Ditch investigation lands while one familiar face replaces another at the CWCB
Recently at Aspen Journalism, we posted a months-in-the-making investigation into studies, often paid for with public dollars, that give irrigation ditch stakeholders an evaluation of their infrastructure while making recommendations for fixes that could improve efficiency and thus leave more water in the river. These studies, despite containing valuable information about how water — defined by the Colorado Constitution as a public resource — is being used, are shielded from public view in order to protect landowner privacy. Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett wrote a piece detailing her quest for transparency, while explaining how the studies are produced and used.
Our latest bit of breaking news involves Kremmling rancher Paul Bruchez — who should be familiar to our readers — being appointed to the seat on the Colorado Water Conservation Board being vacated by former state Senator and Basalt resident Gail Schwartz. Bruchez’s enthusiasm for the new role is tempered by Schwartz expressing her feeling that the mandate of the board — which oversees all manner of water policy — is too broad to move the needle on the most critical challenge facing the state’s river basins.
We’ve also coveted the latest machinations over a proposed state law that would clamp down on water speculation, while our data desk keeps us updated on our declining snowpack numbers, as well as COVID-19 case rates that have dropped so fast in the last month, Pitkin County’s Board of Health voted last week to end the indoor mask mandate, including in schools, on Feb 22.
We also launched a new monthly newsletter — The Runoff — from our water desk that includes exclusive news bytes and analysis from the journalists bringing you the most accessible and sophisticated water coverage in the state. The Runoff will be a great supplement to this newsletter, so please subscribe to go even deeper on water issues.
Thank you for reading and supporting Aspen Journalism.
Kremmling rancher picked to replace Schwartz on state water board
New basin rep Bruchez sees water scarcity as top Colorado River issue
By Heather Sackett | February 15, 2022
Schwartz said that although it was an honor to hold the seat, she felt she couldn’t be as effective as she wanted in the position.
Tracking the Curve
Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle | February 15, 2022
Overall COVID-19 cases are going down in Pitkin County. The county’s incidence rate reached about 253 per 100,000 on Monday, down from over 3,000 about a month ago.
Data Dashboard: Lake Powell is only four feet away from critical water level
By Laurine LassalleFebruary 15, 2022
• Lake Powell’s water elevation reached 3,529.4 ft on Feb. 13.
• Snowpack at Indy Pass was at 84.7% of average on Feb. 13, down from last week but up from last year’s 80.5% of average.
Popular ditch inventories remain private despite being publicly funded
By Heather Sackett | February 6, 2022
But neither the CWCB nor the Colorado Basin Roundtable has a policy that allows the public to have access to the inventories, even when public money is used to fund their creation.
River District addresses controversial water speculation bill
By Heather Sackett | February 4, 2022
The River District’s amendment is an attempt to revise the current proposed legislation, which has not found support from agricultural water users.
How bad is the western drought? Worst in 12 centuries, study finds.
“But as human activities continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, temperatures are more generally rising. As they do ‘the air is basically more capable of pulling the water out of the soil, out of vegetation, out of crops, out of forests,’ Dr. Cole said.”
Source: nytimes.com | Read more
Climate crisis and systemic inequities drive push to reform California water laws
“The group recommended changing state law so that decisions about water rights, including approvals of new diversions from streams and rivers, would require regulators to consider the effects of climate change.”
Source: latimes.com | Read more
Derek Johnson returns to Aspen, wants to make amends
“Johnson rattled off the names and groups of people he wants to meet: immediate family members and relatives, former work and industry colleagues, athletes he coached, and the Aspen community. ‘I realized relatively early on in this process, but even more so as it went on, that I have not one victim, not two. I have thousands,’ he said.”
Source: aspentimes.com | Read more
Dispersed camping is out of control in Chaffee County. Officials are seeking solutions.
“‘If people would not leave their trash, if they would pack out human waste, if they would use fire pans instead of fire rings, if they would change plans rather than creating new campsites when other sites are full, then these management plans wouldn’t be necessary,’ he said. ‘But we’re at where we’re at.’”
Source: coloradosun.com | Read more
One Colorado farmer is going against the grain to use less water. It’s working.
“In 2018, King sold $200,000 of tillage equipment and went all in on no-till and planting rotational cover crops. He said the results have been exceptional. ‘What I can tell you is that every year I do this, the amount of water I meter is decreasing and we’re growing more crops — we can actually increase production.’”
Source: coloradosun.com | Read more
Feds, four Colorado River states unveil draft drought operations plan as 2022 forecast shifts
“The proposed framework identifies how much water from the three reservoirs is available for release to prop up levels in Powell, but only after operations at Powell itself have been managed to best maintain levels of 3,525 feet or above.”
Source: watereducationcolorado.org | Read more
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