Using data to avoid disproportionate impacts on water users
The numbers are stark. Flow losses exceeding 15% when comparing records of the last 20 years to average conditions observed throughout most of the 20th century. This week at Aspen Journalism, we published a story by Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett looking at recently released research from Colorado State University climate scientist Brad Udall that shows generally higher streamflow losses in the southern portion of the upper Colorado River basin compared to the northern portion. This carries implications for the administration of a potential demand management program, which would pay water users to conserve in order to protect the upper basin’s ability to meet its legal obligations to the lower basin. If one section of the basin has lost more water as a consequence of a warming climate, should it be expected to contribute the same amount of saved water as a less-impacted area? Sackett’s thoroughly sourced story provides all the background and helps us contemplate the questions raised by the science.
Also new from our newsroom, our data dashboard update relays the latest on lodging occupancy, streamflows and more, while Tracking the Curve continues its every-weekday updates showing a lower incidence rate in Pitkin County, with its universal indoor mask mandate, compared to neighboring counties where a mandate is not enforced.
And in case you missed it, be sure to listen to Sackett’s interview with Aspen Public Radio’s Halle Zander discussing Sackett’s recent story looking at the Colorado River District’s framework for a demand management program. The interview, which aired on the local public radio station, gives a comprehensive look at the concept of demand management as well as concerns some Western Slope water users have that a program might not be administered in their interests.
Thanks for reading and supporting Aspen Journalism.
— Curtis Wackerle, editor and executive director
Data could factor into how water managers develop a plan for shortages
By Heather Sackett | October 17, 2021
Another question is: If there is a compact call, how would state engineers administer it so that already water-short basins aren’t forced to cut back even more?
Freezing temperatures and clean air in Aspen. Lake Powell’s elevation dips to 155.2 feet from full.
By Laurine Lassalle | October 19, 2021
• Aspen’s paid occupancy rate reached 69.3% in September, surpassing the former record of 65.3% in September 2017.
• The Roaring Fork River ran at 37.4 cfs on Oct. 17 at Stillwater, up from 32.6 cfs last year.
Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle | October 19, 2021
Garfield County reported 50 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, Eagle County added 39 cases while Pitkin County reported 13 cases.
“As Transportation Director John Krueger explained to councilors Monday, without a clear commitment from the Aspen community to see through a solution to the twice-daily traffic jams coming in and out of town, the state and federal government will not move forward with an engineering solution.”
Source: aspendailynews.com | Read more
“The humpback chub, a rare fish found only in the Colorado River basin, has been brought back from the brink of extinction after decades of protection, though work must continue to ensure its survival, federal authorities said Monday in reclassifying the species from endangered to threatened status.”
Source: apnews.com | Read more
“Aspen Journalism’s managing editor and water reporter, Heather Sackett, has reported that the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which represents Western Slope water users, is working on its own demand-management plan as an alternative to a plan being developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a state agency.”
Source: aspenpublicradio.org | Read more
Final state senate district plan sent to Supreme Court; New Castle stays with rest of Garfield County towns
“(Last week), the Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission approved a final state senate district plan that keeps all of Garfield County’s municipalities in the proposed new Senate District 5.”
Source: postindependent.com | Read more
Powdr’s Fast Tracks offers $49+ chance to skip the lift line at Copper Mountain, triggering a skier backlash
“‘This is an utter sociopathic move that goes against not only the mountain code of respect, but is a slap in the face to all locals, many of which can barely afford to live here anymore,’ Dan Cochrane wrote in his petition demanding Powdr drop the program. In a couple days he had collected more than 8,700 signatures.”
Source: coloradosun.com | Read more
“‘It was probably a good idea at the time and it’s still worth studying,’ said Jim Lochhead, CEO of Denver Water, the largest water utility in Colorado. ‘But it can’t be implemented in the short term. We don’t have the tools, we don’t have the money to pay for it, and we don’t have the water.’”
Source: watereducationcolorado.org | Read more
Our nonprofit mission is to produce good journalism for people who care about Aspen, the Roaring Fork Valley, and the upper Colorado River basin.