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RFQ for Water Information 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 (lauras@swwcd.org) until 5:00pm, Monday, December 19, 2016.


Missed Water 101? Catch up on the presentations here!

Water 101 was a hit this year, with at least 75 people in attendance for a full day at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Retired Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs was the keynote speaker, accompanied by many federal, state, and local entity speakers who described their role in water management. The pilot Water 202 was also well-received!


Recreation at Lake Nighthorse: BOR Releases Draft EA

At the end of March the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR or Bureau) released a much anticipated and awaited draft environmental assessment (EA) for a recreation plan at Lake Nighthorse, also known as the Animas-La Plata (ALP) Project. This is a very big deal for southwest Colorado, whose residents have been waiting for the facility to open for recreation since the reservoir filled in 2011!


Local Water Icon Kroeger Passes

A much beloved and well-respected local water icon, Frederick Kroeger, passed away on December 28th at age 97. According to the Durango Herald, the most visible parts of his legacy were Lake Nighthorse, Kroeger Hall and the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, and the business he founded in 1967--Kroegers Ace Hardware. He served on the boards of the Durango Water Commission for more than 60 years; Southwest Water Conservation District for 55 years; First National Bank for 50 years; Colorado Water Conservation Board for 21 years; and La Plata Electric Association for 13 years.


Gold King Mine ‘Incident’

By now, most everyone has heard of the August 5, 2015 accidental release of more than 3 million gallons of acidic mine waste into the Animas River and Cement Creek above Silverton, CO. The mishap occurred at the Gold King Mine in San Juan County, approximately one hour north of the City of Durango, when a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety crew investigating possible alternatives for remediation at the mine triggered a large release of wastewater, which resulted in acidic mine water containing metals and sediment flowing as an orange-colored discharge downstream. The risk was inherent in the remediation process. According to Steve Fearn, a respected Silverton engineer familiar with the Gold King Mine, “the problem was that neither EPA nor their contractor took adequate precautions in removing the blockage at the portal and they did not have facilities prepared to minimize the impact in case they lost control of the discharge. They also did not have a plan for notification of downstream parties in a timely basis nor had they analyzed what the potential toxicity might be.” Much to their credit, the EPA has admitted all of this.


Rain on Snow Brings Much-Needed Flush to Florida River!

Thirteen years ago, in June 2002, the Missionary Ridge Fire in southwest Colorado burned for 39 days and consumed nearly 73,000 acres, including 56 homes. One firefighter lost his life. The skies were dark and thick with smoke, and in the aftermath, there was debris, mud, soot, and trees strewn in the river channel below Lemon Dam. Thanks to the heavy May precipitation this year, John Ey, Lemon Dam Superintendent, was able to make high releases from the reservoir and flush the Florida River channel. This provided a much-needed cleansing to the river, which had been unable to be accomplished in recent years due to prolonged drought conditions that have occurred since the 2002 fire. The extended high releases will provide numerous benefits to the river and ecosystem. Benefits include improved aquatic food base and spawning habitat, riverside vegetation, and wildlife habitat.


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