Newsletter Article

Statewide Roundtable Summit

The fourth Statewide Roundtable Summit was held in Westminster, Colorado on March 12, 2015. It was attended by members of the nine basin roundtables and interested members of the public. Roughly 300 individuals participated in total, 46% were basin roundtable members. Complete with red boxing gloves and warm-up jabs, the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s (CWCB) executive director, James Eklund, began the Summit after opening remarks from John Stulp. Stulp is Governor Hickenlooper’s special policy advisor for water and chairman of the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC). As Eklund stated, “we have pivoted from whether or not we should have a plan, to what that plan should be. As we focus on the first final water plan, our emphasis must be on actionable steps.”


SWCD’s Annual Seminar

The Southwestern Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) 33rd Annual Seminar was conducted in Durango on April 3rd. There were more than 175 in attendance. After opening remarks and introductions, a preview of the new documentary, the Great Divide, was provided by Harvey Productions.


What Creek Connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans?

The Panama Canal is not the only water line connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. There's a place in Wyoming—deep in the Teton Wilderness Area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest—in which a creek splits in two. Like the canal, this creek connects the two oceans dividing North America in two parts. Yes. You read that right: North America is divided in two parts by a single water line that—no matter how hard you try not to—you will have to cross to go from North to South and vice versa. The creek divides into two similar flows at a place called the Parting of the Waters. To the East, the creek flows 3,488 miles to the Atlantic Ocean via Atlantic Creek and the Yellowstone, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers. To the West, it flows 1,353 miles to the Pacific Ocean via Pacific Creek and the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Of course, unlike the Panama Channel, you can't navigate these waters—unless you are a fish. At Parting of the Waters, water actually covers the Continental Divide such that a fish could safely swim from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean drainages. In fact, it is thought that this was the pass that provided the immigration route for Cutthroat Trout to migrate from the Snake River (Pacific) to Yellowstone River (Atlantic) drainages.


20th Annual Children’s Water Festival: Community Volunteers Needed--May 6th!

The 20th Annual Children’s Water Festival is being held Wednesday May 6, 2015 at Fort Lewis College. To help make this event the success that it is, guides—about 30, are needed to lead more than 700 regional fifth-grade students and their classes to various water-related stations on campus. In exchange for this valuable and FUN service a continental breakfast will be provided, a Water Festival t-shirt, gourmet lunch, as well as a keepsake water bottle and tote. In addition, if you are a student, the festival qualifies for seven (7) hours of community service. Guides will need to meet at 7:30 am sharp at the FLC Student Union Ballroom and will likely be finished sometime between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm. If you or your organization can help, please contact Denise Rue-Pastin with the Water Information Program at (970) 247-1302, (970) 946-9024, or [email protected] by April 21st. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this important community service need and opportunity.


Book Review: Blue Mind

The following book review is appreciatively provided by Laura Spann, with the SWCD:


Southwest Basin Roundtable Meeting

At their January 14th Southwest Basin Roundtable (SBR) meeting, chair Mike Preston reported the fund balance is approximately $606,000. In addition to administrative items, there was discussion of the seven points of: the “draft conceptual agreement” regarding transmountain diversions; alternative water sources to meet future east slope urban water demands that should be included in the SBR Basin Implementation Plan (BIP), as well as a recommendation that the CWCB also consider alternatives language; lawn conservation policies; and municipal conservation versus agricultural efficiency. The SBR also heard a conceptual proposal from Trout Unlimited for $15,000 in support of the development of a cold-water-fisheries adaptive management plan on the Upper Dolores River. The management plan would identify the appropriate places to invest limited conservation dollars and time and facilitate coordination between stakeholders. Project partners include the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Roundtable members made recommendations and asked questions. In the end there was consensus to recommend that a full application be submitted for consideration.


History of Water Conflicts

The Pacific Institute has created a 5,000-year timeline (http://www2.worldwater.org/conflict/index.html) of water conflicts that shows that water politics have been messy since the beginning. The timeline goes as far back as 3,000 BC and includes such examples as poisoning enemy wells, targeting and destroying hydroelectric dams, bombing of irrigation canals, and riots sparked by insufficient water supplies. The Pacific Institute indicated that “the problems are expected to continue.” By 2025, scientists predict that one in five humans will live in regions suffering from water scarcity and many analysts have predicted that pressure on water resources could spark wars in the coming years. Moreover, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world has not woken up to the water crisis caused by climate change. The latest report from the United Nations IPCC predicted a rise in global temperature of between .5 to 8.6 Fahrenheit by the late 21st century. More extreme weather such as droughts will lead to serious water shortages and affect agricultural output and food security. Development experts around the world have become increasingly concerned about water security in recent years. More frequent floods and droughts caused by climate change, pollution of rivers and lakes, urbanization, over-extraction of ground water, and expanding populations mean that many nations will face serious water shortages.


PV Across Canals

Two major advantages to building photovoltaic (PV) plants atop irrigation canals are: efficient and cheap land use and reduced water evaporation from the channels underneath. Leading the way in these type of projects is India. According to the Indian government agency that administers PV irrigation projects, a 10 megawatt plant saves 40 acres of land and will potentially prevent 24 million gallons of water from evaporating each year. In addition, lower temperatures due to the water body below the canal-top plants boosts PV panel efficiency by approximately 7 percent. Disadvantages include higher construction costs, long-term exposure to environmental stresses, ingress of water into the panels which could reduce their performance, and questions about keeping long stretches of PV panels secure. Another problem is that PV panels are usually mounted facing southwards for optimal performance, but canals generally curve and change directions. Additional research into overcoming some of these disadvantages could help to address multiple water and energy challenges. 


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