting tap water in the United States and Canada.

The Greeley Water and Sewer Department won the 13th annual “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste Test conducted by the American Water Works Association. Montpelier, Ohio, took second place and Bloomington, Minn., had the third-best tasting tap water.

Greeley represented the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association in the contest held in Philadelphia, Pa. The Rocky Mountain group includes water companies from cities in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, said Greg Baker, spokesman for the organization. It is the first time that any member of the Rocky Mountain association has won the contest, Baker said.

The event, composed of regional winners from water-tasting competitions across North America, was held at American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fifteen regions participated in the contest, including some in Canada and Puerto Rico.

Cache la Poudre River watershed via the NRCS