PAWSD board says no to Dry Gulch Reservoir

Credit The Pagosa Daily Post.

From The Pagosa Sun (Chris Mannara):

The Pagosa Area Water and Sani- tation District (PAWSD) concluded, after hearing a presentation by Ray Finney, that it is still not interested in the San Juan River Headwaters/ Dry Gulch reservoir project.

Presentation: Keeping Politics from Derailing Critical #Climate Action #ActOnClimate

Click here for all the inside skinny:

Balancing energy resources, effectively communicating climate science and developing renewable technologies take center stage this fall as part of a lecture series on the future of energy in Colorado.

The series begins Oct. 14 and features faculty from the College of Engineering and Applied Science and Colorado Law. These free public lectures are offered through CU on the Weekend, a program coordinated by the Office for Outreach and Engagement.

Ocean surface temperature in 2016 compared to the 1981-2010 average. NOAA map, adapted from Figure 3.1a in State of the Climate in 2016.

Modernizing an 80-year-old dam has its challenges – News on TAP

Dam from the 1930s gets a $1.9 million makeover to keep water flowing to the Front Range.

Source: Modernizing an 80-year-old dam has its challenges – News on TAP

Save the #Colorado, et al. file lawsuit over Windy Gap EIS

Proposed bypass channel for the Colorado River with Windy Gap Reservoir being taken offline, part of the agreements around Northern Water’s Windy Gap Firming project.

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, questions the need for the Windy Gap Firming project, which would ensure the full complement of more than 40,000 acre feet of water is diverted from the Colorado and eventually stored in the planned, $400 million Chimney Hollow Reservoir the Front Range communities would share…

The lawsuit was filed by Save the Colorado, Save the Poudre, WildEarth Guardians, Living Rivers and the Waterkeeper Alliance, a collection of nonprofit environmental groups that have long opposed the project.

It was filed against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their roles in approving the project in May and conducting the environmental impact statement. In April 2016, Gov. John Hickenlooper endorsed the project, as well.

Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District spokesman Brian Werner said he hasn’t had much time to review the lawsuit, but he said although he and others are disappointed, he’s confident the project will eventually move forward. Northern Water was the driving force behind the Windy Gap firming project, which was proposed as a way to ensure Front Range municipalities get the full yield they’re due based on water rights from the Colorado.

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver, asks the judge to throw out the records of decision by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, claiming they violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act in approving the project.

Save the Colorado, Save the Poudre, WildEarth Guardians, Living Rivers and Waterkeeper Alliance, together, filed the lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, claiming that the permitting process was flawed and did not consider the cumulative effects on the river, the resulting effect on the ecosystem and tourism or alternatives for water supply…

The main target of the lawsuit is the environmental analysis, led by the Bureau of Reclamation and relied upon by the Corps of Engineers. That environmental process, which included both a draft and final environmental impact statement, took more than a decade…

“We think that the process has worked well,” said Werner. “The EIS, we don’t think that there is any basis in fact about it (in the lawsuit). In this country, anybody can say what they want about a process. We think the federal government has done it well.”

In fact, Northern Water has agreed to a wildlife mitigation plan that will benefit not destroy the river and the trout habitat, including channel work that has already begun and control of flows and diversions to boost the ecosystem for trout and other aquatic life, Werner said.

“The Colorado River below Windy Gap is better with the mitigation and enhancement and the project than it is without it,” Werner said.

The lawsuit claims that the project should have been replaced with other alternatives but that the applicants “stubbornly” continued to push forward because of how much money they had already sunk into the reservoir…

“Federal agencies must evaluate not only the impacts of a proposed project, but also alternatives to the intended course of action,” Zach Lass, student attorney at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, said in a press release. “Reclamation and the Corps fell victim to a sunk costs bias that infected the entire review and approval process when they failed to consider alternatives that did not involve spending more money trying to salvage their failed Windy Gap Project.”


One of the big issues alleged in the lawsuit is that the extensive environmental analyses failed to consider alternative sources of water besides pulling more from the river and storing it in a brand new reservoir. The applicants failed to look at conservation, efficiency and water recycling, said [Gary] Wockner…

The lawsuit does not ask for an immediate injunction to stop work that is currently being done on the Chimney Hollow site, which includes blasting of a test quarry for construction of a small version of the dam to gather information on the geology of the area.

That work, along with planned tree removal and relocation of a power line, will continue as this lawsuit is heard in court, Werner said…

No court dates likely will be set until the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have responded to the initial complaint, and they have 60 days to do so. Often, it takes at least a year for a decision in this type of lawsuit.

Modernizing an 80-year-old dam has its challenges – News on TAP

Dam from the 1930s gets a $1.9 million makeover to keep water flowing to the Front Range.

Source: Modernizing an 80-year-old dam has its challenges – News on TAP

#Drought news: No change in depiction for #Colorado

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


The Drought Monitor reflects observed precipitation through Tuesday, 1200 UTC (8 am, EDT); any rain that fell after the Tuesday 1200 UTC cutoff will be reflected in next week’s map.

During the 7-day period (ending Tuesday morning), widespread moderate to heavy rain eased drought from eastern Texas and the southeastern Plains to the Great lakes and central Appalachians. Furthermore, a vigorous storm system brought much-needed rain and snow to the Northwest and northern Rockies. Conversely, hot, dry weather exacerbated developing drought in the lower Four Corners Region, while unseasonably warm, dry weather continued to worsen drought conditions across much of the Northeast…

High Plains

Dry, warm weather prevailed across the region, with no significant changes to the region’s drought depiction. However, feedback from the field coupled with additional data assessment led to small modifications of the drought areas in western South Dakota into southwestern North Dakota. In particular, satellite-derived vegetation health data as well as pasture and crop condition reports necessitated expansion of the Moderate, Severe, and Extreme Drought (D1-D3)…


Heavy rain and snow were reported early in the period from the northern Pacific Coast into the northern Rockies, while hot, dry weather continued in the region’s southern tier. From the Cascades into the northern Rockies, heavy rain and mountain snow (1-6 inches liquid equivalent, locally more) led to widespread reductions of Abnormal Dryness, Moderate Drought, and Severe Drought (D0-D2). Meanwhile, a disappointing end to the Southwestern Monsoon resulted in the expansion of D0 and D1 from central and eastern Arizona into neighboring portions of New Mexico; rainfall departures of 3 inches or more are common in the aforementioned locales (25-60 percent of normal). Similar dryness was noted over the northern shores of the Great Salt Lake, where D0 was likewise expanded.

2017 South Platte Forum day 2 #2017SouthPlatteForum

The Platte River is formed in western Nebraska east of the city of North Platte, Nebraska by the confluence of the North Platte and the South Platte Rivers, which both arise from snowmelt in the eastern Rockies east of the Continental Divide. Map via Wikimedia.

I’ll be at the second day of the South Platte Forum today. Follow along on Twitter @CoyoteGulch or hash tag #2017SouthPlatteForum.

R.I.P. Fats Domino you rocked the world

Legendary American jazz pianist and singer Fats Domino. Photo credit NPR.

From The New York Times (Jon Pareles and William Grimes):

Fats Domino, the New Orleans rhythm-and-blues singer whose two-fisted boogie-woogie piano and nonchalant vocals, heard on dozens of hits, made him one of the biggest stars of the early rock ’n’ roll era, died on Tuesday at his home in Harvey, La., across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by the Jefferson Parish coroner’s office.

Mr. Domino had more than three dozen Top 40 pop hits through the 1950s and early ’60s, among them “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t It a Shame” (also known as “Ain’t That a Shame,” which is the actual lyric), “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans.” Throughout he displayed both the buoyant spirit of New Orleans, his hometown, and a droll resilience that reached listeners worldwide.

He sold 65 million singles in those years, with 23 gold records, making him second only to Elvis Presley as a commercial force. Presley acknowledged Mr. Domino as a predecessor.

“A lot of people seem to think I started this business,” Presley told Jet magazine in 1957. “But rock ’n’ roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that music like colored people. Let’s face it: I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that.”

Center: Colorado Rural Water Association presentation recap

Center in winter via

From The Town of Center via The Center Post-Dispatch:

Center trustees, town manager Brian Lujan and mayor Herman Sisneros attended the fourth in a series of several workshops presented Tuesday by water specialist Colleen Williams with the Colorado Rural Water Association.

The presentation was part of a program that helps the town earn points for a $5,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to eventually develop a water protection plan for the town. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The town has already earned $4,230 in funding points for developing its water protection plan, Williams said.

The Lazy KV Homeowners Association, the town of Saguache and Valley View Hot springs have already implemented plans with the program. Williams also has worked with Salida and Crestone.

Williams now has completed the draft plan for the town to review and says the plan provides a lot of information about the water and aquifers.

She emphasized that although potential dangers to the town’s water supply have been identified, currently there is no problem; the program simply encourages prevention. Williams noted that even in its risk assessments, the town had no “very highs.”

She encouraged the town to develop partnerships with business and industry and to bring community members together to share information. Williams also asked board members to look over the draft and make suggestions and corrections.

Once completed, the plan will be submitted to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, (CDPHE). A copy of the plan also will be forwarded to Saguache County Commissioners.

Chris Sittler with Stone’s Farm Supply told trustees concerned about fertilizer and pesticide storage in town that the Farm Service stores ammonia nitrate (not the explosive type) in a marked container on its property and the Monte Vista Co-op keeps anhydrous ammonia on its site, but this container also is marked.

“We built this [pesticide] facility at Nine Mile so it’s clear out of town and not near to anyone,” Sittler said. Trustee Pedro Segura said town residents don’t know what is in rail cars passing through the town or whether or not they are unloading dangerous materials.

Sittler said the information about where the materials are stored is on CDPHE’s website or can be obtained through an open records request. Williams advised trustees to access the information themselves and stay informed on water monitoring issues.

She advised the board to “take all kinds or precautions to protect the community” and reminded them they need to cap wells in the town that are not currently sealed. The town should make a list of what to spend the grant money on and then meet again in mid-December, she concluded.

IPCC is focusing on #ClimateChange resilience in mountain communities

From Pacific Standard (Bob Berwyn):

Mountain scientists hope that will change [ed. resources for landslide monitoring] in the future, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change starts to focus specifically on climate risks in mountain communities with a report to come in 2019, then included in the IPCC’s next global assessment report, due in 2022.

“We’re behind the eight-ball when it comes to protecting mountain communities from landslides, glacier avalanches, and outburst floods,” says University of British Columbia mountain scientist Michele Koppes. The IPCC process is laborious, but the end results can help direct resources where they are needed, she says. “All these things affect a lot of people. We need to spell out the human dimensions of climate change, and the new IPCC report will do that for mountain areas,” says Koppes, who has recently been studying one of the newest identified risks: tsunamis in coastal fjords triggered by thawing mountainsides that tumble into the sea.

Mud rushes towards Bondo, Graubünden, on Friday, August 25, 2017

For the IPCC report, an international team of scientists will evaluate the best available options for protecting mountain communities from global warming threats. It will also take a close look at risks to societies that depend on mountain snow and ice for water for drinking, agriculture, and power production. The team will further investigate connections between runoff from mountains and coastal ecosystems and sea-level rise.

What happens in the high country also affects millions of people who live far away from the peaks because so much of the world’s water originates in mountain areas. If snowfall declines in the Rocky Mountains, 40 million people who rely on the Colorado River will feel the changes, and the same holds true in Asia and South America, where hundreds of millions in lowland farming areas and cities depend on runoff from the Himalaya and Andes, respectively.

The aim is to identify “guiding principles for climate-change adaptation plans that pay attention to both human well-being and ecological resilience,” says UBC researcher Graham McDowell, who is studying how communities in the the Nepal Himalaya, Peruvian Andes, and Alaska Coast Mountains are responding to climate change.

“Policy decisions get made based on what’s reported by the IPCC, which is the benchmark from which a lot of climate policy is made. It will probably lead to enlarged discussion about mountain focused climate policy,” McDowell says.

A systematic approach using data from many different areas of science—botany, geology, sociology—has been generally lacking in the mountain research community, says Vienna-based researcher Harald Pauli, who heads GLORIA, a worldwide high-mountain monitoring program.

A concerted global effort to track climate change in the mountains could finally confirm whether mountains are—as suggested by some studies—warming twice as fast as the global average.

“If that is proven to be the case, it’s really significant,” Pauli says. “It’s analogous to amplified warming the Arctic, and it redoubles concerns about how sensitive the overall climate system is to greenhouse gases.”

When it comes to protecting communities and adapting to warming, the IPCC report will be an opportunity to learn about what approaches work in which types of ecosystems.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, October 28, 2017

Click here to go to the DEA website. They have a collection site locator there.


Local agencies around Southern Colorado will be helping the DEA dispose of unwanted prescription drugs Saturday.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back program offers more than 5,000 collection sites around the nation to help people get rid of dangerous, expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs.

People can take pills and other solid medication to collection sites in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Monument, Woodland Park, Cañon City and Florence from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The DEA said all take backs are free and anonymous with no questions asked.

It’s important to dispose of unwanted medications the right way. Flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash can contaminate water and pose health hazards.

The DEA said it collected 450 tons of drugs during its last take back event in April, and more than 8.1 million pounds of pills during its last 13 take back events.

“Forest health equates to water quality, and water quality equates to good beer” — Cory Odell

Screen shot Nature Conservancy Great Places newsletter October 4, 2017.

From the Public News Service:

Corey Odell, sustainability coordinator for the Odell Brewing Co., has been organizing events in the company’s Fort Collins tap room to help beer fans see the critical link between trees and their beloved porters, IPAs and pilsners.

“Forest health equates to water quality, and water quality equates to good beer,” she states. “Protecting the forest is, of course, more than just about beer. It’s also a great place for anyone to interact with nature.”

Odell says America’s forests provide more than half of the nation’s drinking water, and about 95 percent of beer is actually pure H2O.

Odell says forests help shade streams, lakes, and snow from evaporation, and are efficient at filtering water.

She points out larger and more frequent wildfires have become the biggest threats to watersheds in Colorado and across the West.

Jason Lawhon, forest restoration and fire program director for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado, says the nation’s 10 worst fire years have all come since 2000, because of warmer and drier conditions.

He notes that without proper management, forests become denser, which is one reason wildfires have become so intense that after the smoke clears, there are frequently no trees left to hold down the soil…

Lawhon says bigger fires also cost more to fight, and once containment budgets have been tapped, money has been diverted from prevention budgets, which Lawhon says increases the chances of repeating a dangerous cycle.

He says his group and brewers across the nation are hoping Congress will pass the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, legislation they say would help make sure forests are less fire-prone in the first place.

R.I.P. Lee W. Simpson

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Anthony A. Mestas):

A longtime Southeastern water advocate and founding member of the St. Charles Mesa Water Association has died.

Lee W. Simpson, of Pueblo, died on Oct. 18. He was 86.

Simpson was on the Southeastern Board of Directors from 1981-2009, and served as the treasurer of the board from 1988-2009.

He also was the founder of the St. Charles Mesa Water District, and extremely active in helping small water districts throughout the state improve service. He played a big role in creating the Colorado Rural Water Association. He also represented St. Charles Mesa Water on the board of the Bessemer Ditch.

“Lee was a remarkable man, and a guy who truly understood the relationship of municipal water needs and irrigation. He was on the Bessemer Ditch board and the Southeastern Board during some of the most tumultuous times for water transfers in the Arkansas Valley, yet always kept his composure. He was modest and unassuming, yet had done some of the most important work in the water community. I can’t think of anyone who did not respect his opinion and admire what he had done,” said Chris Woodka, Issues Management Program Coordinator with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Woodka, who wrote many years for The Pueblo Chieftain as its water expert, said: “I think it’s a testament to his passion for water that two of his children both pursued careers in water. David followed him as general manager of the St. Charles District and on the Southeastern board. Tom worked for the Southeastern District, State Engineer and now for Aurora. Both have told me how much they gained from their father’s knowledge about water.”

Born on June 6, 1931, in Pueblo, Simpson served in the U.S. Air Force and was the first board president and founding member of the Saint Charles Mesa Water Association.

He was also the first general manager of the St. Charles Mesa Water District and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2000.

Simpson served on numerous boards, including the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Pueblo County School District 70 Board of Education, Bessemer Irrigating Ditch Co. and Centennial Bank of Blende; and was instrumental in development of the Colorado Rural Water Association.

Simpson is survived by his wife of 65 years, Kathryne Simpson; children, Vicky Adkins of Pueblo, William (Linda) Simpson of Canon City, David (Kathy) Simpson of Pueblo and Tom (Suzanne) Simpson of Pueblo; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held Monday in the Montgomery & Steward Chapel. Montgomery & Stewart Funeral Directors handled the arrangements.