Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandSeptember 28, 201711min321
In an era when the United States and Mexico aren’t exactly on speaking terms on issues like trade and immigration, there is one issue where both nations are cooperating pretty well: water. In Santa Fe, N.M., on Wednesday, representatives of the United States, along with the International Boundary and Water Commission, signed their portion of […]

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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandSeptember 18, 20178min585
“It’s warm, it’s us, it’s serious, we’re sure and we can fix it.” And without a solution, or many solutions, it — climate change — could cause Colorado to lose 20 percent of the water from the Colorado River by 2050 and more than a third of its flow by 2100, according to Brad Udall, […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 9, 20176min308

From outer space to Darryl Glenn, there were plenty of fireworks in Colorado Politics last week.

Our staff sized reservoirs, renewable energy and a variety of political maneuvers while others took the week off.

From a crowded field of contenders, these are the stories we think you’ll be talking about for weeks to come.


space flight
Dr. Kjell Lindgren, second from the right, was the commander of a 10-day research mission at the floor of the ocean aboard the Aquarius Laboratory in June. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

5. This is ground control to major economic impact

Kjell Lindgren proves Colorado’s roots run deep in space. The Air Force Academy graduate who also holds degrees from the University of Colorado and Colorado State spoke with Colorado Politics in a phone call from the ocean floor, where the astronaut was doing research much like he did on the International Space Station. Colorado is one of the top states for public and private endeavors in space, and Colorado politicians want to keep it up there.

Read the full story here.


power grid
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

4. NREL in peril

With the Trump administration slashing budgets to pay for tax cuts, and with a dim view of climate change science in general, folks at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden can only wait to see what that means for jobs and programs. Jefferson County, the state and technology innovators everywhere are waiting nervously, as well.

Read the full story here.


Gross Reservoir
(Photo courtesy of Denver Water)

3. Gross gets a green light in Boulder County

After nearly a decade and a half in the regulatory meat grinder, Denver Water said Friday night that it has approval from federal regulators to raise the dam on a reservoir that will store more Western Slope water. The massive water utility made massive concessions west of the Continental Divide to do the deal.

Read the full story here.


State and Denver officials join organizers of the lucrative Outdoor Retailer show on Thursday to announce that the show is leaving Utah and moving to Colorado. Some of the move was based on politics in Utah over public lands. (Peter Marcus/ColoradoPolitics.com)

2. Welcome to Colorado, where the public lands run free

The Outdoor Retailer show, with its lucrative economic impact and Cliff Bar cache, is moving to Denver from Salt Lake City because of some Utah Republicans’ stance on putting federal public lands into state and local communities’ hands, which could lead to more development and drilling. The issue came to head over President Obama’s Bears Ears Monument in December in southeast Utah, not too far from the Four Corners.

Read the full story here.


Senate primary candidate Darryl Glenn speaks during a rally at Westin Hotel at Denver International Airport, June 20, 2016. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

1. Glenn is in, Hill’s not thrilled

El Paso County Commission Darryl Glenn, who came up short in a U.S. Senate run last year, says he will enter the Republican primary against incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn and state Sen. Owen Hill in the 5th Congressional District. In a separate story by Ernest Luning, Hill welcomed Glenn to the race and called him “short on accomplishments.”

Read the first story here.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJuly 8, 20176min781

Gross Reservoir in Boulder County could give politicos and water managers a reason to celebrate with a tall, cold glass of H2O instead of bubbly from a magnum Saturday.

After 14 years, Denver Water now has the two critical regulatory documents — a “record of decision” and 404 Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — for an expansion that would allow the utility to hedge against drought and better manage the system that delivers water to about 1.4 million Coloradans.

The estimated $380 million project would raise the existing dam by 131 feet to store Colorado River water. Unlike almost every other proposal to use Western Slope flows to quench the thirst of Front Range growth, Gross Reservoir has support on both sides of the Continental Divide, because of agreements forged by Denver Water, the state’s largest water utility.

“Issuance of this permit will unlock significant resources that will allow us to do good things for the river and the environment,” Mely Whiting, counsel for Trout Unlimited, a significant backer of a bigger place to fish, said in a statement.

Learn more about the expansion here.

Denver Water says storing more water in Gross Reservoir is a big part of its long-term plans, which include conservation, reuse and “responsibly sourcing new supply.”

“The state’s responsibility is to ensure we do the right thing for Colorado’s future, and this project is vital infrastructure for our economy and the environment,” Hickenlooper said last year when he added his support. “The partnerships and collaboration between Denver Water, the West Slope and conservation organizations associated with this project are just what the Colorado Water Plan is all about.”

The Gross Reservoir dam has been around since 1954, two years before Hickenlooper was born.

The statewide water plan the governor referenced was released last year and calls for more compromise and collaboration and less litigation and political brinksmanship, which is written large in the history of water in the West.

Support isn’t universal, however, and a group called Save The Colorado said regional environmental groups and hundreds of homeowners in the area are considering a lawsuit to overturn the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision on Gross Reservoir.

“We believe the Army Corps has violated the law,” Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado said. “Denver Water doesn’t need the water, the Colorado River is already severely drained and depleted, and the people of Boulder County don’t want the project. The courts need take a hard look at this decision.”

He added, “Every American river deserves its day in court and the Colorado River deserves the best legal defense we can give it.”

Denver Water secured broad support with the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement inked in 2013 with 18 partners with such concessions as using its water for environmental flows in Grand County, as well as providing providing millions of dollars for sedimentation, aquatic habitats and other needs.

Writing on Hick’s backing a year ago, Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Independent crisply explained the need for water:

Colorado is predicted to face a gap of more than one million acre-feet of water by 2050, according to a 2010 estimate that many believe may be on the low end. One acre-foot of water is the amount of water it would take to cover the field at Mile High Stadium from endzone to end zone with one foot of water. That’s 325,851 gallons of water. The average family of four uses about half an acre–foot of water per year.

The celebrated documents Denver Water now holds are key parts of the National Environmental Policy Act.

While NEPA is a high hurdle, the deal isn’t completely done yet.

“The next milestone we anticipate is approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of Denver Water’s hydropower license amendment application at some point next year,” said Jeff Martin, Gross Reservoir Expansion program manager, said in a statement from Denver Water.

Denver Water recently hired engineering consulting firm Black & Veatch as its “owner’s representative” — essentially a project manager — and is in the process of landing a design engineer, Martin said.

Dam design, geotechnical work and other pre-construction work are expected to begin next year and the project could be completed by 2025.

3Lamm Reunion 110113.jpg

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 30, 20173min287

… At least, compared with some other cities around the West. That’s according to the global water/resources news service Circle of Blue, brought to our attention by way of a report this week from High Country News in picturesque Paonia.

As noted in the News’s report, a survey by Circle of Blue on water use was focused foremost on the price of water, always a relatively scarce resource in the West:

…Circle of Blue found Santa Fe’s residential water the most expensive in 2017. There, approximately 12,000 gallons — at the top of the range the USGS estimates four people might use in a month — costs $154. The same volume costs just $31 in Salt Lake City, where water was cheapest in the 12 Western cities surveyed.

Also noteworthy:

Prices have risen in every Western city surveyed since 2010, even as conservation and efficiency have driven per capita water use down.

As High Country News’s Emily Benson explains, that seeming paradox is in part because when water use falls, local water utilities sometimes boost rates to cover their fixed costs amid a dip in revenue from water consumers.

Water rates aside, for us, an interesting takeaway is Denver’s ranking far below the generic, 12,000-gallon-a-month benchmark for household water consumption. Denver’s is 5,000 gallons. That’s still more than is consumed by San Franciscans (3,960) or Seattleites (3,740). Denverites consume far less, though, than Las Vegans (11,100 gallons per month) or San Joseans (11,220).

Accordingly, Denver’s average monthly water bill — a function of use as well as water rates — was $20.27 in the Circle of Blue survey. Among the 12 Western cities surveyed, only Salt Lake City’s average monthly bill was lower, at $18.42.

Read more; here’s the link again.

Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsOctober 27, 201619min472

DENVER - Happy Thursday from all of us here at The Colorado Statesman. Call it voter fatigue or possibly apathy, but mainstream media appears to have run out of steam. Don’t you think? For many of those reporters, the 2016 election can’t end fast enough. Now that voter guides are posted, endorsements are proclaimed, most media outlets are looking forward to the post election night parties … Sadly, many voters may agree ... But "don't let it end!" say political wonks everywhere already in search of their next gig. The First Shot “I’m just glad I wasn’t in there when he was in there … I would’ve sacked him. I really would’ve did that. The both of them.” — Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware after learning police had caught the thieves who broke into his home