$4 million repair project brings elite team to reservoir – News on TAP

In the dark, frigid waters 200 feet below the surface, divers fix a critical emergency system at Strontia Springs Dam.

Source: $4 million repair project brings elite team to reservoir – News on TAP

Breaking point: Temperature swings tough on water pipes

Mile High Water Talk

With the ups and downs of winter weather in Colorado, repair crews are clamping down on main breaks across Denver.

By Jay Adams

Denver winters can feel like a rollercoaster ride — cold and snowy one day, mild and sunny the next. All those ups and downs make for interesting weather forecasts, but those temperature swings also take a toll on water mains under city streets.

Through Dec. 20, Denver Water crews had fixed more than 318 water main breaks this year. Of those, nearly 20 percent were linked to dramatic changes in temperature.

Temperature breaks, technically called “shear breaks,” are caused when the ground shifts due to changes in the weather.

Shear breaks occur during prolonged cold spells and fast warm-ups.

When temperatures drop, the ground freezes, causing water molecules inside the soil to expand. The longer the temperature stays below freezing, the deeper the frost layer stretches below…

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#Snowpack news: Thanks Ullr, keep it coming

Ullr: Guardian Patron Saint of Skiers
Ullr: Guardian Patron Saint of Skiers

Click on a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS:

And below is the Westwide SNOTEL map from the NRCS:

Westwide SNOTEL map November 28, 2016 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL map November 28, 2016 via the NRCS.

Cyber Monday shopping list: clothes, shoes — and water?

Mile High Water Talk

On the web’s busiest shopping day of the year, choose the online option to pay your bill and check your water use.

By Kristi Delynko

Michael Amireh, customer care representative Michael Amireh, along with all Denver Water customer care representatives, is able to help customers get started with online self-service.

It’s Cyber Monday — Black Friday’s more civil, convenient and efficient sibling. According to Forbes, Cyber Monday could match or beat Black Friday in sales this year, and nearly two in five of those Americans making purchases will use their smart phones.

So whether you’re at work (we won’t tell), or shopping from the comfort of your home, here’s something else you can do online: Pay your water bill.

(You knew we were headed somewhere with this.)

Denver Water launched online self-service in 2015, said Michelle Garfield, customer relations manager for Denver Water. Since then, about 45,000 customers access online self-service each month.

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Winter flow program floats fish, tourism — The Valley Courier

Conejos River
Conejos River

From The Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Putting more water in the Rio Grande and Conejos Rivers in the wintertime benefits more than the fish, Trout Unlimited’s Kevin Terry told water leaders during the Rio Grande Roundtable’s meeting this week in Alamosa.

Terry works for the national Trout Unlimited Western Water and Habitat Program.

“We look for opportunities to find environmental flow solutions that coincide with agricultural purposes,” he explained. “We are looking for partnerships with agricultural water users.”

When Trout Unlimited (TU) hired Terry in 2013, one of his directives was to increase winter flows on the Conejos River.

Having grown up close to the Conejos River, Terry was familiar with the river but not with all of the water sources that fed into it and the regulations that governed them.

“I wanted to understand the history and constraints of the watershed,” he said. He said he gained a wealth of information from Conejos Water Conservancy District Manager Nathan Coombs.

In 2014 Terry began the Conejos Winter Flow Program to provide more water for the fish in the river, which in turn would provide better fishing for anglers and more tourism for the area.

“There’s a lot of people interested in coming here to fish, bring some money, drop it off and go home,” he said.

“Twenty-two inch rainbow trout need water,” Terry said.

He explained he was particularly interested in increasing winter flows below Platoro Reservoir in the 15-mile stretch between Platoro and the south fork of the Conejos where the high altitude and long winter create icy conditions forcing fish populations to congregate where they can find winter habitat. When the population is too dense, it stresses the fish and increases mortality rates, Terry explained.

Finding more water in the wintertime would bolster the fish population, “because we have close to gold medal quality fisheries in the upper Conejos,” Terry said.

The Conejos Winter Flow Program’s target was 3 cubic feet per second (cfs) during the five non-irrigation months, which would be a 42-percent increase in water through the system.

“You don’t always have to hit the target,” he said. “There’s times you go beyond that 3 cfs and times we don’t have enough.”

This is a totally voluntary program, he added. There are no long legal documents to sign, he said. Willing partners participate as they are able and water is available.

Terry commended entities such as Colorado Parks & Wildlife who have worked with TU to contribute water to the river during the winter and the Colorado Division of Water Resources for making sure everything is accomplished within the rules. Other great partners have been the Conejos Water Conservancy District, SLV Water Conservancy District, Rio Grande Water Conservation District, SLV Irrigation District and Rio Grande Water Users, he said.

“We are increasing the flows for consumptive and nonconsumptive purposes,” Terry said.

He said the water is not just for environmental purposes, but a lot of it is used again for other purposes in the basin.

In addition, efforts on the Rio Grande help the Conejos and vice versa, he said. A project on the Rio Grande ties into the Conejos Winter Flow Program.

“We are looking at water transfers with double duty flow benefits,” he said.

For example, ramping down storage water deliveries more gradually resulted in the Rio Grande still being “floatable” over the Fourth of July holiday when visitors were in Creede and other areas along the Rio Grande wanting to spend time and money.

“We have set a target to keep boats floatable especially during that weekend,” Terry said.

Entities worked together to make that happen, which resulted in the same water producing multiple benefits, Terry added.

“We just want to make the water work harder for us,” he said.

‘We’d better have a good door:’ Colorado farmers depend on immigrants to feed the country — The Greeley Tribune

Farm, farm workers, Mt. Williamson in background, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Photo credit Ansel Adams circa 1943 via Wikimedia.
Farm, farm workers, Mt. Williamson in background, Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Photo credit Ansel Adams circa 1943 via Wikimedia.

From The Greeley Tribune (Catharine Sweeney):

“The idea that many other Americans will do the kind of work that a (local farmer) will need to have done — it’s a dream,” said Dave Eckhart, Colorado Corn President. “It’s a myth. They won’t do it.”

Because many fruits and vegetables are too tender for mechanical harvest, operations often depend on manual labor. In the past, families and young people worked in the fields, but that’s becoming increasingly less common, farmers say.

The debate over immigration and its effect on the economy features a widely prominent argument: They’re taking our jobs. But when it comes to farming, Eckhart said, that isn’t true.

“We have had absolutely a decline in available workers over the last several years, and it’s to the point now that it’s difficult to raise a crop,” Eckhart said.

The laborers who used to tend the fields have gone into other industries. Eckhart thinks many of Weld County’s potential help went into the energy industry.

“With the oil and gas boom, there was a lot of employment that became available to folks other than having to work in the fields,” he said. “When oil and gas declined, those workers either chose not to or didn’t need to come back and work in the field.”

The work can be grueling. Workers spend all day in blistering summer heat with the Colorado sun beating down on them.

When Americans can find pay doing something else, they will, Eckhart said.

His farm and many others depend on seasonal migrant workers. His employees do what they can to ensure that his workers are documented, he said. Even then, it can be hard on the workers.

“I know there’s a fear out there,” he said. “This fear has been out there for quite some time. ‘When is immigration services going to come to the field?’ I’m sure there’s some apprehension, whether they’re legal or not.”

Nationwide, immigrants with green cards and other temporary arrangements are calling various legal assistance organizations, wondering whether they will continue to be allowed in the country, the Associated Press writes. During the campaign, Trump pledged to deport the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally and to build a border wall. Trump’s campaign website says these policies are meant to prioritize jobs, wages and security of the American people.

“It’s fine to build a wall, but we’d better have a good door,” said Robert Sakata, an onion and sweet corn farmer who serves as president of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

Sakata and other farmers have pushed for programs that allow migrant field hands to get temporary visas.

“For fruit and vegetables, we’re so seasonal,” he said. “We depend on a seasonal work force.”

The country already has a similar program, but it’s difficult for local farmers to use.

“Right now, that current program is really bureaucratic,” he said. “That system has created a problem for some of the applicants.”

For example, if a farmer hires someone from another country, that worker can’t go off and work on another farm during the stint. That inflexibility can’t work, Sakata said. If a farmer’s cabbage gets hailed on, there’s not going to be any more work. Then the visitor is stranded with no income.

It’s difficult for farmers to get through the paperwork, documentation and red tape in time for seasons to start and wrap up.

“With farming, timing is everything,” he said.

The administration needs to work to improve programs like these, farmers say. The country and its food source depends on it.

“I think that if we’re talking about national security, how we’re feeding the people of the U.S. should be an important part of that discussion,” Sakata said. “That’s critical.”