Newsletter Article

WIP’s Participating Entity, SWCD, Update

At their May 9th Board meeting the following grants were funded by the SWCD:


Colorado Water Plan

The first draft of Colorado’s new water plan offered plenty of background information about the state’s water, but didn’t say exactly what can be done to avoid a looming water-supply gap. By 2050, the state could be short billions of gallons per year. Lawrence MacDonnell, a natural resources law professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, led an academic review team that issued a report on the Draft Colorado Water Plan, finding that it offers little in the way of specifics.


Hydropower Uncertainty

As investments in wind and solar power climb, backing major hydropower projects may be seen as a risky bet in a warming world. Studies indicate that climate change could make rain and snowfall less certain in some regions. An indicator of where renewables investors are focusing their attention, large hydropower was left out of a recent and major United Nations and Bloomberg report showing that global investments in renewables spiked 17 percent in 2014.


Power Production Cuts of California Dams Due to Drought

According to a mid-May Los Angeles Times article, Shasta Dam, looming more than 600 feet tall and gatekeeper of the largest man-made lake in California, was designed to perform two crucial functions: Store water and generate power. And for decades, the massive concrete structure has channeled water to cities and farms while generating up to 710 megawatts of hydropower, enough to provide electricity for more than 532,000 homes. But amid four years of drought, the reservoir is drained to 50% of capacity, cutting the dam's power production by about a third, according to federal reclamation officials.


Dolores Conservation District Changes Name

According to a recent Mancos Times article, the Dolores Conservation District (a WIP participating entity) is changing its name and embarking on a marketing campaign to raise awareness of its agricultural services. The first step is the name change to High Desert Conservation District. "The old name has been confusing for people," said district manager Judy Garrigues. "It's hard to promote ourselves when the public isn't clear about what we do." The High Desert Conservation District provides farmers and ranchers with resources to better manage their operations.


La Plata-Archuleta Water District

Bayfield's water treatment plant will get a major expansion in the next few months, but the town won't be paying for it, the La Plata-Archuleta Water District (LAPLAWD) will. LAPLAWD is also a partner in the Water Information Program. Town trustees approved the low bid of $7.1 million from Integrated Water Services on May 5, and the LAPLAWD board approved it on May 14. The rural water district serves customers with water treated in the Bayfield plant through a joint agreement signed in 2012. The 1 million gallons per day water plant expansion paid for by LAPLAWD is part of that agreement.


Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District

In April our WIP partner, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD), water loss report update indicated that the district’s total water loss fell to nearly half of the prior month. Much of that improvement is contributed to a significant water break that was discovered and repaired.


Lawn Gone: Durangoans Remove Grass to Save Water and Make a Statement

On May 15th, local water engineer Steve Harris and his wife Lourdes, conducted a ceremonial lawn removal party at their home in Durango. They invited a few other concerned residents to join them, and together they made a statement: It’s time to stop wasting water. One place to start is on lawns we don’t need. “If the only time you walk on your lawn is to mow it, you probably have more lawn than you need,” has become the mantra of Harris. Or another way to think of it, stated Harris, “Unneeded lawn is the like tamarisk." Of course, one lawn is literally a drop in the bucket in the overall picture, but it’s a reasonable start, Harris said.


Dolores Water Conservancy District: Water Law and Legislative Expert David Robbins to Review Dolores NCA Proposal, by Mike Preston

A recently released draft bill would ask Congress to designate portions of the Lower Dolores River as a National Conservation Area (NCA) and Wilderness Area. The much-anticipated proposed legislation was created over a five-year period by a legislative subcommittee put together by the Lower Dolores Plan Working Group.


California Water Rights Exceed Supply

Among other serious water challenges, UC Davis researchers have found that in the last century, California has handed out rights to five times more surface water than their rivers produce even in a normal year. On some major river systems (i.e., the San Joaquin Valley), people have rights to nearly nine times more water than flows from the Sierra mountains.


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