Connecting the Drops

As cities in Colorado expand to accommodate a growing population, so are costs of providing services and utilities. Some communities, like Aurora, a city of 350,000 east of Denver, are reevaluating how they charge for services like water and how those costs might encourage smarter growth.

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Urbanization of Agricultural Land

Aug 6, 2015

An additional 2.5 million people are expected to move to Colorado by 2040, the vast majority of them headed for the Front Range.   As part of Connecting the Drops, our state-wide water series, Maeve Conran looks at the impact on Colorado as its landscape changes from crops to houses.

The traffic on a stretch of I-25 north of Denver is the soundtrack to the changes that farmer Kent Peppler has seen happening in Weld County. 

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  • Connecting The Drops: Urbanization of Agricultural Land

Colorado has experienced massive population growth in the last few years, a that trend is projected to continue. Finding enough water to meet the demands of the booming Front Range has city planners closely looking at how new developments can be built with conservation as a key component.

"The 2040 forecast for Colorado is about 7.8 million people, increasing from about 5 million in 2010," said Elizabeth Garner, the state demographer. "How will we deal with it? Where will we put them? How will we provide water resources and other resources, whether it takes 20, 30, 40, 50 years to get there?"

Coloradoans pride themselves on the quality of their drinking water, most of which originates high up in the Rocky Mountains. On the Eastern Plains though, many communities have water that not only tastes bad, it's out of compliance with federal drinking water standards.

At the J and L Cafe in downtown Sterling you'll find diners sipping glasses of tap water as they enjoy lunch. Just a year ago, that wasn't the case.

"You couldn't hardly drink it," said diner Kathy Orchid, she never used to drink the tap water. "It's much better [now]."

It’s that time of year when ski resorts crank up snowmaking machines to bolster Mother Nature’s delivery. Some resorts depend on man-made snow more than others and it’s possible  the practice may be used more in the future. For Connecting the Drops, Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

  Newscast

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Joshua M via Flickr (CC-BY)

It takes water to produce electricity, but how much water varies a lot depending on the fuel source and the power generating technology.

In Colorado, around half a percent of our total water usage is used to generate electricity.

It’s a small percentage, says Stacy Tellinghusen, water policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates, a non-profit conservation group, but adds that it’s not inconsequential. 

On September 15th, KVNF presented a statewide call-in show on the Colorado River, looking at water issues and the future of the Colorado River. 

The program is a part of the year-long collaborative reporting series Connecting the Drops, and is hosted by KDNK in Carbondale, KRCC in Colorado Springs and KGNU in Boulder. 

Guests on the program include Taylor Hawes, a Nature Conservancy program director (who testified before a Senate committee on the Colorado River), Jim Pokrandt with the Colorado River District, and a representative from Colorado Springs Utility.

Maeve Conran

A complex series of agreements govern the distribution of water throughout the state.  Along the Colorado River, farms, cities & towns, and the recreation industry are all big players.  But everyone takes a backseat to a tiny hydroelectric plant that’s over one hundred years old.  It’s the Shoshone Generating Station, and it plays a critical role on the Upper Colorado.

Headlines

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Headlines

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  • KVNF Sports Report

Connecting the Drops: "Buy and Dry"

Oct 18, 2013
Maeve Conran

Water has always been a source of conflict in the arid West, but in recent years the conflict between agriculture and growing cities has escalated as both entities compete for this limited resource.

On Sunday, September 15, KVNF will broadcast a live statewide call-in show focusing on the Colorado River. 

Maeve Conran

All around Colorado new collaborations are emerging around water storage and water use.  Partnerships with reservoirs are turning out to be key in terms of environmental stewardship, river protection, and healthy communities that rely on water.  As part of the year long series Connecting the Drops, KGNUs Maeve Conran looks at some of these collaborations that have produced tangible results.

Maeve Conran

In early July, Colorado designated 14 counties "primary natural disaster areas" due to agricultural losses caused by the recent and ongoing drought.  Several of those counties are in the San Luis Valley in south central Colorado.  Farmers there are now eligible for low interest emergency loans, but as KGNU’s Maeve Conran reports, that may not be enough for this agricultural hub, which is facing a long term water crisis that could permanently affect the entire valley.