This week at Aspen Journalism, we are thrilled to have published two stories looking at water use from opposite ends of the Colorado River basin.
Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett set out to understand what city of Aspen water use data can tell us about recent efforts to encourage more conservation, especially when it comes to outdoor watering. With analysis and interactive visualizations by Data Desk Editor Laurine Lassalle, Sackett’s piece, published Monday, breaks down how much water city of Aspen customers are using, while exploring what tools exist to encourage or compel more water savings.
We followed that up with Sackett’s report, published today, from a “fact-finding” mission she tagged along on, with 50 or so water officials from the Western Slope who took a three-day bus tour earlier this month of critical sites in the lower Colorado River basin. The purpose of the trip, organized by the Colorado River District, was summed up by River District GM Andy Mueller.
“We have to be able to understand (lower basin) interests and their needs so that we can find ways to meet their interests while protecting our own,” Mueller said. “There’s a system at risk of collapse, and we are an integral part of that.”
Also, check out the return of our Data Dashboard’s snowpack tracker, and contemplate how McClure Pass is currently sporting more “snow-water equivalent” than what’s on the record at the higher-elevation Independence Pass monitoring station. And a production note: As the state of Colorado reduces the frequency of its COVID-19 data updates, our Tracking the Curve local COVID-19 data tracking project will cut back to one update per week, on Wednesday nights, instead of the Monday and Thursday evening schedule we have been sticking to since last spring.
We’d be remiss if we did not note that we are in the midst of our critical year-end fundraising campaign. Through Dec. 31, NewsMatch, a national collaborative fundraising movement to support independent, public service journalism like ours, will match your new monthly donation 12 times or double your one-time gift, all up to $1,000 per gift. So thanks to this generous support, your donation today makes double the impact. Thank you for valuing the essential work we are doing, for reading, and supporting Aspen Journalism.
– Curtis Wackerle
Editor and Executive Director
Four things to know about the lower Colorado River basin
Western Slope water officials tour sites integral to lower basin consumption
By Heather Sackett
November 16, 2022
The tour took participants by bus from Las Vegas though the green alfalfa fields of the Fort Mohave Indian Reservation, past the big diversions serving the Central Arizona Project and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and to the hot, below-sea-level agricultural expanse of the biggest water user on the river: the Imperial Irrigation District.
Aspen’s water use stays steady
Cities face conservation challenges in face of growth, climate change
By Heather Sackett | November 14, 2022
Getting some customers to change their behavior, especially when it comes to outdoor watering, is challenging.
Data dashboard: Early snowpack remains above average
Swinging air temperatures drop as low as 30°F for maximum and 10°F for minimum temperatures.
By Laurine Lassalle | November 16, 2022
• Snowpack at McClure Pass was double the average with 3.3 inches on Nov. 13.
• The Fork ran at 95% of average below Maroon Creek and 48% of average at Stillwater on Nov. 13.
• Swinging air temperatures dropped to 30°F for high temperatures on Nov. 4.
Tracking the Curve
COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 47% in Colorado since last week.
By Laurine Lassalle | November 11, 2022
COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 47% in Colorado since early November.
Cheap Land Colorado – author Ted Conover chronicles life off the grid in the San Luis Valley
“The immersive journalist’s latest book also looks at Colorado, this time a very different part of the state. In his new book Cheap Land Colorado, Off-Gridders at America’s Edge, he writes about his experience over four years on the high plains of the San Luis Valley…Ted Conover will speak about Cheap Land Colorado at an event hosted by Aspen Journalism at the Albright Pavilion, 845 Meadows Rd., Aspen, on Thursday, January 5.”
Source: aspenpublicradio.org | Read more
Pitkin County’s concerns over recession fuel RFTA budget scrutiny
“The bus agency’s proposed budget for 2023 includes a 5.4% decrease in sales tax revenues compared to last year. The staff based the forecast on the cumulative projections of its eight member jurisdictions. But some board members contended at a meeting Thursday that Pitkin County’s forecast of an 11% decrease in sales-tax revenues in 2023 is getting too much weight in the formula.”
Source: aspendailynews.com | Read more
“The future of housing” takes shape at Buena Vista factory
“Soon the Fading West factory will be churning out a new home every 10 days or so. The factory could be the answer to Colorado’s housing crisis, joining a first-of-its-kind effort that includes a nonprofit developer building on free land, philanthropic support, a unique mortgage lending program and lucky locals who secured their affordable homes in a lottery. But there’s a critical step in the development of affordable housing in Colorado that threatens the model: local code and zoning regulations.”
Source: coloradosun.com | Read more
Colorado Latinos overwhelmingly voted for Democrats despite Republican hopes to win them over
“A new exit poll from the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda shows Latino voters in Colorado overwhelmingly voted for Democratic candidates in this year’s midterm elections. It also finds the majority of Latino voters supported key ballot measures.”
Source: kunc.org | Read more
Municipal water among most vulnerable in Colorado River crisis
“Cheyenne’s legal claims to the Colorado River Basin water were appropriated from 1954 to 1982 — making it a relatively new user in the system. If there is a curtailment, it would be applied to the newest or most ‘junior’ appropriations, then work back in time to the 1922 Colorado River Compact. That means, depending on how far back in time a curtailment extends, 70% of the city’s water supply could be shut off — an action that could come as soon as 2028 if hydrological conditions keep trending for the worse, according to the Wyoming State Engineer’s office.”
Source: wyofile.com | Read more
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