Colorado towns get $2.4 million from EPA for cleanups, as GOP seeks to slash the agency’s budget

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EPA grants have helped clean up acid mine drainage at abandoned mines in Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Denver gets $1 million for South Platte River work; Fort Collins will use grant to tackle Poudre River corridor restoration

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even as right-wing anti-environmental lawmakers in Congress seek to slash the EPA’s budget, the agency in the past couple of weeks announced $2.4 million in grants that will help Colorado communities clean up and revitalize areas that have been tainted by the same big industrial companies that support those legislators.

In the Denver Metro area, the City and County of Denver and the City of Northglenn will each receive $400,000, and Adams County will receive $200,000. Across the country, the EPA made 243 grant investments  totaling $54.3 million to 147 communities. Continue reading

Morning photo: High Plains

Onward to … Nebraska?

FRISCO —A reporting trip on the Colorado water plan led me to the far northeastern corner of the state the past couple of days, and while I spent most of the time in a conference room, I did manage to escape for a while to track the South Platte, Colorado’s workhorse river, to where it exits the state, near Julesberg. I don’t get out into the flatlands  very often, and it was a bit on the gray and dreary side, but those wide open spaces were still quite astounding and evocative, and as a bonus, I got a decent shot of a red-winged blackbird, which has, for some reason, been a challenge for me.

Colorado: South Platte River tour set for this week

From the Rockies to the Plains …

The South Platte River. Colorado.

The South Platte River. Colorado.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Colorado may be our state’s namesake river, but the the South Platte is the workhorse, draining most of the Front Range, coursing through urban Denver and spreading out into great trickling braids to sustain prairie farms and ranches.

This week, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s last river tour of the year (July 10-12) will explore the South Platte, staring in Berthoud and at Cameron Pass and ranging as far as Nebraska and Wyoming.

From the earliest days, the river of the plains has figured prominently in Colorado history, as a pathway for the early French and Spanish explorers who were part of that era’s geopolitical maneuverings in the New World. The Native Americans of the region, of course had a long-standing association with the river and their own name for it — the Niinéniiniicíihéhe’. Continue reading

Colorado: Dillon Reservoir close to filling

Peak runoff helps boost water storage across the state

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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. Continue reading

Colorado snowpack lingering in the northern mountains

Southern part of state still gripped by drought

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Colorado’s June 5 snowpack map is a patchwork quilt of contrasts.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Springtime in the Rockies was a tale of two states in Colorado. The snowpack rebounded in the northern mountains, which benefited from a series of wet spring storms, but the southern half of the state was dry and warm, with serious drought conditions persisting in the Rio Grande, as as the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins.

This year’s statewide snowpack peaked April 21, several weeks later than the average date, and cool weather helped further delay snowmelt across the higher elevations, resulting in a statewide June 1 snowpack  at 92 percent of median, according to Randy Randall, acting State Conservationist with the NRCS.

“This respectable percentage is due mainly to the generous amount of snow that remains across northern Colorado. In contrast, the snowpack in the southern portion of the state is nearly depleted even at the higher elevations,” Randall said. Continue reading

Colorado: Dillon Reservoir may come close to filling this year

Wet spring brightens water picture

Will Dillon Reservoir fill this summer? Bob Berwyn photo.

Will Dillon Reservoir refill this summer? Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With the Roberts Tunnel turned off and Summit County’s streams starting to surge with runoff, the water level in Dillon Reservoir has already come up about two feet since May 1, according to Denver Water’s Bob Peters, who recently issued the latest update for Denver Water’s storage and diversion system.

The Roberts Tunnel is used to shunt water from the Upper Blue Basin beneath the Continental Divide and into the South Platte Basin, where it can be stored in other reservoirs until its needed for municipal use in Denver Water’s service area.

With average precipitation the next few weeks, Denver Water anticipates that Dillon Reservoir will peak at an elevation of about 9,010 feet sometime in July. That’s about seven feet below a complete fill, equal to about 235,000 acre feet. If wet weather continues through May, the reservoir could fill completely in July, rising to 9,017 feet, equal to about 257,000 acre feet. Continue reading

Colorado drought expected to persist through spring

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Drought persists across all of Colorado.

Reservoir storage reaching historic low levels

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Heading into April, Colorado water managers say snowfall the next few weeks would have to be more than twice or normal for the snowpack to reach the average peak snowpack, which typically happens April 8.

A big swath of the high country, including Summit and Eagle counties, is still classified as being in extreme drought.

After spending the last few months hoping for more snow, water providers now say they are preparing for continued drought conditions in spring and summer. Some towns have already announced strict outdoor watering restrictions staring early in spring. More information on watering restrictions is online at  www.COH2O.co. Continue reading

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