Water

Throughout the Western U.S., water conservation is in the toilet.

And that’s a good thing.

Phil Weiser

Colorado Attorney General democratic candidate Phil Weiser describes the role of Attorney General as the lawyer for the people of Colorado. While visiting the Roaring Fork Valley, Phil stopped by KDNK for an interview. These are his comments on water. The full interview is posted here.


Brooks Kelly stopped at a display of smart sprinkler-system controllers.

"This 6-station timer — it's got a rebate," said Kelly, who works the plumbing aisle at the St. George Home Depot. "You buy it [and the] Washington County water district gives a $99 credit to your water bill. So, this is free."

h2oradio.org

Wildfires have always been a part of life in the American West, but with climate change, it’s expected they will become more frequent and more intense. While some effects of wildfires are understood, their impact on water is just starting to come into focus. H2O Radio reports.

Ouzel

Hugh Kingery speaks about the American Dipper, a source water indicator species, and how Dipper came back when the Elwha Dam came down in Olympic National Park.  When the source water flowed, the salmon ran, the ouzels fed on salmon eggs and thrived again.

H2O Media, Ltd.

Agriculture uses a lot of water. But what if that water were used for more than growing food? What if it could generate energy—renewable energy? It can, and a program in Colorado is helping farmers harness hydropower to lower costs, save time—and conserve the water itself. H2O Radio has the story.

Fear can be a powerful motivator.

The mention of one plausible future scenario along the Colorado River is enough to make some water managers in the West break into a sweat. It’s called the Compact Call, and even though it’s never happened — and is years away from ever happening — its invocation conjures up dystopian imagery of a southwest battling over scarce water supplies.

Reservoirs that store water along the Colorado River are projected to be less than half full later this year, potentially marking a historic low mark for the river system that supplies water to seven U.S. states and Mexico.

Forecasters with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expect the river’s reservoirs -- Lakes Mead and Powell among them -- to be at a combined 48 percent of capacity by the end of September. That would be one of the lowest points ever for the combined water storage.

It’s early in the morning and Juli Scamardo is in chest waders, guiding me through a beaver meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“These are like mazes,” she says. “It’s hard to get through a meadow and know where you’re going.”

The effects of climate change are already being felt at the headwaters of the West’s most important river system, according to a study released earlier this year.

The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization compiled the latest science on climate change in the Colorado River headwaters in a report titled Climate Change in the Headwater: Water and Snow Impacts (PDF), presented to the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments in February.

h2oradio.org

Trees—they're just like us. They sleep, they drink—and they even have a pulse. The latest research can also tell us about whether they're stressed out. H2O Radio reports...

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe operates a large farm and ranch on its lands in Southwestern Colorado. It grows crops like alfalfa and artisan corn, and raises over 600 head of cattle. The Tribe went through a long settlement process to obtain the water rights to operate the enterprise.  But just because it has the farm and the rights to the water doesn’t mean they can use as much as they want.


The gravel road that leads to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm and Ranch Enterprise winds through 11 miles of desert grass and dry brush.


Connecting the Drops: Fire and Water

May 25, 2018

Wildfires are a reality for those living in the American West…but the impact on the landscape lingers long after the smoke is gone. With an estimated two-thirds of U.S. municipalities getting their drinking water from a source that originates in a forest, fire and water are now inextricably linked. As part of Connecting the Drops, our state-wide series on water issues, Maeve Conran reports.

A warm spring has already melted much of the limited snowpack that sits high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in southern Colorado. Water is already flowing through the ditches near the rural village of San Pablo.

It’s 9 a.m. on a windy Saturday morning. Every now and then Dan Quintana -- in weathered work gloves and a ball cap -- raises up his shovel and slams it into the mud and matted willows that line the waterway that runs through his hay fields. His slight frame makes it easy for him to jump across the narrow ditch.

2018 wasn't the worst winter on record for the southern Rocky Mountain region, but it was close to it.

“It was an extreme year on the dry side, widespread across the Colorado River Basin,” says Greg Smith, a hydrologist at the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) in Salt Lake City.

Brent Gardner-Smith, Aspen Journalism

For this week’s News Brief, KDNK’s Raleigh Burleigh speaks to Brent Garner-Smith, executive director and editor at Aspen Journalism, about Lake Powell’s dropping water level. This article and other work by Brent Gardner Smith can be found here.

After nearly a month of terse exchanges among water managers in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona about Colorado River conservation strategies, representatives from the five states met Monday in Salt Lake City to hash out their differences.

At issue is how the Central Arizona Project (CAP) -- the operator of a 336-mile aqueduct that pumps Colorado River water to farmers and cities -- is conserving water in Lake Mead, the river’s largest reservoir. The project is managed by the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District (CAWCD) and is the state’s largest water provider.

Roaring Fork Conservancy

Roaring Fork Conservancy hosts a public meeting for the Crystal River Management Plan at the Third Street Center on Wednesday, May 2, from 5:30 to 7:30. KDNK spoke with watershed action director Heather Lewin about what to expect.

The managers of the Central Arizona Project are being accused of gaming the system to draw more water out of the Colorado River instead of conserving as much as possible. The action threatens the trust and cooperation that has existed along the river and has Upper Basin leaders crying foul. H2O Radio Reports.

Wikipedia Commons

Snowpack that feeds the Colorado River is at record lows as we begin moving into the longer and drier days of summer. Water managers throughout the West are already sounding the alarm about less water flowing in streams and reservoirs. But as Luke Runyon reports, there’s another factor that could make things even worse...

H2O Radio, Ltd.

"Dryland" farmers on the high plains of Colorado grow their crops with whatever falls from the sky—no irrigation, no pumped groundwater—just what Mother Nature delivers. In recent years some have been trying to innovate to protect their soils and conserve water. But they're getting pushback—not only from their neighbors and their own families—but also from the government. H2O Radio has the story.

We’ve heard it before: The West just doesn’t have enough water to satisfy all the different demands on it. In Colorado, the majority of our water supply comes from mountainous snowpack, which melts each year to fill streambeds and reservoirs.

But could there be another way?

Frani Halperin, H2O Media, Ltd.

Glenn and Kim Schryver are the caretakers of Grizzly Reservoir, just east of Aspen. Their job is to maintain the reservoir and the creeks that flow into it, as well as the 4-mile tunnel that sends the water east to the Front Range. Setting aside the heated politics of moving resources from one basin to another, the tunnel is an engineering triumph—and for many months of the year, the couple's only link to civilization. H2O Radio has their story.

In poll after poll, Americans make it clear: People working together is a good thing.

Collaboration is a lofty goal touted by political and business leaders as a potential way forward on anything from climate change to healthcare to obesity. Drop your weapons, turn your enemies into partners and achieve great things — or so the thinking goes. But collaboration is a concept that sounds great in the abstract and quickly turns messy in practice, with plenty of pitfalls along the way toward a common goal.

Avoiding drawn out fights has always been tough when dealing with water issues in the West.  Collaboration wasn’t always the go-to strategy for environmentalists, political figures and water managers who held competing interests on overtaxed, overdrawn rivers.

But with the Windy Gap Firming Project in northern Colorado’s mountains, old grudges are being put aside in favor of new, collaborative tactics. While some of the West’s oldest enemies are working together, those who feel left behind by all the newfound teamwork aren’t ready to sing "Kumbaya."

Wild Rose Education

The Andy Zanca Youth News Team reports on local water issues from the 2017 Youth Water Summit, presented by Wild Rose Education and Pitkin County Healthy Rivers and Streams Board.


KDNK’S Raleigh Burleigh talks to Jayla Poppleton, Executive Director of Water Education Colorado, formerly known as Colorado Foundation for Water Education. Click here for more information.

Brendon Rockey

It’s harvest time for much of the country and also a time to plan for the season ahead. For a growing number of farmers, that will mean returning to their roots in an effort to conserve water, skip pesticides, and build healthier soils. It's a biological revolution that's yielding some eye-popping results. H2O Radio reports.

AH Marsh Photo

 


Solidarity was the theme of a gathering of residents and officials from both sides of McClure’s Pass Saturday. KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh has this report.

AH Marsh Photo

A crowd gathered in Glenwood Springs yesterday to rally on behalf of national forests and public lands. It was one of several events across the country, organized by the National Wildlife Federation and Wilderness Workshop. Local speakers ranged from an outdoor marketing firm, to the hunting and fishing community, and a local rancher. The crowd was encouraged to make their voices heard next to "Cardboard" Cory Gardner, a stand-in for the real senator who was invited but did not attend the rally. KDNK's Raleigh Burleigh has the first story.

The second story features KDNK's Amy Hadden Marsh and National Wildlife Federation's David Ellenberger, talking about the rally and public lands protection.

Click here for full audio of each of the six official speakers.

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