Tuesday Newscast, 9/22/15, 5:32 PM

Sep 22, 2015

Newscast for Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 5:32 PM:

Colorado's ban on collecting rain from residential rooftops has been a contentious topic at the statehouse, and a proposed bill for 2016 means it will likely be debated once again.

"Colorado is the only western state where rain barrels are illegal," said Drew Beckwith, a water policy manager with the nonprofit Western Resource Advocates.

"Every other western state that has our water laws has them legal, and it has not caused the Earth to come crashing to a halt."

So why is there so much controversy over collecting rainwater? The sticking point is whether doing so impacts downstream water users.

Wednesday Newscast, 9/16/15, 7:43 AM

Sep 16, 2015

Newscast for Wednesday, September 16, 2015, 7:43 AM:

Monday Newscast, 9/14/15, 5:32 PM

Sep 14, 2015

Newscast for Monday, September 14, 2015, 5:32 PM:

  • A bi-partisan committee of Colorado lawmakers is wrapping up statewide hearings this week on Colorado’s water plan. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
  • The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for much of southern Colorado tomorrow, starting at 11 and ending at 8..  Low humidity and gusty winds are in store for the region.  The National Weather Service has also issued a fire weather watch for Wednesday.

Monday Newscast, 8/31/15, 5:32 PM

Aug 31, 2015

Newscast for Monday, August 31, 2015, 5:32 PM:

  • The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says it's looking to take nearly 170 horses off land in western Colorado and move them to long-term holding in Canon City next month.
  • A group of Colorado water managers agreed this week on guidelines for discussions about Western Slope water transfers, which will be incorporated into the state's water plan.

Thursday Newscast, 7/23/15, 5:32 PM

Jul 23, 2015

Newscast for Thursday, 7/23/15, 5:32 PM:

  • A committee of state lawmakers studying water issues is wrapping up a tour in Durango, Montrose and Craig this week. The goal is to hear from local communities about the Colorado water plan and other water issues. Bente Birkeland has more.
  • High winds have caused the closure of some recreational areas on National Forest land in Douglas County.

Urbanization of Agricultural Land

Jul 16, 2015
Maeve Conran

An additional 2.5 million people are expected to move to Colorado by 2040, the vast majority of them headed for the Front Range.   As part of Connecting the Drops, our state-wide water series, Maeve Conran looks at the impact on Colorado as its landscape changes from crops to houses.

The traffic on a stretch of I-25 north of Denver is the soundtrack to the changes that farmer Kent Peppler has seen happening in Weld County. 

Developing Colorado with Water Conservation in Mind

Jun 10, 2015

Finding enough water to meet the demands of the booming Front Range has city planners closely looking at how new developments can be built with water conservation as a key component.  With the second draft of the State Water Plan scheduled for release in July, many water advocates are hoping to see the issue of land use addressed.

Colorado has experienced massive population growth in the last few years, and that trend is projected to continue.

Public Engagement and the Colorado Water Plan

Apr 6, 2015
Kate McIntire / Colorado Water Conservation Board

It's been just over three months since Coloradans got a first look at the state's water plan. The draft that was submitted to Governor John Hickenlooper came after more than 800 public meetings held all across the state. But despite an extensive education and outreach campaign, just how involved is the general public in planning Colorado's water future?

In his 2015 state of the state address, Governor John Hickenlooper lauded the process that brought people from around Colorado together to create the state's water plan:

Chris Woodka / Pueblo Chieftain

The projected growth of Colorado’s Front Range has water planners looking ahead to meet the demands of the population influx.  One way to meet the growing need is for utility companies to buy water rights from farmers and ranchers and then divert that water to cover the city’s needs, commonly called “Buy & Dry.”

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

High up in the Colorado Rockies, across the Continental Divide and northwest of Leadville, is the Homestake Reservoir, and lately, things have been looking good up there.  Colorado Springs Utilities put together a press tour of the region in mid-March to show where that water comes from and how they measure it to predict the year in water.

As winter’s grip begins to fade along the Front Range, water managers with Colorado Springs Utilities are closely monitoring what’s happening hundreds of miles away. 

Maeve Conran

Coloradans pride themselves on the quality of their drinking water, most of which originates high up in the Rocky Mountains.  But many communities on the Eastern plains have water that not only tastes bad, it’s out of compliance with federal drinking water standards.

Many diners at the J and L Cafe in downtown Sterling are sipping on glasses of tap water as they enjoy lunch on this December morning.  That was not the case just a year ago. 

Bureau of Land Management

A new study on the Colorado River estimates the Basin would lose almost two-thirds of its economic value were the waterway to run dry.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.

Researchers at Arizona State University found the Colorado River system accounts for more than 1.4 trillion dollars in economic activity and provides nearly 16 million jobs. In Colorado, that would mean a loss of nearly 200 billion dollars of economic activity and 2 million jobs.

Richard Tinker / NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

Experts from western states are gathering in New Mexico to talk about drought and its impacts on recreation and tourism.  KRCC's Tucker Hampson reports.

A video from the Western Governors Association shows a montage of streams and water formations affected by drought, some dry and barren.

ICYMI: State Water Plan the Topic of Special Connecting the Drops Program

Jan 28, 2015

The state water plan was the topic of conversation for a special Connecting the Drops program that originally aired on Sunday, January 25. 


Tune in to KRCC Sunday, January 25 at 5 PM for a special one-hour call-in Connecting the Drops program focusing on the State Water Plan.

The plan looks to find a way to meet the state’s growing water needs. But what does it mean for different stakeholders?  Joining us for a state wide discussion on the Colorado Water Plan are James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Jim Pokrandt with the Colorado River Water Conservation District  and Chris Woodka with the Pueblo Chieftain will be our guests, and your calls will be welcome at 800-737-3030.

Marci Krivonen / RMCR

It’s that time of year when ski resorts crank up snowmaking machines to bolster Mother Nature’s delivery. Some resorts depend on man-made snow more than others, and it’s possible the practice may be used more in the future.

Snow on Aspen Mountain reflects the early afternoon sun, as skiers zig-zag their way down steep terrain. Snowmaking manager Harry Lynk takes a snowmobile up a steep pitch before arriving at one of the resort’s snowmaking machines, or guns.

USGS: Ogallala Groundwater Levels Continue to Decline

Dec 16, 2014

The U.S Geological Survey says the High Plains Aquifer, also known as the Ogallala, is losing groundwater likely due to increased groundwater pumping. 

The USGS released a report detailing an 8% decline between the years of 1950 and 2011. The overall average water-level declined about 15.4 feet. Between 2011 and 2013, the overall water level declined 2.1 feet.

Governor John Hickenlooper unveiled a draft of the state’s first ever water plan on Wednesday. The goal is to create a comprehensive water strategy to protect rural farm economies and bring more water to millions of people along the Front Range.The plan has been a decade in the making and supporters say it will help the state meet water demands as the population grows.

Farming the Ogallala

Nov 20, 2014
Shelley Schlender

Most Colorado cities and farms get water from snowmelt in the Rockies. That’s not the case in Northeastern Colorado. This food-producing powerhouse depends on an ancient, underground reservoir called the Ogallala.

Ever since the Ice Ages, the Ogallala’s been slowly accumulating water. Modern farmers, though, pump so much water that this “timeless” aquifer is starting to run out. Someday up ahead, Northeast Colorado may have to curtail some crops, and some farm towns might become ghost towns.

Colorado's Water Plan

Aug 14, 2014
Colorado Foundation for Water Education

It’s been over a year since Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order calling for the creation of a state water plan.  It won’t be a legal document, but the plan is expected to make recommendations that will guide future water planning and funding decisions.  The process is well underway, with a deadline to deliver a draft plan by this December.

Mike Preston, manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District, which stores and delivers water from the Dolores River, stands next to an irrigation outlet on McPhee Reservoir, near Cortez. 

Post-Flood Planning in Boulder County

Jul 23, 2014
Boulder County

The historic September 2013 flood reshaped waterways across Colorado’s northern Front Range, making major changes to both the manmade and natural environments.  Over the past ten months, homeowners, planners and policy makers have grappled with difficult decisions over where and how to rebuild, and when to let Mother Nature take her new course.

Lyons resident Phyllis Casey stands watching the demolition of her home. The sound of heavy equipment along Apple Valley Road in Lyons competes with the rush of North St. Vrain Creek full of spring run-off.

Sam Fuqua

When it comes to water, Colorado’s kids can expect to face a challenging future;  a growing population and increasing demand may mean difficult trade-offs.  That’s one reason educators and policy-makers say it’s critical to teach young people about water management.

On a breezy spring morning in south Denver, a line of about 30 teenagers snakes down a hill at Overland Pond, a little urban park next to the South Platte River.  The kids are passing golf balls to each other really fast, and dropping many of them. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

A two-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida has reopened to boaters.  It closed at the beginning of June due high waters that caused a hazard at a recently constructed boat chute.  The portage trail used to bypass the chute had also become impassable.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

A two-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida continues to remain restricted due to dangerous conditions. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

Recent high waters and a new diversion structure in the river have raised safety concerns near Silver Bullet Boat Chute near Johnson Village. The diversion structure is creating unusually strong currents, and the reentry point on the portage trail that’s used to allow boaters to go around the chute is currently impassable due to high water levels. The area is restricted to only whitewater kayaks and canoes.


With over 200 breweries and brewpubs, Colorado is one of top beer producers in the country.  All that beer requires a lot of water.  Brewers large and small are working to conserve the precious liquid that is crucial to creating the other precious liquid.

ICYMI: Connecting the Drops Call-In, Water & Energy

Apr 16, 2014

Water & Energy was the topic of a statewide call-in program associated with Connecting the Drops, a year-long collaboration on Colorado water issues from KRCC and other member stations of Rocky Mountain Community Radio, as well as the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.  Guests were Ken Carlson, professor of civil & environmental engineering at CSU; Sloan Shoemaker, head of the Western Slope conservation group Wilderness Workshop; and Kent Holsinger, an industry attorney specializing in water and energy issues.  Hosted by KGNU's Maeve Conran.

Water & Energy is the topic this Sunday afternoon at 5 on a special live statewide call-in program.  It's part of Connecting the Drops--a year-long collaboration on Colorado water issues from KRCC and other member stations of Rocky Mountain Community Radio.  Today, we'll have a panel of experts discussing the impact of energy development on Colorado water.  Your calls are encouraged, and we'll provide a specific number for you to call during the show.  That's today from 5-6 PM.

The toll free number for listeners to call in is 1-800-737-3030.

US Bureau of Reclamation

Using the force of moving water to generate electricity is an old idea.  For much of the 20th century, hydroelectric technology led to the construction of giant dams across the American West and around the world.   But big hydro projects have a big impact on surrounding ecosystems, and Colorado is at the center of a growing move toward hydropower on a smaller scale.

Water Use and Electric Generation

Feb 14, 2014
Headwaters, Fall 2013 / Colorado Foundation for Water Education

It takes water to produce electricity, but how much water varies a lot depending on the fuel source and the power generating technology. In Colorado, around half a percent of our total water usage is used to generate electricity.

It’s a small percentage, says Stacy Tellinghusen, water policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates, a non-profit conservation group, but adds that it’s not inconsequential.