The June 2021 issue of “Colorado Water” is hot off the presses from #Colorado State University #ClimateChange

Brad Udall: Here’s the latest version of my 4-Panel plot thru Water Year (Oct-Sep) of 2019 of the #coriver big reservoirs, natural flows, precipitation, and temperature. Data goes back or 1906 (or 1935 for reservoirs.) This updates previous work with @GreatLakesPeck

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

Since the 1970s, scientists have been interested in how runoff in the Colorado River Basin (CR Basin) would change as the climate warms. Many of these studies strongly suggested that the Colorado River (CR) would lose flow
with warming, but in the last few years, scientists have been able to analyze a de- clining 22-year flow record, the ongoing 2000-2021 “Millennium Drought”. Multiple studies since 2016 have now found human fingerprints on the nearly 20% loss in flow since 2000 and attribute up to half of that loss to the approximately 1.2°C or more warming that has occurred during the last century. This article summarizes six key peer-reviewed studies related to the topic of CR flow loss. These studies have found declines in runoff efficiency, investigated the causes of flow loss, and in some cases made projections about future flow declines based on the 21st-century climate model projected temperatures.

Topsoil Moisture Percent Short to Very Short by @USDA

From the USDA:

Tough conditions across the West, northern Corn Belt, + parts of the Northeast

This week, VT, IA, and WI saw the biggest increase in % of topsoil moisture rated short to very short

Ken Salazar nominated by Joe Biden to be U.S. ambassador to #Mexico — The #Colorado Sun

From The Colorado Sound (Jesse Paul):

Ken Salazar, a Coloradan who served as interior secretary and in the U.S. Senate, will be nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, the White House announced on Tuesday.

Salazar’s nomination has been rumored for weeks. He’s a Colorado College graduate who has recently been working in the private sector at the Denver branch of the sprawling law firm WilmerHale.

In addition to his time in President Barack Obama’s administration and in Congress, Salazar served as Colorado’s attorney general.

Salazar grew up on a farm in the San Luis Valley where he spoke only Spanish at home. He is highly active in Democratic politics and in 2018 mulled a bid to become Colorado governor, ultimately deciding against launching a campaign, saying “my family’s well-being must come first.”

“President Biden has made a terrific choice in nominating Ken Salazar as the next ambassador to Mexico,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, said in a written statement. “Ken is a tremendous public servant with a strong record of bipartisanship in the United States Senate. He has always led with integrity, and I have great confidence in his ability to represent the United States. We, in Colorado, are proud of him and grateful for his service once again.”

2021 #COleg: Governor Polis Signs Key Wildfire and Watershed Protection Bills

A burnt sign on Larimer County Road 103 near Chambers Lake. The fire started in the area near Cameron Peak, which it is named after. The fire burned over 200,000 acres during its three-month run. Photo courtesy of Kate Stahla via the University of Northern Colorado

Here’s the release from Governor Polis’ office:

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the Colorado Department of Corrections joined the Governor and legislators today to celebrate legislation to invest $25 million in targeted wildfire risk mitigation and workforce development and $30 million in watershed restoration.

SB21-258, which marks a significant one-time, strategic investment to jumpstart work on wildfire mitigation in targeted locations that connect fuels treatments at landscape-scales to protect communities.

SB21-240 provides $30 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to be used for critical watershed recovery efforts, and to ensure our watersheds are more resilient to the growing wildfire and flooding challenges that we face.

“I greatly appreciate the leadership of the Governor and legislators for their commitment to investments to protect Colorado communities, secure our water resources from wildfire, while creating new jobs and opportunities in Colorado’s rural areas. Colorado’s wildfire crisis is at a critical juncture and immediate decisive action is necessary to protect lives, homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “Although Colorado has been and remains committed to taking meaningful action to mitigate wildfire risk, past efforts have lacked the coordination, landscape-scale focus, and robust state investment required to properly address the size and behavior of catastrophic wildfires. The legislation will quickly move resources to on the ground projects and mitigation teams with a focus on protecting communities, watersheds and improving forest health.”

The wildfire stimulus bills involve interagency cooperation and collaboration to quickly move resources and workers to shovel ready projects, as well as priority areas for planning. This effort addresses the need to assess risk, plan and implement wildfire risk mitigation projects, expands workforce capacity through investments in the Colorado Youth Corps Association and the Department of Corrections, invests in the development of the forest products industry, and enhances the capacity and flexibility of programs at the Colorado State Forest Service. This bill also creates the hazard mitigation fund in the Department of Public Safety to assist local jurisdictions in obtaining the matching funds required for certain federal hazard mitigation grants.

“The individuals who work on these SWIFT crews have for many years provided a critical fire protection and prevention service during their incarceration,” said DOC Executive Director Dean Williams. “Being a part of SWIFT allows these individuals the opportunity to give back to the community while also learning skills that will help them successfully return to society once they are released. The bill signed today means that substantially more people can participate in this program. These individuals conducting fire mitigation services will be paid increased wages, providing them with some stability when they release, which in turn increases public safety. Many of these crew members have fought on the front lines of the largest fires that have happened in Colorado, and they find dignity and purpose in the work they do. We look forward to working with our partners at the Department of Natural Resources on implementing this legislation.”

Key components for the legislation include:


The deployment of a US Forest Service team to help identify the most critical landscapes in the state for fuels reduction and wildfire mitigation projects.

Workforce development:

Increase the size of the State Wildland Inmate Fire Team (SWIFT) program to include up to 160 members and expand the focus of the program on forest restoration and wildfire mitigation work.

Support youth and veterans’ wildfire mitigation crews through a standing partnership between DNR and the Colorado Youth Corps Association.
Strategic investments:

The creation of a fund to support targeted fuel reduction and wildfire mitigation projects that would reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in priority areas.

Creation of a hazard mitigation fund in the Department of Public Safety to assist local jurisdictions in obtaining the matching funds required for certain federal hazard mitigation grants.

Substantial investments in the Colorado State Forest Service’s most important programs, and increasing the flexibility and impact of the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation grant program. State funds can now support capacity building for local forest collaborative groups to develop forest management projects.

Supporting the forest products industry:

One time investment of funds to the Colorado State Forest Service’s Forest Business Loan Program provides lending capital to businesses to help retain forest-based businesses, maintain or increase local jobs, and enhance the stability of local economies.
This legislation builds on a number of other initiatives which have moved through the Colorado legislature related to the state’s wildfire mitigation and watershed protection efforts. An early bill allocated $6.0 million of one-time funding to the Forest Restoration and Wildfire Risk Mitigation (FRWRM) program within the Colorado State Forest Service for grants this fiscal year. Legislation also increased the annual appropriation to the FRWRM grants to $8.0 million and provided an additional appropriation of $2.0 million to the Healthy Forests Vibrant Communities (HFVC) Fund.

Senate Bill 21-240, signed by Governor Polis, transfers $30 million from the General Fund to the Watershed Restoration Grant Program managed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). This funding will specifically be used for critical watershed recovery efforts following impacts from Colorado’s 2020 wildfire season. Funds will be used to match funding from the Federal Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which provides technical and financial assistance to local communities facing fires, floods, and other natural disasters that impair watersheds.

“The stimulus funding through Senate Bills 258 and 240 are critical for helping our on-the-ground partners restore watersheds following one of the worst wildfire seasons on record in 2020. Healthy watersheds are absolutely the foundation to Colorado’s water supply resources,” said Rebecca Mitchell, Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board.

This bill also directs the CWCB to conduct a statewide watershed analysis to investigate the susceptibility of life, safety, infrastructure, and water supplies to wildfire impacts, to ensure that future funding is strategically awarded to areas that are at the greatest risk.

Community Agriculture Alliance: Water conservation never gets old — Steamboat Pilot & Today #YampaRiver #GreenRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

10 drips every minute from a leaky faucet wastes nearly 300 gallons of water every year.

From the Colorado Agriculture Alliance (Lyn Halliday) via Steamboat Pilot & Today:

A new name has been coined for the prolonged drought condition in the Colorado River Basin: Mega drought. Water conservation in the home and business can be part of the solution.

Here are some basic water conservation practices worthy of remembering as we navigate through prolific drought.

General rules of thumb to improve efficiency, reduce waste in the home include:

Leak detection and repair: Even small leaks can add up to significant water loss. Look for and repair leaks frequently.

Replace or retrofit appliances and fixtures: Install high efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances. A large percentage of water is flushed down the toilet. Retrofit to code, 1.6 gallon toilets, or install ultra-low flow or dual flush units. Only run clothes and dish washers when full. Install on-demand hot water heaters or hot water circulating pumps.

Employ water-efficient landscaping practices: Only water between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. Use native grasses and shrubs or drought-tolerant plant species. Mulch plants, trees and shrubs. Plan landscaping based on sun, shade, and moisture. Consider xeriscape practices. Use drip irrigation instead of spray. Install rain shut off or moisture sensors on irrigation systems. Refrain from tree-planting and the seeding or sodding of new lawns from June 15 through Aug. 31. Avoid developing water-intensive landscapes. Sweep impervious surfaces such as driveways, parking areas, walkways instead of power washing or hosing down.

Pools and spas: Cover pools and spas with insulated covers when not in use to reduce evaporation. Detect and repair leaks. Minimize re-filling. Refrain from installing outdoor water features such as fountains. Track usage. Learn to interpret the water bill and compare to historic usage to improve water use management.

Water saving and associated cost saving ideas for businesses:

• Install water efficient equipment.

• Select water saving fixtures such as waterless urinals, low-flow and automatic shut off faucets in sinks.

• Recycle water. Check your local codes before implementing water re-use programs. Rainwater collection for irrigation is becoming common in certain locales. Re-use water from cooling towers, heating units, ventilation equipment, and air conditioners. Grey water can be re-used for toilet flushing.

• Identify and repair leaks. Leaking faucets, toilets, irrigation systems and other water conveyance infrastructure can waste many gallons of water a day. A schedule of checking for and repairing leaks will ensure that leaks don’t go unnoticed for long. Encourage staff to report any leaks or drips and repair them immediately.

• Make industrial process improvements with water savings in mind.

• Investigate various water conservation techniques tailored to your specific industry.

• Educate employees about water conservation.

• When cleaning with water is necessary, use minimal amounts.

• Minimize the water used in cooling equipment such as air compressors, in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations.

• Keep hot water heaters and pipes insulated.

• Avoid excessive boiler and air conditioner blow down.

• Consider dry carpet cleaning methods over wet or steam carpet cleaning.

• Instruct clean-up crews and contractors to be efficient when using water.

• Shut off air conditioning when and where it is not needed to reduce the load on equipment.

• Monitor the water bill monthly.

Landscape irrigation
Tips for turf lawns:

• Only water before 9am or after 7pm every third day at 1-inch to 1 1/2 inches per week. If you have a controller, set it to avoid over-watering.

• Most area soils have a lot of clay and need slow water delivery for optimum infiltration; a maximum of 1/2-inch per hour. Select rotary nozzles that use stream spray with multi trajectory, slow delivery.

• Using a smart controller, ET based controller, wireless rain sensors, and/or adjusting timers properly saves water and results in healthier turf and plants.

• Cut your lawn no shorter than 3 inches to reduce soil moisture loss and to promote deeper roots.

• Avoid planting trees and shrubs or sodding new lawns during the drier, hotter months.

• Check your sprinkler heads. Are they broken? Clogged? Plugged? Overgrown with vegetation? Are there objects interfering with proper application? Make sure the spray heads turn properly. Adjust heads so that water does not reach streets and driveways.

• Check for uniform water distribution and infiltration. After a cycle, walk the property to determine if water evenly applied. Look for excessively wet spots or dry spots.

• Avoid watering if the soil is still wet.

• Check for obvious leaks and take immediate action to fix them.

• Does your system have optimum pressure? Too much pressure causes misting/atomizing, too little can cause dribbling.

• Change irrigated turf to native or drought tolerant plants and grasses and incorporate other xeriscape practices such as soil conditioning and mulching.

Other outdoor water saving tips:

• Use porous materials for patios and walkways to reduce runoff.

• Use a car wash that recycles water or wash your car on the lawn so you can simultaneously water your grass. Use a bucket instead of a hose.

• Being “water aware” can go a long way to achieving dramatic savings, both water and costs.

Lyn Halliday is an environmental scientist and consults locally on environmental issues. She was instrumental in the development of the first Water Conservation Plan for the city of Steamboat Springs and, as founder of the Steamboat Sustainable Business Program in 2006, has coached many local businesses to help them reduce their environmental footprint.

Johnstown to install three new systems to reduce water odor, taste issues — The Greeley Tribune

MPC-Buoy controls algal blooms in large lakes and reservoirs. It uses LG Sonic’s interactive ultrasound technology with integrated water quality monitoring.

From The Greeley Tribune (Morgan McKenzie):

Responding to concerns from residents about the taste and smell of the town’s water, Johnstown officials have announced the planned installation of three new systems to help mitigate the issues.

The town is installing the three systems at the end of June with the goal to improve the water service, according to a June 14 news release. Residents can look forward to a new Granular Activated Carbon feeder system, a Powdered Activated Carbon filtration system and an ultrasonic buoy.

Residents of Johnstown should see difference in their water with the new installations, according to the release.

The GAC system, installed at the town’s water treatment plant, removes contaminant and controls taste and odor. The PAC system, located at Lone Tree Reservoir, will filter out organic components, which can contribute to taste and odor problems.

The last portion of the new systems is the ultrasonic buoy that will reside in the Johnstown reservoir. This system prevents algae’s growth in the surface of the reservoir, and reduces algae from impacting the water’s odor and taste.

This isn’t the first strive towards better-tasting water in Johnstown. At the beginning of this year, new water and sewer rates and fee schedule were created to provide better water service to residents.

Northwater Treatment Plant construction hits major milestone — News on Tap

From Denver Water:

Storage tanks at Denver Water’s new, state-of-the-art water treatment plant taking shape.

The work started in the dark, at 2:30 a.m., continued through the dawn and lasted until noon on Friday, May 14.

Loaded concrete trucks trundled onto the site of the Northwater Treatment Plant, along Highway 93 north of Golden. A truck arrived every four minutes, delivering concrete that was pumped, then smoothed into place by an army of about 100 workers.

They shaped the round, concrete floor of what will be the first of the new treatment plant’s two water storage tanks. The tanks will hold clean, treated water to be delivered into Denver Water’s distribution system that sends safe drinking water 1.5 million people every day.

Placing the concrete floor for the first of two 10-million-gallon water storage tanks at the new Northwater Treatment Plant started at 2:30 a.m. on Friday, May 14, and continued through noon that day. Photo credit: Denver Water.

“It’s a big milestone day. Each tank can hold 10 million gallons of water — and to put that in perspective, that’s 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools,” said Bob Mahoney, Denver Water’s chief engineering officer.

“The project is going very well. It’s ahead of schedule and — in addition to pouring the floor of the new treated water reservoir — the overall project is about 38% complete.”

More than 100 concrete trucks were needed to deliver 1,400 cubic yards of concrete for the base of the storage tank. Photo credit: Denver Water.

A look at the numbers behind the work:

  • 23 feet, the height of the storage tank when finished, although most of it will be buried underground.
  • 300-plus feet, the diameter of the tank, longer than a football field.
  • 1,400 cubic yards of concrete were needed for the floor of the tank.
  • 145 concrete trucks delivered the concrete.
  • 100 workers were involved with the concrete placement.
  • The first of two 10-million-gallon water storage tanks begins to take shape. Photo credit: Denver Water.

    The new, state-of-the-art water treatment plant, being built next to the utility’s Ralston Reservoir, is expected to be complete in 2024 and will be capable of cleaning up to 75 million gallons of water per day. Concrete for the floor of the second water storage tank is expected to be put in place July 2, weather permitting.

    The Northwater Treatment Plant is part of Denver Water’s $600 million North System Renewal effort, which includes a new pipeline to carry water from the new plant and upgrades at the old Moffat Treatment Plant built in Lakewood in the 1930s.

    About 100 workers were involved in the project, getting the concrete into the forms and smoothing it out to dry. Photo credit: Denver Water

    The concrete work in mid-May drew a steady stream of curious onlookers, including workers building the new plant — and those who will run it when it’s finished.

    “I had to come out. I really wanted to see how they do this,” said Nicole Babyak, a water treatment plant supervisor at Denver Water.

    “The team and I, we’ve been involved in this project for years. We’re going to be running the plant and have seen parts of the facility being built from the ground up, but I haven’t seen a large concrete pour like this yet. It’s so neat to be here while they’re pouring the first tank.

    “It’s just so cool.”

    Denver Water’s new, state-of-the-art Northwater Treatment Plant is being built between Ralston Reservoir, seen in the distance on the left, and Highway 93, seen on the right. Photo credit: Denver Water.