Top Stories

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.


Statewide Roundtable Summit

The fourth Statewide Roundtable Summit was held in Westminster, Colorado on March 12, 2015. It was attended by members of the nine basin roundtables and interested members of the public. Roughly 300 individuals participated in total, 46% were basin roundtable members. Complete with red boxing gloves and warm-up jabs, the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s (CWCB) executive director, James Eklund, began the Summit after opening remarks from John Stulp. Stulp is Governor Hickenlooper’s special policy advisor for water and chairman of the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC). As Eklund stated, “we have pivoted from whether or not we should have a plan, to what that plan should be. As we focus on the first final water plan, our emphasis must be on actionable steps.”


SWCD’s Annual Seminar

The Southwestern Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) 33rd Annual Seminar was conducted in Durango on April 3rd. There were more than 175 in attendance. After opening remarks and introductions, a preview of the new documentary, the Great Divide, was provided by Harvey Productions.


Draft Colorado Water Plan Complete!

Rising demand from population growth and industry, if continued through 2050, threatens to leave 2.5 million people in Colorado with a water supply shortfall. Unless solutions are found to meet the gap between water demand and supply, the result could be, among others, agricultural dry-up. Therefore, and in response, in May 2013 Governor Hickenlooper ordered the development of a first-ever Colorado Water Plan. In mid-November the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) sent the Governor a draft of this plan that aims to shape the future of the resource in the state. The plan, which took a year-and-a-half to craft, was a monumental and unprecedented effort that involved the work of hundreds of individuals and organizations throughout Colorado. It is generally agreed that a variety of methods will need to be included in the Plan to meet the water supply needs of the state—conservation, development of already Identified Projects and Processes (IPP’s), agricultural “buy and dry,” and development of “new supply” projects. Taken together, these are referred to as the ‘four legs of the stool.’

LONG HOLLOW RESERVOIR COMPLETE!

The embankment of Long Hollow dam is complete, construction of the project is finished, and a ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted for the Bobby K. Taylor Reservoir (Long Hollow Reservoir) in Red Mesa on October 2nd. The ceremony was hosted by the La Plata Water Conservancy District and the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA).


Contribute to the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund on Your Taxes

It’s already tax season, and while you may not enjoy sending in your income taxes, you can feel good about where some of your money or tax refund is going by participating in the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund Tax Check-Off Program.

Syndicate content