Newsletter Article

July 16, 2014--Lawn guilt (High Country News)

Henry David Thoreau’s neighbors generally thought of him as a lazy, confrontational, sanctimonious pain in the ass.


Facts: Utility-Associated Metals Theft

Since we are growing increasingly aware of the water and energy interrelationship, we thought you might be interested in the following electric utility facts:


Annual Children’s Water Festival

The 19th Annual Children’s Water Festival was successfully conducted on May 7, 2014 at Fort Lewis College. This was the largest festival to-date, with more than 900 fifth graders attending from 44 classes in the Dolores/San Juan River Basin. Classes came from Aztec, Bayfield, Cortez, Dolores, Dove Creek, Ignacio, Mancos, Pagosa Springs, and Silverton. More than 100 volunteers, in the form of student guides as well as presenters, made the festival possible. Most of the presenters represented area natural resources and water-related agencies. Thank you volunteers and the Southwestern Water Conservation District--the annual sponsor of the festival for an educational, fun, and successful day and event!


Forests-to-Faucets Teacher Training Workshop

Complete with a pair of bald eagles closely flying overhead, the 3rd Annual Forests-to-Faucets Teacher Training Workshop was successfully conducted June 26th and 27th in the Cortez/Dolores area. The workshop was partially funded with a grant from the SWCD. The Water Information Program cosponsored the event with Mountain Studies Institute and the San Juan Mountains Association. The workshop was well received by all participants, as one comment illustrates: “I have been to a lot of workshops, so I am really particular about the ones I choose to attend. Forests-to-Faucets was excellent. Well done.” The goal of the two day intensive, in-the-field workshop is to provide tools and resources for teachers to help them educate their students about various water issues and topics. The workshop qualified for one continuing education credit for educators from Adams State University, as well as 11 contact hours. Thank you everyone who participated and helped!


WIP’s Participating Entity, SWCD, Update

At their June 10th Board meeting the following grants were funded by the SWCD: 


Southwest Basin Roundtable

At their May Southwest Basin Roundtable (SBR) meeting, John McClow, Colorado Commissioner on the Upper Colorado River Commission, gave a presentation on the history of the compacts guiding the administration of the Colorado River. John detailed the Lower Basin apportionment and Upper Basin compliance requirements resulting from these agreements, the sustained regional drought, and how the Law of the River has been adapted through the 2007 Interim Shortage Guidelines, and Minute 319 to temporarily address shortages. John explained the hydropower and operational impacts should Lake Powell’s elevation fall below the minimum power pool (see ‘Hydropower Production Threatened’ story under the water and energy section of this newsletter), and contingency plans currently being discussed to address those impacts. Roundtable members asked questions about the presentation. 


McElmo Flume

Flumes are a method to divert water to a desired location. In contrast to a ditch or trench, a flume is man-made channel for water, in the form of an open declined gravity chute whose walls are raised above the surrounding terrain. Most flumes were wooden troughs elevated on trestles, often following the natural contours of the land. In 1878 a ditch company was formed in Montezuma Valley for the purpose of diverting water from the Dolores River for agricultural irrigation purposes. Canals were dug and flumes were built, and by 1889 the project was complete. In April of 1888, the Montezuma Journal called the system, “…one of the greatest irrigation enterprises, not only in the state, but in the West.”


New Program Pays Users to Conserve Colorado River Water

Farmers, cities, and power plant operators could soon be paid to cut their use of the Colorado River under a new interstate program aimed at keeping more water in Lake’s Powell and Mead. The four largest communities fed by the Colorado River will contribute millions of dollars into a fund to help farmers and industrial operations pay for efficiency improvements and conservation measures to cut their water use. Known as the Colorado River System Conservation Program, it will be seeded with $2 million each from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Denver Water, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Another $3 million will come from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.


California Could Save Up to 14 Million Acre-Feet of Water

According to a new analysis released by the Pacific Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council, California could be saving up to 14 million acre-feet of untapped water--providing more than the amount of water used in all of California’s cities in one year--with an aggressive statewide effort to use water-saving practices, reuse water, and capture lost stormwater. “Our current approach to water use is unsustainable, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough water to meet our needs,” said Kate Poole, NRDC senior attorney with the water program. “At a time when every drop counts, we need to employ sensible and cost-effective 21st century solutions that will help us reduce uses today while promising new, resilient supplies for cities and farms tomorrow.” “As climate change brings more extreme weather, including droughts, ramping up forward-thinking solutions now will help us be more resilient,” said Peter Gleick (pictured right), president of the Pacific Institute.


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