Posting may be intermittent for a while. I’m heading south to celebrate my birth anniversary. The National Park Service says of this annual migration, “It’s one of nature’s great spectacles.”
I’m on deadline at Colorado Central Magazine. I’ll catch up with you on Monday.
I’m heading over to Grand Junction for the Colorado River District’s Annual Seminar. I’ll try to catch up tonight from the hotel. With any luck I’ll get lost in the aspens on the way back to Denver.
The hash tag for seminar is #CRDSeminar. You can follow the goings on at @CoyoteGulch.
Update: I found the problem.
I don’t know why the sidebar is not displaying on the Home Page this morning. If you’re looking for the categories or archive links just click on an article title, the sidebar is displaying on the post pages.
How do you like the new theme?
I’m heading to the Colorado Convention Center for a 3-day training with the Climate Reality Project. I’m hoping to learn techniques for communicating with folks that have differing world views from mine.
Posting may be hit-or-miss through Saturday. I’ll try to catch up on Sunday and Monday.
I’m on deadline at Colorado Central Magazine. I’ll see you on Monday.
I hope to catch up late tonight, Murphy willing.
Yesterday I finished up my work for the CVEN 5363 Hydrologic Modeling class at CU Boulder so now I’ll have some of my time back for blogging. I managed to get a few posts up during June and the WordPress reblog capability enabled my posting of articles from the Summit County Citizens Voice, Your Colorado Water Blog, Mile High Water Talk, and Parting the Waters. I hope that you readers will come back by now and again, now that the Ol’ Coyote is back in the publishing business.
For those of you wondering whether or not it is worth your time (and money) to take Dr. Livneh’s course I say, “Sign up for the course as soon as you can.” Its worth it as an introduction to hydrologic modeling and doubly worth it if you believe you’ll need experience with the VIC model.
I’m pretty psyched about the class after the first night.
The lecture started with an overview of the things about the water cycle that modelers need to keep in mind.
We also had to pick a catchment to model. I chose the Dolores River near Cisco. We’re going to use Reclamation data for native flow at several gage sites.
In the first day lab we built the VIC model on a Linux instance. Many readers know the joy of working in a Linux shell. I was right at home. I’ll be able to SSH in from my Mac.
I anticipate that Coyote Gulch posting will be erratic and less timely for the next 5 weeks. Please continue to send links — I will get caught up during July.
I hope to stay current on Twitter (@CoyoteGulch).
Have a good June, keep on loving the water.
More education coverage here.
I’m starting a hydrologic modeling class tonight which will last into July. I anticipate that Coyote Gulch posting will be erratic and less timely for the next 5 weeks. Please continue to send links, I will get caught up during July, sitting under the cottonwoods next to an irrigation ditch somewhere.
I hope to stay current on Twitter (@CoyoteGulch).
Have a good June, keep on loving the water.
— Denver Water 💦 (@DenverWater) December 12, 2014
Here’s the editorial from The Denver Post
You will search in vain in the state’s new draft water plan, which was formally released Wednesday, for a specific action agenda to bridge the likely gap between water supplies and demand as Colorado’s population grows.
But that is not necessarily a fatal flaw — for now. The plan, which fleshes out broad strategies, remains a work in progress, and has another year before it must be finalized.
In order for the water plan to carry the weight it should, however, officials will need to bore in more precisely not only on what should be done, but also recommend laws to facilitate the work.
Conservation needs to be a high priority, involving much more than water-friendly appliances. Reuse and recycling are key, as is the sharing of agricultural water in ways that don’t dry up farmland. Landscaping should be addressed, too — particularly in new developments.
And yet barriers exist to sensible policies.
“It’s actually not that easy to develop a reuse, recycling conservation-oriented green strategy moving into the future given the intricacies of Colorado water law,” Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead told us.
So, for example, the plan needs to chart a path toward reducing or eliminating regulatory and permitting obstacles.
Lochhead credits the draft water plan for being a “compelling vision of the opportunities.” And indeed, it offers a statement of Colorado values toward water that stakeholders across the political spectrum have embraced.
But disagreement exists as well.
“One of the problems we have with the draft is it holds the door open to potential transmountain diversions,” says Pete Maysmith of Conservation Colorado. “We don’t think that’s the way to go.” Such projects are too political, expensive and not good for the environment, he told us.
Other experts seek to preserve all options. But the disagreement may not be as fundamental as it sounds since additional transmountain diversions are unlikely unless done in partnership with West Slope interests. And they are not about to sign off on destructive megaprojects — or on any project in the absence of serious efforts to use water wisely on the Front Range.
As the draft plan notes, “In many cases, it may be more practical and efficient to reallocate or enlarge an existing dam and reservoir than to build a completely new structure.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper praised the draft as a major step toward tamping down discord and strife over water. That’s about right, but it’s not the final step.
From The Summit Daily News (Al Langley):
On Wednesday, Dec. 10, Gov. John Hickenlooper publicly presented the draft of Colorado’s Water Plan, a first-of-its-kind guiding document for the state.
“It’s a historic moment,” said Jim Pokrandt, communications director of the Colorado River Conservation District and chair of the Colorado River Basin Roundtable. “Our economy is built on a healthy environment, and a healthy environment is built on water.”
Hickenlooper ordered the plan’s creation in May 2013, and on Wednesday, he praised the work of the hundreds of people who have helped build a collaborative approach for navigating water challenges.
The governor added that the draft strikes a balance among competing interests and upholds Colorado’s values of protecting the environment, strong cities and industries based on recreation.
“This plan represents hundreds of conversations and comments involving people in our cities, our rural communities, from both sides of the Continental Divide,” said James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “It benefited from the engagement of farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, utilities and water districts, industry and business, and the public at large.”
The 400-plus-page draft outlines concerns including the growing gap between supply and demand, critical environmental issues like at-risk fish species, climate change, inefficiencies and policies drying up farmlands.
Pokrandt said the draft identifies thorny issues without trying to solve them and outlines some future actions.
“It’s a great leap forward,” he said. Critics say the draft isn’t specific enough about conservation measures or a new transmountain diversion, but “at this time it’s a huge victory.”
CROSSING THE DIVIDE
While the draft marks a milestone in Colorado history, the document still has a long way to go.
Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said Thursday that she’s been frustrated by people referring to the draft as if it’s a final plan, when it’s a compilation of eight often conflicting plans created by the state’s river basin roundtables.
She said she hopes those conflicts can be resolved as the regional groups continue to refine their own plans and work together over the next year. The final plan is due to the governor in December 2015.
The hardest part of creating the final plan will be agreeing on statewide solutions and concrete future steps, which is likely why the section of the draft where legislative recommendations should be was left mostly blank.
The two most controversial issues are the construction of a new transmountain diversion, or a pipeline that would cross the Continental Divide to bring water from the West Slope to the Front Range, and different levels of commitment to conservation efforts.
Because the Front Range has more people and more political power, Summit County and West Slope interests have always been minority voices, Stiegelmeier said, which can be scary when considering the future of water.
“The Front Range entities still have transmountain diversions as a way to solve their gap, and the West Slope feels strongly that there isn’t more water to take,” she said. “A transmountain diversion is devastating to our West Slope economy.”
The Front Range folks should remember that they recreate in the mountains and the state’s economy is driven by tourism and recreation, she said.
“Taking water away from skiing and fishing and boating just so that people can have sprawling development with (Kentucky) bluegrass on the Front Range is not in anybody’s interest,” she said. “There’s so many great xeriscaping designs out there that can solve our problems.”
Summit County can find one source of comfort in Denver Water.
The utility, which takes 20 to 30 percent of Summit County’s water across the Divide, committed in the 2013 Colorado River Cooperative Agreement to working with 18 West Slope partners before developing a new supply project.
“We’re not doing any further water development without sitting down” with the West Slope, said Jim Lochhead, Denver Water CEO.
However, he added, the state should preserve the option of future water supply development. “It’s an option that we shouldn’t foreclose at this point and, frankly, that we should leave for future generations.”
WHO CONSERVES AND HOW
Conservation groups like Western Resource Advocates would like the final plan to set a specific target for conservation and strategies for meeting the target.
Reducing per-person consumption by an average of 1 percent per year would be an appropriate goal, said Bart Miller, Western Resource Advocates water program director.
Many cities have been doing that for the last decade or more, and some have been reducing annual use by 2 percent, he said, while the draft details conservation strategies that would equal a reduction of about 0.5 percent.
West Slope interests have called for committing to high levels of conservation, while Front Range groups talk about low- to medium-levels of conservation, Stiegelmeier said, calling the fear of commitment by Front Range folks absurd.
“If we simply reduce irrigation on the Front Range with future developments, then there is enough water,” she said. “We need to develop like we live in a desert, like we do.”
Some Front Range folks say they are focused on conservation.
Denver Water touts legislation the utility pushed along with environmental advocacy groups that mandated household water fixtures, like toilets, sold in the state be high-efficiency by 2016.
“At the same time, conservation isn’t the answer. It won’t solve all of our problems,” Lochhead said, adding that increasing conservation through a variety of methods is a “strategy to pursue across the state, and not just on the Front Range.”
Lochhead said Denver Water serves a quarter of the state’s people and a third of its economy but uses just 2 percent of its water.
About 90 percent is used by agriculture, he said, emphasizing the importance of preserving water for farming and creating solutions in that sector.
Over the next year, the Colorado River Basin Roundtable will keep analyzing possible projects and other ways of meeting the projected water shortage locally.
Pokrandt said that includes an ongoing environmental remediation project on the Swan River a few miles northeast of Breckenridge that will improve water quality and habitat after decades of mining turned the river upside down.
The basin roundtables will also keep working on building consensus, which Miller called a necessary step toward drawing up more specific statewide policy recommendations.
“There’s a lot of good material in the plan. There’s a ton of good research and thinking,” he said. “It’s at the 50 yard line.”
Over the next year, officials will continue to accept public input on the draft, which has received more than 13,000 comments.
“It’s important for the public to weigh in on it,” Stiegelmeier said.
She encouraged people to make their voices heard, even if they don’t have historical knowledge or technical expertise.
Speaking for Denver Water, Lochhead emphasized the importance of eliminating “us versus them” attitudes and remembering how water makes everyone in the state, and the West, interdependent.
“We know how to collaborate. We have proven that, and the West Slope has proven that,” Lochhead said. “If we bring that same approach to the development of an action plan to implement the state water plan, then I have every confidence we’ll be successful.”
From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday received a draft of a historic water plan that aims to offer a framework for how the state should grapple with shortfalls in the future.
Colorado’s Water Plan begins a conversation that is sure to intensify in the coming years. Overall, the plan outlines $20 billion worth of infrastructure projects to consider through 2050, according to James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. That means that voters likely would need to approve a tax increase.
There also are legislative hurdles, with an aim to approach lawmakers for measures in the 2016 session. Fighting between rural and urban lawmakers could muddy the waters at the Capitol, especially if lawmakers start to push conservation mandates.
Policy officials would need to balance the interests of rural Colorado – where water is precious for agricultural needs – with the needs of the rapidly expanding Front Range and suburban communities.
The backdrop always has been private ownership of water rights. Colorado uses a so-called “prior appropriation” system. In this system, rights are granted to the first person to take water from an aquifer or river, despite residential proximity…
While the crafting of the Water Plan took about a year-and-a-half, conversations through eight regional basin roundtables have been going on for about 10 years, meaning stakeholders were able to hit the ground running.
The Southwest Basin Roundtable is more complicated than other basins in the state, flowing through two Native American reservations – the Ute Mountain Ute reservation and the Southern Ute Indian reservation. Also, the basin includes a series of nine sub-basins, eight of which flow out of state.
But Eklund is confident the roundtables can come together, and he said they already have. He said it is time to put to rest the old adage from Mark Twain, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting.”
“We challenge the statement that water is only for fighting. Colorado’s Water Plan suggests that water is too important for bickering and potential failure. Water demands collaboration and solutions,” Eklund said…
But the plan stops short of prescribing how the state should move forward. For example, it does not present mandates for transmountain water diversions for Front Range communities, a usually contentious subject.
It does, however, try to steer municipalities away from the practice of purchasing water rights from farmers when there is no diversion, leaving agricultural land dry.
Travis Smith, director of the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable, said he is optimistic about ending in agreement through a collaborative process.
“This plan, at no other time in history, recognizes the importance of agriculture and the environment and the recreation economy for Colorado, and it also recognizes that we’re going to have a vibrant economy on the Front Range,” Smith said.
Hickenlooper said he is not worried about legislative gridlock when the time comes to get more prescriptive.
“There are long histories of discord around water. To a lot of us outside of government, we looked at that as just illogically dysfunctional,” Hickenlooper said. “But what these guys have all done is built the foundation.”
Eklund said, “This isn’t lip service.”
“We’re actually doing this,” he said. “We’re taking this conversation out to Coloradans for a genuine conversation.”
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.
I’m heading west this morning. There’s a long drive ahead so I’ll see you tomorrow.
I’ll be a prisoner of the white lines on the freeway for few hundred miles today. Posting may be infrequent.
I’m on deadline at Colorado Central Magazine. I’ll see you on Monday.
From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):
The owner of a flood-ravaged mobile home park in Evans has announced he is suing the city over a change in floodplain rules that he says will keep him from reopening the park. Keith Cowan, owner of Eastwood Village Mobile Home Park, was led to believe that Evans would purchase his property through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, but city officials reneged, and the city’s new floodplain rules mean it would be too costly to reopen Eastwood, Cowan’s lawyers said in a news release on Thursday.
Cowan in his lawsuit said he was relying on the FEMA hazard mitigation grant, and delayed any debris removal in anticipation of the outcome. After Evans chose not to pursue the grant and passed its new flood ordinance, Cowan said it would not make financial sense to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to clear the property, only to spend another several million to meet the city’s new code.
News of the lawsuit follows a plea for help from Evans officials earlier this week, who said time is running out before the 208 destroyed homes at Eastwood and Bella Vista Mobile Home Park, which is next door, pose a threat to public health. Evans officials said they asked the owners of the two parks to remove the sewage-contaminated debris, household hazardous waste, mold and other materials before warmer weather comes in the spring, but the property owners have not complied.
Cowan’s lawsuit, filed in Weld District Court in December, states that according to state law, the city cannot pass a regulation that leads to a property’s demise if the city allowed it to be there in the first place. Attorneys with Stinson Leonard Street LLP, a Greenwood Village law firm representing Cowan, argue that by imposing the floodplain regulations, the city of Evans overtook his property. Even so, the city continues to insist that he clean up the property. The new floodplain rules, finalized in January, move Eastwood into the city’s 100-year floodplain instead of a 500-year floodplain, and require the mobile homes to be elevated. The flood boundaries were crafted by FEMA.
Evans City Attorney Scott Krob said the city’s actions were lawful and simply adopt federal flood boundaries. He said the city council added the elevation measures to ensure this same disaster doesn’t happen again.
Sheryl Trent, Evans’ director of community and economic development, said earlier this week that the FEMA hazard mitigation grant would cover 75 percent of the cost for the city to purchase the mobile home parks at pre-flood prices and remove the debris, but nothing could be built on that land afterward. Trent said the city decided not to pursue the grant because it could not get the funding before spring, and it wouldn’t be a prudent use of taxpayer money to invest in land that can’t be developed.
Evans is in the process of appealing a different FEMA grant that would reimburse the city for private property debris removal. FEMA denied the city’s first application, saying the threat to public health and safety is not immediate or widespread enough to qualify.
Evans Mayor Lyle Achziger spoke at a news conference to bring attention to the looming health hazards at the two mobile home parks, and wrote a letter to the Governor’s Office and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs requesting help.
On Thursday, a smattering of state officials — including Stephanie Donner, executive director of the Governor’s Recovery Office, who responded to that letter — were in Evans to present a plan to dole out $62.8 million in federal disaster funds announced in December.
Two programs in the plan were crafted specifically with Evans in mind, Donner said. One would give financial assistance to the city and the other would give money to the mobile home park owners for removing the flood debris.
But all of the programs presented in the plan on Thursday must get approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before applications are available, Donner said.
She said she is hoping to hear back from HUD around April, but Achziger said after the meeting that will still be too late.
“I want to be proactive on this, instead of reactive,” he said.
From the Loveland Reporter-Herald:
People in Colorado communities affected by the September 2013 flooding will have opportunities this week to comment on the state’s plan to spend $62.8 million in federal funding.
In November, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the community development block grants for disaster recovery.
The state will use the money to address needs not covered by other sources of federal assistance, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to a press release from the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The meetings will take place:
• 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, Manitou Springs Memorial Hall, 606 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs.
• Noon-2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, Estes Park Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Ave.
• 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Houston Room, 1750 33rd St.
• 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, Evans City Hall, Cottonwood Banquet Room, 1100 37th St.
Public comments also will be accepted at https://dola.colorado.gov/cdbg-dr/content/public-comments.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 220,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.
The annual convention starts today. I’ll be there all 3 days so posting here may be intermittent.
I’ll be live-Tweeting the goings on (depending on connectivity and battery life on my Macbook Air) @CoyoteGulch using the hash tag #COWaterPlatform (not #COWaterCongress as I posted earlier).
I also want to note the Governor Hickenlooper has renamed Mount Massive (according to a press release) for my new favorite Broncos player — Terrance Knighton.
The full text of the proclamation:
WHEREAS, the State of Colorado is confident that the Denver Broncos will beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII; and
WHEREAS, the Denver Broncos gave Coloradans a lot to be proud of this season, including becoming the first team in NFL history to score more than 600 points in a single season and winning the AFC Championship; and
WHEREAS, Seattle makes some, well, OK beer; and
WHEREAS, the Seahawks have a 12th man, whatever, while the Denver Broncos have the greatest fans — men, women and children — in pro sports; and
WHEREAS, we are proud of the majestic mountains in Colorado, which is home to 53 14ers – the same number of players on the Denver Broncos’ active roster; and
WHEREAS, Peyton Manning bears a symbolic resemblance to Mount Elbert, the tallest 14er in Colorado, because he stands tall as an extraordinary leader of the Broncos; and
WHEREAS, Matt Prater kicks the football long – an NFL record 64 yards long – and could be compared to Longs Peak; and
WHEREAS, the Broncos offensive line stands together, like our Collegiate Peaks, rooted into the earth and preventing anyone from getting to Peyton Manning; and
WHEREAS, there are many other connections between other 14ers and players as referenced below;
Therefore, I, John W. Hickenlooper, Governor of the State of Colorado, do hereby hurry up and proclaim Sunday, February 2, 2014,
Yesterday was a milestone day here at Coyote Gulch on WordPress. We hit 10,000 posts with this one:
We also topped 1 million page views during the day yesterday.
The old weblog also has over 15,000 posts. I have no idea how many hits it received over the years, and it is still getting hits today.
Thanks to all you readers out there. It means a lot to us to know that you value our work. Keep sending those links and please keep referring Coyote Gulch to others.
We’re writing the history of Colorado Water.
January 3rd was the fifteenth anniversary of the implementation of some software that my team developed for the City of Denver’s Wastewater Management Division. That’s a good long time for software in this day and age. That time at Wastewater was the zenith of my IT career and the successful go-live event that morning was the peak.
If you own property in Denver County you get an invoice each year from the stormwater enterprise fund. That’s our software.
The software, dubbed Storm 2000, was a Y2K remediation but because of the one year billing cycle we had to go live in January 1999.
Over time the system grew to be the first in Denver to accept online payments, rolling out in English and Spanish on the first day.
For the geeks out there — our team was agile before agile was cool. We built the system as a Java native client and wrote our own server that ran, along with Oracle, on a Digital Alpha box running UNIX. The application, now known as StormMerge, has morphed to a richer native client, JBoss and Oracle running on a Linux cluster.
Thanks to Larry, Betty, Charles, Robert, Joanne, Ryan, Mecia, Santiago, Rodolfo, Bill, Bobbi, Sam, Ron and Richard — all team members at one time or another.
I’m beginning to tear up thinking about the high cool factor in working with you over the years.
As Mecia wrote in email, “StormMerge lives!”
Thanks to all the Coyote Gulch readers out there. Merry Christmas. I hope you’re having the time of your life.
Update: I reset my router and all seems well now.
I’m having browser or connectivity problems this morning. Wish me luck.