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Colorado: No doubt, still a drought

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


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


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.


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.

Waterblog: Local, state groups promote education

Summit Middle School students sketch along a stretch of the Snake River, in Summit County, as part of a science class field trip to investigate conditions along the stream that's been polluted by abandoned mines.

Spots still open at water camp for students in early May; Water Trust workshop on conservation issues set for Silverthorne; SW Colorado 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 susanj@keystone.org.

Get more information on upcoming water education events, plus a bonus video, in the ongoing water blog. Click here.

Continue reading

State of the River coming to Frisco May 12

Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, Colorado

Will Dillon Reservoir fill this year? Find out at the May 12 State of the River meeting,

Reservoir operations, trans-mountain negotiations will be covered at annual water event

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.

For more information, call Jim Pokrandt at (970) 945-8522, ext. 236, or e-mail edinfo@crwcd.org. To learn more about the Colorado River District, celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2007, visit www.ColoradoRiverDistrict.org.

Click here for more …


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