Measuring water diversions and avoiding mudslides
Aspen Journalism was set to attend an event in the Homestake Valley Thursday morning sponsored by the Eagle River Watershed Council highlighting the debate over whether or not to build a second dam in the valley that would facilitate the diversion of more Western Slope water to thirsty cities on the Front Range. Representatives of water providers in Colorado Springs and Aurora, who are planning the reservoir, as well as Wilderness Workshop, the Carbondale-based environmental nonprofit that has indicated it will sue the Forest Service to stop the project, were set to present, so we were going to bring some popcorn. The only problem? The Homestake Valley, whose namesake creek feeds into the Eagle River, is on the other side of Glenwood Canyon, and it seems that there’s just as good a chance the interstate that runs through, connecting the Roaring Fork and Vail valleys, will be closed this month due to mudslides as there is that it will be open.
The frequent mudslides are courtesy of last summer’s Grizzly Creek Fire, which burned over 32,600 acres, mainly along the steep walls and tumbling creek drainages of the canyon. The burn scar left nothing in place to hold the earth in place, so it washes onto the road and into the Colorado River with the onset of afternoon monsoon showers.
The theme for the week became clear as of Wednesday evening, when the Homestake hike was postponed, likely until August or September, due to the Interstate 70 mudslide threat cutting off participants. Environmental hazards are expressing real-life consequences for the region. That’s true whether you are trying to drive through Glenwood Canyon or are having to update the infrastructure along your irrigation ditch in order to accurately measure how much water is diverted, as Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett detailed in her story published this week. The emphasis on diversion measurement requirements, part of an effort to increase compliance in areas where irrigators have not been used to keeping detailed records, is becoming more and more necessary as water managers plan for a future that could include incentives to conserve water, or possibly edicts that use be curtailed.
A look through the news confirms that these trends are real and growing. Wildfire smoke from the Western U.S. darkened the skies in New York City and Philadelphia this week. Water agencies are having to pull alternatives out of their hat to deal with low streamflows. And every time the sky gets cloudy, you had better hope you are on the right side of Glenwood Canyon.
— Curtis Wackerle, editor
By Laurine Lassalle | July 23, 2021
• July occupancy of 77% is up 12 points on 2019.
• Roaring Fork flows of 46 cfs at Aspen are 33.1% of average.
• Lake Powell storage falls to 32.8%
By Heather Sackett | July 17, 2021
Division 6, in sparsely populated northwest Colorado, has traditionally enjoyed abundant water and few demands, but as climate change tightens its grip on the West, there is less water to go around.
By Laurine Lassalle | July 23, 2021
The seven-day positivity rate in Eagle County reached 5.8% on Thursday, and Garfield County’s rate reached 6.8% on July 22. Two weeks ago, Eagle County’s positivity rate was only 2.9% and Garfield County was at 4.5%.
“The releases are meant to maintain some level of hydroelectric power at Lake “‘Although our strategy in assuming greater risk and responsibility for real estate, development in certain projects such as the Aspen project is designed to achieve greater financial returns and a higher overall return on investment, we could face increased downside risks if we encounter difficulties in implementing these strategies such as cost overruns or delays in construction,’ the (RH quarterly report) form said.”
Source: aspentimes.com | Read more
“More drastic options include transitioning from cattle ranching to growing hay full-time — or even turning the livestock operation into a horse ranch, Spann said. Worst case, the Spann family might have to leave agriculture entirely. Spann said his grandfather is worried the ranch could be a golf course in the future.”
Source: cpr.org | Read more
Ford Foundation donates $1 million to expand investigative team at The Times-Picayune and The Advocate
“The unrestricted gift is part of a recent commitment by the Ford Foundation to contribute an additional $75 million to nonprofit and advocacy institutions across the Deep South in an effort to advance justice at a moment of historic opportunity.”
Source: nola.com | Read more
“The average daily high temperature for the entire area from the Rockies and “‘For the next few years, mudslides will be a problem,’ Boyd said. ‘Over time, it gets better as the fire recovers more. Eventually, these severely burned areas will start coming back.’”
Source: vaildaily.com | Read more
“The CDPHE document adds: ‘The CDC recommends mask-wearing for all unvaccinated individuals age two and older indoors. The state recommends local public health agencies and school districts consider mask requirements for unvaccinated individuals, particularly in higher-risk environments.’”
Source: westword.com | Read more
“Ute bands identified themselves by the land or “core area” they came from. The “‘Fish salvage is very complicated,’ he said. ‘You can be up to your knees in mud. Logistically, it’s not that easy. Fish salvage from drawn-down reservoirs and lakes can be difficult and unsafe.’”
Source: steamboatpilot.com | Read more
“The fact that most of the visible workers are white and many of them from relatively affluent backgrounds and are drawn to Aspen for its unparalleled recreation, creates a sense that working-locals are like us and deserve support through affordable housing and other programs that center their needs.”
Source: usu.edu | Read more
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