Water news and events for southwestern Colorado
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December Newsletter

Happy Holidays from the Water Info Program!

Stopping Aquatic Nuisance Species Before They Take Hold in Southwest Colorado
Once zebra or quagga mussels infect a waterway, they clog public water intakes and pipes, degrading infrastructure and resulting in costly maintenance. They travel on boat hulls and in water holding compartments, such as bait wells and bilges, carrying water from infected lakes to new habitats.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has provided an effective inspection system which has kept state waterways from being infected. However, anticipated state funding cuts may jeopardize Colorado waters and expose reservoirs to costly maintenance issues.

Efforts are underway at local reservoirs to address aquatic nuisance species. For example, McPhee Reservoir is protected by an agreement involving the US Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, San Juan National Forest and Dolores Water Conservancy District to ensure continued funding and operation of boat inspections stations. Lemon Reservoir is now conducting engineering studies for the installation of its first boat inspection station, thanks to a grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation. Vallecito Reservoir has worked with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to fund inspections for an extended boating season in recent years, and is awaiting more information regarding anticipated funding cuts. What is a relatively small cost now could save taxpayers millions in future infestation management.

At the state level, the Colorado Congressional Delegation is leading the effort to include funding in the current Water Resources Development Act for aquatic nuisance species prevention at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facilities in the South Platte and Arkansas River basins. Effectively battling mussels will require simultaneous efforts at the local, state, and federal levels.

RFQ for Water Info Program Coordination 
SWCD invites interested individuals and firms to submit a statement of qualifications to provide professional services for coordination of the Water Information Program. Submittals will be accepted via email ( until 5:00pm, Monday, December 19, 2016. Please refer to the full Request for Qualifications for more information.

Watch the Short Film: Conservation Generation

The Colorado River irrigates 15 percent of the nation’s crops, making Western agriculture an issue that is crucial to the lives and dinner plates of all Americans. Check out Conservation Generation, a new short film from the National Young Farmers Coalition that offers a look into the lives of four young farmers and ranchers in the arid West. Despite contending with the impacts of historic drought, climate change, and increased competition for water, the film’s farmers are each committed to their communities and to finding innovative solutions to water shortages.


Front Range Water Council Expresses Concerns about  West Slope Risk Study

Among the West Slope Roundtables' major undertakings in 2016, in coordination with the Southwestern Water Conservation District and Colorado River District, was the first phase of a study to evaluate development and curtailment risks to the Colorado River system. Consistent with the seven points of the Conceptual Framework in Colorado’s Water Plan, the goal of the study was to answer outstanding questions regarding modeled river conditions and their interaction with existing water rights and future development.

Presentations were made to all of the Basin Roundtables, including those on the Front Range, and a technical team representing interests statewide provided input and expertise to the process. Preliminary results of Phase I of this study are now being compiled and shared. The study has highlighted the need for close consideration of existing Colorado River reservoir operations and hydrology, and how they relate to compact compliance. Another consideration is how much additional water development could occur, and at what acceptable level of risk. 

The Front Range Water Council, whose members include major metropolitan water districts, submitted a letter to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) regarding their concerns that such studies should be undertaken in a statewide--and not regional--manner. They expressed concern that stakeholders outside of Colorado may view Phase I of the study as the State's position on remaining developable water. The letter also stated that "assumptions used in the Phase I modeling study may be creating biased impressions regarding the amount of the remaining developable water under the compacts."  The submittal of this letter, and a subsequent letter regarding the use of West Slope BRT “basin funds” sent by the Metro BRT, has created concerns for West Slope Roundtables and water interests. 

West Slope efforts are already underway to begin Phase II of the study, which the Front Range Water Council does not support, and urged the CWCB not to fund. Instead, the Council encouraged the State to lead Colorado River modeling efforts. If not, the Council will reluctantly pursue its own independent study, knowing these competing studies may only further divide water interests statewide.  There are ongoing conversations about how to proceed with Phase II, and how to address the concerns of the Front Range Water Council.


Book Review: The Secret Knowledge of Water (2000)
For water nerds, this book has it all: history, suspense, spirituality and science. In The Secret Knowledge of Water, Craig Childs takes readers along for the ride as he seeks to understand the essence of water in the one place it is hardest to find—the desert. Like a stormchaser in the plains, Childs tracks thunderstorms along the Grand Canyon for weeks until he finally witnesses firsthand a desert flashflood in all its deadly force. Wanting to learn the mysteries of springs and groundwater, he climbs deep into a seep emerging from a cave on a cliffside. Along with his wild adventures chasing water in the desert, he describes the scientific aspects of his experience with ease and accessibility. 

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

December 6
SWCD Board Meeting

December 14-16
Colorado River Water Users Association
Annual Conference
Las Vegas, NV

January 11
Southwest Basin Roundtable
Cortez, Dolores WCD

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

Any events you would like to add? Send them to
More information
7 TED Talks on Water

Watch Pete McBride's lecture: "Chasing Rivers: The Colorado"

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

A few 2017 water bills are already drafted:
See SWCD's first legislative report of the season.

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


RFQ for Program Coordination
Water Information Program

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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