St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District board: Vote Yes on 7A for Our Water #VOTE

Here’s the release from the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District board:

Today, the Yes on 7A For Our Water Campaign launches in support of ballot Question 7A, a measure to ensure funding for the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District to protect our clean water and healthy forests, rivers, and creeks.

“Nothing is more important than clean water. We need to step up and ensure our communities have clean water to drink,” said Christopher Smith, General Manager at Left Hand Water District and St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District Board Member. “By protecting our forests, rivers and creeks we can ensure we have safe, clean reliable water. The St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District is our advocate for protecting our water. Please join me in voting Yes on 7A.”

The St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District serves communities in the counties of Boulder, Weld and Larimer, from the mountains to the plains including residents in Lyons, Longmont, Mead and Firestone and the surrounding area draining into St. Vrain and Left Hand Creeks. The District works to protect local water quality and ensure we have water supplies for generations to come.

“When we started Left Hand Brewing, we wanted to establish our brewery in a community with a long history of clean, reliable water,” said Eric Wallace, President of Left Hand Brewing. “Longmont was a clear winner, and it is no coincidence that our brewery is located right on the “Mighty St. Vrain”. I am voting yes on 7A because it is a great investment in clean water, which is essential for our business, community, and the next generation.”

“A yes on 7A Vote means we will preserve our spectacular creeks that feed our natural and human environment,” said Barbara Luneau, President of the St. Vrain Anglers chapter of Trout Unlimited. Seeing trout in a river indicates clean, high-quality water. Since the September 2013 flood, trout and native fish habitat has increased because of post-flood stream restoration. There is more work to be done to restore our creeks with limited funding available. Voting yes on 7A will bring desperately needed funding to improve our creeks and maintain our high- quality water.”

For nearly 50 years, the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District has successfully protected our water by facilitating conservation programs, protecting water quality, educating the public and developing and managing water projects. The District has never once asked voters for additional funds. Voting Yes on 7A will ensure the District can continue supporting local agriculture, healthy rivers, and a secure water future. Cost to homeowners will be approximately $9.00 per $100,000 of assessed value, similar to the cost of a cup of coffee per month. For businesses the cost is $36.24 per $100,000 of assessed value. 7A will automatically end or sunset after 10 years.

“As a representative for the nation’s oldest Cattlemen’s Association, I know how important water is for the ranching and farming community. Grazing lands within the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District are high quality – in part because of the water used to irrigate fields,” said Terry Fankhauser, Executive Vice President of Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “Not only are these fields important for farming and ranching but they also provide food and habitat for wildlife. Voting yes on 7A is good for your local food, water and wildlife. Vote Yes on 7A.”

For more information about 7A, please visit:

Big remodeling job at Gross Reservoir – News on TAP

Aging outlet works at base of Denver Water dam call for major upgrade to valves, pipes.

Source: Big remodeling job at Gross Reservoir – News on TAP

Study: Water Use Dropping In Western Cities Even While Population Grows — KNAU

From KNAU (Melissa Sevigny):

Many western cities have been able to shrink their total water use in recent decades, even as their populations grew. That’s the finding of a new study published in the journal Water last week. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with lead author Brian Richter about how simple water conservation measures could be a cost-effective way to combat shortages in the Colorado River Basin.

How is this possible? How can water use drop while the population grows?

The explanation of that is that they have found ways to encourage people, to incentivize people, to use less water per person on average. What we found across the board in the western Cities that we surveyed—we looked at 20 different cities—we found their average rate of growth from 2000 to 2015 was about 21 percent, yet their average rate of reduction in their water use was 19 percent…

So how are they pulling this off, what’s happening that makes their water use per individual go down?

There were two things that really jumped out for us…. One, outdoor landscaping. It’s not uncommon for western cities to use half or more of their water outdoors, irrigating lawns, big commercial landscape areas and that sort of thing. That was the place the cities saw some of the biggest declines in use, because a lot of them had been financially incentivizing homeowners and businesses to reduce their outdoor irrigation…. The other big part of the story was indoors, on toilets… Back in 1992, we passed the Federal Energy Act—Energy Act, not Water Act. What was interesting about that was the framers, the architects of that energy act recognized that the movement of water, the cleaning of water to get it ready and make it potable for our use, was a very large portion of U.S. energy use. They said, if we can reduce water use, then we’re also going to reduce energy use…. What the Energy Act said was any new toilets sold in the United States from that day forward were going to have to be high efficiency ones. Overnight, the new toilets being sold were using half of the water that they did previously.

Historical traces of available water and actual use shown here refer to the natural supply of surface water from the Colorado River and the consumptive use of that water over time.

New research shows U.S. solar installations increased 3,000% in one decade — #Solar Power World

From Solar Power World (Kelly Pickerel):

In 2019, the United States produced 30-times more solar power and more than triple the amount of wind energy than it did in 2010, according to a new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center. The project, “Renewables on the Rise 2020,” documents the growth of five key clean energy technologies during the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicles.

In addition to the growth in renewable energy, utility-scale battery storage increased 20-fold since 2010, energy consumption per person declined thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and more than one million electric vehicles were sold in the United States.

“People have always reaped the benefits of sun and wind, first to grow food, then to move ships… and now, to power the 21st century,” said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America Research and Policy Center’s Clean Energy program. “Today nearly 50 million American homes rely on clean, renewable energy from the sun and wind. These technologies have risen to the occasion. They are transforming our energy landscape, and our future.”

Along with a national overview, the report highlights states that have made the most progress in adopting solar and wind energy, increasing battery storage capacity, improving energy efficiency, and transitioning to electric vehicles.

“America’s growth in clean energy is primarily the result of states taking action,” said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable Campaign director with Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Forward looking policies designed to tap into each state’s vast renewable resources are creating a virtuous cycle of technological advancements, falling costs and greater deployment.”

California, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and Texas added the most solar energy between 2010 and 2019, while the Mid- and Southwest states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois saw the most wind energy growth. In Kansas and Oklahoma, wind generation grew almost seven-fold during that time.

The New England states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts led the pack on efficiency improvements. In addition to taking first place for solar energy growth by a wide margin, California also ranked No. 1 for electric vehicle charging stations and sales (followed by New York, Washington, Florida and Texas). The Golden State was also top for growth in battery storage (followed by Illinois, Texas, Hawaii and West Virginia), thanks in part to strong policy leadership in the state.

The Complexity of Color in the Environmental Movement — Writers on the Range

Ernie Atencio

From Writers on the Range (Ernie Atencio):

This summer was a time of reckoning about race in every sector of American life, and many of us are scrambling to respond in appropriate ways — including the environmental movement I’m a part of.

We would like to forget, but the environmental movement has racist roots. One of the founders of the National Park Service was Madison Grant, whose eugenicist views inspired Hitler, and the conservation heroes, John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt, both routinely disparaged Native Americans.

Trying to heal that legacy, environmental organizations for decades have talked about how to build diverse staffs, promote parks and public lands for everyone, and seriously address environmental issues in poor neighborhoods or communities of color.

Thirty years ago, the Albuquerque-based Southwest Organizing Project wrote a letter to the “Big 10” national environmental groups outlining all the ways the movement was failing communities of color and calling for change. It was an alert that some groups took seriously. Others issued a bland statement about diversity and inclusion on their websites. Since then, change has been slight and slow.

I share this observation after working in the environmental world for over 25 years, and before that as a park ranger and outdoor instructor. But as a Chicano from northern New Mexico, who grew up in a rough inner-city neighborhood in Denver, I am an anomaly.

I got into this work because I care about wild places, not as a diversity campaigner. But it’s hard to ignore. When I returned to New Mexico in the mid-‘90s to take a job with a river group in Taos, I may have been the only Chicano in the entire state working as a full-time environmental advocate. Some called me the “Chicano poster child.”

As an executive director or on staff with other organizations, I was similarly the “only” or the “first.” The same was true during my years rangering and teaching. I stick with it because I care, and I continue working for change from inside the mainstream. I relish the privilege of access to the public commons of national parks and wilderness areas and outdoor recreation, even as I recognize that many Americans of color do not have that access.

Trust me; it’s harder than it looks being the only brown face in the room or even on a trail. Being the first to break this or that barrier, and always having to explain to someone what it’s like can get tiring.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve been asked to represent Chicano perspectives, or even all people of color, in a meeting. But it often ends up feeling like a half-hearted PC gesture for appearance sake or to satisfy a funder. Attitudes are fixed and systems in place, and once I walk out of the room I think my words are usually forgotten and it’s back to business as usual.

Despite years of experience and knowledge, a few years ago I was fired from a job with one of those big national organizations because I was “not a good fit.” For whatever best intentions this group may have had, I believe they wanted the credibility of a local ethnic face, but in the end the person behind it who did not think or act like them was a threat to the order.

It’s been a life of straddling worlds, hiding part of who I really am to try to fit in and often feeling like an outsider – and I’m not the only one.

At the same time, I sometimes feel a nagging sense of survivor’s guilt because I escaped a rough life on the streets, and am not out there in solidarity, protesting for change and getting tear-gassed and arrested. I was roughed-up by cops enough in my youth that I don’t need any more, but that does not assuage this internal conflict.

But whether you are black, brown or white, the exceptional privilege of being part of a big green group and having access to the sanity of outdoor spaces carries a responsibility to help change the status quo, to speak up for those who are not part of the mainstream dialog, to advocate for equitable access to the outdoors, and yes, to rattle a few cages.

Even though the evolution has been agonizingly slow, it seems that finally, some mainstream organizations are willing to listen and learn. This seems to be a moment of change — may the momentum last.

Dark, damp and claustrophobic confines – News on TAP

Denver Water’s work to maintain the Roberts Tunnel carrying critical water supplies under the Continental Divide isn’t easy.

Source: Dark, damp and claustrophobic confines – News on TAP

Grand County wildfire burns in Denver Water’s collection area – News on TAP

Denver Water’s primary concern has been the safety of its employees who work at its Grand County facilities at Williams Fork Reservoir, Winter Park and at the remote Jones Pass headquarters.

Source: Grand County wildfire burns in Denver Water’s collection area – News on TAP

These hay fields may know something we don’t: how to save the #ColoradoRiver — @WaterEdCO #COriver #aridification

Research technician and Grand County rancher Wendy Thompson collects hay samples as part of a far-reaching experiment to see if ranchers can fallow hay meadows and conserve more water for the Colorado River. Credit: Dave Timko, This American Land. Aug. 12, 2020 via Water Education Colorado

From Water Education Colorado (Jerd Smith):

Grand County rancher Paul Bruchez stands in a hay field near Kremmling, holding a small tuft of hay between his fingertips, twirling it back and forth, seeing how quickly it disintegrates after a summer without water.

The plant, known as timothy, is native to Colorado and feeds thousands of cattle here in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

This hay species and others are being closely watched this year as part of a far-reaching $1 million science experiment, one designed to see if ranchers can take water off of hay fields and successfully measure how much was removed, how much evaporated, and how much was used by plants. They also need to know how reducing their irrigation in this fashion affects the nutritional value of the hay.

If certain hay species retain more nutrients than others when they’re on low-water diets, then ranchers know their cattle will continue to eat well as they evaluate whether they can operate their ranches on less H20—not all the time, but perhaps every other year or every two to three years.

“We’ve spent centuries learning how to irrigate these lands,” Bruchez said. “Now we’re learning what it’s like not to irrigate them.”

Any water saved could be left in the Colorado River, allowing it to become more sustainable, even as the West’s population grows and drought cycles become more intense.

Scaling up

While similar small-scale experiments on five or 10 acres have been done before, this one by comparison is vast in scale, involving 1,200 acres of high-altitude hay meadows, nine ranch families, a team of researchers spread across Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and the backing of powerful water groups, farm interests, and environmentalists.

“We’ve never had a project this large in the state of Colorado,” said Perry Cabot, a Colorado State University researcher who is the lead scientist on the project.

The undertaking is sponsored by the Colorado River Basin Roundtable, whose members include Bruchez.

“We set out on a mission to ensure we have as much science and data as possible,” Bruchez said.

The data being collected serves several needs. It should help ranch families see if they can afford to participate in these modern-era conservation efforts.

It will allow researchers to better understand what works on the ground and what to do, for instance, when rambunctious bulls destroy research equipment enclosures 25 miles from the nearest town.

And it will give policy makers insight into the political problems that will have to be solved, as well as how much money could need to be raised, to make large-scale conservation on the Colorado River feasible.

The $1 million, three-year project is being funded by the state and several environmental groups, with the money being used to pay researchers, buy equipment, and compensate ranch families who temporarily fallow their fields.

Rancher and fly fishing guide Paul Bruchez’s daughter and nephew sit in a hay field at the family ranch near Kremmling. Bruchez is helping spearhead a study among local ranchers, which could inform a potential statewide demand management program. Photo credit: Paul Bruchez via Aspen Journalism

Water for Powell?

Agriculture uses some 80 percent of the water in the seven-state Colorado River Basin, and hay meadows that grow feed for cattle are among the basin’s largest water users.

Last year, under an historic drought agreement on the Colorado River, a new specially protected drought pool in Lake Powell was authorized.

Now Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico, the four states that comprise the Colorado River’s Upper Basin, above Lake Powell, are studying whether they can or should help save enough water to fill that drought pool. The pool, authorized at 500,000 acre-feet, is intended as further insurance that the Upper Basin won’t be forced to involuntarily reduce water use from the river under the terms of the Colorado River Compact.

Colorado expects it would need to provide roughly half the water for the drought pool, and, led by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, is working out difficult questions about how that water would be saved and ushered downstream to Lake Powell under a possible voluntary program known as demand management. The research being done near Kremmling will help answer several critical questions.

Wendy Thompson is a rancher who also serves as the research technician for the pilot program, cutting hay samples and gathering soil moisture and precipitation data, among dozens of other tasks. She has driven hundreds of miles across Grand County this summer, checking each of the program’s 24 research sites every week or so, lugging an aging laptop from one meadow to the next.

She knows better than most that ranch families will need real information, such as how fallowing affects crop yields and soil health and production costs, in order to make decisions about whether to join in a voluntary multi-state conservation effort or to back away.

Intuition vs. facts

“The experiment is important to us,” Thompson said. “We want to make decisions based on the science and the data, not a gut feeling.”

Much of the work is grueling, like cutting hay samples week after week, and low tech, like measuring water levels in rain gauges.

But dramatic advances in satellite imagery and global evapotranspiration databases are helping people like Perry Cabot create science-based templates that eventually will be useful not just in Colorado, but Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and perhaps even farther downstream, on cotton fields in Arizona and avocado groves in California’s Central Valley.

“We now have the ability to measure the whole field,” Cabot said. “It’s becoming more accurate and it’s tremendously convenient if you’re trying to get a good understanding of patterns. We don’t have to rely on one data point anymore.” [Editor’s note: Cabot sits on the board of Water Education Colorado, which is a sponsor of Fresh Water News.]

A view of the popular Pumphouse campground, boat put-in and the upper Colorado River. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

That this particular team has agronomists, economists and environmentalists pitching in with their expertise is also helping move the science forward.

Brass tacks

“What makes this different is the scale and the depth of the questions we’re asking,” said Aaron Derwingson, an agricultural water specialist with The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado River Program, which is helping to fund the project.

“When we’re done it will be relevant to more people than just the ranchers. We will be able to extrapolate these field conditions and what it means for water savings and the recovery of different species,” he said.

“It’s tough to figure all that out on paper. Here we’re getting down to brass tacks,” Derwingson said.

With irrigation season over, Cabot and his team have serious number crunching to do before they begin monitoring next year, measuring how the hay fields survived their fallowed season, how quickly they return to health, and precisely how much water was conserved.

Early estimates indicate that the ranchers may have saved 1,500 acre-feet to as many as 2,500 acre-feet of water this year. If this process can be replicated, scientists and ranchers could begin to see how long it might take to fill the 500,000 acre-foot drought pool at Lake Powell.

No collateral damage

But even more important to Bruchez and state policy makers is the impact the pilot is having on a highly skeptical ranching community, some of whom are deeply worried that they will lose control of their water.

“We wanted a project that would be as smooth as possible,” Bruchez said. “We wanted to simplify it and ensure there weren’t unintended damages to neighbors who weren’t participating.

“Some people were comfortable about what we were doing and others had great fears,” he said. “We just had to keep telling them, ‘We are not delivering water to Lake Powell. We are trying to fill data gaps.’”

Jerd Smith is editor of Fresh Water News. She can be reached at 720-398-6474, via email at or @jerd_smith.

Get ready for next year’s watering season now – News on TAP

Fall is a good time to think about changing your lawn and landscape next spring to be more water efficient next summer.

Source: Get ready for next year’s watering season now – News on TAP

Big tree-cutting machine put to the test on steep slopes around Breckenridge – News on TAP

Summit County wildfire mitigation work aims to protect homes, improve forest health and protect water supply.

Source: Big tree-cutting machine put to the test on steep slopes around Breckenridge – News on TAP

Yay for cool weather! Time to cut back outdoor water use – News on TAP

Denver Water’s summer watering rules, in place every year, run from May 1 to Oct. 1. These fall practices can help prepare for next spring.

Source: Yay for cool weather! Time to cut back outdoor water use – News on TAP

Removing barriers to talking about the Lead Reduction Program – News on TAP

Denver Water’s largest public health initiative, the Lead Reduction Program, includes reaching out to customers in multiple languages.

Source: Removing barriers to talking about the Lead Reduction Program – News on TAP

Building a new spillway in the name of safety – News on TAP

Watch crews work to replace an old spillway on a dam built in the 1930s. The project is part of Denver Water’s dam safety program.

Source: Building a new spillway in the name of safety – News on TAP

Old canal in Winter Park goes under cover — News on TAP

Denver Water buries section of a 1930s waterway to improve safety, reliability and efficiency. The post Old canal in Winter Park goes under cover appeared first on News on TAP.

via Old canal in Winter Park goes under cover — News on TAP

Explaining blue-green algae — @COParksWildlife

Cherry Creek Reservoir photo of algae that tested positive for toxins
Taken July 14, 2020. Credit: Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

From Colorado Parks & Wildlife:

An informational video from CPW’s water quality section on blue-green algae. Toxic algae blooms are seen across the United States and have become more prevalent over the past decade. Colorado Parks and Wildlife started monitoring for toxic algae blooms starting in 2015.

Keeping a close eye on the wildfires of 2020 — News on TAP

Learn about the connection between fires in the mountains and the Front Range water supply. The post Keeping a close eye on the wildfires of 2020 appeared first on News on TAP.

via Keeping a close eye on the wildfires of 2020 — News on TAP

What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply — News on TAP

Summer 2020 marked by forest fires, lots of 90-degree days and thirsty lawns. The post What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply appeared first on News on TAP.

via What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply — News on TAP

What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply — News on TAP

Summer 2020 marked by forest fires, lots of 90-degree days and thirsty lawns. The post What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply appeared first on News on TAP.

via What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply — News on TAP

Denver Water’s newest treatment plant rising from the ground — News on TAP

When finished in 2024, the new plant will be able to treat up to 75 million gallons of water per day. The post Denver Water’s newest treatment plant rising from the ground appeared first on News on TAP.

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Saving our reservoirs from invading ‘cling-ons’ — News on TAP

Vigilant inspections keep destructive mussels from causing millions in damage to Denver’s water infrastructure. The post Saving our reservoirs from invading ‘cling-ons’ appeared first on News on TAP.

via Saving our reservoirs from invading ‘cling-ons’ — News on TAP

Denver Water’s orchestra: System maintenance means creative conducting — News on TAP

Roberts Tunnel closure creates ripple effects, requires significant planning across a sprawling collection, storage and treatment system. The post Denver Water’s orchestra: System maintenance means creative conducting appeared first on News on TAP.

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Fountain Creek lawsuit parties ask for more time to reach a settlement

Fountain Creek photo via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Boczkiewicz):

Attorneys who are trying to settle an environmental lawsuit against Colorado Springs for degrading Fountain Creek last week asked, once again, a judge to give them more time to reach an agreement. The judge balked.

“The Parties respectfully request . . . an additional 90 days,” the attorneys stated in a court filing to the judge overseeing the case in Denver at the U.S. District Court for Colorado.

Senior Judge John L. Kane met them part of the way, but warned that his patience was wearing thin…

Kane has approved six extensions since last year to keep the case on hold while all sides try to agreed on a plan, rather than continue to fight it out in court.

The most recent 90-day extension expired on Thursday.

In last week’s request for a new extensions until Nov. 18, the attorneys for all sides told Kane they “have worked diligently” to complete a settlement, known as a “Consent Decree,” in which Colorado Springs agrees to take specific actions. If the judge approves the terms of the settlement, it would become a court order.

The attorneys stated they have “accomplished as much as possible under challenging circumstances by telework, various means of remote communication, exchanging redline drafts of individual provisions and complete drafts” of a tentative proposed settlement, including three technical appendices. Those documents consist of more than 170 pages.

“In our last request for an extension, the Parties advised the Court that we had reached an agreement on almost all issues and had substantially completed a proposed (settlement agreement), the attorneys told Kane. “The Parties further advised the Court that there were a few remaining open issues that needed to be resolved.

“These final issues have taken longer than anticipated to be resolved and, therefore, a final proposed agreement was not ready to be presented to the appropriate approval authorities in the timeframe anticipated by the Parties when we requested our last extension” the attorneys stated. “The Parties have recently resolved these remaining issues and are finalizing the proposed (agreement) now.”

The attorneys said that during a 90-day extension, they “will finalize the proposed Consent Decree, as well as brief and present the proposed Decree to the appropriate approval authorities for their respective governments or governing boards in order to request their review and decision regarding approval of the proposed Consent Decree. “In answering the extension request, Kane wrote: “I am fully aware of the difficulties involved in reaching a conclusion to this case. Not only are all of us hampered by measures instituted to deal with the coronavirus epidemic, but in addition each of the parties to this case has additional responsibilities to their constituent governments and taxpayers amounting to fiduciary obligations…

“This is, however, the seventh request for ninety-day extensions to complete settlement agreements and file a proposed consent decree. This Court, too, has a public obligation to ensure the prompt, speedy and just resolution of cases presented to it,” the judge wrote. “As such, it is inappropriate for the Court to engage in excessive accommodation to this settlement process.

“I find we have reached that point, if indeed not exceeded it. Accordingly, rather than the requested ninety days, I will allow the parties an extension of the stay up to and through Oct. 30, 2020.

What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply — News on TAP

Summer 2020 marked by forest fires, lots of 90-degree days and thirsty lawns. The post What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply appeared first on News on TAP.

via What drought conditions statewide mean for Denver’s water supply — News on TAP

Denver Water’s newest treatment plant rising from the ground — News on TAP

When finished in 2024, the new plant will be able to treat up to 75 million gallons of water per day. The post Denver Water’s newest treatment plant rising from the ground appeared first on News on TAP.

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Kids are bigger #coronavirus spreaders than many doctors realized – here’s how schools can lower the risk — The Conversation #COVID19

Students and parents at California’s Hollywood High School go through temperature checks before picking up laptops for online learning.
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Phyllis Sharps, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Lucine Francis, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

The first U.S. schools have reopened with in-person classes, and they are already setting off alarm bells about how quickly the coronavirus can spread.

Georgia’s Cherokee County School District, north of Atlanta, had over 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases by the end of its second week of classes, and more than 1,600 students and staff had been sent home after being exposed to them. By the third week, three of the district’s high schools had temporarily reverted to all-online learning. Schools in Mississippi, Tennessee, Nebraska and other states also reported multiple cases, quarantines and temporary school closures.

Deciding whether to open schools for in-person classes during a pandemic is a complex decision. Children often learn better in school, where they have direct contact with expert teachers and the social-emotional learning that comes from being around other children. But they also risk spreading the disease to their teachers and one another’s families without even being aware they have it.

For schools that do reopen classrooms, there are important choices that can help them keep students, families and teachers safe. As nursing professors, we’ve been following the developing research on children’s risks of getting and spreading COVID-19, and we have some advice.

How infectious are kids?

Initially, it appeared that COVID-19 had minimal effects on children and that they didn’t spread it easily, but new research is changing that view.

A large study from Korea published in July found that older children, ages 10 to 19, were just as likely as adults to spread the virus to others. Younger children were suspected of infecting fewer people; however, a hospital in Chicago found that children under 5 with mild to moderate COVID-19 actually had more coronavirus genetic material in their upper respiratory tracts than older children and adults.

A COVID-19 outbreak at a summer camp in Georgia clearly showed how children of all ages are susceptible to infection: 51% of the campers ages 6 to 10 tested positive, as did 44% of those ages 11 to 17.

By mid-August, data from several states showed that children represented about 9.1% of all reported COVD-19 cases, and that the average had risen to 538 cases in every 100,000 children. The American Academy of Pediatrics found a sharp rise in the number of U.S. children testing positive, suggesting that far more children were infected than people realized.

How at-risk are kids?

Children do generally have milder symptoms than adults. In young bodies, it may show up as a fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea. Research suggests that children may have more stomach issues and diarrhea compared to adults.

But that isn’t the story for all kids. Some have died after contracting COVID-19, and others have developed severe complications after they appeared to have recovered.

Similar to adults, children face higher risks of developing severe symptoms if they have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, lung disease, suppressed immune system, congenital heart disease and serious genetic, neurologic or metabolic disorders. And children with none of these conditions can still end up in intensive care units because of COVID-19.

In very rare cases, several weeks after getting COVID-19, children have developed multi-system inflamatory syndrome (MIS-C), with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, including fever, rash, gastrointestinal problems, inflammation, shock and heart damage. At least six children in the U.S. have died from it.

A big concern for schools is that children who are infected but have no symptoms may be silently spreading the disease to their teachers and friends, who then take it home to their families and out into the community.

Ways to keep kids and their families safe

If a school decides to reopen for in-person instruction, it won’t be the same environment students found last fall. Officials will have to make difficult decisions that will ultimately affect the culture of school life.

Here are 10 recommendations to look for in schools that can help keep children, families and faculty safe:

  • Check everyone for symptoms each morning, including temperature checks, but recognize that the virus starts spreading before symptoms show.

  • If possible, set up quick-response testing. These tests can flag people who are infectious but don’t have symptoms, though they can be expensive, hard to find and have higher rates of false-positives than the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that take longer.

  • Ensure everyone who can wear a face mask does. Research shows the coronavirus primarily spreads through the air. Masks can limit how far an infected person spreads the virus and how much mask-wearers breathe in.

  • Keep desks 6 feet apart for physical distancing. On the school bus and where lines form, mark off seating and line spacing to make physical distancing easy to remember.

  • Rather than having students change classrooms, keep them together in cohorts and have teachers move from classroom to classroom to limit contact in the halls. Hold classes outside when possible, and ensure outside air circulates into rooms.

  • Suspend extracurricular activities with a high risk of transmission, such as singing and sports with physical contact. Some activities are less risky, such as tennis, swimming and running.

  • Frequently clean high-touch areas, such as bathrooms and door handles.

  • Make sure students are current on all immunizations and get the flu shot.

  • Be prepared to provide emotional and behavioral support to students dealing with stressful and sometimes traumatic experiences during the pandemic.

  • Get a school nurse. During a pandemic like this, every school should have a nurse to check for symptoms and manage illnesses, but many schools don’t have one full-time.

Schools should have a plan and be ready to change it. If students and staff become infected or the school can’t meet safety requirements, the schools need the flexibility to take classes online.

COVID-19 presents an opportunity to reflect on the learning disparities and disadvantages many students will encounter without in-person learning. Out of the ashes of COVID-19, all key stakeholders of the school community will need to work together to develop innovative, sustainable solutions that benefit students who have been most disadvantaged by the pandemic.The Conversation

Phyllis Sharps, Professor of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Lucine Francis, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Saving our reservoirs from invading ‘cling-ons’ — News on TAP

Vigilant inspections keep destructive mussels from causing millions in damage to Denver’s water infrastructure. The post Saving our reservoirs from invading ‘cling-ons’ appeared first on News on TAP.

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#Drought tightens its grip on Aspen, Roaring Fork Valley in July — The Aspen Times #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

West Drought Monitor August 4, 2020.

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

The hot, dry weather during July has resulted in high fire danger and low stream levels, and forecasters say little relief is in sight.

Aspen could only coax 1.17 inches of precipitation out of the clouds last month even though it rained 14 days, according to record keepers at the Aspen Treatment Water Plant. Normal rainfall for July is 1.74 inches…

For May, June and July, the water plant was down about three-quarters of an inch, or 16%, from the average of 4.85 inches. This year, 4.08 inches of precipitation fell.

Three wildfires have materialized in the region over the last week — a small one north of Ruedi Reservoir popped up over the weekend and was snuffed by Monday. Another fire erupted in steep hillsides west of Glenwood Springs on Wednesday and continued to hamper traffic on Interstate 70 on Thursday. The biggest regional wildfire is 18 miles north of Grand Junction. The Pine Gulch Fire had grown to nearly 12,000 acres as of Wednesday night…

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map released by the federal government on Thursday showed Pitkin County divided nearly evenly between severe drought on the lower elevation terrain in the western half, and moderate drought on the higher elevation lands on the eastern half.

Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs are all in the severe drought category…

Basalt-based nonprofit Roaring Fork Conservancy said the weather is taking a toll on local rivers and streams. The Roaring Fork River near Aspen is running at 53.4 cubic feet per second. The mean for Thursday was 84 cfs. The Crystal River at Redstone was running at 101 cfs compared to a mean of 251.

Conditions are better on the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir. The holders of senior water rights on the Colorado River placed a “call” on water, which is requiring releases from the reservoir. That’s creating increased flows on the Fryingpan River and on the Roaring Fork River below the confluence.

The Fryingpan River was running at 208 cfs on Thursday, above the mean of 191.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending August 4, 2020.

Is that a new waterslide? — News on TAP

Nope. It’s a Denver Water canal built in the 1930s and called upon to shuttle water this summer. The post Is that a new waterslide? appeared first on News on TAP.

via Is that a new waterslide? — News on TAP

Tackling lead at its source, the first six months — News on TAP

Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program replaces more than 1,000 lead lines, distributes 80,000 pitchers/filters out of the gate. The post Tackling lead at its source, the first six months appeared first on News on TAP.

via Tackling lead at its source, the first six months — News on TAP

Does #coronavirus linger in the body? What we know about how viruses in general hang on in the brain and testicles — The Conversation #COVID19

Are there places in the body where SARS-CoV-2 can hide from the immune system?
fotograzia / Getty Images

William Petri, University of Virginia

As millions of people are recovering from COVID-19, an unanswered question is the extent to which the virus can “hide out” in seemingly recovered individuals. If it does, could this explain some of the lingering symptoms of COVID-19 or pose a risk for transmission of infection to others even after recovery?

I am a physician-scientist of infectious diseases at the University of Virginia, where I care for patients with infections and conduct research on COVID-19. Here I will briefly review what is known today about chronic or persistent COVID-19.

What is a chronic or persistent viral infection?

A chronic or persistent infection continues for months or even years, during which time virus is being continually produced, albeit in many cases at low levels. Frequently these infections occur in a so-called immune privileged site.

What is an immune privileged site?

There are a few places in the body that are less accessible to the immune system and where it is difficult to eradicate all viral infections. These include the central nervous system, the testes and the eye. It is thought that the evolutionary advantage to having an immune privileged region is that it protects a site like the brain, for example, from being damaged by the inflammation that results when the immune system battles an infection.

An immune privileged site not only is difficult for the immune system to enter, it also limits proteins that increase inflammation. The reason is that while inflammation helps kill a pathogen, it can also damage an organ such as the eye, brain or testes. The result is an uneasy truce where inflammation is limited but infection continues to fester.

A latent infection versus a persistent viral infection

But there is another way that a virus can hide in the body and reemerge later.

A latent viral infection occurs when the virus is present within an infected cell but dormant and not multiplying. In a latent virus, the entire viral genome is present, and infectious virus can be produced if latency ends and the infections becomes active. The latent virus may integrate into the human genome – as does HIV, for example – or exist in the nucleus as a self-replicating piece of DNA called an episome.

A latent virus can reactivate and produce infectious viruses, and this can occur months to decades after the initial infection. Perhaps the best example of this is chickenpox, which although seemingly eradicated by the immune system can reactivate and cause herpes zoster decades later. Fortunately, chickenpox and zoster are now prevented by vaccination. To be infected with a virus capable of producing a latent infection is to be infected for the rest of your life.

Latent infection (left) is when a cell is infected and the virus has inserted its genetic code into our human DNA. The immune system cannot detect this cell as being infected. An HIV infection can shift from latent to active if the infected cell is producing new viruses.
ttsz / Getty Images

How does a virus become a latent infection?

Herpes viruses are by far the most common viral infections that establish latency.

This is a large family of viruses whose genetic material, or genome, is encoded by DNA (and not RNA such as the new coronavirus). Herpes viruses include not only herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 – which cause oral and genital herpes – but also chickenpox. Other herpes viruses, such as Epstein Barr virus, the cause of mononucleosis, and cytomegalovirus, which is a particular problem in immunodeficient individuals, can also emerge after latency.

Retroviruses are another common family of viruses that establish latency but by a different mechanism than the herpes viruses. Retroviruses such as HIV, which causes AIDS, can insert a copy of their genome into the human DNA that is part of the human genome. There the virus can exist in a latent state indefinitely in the infected human since the virus genome is copied every time DNA is replicated and a cell divides.

Viruses that establish latency in humans are difficult or impossible for the immune system to eradicate. That is because during latency there can be little or no viral protein production in the infected cell, making the infection invisible to the immune system. Fortunately coronaviruses do not establish a latent infection.

Is it safe for a man to have sex after recovering from COVID-19?
Andrey Zhuravlev / Getty Images

Could you catch SARS-CoV-2 from a male sexual partner who has recovered from COVID-19?

In one small study, the new coronavirus has been detected in semen in a quarter of patients during active infection and in a bit less than 10% of patients who apparently recovered. In this study, viral RNA was what was detected, and it is not yet known if this RNA was from still infectious or dead virus in the semen; and if alive whether the virus can be sexually transmitted. So many important questions remain unanswered.

Ebola is a very different virus from SARS-C0V-2 yet serves as an example of viral persistence in immune privileged sites. In some individuals, Ebola virus survives in immune privileged sites for months after resolution of the acute illness. Survivors of Ebola have been documented with persistent infections in the testes, eyes, placenta and central nervous system.

The WHO recommends for male Ebola survivors that semen be tested for virus every three months. They also suggest that couples abstain from sex for 12 months after recovery or until their semen tests negative for Ebola twice. As noted above, we need to learn more about persistent new coronavirus infections before similar recommendations can be considered.

Could persistent symptoms after COVID-19 be due to viral persistence?

Recovery from COVID-19 is delayed or incomplete in many individuals, with symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. It seems unlikely that these constitutional symptoms are due to viral persistence as the symptoms are not coming from immune privileged sites.

Where else could the new coronavirus persist after recovery from COVID-19?

Other sites where coronavirus has been detected include the placenta, intestines, blood and of course the respiratory tract. In women who catch COVID-19 while pregnant, the placenta develops defects in the mother’s blood vessels supplying the placenta. However, the significance of this on fetal health is yet to be determined.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

The new coronavirus can also infect the fetus via the placenta. Finally, the new coronavirus is also present in the blood and the nasal cavity and palate for up to a month or more after infection.

The mounting evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can infect immune privileged sites and, from there, result in chronic persistent – but not latent – infections. It is too early to know the extent to which these persistent infections affect the health of an individual like the pregnant mother, for example, nor the extent to which they contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Like many things in the pandemic, what is unknown today is known tomorrow, so stay tuned and be cautious so as not to catch the infection or, worse yet, spread it to someone else.The Conversation

William Petri, Professor of Medicine, University of Virginia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Yangtze Dams Spill Water — @NASAEarth

Here’s the release from the NASA Earth Observatory:

Since the start of Asia’s summer monsoon season on June 1, 2020, excessive rainfall has pushed lakes and rivers to record high levels in China. Flooding within the Yangtze River Basin, in particular, has displaced millions of people.

The Yangtze River is Asia’s longest, winding 6300 kilometers (3,900 miles) through China. Together with its network of tributaries and lakes, the river system has undergone significant development as a means to generate power, store water for drinking and irrigation, and control flooding. Today the watershed is dotted with tens of thousands of reservoirs, and its rivers are spanned by numerous dams.

During the 2020 summer monsoon, floodwater was being held, or “absorbed,” by 2,297 reservoirs in the region, including the one behind Three Gorges Dam. In an attempt to regulate the flow of floodwater, dam operators can discharge water through spillway gates.

Those gates were open when these images were acquired on June 30, 2020, with the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. The images are composites of natural color and shortwave infrared to better distinguish the water. Note how the torrent flowing through the spillways changes how the water downstream reflects light, making it appear whiter.

The image at the top of this page shows water moving through the gates of Three Gorges Dam. Spanning a segment of the Yangtze River in central China’s Hubei Province, the dam is 2300 meters long and stands 185 meters high. The second image shows the smaller Gezhouba Dam, located about 26 kilometers (16 miles) southeast from Three Gorges. This dam also appeared to have its spillway gates open.

When these images were acquired in June, the waterways were trying to handle the first major flooding of the monsoon season. A second wave of severe flooding, referred to by local media as the “No. 2 flood,” hit the region in July. Between and during these flood events, continuous adjustments are made to the amount of reservoir outflow flowing through the gates.

According to the Three Gorges Corporation, the water level in the reservoir reached a record high flood season level of 164.18 meters on July 19. The previous high level reached during the flood season since the dam became fully operational in 2012 was 163.11 meters. The reservoir is designed to hold a maximum water level of 175 meters.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Kathryn Hansen.

Two dams on the Yangtze River spilling June 30, 2020 (Three Gorges and Gezhouba dams). [Click on the image to enlarge.]

Will monsoons be enough to save farmers in Southwest Colorado? — The Durango Herald #Monsoon2020

Storm over the La Garita Hills. Photo via

From The Durango Herald (Emily Hayes):

Megan Holcomb, senior climate specialist for the Colorado Conservation Board, said “everyone has been wringing their hands and waiting” for the monsoon to come. It is always hard to predict when the rains will start, but last fall they were absent, she said.

La Plata County and Montezuma County have not seen a lot of moisture either, said Cortez agriculture expert Bob Bragg. The Mancos area is running out of water, as well as La Plata County, he said. Lemon Reservoir never reached 100% capacity in the spring, with a high point of 81% capacity in early June…

The Dolores Water Conservancy District allocates a certain amount of water per year to producers in the county, who grow mostly alfalfa – a high-quality hay, hard red spring wheat and pinto beans. Last year, the water budget for farmers was 22 inches. But the conservancy cut it back to 19 or 20 inches this year because of the dry spring.

Mark Williams, a hay farmer along the Pine River, said the last rainstorm brought close to an inch of water, which helps because it puts nitrogen in the soil and increases how long farmers can run irrigation. And grass in the pastures jumped an inch, Williams said…

During dry years like this, it can be more difficult to parse out water rights between different users upstream and downstream because there is less of it, Rein said.

And even though reservoirs were 100% full across the state in the spring, “we rely on these reservoirs through the summer months,” Holcomb said.

#Runoff news: #SanJuanRiver at Pagosa Spring = 152 CFS, median for the day = 155 CFS #Monsoon2020

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Chris Mannara):

River report

As of Wednesday, the San Juan River had a flow of 39.4 cfs. This is well below the average for July 22 of 233 cfs.

The lowest reported flow total for July 22 came in 2002 when the San Juan River had a flow of 16.8 cfs, while the highest reported flow came in 1941 when the San Juan River had a reported flow of 1,160 cfs.

Fountain Creek restoration projects update

From Colorado Public Radio (Dan Boyce):

In cities like Denver and Pueblo, urban waterways have become recreation resources. But in the Springs, Fountain Creek is still struggling to shake its reputation as a contaminated dumping ground…

The city is mired in a years-long ongoing lawsuit concerning pollution and creek sediment brought by a group of plaintiffs that includes the EPA and multiple downstream counties…

The trash-strewn banks of today don’t help the image either; nor does the looming silhouette of the Martin Drake power plant near at hand. But in spite of all that, [Richard] Mulledy said Fountain Creek is turning a corner in the public’s mind…

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on addressing water quality concerns and miles of creekside trails have been constructed in recent years. These are just the latest indications that the state’s second largest city is serious about catching up to the amenity-focused approach other Colorado cities have taken to their once-industrial waterways.

And surprising glimmers of hope are already swimming in the creek itself: normal, non-radioactive, two-eyed trout — and hefty ones at that.

“I’ve caught rainbow trout up to 18 inches down by Walmart and brown trout bigger than that,” said local fly fisherman Alan Peak…

On the city’s south side, Dorchester Park provides one of the more secluded camping options for those experiencing homelessness. It also holds some of Fountain Creek’s best trout habitat. Alan Peak stops by every so often to tidy up the area, filling up large black garbage bags with trash.

He said he would never eat the fish he catches from Fountain Creek; he releases them all. Outside of that, he’s not really worried about water pollution. He just washes up after his visits…

Certain stretches of the creek do still test above the state’s minimum standard for e-coli contamination at times — an unhappy distinction it shares with about 100 other Colorado waterways. But the city argues that, broadly speaking, the stream is now safe.

The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile watershed that drains south into the Arkansas River at Pueblo. The watershed is bordered by the Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Map via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

The journey of water — a snapshot — News on TAP

Denver’s water snakes and tumbles through stunning country to reach your tap. The post The journey of water — a snapshot appeared first on News on TAP.

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One eye on the weather, the other on water use — News on TAP

Denver metro area continues to use water efficiently as drought looms during hot, dry summer resulting in increased watering. The post One eye on the weather, the other on water use appeared first on News on TAP.

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The July 2020 newsletter is hot off the presses from the #ColoradoRiver District

Andy Mueller, the general manager of the Colorado River District, addressing a crowd of 265 water managers, users and stakeholders in Grand Junction [September 2018] at a River District seminar called ‘Risky business on the Colorado River.’ Mueller spelled out six principles the River District wants the state to embrace as it develops a ‘demand management’ program designed to get the state’s water users to reduce their water use in order to bolster levels in Lake Powell.

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

General Manager Andy Mueller recommends financial security for West Slope water security

The Colorado River is under tremendous strain. In seven states and two countries over 40 million people rely upon the river for their drinking water and millions more throughout the United States are fed by the more than three million acres of irrigated agriculture that the river supports. The number of people served by the river is expected to hit at least 70 million by 2060.

Long term drought and rising temperatures mean that we have less water flowing in the river. Over 60% of the river’s natural flow originates within the boundaries of the Colorado River District. As the population grows, and the river flows continue to diminish, we are experiencing greater pressure on this limited resource.

There is widespread recognition that the river is out of balance and there are many suggestions as to how the river should be brought back into balance. Many of the suggestions being promoted by Lower Basin states and major metropolitan areas focus on reducing water use in places like our District; people such as former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt are calling for a redistribution of water from our agricultural communities to the urbanized Lower Basin. Never has it been so clear that the people of Western Colorado need a strong advocate at the water policy table who can speak for the West Slope with a unified voice, leading in the protection, conservation, use and development of the waters of the Colorado River for the residents and environment within our District. That voice is your Colorado River District.

Unfortunately, even before the current pandemic-inspired economic upheaval, the Colorado River District was facing a declining revenue stream. Declining tax revenues from the fossil fuel industry, losses caused by the Gallagher Amendment and the effects of the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR) Amendment are conspiring to drive the District’s income into significantly negative territory. The most recent state predictions for 2021 indicate that the Gallagher Amendment alone will likely cause the District to lose approximately $425,000 in the District’s General Fund budget.

Our flat and decreasing revenue led District management in the last 18 months to reduce the District work force by 4 positions or 15%, suspend our grant program, reduce the District vehicle fleet and implement across-the-board reductions in expenses. Even with these cost-saving measures, our financial projections indicate that the District will have to reduce its work force again as soon as 2022. While the District to date has been able to tighten its belt and successfully accomplish our core mission, our ability to protect the West Slope’s water security in the future will be significantly compromised through the loss of additional staff positions and proper resources.

Additionally, as our communities face the dual challenges of increasing demand on the Colorado River and reduction in the flow of the river, important West Slope priorities are not being accomplished because they are unfunded. West Slope communities through the three Basin Roundtables in our District have identified priority projects that are essential for water security. The unfunded water priorities span the full range of needs in all categories, including productive agriculture, infrastructure, healthy rivers, watershed health and water quality, conservation and efficiency.

In the recent past, advocacy and creative problem-solving by the District staff have enabled the District to serve as a catalyst for important projects. However, without the ability to bring money to the table we often find ourselves negotiating with our hands out and very little ability to influence the selection and direction of projects. As the District and our water users are forced to turn empty handed to the federal or state government for funding, we find the priorities of the state and federal governments, not those of the West Slope, are dictating the type, location and scope of projects.

The District was founded to lead in the protection, conservation, use and development of the water resources of the Colorado River basin for the welfare of the District. In 1937, at the request of West Slope leaders, the District was authorized to collect up to 2.5 mills in property tax. Today, due to a variety of reasons, the District’s mill levy is capped at 0.252 and its current, effective mill levy is set at .235 mills…less than one-tenth of its original authorization. The District’s ability to fulfill its mission and protect the West Slope is significantly hampered by declining revenue.

In January I recommended to the Colorado River District Board that it consider placing a question on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot asking voters to approve an increase of the District’s taxing authority to up to 0.5 mills. The recommended increase is predicted on generating approximately $4.9 million in additional revenue per year at a cost of approximately $1.90 per $100,000 in residential value, which is equivalent to a tax increase of $6.34 annually for the median-priced home in the District.

The Board is still contemplating my recommendation. In January, Board members asked the staff to conduct additional outreach and public opinion research. We commenced that outreach through public forums and started discussions with Boards of County Commissioners. We arranged for public opinion polling to take place in the second half of March before the April Board meeting.

Unfortunately, by mid-March the coronavirus pandemic swept through Colorado and shut down our communities, wreaking economic havoc and interfering with our ability to conduct significant portions of our planned public outreach through districtwide events known as our State of the River meetings.

Our polling conducted in late March, after the closure of the ski areas and during the shut-down of the rest of the state, came back showing strong public support for the recommended tax increase. Specifically, the poll indicated that 65% of the likely voters polled were in favor of the measure. The poll showed widespread support across the political spectrum and throughout the District. The poll also showed incredibly strong support for the mission of the District indicating that projects that focus on water security in Western Colorado are funding priorities for residents throughout the District.

In April, society was coming to terms with the long-term economic effects of the pandemic and the Board and staff expressed concern about moving ahead with any tax increase, no matter how small. The Board requested that staff continue to engage in outreach to the public and county leadership and requested that polling be conducted closer to the July quarterly meeting so that we would have a better, more current understanding of public support for this potential ballot measure.

The additional polling was conducted at the beginning of July, and the report is still being finalized at the time of this writing. Preliminary reports from our research firm indicate that support in early July for the District and the potential tax increase remain high. 63% of likely voters polled support the tax increase. When informed that the increase would be modest, i.e. $1.90 per $100,000 in residential value, support for the measure climbed to 67%, identical to the informed support in March. Based upon our outreach to political and civic leaders in the District, there is generally widespread, but not unanimous support for the proposed ballot measure.

We have heard from the public, water-user entities and elected officials that it is incredibly important that the District Board and staff publicly commit to how the funds will be spent by the District. Our Board is contemplating the draft Fiscal Implementation Plan, which if adopted, will outline the District’s commitment as to how it would spend the additional revenue.

In summary, the plan calls for the District to allocate approximately 86% or $4.2 million of the anticipated annual revenue to partnership projects in the District, prioritizing multi-purpose projects that meet needs in one or more of the following five categories: productive agriculture, infrastructure, healthy rivers, watershed health and water quality, conservation and efficiency. The plan commits the District to expending funds in an equitable manner which, over time, disperses the benefits of the program geographically within the District boundaries and among the identified categories. The plan also commits the District to utilizing these funds to drive the initiation and completion of projects that are priorities for residents of the District by utilizing District funds as a catalyst for matching funds from state, federal and private foundation sources.

The Fiscal Implementation Plan itself has greater detail. The remaining approximately 14% of the funds will be utilized by the District to fix the District’s internal financial structural deficit caused by the cumulative impact of the Gallagher Amendment, the decline of tax revenue from the fossil fuel industry and TABOR revenue limitations. The District will not utilize the new revenue to create additional staff positions but will allocate the money to fund existing staff positions and business-related expenses. This allocation will help to ensure the financial integrity of the important work of the River District’s Enterprise Fund by preserving enterprise reserves for anticipated capital expenses and critical maintenance and repair work on water-supply assets owned by the District.

At our July meeting, the Board will be considering my recommendation and of course, the thoughts and concerns of the public. The Board may decide that the time is right to ask the voters for approval for a tax increase. The staff and Board welcome the public to attend, listen and comment on this important decision.

The public can listen to the meeting by visiting and navigating to the District’s YouTube channel.

Gross dam’s powerful benefit — News on TAP

Expansion project will help increase Denver Water’s renewable energy production. The post Gross dam’s powerful benefit appeared first on News on TAP.

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FERC gives final federal nod of approval for Gross Reservoir expansion — News on TAP

Project to raise dam will improve water reliability for more than 1.5 million people while benefiting the environment. The post FERC gives final federal nod of approval for Gross Reservoir expansion appeared first on News on TAP.

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Always engaging, even in a pandemic — News on TAP

Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir Expansion team doesn’t let COVID-19 keep them from staying in touch. The post Always engaging, even in a pandemic appeared first on News on TAP.

via Always engaging, even in a pandemic — News on TAP

Aspen-area fire officials bank on rain to ease conditions nearly as dry as 2018 — The Aspen Times

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

The return of afternoon monsoons to the Roaring Fork Valley cannot come quick enough for outdoor enthusiasts hitting dusty trails, gardeners coaxing plants along or especially fire chiefs fearing wildfires.

The monsoons typically appear in late June and continue into September, bringing frequent afternoon showers. They have been slow to appear this summer, but that might be about to change.

The National Weather Service expects a 20% to 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms starting later this week and continuing each day for at least the next week in the Colorado mountains, according to Jeff Colton, a warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS office in Grand Junction. He cautioned against expecting copious amounts of moisture…

Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties as well as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in the region are currently in stage one restrictions. That prohibits campfires outside of developed recreation areas. All fireworks are banned…

West Drought Monitor July 7, 2020.

Colton said the rain that is forecast isn’t likely to break the grip of a drought affecting all of Colorado. The U.S. Drought Monitor issued by federal weather agencies July 9 shows all of Pitkin County in moderate drought and the extreme western side of the county in severe drought.

The Drought Monitor stressed that the classification is based on broad-scale conditions and that local conditions may vary.

Aspen has managed to stay close to the annual average for precipitation through June, according to records kept at the Aspen Water Department’s plant in Maroon Creek Valley. May was below average but June was slightly above average, thanks in large part to nearly 5 inches of snow June 9 (see related fact box)…

Meteorologist Colton said the snowpack last winter was close to normal, but a lack of snowfall in late winter and an extended period of dry winds starting in May quickly ate up the snowpack. The same low pressure in the Pacific Northwest that has prevented monsoonal moisture to form for Colorado also is responsible for the drying winds, he said.

The dry winds, quickly disappearing snowpack and spotty rainfall have sapped the moisture from the ground. Richmond Ridge Road, which typically harbors massive mud puddles at this time of year, was bone dry Saturday. Trails throughout the valley have been pulverized to dust.

Aspen Global Change Institute has installed 10 field stations around the Roaring Fork Valley that measure ground moisture at various depths as well as precipitation and air temperature.

Sky Mountain Park in the hills above the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Highway 82 is showing soil moisture at the 8-inch depth at about 17% compared to about 14% at this time in 2018.

However, farther downvalley, the soil moisture is drier in some spots than in 2018. The soil moisture at Spring Valley near the Colorado Mountain College campus is at about 12% compared to 17% in 2018.

At Glenwood Springs, the average daily soil moisture at eight-inch depth is about 14 percent, the same as in 2018.

Now serving 1.5 million daily — News on TAP

The number of people who rely on Denver Water every day grows. The post Now serving 1.5 million daily appeared first on News on TAP.

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Pipelines into the past — News on TAP

Denver Water crews marvel at water lines from the 1880s as they are replaced to handle new demands. The post Pipelines into the past appeared first on News on TAP.

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Celebrating the value of water with art — News on TAP

New public art piece follows the journey of Denver’s water. The post Celebrating the value of water with art appeared first on News on TAP.

via Celebrating the value of water with art — News on TAP

Completing the bucket list, one reservoir at a time — News on TAP

As one adventure ends, a Denver Water employee embarks on a new one under the stars of the Milky Way. The post Completing the bucket list, one reservoir at a time appeared first on News on TAP.

via Completing the bucket list, one reservoir at a time — News on TAP

5 things you should do right now to fight the rising number of #COVID19 cases — The Conversation #coronavirus

Wearing a mask and using hand sanitizers can protect you and your family at this critical time.
d3sign/Getty Images

Kacey Ernst, University of Arizona and Paulina Columbo, University of Arizona

The increase of COVID-19 cases across the country calls for quick action. Sure, you and your family are exhausted from distancing, you miss your loved ones and you want to get back to your support groups or church.

But the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, does not stop just because we are tired. In the absence of clear, consistent directions from the federal government, it is more important than ever that people pay attention to the medical and public health facts.

“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges that we are seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and other states,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Congress June 23. Fauci and other public health experts testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Fauci told Congress that he sees a “disturbing surge” in many parts of the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci describes the ‘disturbing surge’ in coronavirus cases.

As an infectious disease epidemiologist from Arizona, one of the current U.S. hotspots, here are five things I urge you to do right now:

  1. Wear a mask. The World Health Organization recommends medical-grade masks for those people age 60 and over, or those with health issues, and triple-layer cloth masks for everyone else over the age of two. If you can’t find those triple-layer masks, you can use a simple cotton or silk cloth face covering to reduce the number of viral particles you emit or are exposed to. Make sure it covers your mouth and your nose. I have seen too many people wearing masks on their chins. And watch your hand-face contact – you can infect yourself by adjusting the mask too much and repeatedly touching your face.

  2. Physically distance. Avoid crowded spaces. If you want to visit friends or family, you must still wear a mask – and keep six feet apart. If at all possible, have these visits outdoors. Indoor activities are most commonly associated with SARS-CoV-2 transmission clusters. Transmission outdoors is less likely, and if you are in places other than Arizona (where the temperature is 106F as I type this), it is probably ideal summer weather to be outdoors.

  3. Wash your filthy hands. And, yes, they can be really dirty, even if they do not appear so. Bacteria and viruses can lurk on them, spreading infection from surface to surface and person to person. And then wash them again. Hand-washing is critically important. I wash every time I walk into the house. Immediately. The benefits of hand-washing regularly may seem obvious, but many forget them. According to studies, washing for about 15 seconds reduces bacterial counts by about 90% of the germs on your hands. Washing for an additional 15 lowers the count to about 99% percent. And yes, hand-washing is better than sanitizer because the soap and water mechanically rid your hands of germs. That said, I keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my car and wipes for after shopping.

  4. Plan ahead in case you or someone in your household gets sick. The reality is that many more of us are going to get sick before this pandemic is over. Planning ahead can give you some peace of mind that you are prepared. This includes doing such things as identifying people or services to transport essential items to your home and developing an emergency contact list. Also, keep cleaning high-touch surfaces, such as light fixtures, faucets and countertops, regularly. Know the symptoms and emergency warning signs for COVID-19. Also, if you live alone, find a buddy who will check in on you regularly in case you get sick. Prepare a kit for yourself that you can keep by your bed.

  5. Maintain awareness of the situation in your community. I know, the data is hard to sort out right now, but one thing to look for in your community is a decline in local cases. Local and state health departments are still providing updated numbers on cases. You can also follow an independent source that is assessing local situations.

This is a time of uncertainty and anxiety for all of us. We desperately want to get back to normal, but it just isn’t possible yet. So find time each day to take care of your mental health. Take a walk, talk to a friend, read a book, snuggle with a pet, meditate, reach out to others who may need your help, while still social distancing, and advocate for our most vulnerable populations. Your life and those of your loved ones depend upon following public health guidelines.

[_The Conversation’s most important coronavirus headlines, weekly in a new science newsletter.]The Conversation

Kacey Ernst, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Arizona and Paulina Columbo, Graduate student, Public Health, University of Arizona

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

#Drought news: “I wish I had better news” — Dave DuBois #NewMexico

From The New Mexico Political Report (Kendra Chamberlain):

“I wish I had better news,” said Dave DuBois, New Mexico’s State Climatologist and director of the NM Climate Center at the New Mexico State University, during a weather outlook webinar hosted by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) held in May. DuBois was looking at a three-month weather outlook map forecasting rain during New Mexico’s summer months and monsoon season.

“I really didn’t want to see this,” he said, swirling his mouse over a patch of brown in the Four Corners area. “Not a lot of good news there. This is showing some probability for below-average precipitation for northwest New Mexico.”

Experts agree 2020 is shaping up to be a challenging year for water in New Mexico. Despite a near-normal snowpack last winter, dry soil conditions and a very warm spring — with hardly any precipitation since January — has thrust much of the state into drought conditions, again…

The northern portion of the state, along the Colorado border, is experiencing the worst of the drought. The Four Corners area in particular has been an epicenter of drought conditions for a few years now.

The latest modeling, visualized in the brown splotches on the weather outlook map, indicates the area may not see much water this summer, either.

“This is where we’re having problems,” DuBois said. “The further you get north, the drier it is.”

The mountains of New Mexico accumulated an almost normal amount of snow during the 2019-2020 “water year,” the time of year when the area receives the bulk of its precipitation. For New Mexico, the water year roughly runs from the first snows in October to a peak in April, when snowpack is at its highest, though the peaks in snowpack vary across elevation and latitude.

“We use that as our starting point for the start of the cold season, when we start to build our hydrologic storage areas,” DuBois said. “Usually, the peak snow is right around the beginning of April.”

Under normal conditions, the peak snowpack in April begins to melt in the early summer, leading to the runoff season, as the mountain streams carry the melted snowpack down from the higher elevations to the rivers.

In 2019, the state saw several big snow storms in the earlier part of the water year, dumping precipitation onto the mountain tops throughout the month of November. But the spring snowstorms, which would typically add to the snowpack to April, never materialized in many of the state’s water basins. Instead, the area saw unusually warm temperatures, which in turn led to an earlier runoff…

“They’ve had a really tough two years. The center of drought in the whole country was the Four Corners area,” DuBois said. “They’ve gone through a lot, and we’ve seen the impacts on native vegetation. It’s pretty bad. In some of those areas, they still haven’t really recovered. We’re seeing a longer term dry in the north, but indicators that the drought is pushing south.”

West Drought Monitor June 2, 2020.

@COParksWildlife: #Colorado wolf update

CPW Image – A wolf eats on an elk carcass in northwest Colorado

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks & Wildlife (Randy Hampton):

With warmer weather and decreasing restrictions, more people are recreating in the outdoors, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeing an increase in the number of sightings of potential wolves in the state.

“Public reporting vastly increases our ability to know what’s happening across the state,” says Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “While not all reports end up being verified as wolves, we make every effort to investigate credible sightings through on-the-ground investigations, biological sampling, and deploying a variety of survey techniques.”

There are several known and some additional credible reports of potential wolves in the state at this time.

Wolf “1084M” North Park Update
The lone wolf that was first confirmed in North Park one year ago continues to persist in that area. The male wolf, designated by Wyoming Game and Fish as 1084-M, was collared in the Wyoming Snake River pack and dispersed into Colorado where he was first photographed in July, 2019. CPW pilots regularly fly the area and assist in keeping track of 1084’s movements. On the ground, wildlife managers conduct ground surveillance and communicate regularly with private landowners in Jackson County.

New report in Laramie River Valley
Wildlife managers are attempting to confirm a credible wolf sighting in the Laramie River Valley in Larimer County. An animal sighted in the area was wearing a wildlife tracking collar, which indicates it is likely a dispersal wolf from monitored packs in Montana or Wyoming, however flights and ground crews have been unable to detect a signal or visually confirm the wolf. It has been determined that the animal in Larimer County is not wolf 1084-M from neighboring Jackson County. If a wolf or wolves are confirmed in Larimer County, they would be the furthest east in Colorado in nearly a century.

New report in Grand County
Two groups of campers in Grand County over the weekend of June 6-7 were surprised to see a large wolf-like animal in the area in very close proximity to their camps. The incidents were reported to CPW. Wildlife officers and biologists responded to the area to gather biological evidence that could be used to confirm the presence of a wolf versus a coyote, lost or escaped domestic dog or domestic wolf-hybrid. Additional searches and monitoring of the area are continuing. Contacts with local animal control officials confirm no missing hybrids in the area. Biological samples were limited. The animal approaching humans so blatantly is atypical wolf behavior so additional work will be needed to fully confirm the animal’s identity. More information will be provided when available.

NW Pack Update
In the very northwest corner of Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff continue to monitor the state’s first known pack of wolves since the 1930s. As many as six wolves have been confirmed in several previous sightings by staff, hunters, and landowners. The pack, originally reported to CPW late last year, has been relatively quiet of late.

Wildlife managers were able to recently capture an image of a lone wolf feeding on an elk carcass in the area. Only one wolf was seen over several different nights so it is unknown if the wolf is a member of the known pack or the animal is a new lone disperser into the area.

Disease tracking
CPW biologists and veterinarians have analyzed scat (feces) samples and determined that several members of the pack in northwest Colorado are positive for eggs of the tapeworm Echinococcus canadensis. This parasite can lead to hydatid disease in wild and domestic ungulates. These tapeworms have been found in wolves in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Hydatid disease has not been widely seen in Colorado but testing has been limited. CPW is increasing monitoring for hydatid disease including collecting and analyzing coyote scat to establish baseline data.

While Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working to monitor wolves, follow up on wolf sighting reports, and track disease, it is important to note that wolves in Colorado remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wolves are a federally endangered species in Colorado and until that designation changes, all wolf management is under direction of the federal government. Killing a wolf in Colorado is a federal crime and can be punishable with up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Colorado Parks and wildlife has assembled a Frequently Asked Questions document addressing many issues people are curious about. This can be accessed here.

Campers, landowners, and outdoor recreationists that see or hear wolves in Colorado are encouraged to complete the computer-based wolf sighting form which is available online at If unable to use the online form, sightings can be reported to the nearest CPW office.