Water

ENVIRONMENT
9:36 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Hickenlooper Shows Off Colorado Water Plan Draft

Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:53 pm

Governor John Hickenlooper unveiled a draft of the state's first ever water plan Wednesday. The goal of the plan - a decade in the making - is to create a comprehensive water strategy to protect rural farm economies and bring more water to millions of people along the Front Range.

"Water is too important for bickering and potential failure. It demands collaborations," said James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which drafted the proposal. "This plan sets the stage for us to take the necessary next steps."

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HEALTH
3:20 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Still No Fluoride

Credit Flickr user smanography

If you live between Ridgway and Delta, there’s been a change to your drinking water, although you might not notice until your next dentist appointment.

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ENVIRONMENT
8:01 am
Fri November 14, 2014

With Drought The New Normal, Calif. Farmers Find They Have To Change

California sheep rancher Dan Macon had to sell almost half of his herd because the drought left him without enough feed.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 9:37 am

Ask Northern California sheep rancher Dan Macon what this drought is doing to his pocketbook and he'll break it down for you real quick.

"It's like if you woke up one morning and lost 40 percent of the equity in your house," he says. "Our primary investment in our ranch is in these sheep and we just sold 40 percent of our stock."

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ENVIRONMENT
3:26 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Coping In A Drier World: California's Drought Survival Strategy

The San Luis Reservoir in central California is the largest "off-channel" reservoir in the U.S. It is currently at less than 30 percent of its normal capacity.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 5:44 pm

The past few years have been California's driest on record. Forecasters predict that punishing droughts like the current one could become the new norm.

The state uses water rationing and a 90-year-old water distribution system to cope until the rains come. The system is a huge network of dams, canals and pipes that move water from the places it rains and snows to places it typically doesn't, like farms and cities.

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NEWS
8:13 am
Tue October 21, 2014

KVNF Regional Newscast: Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

  Newcast

  • Representative Gardner visits Montrose
  • Denver DA won’t prosecute Sen. King
  • Paonia hires permanent Town Manager
  • State water plan continues to be a problem
ENVIRONMENT
9:44 am
Sun October 19, 2014

As Their Wells Run Dry, California Residents Blame Thirsty Farms

Many rural California residents rely on private wells for tap water — wells that are starting to dry up.
Jeremy Raff KQED

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 9:43 am

Imagine flushing the toilet and watching sand come up. That's what happened to Pam Vieira, who lives south of Modesto, Calif. Her water well has slowed to a trickle, and you can see the sand in the tank of her toilet.

"Sometimes we have brown water," Vieira says. "Sometimes we have no water."

Vieira is one of as many as 2 million rural California residents who rely on private domestic wells for drinking water.

Some of those people are among the hardest hit by the state's severe drought, as wells across the state's Central Valley farm belt start to go dry.

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NEWS
10:23 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Water Conservation Districts Plan For The Worst

Colorado River
Credit Joshua M via Flickr (CC-BY)

With monsoon season passing us, it might be easy to forget that Colorado and the entire Colorado River are in the middle of a long drought.  14 years long. 

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ENVIRONMENT
1:46 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Water Managers Discuss Drought And The Colorado River

The Colorado River fills Lake Powell and Lake Mead. A discussion about drought and the Colorado River took place at a conference in Snowmass Village last week.

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 11:55 am

NOTE: In the on-air version of this story we incorrectly stated the date of a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announcement about Colorado River cut-backs to lower basin states. That announcement happened in 2013, not this year. (8/26/14)

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced this month water releases from Lake Powell to Lake Mead will increase next year, after historically low releases in 2014. Lake Mead has reached record low levels this summer. The Colorado River supplies these large reservoirs. At a water conference in Snowmass Village last week, drought and the Colorado River were discussed. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

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ENVIRONMENT
1:53 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

There's A Big Leak In America's Water Tower

Joe Giersch, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, studies stoneflies that live only in the melt from glaciers and snowpack in the northern Rockies.
Clint Muhlfeld USGS

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 5:29 pm

The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.

But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.

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ENVIRONMENT
2:53 am
Sat August 9, 2014

New Mexico's Northern Landscape Gets A New Burst Of Color

Thanks to unusually heavy monsoon rains, mesa land east of Ghost Ranch in New Mexico has erupted into vibrant green life — an unusual sight in this region.
courtesy Harvey Day

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 9:40 am

Much of the American West is suffering from extreme drought this year. California is running out of water and wildfires have raged through Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But there is a bright spot out West — or, rather, a green spot. In New Mexico, unusually heavy late-summer rains have transformed the landscape.

It's a remarkable sight. The high desert is normally the color of baked pie crust; now, it's emerald.

Kirt Kempter, a geologist who lives in Santa Fe, says this transformation is far from ordinary.

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ENVIRONMENT
1:46 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Drought-Stricken Colorado River Basin Drying Up Quicker Than Thought

The North Fork of the Gunnison River feeds into the Gunnison River, a tributary of the Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to millions of people in the West.

The drought-stricken Colorado River Basin is drying up faster than was thought, according to a recent study. 

NASA and the University of California, Irvine used satellite data gathered over a nine year period to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin that has been experiencing severe drought since 2000.    

The scientists looked at monthly measurements between December 2004 and November 2013. They found the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet of freshwater, that's nearly double the volume of Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, during that period. The study said about 41 million acre feet of that lost water was groundwater.  

The basin provides water to millions of people in seven Western states: Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. It also supplies water to roughly four million acres of farmland. 

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ENVIRONMENT
10:39 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Well, I'll Be Un-Dammed: Colorado River (Briefly) Reached The Sea

Twelve hours after they had halted at the river's end, the team woke up to see that the previous night's small stream had become a river. Two weeks after this photo was taken, the leading edge of the water reached the estuary that was the river's final destination.
Courtesy Fred Phillips

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 9:20 am

For a few weeks this spring, the Colorado River flowed all the way to the sea for the first time in a half a century. And during that window of opportunity, writer Rowan Jacobsen took the paddleboarding trip of a lifetime.

The river starts in the Rocky Mountains, and for more than 1,400 miles, it wends its way south. Along the way it's dammed and diverted dozens of times, to cities and fields all over the American West. Tens of millions of people depend on the river as a water source.

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ENVIRONMENT
5:20 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

EPA Wants Western Input On Changes To 'Waters of the U.S.' Rule

The North Fork of the Gunnison River is protected under the "Waters of the U.S." clause of the Clean Water Act. The EPA and Army Corps have proposed changes to the "Waters of the U.S." definition.
Credit Laura Palmisano.

The North Fork of the Gunnison River flows through southwestern Colorado. It’s a waterway the feeds into the Gunnison River, a tributary of the Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to millions of people in the West.

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ENVIRONMENT
12:47 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Big Water Boosts Flows For Whitewater Rafters

A surfer rides the Colorado River at the Glenwood Springs Wave Park. Rivers are high due to a big mountain snowpack.

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 11:42 am

This winter’s mega snowpack in the mountains is melting and filling reservoirs and rivers around the state. For whitewater rafting companies the big flows are good for thrills. But, some stretches are river are too full to float. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Longtime rafting guide Bob Morse is giving his safety spiel to a small group preparing to board a bright yellow raft. For some, it’s their first time rafting.

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NEWS
5:50 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Paonia Mayor Says Drinking Water Is Safe

Water flows through an irrigation pipe at Zephyros Farm in Paonia.
Credit Jessica Reeder via Flickr (CC BY creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Some Paonia residents recently received a letter from the town with a header that read (in all caps and red text): “Important information about your drinking water.”

The letter explains that part of the town’s water supply isn’t meeting some treatment requirements. But according to Mayor Neal Schwieterman, the water’s still safe, and residents don’t need to worry.  

We spoke with Schwieterman about what exactly this letter means, and why it was sent in the first place. 

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NEWS
8:19 am
Wed September 4, 2013

KVNF Local Newscast Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • Grand Valley Water Officials Say State Should Import Water to Meet Demand
  • Delta County Commissioners Discuss Efforts to Protect Sage Grouse
  • Mountain Village's Green Gondola Project to Install 10 New Solar Panels
  • More Colorado Marijuana on Black Market Than Ever Before
  • Prison Dairy Serves Up Buffalo Milk
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Local Newscast
8:44 am
Tue September 3, 2013

KVNF Local Newscast: Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Headlines:

  • Reports Say Colorado’s Parole System Needs Fixing
  • Governor John Hickenlooper Criticizes Recall Elections
  • Colorado Senators Faced with Recall Confident They’ll Keep Their Jobs
  • Colorado to Receive Federal Grant for Improving Critical Tunnels
  • Ouray County Commissions Send Tax Increase Question to Voters
  • Grand Valley Water Users Suggest It’s Time For the State to Import Water
NEWS
9:54 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Farmers look to do more with less water

Tom Trout, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who focuses on efficient and effective irrigation methods, checks sunflowers on a USDA research plot in Weld County, CO.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The future of agriculture across the Great Plains hinges on water. Without it, nothing can grow.

Climate models and population growth paint a pretty bleak picture for water availability a few decades from now. If farmers want to stay in business, they have to figure out how to do more with less. Enter: super efficient irrigation systems.

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iSeeChange
10:09 am
Tue July 30, 2013

iSeeChange: The Outlook for Western Slope Water Supplies

Credit Eli Nixon (CC BY-NC-SA)

Afternoon clouds and occasional rains have dotted the Western Slope in the past few weeks, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still worried about their water.

Last week Matthew Harris posted on the Almanac that the water he gets from German Creek was called on by a senior rights holder for the first time in the eight years he’s lived in Paonia. His creek’s just one of many that snake across the North Fork Valley, but if it’s been that long since that senior rights holder felt like they needed more water, should other residents and farmers be concerned? 

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NEWS
11:40 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Connecting the Drops: Water Shortages in the San Luis Valley

Karla Shriver standing by one of the many pivot sprinkler systems that she uses to irrigate her approximately 1,000 acres of potatoes, small grains, and hay on her farm, just north of Alamosa, Colorado
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.  

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