The Water Values Podcast: Water Leadership with Pat Mulroy #ColoradoRiver #COriver

The one and only Pat Mulroy joins The Water Values Podcast for a discussion about water leadership and training the next generation of water leaders. Pat also discusses utilities facing problems, solving those problems, and preparing and planning for the future. This is a can’t miss episode of The Water Values Podcast.

In this session, you’ll learn about:

  • Pat’s background and how she rose to be the General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water
  • Authority and Las Vegas Valley Water District without being a “water” person
  • What Pat thinks the tools the next generation of water leaders must possess
  • How to encourage collaboration on tough issues
  • Some history of how Colorado Basin states started collaborating
  • Pat’s views on infrastructure financing and rates
  • Where Pat sees water utilities headed in the future
  • Wellington water system taste and odor impacted by algae

    Graphic credit Encyclopedia Britannica.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    From the gravel road that borders the fenced North Poudre Reservoir No. 3, you can’t see the blue-green algae that is to blame for Wellington’s water woes.

    But if you poured yourself a glass from any faucet this summer, you probably tasted and smelled it. Your senses would’ve detected geosmin, the same compound that gives mud and rain-soaked streets that familiar earthy smell.

    In a perfect world, geosmin levels in the town water supply would hover no higher than about 20 parts per trillion parts of water, town administrator Ed Cannon said.

    As of early July, geosmin levels in North Poudre Reservoir No. 3 were about 15 times that. Summer heat invigorates the algae…

    The good news: As of Wednesday, geosmin levels were down to less than 2.5 parts per trillion in the town’s raw water thanks to a copper sulfate treatment on the reservoir, Cannon said.

    While the water tastes better than it did earlier this summer, history shows that the town has a long, expensive fight ahead of it.

    The algae problem isn’t unique to Wellington. Loveland’s Green Ridge Glade Reservoir became a veritable algae garden during last year’s steaming summer, making for earthy, pondlike water similar to what Wellington’s residents are experiencing this year.

    Loveland’s algae hasn’t gone away, but the city invested thousands of dollars in tools to beat it back, including hydrogen peroxide, four reservoir mixers and activated carbon compounds. If those tools aren’t enough, Loveland has a backup plan in the form of plentiful Big Thompson River water rights.

    Wellington’s backup plan is less airtight.

    Three algae-free wells supplement the reservoir water, but their output is limited. The town must draw even more water from the reservoir as its ranks swell and residents use more water on their lawns. That throws off the ratio of algae-free well water to algae-filled reservoir water and makes the stuff coming out of the tap smell and taste worse.

    The algae visits Reservoir No. 3 every summer, like an unwelcome house guest. Town officials say the guest was even more obnoxious this year because it started earlier and bloomed more fiercely.

    “To attack (the algae), we’re going to get extremely aggressive,” Cannon said during an interview at his office in Wellington’s town hall.

    In July, a gang of boats blasted the reservoir with copper sulfate to kill off the algae. They’ll probably have to make the rounds again this summer, Cannon said.

    The town hired additional workers for its water treatment plant and is adding another filtration process to increase the output of its Wilson Well facility, Wellington’s secondary water source. The $400,000 upgrade will supply the town with another 100,000 gallons of algae-free water each day once it comes online by this fall.

    Ashley MacDonald, one of Wellington’s six trustees, said Wellington needs to — and plans to — do two things to truly solve its water problem: Revamp the town water treatment plant and find new water sources…

    “I feel for them,” he said. “I’m dealing with the same issues. I don’t have an answer that’s going to please everybody, other than to make some assurances that we feel the investment we’re making in our water treatment plant will address that.”

    Cannon is referencing a plan to overhaul Wellington’s water treatment facility, which was built when the town was about two-thirds its current size. The upgrade will increase the plant’s capacity so it can treat water for as many as 16,000 residents. It will also make its filtration process more sophisticated so the water tastes better.

    That project is still in its design phase and will take at least 12 to 18 months to finish once Wellington’s trustees approve a game plan, Cannon said. Costs have not yet been projected.

    The other big goal to solve the problem is locking down higher-quality water sources for Wellington. The Board of Trustees hired Denver consulting firm Wright Water Engineers to help them evaluate options, including water from the City of Fort Collins, the East Larimer County Water District, the Poudre River and the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

    The board will narrow down those options based on cost and efficiency in coming weeks, MacDonald said.

    Water treatment is important, but cities like Fort Collins have better-tasting water primarily because they store it in colder, deeper and higher-altitude reservoirs that are less vulnerable to algae attacks, according to Lisa Rosintoski, customer connections manager at Fort Collins Utilities…

    Wellington’s water doesn’t violate any water quality regulations, according to its most recent round of state tests in 2016. Those tests included tests for copper, lead, chlorine and uranium, among other compounds.

    A state test of raw water in North Poudre Reservoir No. 3 this summer came back absent of microcystin and cylindrospermospin, two compounds sometimes present in algae that are of public health concern.

    #Drought news: #Monsoon2017 showers lead to reduction in D0 (Abnormally Dry) in SW #Colorado

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


    Rain fell in much of the country last week with the greatest amounts occurring in a band that extended from the Southwest to the Great Plains and across much of the eastern half of the country. Rainfall bypassed the Northwest, south-central U.S., and parts of the north-central U.S. Continued precipitation deficits combined with above normal temperatures resulted in an expansion of abnormal dryness and drought. Seasonal monsoon showers in the Southwest alleviated lingering short-term dryness and began to chip away at the long-term deficits. Rainfall in the Plains and Midwest brought relief to a few locations and staved off degradation in others….

    High Plains

    Scattered showers in the Plains brought drought relief to a few isolated locations and merely stalled the deterioration in others. In North Dakota, temperatures in excess of 5 degrees above normal, combined with a continued lack of rainfall led to an expansion of abnormally dry, moderate drought, and severe drought in the east. A one category improvement, from severe to moderate drought, was made over the south-central part of the state near the South Dakota border in response to locally heavy rainfall that improved many of the drought indicators including stream flow, soil moisture, and evaporative demand. However, impacts to vegetation are generally set with the rainfall having come too late in the season to improve things. Conditions in the remainder of the state remain unchanged. USDA reports nearly three-quarters of the state’s topsoil is short to very short and reports of agricultural impacts are widespread. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has declared a drought disaster for most of the state.

    In South Dakota, two weeks of localized rainfall brought a mixture of improvements and degradations to the eastern half of the state. Moderate drought was reduced slightly in central South Dakota and a one-category improvement was made near the east-central border where reports of 12 inches of rainfall fell. The southeastern part of the state missed out on the heavy rains. Leading to the expansion of moderate drought into the area. The western part of the state remained status quo.

    As with the Dakotas, patchy rainfall also occurred in Nebraska and Kansas. Nebraska saw a small reduction in abnormal dryness in the east-central part of the state where locally 3-5 inches were reported last week. Kansas saw a reduction in abnormally dry conditions in the southwest part of the state and an increase in the southeast…


    Last week, the west was marked by hot, dry conditions in Montana, the Northwest, and California. Meanwhile, cooler than normal temperatures and monsoonal rainfall in the southwest. Oregon, Washington, and Idaho all saw an expansion of abnormally dry conditions as temperatures of 4 to 8 degrees above average combined with persistent precipitation deficits dried out vegetation and stressed water supplies.

    Another week with little to no rainfall in Montana left western portions of the state with precipitation deficits of 2 to 4 inches and eastern portions with 4 to 8 inches. Severe drought was expanded slightly in the northeast part of the state and moderate drought was expanded in the northwest in response to the continued lack of rainfall, high evaporative demand, and widespread reports of impacts. USDA reports 96 percent of the state’s topsoil is short to very short and Governor Steve Bullock has signed an executive order declaring a statewide fire emergency.

    Abundant rainfall in the southwest due to increased monsoonal moisture, led to the removal of many of the abnormally dry conditions in southern Nevada, central and southeastern Utah, western Colorado, eastern Arizona, and over much of New Mexico…

    Looking Ahead

    In the two days since the Tuesday morning cutoff time for this week’s map, monsoon showers and thunderstorms have continued to bring precipitation to the southwestern U.S. For August 2nd to the 7th, the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center forecasts rainfall across many of the drought afflicted regions of the country. The highest totals, up to 3 inches, of rain is forecast for Oklahoma and the upper Midwest. One to 1.5 inches is forecast for the eastern Great Plains and much of Texas, while the western half of the Great Plains, west and south Texas, and the long-term drought areas in southern California and Arizona could see about a half inch. The Pacific Northwest and western Montana are expected to see little or no precipitation and continued high temperatures ranging from 5 to 15 degrees above normal. Much of the rest of the country is expected to experience cooler than normal conditions.

    The latest briefing is hot off the presses from the Western Water Assessment

    A high desert thunderstorm lights up the sky behind Glen Canyon Dam — Photo USBR

    Click here to read the briefing the Western Water Assessment. Here’s an excerpt:


  • After an extremely dry June for the region, July brought relief in the form of above-normal precipitation for much of Colorado, southern and eastern Utah, and south-central Wyoming. Dry conditions continued in July for most of Wyoming, northern and central Utah, and northeastern Colorado. Some locations in southeastern Colorado received over 7″ of rain in July, while parts of Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado received less than 0.1.”
  • July temperatures were warmer than normal over nearly all of the region, with most locations running 2-4 degrees F above normal. Salt Lake City had its warmest-ever July, with an average temperature of 85.3 degrees F, 6.6 degrees F above normal. June was also much warmer than normal across the region.
  • With dry and warm conditions in many parts of the region this summer, since early June there has been expansion of drought conditions in western Colorado, central and eastern Utah, and southern and eastern Wyoming. D1 conditions have emerged in limited areas of central and eastern Utah and eastern Wyoming, with a small sliver of D2 in northeastern Wyoming.
  • The above-normal snowpacks last winter continue to pay dividends for the region’s streams and rivers, with nearly all gages showing normal or above-normal flows for early August despite the overall dry June-July period in most mountain areas.
  • The observed April-July inflows to Lake Powell came in at 8180 KAF, 114% of the official 1981-2010 average, and 146% of the 2000-2016 average. At the end of July, Lake Powell storage was at 15.38 MAF (64% of capacity), compared to 13.58 MAF last year.
  • The experimental PSD precipitation forecast guidance for the July-September period shows enhanced chances for above-normal precipitation for far eastern Colorado, and below-normal precipitation for western Utah.
  • Cheesman Dam: Happy trout, reliable water supply – News on TAP

    Century-old workhorse dam keeps the water flowing and the temperatures just right for great fishing.

    Source: Cheesman Dam: Happy trout, reliable water supply – News on TAP

    Managing Water with Data: Q&A with Lauren Ris

    Your Water Colorado Blog

    By Nevi Beatty

    laurenrisprofileLauren Ris is the assistant director of water for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR), she served as interim director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board earlier this year, and has been serving as a member on the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s board for the past two years. As the assistant director for water, Lauren develops and implements water policy. In this interview with former CFWE Intern, Nevi Beatty, Lauren describes how she and DNR use water data to manage water resources.

    Nevi: How long have you been in your current job?

    Lauren: About five years. I started out with DNR as the legislative liaison and I was in that position for a little over two years. I’ve been in my current role, assistant director for water, for about 2 1/2 years.

    N: How does water data impact the decisions you make at the…

    View original post 1,736 more words

    Tap-In Colorado: MillerCoors cut water use by 15 billion gallons (500 million beer barrels!) in 2016 #conservation

    Photo credit Tap-In Colorado.

    Here’s a blog post from Tap-In Colorado:

    Today, MillerCoors announced it used 15 billion fewer gallons of water across its value chain in 2016. The reduction can be attributed to changes in farming techniques that include innovative tools and irrigation initiatives that use less water while still producing high-quality barley, along with increased brewery efficiencies.

    Wet weather also contributed to the 2016 reduction MillerCoors used 16.9 percent less water compared to 2015 – equivalent to more than 500 million kegs of beer.

    “When it comes to water savings at our breweries and across our agricultural system, 2016 was a banner year at MillerCoors. We’re proud of the water efficiencies achieved at our breweries by our passionate and innovative employees, and we are proud of our long-standing partnerships with our growers. These partnerships span multiple generations and are a driving force behind using less water in 2016,” said Karina Diehl, director of community affairs at MillerCoors.

    “While this was a unique year, we are committed to developing innovative ways to use less water across our system for years to come.”

    On MillerCoors Showcase Barley Farms in Idaho and Colorado, the company researches and develops water conservation techniques to grow barley more sustainably – from precision irrigation technologies and practices to soil improvements and companion cropping.

    Best practices from MillerCoors Showcase Barley Farms are shared through the company’s barley program, providing an opportunity for growers to obtain and share information on how to meet the company’s high barley standards.

    Partnering with growers on environmental stewardship through the company’s barley program reduces risks for both parties and allows MillerCoors to work directly with farmers to determine the techniques that are best suited for their specific land.

    In 2016, MillerCoors launched the Grower Portal, a digital platform for information gathering to further enhance water savings and eventually lead to data sharing among growers.

    These water reduction initiatives help MillerCoors get closer to reaching its 2020 goal to manage and reduce agricultural risks, including water risks, in 100 percent of key barley-growing regions.

    The company is also working alongside Molson Coors to develop new 2025 Global Goals, which will include water stewardship targets.

    CPW: Native cutthroat trout reintroduction program continues in Southwest Colorado

    Colorado Parks and Wildlife staffers prepare native Colorado River cutthroat trout for stocking north of Durango on July 27, 2017.

    Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

    Restoration of native trout reached another milestone on July 27 when 3,000 Colorado River cutthroat trout were stocked in streams about 30 miles north of Durango by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

    The restoration project is being done in the Hermosa Creek drainage and is a joint project of CPW and the San Juan National Forest, with assistance from Trout Unlimited. So far, restoration work has been completed on three phases of the project which includes sections of the main stem of Hermosa Creek and East Hermosa Creek. One more phase remains that will take two more years to complete.

    Last week about 50 volunteers helped to distribute the five-inch fish in about three miles of water in East Hermosa Creek, Relay Creek and Sig Creek.

    “Restoring native species is a high priority for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Hermosa Creek drainage is an ideal location for pure Colorado River cutthroat trout,” said Jim White, CPW aquatic biologist in Durango who has coordinated the projects. “There are numerous tributaries streams that provide a variety of habitats and safe havens for populations in case of catastrophic events, such as fire, drought or disease.”

    To restore native fish, the U.S. Forest Service has built two barriers on the creeks which block the passage of non-native rainbow and brook trout. Native cutthroats cannot compete with those fish in a stream. Following construction of the barriers, CPW treated the water to kill all fish in the stream. Generally, it takes two years for biologists to confirm that all fish have been eliminated. After that, native fish can be restocked.

    Besides building the barriers, the Forest Service has also made improvements along the streams to improve fish habitat.

    Fish are doing well on the section completed five years ago on Hermosa Creek, White said. A recent survey showed that more than 400 fish per mile now inhabit the creek.

    “We know the fish are reproducing in that section and we are very pleased with what we’re seeing,” White said.

    The last phase of the project will connect East Hermosa Creek with the main stem. The Forest Service is currently building another barrier just below the confluence of the two streams; treating the water to eliminate all fish will be done in 2018 and 2019. By 2020, if all goes as planned, nearly 25 miles of stream in the Hermosa Creek drainage will be home to the native trout.

    Hermosa Creek is an excellent spot for anglers to get off the beaten path for catch-and-release-fishing. Anglers are reminded that fishing in this area is by fly and lure only, and that all cutthroat trout caught in the area must be returned to the water immediately.

    To learn more about CPW’s work to restore native trout throughout the state, go to:

    @americanrivers: We are rivers podcast — Law of the river #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    Glen Canyon Dam

    From American Rivers (Fay Augustyn):

    Managing the hardest working river is no easy task. Join us as we discuss the challenges, successes, and collaborations that have occurred to both harness and protect the bounty that is the Colorado River.

    One of the most complex river systems in the country, the Colorado River, journeys 1,450 miles through seven states, two countries, and supports 36 million people. Its water forms the foundation for agriculture, recreation, industry, and municipalities, from Denver to Tijuana, and fuels a $1.4 trillion annual economy.

    Managing the hardest working river is no easy task.

    More than a century ago, populations across the west were booming. The seven states dependent on the Colorado River recognized the need to formally divide it, ensuring everyone received an appropriate amount of water. Ratified in 1922, the Colorado River Compact marked the beginning of how and why the Colorado River is managed as it is today. However, the Compact’s underlying analysis was based on one of the wettest 10-year periods in history; meaning that the Colorado River Compact is actually based on an allocation of water that isn’t there. And never will be there in any reliable way.

    But the Compact is only one thread in a much larger story. Because the whole basin’s demand for water is higher than what it can supply, the Colorado River has become both one of the most stringently managed, as well as aggressively disputed, rivers in the world. There are numerous other compacts, federal laws, court decisions, decrees, contracts, and guidelines that have been developed since the 1922 compact that dictate the challenging management of the Colorado River; these are collectively known as the “Law of the River.”

    Join us this week and next on the We Are Rivers: Conversations about the Rivers that Connect Us podcast, where we chat with John Fleck and Amy McCoy, both respected voices about the “Law of the River,” and the challenges, successes, and collaborations that have occurred to both harness and protect the bounty that is the Colorado River.

    Fountain has received the second of two Air Force-supplied water filters

    Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

    The delivery Wednesday of the granular-activated carbon filters marked another milestone in the city’s efforts to avoid the fouled Widefield Aquifer, which is contaminated with chemicals linked to a Peterson Air Force Base firefighting foam…

    Fountain last used the aquifer in 2015, and residents have been asked to conserve water while the city relies solely on the Pueblo Reservoir.

    The city’s first Air Force-supplied filter will likely be operational in about four to six weeks, said Curtis Mitchell, Fountain’s utilities director.

    The filter delivered Wednesday likely won’t be turned on until spring 2018, because it won’t be needed during the fall and winter, when water usage dips, Mitchell said…

    So far, the Security, Widefield and Fountain water districts have spent more than $6 million to avoid perfluorinated compounds in the aquifer.


    The new treatment system, installed at Aga Park downtown, is said to be effective in removing the PFC’s from the water. Both new units, the other installed in June near the Fountain Library, are expected to be fully operational before next summer.

    “We’re very pleased to be making progress toward the ability to treat and use our groundwater,” said Curtis Mitchell, City of Fountain Utilities Director. “Our groundwater is a very important resource required to meet the water demands of our growing community.”

    The City of Fountain will work on design plans for a permanent groundwater treatment plant within the next few months.