Posted on March 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Abandoned mine cleanups can help clean up polluted streams, a new USGS study in Montana finds.
Water quality improving in Upper Clark Fork Basin
FRISCO — There are hopeful signs that the ongoing cleanup of abandoned mines around the West will pay off.
The U.S. Geological Survey, reported decreased levels of toxic heavy metals in the streams of Montana’s Upper Clark Fork Basin that have been targeted by remediation efforts. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: abandoned mines, Environment, rivers, The West, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 24, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Widespread western drought continues
Much of the West has been very dry during the first four months of the 2014 water year.
By Summit Voice
As California experiences its worst drought in more than a century, it’s probably not surprising that some stream gages in the northern part of the state are showing all-time record low readings, with 2013 in the record books as the driest calendar year in the state’s 119-year recorded history.
Low streamflow affects water availability for agricultural, municipal, and industrial uses, water quality, water temperature, recreational opportunities, and the maintenance of fish populations.
Recent precipitation has resulted in some increases in streamflow, snowpack, and reservoir levels, but severe drought conditions remain. Without significant additional precipitation, prior conditions will quickly return leaving most streams in the state at less than 10 percent of normal for this time of year. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: California drought, climate, Colorado River, drought, Lake Powell, rivers | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Small changes from norm can have big impacts
New research to help inform river management.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — An in-depth U.S. Geological Survey study in the Tennessee River basin may help quantify how streamflow alteration changes aquatic ecosystems.
The research is based on community data collected by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and predictions of streamflow characteristics at more than 600 locations — and the findings indicate that even small deviations from natural streamflows can reduce fish diversity.
The study highlights the importance of the timing, magnitude, and variability of low streamflows and the frequency and magnitude of high streamflows as key characteristics critical to assessing how fish communities change in response to streamflow alteration. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: aquatic habitat, biodiversity, Environment, rivers, Streamflow, Tennessee River | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 14, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
NRCS snow surveys help water managers plan ahead.
Temporary budget fix ensures program through August 2014
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — For decades, hydrologists have been tromping through the high country of Colorado and around the West to make detailed snowpack measurements. Together with data from automated SNOTEL sites and other tools, the monthly snow-course readings help water managers develop accurate projections of spring stream flows, and how much water will be available for irrigation and storage.
The information is critical in arid regions, which rely on the winter snowpack as the ultimate reservoir. Federal budget cuts have threatened the program, raising concern among western resource managers, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that it has found a way to maintain funding for the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program — at least through the end of Aug. 2014. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: climate, Colorado, drought, Natural Resources Conservation Service, rivers, SNOTEL, snow surveys, weather | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Climate projections include more droughts and floods
In the summer of 2013, New Mexico’s Elephant Butte Reservoir dwindled to its lowest level in forty years. By late July, despite the arrival of monsoon rains, the reservoir was still virtually empty. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory. Click on the image for more information.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Warmer temperatures and earlier spring runoff will cut water supplies by 25 percent in some key parts of the Upper Rio Grande Basin, according to a new report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
According to the projections used by the agency, temperatures will rise about 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century and even though there won’t be a big change in total annual precipitation, the snowpack and runoff will shrink, and there will be more frequent and intense droughts and floods.
“This report uses the most current information and state of the art scientific methodology to project a range of future supply scenarios in the upper Rio Grande basin,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle. “It is a great first step and a call to action for water managers and users in the basin and the partner federal agencies to move forward and develop adaptation to the challenges this study brings to light.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, rivers, water | Tagged: global warming climate change, Rio Grande, rivers, water | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Creekside again …
Starburst sunrise along the Snake River.
FRISCO — The sun’s path across the sky is quickly dropping, noticeably in a different position than just a couple of weeks ago, when I ventured to the Snake River for the first time this season in search of ice. Along with shorter days, those changes create opportunities for photography, as if a new lighting designer is on the job. After shooting into the morning sun, I also went for a quick afternoon stroll along Meadow Creek, near our home in Frisco, during the afternoon, hoping to catch some glints of warm sunlight on the remnant ice (yes, remnant; it’s been so warm the past few days that some of the ice is vanishing in our November thaw). Here are the best of today’s images. Please visit our online gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscape and nature images. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Morning photo, photography, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, Frisco Colorado, ice, nature, photography, rivers, Summit County Colorado | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 31, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Frozen stuff …
A micro-landscape along Meadow Creek, in Frisco, Colorado.
FRISCO —OK, so I’ll admit I have an ice obsession, at least for a few weeks in the fall, when the streams of Summit County start to freeze over. Later in the fall and in the winter, soft snow pillows cover most of creekbeds and streambanks, but for a few weeks in late October and early November, you can kind of see the bones of the rivers as they slow to a trickle. The freeze-up starts in the deepest parts of the canyons, usually where there are some overhanging branches. Splashes of water freeze in the cold air above the stream, then drip down, creating quite an amazing variety of shapes. Set against the flowing water, it can be a magical scene. Please visit the online Summit Voice gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscapes. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Morning photo, photography, Summit County Colorado, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: Colorado, ice, rivers, Summit County photography, winter | 3 Comments »
Posted on September 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Research shows how some bioactive pollutants can hide from sampling
Blue River, Summit County, Colorado.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Along with remnants of makeup, antibiotics and even caffeine, researchers now say that some steroids are also likely to persist in the environment for a long time, posing a threat to water quality and aquatic species.
Some steroids may even “hide” by breaking down in sunlight, but regenerating at night, according to a new study, led by University of Iowa scientists that took a close look at the anabolic steroid trenbolone acetate and two other drugs. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: Environment, Persistent organic pollutants, rivers, water, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
State officials tracking numerous flood-related spills
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A spate of potentially dangerous spills from oil and gas producing facilities resulting from recent flooding in Colorado may be scrutinized under a congressional spotlight.
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) hav asked the House Resources Committee to hold a hearing on oil and gas spills caused by the recent catastrophic floods in Colorado.
“Not only have my constituents been dealing with damage to their homes, schools, and roads, they are increasingly concerned about the toxic spills that have occurred from the flooding of nearly 1,900 fracking wells in Colorado,” Polis said. “Congress must deal with this issue to ensure that natural disasters do not also become public health disasters.” Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado flooding, energy, Environment, fracking, oil spills, rivers, United States House Committee on Natural Resources | 3 Comments »
Posted on August 22, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation groups concerned about impacts
A map included in a draft version of a water plan is reason for alarm, according river activist Gary Wockner, with Save the Poudre, who says Front Range providers are targeting additional diversions from West Slope streams.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A Front Range alternative for a statewide water plan ordered by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is drawing fire, as watchdog groups charge that the draft version puts too much emphasis upping diversions from Western Slope rivers.
“Just laying out this scheme of diversions and pipelines on a map enflames the political chaos around the Colorado River water supply crisis,” said river activist Gary Wockner director, of Save the Poudre.
According to Wockner, the draft plan being developed by the South Platte, Arkansas and Metro Roundtable could be an effort steer the state water plan toward more dams and diversions, at the expense of losing sight of the need for much more robust conservation measures. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Drought, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Colorado River, rivers, water, water shortabne. | 5 Comments »