The latest @WaterCenterCMU E-Newsletter is hot off the presses #ColoradoRiver #COriver

The confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers, fall 2016. If water makes it here, it’s bound for the lower Colorado River basin, so just how much water gets to this point matters to people in seven states. Photo credit Brent Gardner-Smith, Aspen Journalism.

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

This year’s Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum featured a wide range of excellent presenters. You can review their slides and posters here and review the live twitter stream from the Forum here. Next year’s forum is scheduled for Nov 7-8, 2018.

R.I.P. Paul Buckmaster

Paul Buckmaster via

From The New York Times (Neil Genzlinger):

Paul Buckmaster, whose orchestral arrangements brought power and poignancy to signature songs by David Bowie, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Carly Simon and countless other rock, pop, country and jazz stars, died on Nov. 7 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 71.

McDaniel Entertainment, which represented Mr. Buckmaster, announced the death. The cause was not given.

Mr. Buckmaster was something of a child prodigy on the cello and might have made a career solely as a musician, but a few fortuitous introductions connected him to Mr. Bowie and brought him the assignment of arranging “Space Oddity,” the eerie 1969 Bowie song that begins with the lyric “Ground control to Major Tom.”

Not long after, at a concert by Miles Davis (with whom Mr. Buckmaster would later collaborate), someone introduced him to a singer and pianist then in his early 20s, Elton John, who was working on his second album, which would be released in 1970 as simply “Elton John.”

Mr. Buckmaster was invited to do the arrangements, putting his fingerprints on one of the most acclaimed albums of the period. (It lost the Grammy Award for album of the year to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”) His string enhancements elevate “Your Song,” Mr. John’s breakthrough single off that album. It was Mr. Buckmaster’s idea to put a harp at the start of “Sixty Years On,” which opens Side 2. He would continue to work with Mr. John regularly.

“He helped make me the artist I am,” Mr. John wrote on Twitter after the death, calling Mr. Buckmaster “a revolutionary arranger” who “took my songs and made them soar.”

@AmericanRivers: The big picture of @ColoradoWaterPlan – two years in

Click here to listen to the podcast. From the American Rivers website:

Last week, the state celebrated the second anniversary of Colorado’s Water Plan. Over the last two years, the state has made solid progress funding grants to advance water projects and increase funding for stream management plans. However, the challenges identified in the plan are significant. A swelling population is stretching our water resources, and climate change is having an impact, by reducing flows on the Colorado River. We need to pick up the pace toward implementing all of the Plan’s water solutions if we are to reach our goal of securing clean reliable water for our communities, preserving our agricultural heritage, and protecting our rivers. Over the next few months, We Are Rivers will highlight the Colorado Water Plan through a series of episodes breaking down the opportunities, challenges, and successes to date from Colorado’s Water Plan. Join us for the first installment, as we look back at the last two years of the water plan and identify a sustainable path forward.

Growing up in New York, I envied the posters pinned up in my middle school hallways that honored Colorado landscapes like the Maroon Bells, Dinosaur National Monument, the Great Sand Dunes, and of course the Colorado River as it weaves through canyons and deserts. But moving to Colorado six years ago, tacking on to Colorado’s growing population, I haven’t exactly made life easier for the state’s water managers. Without the native badge, I empathize with the influx of people flooding into Colorado who have recreational fervor, career hopes, and of course adventure in mind, straining the West’s already overtapped water supply.

Colorado’s population is projected to double by 2050, with most of the growth occurring on the Front Range, where about 80% of the people live. With about 80% of the state’s water coming from west slope snowpack, the imbalance is striking. Additionally, like many other states across the Southwest, Colorado is experiencing higher temperatures, reduced precipitation, and earlier and faster runoff. With growing population and climate change impacts, how can Colorado work to close our gap in supply and demand? Through increased collaboration, dialogue, and efficiencies, the Colorado Water Plan sets out to address this grand dilemma.

The Colorado Water Plan sets a goal of conserving 400,000 acre-feet of municipal and industrial water by 2050. By 2025, if the Water Plan objectives are met, 75% of Coloradans will live in communities that have water-saving actions incorporated into land-use planning. Furthermore, by 2030, the plan sets out to A) re-use and share at least 50,000 acre-feet of water amongst agricultural producers, B) cover 80% of locally prioritized rivers with Stream Management Plans, and C) ensure 80% of critical watersheds with Watershed Protection Plans. In order for a project to utilize the Water Plan’s budget to meet these goals, the proposed conservation project must be appropriate in that it addresses real needs and is cost-effective, sustainable, and supported by local stakeholders.

The state has taken a great step forward by allocating $10 million per year for Water Plan Implementation grants. While this is a first step, we must further fund the plan’s broader strategies as well. Public investment in water projects must be smart, which starts with meeting all of the “criteria” in the Colorado Water Plan. Before any new, significant projects are proposed, the state should apply all of the Water Plan’s criteria in order to demonstrate that the state is committed to investing in (or endorsing) only projects that use public resources wisely, protect rivers and wildlife, and reflect community values. The last two years have seen state funding disproportionately spent on costly structural projects while sustainable, cost-effective methods, such as water reuse and flexible water-sharing agreements have been undervalued and underfunded. Creative conservation projects are essential in upholding the Water Plan to sustain the natural beauty of Colorado’s rivers and streams and ensure a safe and reliable drinking water supply.

However, it is important to note that there is nothing legally binding in the Water Plan that requires Colorado to abide by its outlined goals. Therefore, the success of the plan solely relies on the motivation of everyday people to work together as a community to hold politicians and basin roundtables accountable with respect to the plan. I encourage you to learn more about where your water comes from and what you can do as an individual to reduce your water consumption. We all need to work collaboratively to reduce our demand for water.

As we celebrate the second anniversary of Colorado’s Water Plan, we have an opportunity, and a responsibility to rally behind the premise of the Plan, keeping Colorado beautiful and sustainable for all. Join us over the next few months as we dive into the mechanics of Colorado’s Water Plan, and why it is so important to see it succeed.

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Dept. of Ag, @ColoradoCorn, others reaching out to producers about Reg. 85, stewardship, preventing additional rules

Photo credit: Bob Berwyn

Here’s the release from Colorado Corn:

Across Colorado, farmers and ranchers are using best management practices to help keep nutrients out of lakes and streams and improve Colorado’s water quality.

These forward-thinking producers believe the most effective way to reach agriculture and achieve the best results is through outreach and voluntary action.

Their stories and resources are now available to help other producers care for Colorado’s waterways.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) recently announced the release of “Colorado Ag Water Quality” — an outreach project developed by Colorado State University Extension.

The resources, found at, include videos, a factsheet and publications on nutrient and water quality management.

Across the U.S., nitrogen and phosphorus have the potential to accumulate in waterways, causing water quality issues such as algal blooms, fish kills and impaired drinking water supplies.

Colorado Regulation 85 — adopted by the Water Quality Control Commission in 2012 — currently addresses nutrient concentrations in surface water by encouraging the voluntary adoption of best management practices.

Regulation 85 sets a 2022 timeline for evaluation of this voluntary approach for reducing nutrient pollution.

Additional regulations may be considered, depending on the success of these voluntary efforts.

Many of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers have responded by working proactively to safeguard the state’s waterways, and leaders in the ag industry are encouraging more producers to do the same.

The Taos Land Trust scores $575,000: “It was a beautiful series of serendipitous events” — Kristina Ortez de Jones

From The Taos News (Cody Hooks):

In a partnership between the Coca-Cola Company and the nonprofit National Recreation and Park Association, the land trust was awarded a $575,000 grant to make those visions a reality.

The “timely … and transformational” money will mostly be put toward the revival of the wetland associated with the Río Fernando, according to Taos Land Trust Executive Director Kristina Ortez de Jones.

Some of the funds will also be used to rebuild the Vigil y Romo Acequia on the property so that mountain streams can again irrigate the land, opening opportunities for experiments in community gardening and other agricultural projects.

“The Río Fernando Park is emblematic of the values held by all Taoseños with its seven acres of wetlands and 13 acres of now-fallow land that will be brought back to life with this important award,” Ortez de Jones said. The Romo property and future park are adjacent to Fred Baca Park.

“It was a beautiful series of serendipitous events,” she said of getting the award. “We are grateful for the opportunity to create a public space that meets our community’s need for open space, locally grown food and pathways for walking and bike-riding.”

The land trust purchased the Romo property in December 2015 and moved into the house-turned-office this past April. Since then, a quarter-mile trail was built on the property — laying the physical and mental foundations for the Río Fernando Park that will now come into shape a lot faster thanks to the grant, explained Ortez de Jones.

The beginning of the wetland restoration, she said, will start with “safely and deliberately removing those introduced species,” like Russian olive and Siberian elm. At the same time, the land trust will reintroduce native plants that can help maintain and mitigate the flow of the river through the wetland.

The stream has been channelized, such that water rushes through the stream bed, making it harder for wetland life to really flourish. In some places, the river may need re-engineering to improve the banks.

In the long run, the land trust wants the Río Fernando to be a functional wetland — slowing down and cleaning water. As climate change forces water users to take a hard look at the availability, timing and quality of water in the future, wetlands have come to be seen as an important tool.

At the same time as the land trust works to restore the wetland to peak conditions, the organization will use that momentum to continue planning for more trails and access to public spaces.

“We’ve asked neighbors, the community — What is missing in terms of public spaces and places? What should we do here? Overwhelmingly, people felt this place should be a park. People really want trails,” said Ortez de Jones.

Yet not all parks are created equal. “You have to look at this through the lens of access. You have to make an effort to get to our parks in Taos. And who doesn’t have access to those public places … the immigrant community, people without cars. A lot of people don’t have access,” she said.

The money for the land trust is part of Coca-Cola’s corporate effort to fund water-related projects in important watersheds around the country. Coca Cola’s money has also funded stream and wetland restoration in the Valle Vidal in the Carson National Forest.

USDA awards $1 million for Roaring Fork and #Colorado rivers conservation programs

From the Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side Conservation Districts (Dennis Davidson) via The Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

The Bookcliff, South Side and Mount Sopris Conservation Districts have received funding of $500,000 for the next two years to assist agriculture landowners in portions of Garfield and Pitkin counties improve water quality and conserve water use.

The Targeted Conservation Program is part of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Local landowners must match these funds from loans, grants or their own funds. This will make a total investment to improve water quality of nearly $2 million in the Colorado and Roaring Fork river drainages.

The request was developed by the local conservation districts because landowners could not obtain cost share funds through the normal cost share programs of USDA conservation programs. The request targets the need of cost share on larger group projects.

Some of the goals of Bookcliff, South Side and Mount Sopris Conservation Districts that will be addressed with this funding are:

• Improve overall water quality, watershed health and water quantity in the mainstream of the Colorado River and its tributaries.

• Reduce salts and sediments in the waters of the Colorado River.

• Reduce unwanted vegetation such as tamarisk, Russian olive, willow, reed canary grass and other hydrophytic plants.

• Help landowners reduce annual maintenance and disturbances in ditches.

• Improve the habitat for the threatened and endangered warm water fish in the Colorado River below Rifle.

• Reduce labor and production costs for agriculture producers.

The first year’s allocations have already received requests for funds to install irrigation pipelines, irrigation diversion structures and associated management practices.

The consumptive use of agriculture water benefits beyond local citizens, but also extends worldwide in the production of food and fiber. Ecosystem improvement will include the upland, rangeland, forest land, wildlife land and the riparian area along each of the natural streams and rivers, while maintaining the water rights of the landowners.

Our local farmers and ranchers are conservationists striving to improve our environment through the proper use and management of water, plants, soil and animals and maintaining these resources for the current production of food and fiber, and for the future.

For additional information or questions, call the local conservation district office or the NRCS at (970) 945-5494.