Posted on May 7, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Near-normal runoff expected in some headwaters streams
The Colorado River Basin snowpack zoomed upward in April.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Spring storms that repeatedly targeted the north-central mountains of Colorado in April help bring the snowpack to near normal in a few river basins. The May 1 snow survey showed the statewide snowpack climbing up to 83 percent of average for the date, the highest level of the year.
“Those wet storms really improved our water supplies, especially along the Front Range and Upper Colorado River basin”, said Phyllis Ann Phillips, state conservationist with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. Some headwaters of the Colorado and South Platte River basins may see runoff near to slightly above average, the NRCS said in the monthly snowpack update. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, flooding, rivers, Summit County snow and weather, water | Tagged: Colorado River, Colorado snowpack, Natural Resources Conservation Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
State-held instream flows to help protect trout
A BLM map identifies sections of the Coloado River with wild and scenic values.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Battered by drought and drained to a trickle by diversions, the Upper Colorado River got a bit of a boost as a state water court finalized a decree for three important instream flow rights that could help protect trout populations during low-flows.
The instream flows, meant to protect the environment to a reasonable degree, are very new compared to most established water rights, and they wouldn’t prevent any existing diversions. But the new instream flow rights will have to be satisfied before water rights filed in later years can take water. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado River, instream flows, public lands, Upper Colorado River, water, wild and scenic rivers | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Does cloud seeding enhance Colorado snowfall?
Biggest storms came after the silver-iodide burners shut down for the year
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado’s cloud-seeding program for the central mountains ended April 10, just as a series of strong spring storms rolled into the area.
While the winter’s biggest snow totals came after the end of this year’s program, the seeding operations may have helped bring near-average snowfall to area in February and March, according to the operators, who are now measuring their efforts under a “target and control” evaluation that will be submitted to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for review. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: cloud seeding, Colorado, Colorado River, weather modification | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
$10,000 donation will help restore native vegetation
McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. Photo courtesy BLM.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A $10,000 donation from the Royal Bank of Canada will help fund a week-long restoration project along the Colorado River near Grand Junction, in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.
The Western Colorado Conservation Corps will partner with the Bureau of Land Management to remove invasive tamarisk and Russian olive trees from the banks of the Colorado River. The introduced trees suck up water needed by native flora and fauna.
The funding is the result of a partnership between the Royal Bank of Canada and the Conservation Lands Foundation. The bank is is one of Canada’s largest corporate donors. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, Environment, public lands, rivers | Tagged: Bureau of Land management, Colorado River, Conservation Lands Foundation, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, Royal Bank of Canada | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A small increase in day use fees will help maintain busy facilities along the Upper Colorado River between Pumphouse and Dotsero. Photo courtesy BLM.
Fees go toward facility improvements and seasonal rangers along the river
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Boaters, hikers and anglers will pay just a bit more to use Bureau of Land Management day use areas along the upper Colorado River between Pumphouse and Dotsero.
The daily fee is jumping from $3 to $5 and season passes are climbing from $15 to $20 in the first fee increase since 1998 for the popular area, used by about 60,000 people annually.
“All the fees collected in these areas stay here to provide services and improvements for the people using the area,” said Susan Cassel, acting Kremmling Field Manager. “In addition to helping fund our seasonal rangers, we’ve also made significant improvements to the launch sites, campgrounds and other facilities.” (more…)
Filed under: BLM, boating, camping, Colorado, fishing, hiking, public lands, recreation, rivers | Tagged: BLM, Colorado, Colorado River, Pumphouse, Radium, rafting, Upper Colorado | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A deal between Xcel Energy and Denver Water and other water users to relax the Shoshone hydorpower water right will enable more storage in Dillon, Williams Fork and Green Mountain reservoirs this spring. Photo courtesy Xcel.
Shoshone hydropower water right ‘relaxed’ in collaborative response to 2-year drought; agreement enables about 20,000 acre feet of additional upstream storage early in the year
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Some key players in the Colorado River Basin have worked together to “relax” a senior water right near Glenwood Springs, enabling more water — about 20,000 acre feet — to be stored in upstream reservoirs.
“We expect to gain about 8,000 acre-feet each in Dillon and Williams Fork Reservoirs as a result of the relaxation,” said Denver Water spokesperson Stacy Chesney.
The 1,250-cfs water right for the Xcel-owned Shoshone hydropower plant dates back to 1902, making it one of the most senior rights on the river.
When Xcel exercises that water right, it affects other water users all the way up the river because it’s administered by the Colorado Division of Water Resources against junior water storage rights in Dillon and Williams Fork Reservoirs, the Colorado River District’s Wolford Mountain Reservoir and the Bureau of Reclamation’s Green Mountain Reservoir. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Drought, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado drought, Colorado River, Denver Water, Dillon Reservoir, Shoshone hydropower call, Xcel energy | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 22, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Comments wanted on recreation improvements
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The boat launch at Radium, along the Upper Colorado River, is no longer adequate to handle the traffic in the popular river recreation area, so the BLM is proposing to build a new facility in time for the busy summer season. About 60,000 people use the area each year, according to the agency.
The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on its proposal to construct a new boat launch at the popular Radium Recreation Site on the upper Colorado River.The new launch would be in addition to the single existing boat launch currently at Radium. More details are online at this website. (more…)
Filed under: boating, Colorado, recreation | Tagged: Bureau of Land management, Colorado rafting, Colorado River, Radium boat launch | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Lake Powell has dropped to below 50 percent of capacity. Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Colorado River Basin storage expected to drop to 50 percent of average by end of summer
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Lake Powell won’t be looking its best for its 50th birthday this year. The key reservoir in the Colorado River Basin is almost 100 feet below full pool and recently dipped to below 50 percent capacity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s operations update.
Specifically, the reservoir level was 98.5 feet below full as of March 11, and at 49 percent of capacity. Water managers expect the reservoir level to continue dropping for at least several more weeks before it begins to refill with spring snow melt and runoff.
But just how much it refills remains to be seen. Snowpack in the Colorado River Basin has been bumped up by February and March storms, but BuRec estimates that inflow for the key April to July runoff season will total just 3.4 million acre feet, which is 47 percent of average. Releases for the 2013 water year are projected to total 8.23 million acre feet, which would draw the reservoir down to about 44 percent of capacity by the end of the current water year.
Based on current conditions and projections for the next few months, the Colorado River Basin is expected to deliver just 49 percent of the average annual flows, with basin-wide reservoir storage dropping to about 50 percent of capacity by the end of September.
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado River, Colorado River Basin, Lake Powell, Lake Powell water level, water | 6 Comments »
Posted on February 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Southwest, Great Plains most vulnerable to future water shortages
Under some climate change scenarios, Lake Powell is at risk, according to a new study from the US. Forest Service. Photo courtesy Mission 31, ISS, via the Wikimedia Commons.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Some of the West’s biggest reservoirs could dry up completely as the region gets warmer and drier in coming decades, and major increases in storage capacity probably won’t help address regional water shortages, according to a new study authored by researchers with Colorado State University, Princeton and the U.S. Forest Service.
In the Colorado River Basin, “Lakes Powell and Mead are projected to drop to zero and only occasionally thereafter add rather small amounts of storage before emptying again,” the scientists concluded, adding that smaller upstream reservoirs might still be useful.
The report, published by the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, combined climate projections with socio-economic scenarios of population growth and water use to determine future water supply and demand, to assess the likelihood of future water shortages region by region. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, climate and weather, Colorado, water, Drought | Tagged: global warming, water, climate change, Colorado River, drought, Lake Powell, Southwest, United States Forest Service, Colorado State University | 7 Comments »
Posted on February 7, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
West Coast-Denver flight a great geology lesson
Salty Mono Lake is a unique inland sea in eastern California, and an enduring symbol of success for environmental advocacy, activism and education.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — I’m one of those annoying airplane passengers who always wants a window seat. If I don’t have one, I may be the guy next to you who leans across your lap to catch a glimpse of a familiar or exotic landscape from 35,000 feet up. I’m pretty sure I’ve always been that way, even as a kid, when on family trips, I stared out of the plane window for hours.
Even on trips across the ocean, the ever-changing patterns of sunlight reflecting on the sea and shifting cloud bands hypnotizes me. And if I’m flying over territory that I’ve explored on the ground, so much the better. It’s always fun to spot a familiar landmark from a new perspective.
So on a recent flight from the Bay Area back to Denver, it was a gift to fly over Mono Lake, where I spent some formative years learning about western water issues and environmental advocacy from the incredible grassroots Mono Lake Committee. Later in the flight, the widespread landscape alteration from oil and gas drilling in the intermountain West became apparent, along with slices of untouched Utah wilderness and national park lands.
In this series, the stark light of mid-day and the muted colors of winter paint a subdued picture of the interior West, especially through the filters of my iPhone app. All these images were shot with an iPhone 4S. (more…)
Filed under: California, Colorado, Travel, West | Tagged: aerial photos, Colorado Plateau, Colorado River, fracking, iPhonesia, iphonography, Mono Lake, oil and gas drilling, The West | Leave a Comment »