Middle Park snowpack remains above average as spring runoff begins | SkyHiNews.com

Middle Park snowpack remains above average as spring runoff begins

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors endured 60 degree days and burning sun to take the May 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of April. This is the final snow survey of the year, as the spring runoff has begun. Snowpack in the high-elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 30 percent to 169 percent (average 123 percent) of the 30-year average. This is the highest May snowpack since 1996 and 1997, and considerably more than last year when it was 24 percent to 113 percent of average on May 1. Year-to-date precipitation in the Upper Colorado River Basin is 118 percent. Irrigators and river runners can look forward to above average spring runoff, which is now governed by temperature, wind, and possibly a few late spring storms. Today’s storm confirms Mark “Doctor” Volt’s thesis that “the only trouble with spring in this country is that winter is just around the corner.” Snowpack at low- to mid-elevation in Middle Park has been above average all winter, but is melting fast and is already gone at the lowest elevations. Deer and elk remain on their winter and early spring ranges, foraging on south and west slopes melted or blown clear of snow. Snow density is averaging 38 percent, which means that each foot of snow contains 4.5 inches of water. Statewide, snowpack is average to above average, with the highest snowpack in the Arkansas, Gunnison, and Colorado River basins. Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: – The upper Colorado River Basin averages 119 percent – Gunnison River Basin, 122 percent – South Platte River Basin, 101 percent – Yampa and White River Basins, 112 percent – Arkansas River Basin, 125 percent – Upper Rio Grande Basin, 109 percent – San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 109 percent – Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 107 percent of average for this time of year. Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1930s. Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. March is historically the snowiest month, and the April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time. For further information, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.

Front Range eyes more Colorado River diversions

The nascent Colorado Water Plan has begun to materialize in the form of draft implementation plans for each of the state's eight largest river basins. And Front Range interests are once again looking toward the Colorado River to cushion water demand in the face of rising populations and interstate water obligations on the other side of the divide. The Colorado General Assembly passed the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act in 2005, which established roundtables for the state's largest river basins. These roundtables were tasked with preparing water needs assessments for their respective areas, assessing water supply availability and identifying methods to address their water needs. Gov. John Hickenlooper issued an executive order directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board to establish a statewide water plan in the face of increasing gaps between water supply and demand. These findings were incorporated into the Statewide Water Supply Initiative in 2010. Each roundtable then developed a Basin Implementation Plan to address the needs identified in the Statewide Water Supply Initiative. Each roundtable released its draft plan last week, and the joint draft plan from the South Platte and Metro roundtables, which includes the Denver Metro Area, identifies new Colorado River water supplies as one of the "four legs of the stool" to address water needs in the South Platte River Basin. The draft plan cites a growing population in the South Platte River Basin and obligations to send water to other states as major factors that justify additional trans-mountain diversion. As of yet, the South Platte and Metro roundtables haven't established just how much extra water it would need to divert from the Colorado River. "There's a lot of speculation out there from different folks, but I think the basin plan was very deliberate not to put a number to it because it really seemed to stall the conversation," said Sean Cronin, the chair for the South Platte Roundtable. "It really felt like it was more prudent that we ought to be having a discussion about additional supplies, and we ought to be having a discussion about what those additional supplies would look like." The South Platte and Metro roundtables saw that the gap between water supplies and water demands on the West Slope left room for additional diversions, Cronin said. Additional diversions would also be limited to wet years, when more water is available. "In the end, it really wasn't a matter of how much water," Cronin said. "It was simply a matter of do we want to pursue this idea for the greater good for Colorado." But the Colorado River Basin Roundtable's draft plan doesn't view its resources as expendable. "We think that a new project should be the last thing that's sought in that there still might not be enough resources or water to make that viable," said Jim Pokrandt, chair of the Colorado River Basin Roundtable. "We base that on the fact that the we are already big donors of water to the Front Range." The Colorado River Compact of 1922 set limits on the amount of water that states can take from the Upper Colorado River Basin, and Pokrandt said overdevelopment on the river has pushed water use to its limits. "We're close to the end if we haven't already hit the end," he said. New players in diversion Some thought the end of trans-mountain diversion could come with the 2013 Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, which saw Denver Water guarantee West Slope water providers and governments a cooperative process for any additional trans-mountain diversions in return for support for the Gross Expansion Project, which would see Denver Water divert an additional 18,000 acre-feet per year from the Colorado River. But as Mark Koleber, chair of the Metro Roundtable, explained, Denver Water doesn't supply all of the Denver-Metro area and outlying parts of the South Platte River Basin. "The metro area is much larger than that outside of the Denver water system," Kobeler said. "So what might be provided by the Moffat-Gross expansion wouldn't necessarily go to areas outside of the Denver Water service area unless they have a contract for it." This means another entity could seek permitting for a trans-mountain diversion project from the Colorado River, which wouldn't fall under the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement. But Pokrandt said any additional diversions to the South Platte, in theory, would have to come from other basins like the Yampa or the Gunnison. "Some new big trans-mountain diversion would probably have to go somewhere else," Pokrandt said. "It would have to go somewhere else that's not hard hit." Plan focuses on ag, environment The draft basin implementation plan issued from the Colorado River Basin Roundtable has found that additional transmountain diversion would damage agriculture and degrade environmental conditions in the Colorado River basin. "There's already so much water taken out of the headwaters that we don't think that there's any more water to give without severe economic and environmental degradation," Pokrandt said. Under the Colorado River Compact, too much diversion in the Upper Colorado River Basin could lead to a "compact call," in which junior water rights holders in the upper basin must stop diverting to supply Lower Basin states with water. "When you think of the bigger picture, the Colorado River system doesn't face (a compact call) yet, but if it did, junior water rights holders would be forced not to divert water, including many West Slope municipal users," Pokrandt said. "The Colorado Big Thompson Project, Denver Water, the Frying Pan Arkansas Project, all of these folks would be subject to curtailment if we overdevelop the river." Each roundtable will submit its final plan to the Colorado Water Conservation Board in April 2015. The board will submit the final state water plan to the governor in December 2015. For more information on each roundtable's draft plan, visit http://coloradowaterplan.com. Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

State water plan: New Colorado River diversion possible

Western Slope water interests still reeling from the Gross Expansion Project may barely have enough time to catch their breath before they're again summoned to the bargaining table. The Colorado Water Conservation Board presented the first full draft of its 2014 Colorado Water Plan to Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday, Dec. 10, and the document identifies an additional trans-mountain diversion as a possible solution for growing demands on the Front Range. The water plan is the result of a 2013 executive order from Hickenlooper, which sought to establish a cohesive plan for the state's future water use in the face of a growing population. Regarding another diversion, the plan "seeks to find a path forward that considers the option of developing a new (trans-mountain diversion), while addressing many of the concerns expressed by the Colorado Basin roundtable and others." The threat of another trans-mountain diversion has loomed behind the development of localized basin implementation plans for each of Colorado's eight largest river basins. The South Platte/Metro Basin roundtables have called for new Colorado River water supplies since their draft plan was released this summer. The state water plan outlines seven "points of consensus" for a new diversion, one of which states that the Eastern Slope isn't seeking firm yield from a new diversion, and that it "would accept hydrologic risk for that project." But Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran said many of those points are overly vague. "What does risk mean?," Curran said. "What does a new (trans-mountain diversion) mean? What does that mean when you have millions of people relying on it? The devil is in the details." Grand County has been active in the Colorado Basin Roundtable, which has actively opposed any new trans-mountain diversion from the Colorado River. Jim Pokrandt, chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, said in an email that the Western Slope basin roundtables would probably draft an official response at their Dec. 18 meeting in Grand Junction. Pokrandt did provide a list of points from a November discussion, in which the Colorado Basin Roundtable calls it "premature" to include the seven points in the state water plan. "We need to recognize that there may come a point where we cannot back down," the document states, "where we will need to take a stand for the sake of the West Slope and Colorado as a whole." In past discussions, Pokrandt has maintained that any additional diversions from the Colorado River could trigger a compact call, in which junior water rights holders must stop diverting to supply Lower Basin states with water. A compact call could impact municipal and other users on the West Slope, including the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Each basin will submit its final basin implementation plan to the Colorado Water Conservation Board in April 2015. The board will submit its final state water plan to the governor in December 2015. To view the draft state water plan, visit http://coloradowaterplan.com

Protecting Colorado’s water future

Water is an essential ingredient to what makes Colorado special. Whether one lives on the West Slope, the Front Range, North Park or the San Luis Valley, it is what makes Colorado's productive businesses, farms and ranches, our thriving recreational industry, our beautiful environment, and our vibrant cities possible. Water is in short supply. In the coming decades, there could be a gap between water supply and demand by as much as half a million acre-feet or more per year. The entire state is put at risk by this scenario, but it is particularly threatening to Colorado's rural communities. Unless we do something to manage our water future differently than we do today, more and more agricultural water will be bought to supply our growing cities, thereby drying up hundreds of thousands of acres of productive farmland and jeopardizing the economy and livelihoods of rural Colorado. Northeastern Colorado alone is expected to lose about 20 percent of agricultural land currently under production from purchase agreements already in place. This water supply future is unacceptable. We must have a plan that uses our best thinking and problem solving to provide an adequate and secure water future for all Coloradans. In May of this year, the governor issued an Executive Order directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to develop Colorado's Water Plan. This is an unprecedented undertaking for Colorado, but fortunately much of the work that is needed to develop the plan is already done. During the drought of 2002-03, the state commissioned the most comprehensive study ever done of Colorado's current and future water demands and supplies, a study which is continually being updated so it includes the most current information available. In addition, in 2005 the state legislature created the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), a group of 27 water leaders representing every major river basin and water constituency. It also created nine Basin Roundtables, groups of water leaders in every major river basin that have been taking an in-depth look at their basin's water challenges. For the last several years, these groups have been engaged in thoughtful dialogue while working hard to understand Colorado's water challenges and ways they could be addressed. The CWCB, IBCC, and Basin Roundtables have reached consensus on a variety of actions that will lead to a better water future, including support for alternatives to permanent "buy-and-dry" of agriculture, conservation, projects that meet certain criteria, and more. Colorado's Water Plan will not be a top-down plan full of state mandates and requirements. Instead, it will be built on the foundation of the work of the CWCB, the IBCC and the Basin Roundtables. And that is a strong foundation. The citizens in each basin are in the process of developing a water plan for their region. Because this effort is under way, we don't yet know all that Colorado's Water Plan will include. What we do know is Colorado's Water Plan will be balanced and will reflect Colorado's best values. The Governor's Executive Order specifies that Colorado's Water Plan must promote a productive economy that supports vibrant and sustainable businesses and cities, viable and productive agriculture, and a robust skiing, recreation and tourism industry. The plan must further efficient and effective water infrastructure promoting smart land use and a strong environment that includes healthy watersheds, rivers and streams, and wildlife. Colorado's Water Plan will reaffirm the Colorado Constitution's recognition of priority of appropriation while offering recommendations to the Governor for legislation that will improve coordination, streamline processes and align state interests. With the help of many stakeholders and interested persons the CWCB will deliver a draft of Colorado's Water Plan to the Governor's Office by Dec. 10, 2014. The CWCB will then work with the Governor's Office to finalize Colorado's Water Plan no later than December 2015. To provide your insights and perspectives, please participate in the next meeting of your Basin Roundtable. To learn who the members of your Roundtable are and when they meet, visit http://www.cwcb.state.co.us and go to the IBCC and Basin Roundtable link. You can also submit your comments to the CWCB by emailing cowaterplan@state.co.us. For more information, visit Colorado's Water Plan online at http://www.coloradowaterplan.com – a new website is planned for release on Nov. 1.

Snowpack above Middle Park exceeds long-term average despite warm, dry February

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Matt Barnes took the March 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of February, when the monthly precipitation was about 82% of average. Snowpack in the high-elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 93% to 146% of the 30-year average, with the highest readings on the south side of the valley and the lowest readings on the north side. This is similar to last year when the moisture content was 96% to 133% of average on March 1, although last February was much snowier than this February. Snow at the lower elevations in Middle Park has undergone a February thaw and does not reflect the above-average snowpack conditions at higher elevation. Snow density is averaging 28%, which means that for a foot of snow there are 3.3 inches of water. In Colorado, the snowpack on the western slope exceeds that of the eastern slope, and all major basins are above average except for the South Platte. The highest snowpack, relative to normal, is in the Roaring Fork sub-basin of the Colorado River Basin. Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: The upper Colorado River Basin averages 115%; Gunnison River Basin, 109%; South Platte River Basin, 96%; Yampa River Basin, 112%; White River Basins, 107%; Arkansas River Basin, 109%; Upper Rio Grande Basin, 108%; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 107%; and the Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 102% of average for this time of year. Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1940s. Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. March is historically the snowiest month, and the April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time. For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.

Snowpack remains way above normal

Even as temperatures climb with spring on the horizon, snowpack in Middle Park remains in good shape. According to the most recent USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office snow surveys, snowpack in the high elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 115 percent to 194 percent of the 30-year average, with the overall average for Middle Park at 141 percent. New record highs were set at both the Granby and Buffalo Park snow courses. At this time last year, the area was only at 75 percent of average. Snow density is averaging 28 percent, which means that for one foot of snow there is only 3.3 inches of water, which NRCS surveyors said is normal for early March. All Colorado River basins are reporting above average snowpack, except for southwestern Colorado which is 5 to 15 percent below average. Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: Colorado River Basin 137 percent; Gunnison River Basin, 114 percent; South Platte River Basin,145 percent; Yampa and White River Basins, 122 percent; Arkansas River Basin, 103 percent; Upper Rio Grande Basin, 85 percent; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River Basins 95 percent; and the Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 132 percent of average for this time of year. Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1940s. Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. March is historically the snowiest month, and the April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time. For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.

Snowpack at 61% for Upper Colorado River

In spite of December’s badly needed snowfalls, the Upper Colorado River area is still sitting below average for snowpack this time of year. At 61 percent, the basin got off to a slow start in terms of snowpack and subsequent reservoir volumes, according to information provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. As of Jan. 1, Colorado’s statewide snowpack was at 70 percent of average. The winter season thus far has been dominated by high pressure weather systems and a jet stream that has not cooperated. “While it is still early in the season and anything can happen, water users should pay close attention to this winter’s weather patterns as well as the state’s snowpack and plan accordingly,” wrote Assistant Snow Survey Supervisor Maggie Hultstrand of SNOTEL, in a Water Supply Outlook report. Due to the dry start to the water year, water supplies are expected to be below normal across the state this spring and summer, she forecasted. Overall, the Colorado River basin shows 69 percent of average for snowpack. Total snow accumulation ranges from 82 percent of average in the Yampa and White River basins to 61 percent of average in the Arkansas basin. In general, the Colorado River basin has a slightly better snowpack than last year at this time, while the southern basins in the state are receiving less snow this year compared with last year. Above average snowfalls have to materialize in the next few months in order to reach average conditions, Hulstrand said. “We’re still doing the snow dance,” she said. “It’s early in the season, anything is possible.”

Upper Colorado River Basin snowpack at 135% of average

A new record high in snowpack was set for Gore Pass, with a total snow moisture content of 16.6 inches and a depth of 50 inches. This beats the old record high of 16.0 inches, which was set in 1965, according to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Jenny Stricker. Snow Surveyors took the April 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of March, when the monthly snowpack for the upper Colorado River Basin increased to 135 percent of average. Snowpack in the mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 108 percent to 194 percent of the 30-year average. Snow density is averaging 32 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 3.8 inches of water. The highest snowpack, relative to normal, is in the Laramie and North Platte River Basins, which measure 135 percent of average. Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1940s. Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. March is historically the snowiest month, and the April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time. From this point on, spring runoff will be highly dependent on melting conditions (i.e., temperature and wind), as well as spring snow accumulation and/or rainfall. For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.

The State of the Colorado River

Things are looking relatively good this summer for the upper Colorado River Basin though the seemingly good news is tempered by the broader view of water levels and droughts hampering much of the American west as well as a sobering outlook at what lies ahead. Officials from the Colorado River District, along with representatives from Denver Water, Northern Water, Grand County Water Information Network and local conservationists like Kirk Klancke, President of the Grand County Chapter of Trout Unlimited, outlined the current state of the rivers, streams and tributaries in Grand County as well as broader discussions of the overall state of the Colorado River Basin at a recent State of the River meeting held at Mountain Parks Electric in Granby. General Manager for the Colorado River District Eric Kuhn cut right to the point during his presentation saying, "In Colorado conditions are okay to wet with full reservoirs, decent stream flows and few supply problems." The broader picture is not so rosy though. "Basin wide system storage is declining. Lower Basin states are facing shortages and Upper Basin states are planning for them." It is a tale of two separate realities with the Upper Basin and Lower Basin experiencing significantly different conditions. According to Kuhn's presentation Colorado and the Front Range area of the State have been wet for the last two-and-a-half-years. The relatively high amounts of precipitation seen on the eastern side of the continental divide, including deluges in the fall of 2013 that caused significant road damage, have kept reservoirs and water storage sites east of the divide fairly full. This has kept transmountain diversions of water through places like the Alva B. Adams Tunnel and Moffat Tunnel to a minimal level. The Lower Basin region however is dealing with a structural deficit and several portions of the basin are dry. Much of the structural deficit felt in the Lower Basin comes down to simple math. According to figures provided by Kuhn Lake Mead receives roughly 9-million-acre-feet each year in inflows from the Colorado River and other local tributary inflows while releasing roughly 9.6-million-acre-feet per year. Additionally Mead loses roughly 600,000 acre-feet per year to evaporation, leaving the lower Basin with a structural deficit of about 1.2 million-acre-feet annually. In layman's terms this means that each year Lake Mead's storage level declines by about 12 feet. Looking at the math for the entire Colorado River Basin shows use levels at around 16 to 17.5 million-acre-feet annually. The structural deficit of the Lower Basin is made additionally concerning by two factors: intense droughts that have plagued the western US and southern California especially leading to depleted ground water and diminished aquifers, and historic weather trends where significant droughts have followed behind El Nino weather systems. El Nino is the term for a regularly occurring weather system affecting the Pacific Ocean marked by warm ocean currents and often resulting in higher than average precipitation. El Nino events typically last multiple years at a time and recur every few years. We are currently in an El Nino cycle that is expected to end this year. In 2000 when Colorado began experiencing a significant drought that lasted several years the drought immediately followed a wet El Nino cycle in the late 1990s. Similar trends have occurred historically and officials who oversee the flow of the Colorado River are additionally concerned because of the already diminished storage levels in the River's reservoir storage system. The Colorado River Basin can hold a total of roughly 60 million-acre-feet of water among all the large Bureau of Reclamation Reservoirs such as Mead and Powell, which together have a capacity of 50 million-acre-feet. The 60 million-acre-feet storage capacity does not take into account smaller local reservoirs such as Granby and Wolford Mountain. During his presentation Kuhn explained how not a single drop of water from the Colorado River has reached the ocean for the last 18 years. If historic weather patterns hold and predictions come true the next few years could prove troublesome for the Colorado River Basin, and the entire western US as a whole.

Colorado River basin water planners gather local input

When Gov. John Hickenlooper signed his executive order for a statewide water plan, he gave it a tight deadline. The state's consultants are now working to gather insights from residents and stakeholders in river basins throughout the state, including the Colorado headwaters in Grand County. At a Grand County town hall meeting in Granby on Feb. 12, most of those stakeholders included ranchers, water engineers and representatives from the county's municipalities. They came to learn more about the Colorado state water plan, find out what is means for the Colorado River basin and express their concerns. Last May, Hickenlooper signed an executive order demanding a statewide water plan on his desk by December 2014, and a draft by July. Louis Meyer, a civil engineer with the company SGM, was contracted to help prepare the Colorado water plan. He said that while the governor's timeline is aggressive, preparing a water plan is both timely and necessary. Most states in the Western U.S. have water plans. Only Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Colorado lack one. "This was a wise move for the State of Colorado," Meyer said. "We have a lot to accomplish in the next few months to make this happen." The planning process has held nine roundtables, which included the Colorado metro area and the state's eight major river basins. Within the roundtables, the state's consultants worked to bring together diverse interests within each region, including recreational, environmental, agricultural and municipal interests. "Those communities that plan for the future, by and large, are better able to meet customer's needs than those that don't," Meyer said. With a growing population and obligations to send Colorado River water downstream to other states, a Statewide Water Supply Initiative forecasts a looming water shortage, or "gap." This gap could be 500,000 acre-feet by 2050. The state population is expected to double by that time, jumping to 10 million residents. While most of that growth will be on the Front Range, projections show the fastest-growing counties will be in the Colorado River basin. Adding to the urgency of the water plan is a prolonged drought and dismal snowpack. Water reserves in Lake Powell in Utah and Lake Mead in Nevada have dropped to alarming lows, which could have trickle-up effects in Colorado. Low levels mean the reservoirs lose their ability to generate electricity. If those electric turbines can't move, utility rates in Colorado could soar, and that lack of revenue could take a bite out of the Bureau of Reclamation's budget for other projects. Colorado's water-use pie In the past, Coloradans have used water-rights transfers from agriculture to meet water needs, but the governor and other lawmakers no longer find that model acceptable because of its economic and environmental impacts on rural communities, including Grand County. According to Meyer's town-hall presentation, municipal and industrial consumption account for 9 percent of the state's water use. Recreation, fisheries, augmentation and recharge take 5 percent. The majority of the state's water use, 86 percent, goes to agriculture. To close the future water gap, at least some of the state's conservation efforts might have to come from agriculture. But local ranchers took issue with that figure. While most of the state's agriculture is concentrated on the Front Range, east and southwest regions of the state, it's still a significant part of Grand County's economy. As meeting attendees pointed out, many ranchers in the Kremmling area use flood irrigation in the spring for their hay, making their fields look like lakes by the summer. "You'd assume the water was used and gone forever if you didn't know any better," said Chris Sammons, whose family has ranched in the area for over 100 years. "But the ground is a sponge, soaking up water, recharging it back into the basin and downstream." Sammons figures her hay only consumes a tiny portion of the actual irrigation water she uses. Sending the rest of that irrigation water back downstream helps Colorado meet its water rights obligations to other Western states and the nation of Mexico. That's not the case with water piped to the East Slope. Other suggestions coming from Grand County locals included stronger leadership among government officials managing water and lands, with lower turnover in these roles. They also suggested changes to the state's land uses and development, and stronger educational campaigns on the true cost of water in the state. Many of these suggestions are already being considered as part of the Colorado River Basin's goals and measurable outcomes as consultants like Meyer work on a statewide water plan draft, due to the governor this summer. Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.