Graduate watershed seminar discusses water quality regulations — @ColoradoStateU

The Poudre River is one of the sources of water used in the city of Fort Collins (Jack Starkebaum | Collegian)

From The Rocky Mountain Collegian (Julia Trowbridge):

Watershed science majors listened to and discussed water quality control and clean water regulations for an interdisciplinary water resources seminar class Monday evening.

Patrick J. Pfalzgraff, the director of the Water Quality Control Division of the Local Public Health and Environment Resources Department, spoke to watershed sciences majors for a GRAD 592 interdisciplinary water resources seminar class, which are open to the public. Pfalzgraff works with regulations of water quality control in terms of clean water and drinking water.

According to the syllabus, the purpose of this course is “to prepare students in water resources by increasing their understanding of how water is actually managed in Colorado.” The seminar class brings in professionals in the water resources industry to speak about their work in the field.

The Water Quality Control Division issues regulations on water treatment, pollution control, and does some water tests, with regulation standards finalized by state politicians.

“Almost all of the decisions we make are based on some form of data, whether that is science data or weather data, we pull the data from these sources to determine the stream or lake health,” Pfalzgraff said.

The division also aides smaller communities with meeting water regulation standards by providing funds or services if the communities do not have access to them.

“A lot of small towns don’t have a lot of revenue because they don’t have a big population or industry, and they may or may not have the resources or revenue in order to do necessary upgrades,” Pfalzgraff said. “That’s where we can step in and get them back on their feet.”

Patrick J Pfalzgraff, the Director of the Water Quality Control Division of the Local Public Health and Environment Resources Department (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

Clean water, like the water in the Poudre River, have to pass regulations regarding pollution levels. A common pollution level issue is the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous in water levels, which can either come from human pollution or agricultural pollution.

High concentrations of these elements in water, called nutrient loadings, can make the crops have excessive amounts of these elements, and the crops might not pass regulation standards for consumption.

“We try to maintain that environmental balance with how pollutants are discharged throughout the state,” Pfalzgraff said.

Clean water and clean drinking water are completely different standards. Drinking water is regulated through chemically treating clean water to insure that the water is safe and clean to distribute out to the public to prevent things like waterborne diseases being distributed in the drinking water.

“In Puerto Rico, there are waterborne diseases,” Pfalzgraff said. “That’s not an issue in Colorado. We haven’t had a wate borne disease in the last five years.”

The study of watershed sciences and the design of water flow is especially important in Colorado. According to Pfalzgraff, the population of Colorado is predicted to double by 2050, which creates a strong need in water quality regulation and the delegation of water resources.

“There are a lot of uses on what are already stressed resources,” Pfalzgraff said.

Stressed resources has been brought up by groups like Save the Poudre, who advocate that diversion plans made by the Northern Integrated Supply Project would drain even more water from the already depleted river. The river also has to pass a minimum water flow, which could cause problems with these diversion plans.

Regardless, the growing population of Colorado needs to access water, whether it is by the proposed plan or another alternative.

Cache la Poudre River from South Trail via Wikimedia Foundation.

Advocating an expanded approach to collective action for water — @WillSarni

From GreenBiz (Will Sarni):

I was at an event on the Colorado River Basin that focused on issues such as state and international water allocations, the “drought” and policy issues. The private sector was woefully under-represented except through NGOs.

My concern about the siloed nature of the water sector also applies to water technology events — multinationals, NGOs and academics are typically not in attendance to a significant extent.

While attendance at conferences doesn’t tell the entire story of collective action in the water sector, I believe it does signal the need for dynamism in building cross-sector programs and strategy to address water challenges. There is an opportunity to broaden our view of stakeholder ecosystems so we are not always ranting in an echo chamber. Consider the potential value of an expanded ecosystem in the water sector to ensure economic development, business growth, social well-being and ecosystem health.

I am particularly concerned about the pace of progress as we face the deadline to achieve SDG 6 by 2030. We don’t have time for business as usual.

What has to change? I believe we need to do more of the following.

  • Establish ecosystems (PDF) of stakeholders across industry sectors dedicated to solving specific private and public sector issues. An example of such an ecosystem is the Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative, a partnership between IPIECA, the oil and gas industry association; the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM); and the Equator Principles Association “to develop and share good practices related to biodiversity and ecosystem services in the extractive industries. The initiative supports the broader goals of innovative and transparent application of the mitigation hierarchy in relation to biodiversity and ecosystem services.”
  • Further expand the role of water funds to include actions beyond conservation. Water funds have been successful in cost-effectively addressing water risks but could be expanded to fund innovation and scaling of new technologies (digital water technologies) and business models (water as a service).
  • Proactively include industry in watershed level public policy programs. For example, why not establish a Colorado River Basin coalition of industry stakeholders with a commitment to support state and regional water public policy programs within the basin? This will require developing a platform for public sector, NGOs and companies to engage in dialogue and commit to actions to address issues such as the over-allocation of water and readily available access to water data.
  • Engage the information, communication and technology (ICT) sector. These companies should be encouraged to broaden the reach of their water footprint and stewardship programs to focus on how ICT technologies actively can be deployed to increase water efficiency, reuse, recycling, resource recovery, etc.
  • The “wicked” problem of water will not be solved with the same suspects and the same solutions. There is a lack of exponential progress in addressing water issues. We need to engage a broader group of stakeholders to solve 21st-century water challenges and be more like the tech sector — driving invention and innovation. These challenges will not be solved via more presentations to siloed stakeholder groups.

    @CFWEWater Webinar: Aquatic Nuisance Species The Threat and Solutions

    Click here for all the inside skinny and to register:

    On Tuesday, October 24th, from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, the Colorado Water Congress and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education will host a webinar on the threat of aquatic nuisance species, specifically zebra and quagga mussels, to our waterways and delivery systems in Colorado.

    Aquatic nuisance species continues to be a hot topic for the water community, but we need to reach beyond our own network when communicating about this looming threat to our pristine waterways. Join us to learn about the threat these invasive mussels pose, and how Colorado is working to educate the public and our policy makers so we can maintain healthy waterways and infrastructure.


  • Mike Preston | Dolores Water Conservancy District
  • Ken Curtis | Dolores Water Conservancy District
  • Doug Vilsack | Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Doug Krieger | Dept. of Natural Resources
  • Registration is FREE! Learn more and register here.

    @ColoradoStateU: New state climatologist up for the challenge of #Colorado’s ‘fascinating, diverse’ climate

    Russ Schumacher, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science, Director of the Climate Center and Colorado State Climatologist, Colorado State University, October 6, 2017

    Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Anne Manning):

    Most of Russ Schumacher’s atmospheric science research career has centered on weather extremes: heavy rain, flash floods, snowstorms and the like.

    This knowledge and experience makes Schumacher a perfect fit for the job of Colorado State Climatologist. Take the flood of 2013, the Windsor tornado of 2008, or the perpetual threat of drought and wildfire in summer months.

    An associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, Schumacher became Colorado State Climatologist Oct. 6. He’ll continue in his academic role while taking on the added, vast responsibility of key statewide climate expert and spokesperson.

    “Part of our mission is to help people understand what sort of extreme weather we need to prepare for and be cognizant of here in Colorado – which of course varies hugely from one part of the state to the other,” Schumacher said. “Yet the majority of our work deals with day-to-day aspects of measuring and understanding our state’s unique weather and climate, from normals to extremes.”

    As State Climatologist, Schumacher will lead the Colorado Climate Center, the CSU-based office that provides climate monitoring and research for the benefit of scientists, educators and the general public. The center’s long list of activities includes drought monitoring for the National Integrated Drought Information System; operation of the Colorado Agricultural Meteorological Network; and administration of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

    Filling big shoes

    Schumacher succeeds Nolan Doesken, who has served as Colorado State Climatologist since 2006 and as assistant state climatologist for close to three decades prior. Schumacher says “it will never be possible to fill the shoes of my predecessor,” who built up the visibility of the Colorado Climate Center and created a vast network of stakeholders – from farmers to government officials to meteorologists.

    What Schumacher brings to his new position is an extensive research background, teaching prowess, and intimate familiarity with Colorado’s climate.

    Coming from the academic side of weather and climate, Schumacher hopes his dual role can forge stronger connections between the Department of Atmospheric Science – his academic home – and the activities of the climate center. That might include more integration of department graduate students with climate center outreach and research, for example.

    Established roots

    Schumacher’s CSU and Colorado roots are well established. He first came to Colorado as a graduate student in the Department of Atmospheric Science in Fall 2001, completing his M.S. in 2003 and Ph.D. in 2008. He became a faculty member in 2011 following a postdoctoral stint at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, and two years as an assistant professor at Texas A&M.

    Schumacher received a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2010, and he is editor of the American Meteorological Society’s Monthly Weather Review. His research is in mesoscale meteorology; mesoscale convective systems; weather analysis and forecasting; climatology of precipitation; precipitation extremes; flash floods; and societal impacts of weather.

    Schumacher’s expertise matches his enthusiasm for the weird, wacky world of Colorado weather.

    “The weather and climate of Colorado is fascinating, it’s diverse – and it’s hard to understand sometimes,” he said.

    Loveland: #Colorado’s Ag Water Summit – December 5, 2017

    From email from the Colorado Ag Water Alliance:

    The Colorado Ag Water Alliance is hosting its Ag Water Summit on December 5th in Loveland, Colorado at The Ranch-Larimer County Fairgrounds. We want to encourage water professionals, conservationists, public officials, and the general public to learn about the importance and role of irrigated agriculture in Colorado. Come listen to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural professionals across the state talk about the story of “Ag and Water in Colorado.”

    We are planning an exciting event this year and want to have a constructive dialogue about agricultural water issues.

    Learn more and register for the event at

    Colorado Ag Water Alliance tour recap

    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

    From the Ag Journal (Candace Krebs):

    [Kevin] Niles was among more than 40 participants who attended a recent Colorado Ag Water Alliance tour in hopes of taking home new ideas.

    He was particularly interested in learning about conservation techniques his farmer-members could use to help conserve well use.

    Water planners and conservationists from outside of the region also participated in the tour.

    Beverly Richards, who works for the Gunnison Water Conservancy, knows the ample water supplies in her district would be the envy of most farmers in Eastern Colorado. Still, she sees competition for water increasing downstream in the Grand Valley and beyond and wants to prepare the district for the drought years that are sure to come.

    In fact, the district has started writing a water plan, modeled on the state planning exercise that was completed a couple of years ago.

    Richards said by coming to a region where water is already scarce, she hoped get some ideas about how to work collaboratively to address future water allocation…

    Carla Hendrickson and Ian Hartley didn’t have far to travel. They are both from Pueblo West.

    While involved in various boards and community organizations, they said what drew them was a personal quest to better understand the state’s water issues…

    Her grandfather was an engineer for Denver Water and helped to build some of the early transfer tunnels that supply the city. Fast-forward to today, and she’s interested in learning about household conservation practices like gray-water storage and reuse…

    Several participants said they were hoping to bridge what they see as an urban-rural divide.

    “I have a lot of interaction with urban water users, but I want to develop better messaging so that I can talk to my audience about what farmers are doing,” said Kristin Green, the Front Range field manager for Conservation Colorado, based in Denver.

    Climate Change is Water Change: October 18 (Denver)

    Scroll down to read the latest posts from Coyote Gulch.

    Please consider attending my presentation, “Climate Change is Water Change,” October 18th in Denver. I will address the 3 questions of the climate crisis: Should we act; Can we act; and, Will we act?

    October 18, 2017: Smiley Branch Library, 4501 W 46th Ave, Denver, CO 80212, 6:00 – 7:00 PM:

    Facebook event