From the Town of Buena Vista via The Ark Valley Voice:
On Monday, June 21, the first day of summer, the town of Buena Vista implemented voluntary water restrictions, reminding residents that “this year, summer water usage is critical and it is drier than usual this year.”
After months of drought conditions in Colorado, it is more important than ever to use water efficiently. The town is asking residents to abide by the following outside water tips to help reduce the risk of additional water restrictions by following voluntary summer watering rules now.
The town’s MAKE EVERY DROP COUNT Voluntary Restrictions:
Water during cooler times of the day — either early morning and evening
Do not water lawns between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Water no more than three days per week
Do not allow water to pool in gutters, streets, and alleys
Do not allow water to spray on concrete and asphalt
Do not irrigate while it’s raining or during high winds
Use a hose with a shut-off valve when washing your car
Adjust your sprinklers for maximum efficiency and repair any leaks
Install soil moisture and water sensors
Add mulch around plants and trees to hold moisture at the root level.
Buena Vista is also offering these best practices and tips for efficient outdoor water use. A good way to keep a water schedule is to water on the following days:
Odd number addresses: Tuesday—Thursday—Saturday
Even number addresses: Wednesday—Friday—Sunday
The Water-rest-water Routine that Maximizes Water Effectiveness
To maximize efficiency and allow the soil the time to soak up water, add multiple start times and reduce each zone’s watering time. For example, for a 14-minute run time, irrigate one zone for 7 minutes, then turn it off while another zone is irrigated, then irrigate the first zone again for 7 minutes to achieve the total 14 minute run time.
A reminder that if you water during the heat of the day, you may lose up to 50 percent of the water to evaporation, which is simply a waste of water.
Those with questions should call Public Works at 719-395-6898.
Here’s the release from the Natural Resources Defense Council:
Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB21-246 [Electric Utility Promote Beneficial Electrification] today, making his state the first in the nation to pass an electrification policy with support from organized labor. The Colorado BlueGreen Alliance-backed legislation will help Coloradans upgrade to efficient electric appliances, furnaces, and water heaters that keep their bills low and air clean.
“Colorado has done a great job setting up tools for building owners to make their homes and businesses more efficient and climate-friendly,” said BlueGreen Alliance Director of Colorado and State Economic Transition Policy Chris Markuson. “The Colorado Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, which allows homeowners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, is another great example of our state making it easy to upgrade. This bill will make efficient electric appliances even more affordable and help households and businesses connect with local qualified contractors to get the job done.”
The Colorado BlueGreen Alliance unites 20+ labor unions and environmental organizations committed to creating clean energy jobs and preserving a healthy and livable climate. SB21-246, which was sponsored by Senator Stephen Fenberg and Representatives Alex Valdez and Meg Froelich, works toward these goals in 3 key ways:
Saving money: SB21-246 will direct utilities to create incentives for households and businesses to upgrade to efficient electric appliances that reduce their bills—especially critical support for low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes
Reducing air pollution: By choosing to upgrade their appliances, households and businesses can eliminate a major source of indoor air pollution that is uniquely harmful for children, the elderly, and people with asthma
Creating good jobs: When households and businesses take advantage of these new incentives, they will support local family-sustaining jobs at a time when the economy needs them the most
“Colorado union members are hard at work fitting Colorado homes and businesses for the climate-friendly, cost-saving technologies of the future,” said Colorado AFL-CIO Executive Director Dennis Dougherty. “Because this legislation ensures that Coloradans participating in new upgrade programs work with licensed contractors who adhere to strong workforce standards like good training programs and livable wages, we can create new union jobs and new work for our existing union members at the same time.”
“The success of new climate-friendly technologies such as heat pumps and other heat transfer systems hinges on quality installation,” said Pipefitters Local 208 Business Manager Gary Arnold. “Pipefitters and plumbers have been helping Coloradans improve their household energy efficiency and reduce their utility bills for many years. This bill will help us bring our technical expertise to support even more homeowner investments, ensure optimal performance, and continue to guide the state in the transition to the clean energy economy.”
“The transition to pollution-free buildings is a once-in-a-generation job creation opportunity for our members,” said IBEW Local 68 Business Manager Jeremy Ross. “As businesses and industry take advantage of new rebates and incentives to upgrade to modern and clean electric systems, they create demand for local, qualified electrical workers.”
“Apprenticeship programs and living wages are two building blocks of a qualified local workforce,” said International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 9 Business Manager Dwayne Stephens. “With this legislation in place, businesses looking for efficient and electric heating, cooling, and ventilation systems can trust that we’ll have a qualified contractor on the job.”
“Our members are ready to rebuild Colorado for a clean energy future,” said Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council Business Manager Jason Wardrip. “We’ve been equipping local homes and businesses with efficient electric appliances for a while now, and we feel confident that the new incentive programs and labor protections in this legislation will kick our work into high gear.”
“Partnerships between clean energy advocates and organized labor are essential for bold climate action,” said NRDC Building Decarbonization Advocate Alejandra Mejia Cunningham. “Climate policy is job creation policy, and climate progress relies entirely on the workers who are swapping out our old appliances, improving our energy efficiency, and producing the homegrown clean energy we need to power our future. When we coordinate with our partners in organized labor to write worker protections right into the legislation—from guaranteeing family-sustaining wages and benefits to creating workforce development opportunities—we can make sure our transition to pollution-free homes and buildings best serves Colorado’s rapidly-growing clean energy workforce.”
More information about this historic legislation is available here.
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association kicks off their annual convention and trade show on June 21st. The theme this year is ‘Reunite and Re-engage’, as last year ranchers were unable to meet, network, and discuss serious Colorado agricultural issues due to the pandemic. Some discussion points this year include wolf-introduction, private-property rights, and animal health and welfare.
One of the hottest topics for ranchers at the convention is the heat here in Mesa County, and the implications it may have for droughts and their cattle and livestock. While this isn’t the first drought these ranchers have encountered in their careers, some say it could be the worst one so far, “The really hard part this year is we had kind of a poor water year last year; 2020 was not a good water year, and now 2021 is another one that is not a good water year, which has been extra hard,” says rancher Chase Roeber, “As you’re walking across the pasture you feel the crunch of dry feed and dry ground, and that’s just brutal,” describes Cattlemen’s Association’s Janie Vanwinkle.
Financially, some ranchers say they may have a difficult time recovering from this drought; noting the cost of hay and irrigation water when both resources are incredibly scarce. Not to mention the impact that it has on cattle, “The cattle from our experience are just not happy. It’s not that they don’t have feed, but they’re having to travel further and work harder, and they’re just not happy,” continues Vanwinkle.
While this is a difficult time for ranchers and their livestock alike, this convention sparks conversation about what the Western Slope can do to get through this drought together. If you or anyone you know would like to join the conversation, the convention and trade show continues through June 23rd at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Grand Junction, Colorado.
This week we tell the story of Jamie Jacobson, a 50-year on-again off-again Paonia resident and a man born “with the throttle wide open,” according to good friend and local Paonia gas station owner Bob Reedy. Looking back, Jacobson tells that spring in Paonia, Colorado, used to be a time for terror.
The North Fork of the Gunnison River would swell and surge, and if it snatched someone’s riverfront or barn, a landowner wouldn’t have a prayer of hanging on to it. He recalls how farmers and ranchers would cable cars to the riverbanks as the river ran high well into August. But those days are gone, and Jacobson has held onto his orchard while others have long thrown in the towel. He can fix or modify (usually to go faster) any piece of equipment he comes across. Born in New York and adapted to a mountain valley, Jacobson exemplifies the can-do spirit of the West.
During his 50 years in rural western Colorado, Jamie Jacobson has seen a lot of flooding. While caretaking a farm in 1974, Jacobson watched three acres of its riverfront float away. More recently, it’s been drought, and then worse drought.
Jacobson farms on Lamborn Mesa, perched above Paonia, population 1,500. He keeps his orchard of peaches, nectarines and cherries alive thanks to the Minnesota Canal that serves 170 customers.
The ditch is nine miles long and carries water from the snowpack that’s accumulated around 12,725-foot-high Mt. Gunnison. This mountain of many ridges used to hold water like a sponge, but snowfall has been light year after year, and the ground sucks up a lot of the melting snow.
“Back in the 1970s it was different,” says Jacobson, who moved from New York where he started his career as a cameraman on film shoots. “Paonia was snow-covered in winter, and when the melt came, the river tore at its banks. One of my first jobs was using machinery to stuff boulders into junked cars and then cabling them to the riverbank. Now it’s scary because of water that isn’t there.”
This summer, Jacobson’s ditch rider told him irrigation water would run out by the end of June. “That would have been unthinkable decades ago,” Jacobson says. But the canal’s two reservoirs have filled only one year out of the last four. “In the old days, daily highs in summers were in the 80s,” Jacobson says. “Last May it got really warm, and in June this year the temperature is hitting 100 degrees.”
So it’s not surprising that his orchard is suffering. “My trees are stressed, and some I’ve had to let go. I’ve lost a great deal,” he says flatly.
But Jacobson, 75, remains resilient and upbeat, though he was diagnosed with arthritis at age 10 and has suffered from back pain all his life. He even underwent a kidney transplant from a friend three years ago.
Now getting around in a wheelchair, he still hopes to fly in his ultralight — equipped with a parachute. During the 1970s, he enjoyed a moment of fame when he turned 20,000 gallons of spoiled apple cider into alcohol that substituted for gasoline.
“Coal company execs visiting their mines around Paonia all wanted to try out my alcohol-fueled car,” he recalls. “We had some great joyrides on moonshine.”
Jacobson’s ditch company was founded in 1893 by farmers and ranchers who knew they had to import water to make the semi-desert land valuable.
“They dug those ditches with hand labor and mule scrapers and built the canals incrementally,” says Western historian George Sibley. “You either bought in with money or sweat equity, enlarging the canals as neighbors down the ditch bought in.” It’s a similar story throughout the Western states, moving water from mountains through a system of prior appropriation – first to put water to work, first to claim it.
For example, Southern Idaho, in the grip of extreme drought, is braced for prior appropriation cutbacks. Junior water users in the Magic River Valley who pump water from wells have been notified that their water will be shut off early this summer. Meanwhile New Mexico’s ancient system utilizes a water master or mayordomo to administer cutbacks. And if one state knows drought, it’s Nevada, where Las Vegas sends most of its sewage-treated water back to where it came from – Lake Mead.
The water flowing through piped canals or open ditches into Paonia and its mesas was never meant to stick around. Farmers who flood-irrigate use roughly 20 percent of the water on their land. Eventually, that water may be reused by farmers and homeowners as much as seven times before crossing into Utah as part of the Colorado River.
These days, a lot less water ever gets there. The river’s two big reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, are only about 35 percent full, and river managers in the seven states that rely on the Colorado are trying to figure out how to cope. It’s a daunting prospect, squeezing out water in the midst of a drying climate.
Meanwhile, Jacobson looks at his diminished orchard and hopes he’ll have enough fruit for the people who came last summer. They brought their own baskets and wandered the orchard to pick what they wanted.
“People had a good time, and at $1.50 per pound we sold out the crop last year,” Jacobson says. “If we go down this year, we’ll do it in style.”
Dave Marston is the publisher of Writers on the Range, writersontherange.org, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. He owns land with shares in Minnesota Canal.
Now, more than ever, consumers are making a plea for sustainability — and they’re not just requesting more recyclable products, they’re willing to pay premium for them, especially from brands and companies they trust.
“Americans are seeking out and are willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products,” according to a recent study from GreenPoint, an environmental technology company. The study went on to state that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans are willing to pay more for sustainable products, but most (74 percent) don’t know how to identify them. According to the study, 78 percent of people are more likely to purchase a product that is clearly labeled as environmentally friendly.
“The consumer is demanding more sustainable packaging options, and has been for awhile now,” stated Jeff Watkin, director of marketing for Sev-Rend, a manufacturer of high-performance packaging for the produce industry. “This has trickled up to the retailer side of the process and they are placing firm timelines in place to achieve these goals.”
A survey conducted by Accenture of 6,000 consumers in 11 countries across North America, Europe and Asia, revealed that, “while consumers remain primarily focused on quality and price, 83 percent believe it’s important or extremely important for companies to design products that are meant to be reused or recycled. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents said they’re currently buying more environmentally friendly products than they were five years ago, and 81 percent said they expect to buy more over the next five years.”
It’s not just retailers and consumers that are concerned about the sustainability of the products they buy and sell; it is becoming a must for brands and company employees as well.
Employees today do not just want to “work for paychecks” (although fair pay is obviously important), but they also want to “work for companies with missions that promote inclusivity and sustainability, not divisiveness and harm to the environment,” stated an article written by Forbes earlier this year.