2019 Urban Water Cycle Tours June 4, 2019 — @WaterEdCO

Click here for all the inside skinny:

Join us for a fun and interactive day learning about the history of the South Platte River Urban Corridor Waterway and efforts to reclaim it. Explore this waterway by bicycle along with citizen leaders, scientists, planners and water managers.

Urban Water Cycle Tour Route: This roughly 10-mile route begins at Johnson Habitat Park, travels downstream along the Platte to Shoemaker Plaza at Confluence park, then on to the Globeville/National Western Complex area, ending at Metro Wastewater with lunch included. See the map and full itinerary on the reverse side of the page.

Registration is open! Registration will be capped at 30 participants per flight. Helmet required to ride. Sunscreen, water, and a small backpack are recommended.

The meetup point for the Water Education Colorado urban water tour in 2014 at the confluence of Clear Creek and the South Platte River.

Forest fires accelerating snowmelt across western US — Portland State University

Here’s the release from Portland State University (Cristina Rojas):

Forest fires are causing snow to melt earlier in the season, a trend occurring across the western U.S. that may affect water supplies and trigger even more fires, according to a new study by a team of researchers at Portland State University (PSU) , the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Kelly Gleason and crew head out in a recently burned forest to collect snow samples. (Photo credit: Christina Aragon/PSU

It’s a cycle that will only be exacerbated as the frequency, duration, and severity of forest fires increase with a warmer and drier climate.

The study, published May 2 in the journal Nature Communications, provides new insight into the magnitude and persistence of forest fire disturbance on critical snow-water resources.

Researchers found that more than 11 percent of all forests in the West are currently experiencing earlier snowmelt and snow disappearance as a result of fires.

The team used state-of-the-art laboratory measurements of snow samples, taken in DRI’s Ultra-Trace Ice Core Analytical Laboratory in Reno, Nevada, as well as radiative transfer and geospatial modeling to evaluate the impacts of forest fires on snow for more than a decade following a fire. They found that not only did snow melt an average five days earlier after a fire than before all across the West, but the accelerated timing of the snowmelt continued for as many as 15 years.

“This fire effect on earlier snowmelt is widespread across the West and is persistent for at least a decade following fire,” said Kelly Gleason, the lead author and an assistant professor of environmental science and management in PSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Gleason, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral fellow at the Desert Research Institute, and her team cite two reasons for the earlier snowmelt.

First, the shade provided by the tree canopy gets removed by a fire, allowing more sunlight to hit the snow. Secondly and more importantly, the soot — also known as black carbon — and the charred wood, bark and debris left behind from a fire darkens the snow and lowers its reflectivity. The result is like the difference between wearing a black t-shirt on a sunny day instead of a white one.

In the last 20 years, there’s been a four-fold increase in the amount of energy absorbed by snowpack because of fires across the West.

“Snow is typically very reflective, which is why it appears white, but just a small change in the albedo or reflectivity of the snow surface can have a profound impact on the amount of solar energy absorbed by the snowpack,” said co-author Joe McConnell, a research professor of hydrology and head of the Ultra-Trace Ice Core Analytical Laboratory at DRI. “This solar energy is a key factor driving snowmelt.”

Burned forests shed soot and burned debris that darken the snow surface and accerlerate snowmelt for years following fire. Photo credit: Nathan Chellman/DRI

For Western states that rely on snowpack and its runoff into local streams and reservoirs for water, early snowmelt can be a major concern.

“The volume of snowpack and the timing of snowmelt are the dominant drivers of how much water there is and when that water is available downstream,” Gleason said. “The timing is important for forests, fish, and how we allocate reservoir operations; in the winter, we tend to control for flooding, whereas in the summer, we try and hold it back.”

Early snowmelt is also likely to fuel larger and more severe fires across the West, Gleason said.

“Snow is already melting earlier because of climate change,” she said. “When it melts earlier, it’s causing larger and longer-lasting fires on the landscape. Those fires then have a feedback into the snow itself, driving an even earlier snowmelt, which then causes more fires. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Gleason will continue to build on this research in her lab at PSU. She’s in the first year of a grant from NASA that’ll look at the forest fire effects on snow albedo, or how much sunlight energy its surface reflects back into the atmosphere.

Funding for the study was provided by the Sulo and Aileen Maki Endowment at the Desert Research Institute. Co-authors also included Monica Arienzo and Nathan Chellman from DRI and Wendy Calvin from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Mesa County State of the River meeting May 14 at Colorado Mesa University #ColoradoRiver #CORiver

A raft, poised for action, on the Colorado River. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From the Hutchins Water Center at Colorado Mesa University:

The Mesa County State of the Rivers meeting will provide you with an update on this year’s snowpack, expected river flows and reservoir operations, as well as drought planning and information on an innovative project to help endangered fish in the Grand Valley.

A free chili dinner will be served at 6:00; the program will begin at 6:30.

Date And Time
Tue, May 14, 2019
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM MDT
Add to Calendar

CMU University Center Ballroom
1451 North 12th Street
Grand Junction, CO 81501

Water Education Colorado bestows 2019 Diane Hoppe leadership award to Jennifer Pitt

Jennifer Pitt. Photo credit: Mike Fernandez/Audubon

From Audubon:

Audubon’s Colorado River Program Director Jennifer Pitt will receive an award for her leadership on the Colorado River this weekend. Water Education Colorado named her the 2019 recipient of the Diane Hoppe Leadership award (see here).

This is an annual award bestowed on a Coloradan who has a body of work in the field of water resources benefiting the Colorado public; strong reputation among peers; commitment to balanced and accurate information; among other qualities.

In particular, Dan Luecke, one of the organization’s board members commented on Pitt’s leadership on the United States–Mexico collaboration to restore the long-desiccated Colorado River Delta.

“Jennifer is imaginative, committed, quick, and fearless,” Luecke said. “What she and her bi-national colleagues have accomplished is awe inspiring. It was clear, almost from the beginning, that she was going to make a difference. There are few like her.”

Pitt is the first recipient who works for a conservation NGO. Other recent notable recipients include former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who is now running for President, and Eric Kuhn, recently retired from the role of general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

United Water 70 Ranch Reservoir Grand Opening rescheduled for Wednesday May 15, 2019

70 Randh Reservoir: Partnering with the Platte River Water Development Authority, this facility will be used to store water for the support of 70 Ranch’s cattle and farming operations as well as provide storage for local agricultural and municipal water providers. Photo credit: 70 Ranch

Update: The event has been rescheduled due to the expected inclement weather tomorrow.

Here’s the release from the 70 Ranch folks (Lynn Bartels):

When Gov. Jared Polis recently unveiled a new state logo, he noted that the rich blue base of the design represented water, “which is absolutely critical to our state.”

Bob Lembke, president of the Weld Adams Water Development Authority, agrees. On property adjacent to his 70 Ranch in Weld County, Lembke has constructed one of the state’s largest synthetically lined, raw water reservoirs.

The grand opening for the 70 Ranch Reservoir, located near the South Platte River and Kersey, is now scheduled for May 15. The event was pushed back a week because of weather.

“We don’t have a water shortage problem in Colorado,” Lembke is fond of saying. “There is plenty of water in Colorado. We just have to capture and store it for those times and seasons when we need it.”

More than 3 million cubic yards of dirt were removed during the three-year construction process. The lined reservoir will hold somewhere around 5,500 acre feet of water.

Drew Damiano, vice president of operations for the Weld Adams Water Development Authority, or WAWDA, is the project manager for the reservoir.

“This is a big deal,” he said. “The reservoir is a critically important component of our system. It will allow us to utilize our decreed water rights to the fullest extent for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes.”

Lembke purchased the 70 Ranch in 2003. Some historians say got its name because it was 70 miles from Denver, Cheyenne and Sterling, the three primary cattle shipping hubs in northern Colorado during the 19th century. Others note that settlers who grazed cattle on the land in 1870 branded them with the number “70.” A portion of James Michener’s novel “Centennial” was filmed on location at the ranch.

Today the 70 Ranch is actively involved in the Kersey community. Ranch operators manage farming, grazing and activities of the oil and gas operators across its more than 14,000 acres. A few years ago, Lembke donated a 165-acre parcel of land to the Platte River Water Development Authority where Colorado State University helps conduct experiments on subsurface irrigation to help farmers and municipalities conserve water and withstand droughts.

Click here to go to the website to learn more about the project from United Water:

70 Ranch Reservoir – The 70 Ranch Reservoir, located on the 70 Ranch and sponsored by the Weld Adams Water District Authority, is scheduled to open in 2019. The reservoir will hold 5,500 acre feet of water storage.

70 Ranch Pond Pipeline – The 70 Ranch has a 250 acre foot lined reservoir centrally located within its boundaries. To take advantage of the ranch’s prime location on the South Platte River, 70 Ranch is in the planning process of building a pipeline connecting the Platte River to the pond for augmentation purposes.