Posted on June 15, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Peak runoff helps boost water storage across the state
Snowpack across most of Colorado dropped to below average as temperatures warmed to above average in June.
FRISCO — After a big weather turnaround in April and May, Dillon Reservoir is well on its way to filling, with the water level reaching an elevation of just about 9,008 on June 13, just nine feet below capacity. The last time the water level was this high was July 26, 2012.
“We think it’s likely we’ll fill or at least get within a few feet of full elevation,” Denver Water spokesperson Stacy Chesney said.
Peak inflow into the reservoir was June 10, with the mainstem of the Blue River and the rest of the basin tributaries combining to deliver 1,754 cubic feet of water per second. The inflow hovered around that level early in the week, and started to drop a little bit by Thursday and Friday as the snowpack at higher elevations dwindled. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, rivers, Summit County snow and weather, water | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado River, Denver Water, Dillon Reservoir, rivers, South Platte River, water | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Colorado River headwaters, Summit County, Colorado.
Ag transfers likely to be a big part of closing the water gap
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — When it comes to water, cities have always been easy targets for environmental groups looking to make a point about conservation and growth. But in reality, agricultural stakeholders bring far more chips to the table.
By some estimates, agriculture uses about 75 percent of the Colorado River’s allocated water, while municipal uses account for about 15 percent. Just California’s Imperial Valley, where most of the country’s winter produce is grown, uses about 3 million acre feet of water annually.
Any solution to the projected 3.2 million acre-foot water gap in the Colorado River Basin will require buy-in from farmers and ranchers in the region. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, rivers, water | Tagged: agricultural transfers, Colorado, Colorado River Basin Water Supply & Demand Study, Colorado Rivers, IBCC, rivers, water, water rights | 3 Comments »
Posted on May 19, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A gage along Straight Creek, near Dillon, Colorado.
More cuts possible for critical stream monitoring efforts
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s hard enough to make water management decisions if you have all the information at your fingertips, but the job is about to get even more difficult for resource managers.
The U.S.Geological Survey recently announce it will discontinue operation of up to 375 streamgages nationwide due to budget cuts as a result of sequestration. Additional streamgages may be affected if partners reduce their funding to support USGS streamgages.
Currently, the USGS is looking at shutting down three gages in Colorado: on Halfmoon Creek, near Malta, on the Arkansas River below John Martin Reservoir and along the Gunnison River, near Grand Junction. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Drought, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado, Gunnison River, rivers, Stream gauge, streams, United States Geological Survey, USGS, water | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Antihistimines are drying up rock-coating algae
Research shows that pharmaceutical waste is affecting basic stream ecology.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Antihistimines used to treat allergies do more than dry up runny noses. Remnant traces of the pharmaceuticals, now commonly found in many streams and rivers, are having a significant effect on basic biological processes, with as-yet unknown impacts on aquatic life and water quality.
“Pharmaceutical pollution is now detected in waters throughout the world. Causes include aging infrastructure, sewage overflows, and agricultural runoff, said Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall, a scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, lead author of a study that examined how common pharmaceuticals influenced similar-sized streams in New York, Maryland, and Indiana.
The study looked for traces of Caffeine, the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, the antidiabetic metformin, two antihistimines used to treat heartburn (cimetidine and ranitidine), and one antihistamine used to treat allergies (diphenhydramine). (more…)
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Environment, persistent pollutants, pharmaceutical pollution, rivers, streams, water | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Even some ‘pristine’ streams show signs of human impacts
New research helps shed light on long-term nutrient level changes. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Nitrates are increasing even in some pristine forest streams in the mountain West and the South, while declining in the Pacific Northwest, in the Northeast, and in Puerto Rico, according to a new study led by Oregon State University researchers.
The long-term data from the Forest Service Experimental Forest and Range network, a system of 80 locations across the country. Many of the sites have long-term monitoring programs and data sets spanning decades and so provide unique opportunities to evaluate long-term trends. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Environment, nitrates, nutrients, Oregon State University, rivers, United States Forest Service, water, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Turbine shafts at the Hoover Dam. Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Bipartisan measure has backing of river conservation group
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With huge potential for increased hydropower generation, a bipartisan U.S. Senate bill and a companion measure in the house could help reduce some the red tape currently required to bring new hydropower sources online.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), would remove licensing barriers for smaller hydropower development and would require a study on a streamlined permitting process at existing dams and pumped storage products.
“In Colorado and the rest of the West, water is an extremely important resource for our families and the industries that drive our economy.” Bennet said. “This bill will accelerate development of hydropower resources as a part of a clean and diverse energy portfolio.” (more…)
Filed under: energy, renewable energy, rivers | Tagged: energy, Hydropower, Michael Bennet, renewable energy, rivers | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Snow-fed rivers likely to see biggest impacts
The mouth of the Klamath River in northern California. Photo courtesy Corps of Engineers.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — As regional climate models improve, scientists in various disciplines have been able to fine-tune their projections of impacts to various ecosystems, including rivers. The Southwest is likely to get especially hard, with some studies showing a steep drop in Colorado River flows.
In other parts of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, the impacts will probably be more nuanced, with the biggest impacts on summer stream flows in basins fed by melting snow and ice in the high Cascades, according to study by scientists at Oregon State University.
Though these iconic rivers – including the Willamette, McKenzie, Deschutes, Klamath and Rogue – appear to have plenty of water, they also may be among the most sensitive to climate change, the study concludes. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, rivers, water | Tagged: climate change, Environment, global warming, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest, rivers, water | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
It is difficult to be a fish when the bottom of the river is covered with ice. Winter image from the river Orkla in Norway. Photo courtesy Knut Alfredsen.
Most existing models are geared toward ice-free periods
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Norwegian and Swedish biologists have taken a closer look at how extreme winter conditions in streams and rivers in cold regions, with an eye toward climate change models that predict more frequent variations between freeze and thaw conditions.
“Today most models focus on the ice-free period … In order to be able to manage streams and rivers in a long-term sustainable manner, we need to pay attention to future changes in climate when we, for example, design restoration and conservation measures, the researchers wrote in a new paper published this month in the journal BioScience.
“The predictions made about what the winter climate will be like in the future say that there will be more back and forth between thaw and frost, entailing more unstable ice conditions, more rain, and flooding, and ultimately perhaps more challenges to the survival of fish in many waterways,” said Christer Nilsson, of Sweden’s Umeå University. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, rivers, water | Tagged: BioScience, climate change, fish, rivers, Sweden, Umeå University | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
This NASA satellite image shows California’s Central Valley filled with fog and gives a sense of the size of the valley.
Climate models illustrate a little-known part of the hydrological cycle in the Colorado River Basin
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Research by scientists at the University of California, Irvine suggests a previously unexplored connection between irrigated agriculture in California and summer monsoon rains in the greater Colorado River Basin.
The new study by climate hydrologist Jay Famiglietti shows that huge amounts of the water used for irrigation in California’s Central Valley ends up back in the atmosphere, helping to fuel and intensify summer thunderstorm activity in the interior West.
The moisture, which reaches the atmosphere via evapotranspiration, may add up to as much as 100 billion gallons in additional runoff, about enough water for 3 million people for a year, Famiglietti said. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: California Central Valley, Colorado River, Geophysical Research Letters, north american monsoon, rivers, water | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 7, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Yeah, we need more snow, but …
Starburst sunrise late in the day, as the sun edges up over the rim of the Snake River valley.
FRISCO —It’s still looking pretty good along the Snake River, fresh frost coats the trees and bushes each morning, and the snow on the trees persists where it’s shaded from the mid-winter sun. This weekend, I had a chance to explore the area in the afternoon, looking for some different light, but I’ve decided the early morning is the best for this particular reach, when the ice is refreshed by flows of water coming out of the Robert Tunnel as part of Keystone Ski Area’s ongoing snowmaking efforts. By the afternoon, those flows from the Roberts Tunnel are diminished, leaving hollow tunnels in the ice. (more…)
Filed under: Morning photo, photography, seasons | Tagged: Colorado, ice, rivers, Summit County Colorado, Summit County photography, winter | Leave a Comment »