Water news and events for southwestern Colorado
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January Newsletter

Aquatic Life Discovered on Mineral Creek Above Silverton

Recent studies by Mountain Studies Institute and the USGS on Upper Mineral Creek have found an improving macroinvertebrate population and a naturally reproducing brook trout population. For the past 20 years, this stretch was devoid of aquatic life. The Animas River Stakeholder Group has conducted a dozen mining remediation projects above that reach on Mineral Creek, which has dramatically improved water quality.  ARSG will request that the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission make an aquatic life designation under the Clean Water Act for that segment of Mineral Creek. Congratulations to ARSG and its many partners for this water quality remediation success! (Photo credit: Durango Herald)

Paving the Way: the San Miguel Stream Management Plan

The first of its kind in southwestern Colorado, an effort is underway to develop a stream management plan for the San Miguel Basin. The plan will assess environmental and recreation water needs within the San Miguel River basin. With the pilot project's success, it may be used as a model  for other basins in southwestern Colorado, and even statewide.

The project consists of the following steps: 1) review environmental and recreational attributes within the San Miguel River basin, 2) identify potential water gaps to support those attributes, 3) assist the project sponsors and other stakeholders in defining desired outcomes for those uses within the project area and 4) identify projects to achieve the desired outcomes in a cooperative setting. A diverse group of roundtable members have been included as the study has progressed.

Once agreement on the science has been reached, focus will be on potential San Miguel basin partners. The estimated project cost is $128,000, of which the Southwest Basin Roundtable Water Supply Reserve Account funded $30,000. Check back soon for the final report and findings.

SWCD's 2017 Grant Funding Announcement 
For calendar year 2017, the Board of Directors of the Southwestern Water Conservation District again approved funding for financial assistance requests within its nine-county boundary. Requests from authorized entities for water-related projects/construction, studies, education, and sponsorships will be considered at the February, June, and October board meetings. To access deadlines, instructions and application forms, please visit the website or call the District office at 970-247-1302.
Authorized entities are also encouraged to investigate the possibility of receiving funding from the Water Supply Reserve Account through the Southwest Basin Roundtable. Information can be found at or by calling Roundtable Chair Mike Preston at 970-565-7562.


What to Expect at the State Legislature

The Colorado General Assembly will convene on January 11, and you can expect to see movement on the following water-related legislation drafted over the summer and fall by the Interim Water Resources Review Committee:

*State Engineer Statutes Cleanup (Bill E): This proposed bill updates the statutes guiding the State Engineer, and includes an increase in the amount of time to file comments on a substitute water supply plan from 30 days to 35 days.

*Update 1921 Irrigation District Act (Bill C): The proposed bill would amend the Irrigation District Act to modernize antiquated provisions, including clarifying the definition of "landowners." The bill also clarifies that water acquired in excess of a district's own needs can be leased for other beneficial purposes, not just domestic, agricultural, and power/mechanical purposes as limited under the current statutes.

*Funding to Prevent Aquatic Nuisance Species (Bill A): This proposed House Joint Resolution urges the Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Forest Service to provide funding to Colorado Parks and Wildlife to prevent mussel infestation of state waterways.

*CWCB Grants/Loans to Dredge the South Platte River Basin Reservoirs (Bill B): This proposed bill would appropriate $5 million from the CWCB's construction fund for a grant/loan program to enable further dredging of reservoirs to restore their full decreed storage capacity. 

President Pro-Tem Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R) will continue as chair of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Representative Jeni Arndt (D) is now Chair of the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee. Most water legislation that is introduced is assigned to these two committees.

For regular email updates on water bills throughout the legislative season, please sign up with or check the website periodically. This is a service provided by the Southwestern Water Conservation District.


Film Review: Water in the Desert (2014)

Colorado Mesa University Water Center and Gen9 Productions collaborated to produce this 30-minute documentary, which provides a primer on water in the Grand Valley in western Colorado. Early water history is told by local experts and black and white photos, the turning point of which was the Reclamation Act of 1903 and federal funding for the “irrigation frontier.” The film surveys diverse water use perspectives, including flow requirements under the endangered species recovery program, changing agricultural needs, municipal demands, and questions facing the Grand Valley as communities reach limits on use in the Colorado River basin. 

The WIP lending library has more than 200 water-related books and movies available for checkout. Stop by to find a book or DVD of interest to you. Want to write a review? We'll share it in the newsletter!

Upcoming Events

January 11
Southwest Basin Roundtable
Cortez, Dolores WCD

January 18
Animas River Community Forum Meeting

January 25-27
Colorado Water Congress
Annual Convention
Denver, Registration Open!

February 9
Soil Health Workshop
by CSU Ag Experiment Station
Dove Creek Community Center

February 13-16
Colorado Rural Water Association Annual Conference

February 15-17
2017 Convention
Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance
Ignacio, CO

February 23-24
Family Farm Alliance Annual Conference
Las Vegas, NV

April 7
SWCD Annual Water Seminar
Durango, CO

May 17-18
CWCB Board Meeting in SW Basin
Location TBD

Any events you would like to add? Send them to
More Information
Apply for the 2017 Water Leaders Program

2016 Year in Review: Colorado River 

Water Banking Pilot Program Underway

2-Page Guide: SW Basin Implementation Plan

SW Basin Photo Tour
(courtesy of CWC)

NEW Water Plan Implementation Factsheet

Get weekly water legislation updates
(or ask to be added to the email list)

SW Colorado snow, flow and reservoir data all in one spot

Subscribe to the CWCB newsletter.


Colorado Water Conservation Board

Bureau of Reclamation Water Energy & Efficiency Grants

Bureau of Reclamation Small Scale Water Efficiency Projects

Colorado Watershed Assembly Grants Bank 

NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program

 Riparian Restoration Connection

SW Water Conservation District


Water Resources Analysis Manager
Denver Water

Irrigation Analyst
City of Thorton

Water Conservation Specialist
Aurora Water

Several jobs listed in the
Colorado Watershed Assembly Job Bank

Thank you to all of WIP's partner entities for their support for water education!

Water Information Program
841 E Second Avenue
Durango, CO 81301

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