Water wrangling in Colorado

Tracking the Colorado water plan update via Twitter …

And who speaks for the critters?

Not much diversity in the CWCB meeting room at this remote semi-rural golf course clubhouse near Sterling. Continue reading

Feds promise $50 million for Western water conservation

Smart water management and conservation can help reduce drought pressure in the West

Blue River Colorado

Frost-tinged trees gleam in the morning light along the Blue River, a key Colorado River tributary north of Silverthorne, Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Efforts to conserve water in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin and across the West got a major boost from the Obama administration this week. Federal resource managers this week announced a $50 million investment to  improve water efficiency and conservation in California and 11 other western states. Continue reading

Can a water plan save the Colorado River?

In-depth coverage of the Colorado water plan is unfolding in a new series of stories for the Colorado Independent

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Gotta love that Colorado River. Want to help save it? Conserve! @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado’s creeping water crisis isn’t as dramatic as a wildfire or a flood, but its consequences could be just as severe. State and federal water experts say the state will see a huge gap between supply and demand within a few decades, and possibly sooner if regional drought continues. Continue reading

Colorado: Annual State of the River sessions include vital information on snowpack, stream flows and reservoirs

Colorado River Basin snowpack and streamflow forecasts now similar to 1977, 2002 and 2012 drought years

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Statewide snowpack is just half of average going into the crucial phase of runoff season.

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Don’t miss this year’s State of the River.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Continued drought in the Far West, along with Colorado’s push to develop a first-ever statewide water plan, should be reason enough for Coloradans to take an interest in the state of the Colorado River.

One of the best chances to get a user-friendly update is at the annual State of River meeting, sponsored by the Blue River Watershed Group.

Hands-on water experts will explain how this year’s snowmelt will play out and how that affects operations of Dillon Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir — both for water deliveries downstream and for onsite recreational use.

To accommodate a bigger turnout, the State of the River presentation has been moved to the Silverthorne Pavilion (Tuesday, May 5, 6-8 p.m.) Continue reading

Colorado River managers downgrade flow projections

Lake Powell expected to see about half of average inflow

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A NASA Earth Observatory image of Lake Powell snaking through the Colorado Plateau. Visit this NASA link for more.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal water managers downgraded their expectations for Upper Colorado River flows by several notches in the past few weeks, as warm and dry early spring conditions across most of the basin nibbled away at the mountain snowpack that sustains the river’s flows through the summer.

The Bureau of Reclamation today said they expect inflows into Lake Powell to be just 3.75 million acre feet during the key April to July runoff season. That’s just 52 percent of the 1980-2010 average and down 1.35 million acre feet from the projections of just a month ago, when the agency was hoping for 5.1 million acre feet of runoff. Continue reading

The ‘greening’ of the Colorado River Delta

The Colorado River Delta in May, 2014. Photo courtesy NASA.

The Colorado River Delta in May, 2014. Photo courtesy NASA.

Science team tracks effects of historic pulse flow

Staff Report

FRISCO — Last May’s pulse flow in the Colorado River helped revive vegetation along a huge swath of the river’s edge, triggering new plant growth and raising the water table in the delta. After comparing satellite images taken August 2013 with new images from this year, scientists calculated a 23 percent increase in the greenness of riparian zone vegetation. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Feds want more input on critical habitat plan for threatened yellow-billed cuckoos

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Can critical habitat help recover vanishing western yellow-billed cuckoos?

Proposed protections not popular with western water users

Staff Report

FRISCO — Threatened yellow-billed cuckoos will have to hang on just a bit longer before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalizes a critical habitat proposal. The agency this week announced it is extending a public comment period on the plan for another 60 days, through Jan. 12, 2015.

The agency announced its original critical habitat plan back in August, proposing to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat in 80 separate units in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Now, federal biologists say they want more input on the birds’  biology and habitat and justification for exclusions from critical habitat. The agency also seeks information on the incremental economic effects of the proposed critical habitat designation. Continue reading

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