#AnimasRiver: Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site update

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

This summer will be the first full work season since the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site was declared last September, and the Environmental Protection Agency is wasting no time trying to figure out one of the biggest mysteries in the watershed: The American Tunnel.

EPA hydrologist Ian Bowen said this week the agency plans to drill 500 feet into the San Juan Mountains to install a monitoring well between the second and third bulkheads on the tunnel…

The American Tunnel, which travels about 11,000 feet, served as a transportation route for ore, as well as a deep drainage, from the vast Sunnyside Mine workings to facilities at Gladstone, north of Silverton.

When Sunnyside Mine closed for good in 1991, attention turned to what to do with acidic discharges out of the American Tunnel. Sunnyside initially pulled the water into a treatment plant, but ultimately decided with the state of Colorado to install three bulkheads to stem the flow of acid drainage.

But in recent years, researchers believe the Sunnyside mine pool behind the American Tunnel reached capacity and the water is spilling into other mine networks, such as the Gold King and Red & Bonita…

The Animas River headwaters are broken into three drainages: Mineral Creek, Cement Creek and the Upper Animas.

Rebecca Thomas, project manager for the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site, has previously said each drainage accounts for about a third of heavy metal loading in the Animas, causing a dead zone of aquatic life on the river from just below Silverton to the Bakers Bridge.

But many people familiar with the basin say the EPA, which could see massive budget cuts under the Trump administration, should focus on the high-metal content waters of Cement Creek, where 13 of the 48 sites are located…

Treatment options for the American Tunnel are a great unknown, Bowen said.

Some have called for a complete draining of the tunnel, which could take decades and cost a lot of money to treat discharges. Others have suggested placing bulkheads on all the mines in the area.

Bowen said the EPA first needs to understand the hydrology of the area. The new monitoring well that is expected to be installed by August will be a key tool in that effort because it will provide insight on how much water is behind the bulkheads, he said.

“There’s strong indications that these systems are related, but there’s not enough evidence to say it’s immediately connected,” Bowen said.

Sunnyside Gold Corp. has long contended there is no connection between the American Tunnel and any other mine networks in the area.

The American Tunnel drains about 100 gallons of acid mine waste water a minute, which flows right by the EPA’s temporary treatment plant into Cement Creek.

The temporary treatment plant only takes discharges from the Gold King Mine, which is now at about 620 gallons a minute. The EPA said it may consider treating other mine discharges upon further evaluation.

From The Farmington Daily Times (Hannah Grover):

The second annual Conference on Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watersheds with Emphasis on the Gold King Mine and Other Mine Waste Issues today at San Juan College also featured other people who have been monitoring conditions in the rivers.

One challenge for scientists is identifying to what degree metals are naturally occurring in the river and which metals are coming from mines in Colorado.

Kathleen Sullivan, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientist, said heavy metals released into the river during the Gold King Mine spill likely are no longer in the sediments in the rivers.

Sullivan said there are naturally high levels of aluminum and iron in the river because of the composition of the bedrock. She said the EPA looked at the ratio of arsenic and lead to aluminum or iron in the river to identify the plume released by the Gold King Mine spill.

The ratio peaked while the plume was passing through the area…

She said only a small fraction of the heavy metals released into the river during the spill reached Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona during the immediate aftermath of the spill in August 2015. The rest of the metal was deposited as sediment, but Sullivan said the EPA believes the metals from the Gold King Mine spill are no longer present in the sediment and now have been deposited in Lake Powell.

Sullivan said the EPA believes the Gold King Mine metals deposited in sediments passed through New Mexico in low levels over three to four weeks during the spring runoff in 2016.

To test that hypothesis, Sullivan said the EPA took samples during the spring runoff this year. She said the EPA expects to see lower ratios of lead to aluminum in this year’s samples.

Sullivan said the metals in the plume of acid mine drainage were mainly picked up after the water left the Gold King Mine. She said the water exiting the mine picked up a large amount of metal from a waste pile outside the mine. Sullivan said the EPA is currently in the process of testing that pile.

During a panel presentation, Bonnie Hopkins, an extension agent for New Mexico State University, said one of the biggest issues still facing the area is the public stigma associated with the spill.

When Farmington’s Growers Market opened for the 2016 season following the Gold King Mine spill, only three vendors showed up to sell their products. She attributed the small number of farmers selling their products to the stigma surrounding crops grown using water from the Animas River.

This year, the Growers Market saw improvement. Hopkins said 11 vendors brought crops to the first market of the season earlier this month.

During a panel discussion, Sullivan said the acid mine drainage from the Gold King Mine is effectively being treated, although drainage from other mines needs to be addressed. She said samples from Cement Creek — which feeds the Animas River — show the water quality is improving.

Steve Austin, a hydrologist with the Navajo Nation EPA, said community outreach is still needed to communicate that the river water is safe.

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

EPA Superfund officials trying to stop toxic mine contamination of the Animas River headwaters are preparing to close an underground dam, aiming to block a 300 gallon-per-minute discharge equal to a Gold King Mine disaster every week.

Shutting this Red and Bonita Mine bulkhead has emerged as a huge test on mountains here, where miners who penetrated fissures and groundwater pathways left behind the geologic equivalent of Swiss cheese…

But turning a valve and closing that bulkhead could trigger toxic leaks elsewhere, potentially spreading harm along already-contaminated headwaters. The EPA’s latest water data show widespread aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron and zinc contamination from mining and natural sources at levels too high for fish to survive.

EPA officials this week told The Denver Post — and assured local leaders — that the agency will use caution at the bulkhead, installed in 2004, and close it gradually next year while monitoring mountainsides for any new leaks. They’ve launched a data-gathering blitz, harnessing the local Mountain Studies Institute, to measure flows from dozens of mine tunnels and more than 97 mountainside seeps and springs.

“As soon as we feel we have a good handle on what the baseline is, then we’ll close the Red and Bonita bulkhead,” EPA project chief Rebecca Thomas said. “We would do it as a test initially and build up water behind the bulkhead.

“If we see a change we’re not comfortable with, if it is going to cause any further degradation of water quality, we’ll open up the bulkhead and drain it and treat it,” Thomas said in an interview.

“We need to understand how water flows before we close it. There are a lot of underground connections. Some are man-made. Some are natural,” she said. “We want to test whether or not closure of the bulkhead would help us improve water quality by stopping continued flow from the Red and Bonita.”

EPA hydrologist Ian Bowen said environmental gains could be big but emphasized unknowns. For example, the acid-metals muck draining from the Gold King, which is filtered before it mixes into the Animas, increased last year, reaching to 710 gallons per minute. The EPA can treat 1,200 gallons per minute at a plant below that mine.

Bulkheads also were installed inside Kinross Corp.’s Sunnyside Mine and American Tunnel. EPA crews plan to drill behind those bulkheads to test the pressure of pent-up mine wastewater — to make sure they will hold. American Tunnel bulkheads still leak 100 gallons a minute, and the Mogul Mine, where a bulkhead was installed in 2003, leaks 150 gallons a minute more unfiltered muck into headwaters.

Stopping the untreated Red and Bonita discharge would mark a first big fix in a Superfund cleanup following the Aug. 5, 2015, Gold King disaster, where an EPA crew accidentally triggered a 3 million gallon spill that turned the Animas mustard-yellow as it moved down the river and eventually reached the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.

Installing more bulkheads to trap toxic mine muck inside mountains could mean taxpayers pay less for water cleaning at treatment plants built along headwaters.

Colorado “agrees with EPA’s plan,” state health department spokesman Warren Smith said.

Yet challenges loom. Mapping tunnels, fissures, seeps and springs increasingly occupies a legion of researchers and Deere & Ault engineering consultants tapped by the EPA. They anticipated in an April report that closing the Red and Bonita bulkhead would cause toxic overflows elsewhere. And EPA bureaucracy combined with uncertain funding from Congress has delayed a dozen or so other toxic mine Superfund cleanups around Colorado — let alone the tens of thousands of inactive mines contaminating water around the West.

East of Silverton, above Creede, the EPA’s Superfund cleanup of the Nelson Tunnel and various old mines — declared a national-priority disaster in 2008 — has yet to move beyond studies of tunnels and groundwater.

EPA officials on Wednesday said the agency “is evaluating the focused feasibility study for the (Creede) site and considering a range of alternatives for the proposed remedy” but that, because the EPA has not picked “a preferred alternative,” funds for cleanup aren’t available…

EPA crews seem to be working at sampling water and investigating hydrology before closure of the Red and Bonita bulkhead, said Fetchenhier, who is a geologist. “We said: ‘Before you close it, we want the data gathered on every spring, every seep, every tunnel so that you have a baseline. Anytime you put in a bulkhead, there is a chance something could come out someplace else.’ ”

EPA officials this week convened a forum in Silverton, an in-depth hydrology session with a brain trust of local scientists, mining engineers and others whose collective knowhow, federal officials said, exceeds the agency’s expertise.

Downriver in Durango, La Plata County leaders acknowledged a strong interest in stopping contamination after decades of enduring the toxic legacy of mining — because clean water is crucial for residents of Colorado and other western states.

#Drought news: No change in depiction for #Colorado

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

Summary

A weather pattern change brought badly-needed, widespread showers and thunderstorms across the eastern half of the Nation, right after abnormal dryness (D0) developed in many areas of the Midwest and south-central Plains last week. This occurred after a wet May had alleviated many areas of drought – which was abruptly followed by dry and warm weather starting in late May into early June, a critical time for crop growth and development. In addition, heavy showers fell along the eastern Gulf Coast, providing additional improvement to Florida and southern Georgia. Unfortunately, little or no rain fell on most of the northern third of the High Plains and southern Plains, drying out conditions in Texas and Oklahoma and worsening the flash drought in eastern Montana and the western Dakotas. In the Southwest, although June is climatologically dry and warm, extreme heat late in the period, subnormal precipitation during the past 60-days, and some impacts was enough to expand D0 in Utah, central Arizona, and southern New Mexico. On Hawaii’s Big Island, some deterioration was made as field reports indicated worse conditions than expected while scattered showers in southwestern Alaska were not enough to improve low stream flow levels, thus D0 and D1 was slightly expanded there…

High Plains

While significant rains (1.5-3 inches) fell across northern and eastern North Dakota, northeastern South Dakota, and northern Minnesota (see Midwest) and provided some relief, little or no rain worsened conditions across eastern Montana, western and southern North Dakota, and the western half of South Dakota. Dry conditions during the past 30-days also allowed for a D0 expansion into central and southeastern Montana, northeastern Wyoming, and central and northeastern Nebraska (and into northwestern Iowa – see Midwest). Fortunately, cooler air finally filtered into the northern Plains as highs in the 90s and 100s degF during the previous week were replaced with 70s and 80s degF this period. With May-July normally the wettest time of the year in the northern High Plains (some areas typically receive half to two-thirds of their ANNUAL precipitation), a lack of adequate late spring and early summer rainfall can impact the region for the rest of the year.

In northeastern Montana, most locations in nearly 20 counties have experienced 5-25% of normal precipitation since the end of April. Numerous locations have reported near- or record low precipitation since April 1, while temperatures for the past 30-days have averaged 1 to 4 degF above normal. The March-May period was the 14th warmest such period since 1895 for Montana, according to NCEI. While river flows remain normal across the state, northeast and eastern Montana are driven by dry land farming. The subnormal rainfall has been evaporated due to high winds and temperatures, with the Evaporative Stress Index at very high values for northeastern Montana. As for surface and root zone soil moisture, 95-98% of all Mays since 1948 have been wetter than this year in northeastern Montana, with percentiles dropping below the tenth percentile for wetness. The flash drought has quickly deteriorated crop conditions, with the June 9 forecast for winter wheat down 26% from the 105.35 million bushels produced last year, while June 18 USDA/NASS reported 37% of the spring wheat and 26% of pastures were in poor or very poor condition. Numerous field reports indicated poor or even no spring wheat emergence, and the ones that did emerge are stunted and badly need moisture. There has been little growth in pastures and ranges, and many were brown (dormant) with little or no dryland hay cut expected, impacting livestock feed and grazing. Accordingly, D3(S) was added to the driest areas where 2- and 3-month SPIs were D4, departures were greatest, and where impacts were the bleakest. D2 was expanded southward into southern Garfield County, while D1 was expanded westward and southward.

In northeastern Montana, most locations in nearly 20 counties have experienced 5-25% of normal precipitation since the end of April. Numerous locations have reported near- or record low precipitation since April 1, while temperatures for the past 30-days have averaged 1 to 4 degF above normal. The March-May period was the 14th warmest such period since 1895 for Montana, according to NCEI. While river flows remain normal across the state, northeast and eastern Montana are driven by dry land farming. The subnormal rainfall has been evaporated due to high winds and temperatures, with the Evaporative Stress Index at very high values for northeastern Montana. As for surface and root zone soil moisture, 95-98% of all Mays since 1948 have been wetter than this year in northeastern Montana, with percentiles dropping below the tenth percentile for wetness. The flash drought has quickly deteriorated crop conditions, with the June 9 forecast for winter wheat down 26% from the 105.35 million bushels produced last year, while June 18 USDA/NASS reported 37% of the spring wheat and 26% of pastures were in poor or very poor condition. Numerous field reports indicated poor or even no spring wheat emergence, and the ones that did emerge are stunted and badly need moisture. There has been little growth in pastures and ranges, and many were brown (dormant) with little or no dryland hay cut expected, impacting livestock feed and grazing. Accordingly, D3(S) was added to the driest areas where 2- and 3-month SPIs were D4, departures were greatest, and where impacts were the bleakest. D2 was expanded southward into southern Garfield County, while D1 was expanded westward and southward.

In the Dakotas, western areas typically receive over two-thirds their annual precipitation during April-July, so a lack of adequate late spring and early summer rains are critical to dryland farming and livestock grazing and cuttings of pasture and range grasses. Similar to northeastern Montana, southwestern North Dakota and northern South Dakota have seen the lowest precipitation as compared to normal since April, with deficits of 3-6 inches at 60-days and 4-8 inches at 6-months. Temperatures have also averaged well above normal the past few weeks, and combined with strong winds, have evaporated much of the soil moisture much quicker than expected. Where recent rains have fallen (mainly in the eastern sections), some recovery of the crops and pastures have occurred, but winter wheat fields and other small grains that were planted early are much drier than corn, soybean, or later planted fields. The long fall (or late freeze) the Dakotas had last year contributed to the depletion of soil moisture this spring as the depth of the frozen ground was much shallower than usual and thawed much earlier and quicker this spring. In addition, many of the current drought areas were in drought last year, had exhibited short-term recovery over the winter, but the deficits were never fully erased, thus the soil moisture profile was susceptible to rapid drying this spring. In the June 18 USDA/NASS report, South Dakota crops rated poor or very poor included: 64% spring wheat; 17% corn; 16% soybeans; 34% sorghum; winter wheat 50%; oats 36%; and pastures 49%. For North Dakota, it was: 24% spring wheat; 10% corn; 11% soybeans; 20% barley; 30% oats; and 54% pastures. Topsoil (and subsoil) moisture rated short to very short was 55% (55%) and 43% (38%) for South Dakota and North Dakota, respectively. Based upon the numerous tools at varying time periods (30-, 60-, 90-, and 180-days) and reported impacts, the D2 was extended westward into western North Dakota and southward in South Dakota, with D3 areas drawn for the worst indicators over the varying time periods. D0 was also extended southward into Nebraska as the past 30-days were very dry and warm which could lead to rapid soil moisture depletion if the weather doesn’t improve…

West

With June a normally dry and warm month in the Southwest, it was not surprising that most of the region was rain free this week. But after a very wet winter season this year across the West (nearly every NRCS SNOTEL basin average precipitation since October 1, 2016 is above or much above normal), the past 3 months (March-May) have been drier than normal. The sudden end to the wet season, combined with a recent heat wave, has started to dry out the landscape quicker than usual now that the snow has mostly melted. Based upon ground observations of low stream flows, low SPIs, and increasing wild fires, D0 was added in central Arizona in eastern Yavapai and southeastern Coconino Counties. In Utah, short-term (60-days) SPIs were quite low in west-central and northeastern sections, leading to some D0 expansion in those two areas of the state. In southeastern New Mexico (similar to west Texas), short-term dryness and recent warmth has led to small deficits at 30- and 60-days, thus D0 was added where rainfall amounts were lower during the past 30-days. Additional areas will be monitored as the recent heat wave (June 20 highs reaching 92F in Flagstaff, 113F in Las Vegas, 115F in Tucson, 118F in Phoenix, and 125F in Death Valley) will quicken the drying of the Southwest. In contrast, the Northwest has been wet recently, with no dryness there. No other changes were made in the West…

Looking Ahead

During the next five days (June 22-26), the NHC guidance indicated that Tropical Storm Cindy (located in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico at 1 pm EDT Wed) will track north, then northeast, then eastward into southwestern Virginia by 7 am EDT Saturday. The WPC’s 5-day QPF forecasts the heaviest rains over and to the east of Cindy’s center, with 2-5 inches of rain expected in the lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys into the central Appalachians. Decent rains (2-3 inches) are also expected in the Texas Panhandle and across Wisconsin and Michigan. Little or no precipitation is expected in the northern Plains and from the Rockies westward, and only light amounts in the western Corn Belt, coastal New England, and parts of Florida. 5-day temperatures should average below-normal from east of the Rockies to the Appalachians, above-normal in the Far West, and near-normal along the East Coast.

For the ensuing five-day period (June 27-July 1), odds favor above-median precipitation in western Alaska, the southern Plains, along the Gulf and southern Atlantic Coasts, and in the Great Lakes region and New England, with sub-median rainfall in eastern Alaska, the Northwest, and the Tennessee Valley. Chances favor subnormal temperatures in the eastern half of the Nation while above-normal readings are likely in southern Florida, west of the Rockies, and in Alaska.

#Colorado #ColoradoRiver #runoff has peaked #COriver

Lake Powell April 12, 2017. Photo credit Patti Weeks via Earth Science Picture of the day.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

…officials expect Lake Powell to rise to 65 percent full, but that relatively high level won’t last long as the inflow into the reservoir will be sent downstream to Lake Mead and Mexico.

In all, Lake Powell is to release just under 9 million acre-feet of water downstream this year, or 7.5 million acre-feet to meet the terms of the 1922 Colorado River compact, and 750,000 acre-feet for Mexico under a 1944 treaty…

The high-runoff year ultimately won’t buy much insurance for the upper basin states, said Chris Treese, spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

“It won’t make things worse,” Treese said. “We will continue to bump along about the 50 percent level” in Lake Powell.

While 9 million acre-feet amounts to a third of the capacity of Lake Powell, water continues to flow into the reservoir throughout the year, though well short of runoff levels.

The Bureau of Reclamation operates Lake Powell so as to keep enough pressure to generate electricity at Glen Canyon Dam. The dam’s eight turbines can produce up to 1,320 megawatts of electricity and the dam supplies power to 5.8 million customers.

The spring’s high runoff isn’t operationally significant, James Eklund, the former director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board who headed development of the Colorado water plan, said in an email.

From a strategic perspective, however, “it underscores that even in what seemed like a banner water year, we’re still a long way from recovery from the last 16-year dry spell” and highlights the need to keep enough water in Powell high enough to generate electricity, Eklund said.

From KOAA.com (Lena Howland):

The Arkansas River is expected to reach flood stage by the end of the night. That means it will be hitting right at seven feet, just starting to spill over the banks.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo says this is actually normal for this time of year and it’s something this area will see every spring.

The higher water levels are coming from spring runoff from places as high up as Leadville. Local hydrologists say this is also a result of more water that was released from Pueblo Reservoir on Wednesday morning.

“The Department of Water Resources is releasing water from the Pueblo Dam to match that flow coming in from up stream. This morning I believe they raised the flow several hundred feet per second, and that was just enough to push the Arkansas River at La Junta and at Avondale just above flood stage,” said Tony Anderson, a service hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

Minor flooding could start up as early as Wednesday night, but the good news is that it’s only expected to cause agricultural impacts. It’s not expected to affect any roads, homes or businesses at this point in time.

Flood warnings are expected to last through Friday in Avondale and through Sunday in La Junta.

Rep. Ken Buck wants streamlined water project approval

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

From My Windsor Now (Nate A. Miller):

Rep. Ken Buck on Wednesday called for a streamlined process for federal approval of water storage projects.

“In Colorado, water is tough to come by, which makes water storage a necessity. That’s why House Resolution 1654 is so important,” Buck said, according to a news release from his office. “We need to streamline the water project permitting process so that future projects like NISP don’t take over a decade to win a permit.”

Buck, a Republican from Windsor, spoke on the U.S. House floor about HR 1654, the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act. This legislation places the Bureau of Reclamation within the Department of the Interior in charge of coordinating project permitting among state and federal governments on federal lands, allowing for a more streamlined process.

Buck has pushed for federal changes to water project permitting since he entered Congress, especially in light of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a multi-county water storage effort that would impact most of northeastern Colorado. HR 1654’s reform of the permitting process would eliminate duplication in water project permitting, speeding-up a process that would otherwise take years, the release stated.

No transmountain diversions from the Roaring Fork for 10 days or so

A map of the Independence Pass Transmountain Diversion System, as submitted to Div. 5 Water Court by Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co.

From The Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):

Water management issues on the East Slope mean that the Roaring Fork River will continue to experience natural flows unaltered by diversions beneath the Continental Divide for another week to 10 days, a Pitkin County official said on Wednesday.

On June 14, Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co. ceased transbasin diversions from Grizzly Reservoir to the South Fork of Lake Creek, which in the weeks prior had been running at about 600 cubic feet per second. With that additional water going down the Roaring Fork toward Aspen, water levels spiked dramatically, from around 300 cfs above Difficult Creek on June 14 to 800 cfs by June 16. The river appears to have peaked at 1,200 cfs above Difficult Creek on Monday.

When the Fork is flowing near or above 1,000 cfs upstream of Aspen, water overtops the banks as the river meanders through the North Star Nature Preserve, creating what some are calling Lake North Star. Boaters this week have been able to float over what is normally acres of grassland between the highway and the foot of Aspen Mountain.

While Lake North Star has been drawing more boaters, higher flows throughout the basin have officials calling on the recreating public to take extreme caution whenever they are in or around rivers.

Rep. Scott Tipton reintroduces bill to protect water rights, uphold state water law — @RepTipton

Photo via Bob Berwyn

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that introducing a bill often doesn’t lead to an actual vote, let alone a law. Here’s the release from Representative Tipton’s office:

Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) reintroduced the Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 2939), a bill that would uphold federal deference to state water law and prevent federal takings of privately held water rights

“In recent years, the federal government has repeatedly attempted to circumvent long-established state water law by requiring the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government as a permit condition for use of land owned by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management,” said Tipton. “These efforts constitute a gross federal overreach and violation of private property rights. My bill provides permanent protections for ski areas, farmers, ranchers, and others in the West.”

In 2014, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) proposed the Groundwater Resource Management Directive, which gave the federal government jurisdiction over groundwater in a manner that was inconsistent with long-established state water law. The USFS withdrew the measure but has indicated a desire to issue a revised directive in the future. The Water Rights Protection Act would prohibit the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior from requiring the transfer of water rights as a condition of any land-use permit. The bill would also ensure that any future groundwater directives from the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior are consistent with state water law.

Tipton’s bill has drawn praise from county commissioners and water conservancy districts across the Third Congressional District of Colorado.

In a letter of support, the Dolores Water Conservancy District wrote, “The Water Rights Protection Act decisively addresses the elimination of risks and uncertainties related to federal taking of water. The clarification and direction provided by the proposed act will make management decisions, and work with our partners to make important water supply decisions, much more certain and secure.”

The Garfield County Board of Commissioners wrote, “Garfield County, like many governments in Colorado and the west remains fiercely concerned over the continued challenge the federal government poses to the supremacy of Colorado water law. To that end, Garfield County places its full support behind Representative Tipton’s efforts.”

The Water Rights Protection Act passed out of the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in both the 113th and 114th Congresses.

Water is the most precious resource we have in the arid West, and how we manage and protect our water supply has implications on everything from growing crops to managing wildlife habitats. The Water Rights Protection Act is a sensible approach that would preserve the water rights of all water users and provide certainty that the federal government cannot take their rights in the future,” Tipton added.

Here’s a look at the issues from Allen Best and The Mountain Town News.