Spring 2016

Water Conservancy Districts

Water conservancy districts were authorized by the Water Conservancy Act of 1937. Prior to 1937, various agencies dealing with water distribution and ownership usually operated on a single use basis (e.g., irrigation only, municipal only, etc.). The advent of large multiple use developments, however, prompted the need to create a central local authority that could acquire and distribute water for any beneficial purpose. There are currently over 45 conservancy districts in the state of Colorado, covering nearly every major drainage area and numerous minor basins.

Colorado Water Conservation Districts

In 1934, Governor Edwin Johnson proposed a state planning commission to identify statewide needs for natural resources, as well as public works projects—including water development. In 1935, he convened an advisory group known as the Committee of 17 to direct the planning commission. This provided the foundation for the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and conservation districts. Prior to this, all matters in Colorado pertaining to water resources were under the jurisdiction of the State Engineer. Over the years, however, a feeling developed that these duties were too all-inclusive to permit proper oversight of state water resources. It was due to developing intricacies of water issues in the state that the CWCB was created in 1937. In addition, four conservation districts made up of designated geographical counties were established:

21st Annual Children’s Water Festival May 4th!

The Annual Children’s Water Festival is sponsored by the Southwestern Water Conservation District and coordinated by the Water Information Program. The festival event began more than 20 years ago and is conducted the first Wednesday in May at Fort Lewis College (FLC). The 2016 festival date is May 4th. The goal of the water festival is to educate fifth grade students about local and regional water issues and the environment in an effort to help them understand the importance of this natural resource and how they can help to protect water supplies.

F2F Story Maps Available and Registration is Now Open for the 2016 Workshop!

Beginning in 2012, the Water Information Program (WIP), in conjunction with Mountain Studies Institute (MSI) and the San Jan Mountains Association (SJMA), plus financial support from the Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD), University of Colorado, and Trout Unlimited, conducted Forests-to-Faucets (F2F) teacher training workshops in the Dolores/San Juan River Basin of southwest Colorado. The goal of the workshops was to train teachers in the basin about the importance and interconnection of healthy watersheds to area water supplies.

WIP Lending Library

The Water Information Program lending library now has more than 200 water-related books and movies available for checkout. Stop by the office at 841 East 2nd Avenue in Durango to find a book or DVD of interest to you. In addition, we welcome reviews at any time. If you are interested in providing a book or movie review for our quarterly newsletters, please email 1-2 paragraphs to [email protected]. The spring 2016 newsletter movie review is provided by Laura Spann, with the SWCD:

WIP’s Participating Entity, SWCD, Update

At their February 9th Board meeting the following grants were funded by the Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD):

Southwest Basin Roundtable Update

At the January Southwest Basin Roundtable (SBR) meeting in Cortez, Eric Kuhn, Colorado River Water Conservation District (CRWCD), summarized the need for technical data expressed by the Four West Slope Basin Roundtables to better discuss issues surrounding future Colorado River development and the risk to current water users. This need also came up for each Basin Implementation Plan, and as part of the IBCC conceptual agreement for trans-mountain diversions. The Colorado River Development and Curtailment Risk Study will address the need for technical data so that the Roundtables—and all of Colorado—can better discuss issues surrounding future Colorado River development, potential curtailment, and the risk to current water users.

Water-Energy Nexus

The interdependencies between water and energy, the water-energy nexus, is becoming more prominent. Water is used in all phases of energy production and energy is required to extract, convey, and deliver water. Yet, several trends are adding stress to the water-energy nexus, namely climate change and population growth. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities report, power generation and agriculture-related are the largest users of water in the U.S. However, water withdrawals have been steadily decreasing due to a number of factors, predominantly reduced supplies, while growth in the two fore-mentioned sectors have been steadily increasing.

Dolores River

In December, and in an effort to become a party to the case, the Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) filed a statement of opposition against the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s (CWCB) recently established (last fall) minimum in-stream flow requirements on the lower Dolores River. In should be noted that there are several in-stream flows that already exist on the Dolores River that the SWCD does not oppose. They do, however, have specific concerns about one recent in-stream flow filing on the river.

EPA Releases Monitoring Plan for Animas and San Juan Rivers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) released its final monitoring plan for the Animas and San Juan rivers following the August 5, 2015 Gold King Mine incident. They also posted on their Gold King Mine website the results of surface water and sediment sampling collected as part of their yearlong effort to gather scientific data to evaluate ongoing river conditions, as well as impacts to public health and the environment.

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