June 2009

People & Organizations

Fred Kroeger Retires From SWCD Board

After 55 years of service, Fred Kroeger has officially stepped down from the Board of the Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD). As he stated, “I’m ready to let others take the lead.” After all, he’s seen his life's work culminate when water began filling Lake Nighthorse.

Jim Isgar Named Kroeger Replacement on SWCD Board

It seems apropos that Senator Jim Isgar (D-Hesperus) was named Kroegers replacement on the SWCD Board by the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners. After all, Isgar got his start in business with a little help from Kroeger.

La Plata West Water Authority Completes Intake Structure

Behind the scenes of the ALP, the La Plata West Water Authority (LPWWA) was working to complete an intake structure that would be the first phase of the ‘backbone’ of their project to provide a domestic water system in southwestern La Plata County. The intake structure had to be complete before Lake Nighthorse fills.

$8.25 Million Authorized for Jackson Gulch

After years of hard advocacy work, legislation was signed in March authorizing $8.25 million for the Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Act. Part of the larger Omnibus Lands Bill of 2009, the Jackson Gulch project will help direct federal funds to repair the aging infrastructure for the canal system.

PAWSD Awarded $9.3 Million in Stimulus Funds

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) received word in late May that they will receive more than $9.3 million to complete much-needed improvements to their aging wastewater system. In all, PAWSD will receive $9,322,353 of stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Town of Norwood Awarded $540,000 in Stimulus Funds

The Town of Norwood received full-funding of their $540,000 grant request to repair their municipal water infrastructure.

Current Events

Water Bank Concept and Update

Eric Kuhn, General Manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District (CRWCD), says an interstate compact call on Colorado River water users would cause chaos unless a plan can be put in place to handle the turmoil.

Dust on Snow

May's weather was slightly warmer and drier than average which, coupled with numerous layers of dust on the snowpack, has lead to a rapid depletion of the higher elevation snowpack statewide according to the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). And dust is a big deal--it makes the snow darker and dark snow melts fast.

Colorado Snowpack

In Colorado, the statewide snowpack dipped to only 32 percent of average on June 1, after recording 90 percent of average on May 1. Much of this is attributed to the dust on snow phenomenon. In most basins across the state, snowmelt is currently ranging from about 2 to 3 weeks earlier than is typically expected for this date.

Water Quality / Conservation


Conservation measures alone could save up to 40 percent of water use and can be easily obtained without drastically altering how Coloradans take showers, wash clothes, and water their lawns, said Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) Drought Planning Chief Veva Deheza.

Catch the Wave and Save

Locally, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) has launched a new Catch the Wave and Save campaign as part of its continuing conservation efforts.

Water Law

Rainwater Harvesting

According to Colorado water law, the State claims the right to all moisture in the atmosphere that falls within its borders and that, “said moisture is declared to be the property of the people of this state, dedicated to their use pursuant” to the Colorado constitution.

Glennon on Prior Appropriation

Robert Glennon’s long-awaited new book, Unquenchable, was just published and released in May. Glennon is a Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy in the Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.

WIP News

Water 101 Seminar

The Water Information Program will be sponsoring their annual Water 101 Seminar in Telluride this year. The seminar will be Friday, September 25th at the Telluride Town Hall. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs will be the keynote speaker. For more information and/or to register call (970) 247.1302.

Water History

Recreation At Southwest Colorado Federal Reservoirs

Federal reservoirs in southwest Colorado include: Lemon, Jackson Gulch, McPhee, Lake Nighthorse, and Vallecito. The history of recreation at these federal reservoirs is both old and new.

Miscellaneous Facts

Water Top of Coloradoans Concerns

Results of a recent survey conducted by Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli indicate that Colorado residents believe a dependable water supply is the most important factor for a strong economy--rating it ahead of schools, highways, and health care. Additional results indicate:

•    About three-quarters agree the state needs more water storage.