New study helps resource managers plan for climate change
Resource managers grappling with the vexing question of how to allocate Colorado River water to the thirsty cities, ranches and farms of the Southwest have some new food for thought. A new U.S. Geological Survey study published this week in the journal Water Resources Research shows that more than half the streamflow in Upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater.
Much of West reports record-fast meltdown under El Niño heat
April storms helped boost Colorado’s statewide snowpack to above average, but two river basins in the southern part of the state continue to report below normal readings.
The state’s mountain areas benefited the most from a series of wet, El Niño-fueled storms, bringing precipitation for the water year to average, according to Brian Domonkos, the Colorado snow survey supervisor for the USDA Natural Resources conservation service.
“At this time last year the water supply outlook was grim at best,” Domonkos said. “Colorado’s current snowpack and precipitation levels are right where we want to be this time of year. Elsewhere in the Western United States seasonal snowpack during 2016 succumbed to early spring warming and did not recover as Colorado did from recent storms,” he added. Continue reading “April storms boost Colorado snowpack”→
City takes big step toward more sustainable water use
Denver, Colorado took a big step toward meeting an ambitious 20 percent water conservation target by passing an ordinance authorizing the use of gray water for residential, commercial and industrial purposes. The city hopes to cut per capita use of potable water by 20 percent by 2020.
Enabling large water users like hotels, multi-family residential complexes and dormitories, as well as industrial facilities, to use gray water will not only help conserve a valuable resource, it will help those facilities save money. Continue reading “Denver authorizes gray water program”→
After taking a big-picture look at the water cycle, U.S. Forest Service researchers say global warming may decrease the amount of water produced by forests and grasslands across the country — even with increases in precipitation.
March snowfall across the Colorado mountains helped maintain the statewide snowpack near average for the water year to-date, but the strong El Niño hasn’t played out as expected.
Instead of boosting moisture in the southwestern corner of Colorado, this year’s edition of the Pacific Ocean warm-water cycle sent the storm track surging into the Pacific Northwest and then down across Colorado’s northern mountains. Northeastern Colorado has been the wettest of all, with a wide section of the plains seeing up to double the average annual rainfall so far.
That’s bad news for the Southwest, where moisture has been sparse for the past several years. Western New Mexico, most of Arizona and the southern California deserts and coast have been especially dry since the start of the rainy season. Regionally, snowpack in the Colorado River Basin above Lake Powell was 94 percent of average as of March 17, and the Federal Bureau of Reclamation is projecting that the inflow to Lake Powell will be just 80 percent of average for the April to July period. Continue reading “Climate: Snowpack dwindles across southern Colorado”→
More snowmaking, bike trails to be studied by Forest Service
Citing a lack of recreational opportunities at Copper Mountain, the U.S. Forest Service has launched an early comment period for proposed new developments at the Summit County resort, including an alpine coaster ride on the front side of the mountain, increased snowmaking and new mountain bike trails.
“These projects will help connect people to their National Forest while at the same time improving the year-round guest experience at Copper Mountain Resort,” said U.S. Forest Service Dillon District Ranger Bill Jackson. “In particular, we are excited about the additional snowmaking coverage on the West Encore and Collage trails which will allow the U.S. Ski Team additional early-season training opportunities.” Continue reading “Copper Mountain eyes alpine coaster amusement ride”→
Mountains are much more than just a scenic backdrop for tourist snapshots.They are reservoirs of biodiversity and water, helping to sustain life in the valleys and plains below. And since the dawn of humankind, high peaks have drawn people as places of profound insight, spiritual awakening and inspiration.
Once a year, led by the UN, the world celebrates those gifts with International Mountain Day. This year’s theme is focused on mountain products, especially in developing countries, where the creation of sustainable mountain economies will contribute to a better future for what traditionally have been some of the poorest areas in the world. Continue reading “Mountains matter!”→