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Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs to address the role of climate in Colorado water law at May 12 meeting in Breckenridge
SUMMIT COUNTY — Water and climate will be at top of the agenda when the Summit Chamber of Commerce legislative affairs council meets next week in Breckenridge.
The chamber has invited Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs to speak at the May 12 lunch, which is open to the public. Justice Hobbs will address the role of climate on colorado water law in a talk that could be a good warm-up for the state of the river meeting later that same day.
Justice Hobbs is one of Colorado’s top authorities on Colorado water law and related issues. He was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1996 by Governor Roy Romer. He has practiced law for 25 years, with an emphasis on water, environment, land use, and transportation issues. He also served as First Assistant Attorney General in the Natural Resources Section for the State of Colorado. He is Vice-President of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and Co-Convenor for Dividing the Waters, a Western Water Judges Project.
Hobbs has authored books and articles including In Praise of Fair Colorado, The Practice of Poetry, History and Judging (Bradford Publishing Co. 2004) and Colorado Mother of Rivers, Water Poems (Colorado Foundation for Water Education 2005). He received his A.B. in History, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Notre Dame, and his J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
The May 12 legislative affairs council meeting will take place from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Spencer’s Restaurant at Beaver Run Resort, 620 Village Rd, Breckenridge. Lunch will be available for individual purchase. Please RSVP to Del at email@example.com or (970) 453-4779.
The Summit Chamber’s legislative affairs council provides an avenue for Chamber partners and the public to discuss public policy issues important to our community, and specifically to business owners and managers.
For additional information, please contact Del Bush at (970) 389-4685 or Emily Tracy at (970) 389-4574.
Spots still open at water camp for students in early May; workshop on conservation issues set for Silverthorne; SW water tour coming up in June
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Understanding Colorado’s water law can seem daunting at times, but there are plenty of opportunities for ongoing education on this critical topic. The best way to make sure there are educated citizens who are able to participate in civic discussions and decision-making processes is to start water education in school.
An upcoming water camp at the Keystone Science School is a step in that direction, and there are still a few spots left for the May 5-7 session right here in Summit County. The camp is aimed mainly at high school-age students, but mature and interested middle school kids are also welcome to apply.
The two-night, three day session includes field trips to the top of the Continental Divide for a watershed overview, as well as visits to water management facilities and water-sampling expeditions in local streams.
It’s a hands-on chance for students to learn about the state’s most important natural resource issue, and best of all, it’s only $25. Some scholarships are available. The camp is sponsored by the Colorado River District and the Keystone Science School. Students will learn about Colorado’s position as a headwaters state and how this precious resource is highly managed and distributed under the “Law of the River.”
After those lessons, the water camp participants will have debate about how water should be managed in the face of growing populations and demand.
The schedule is from 12 p.m, May 5 to 12 p.m., May 7. Students will stay in Keystone Science School dorms and eat in the Science School dining hall.
Visit the Keystone Science School online to learn more, and get more information about the Colorado River District here. For information about H20 Outdoors, call the Keystone Science School at (970) 468-2098 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Get it myself from a mountain stream …”
Water Trust workshop
Another local opportunity for water education is coming up May 17, when the Colorado Water Trust will hold a workshop about water on the land at the Silverthorne Pavilion.
The water trust is a private, non-profit organization that supports voluntary efforts to restore and protect streamflows in the state of Colorado. Similar to groups that can hold conservation easements for parcels of land, the water trust can buy or lease water to apply toward conservation goals. The water trust can also help land trusts when they encounter water issues in connection with land preservation.
The May 17 workshop (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) includes presentations on water law 101, water transactions, instream flow programs and water and land conservation. For more information, or to sign up, call (720) 570-2897, or e-mail email@example.com.
Southwest water tour
More water education comes from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, the only statewide group dedicated purely to promoting public understanding of water issues.
The group’s first big event of the spring-summer season is a June 9-11 water tour of Southwestern Colorado, including a group of 100 lawmakers, water professionals and educators. The goal is to spread awareness about watershed restoration and planning in the Dolores and San Juan river basins.
Major topics include interstate compact issues; water heritage and tribal water use; environmental and recreational flows; energy and water rights; planning for municipal growth and river protection.
Wednesday, June 9:
Pre-tour activities: Visit Mesa Verde, Raft the Animas River or Tour the A-LP Project
Evening welcome at the Durango Train Museum
Thursday June 10
Anasazi Heritage Center
Dolores River & McPhee Reservoir
Ute Farm & Ranch
Blue Lake Ranch dinner event
Friday, June 11:
Rio Blanco & San Juan Chama Project Diversion
*Contact Kristin Maharg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.377.4433 for more information.
State of the River meeting coming to Frisco May 12
The Colorado River District and the Blue River Watershed Group are holding the annual Summit County State of the River public meeting at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 12, at the Summit County Community and Senior Center. At this free event, the public will learn about how the low snowpack will be influencing streamflows and reservoir operations this year, and be updated on critical negotiations among water users affecting the Blue and Colorado Rivers. For information, call (970) 945-8522, ext. 236.
As skiers, riders and people who plow snow for a living know, Summit County fell under the heavy influence of El Nino weather patterns this past winter and the snowpack suffered. How this will affect streamflows and reservoir operations will be a leading subject of the annual Summit County State of the River meeting set for 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at the Summit County Community and Senior Center near Frisco.
The public meeting is sponsored by the Blue River Watershed Group and the Colorado River District, which includes Summit among its 15 member counties. Summit County’s representative on the Colorado River District Board of Directors is Gary Martinez, the Summit County Manager.
The keynote speaker will be Eric Kuhn, General Manager of the Colorado River District. He will update citizens on the status of critical water-supply negotiations between a West Slope coalition and Denver Water.
The Bureau of Reclamation will update operations of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT) that includes Green Mountain Reservoir. Denver Water will discuss its Dillon Reservoir and Roberts Tunnel operations.
Scott Hummer, the Blue River Water Basin Water Commissioner from the State Engineer’s Office, will talk about water year prospects and administrative issues in the county.
The Front Range Water Council will present a study it commissioned about the Colorado economy, the Front Range and the importance of water.
For more information, call Jim Pokrandt at (970) 945-8522, ext. 236, or e-mail email@example.com. To learn more about the Colorado River District, celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2007, visit www.ColoradoRiverDistrict.org.
An age of limits on the Colorado River
SUMMIT COUNTY — With the Colorado River District’s annual State of the River meeting coming up in less than a month, I’ve been looking for information related to the Colorado River that might help provide some context for the presentations.
I didn’t have to go far to find this graph that appears to tell the story of the river better than thousands of words ever could. It’s a basic supply and demand graph, apparently produced by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and it should be familiar to anyone who has ever taken economics 101. The top pink line shows how much water is in the river, the blue line starting on the lower left shows the demand and usage of Colorado River Water. Simple enough, it would seem, until you notice that the two lines have crossed each other.
What that means is there is more demand than there is water in the river, at least based on a 10-year running average. I happened upon the graph at John Fleck’s environmental blog under the Riverbeat section. The New Mexico-based journalist wrote that the graph has turned up at several recent high-profile water shindigs, as resource managers and residents of the greater Colorado River Basin grapple with the fundamental question: How do we reconcile that increased demand with what appears to be a shrinking supply?
It’ll be worth attending the May 12 river meeting in Frisco, just to see if the graph shows up at there, too.
An age of limits?
Sticking with the same theme, Writers on the Range columnist Dan McCool points out that climate scientists are predicting a 10 to 30 percent reduction in Colorado River flows in the coming decades, and that some researchers say there’s a 50 percent chance that Lake Mead and Lake Powell have a 50 percent chance of going dry by 2021. Both reservoirs are about half full these days. Despite all that, several large-scale water development projects keep rearing up, including Aaron Million’s plan to pipe Green River water from Wyoming to the Front Range.
McCool characterizes the “grandiose schemes” as the last gasp of a dying ethos, and warns that Western water policy is “hopelessly, irrevocably unsustainable” in an age of limits.
Dam-builder Dominy dies
In a different era, when engineers turned those grandiose schemes into reality, the biggest figure on the scene was Floyd Dominy, who died last week at the age of 100. Dominy called Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell the crowning achievement of his career with the Bureau of Reclamation. Writers on the Range columnist Julianne Couch writes about Dominy here, and the Bureau of Reclamation noted his passing here. More information is also available at Waterhistory.org.
The Colorado River Water Conservation District is partnering with Summit Voice to foster education and awareness of water issues in Summit County and beyond
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Water. Everybody needs it and just about everybody takes it for granted. But as the Earth’s climate changes, and populations in arid and semi-arid regions like the American West continue to grow, the status quo probably isn’t going to get us where we need to go.
Water is not an endless resource. Think about how you felt the last time your plumbing broke, when you turned on the faucet and all you got was a pphhhtt — and maybe a few discolored drops from the bottom of the boiler.
Now put that feeling into a bigger context and consider what would happen during a serious three-year drought, with only a few patches of snow on the high peaks to feed the Blue, the Snake, the Colorado River, the Green River … Thirsty mega-cities downstream, parched orchards and hayfields, Front Range communities that depend utterly on trans-mountain diversions.
It could get ugly. But there may be a way to avoid the worst-case scenario. If there is, the key probably lies in education, awareness, involvement and action. So with support from the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Summit Voice is going to try, for the next few months at least, to cast a frequent spotlight on all water-related issues for residents of Summit County and beyond.
Read more of our water blog after the break …
We’re starting with a water blog, which we’ll update two or three times a week with local news about water, and links to state, regional and even global stories about the same topic. We’ll include photos, short reports about important meetings and conferences, including the May 12 State of the River presentation in Frisco. We may even throw in some poetry every now and then just to keep things fresh.
We’re also interested in any interesting stories and photos about water that our readers may want to share. If you have a story about your favorite fishing hole or a scenic snapshot of your favorite lakeside picnic spot or kayaking run, send it to us with a description and we’ll post it right here. Send us links to your favorite water-related websites and blogs, and we’ll post them here. Do have concerns or questions about your backyard brook, or the water you drink? Send them to us, and we’ll try to answer them, or find people who can.
We’ll start our water blog with a link to the Blue River Watershed Group, formed locally to “protect, restore, and promote a healthy watershed through cooperative community education, stewardship, and resource management.” Supporting the watershed group is a great way to act locally on this important issue. Summit County is unique when it comes to water resources because its political boundary coincides with the Blue River watershed boundary nearly along the entire perimeter of the county.
Think about it. From the Continental Divide above the Eisenhower Tunnel, to Loveland Pass, across to Hoosier Pass south of Breckenridge and to Vail Pass in the west, all our mountain streams flow down from the county line to a confluence (now submerged by Dillon Reservoir) at the heart of Summit County. The place we live is defined by these vital arterials, filtered by alpine willow wetlands, burbling over mossy rocks and slicing through sage-covered shale bluffs before flowing down and out of our realm in a meeting with the mighty Colorado.
Covering water isn’t a new topic for Summit Voice. Since we launched back on Dec. 1, 2009, we’ve already posted a wide variety of stories on the subject, including a report on efforts to clean up abandoned mines in the Snake River Basin, and monthly reports on precipitation, snowpack and runoff.
Just recently, we reported on potential water quality problems in Cucumber Gulch, the pristine alpine wetlands in Breckenridge that have been designated as an Aquatic Resource of National Importance by the EPA.
We’ve also started looking into the seemingly endless series of tanker crashes on Loveland Pass, which are threatening to degrade water quality in one of the cleanest Blue River tributaries.
Some of the stories are a little wider in scope, including this article about PCBs from industrial sources are suppressing the immune systems of dolphins living off the coast of Georgia.
Along similar lines, we took a close look at the emerging threat of pollution coming from medicine and personal care products in this story, headlined “Antibiotics, sex hormones and sedatives in your water?”
See the headlines of all our recent water stories in reverse chronological order at this link.
Please consider subscribing to Summit Voice in the top right-hand corner of the page. It’s free for now, and if you do, we’ll send you an e-mail each time add a post to the water blog, and you’ll also be notified of other new stories posted at Summit Voice — but no spam, we promise.
You can also follow us on Twitter, where we send out brief messages with links to new stories on @Summit Voice. If you’re a Facebooker, join our Facebook fan page for updates. We look forward to learning more about water and sharing that with our community and our readers.
And finally, as promised, an American classic by Robert Frost called Going for Water.
Going for Water
by Robert Frost
The well was dry beside the door,
And so we went with pail and can
Across the fields behind the house
To seek the brook if still it ran;
Not loth to have excuse to go,
Because the autumn eve was fair
(Though chill), because the fields were ours,
And by the brook our woods were there.
We ran as if to meet the moon
That slowly dawned behind the trees,
The barren boughs without the leaves,
Without the birds, without the breeze.
But once within the wood, we paused
Like gnomes that hid us from the moon,
Ready to run to hiding new
With laughter when she found us soon.
Each laid on other a staying hand
To listen ere we dared to look,
And in the hush we joined to make
We heard, we knew we heard the brook.
A note as from a single place,
A slender tinkling fall that made
Now drops that floated on the pool
Like pearls, and now a silver blade.