Current Events

National Water Policy?

American water policy has long been the subject of scholarly criticisms. The fractured nature of U.S. water policy has been criticized for decades. In an effort to address some of these concerns, countless commissions, councils, and studies have been established and conducted. All have called for new directions in water policy and better planning, evaluation, and coordination. Over the decades, concerns about water supply and development continue to mount. These concerns consistently point to the need to establish a national water commission to assess future water demands, study current management programs, and develop recommendations for a comprehensive strategy. Some researchers view the fragmented nature of water policy as being based on attitudes and perceptions about water in general and that prolonged water shortages and droughts may be a catalyst to change attitudes. In other words, when physical limits of water are reached, the political arena will change. Perhaps the catalyst to change attitudes has arrived.


Colorado Water Plan

In June, each of the basin roundtables submitted their draft implementation plans to the CWCB. The CWCB will review basin plans in July. Then the huge challenge will be to incorporate each of the basin plans all into the larger Colorado Water Plan and provide a draft to Governor Hickenlooper by his imposed deadline of December 2014. In May of this year, the Governor signed legislation (SB115) that instructs the CWCB to have hearings in each basin and for the draft plan to be presented to the Legislature’s interim committee on water resources.


Recreation at Lake Nighthorse

While Lake Nighthorse filled in 2011, it is still not open to the public for recreation. To help address and alleviate growing public concerns and outcries about this, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) provided an update to the public on recreation at Lake Nighthorse on June 18th in Durango. There were approximately 100 in attendance.


Durango’s New Whitewater Park Opens

The Whitewater Park in-stream construction that began November 2, 2013, is finished and opened on April 18th.  Features of the $1 million project include eddies, flow deflectors, and four bank-to-bank drop features that create large rapids, said Scott Shipley, Olympic paddler and designer of Durango’s Whitewater Park.


The Value of McPhee Reservoir and the Dolores River, by Mike Preston

McPhee Reservoir is the centerpiece of the Dolores Project, which expanded irrigation to 28,500 acres of land from Yellow Jacket to Dove Creek and to 7,600 acres of Ute Mountain Ute Farm and Ranch operations. These irrigated lands produce some of the highest-quality dairy hay in the West, along with a variety of other crops, including 640 acres of native seed that is being used to restore BLM lands across the west. The project also provides water to a growing number of smaller vegetable producers.


Drought

As anyone who has heard or seen the news this first quarter of 2014 can tell you, drought topped the list of current event coverage. Allow some of the following headlines to illustrate:

Water shortages: What to expect in the future (February 17, 2014--Arizona Republic)

Lake Powell: 4th Driest Year on Record

According to a November Summit Voice article, the past water year--October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013, was the fourth-driest on record for the Colorado River Basin as measured at Lake Powell.

Fallowing Farmland in the Sun Corridor

A pilot farmland-fallowing project which will begin in January 2014 will pay Arizona’s farmers not to grow crops.


Free Online Water Course Offered by CSU

A free online course from Colorado State University (CSU) will begin January 27, 2014 and run through March 23