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Colorado: No doubt, still a drought

Annual State of the River meetings will update residents on water planning

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Receding waters of Dillon Reservoir leave big swaths of shoreline exposed.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While spring snowfall has brought some relief to small parts of Colorado, the majority of the state is still gripped by one of the worst droughts on record. The southeastern plains and the southwest mountains in particular have experienced a string of dry years, leaving soil moisture well below normal.

Statewide reservoir storage is also near historic low levels, and even with decent spring runoff in a few river basins, water managers will be scrambling to try and refill key s like Dillon and Green Mountain reservoirs. Continue reading

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Colorado: Water seminar tackles drought, climate change

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Colorado River District hosts annual water seminar this week in Grand Junction

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With some climate change models predicting significantly decreased flows in the Colorado River, water managers are grappling with planning for a time when demand in the basin may exceed supply.

The big-picture Colorado River Basin study is at the top of the agenda this week at the annual Colorado River District seminar in Grand Junction (9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St.). Continue reading

Water: Scrambling to sustain Colorado River flows

Cooperative releases from headwaters reservoirs will help sustain environmental and recreational values

A NASA satellite captured this image of the Colorado River flowing through Utah.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With some of the lowest stream flows on record for this time of year, Colorado water managers are wrangling every last drop and trying to make them all count.

Upstream storage and diversions have exacerbated the low flows resulting from a meager snowpack and early runoff. As a result, water temperatures in parts of the Colorado River recently have already reached temperatures close to 60 degrees, which is borderline dangerous for trout. Those temperature readings were measured at a gage in the Pumphouse area, according to Jim Pokrandt, communications specialist with the Colorado River District.

Average Colorado River flows through Glenwood Canyon this time of year are about 6,000 cfs, but this year, the river has been flowing at less than 20 percent of that, at about 1,100 cfs.

Looking to raise stream flows, the Colorado River District, Denver Water and the Bureau of Reclamation are cooperating under the Shoshone outage protocol, which helps sustain flows along the Colorado River mainstem with water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir, Williams Fork Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir — even when Xcel’s Shoshone power plant isn’t exercising a senior water right that historically keeps at least some water in the river during dry seasons and years. Continue reading

Summit County: State of the River session set for May 8

This year’s presentation to focus on low stream flows and reservoir operations in the face of a potential drought

The Blue River below Dillon Dam, July, 2011. BOB BERWYN PHOTO.

Peak flows! BOB BERWYN PHOTO.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — What a difference a year makes.

In early May 2011, Colorado water managers were sounding the alarm about possible flooding as they eyed one of the biggest snowpacks on record. Just 12 months later, some water providers are implementing conservation measures as the state faces drought conditions.

This year’s record-low snowpack and unprecedented early runoff in the Colorado River Basin will present water users with challenges, as ranchers in the Lower Blue grapple with irrigation and municipal water providers try figure out how to keep their reservoirs as full as possible while still meeting demand.

It won’ be easy, considering that much of the Colorado River Basin has already been designated as being in a severe drought by the National Integrated Drought Information System.

Some of the key players in managing stream flows and reservoirs in the Blue River Basin will try answer those questions May 8 at the annual state of the river meeting in Frisco (6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Summit County Community and Senior Center). he event is sponsored by the Colorado River District and the Blue River Watershed Group. Continue reading

Colorado: Gotta a good water project? Get a grant!

A state grant program has up to $2 million in grant funds available for projects that benefit recreational and environmental uses of Colorado River water.

Info meeting set for March 15 in Silverthorne

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Communities and nonprofit groups looking at water projects that benefit environmental and recreational water needs involving the Colorado River and its tributaries could get a little help from the Colorado Basin Roundtable.

The Roundtable has up to $2 million earmarked in its water supply reserve fund (administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board) that will be awarded through a statewide competitive grant program.

Although there is no limitation to grant requests, typical grants are about $200,000.  CBRT hopes to identify up to five projects for near-term funding and implementation, other projects may be considered for long-term prioritization.

The Roundtable is sponsoring an informal workshop on March 15 to help potential project applicants with the funding process. The workshop is from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  in the Blue River Room of the North Branch Library in Silverthorne.

Interested parties should prepare a short project summary based on criteria that can be found on the Colorado River District website at www.ColoradoRiverDistrict.org or by calling Jacob Bornstein, CWCB (303-866-3441) or Lane Wyatt, CBRT (970-468-0295 ext 116).

Videos of Summit County State of the River meeting

Complete video coverage of the annual Summit County State of the River meeting held on May 12, 2010 is now available.

A video transcript of each speaker can be found at the Summit County Voice vimeo channel.

  • Introduction and remarks – Jim Pokrandt
  • Water Year and Water Rights Administration Update – Scott Hummer
  • Bureau of Reclamation Review of Green Mountain Reservoir and Colorado Big Thompson Project – Ron Thomasson
  • Dillon Reservoir Update by Denver Water – Bob Steger
  • The Colorado Economy, the Front Range and Water – Tom Binnings
  • Keynote Address:  Negotiating a Water Supply Future – Eric Kuhn
  • Update:  Blue River Watershed Group – John Hagan

What’s My River Going to Look Like This Week?

Colorado Climate Center holds weekly webinars about water supply conditions

Join the Colorado Climate Center on Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. for their Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Webinars. These updates are informative and brief (under 30 minutes). You’ll find out a great deal about water supply conditions in your area.

If you don’t have time to attend the Webinar, visit the Colorado Climate Center for a weekly summary. They can also email each week’s summary to you.

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