#Runoff news: Snowmelt Causing High Flows on the Rio Chama — @USBR

Map of the Rio Grande watershed, showing the Rio Chama joining the Rio Grande near Santa Fe. Graphic credit WikiMedia.

Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Mary Carlson):

Flows on the Rio Chama are on the rise as the most robust spring runoff since 2005 continues in northern New Mexico.

The Bureau of Reclamation is currently releasing 3,000 cubic feet per second from El Vado Reservoir into the Rio Chama in an attempt to keep up with the snowmelt and is moving water at the request of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. The safe channel capacity for this stretch of the Rio Chama is 4,500 cfs.

Reclamation is being proactive with the release to ensure there is adequate room to safely store the additional water that will be coming into the reservoir as there is still a considerable amount of snow at the higher elevations. As of this week, 25.8 inches of snow-water was being reported at Cumbres Trestle, which is the highest point on the contributing watershed. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s May forecast, there is still approximately 100,000 acre-feet of water to come into El Vado before the end of July.

The higher flows will provide great opportunities for recreation this Memorial Day weekend, but the public should use caution as water levels are higher and flows are faster than what has become the norm on the Rio Chama in recent years. Recreationists and those traveling along the Rio Chama between El Vado and Abiquiu should exercise extreme caution.

Those heading out for recreation on or near rivers and reservoirs throughout New Mexico should be aware of changing conditions and fluctuating water levels.

San Luis Valley aquifer system primer

San Luis Valley via National Geographic

From the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable (Helen Smith) via The Valley Courier:

Water is the glue that holds the San Luis Valley together. It is vital to the people, the economy, lifestyle and even the physical landscape of the Valley itself.

There are two aquifers that lie beneath the Valley floor. One is the confined aquifer that is trapped below a series of clay lenses deep beneath the Valley floor. The other is the unconfined aquifer that is generally found within the first 100 feet of the surface. Without the water from these aquifers, the San Luis Valley would very likely not be the agricultural workhorse that we know today.

There are also unique geological structures such as Rio Grande Rift that contributes to when and where water travels throughout the Valley subsurface. Aquifers are key, particularly the unconfined. The water of the unconfined aquifer functions very much like surface water. The recharge of this important commodity comes from the mountains and the snow that brings down their runoff. The unconfined aquifer supplies 85 percent of agricultural well water. The largest concentration of these wells lies within Sub-district #1.

The confined aquifer lies beneath the unconfined aquifer. There are clay layers that separate the aquifers. Historic Alamosa Lake is likely responsible for the formation of these layers. The water that lies beneath the surface is heavily relied upon by the agricultural community. There are also differences in how each of the aquifers react. In addition, any well in the San Luis Valley inevitably impacts the river flow at some point.

As a Valley native from Saguache, Allen Davey of Davis Engineering Services has studied the San Luis Valley aquifer system extensively. He also has a great deal of background on the Valley’s water issues. Davey points out that the aquifers and well levels have been monitored since 1970, when accurate measurements were first available. Since that time, there have been notable trends in the increase and decrease of the aquifer and well levels. The water table itself has seen a significant and steady decline partly due to the sheer number of wells that have been drilled. More water has been taken than replaced. The worst decrease was the extreme drought that began in 2002. Historically speaking, demand has simply outweighed supply. Because of these factors, there are now big implications for the future.

Davey also explained that the aquifers are situated very much like a bowl of water. This means that there is pressure that pushes the water upward from beneath the clay and downward pressure from the surface. The result is wells in the confined aquifer have high amounts of pressure, the result of which is artesian flow. Both confined and unconfined wells are heavily relied upon especially for agriculture irrigation. This has resulted in a widening gap between the aquifer waters and the surface.

Because this gap between the water and the surface has increased, it is now not impossible that there is potential for the Valley floor to begin sinking if the aquifer is not replenished. Rebuilding the aquifer system has now become even more necessary than many once thought. It has now become imperative that this issue be addressed. It is also critical that the recharge process is working properly.

The effort to replace the depletions and rebuild the aquifer is another piece to this puzzle. This is where sub-districts, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and the pending well rules and regulations for Division 3 come in. The pending regulations for Division 3 require well users to replace their depletions. There is also a slow gain in the northern portions of the aquifer system being seen though studies and reports that Davis Engineering Services provides to the Rio Grande Water Conservation District. Because the well owners of Sub-district #1 have been replacing their depletions, Davey believes that the aquifer is headed in the right direction because of monitoring and reduced pumping. Replacing depletions will only help agriculture as well as Colorado’s obligation to the Rio Grande Compact.

The well rules for Division 3 and the replacement efforts are still a work in progress. However, it would appear that these measures are producing some results. The trial to finalize the rules for Division 3 is set for January of 2018. If and when these rules are approved, a great deal of change will arrive. Arguably, it is necessary change.

The future remains to be seen. There is certainly a great deal of importance in this matter when considering the agriculture, the people and the future of the San Luis Valley. This is a unique situation that will require a unique solution.

Helen Smith is the Outreach Specialist for the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable.

The Rio Grande Basin Roundtable meets the second Tuesday of every month. Meetings are located at the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District office at 623 4th St. Alamosa. For more information visit http://www.RGBRT.org.

#Snowpack/#Runoff news: Folks are upbeat for the Rio Grande boating season

Rio Grande at Del Norte gage May 14, 2017 via Colorado Division of Water Resources.

From The Santa Fe New Mexican (Sami Edge):

“We will remember 2017,” said [Steve] Harris, who from his porch on Friday could see willow trees bending in the fast-moving, brown current. “It’s been 10 years since we’ve seen this kind of water.”

The Rio Grande and other rivers in Northern New Mexico are surging. Experts say the heavy winter snowpack in New Mexico and Colorado mountains, coupled with recent cold snaps and a boost from spring precipitation, mean New Mexico will have more runoff than in past years, and it will last further into the summer season. And that is good news for irrigators, recreational users, municipal water systems and wildlife that depend on the rivers.

“We’ve had, particularly on the Rio Grande, a very good snowpack year,” said Royce Fontenot, senior service hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. “The positive impacts are going to be that agriculture and water users on the Rio Grande and San Juan are going to have more water than they’ve had in recent years.”

The Rio Grande currently has twice as much water flowing through it than is typical for this time of year. On Friday, the river gauge at the village of Embudo recorded 4,020 cubic feet per second, which is more than double the 85-year average for the same date.

The Upper Rio Grande snowpack, which feeds the headwaters in Southern Colorado, was at 122 percent of its historical median Friday, according to a map published by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Snowpack in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which shed water into the river south of the state line, measured at 150 percent.

The Rio Chama snowpack, which supplies important reservoirs and the river for which it is named, had a snowpack Friday that was 266 percent of the historical median.

Mary Carlson, public affairs specialist for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque office, says the snowmelt is strong enough that, for the first time in a few years, Heron Reservoir will be able to fully allocate the water promised to contractors, and El Vado Reservoir is again allowed to store water, which isn’t allowed when reservoirs downstream are at a critical level. Water forecasts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service estimate that El Vado inflow from March through July will be 171 percent of normal.

“We have been in extreme drought for many years here in New Mexico. All of our reservoirs are now really low. This above average snowpack is a really big deal at this point,” Carlson said. “It’s looking like it’s overall going to be a really good year for water.”

At the Santa Cruz Reservoir, water is cascading down the dam’s overflow spillways, said Kenny Salazar, water manager for the Santa Cruz Irrigation District He expects to see chile crops and kitchen gardens flourish along the eight miles of irrigation ditches in the district. He just hopes warm nighttime temperatures don’t make the Santa Cruz River jump its banks.

Garrett VeneKlasen, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, has a similarly optimistic outlook for New Mexico wildlife. More water and more plants means more turkey, elk, bighorns and songbirds, and next year, maybe even bears with two cubs…

Santa Fe stands to benefit, too. Snows in the canyon east of the city feed the McClure and Nichols reservoirs, a significant source of water supply for the community water, which, like Albuquerque, also diverts water from the Rio Grande. On Friday, flows in the Santa Fe River before it reaches McClure were at 22 cubic feet per second, which is above the 17-year average of 17 cfs.

From KOAA.com:

As of 5:30 a.m. Friday, the river stage was at 11.6 feet. If the water rises to 12 feet, water will start approaching Highway 194. At 13 feet, nearby structures will be threatened. According to the National Weather Service, the water could reach 12.2 feet as early as Friday.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Ryan Severance):

The Beulah area received anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of precipitation from Wednesday afternoon through late Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service’s Pueblo office…

Pueblo Mountain Park in Beulah received 4.48 inches of precipitation from Wednesday to Thursday, the NWS said, and has received 5.82 inches in the past three days. Since March 23 there has been 16.04 inches of precipitation at the park.

The rain began pelting the town late Wednesday afternoon before turning into hail for a while. The hail then became rain again and fell consistently through the night and into early Thursday morning before tapering off by late morning.

Statewide snowpack Basin High/Low graph May 14, 2017 via the NRCS.

Rio Grande Roundtable meeting recap

Cloud-seeding graphic via Science Matters

From The Alamosa News (Ruth Heide):

Although there are currently no cloud seeding operations in the San Luis Valley, some folks believe this might be a good place for it.

Joe Busto, who oversees weather modification permits for the Colorado Water Conservation Board, gave the Rio Grande Roundtable group a crash course on cloud seeding during its Tuesday meeting. The Valley-wide water group funds many water related projects in the Rio Grande Basin from ditch repair to reservoir rehab. The group was not asked for funding at this time.

Busto said that another form of weather modification, hail cannons, previously operated in the San Luis Valley under a permit with Southern Colorado Farms, but the agricultural operation discontinued the practice.

Cloud seeding occurs all around the region from Texas to North Dakota, Busto stated.

Many of the cloud seeding operations in Colorado are associated with ski areas such as Vail, Crested Butte and Breckenridge, Busto explained. Others are connected to water districts. There are currently 110 machines in the state. He described the primary catalysts as either silver iodide, which is expensive but effective (and not harmful to the environment), or propane, which is cheaper.

Before setting up a machine, plume dispersion tests are conducted to determine how the winds are blowing and from what direction so the cloud seeding operation can be set up to provide the most good.

Operations are also the most effective when machines are set up at higher elevations, Busto explained.

Roundtable member Travis Smith asked, “Is the Rio Grande ready to start participating in a winter time cloud seeding program?”

Roundtable member Charlie Spielman said he saw this as a solution to the imbalance between water supply and demand.

“Cloud seeding is the best opportunity within our reach of making a real dent in that supply/demand gap,” he said.

He encouraged “getting a program going here … Let’s put something into this because I think this is our best chance.”

Busto said he believed a lean cloud seeding operation could be put in place for about $60,000 a year. He said he believed there could be many benefits to this area as well as downstream.

#Snowpack/#Runoff news: Ullr delivered the past week

Click on a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS. Remember to be cautious about your evaluation. Percent of average peak may not reflect conditions accurately since melt-out started up a few weeks ago. The percent of average may be high but how is the current SWE as compared to this year’s peak and the average peak volume and date? How much SWE is left to come off?

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Sarah Jane Kyle):

Snowfall in Fort Collins is 26.5 inches below the seasonal average following this weekend’s storm.

As of 8 p.m. Saturday, Fort Collins received 2.2 inches of snow in April, bringing seasonal snowfall to 28.5 inches. The average seasonal snowfall by this time of year is 55 inches.

From email from the US Bureaus of Reclamation:

Water managers are preparing for the best runoff the Rio Grande has seen in nearly a decade, as the snowpack in the mountains that feeds the river and its tributaries melts.

Flows through Albuquerque topped 3,500 cubic feet per second on April 19, 2017, as temperatures rose and the snowmelt continued. The flows are expected to increase further and continue for several months with sustained deliveries from Colorado on the main-stem and above-average runoff on the Rio Chama. This is a stark contrast from years when Reclamation and cooperating agencies struggled to keep the river connected to Elephant Butte through the spring months.

“We are really pleased to finally see above-average snowpack and the potential to start the long process of rebuilding our water supplies,” said Albuquerque Area Manager Jennifer Faler. “We realize that dwindling supplies are the result of years of extended drought and it will take many years to completely recover. But this is a good step in the right direction.”

For the first time in the last few years, it appears San Juan-Chama Project contractors could receive a full allocation of water stored in Heron Reservoir this summer. And irrigation districts are also expecting to replenish some of the water stored in reservoirs. The April forecast for inflow to El Vado Reservoir in northern New Mexico is 160 percent of average. That translates to a predicted inflow of approximately 360,000 acre-feet of water. It’s more than a 100 percent increase over last year’s inflow.

The Rio Grande at Otowi gage, an important measuring point for the Rio Grande Compact, is forecast to pass approximately 920,000 acre-feet of water this year, also a large increase from recent years.

Elephant Butte is expected to have good inflow into June and could reach about 500,000 acre-feet in storage at the high point this summer. This is welcome news for Rio Grande Project beneficiaries including Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1, and Mexico, as well as recreationists and boating enthusiasts.

“We have not seen these kinds of natural flows on the Rio Chama and Rio Grande in New Mexico in many years,” Faler said. “Through many years of drought, some folks have become complacent and we’ve seen more encroachment on the river. It’s important to remember that rivers are active channels that can migrate and change in times of higher flows. We all need to be vigilant and aware as we live, work, and recreate near and in New Mexico’s rivers and reservoirs.”

Reclamation is coordinating closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District to manage the higher flows through the Middle Rio Grande Valley. Reclamation has authority for river maintenance to protect Middle Rio Grande Project facilities and ensure the delivery of water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has authority for flood control.

To view the 2017 Rio Grande Annual Operating Plan, visit https://www.usbr.gov/uc/albuq/water/aop/2017AOP.pdf.

Here’s the Westwide basin-filled map for May 1, 2017 via the NRCS.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map May 1, 2017 via the NRCS.

#ColoradoRiver: Time running out for #MX and #US to work out Minute 32x

Colorado River Basin, USBR May 2015

From WhoWhatWhy.org:

Under a 1944 treaty, the US shares water rights to three rivers that cross the US-Mexico border — the Tijuana and Colorado Rivers, and the Rio Grande. Historically, water-sharing on these rivers involves complex, often difficult, discussions. Today, drought conditions in the American West and growing political tensions with Mexico give those talks a new sense of urgency — and uncertainty.

Among the many diplomatic challenges the United States faces with its southern neighbor are international water rights on the Colorado River — a river system in the midst of a lengthy, 16-year drought. The 1944 treaty guarantees Mexico 1.5 million square acres of water from the Colorado River annually. However, it is vague on how that water is to be shared during years when the river comes up short. Minute 319, a 2012 amendment to the treaty, established, among important water conservation policies, a drought contingency plan. That five-year pilot program is set to expire at the end of this year.

Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to get a new water-sharing deal, known as Minute 32x, signed before January’s inauguration, it remains stalled. Anne Castle, former Assistant Secretary for Water and Science in the Department of the Interior, told WhoWhatWhy that this issue needs immediate action.

Water levels in the Colorado River have been in steady decline for nearly two decades. Ongoing drought conditions place considerable stress on the system and the reservoirs it serves throughout the Colorado River Basin. Among them, Lake Mead — America’s largest reservoir — today sits at historically low levels; about 41% capacity. According to Castle, there is a “substantial probability” — approximately a one in three chance — that levels at Mead will fall below the established “drought trigger point” — 1,075 feet — requiring the Secretary of the Interior to declare a water shortage. “This river,” says Castle, “is in crisis.”

Commonly called “America’s Nile,” the Colorado River is the most heavily litigated and managed river in the United States. On its 1,045 mile journey south from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the Gulf of California in Mexico, coursing through seven US and two Mexican states, the Colorado River serves 40 million people, supports major metropolises like San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix, and provides 75% of the water used in local agricultural districts.

What is left of the river by the time it reaches Morelos Dam on the US-Mexico border, the last dam in the system, is diverted to irrigate fields in the Mexican state of Mexicali. A 2015 New Yorker article compared the carefully controlled system, of which every drop is claimed, to a “fourteen-hundred-mile-long canal.” That major waterway, say experts, is currently over-allocated and slowly diminishing.

The Colorado River, which cuts through nine national parks including the Grand Canyon, is integral to what John Fleck, director of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Programs, calls the southwestern identity. He points out that border communities, such as San Luis Rio Colorado, have seen little of their namesake’s waters for nearly half a century.

“Imagine,” he told WhoWhatWhy, “living by a river taken away from you.” Decades of overuse, he said, turned the Colorado River Delta — once described by naturalists as a lush wetland — into the “dry channel” we find today.

Fleck cites a recent study by Brad Udall and Jonathan Overpeck that fingered climate change “as one of the main causes” of the Colorado River’s diminished flow. While the greater River system will not dry up, like its delta, anytime soon, it will, continue to experience critical decreases in water flow.

In March of 2014, a landmark environmental project laid the groundwork for restoring life to the Colorado’s barren delta. As part of a technique designed to mimic seasonal snowmelt, known as “pulse flow,” the gates of Morelos Dam were opened. Eight weeks of increased flows followed. The people of San Luis Rio Colorado celebrated the temporary return of their town’s namesake with live music and water games. Secretary Castle remembers the response as “amazingly affecting.”

The project was made possible in the midst of a drought by the cooperative policies outlined in Minute 319. The amendment not only works to promote the ecological health of the Colorado River Delta, it also contains a plan for shortage sharing, commits funds to improve water infrastructure and allows Mexico to store its allotted water in Lake Mead.

The greatest asset the US has for managing the effects of climate change on the River, according to Thomas Buschatzke, Arizona’s Director of Water Resources, is its relationship with Mexico.

“I can’t say enough how important it is to have Mexico as a partner,” he told WhoWhatWhy. “The more partners you have the more opportunities you have to develop effective tools.”

Allowing Mexico to store its water in Lake Mead helps keep water levels high enough to offset the drought trigger point. Additionally, in the event of a drought, both Mexico and the US must take the same proportion of shortages — meaning the burden of shortages is decreased by the number of stakeholders shouldering it. The agreement has thus far effectively staved off cutbacks and is enormously popular among Basin states. Minute 319, along with other water agreements signed over the past 10 years, says Buschatzke, represent a “relatively new relationship” with Mexico — one defined by a high degree of cross-border cooperation.

Current diplomatic policy and recent political rhetoric under the Trump administration, however, has already strained US-Mexico relations. The water-sharing agreement should be allowed to stand on its own, says Secretary Castle, but she fears it has the potential to become a “negotiating point” amidst “unrelated disputes” over issues such as NAFTA, the wall, and immigration.

Foreign Affairs Officer Sally Spener at the International Boundary and Water Commission, which oversees negotiations concerning the 1944 treaty, told WhoWhatWhy her agency’s work “seeks to find technical rather than political solutions,” to water disputes between the US and Mexico. Keeping politics out of a River that is a “vital” municipal and industrial resource, “affecting tens of millions of people in both countries,” is important to maintaining a constructive relationship.

Although, according to Fleck, there should be no partisan frame to this issue, this could be “one of a number of examples throughout history…where an agreement over a river was influenced by a broader relationship between two countries.” While water infrastructure development during the Second World War made cooperation between Mexico and the US mutually beneficial under the 1944 treaty, world events in 2017 may prove to negatively influence cooperative amendments to that original pact.

Fleck says he, and other water experts, were surprised by the outcome of the 2016 election and had expected to work with an administration that was “more sympathetic” to the water-sharing deal signed under Obama’s presidency. It’s furthermore possible, adds Secretary Castle, spending could be tight in terms of federal dollars going toward water conservation projects.

With a number of important deadlines coming up, Castle and a team of researchers published the Colorado River Future Project last fall. The study interviewed more than 65 Colorado River management experts on the present crisis and outlined suggestions for immediate policy action. That research was then disseminated to the Trump transition team in an effort to “accelerate the learning curve” that any turnover in the White House typically necessitates. The Trump administration, says Castle, is “fully cognizant of the importance and urgency” of the deal with Mexico.

Castle says she’s confident that Interior Secretary Zinke “is a thoughtful, considered person who will be listening hard to his advisors and the various stakeholders in this potential agreement.”

But vacancies in key Interior leadership positions continue to stall Minute 32x’s progress. “The really important positions at Interior are the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, and the Commissioner of Reclamation, and those jobs haven’t been filled yet,” says Fleck.

Meanwhile, new appointments in Mexico — including Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Mexican ambassador to the US Gerónimo Gutiérrez — also need to be brought up to speed on pending negotiations.

In the event that Minute 32x does not pass by December 31, 2017, Lower Colorado Regional Director, Jennifer McCloskey said, “Our expectation is to continue to work.” Neither McCloskey or Buschatzke wanted to speculate on the potential consequences of unsuccessful water talks.

Castle, however, says Mexico is unlikely to go along with drought reductions if there is no deal in place that enforces a drought contingency plan. More crucially, she says, we may “go back to a situation where we don’t know what the treaty means anymore.”

For his part, Buschatzke is “cautiously optimistic” Minute 32x will pass. During negotiations his department often calls upon this axiom: “No one state, no one entity, no one water user.”

Alamosa: 20th annual five-day spring Rio Grande Leaders Course recap

San Luis Valley via National Geographic

From The Alamosa News (Stan Moyer):

Begun in 1998, the presentations by SLV water agency leaders and their longtime legal advisors brought up facts that even those who have been attending Rio Grande Roundtable meetings virtually every month for years were probably not familiar.

The course was held at the Rio Grande Water Conservancy District’s new building at 8805 Independence Way near the Alamosa County administrative facilities.

At least one participant was taking the course for the second year in a row “because there is just so much to absorb,” Frankie Wills, an official of the East Alamosa Water & Sanitation District Board commented.

The fifth day of the Monday-Friday presentations was held the evening of March 31 with a dinner at the Bistro Rialto Restaurant on Main Street in Alamosa, beginning after a social hour with a speech by Chief of Resources Management of Great Sand Dunes National Park Fred Bunch. He far and away took care of any shortage of humor found in previous presentations with rollicking stories, but also a very fact-filled outline of what brought the park into existence, including controversial political issues being solved by a purchase of a Baca Ranch area. Previous owners seemed to be potentially shipping water out of the Valley, and only a combination of forces and decisions brought about by those such as 1998 U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit and then Attorney General of Colorado Ken Salazar helped bring about the existence of the current park that now draws as many as 380,000 annual visitors and has a $28 million yearly economic impact…

An especially enlightening aspect of the Rio Grande National Forest was explained in a presentation Thursday, March 30 by RGNF Forest Hydrologist Ivan Geroy. After explaining the history of its creation over a period going all the way back to federal legislation in the 1890’s and in the first decade of the 20th Century, he emphasized that while the national forest covers 37 percent of the SLV land area,”The primary purpose is to help water management in the entire San Luis Valley.”

Earlier presentations in the course, such as one conducted by Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration official Emma Reesor and Colorado Restoration Foundation’s Andrea Bachman, brought out results of studies, including ones done both in 2001 and 2016 revealing river problems such as degraded habitat, altered hydrology, and extensive erosion, disconnected flood plain, and impaired water quality. Both the McDonald Ditch restoration project were cited as an “excellent sample of beneficial rebuilding,” and the present Del Norte Riverfront Project was noted as a good example of the promise of cooperation between numerous organizations, “including those specific to the town itself, the Del Norte Trail Organization,” to specify one.

Another feature of the course was to have a discourse by Bethany Howell of the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative on how she leads area tours and school presentations for kindergarten to twelfth grade students throughout the SLV. She noted one comment made by a sixth grader from the Sargent area: “The way water moves is so fascinating and interesting and how it effects [SIC] life is also pretty cool.”

Information given by attorneys Bill Paddock and David Robbins that together covered an entire three-hour session were extremely enlightening. One observation that can be safely made is that on the other four days of the course, all speakers used a large screen to show highlights, while the lawyers did not. Praise has to be given in how thorough the knowledge of each was, helped by 30 to 40 years of legal experience in water law, and exhaustive awareness of how some current water laws and extremely impactful court decisions were made. The upshot is that both were there when these happened, so play-by-play knowledge of the history is amazing…

The sponsors of the spring 2017 Rio Grande Leaders Course are the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, the Colorado Rio Grande Restoration Foundation, San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District, Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative, and the Rio Grande Water Conservation District.