Newsletter Article

The Mancos Project

Settlement and irrigation of the Mancos Valley began about 1876. The natural flow of the Mancos River during the months of July, August, and September is very low, and the irrigation water supply for those months inadequate. By 1893, when a state adjudication of water was made, late summer demands for irrigation water far exceeded the supply. To alleviate the shortage, three small reservoirs storing approximately 1,500 acre-feet of water were built by local irrigation organizations. In 1937, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation investigations led to the conclusion that the Jackson Gulch Reservoir site, an offstream storage basin, was the only site of sufficient size to furnish an adequate project water supply.

US-China Pact Includes Water-Energy Research Provisions

In November, President Obama and President Jinping of China announced new targets for reducing the amount of heat-trapping gases that their countries release into the atmosphere. This was a historic move that both sides hope will catalyze a global climate agreement in Paris next year to rein in carbon emissions and avoid harmful ecological changes. The two powers will work together in several areas of shared interests. They will collaborate to develop technology that pulls carbon out of the air, work on urban planning ideas, welcome trade delegations for green technology, and test new solar energy facilities. The agreement also expands the mission of a joint energy research program to include, for the first time, investigations of the connections between water and energy use.

Study: US Using Less Water

A study by local, state, and federal officials tracking water use has found that levels have dropped to those of at least 40 years ago. "This is the first time we've seen this large a decline nationally," said Molly Maupin, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and lead author of the study, Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010.

Colorado River Water Conservation Programs

In October the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBOR) began soliciting project proposals in the Lower Basin states for water conservation from Colorado River entitlement holders in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Demand management and conservation measures are also being discussed for water users in the river's Upper Basin as a part of a Contingency Planning process to address future shortages. The Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and the USBOR are providing up to $11 million to pay for new Colorado River “System Conservation Agreements” as pilot projects.


Coloradans Want Strong Conservation and Efficiency in State Water Plan

More than 18,000 people across Colorado have sent messages supporting smart water policies such as increased conservation and efficiency to be prioritized in the Colorado State Water Plan. This message mirrors a recent poll that confirms voters understand the importance of conserving water and preserving rivers and streams for future generations. “Voters believe that Coloradans can meet their water needs by reducing water use by 10 percent by 2020 through conservation, rather than building new diversion projects,” said Lori Weigel, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “A two-thirds majority of Colorado voters say we need to change the way the state manages our water.” Three key findings in the poll show: 
 
  1. 90 percent of voters say a priority for the Water Plan should be to keep Colorado’s rivers healthy and flowing.
  2. 78 percent of voters prefer using water conservation and recycling instead of diverting water from rivers in Western Colorado to the Front Range.
  3. 88 percent of voters support a statewide goal of reducing water use in cities and towns by 10 percent by 2020. 

Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act Passed!

On December 12th the U.S. Senate passed the Hermosa Creek Wilderness Protection Act as part of the huge $585 billion military defense spending bill, which had been previously approved by the House. President Obama signed the package into law on the 19th. The Hermosa legislation was the result of work done by the River Protection Workgroup (RPW) which is a collaborative effort to provide alternative protections of values while allowing water development to continue. Members of the RPW Steering Committee include the conservation community, State and Federal government agencies, and representatives of the Southwestern Water Conservation District.

Anticipated Water State Legislation for 2015

The following anticipated water legislation has been approved for introduction by the Interim Water Committee in 2015, and is provided by Bruce Whitehead, Executive Director for the Southwestern Water Conservation District:
 
The First Regular Session of the Seventieth General Assembly of the State Legislature will convene on January 7, 2015. The Interim Water Committee will introduce the following six bills: 

Cloud Seeding Study

The results of the most scientific study of cloud seeding done to-date were just released in December. University of Wyoming researchers conducted a $14 million randomized blind statistical experiment that was designed and evaluated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Forest Service Issues Wolf Creek Decision

Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas announced his decision in November to approve a land exchange between the Rio Grande National Forest and Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture (LMJV), the developer for the Village at Wolf Creek, which will provide Highway 160 access to the development. The proposed development dates back nearly 30 years to a 1986 land exchange that provided LMJV with the acreage near the ski area to develop the Village, but unintentionally not the legal access the development would need.

Salazar Retiring

Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar is retiring at the end of the year. The San Luis Valley resident and sixth-generation farmer and rancher pointed to several achievements while serving as the state’s chief of agriculture since 2011, including consolidating the department’s divisions. He also highlighted double-agriculture exports from Colorado producers over 2009 levels.

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