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:
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A student from St. Mary's School in Denver reaches for a rock in a stream near Breckenridge, CO. The students were looking for aquatic bugs as part of a lesson on stream health taught by the Keystone Science School.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 10:51 am
In Colorado, farmers are scrambling to recover from September's historic floods — floods that decimated miles of roadways, cut off entire towns and sent rivers and creeks into areas they'd never been before.
Like Tim Foster's immaculate front yard.
"It was beautiful," he says. "I had four large blue spruces. We had hundred-year-old cottonwoods all along the bank. We had our irrigation and our pumps. It was just gorgeous."
This map shows what America would look like if it followed its watersheds. It's an America designed to use water more efficiently, and reduce state conflicts over water. Think state conflicts over water aren't a big deal? Then you don't know that Georgia, Florida, and Alabama are engaged in a massive battle over their water sources.
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.
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.
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.
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.