Connecting the Drops

Connecting the Drops is a collaboration between Rocky Mountain Community Radio Stations and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.  KRCC's Andrea Chalfin serves as the primary editor. Find out more about water in the state at

Fostering Fish Recovery in the Colorado River Basin

Nov 24, 2015
Laura Palmisano

Some native fish in the Colorado River and its tributaries are struggling to stay afloat.  Invasive species, dams and water diversions all complicate the recovery of endangered fish in those waterways.  One long-standing program ties together federal and state agencies with regional groups to help these cold-blooded creatures make a comeback.

Winter Water for Migrating Ducks

Oct 8, 2015
Shelley Schlender / RMCR

Colorado's South Platte River basin is a powerhouse for crops and cattle.  Massive reservoirs quench the region's thirst, with farm fields generally first in line.  Wildlife?  It's often last. But a small win-win is giving waterfowl a little more room at the watering hole.  It's a program that creates warm winter ponds for migrating ducks — then gives the water back, in time for summer crops. 

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:

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. 

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.

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. 


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. 

The Shoshone Power Plant: "A Big Dog on the River"

Dec 9, 2013
Maeve Conran

A complex series of agreements govern the distribution of water throughout the state.  Along the Colorado River, farms, cities & towns, and the recreation industry are all big players.  But everyone takes a backseat to a tiny hydroelectric plant that’s over one hundred years old.  It’s the Shoshone Generating Station, and it plays a critical role on the Upper Colorado.

Maeve Conran

Water has always been a source of conflict in the arid West, but in recent years the conflict between agriculture and growing cities has escalated as both entities compete for this limited resource. KGNU’s Maeve Conran has this story as part of our year long series Connecting the Drops.

On Sunday, September 15th, KRCC aired a special one-hour call-in show on the Colorado River as part of our year-long Connecting the Drops collaboration.  The guests were Taylor Hawes, director of the Nature Conservancy's Colorado River Program, who recently testified before the U.S.

Connecting the Drops Live Call-In Today on KRCC

Sep 15, 2013

The Colorado River dominates much of the water landscape in our state and throughout the Western US.  Join us today, Sunday, September 15th at 5 PM for a special statewide call-in program about the Colorado River.  We'll be joined by listeners of other community public radio stations across the state. It's part of "Connecting the Drops" our year-long series about water.  A special statewide call-in program on the Colorado River, Sunday, Sept. 15th at 5 PM on KRCC.
Learn more about Connecting the Drops here.

Rethinking Reservoirs

Sep 4, 2013
Maeve Conran

All around Colorado, new collaborations are emerging around water storage and water use.  Partnerships with reservoirs are turning out to be key in terms of environmental stewardship, river protection, and healthy communities that rely on water.  As part of our year long series Connecting the Drops, KGNU's Maeve Conran looks at some of these collaborations that have produced tangible results.

Shrinking Aquifers in the San Luis Valley

Jul 29, 2013
Maeve Conran

In early July, Colorado designated 14 counties "primary natural disaster areas" due to agricultural losses caused by the recent and ongoing drought.  Several of those counties are in the San Luis Valley in south central Colorado.  Farmers there are now eligible for low interest emergency loans, but as KGNU’s Maeve Conran reports, that may not be enough for this agricultural hub, which is facing a long term water crisis that could permanently affect the entire valley.