Watershed Wednesdays

Watershed Wednesday Camp Hale Tour

The Watershed Council strives to engage our community in an ongoing conversation that will expand knowledge and encourage dialogue regarding our local waterways. To this end, our monthly Watershed Wednesday series (formerly Water Wise Wednesday) brings in experts to share their knowledge and experience regarding a specific, water-related topic. The series also offers screenings of pertinent water-themed movies and tours of significant water-related sites in the region. Our hope is that attendees will gain a broad understanding of the many issues pertaining to and affecting our rivers and streams, both here in Eagle County and around the state of Colorado.

Check out our upcoming Watershed Wednesday programs in the Calendar or view selected archived presentation materials below.


SNOTELSNOTEL Tour

Snow Surveyors for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) make monthly snowpack measurements throughout the Western U.S. Join us as we learn about two of their methods: manual snow courses and an automated system called SNOTEL (SNOwpack TELemetry).

We snowshoed a short distance to the McCoy Park SNOTEL station on Beaver Creek where we learned about the data it collects, as well as how the data is transmitted and utilized. We also set up a mock “snow course” and learned how to manually measure snowpack using specialized sampling tubes. Though we had a chilly start to the morning, it turned into a spectacular, sunny day on the mountain. Thanks, Derrick!


Great Divide imageAbandoned & Inactive Mines

Ron Cohen, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, has seen it all. His research and expertise in microbial treatment and remediation of mine wastes has taken him around the world. As a lecturer and consultant, Prof. Cohen has shared his expertise in places as diverse as South Africa, India, Brazil, Ghana, Canada, China, Russia, and England. He has also worked on many projects around the state of Colorado, including the Eagle Mine Superfund site.

We had a great lunch-time conversation with Professor Cohen, in which he spoke about inactive and abandoned mines in the Rockies, with a particular focus on the Gold King Mine incident and the implications for us in Eagle County.

You can watch the full presentation here. A big thanks to Public Access TV5 for filming all of our Watershed Wednesday presentations!


Great Divide imageThe Great Divide Film Screening

We partnered with the Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference to offer a free, public screening of The Great Divide. We were thrilled to have producer Jim Havey in attendance to speak a bit about the film and answer questions from the audience. If you missed out on this screening, be sure to check out this fabulous and pertinent film for yourself! View the trailer here.


Eagle Mine Tour

Our group enjoyed a rare, up-close look at the Eagle Mine site and facilities. We made multiple stops along the way, taking in the abandoned town of Gilman, the consolidated tailings pile, the mine workings at Belden, and the Water Treatment Plant. Big thanks to our friends from Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) & Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who shared their extensive knowledge of the site and the cleanup process!

**Note: much of this tour was conducted on private property. Visiting these sites is trespassing and illegal unless with an authorized group.**


Camp Hale Tour

Matt Grove, Fisheries Biologist for the US Forest Service

We had a wonderful afternoon learning about Camp Hale from Matt Grove of the US Forest Service & Marcus Selig of the National Forest Foundation. The tour touched on the history of Camp Hale, past restoration efforts, & the Treasured Landscapes program. Grove & Selig also delved into the current status & future plans for the Camp Hale-Eagle River Headwaters Restoration project. Grove staked out a section of the proposed channel to give participants an idea of where the river will eventually go. It was a beautiful, summer afternoon for this interesting & informative tour!


State of the Fisheries 2015

Kendall Bakich, Aquatic Biologist for Colorado Parks & Wildlife

We learned first-hand from Colorado Parks & Wildlife Aquatic Biologist Kendall Bakich about a variety of topics regarding the status and management of the Eagle and Upper Colorado River fisheries.

“The fish in Eagle County are not only an incredibly important resource for the area, they are one of the most outstanding resources in Colorado,” said Bakich. “We wanted to give the public an opportunity to hear how their local fisheries are doing directly from the people who manage them.”

Bakich presented her most recent survey data regarding the variety of fishes and populations currently found in the Eagle and Upper Colorado Rivers. She provided insightful hypotheses about why the fisheries might look the way they do, and explained CPW’s fisheries management strategies.

You can watch the full presentation here. A big thanks to Public Access TV5 for filming all of our Watershed Wednesday presentations!


Wild & Scenic Rivers Act

Kay Hopkins (United States Forest Service) & Roy Smith (Bureau of Land Management) gave an informative & visually-stunning presentation as part of an Earth Day collaboration with CMC Edwards!

They explained the history of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, gave an overview of how it works today and how streams are added to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. They also clarified what constitutes a Wild River, a Scenic River and a Recreational River, and what these designations mean with examples from around the United States.

As we celebrated the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, we learned about Wild & Scenic Rivers from around the country as well as potential additions right here at home.


Source to Sea: Down the Colorado River

Zak Podmore, kayaker & river explorer, gave a riveting presentation for the opening event of Vail Symposium‘s Unlimited Adventure series. Podmore showed photos & videos from two source-to-sea journeys down the Green & Colorado Rivers. He spoke of the growing water demands both inside the Colorado River Basin and outside as well. These water demands put an immense amount of strain on the river system and have for years prevented the river from reaching its delta in the Gulf of California.

In May 2014, Podmore was able to ride a pulse flow of water that finally reconnected the river and its delta. Learn more about Podmore’s amazing adventures down the Colorado River.


Beaver Creek Snowmaking Tour

Steve Fellman, Vail’s Snowmaking Manager, and Tom Allender, Director of Mountain Planning for Vail and Beaver Creek, graciously lead us around the mountain, sharing years of knowledge and insight into the snowmaking operations on Beaver Creek. It was a very interesting and informative day. Many thanks to Tom, Steve, and Beaver Creek for allowing us to take this wonderful tour!


Colorado River Inventory & Assessment

After realizing that little data existed for the 55 miles of the Upper Colorado River running through Eagle County, Eagle River Watershed Council sought to fill this gap. The natural starting point for this effort was to conduct a full, science-based inventory and assessment of the ecology of the river corridor, its tributaries, and the surrounding area. ERWC worked in conjunction with the Colorado State University Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering to create the Colorado River Inventory & Assessment, which was released in July 2014.

Bill Hoblitzell, water quality consultant for the Watershed Council, did a fantastic job outlining projects & policy suggestions from CRIA and explaining the implications it will have for the mighty river running through our backyard. Watch the full presentation here!


Crazy Mountain Brewery Tour

Many thanks to Crazy Mountain for showing us around the brewery! We learned about the relationship between the metals found in tap water and their affect on the brewing process and beer taste. Since water up here in the high country comes from many distinct sources each with its own metal profile, Crazy Mountain uses a reverse osmosis filter to strip the water of all metals. They then add back metals in varying amounts to create the desired affect. Very neat! We also learned about the entire brewing process from hops and water to delicious beer. Plus, we all stuck around after the tour & enjoyed the fruits of Crazy Mountain’s labor!


30 Years Later – an Update on the Eagle Mine

For years, the abandoned Eagle Mine dominated all conversation surrounding water in Eagle County. Much progress has been made to clean up the mine – and the Eagle River flowing through the area – since its closure in 1984 and subsequent listing by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Superfund site. The legacy of pollution from the mine, however, is an indefinite one. What is the status of the mine today, three decades later? And what plans are in place for the future of the mine cleanup?

Mr. Russ Cepko, the Vice President of Environmental Projects for CBS, provided answers to these questions and more. As the owner of the mine site, CBS is responsible for administering the cleanup effort. We also heard from Seth Mason, ERWC’s Water Resources Program Director, about the history of water quality impacts, regulatory action and ongoing concerns among local stakeholders.


DamNation Screening

DamNation poster

We partnered with Eagle Valley Trout Unlimited to bring Patagonia’s newest environmental documentary, DamNation, to the Vail Valley. This award-winning film drew a fantastic crowd to the Riverwalk Theater — there wasn’t an empty seat or aisle in the house! If you missed out on this opportunity, rent it online or find another screening, it’s well worth the price of admission. “This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers.” Thanks to everyone who came out for the screening!


State of the Fisheries 2014

Kendall Bakich, Aquatic Biologist for Colorado Parks & Wildlife

We learned first-hand from Colorado Parks & Wildlife Aquatic Biologist Kendall Bakich about a variety of topics regarding the status and management of the Eagle and Upper Colorado River fisheries.

“The fish in Eagle County are not only an incredibly important resource for the area, they are one of the most outstanding resources in Colorado,” said Bakich. “We wanted to give the public an opportunity to hear how their local fisheries are doing directly from the people who manage them.”

Bakich presented her most recent survey data regarding the variety of fishes and populations currently found in the Eagle and Upper Colorado Rivers. She provided insightful hypotheses about why the fisheries might look the way they do, and explained CPW’s fisheries management strategies. Watch the full presentation here!


Graywater Reuse
Drs. Larry Roesner & Sybil Sharvelle with the first ever manhole cover specifically for graywater

Drs. Larry Roesner & Sybil Sharvelle with the first ever manhole cover specifically for graywater

Graywater is water that has been used for washing hands, for showers and baths, and laundry water. In a residential household or apartment, it accounts for about half of the indoor water use, and half of the wastewater generated. CSU professors Larry Roesner & Sybil Sharvelle have been studying possible, non-potable uses of graywater since 2002. Based on findings from this research, Drs. Roesner & Sharvelle are actively assisting CDPHE to develop regulations for graywater reuse in Colorado. If the Regulations are practical and encourage graywater reuse, Colorado could save up to 85,000 acre feet/year of additional demand for water.

Dr. Larry Roesner has more than 40 years’ experience in water resources, water quality engineering and management. He is a nationally-recognized expert in the development & application of hydrologic, hydraulic, and water quality simulation models. Since coming to CSU in 1999, Dr. Roesner has specialized in integrated urban water management, concentrating on use of graywater for outside irrigation and toilet flushing. Watch the full presentation here!


Eagle River Blue Trail

Ken NeubeckerAmerican Rivers, a national river conservation organization, has developed a network of Blue Trails to help people connect with special rivers. The Blue Trails program works with local partners to link communities and their rivers through access, recreation and informed stewardship. It also helps foster a sense of “ownership” for the rivers and the lands through which they flow. The Eagle River has been chosen by American Rivers to become a Blue Trail. In doing so, the Eagle River will be following in the footsteps of other projects around the nation.

Ken Neubecker, Eagle River Blue Trails coordinator for American Rivers, long-time Eagle County resident and former ERWC board president, presented on the status and future of this project. The Eagle and Colorado Rivers face new challenges, and a new generation of residents and visitors alike who care for them. Watch the full presentation here!


The Colorado Water Plan

The Colorado Water PlanDo statistics like the one in the image to the right ever make you wonder how water is managed in our state? Did you know that Colorado is one of the few Western states operating without a State Water Plan?

Under Gov. Hickenlooper’s direction, Colorado is in the process of creating such a plan, one that aims to forge “a path forward for providing Coloradans with the water we need while supporting healthy watersheds and the environment, robust recreation and tourism economies, vibrant and sustainable cities, and viable and productive agriculture…” (coloradowaterplan.com)

Ken Neubecker, Eagle River Blue Trails coordinator for American Rivers, long-time Eagle County resident and former ERWC board president, brought us up to speed on this exciting and complex process. Like ERWC, the Ken Neubecker is a member of the Colorado Basin Roundtable (one of eight basins shown in the map above). Holm described the ways in which Roundtable members are working to advocate for Western Slope water interests and to ensure that legislation is crafted with those interests in mind. Diane Johnson of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District focused on the process at the local level, and spoke about the Eagle River Basin Principles. Watch the full presentation here!


Vail Snowmaking Tour

Snowmaking TourDave Tucholke, Vail’s Snowmaking Manager, and Tom Allender, Director of Mountain Planning for Vail and Beaver Creek, graciously lead us around the mountain, sharing years of knowledge and insight into the snowmaking operations on Vail mountain. It was a very interesting and informative day. Many thanks to Tom, Dave, and Vail Resorts for allowing us to take this wonderful tour!


A Photographic Exploration of the “New Normal” with Steven DeWitt

A Photographic Exploration of the “New Normal”Steven DeWitt is a local photographer who has focused extensively on the Eagle River and its tributaries using aerial photography and other compelling techniques. DeWitt’s goal is to “create engaging visual stories of us and our threatened environment – stories that inspire hope, help reconnect us to where we all come from and to remind us what’s at stake.”

The Lodgepole Project
The Lodgepole Project is a climate change connect-the-dots awareness project. It tells a visual story of the unprecedented mountain pine beetle epidemic that began in lodgepole pine forests throughout the Western United States and Canada in 1996 as a result of human generated climate change.


Saving Our Synthetic Seas

From the mountains to the sea, we are filling our oceans with plastic trash. The 5 Gyres Institute has sailed over 40,000 miles through the 5 subtropical gyres, where garbage patches reside. Though here in Colorado we are far from the ocean, the idea of polluting and harming our waterways is something that strikes close to home.

www.5gyres.org
www.marcuseriksen.com
Marcus Eriksen, PhD is currently the Executive Director and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute. He studies the global distribution and ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution, which has included expeditions sailing 35,000 miles through all 5 subtropical gyres to discover new garbage patches of plastic pollution in the Southern Hemisphere.


Shoshone Hydroelectric Power Plant

Shoshone HydroelectricThe Shoshone Generating Station on the Colorado River is one of the oldest hydroelectric powerplants operating in Colorado. Open in 1909, it has two turbines that supply electricity to Xcel Energy. But why do we love the Shoshone Plant so much? The Shoshone facility holds a special place in the heart of boaters, anglers and river enthusiasts alike. Shoshone Hydro depends on river flow instead of stored water so whatever water the plant needs is kept in the river. Because the Shoshone Generating Station has been in operation for over 100 years, it also holds a very senior water right and therefore has priority over other water rights and their uses. This means its senior water right of about 1,250 cfs keeps water in the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon.

While it’s “call” may take water out of a portion of the Colorado River as it runs through the plant, it has tremendous downstream benefits because it returns the water to the river, thus supporting river recreation and local fish population.

When the plant opened in 1909, all of the power it produced was sent across the Continental Divide to Denver where it powered the street trolleys? Today, the plant still uses the same equipment dating back to it’s construction in the early 1900′s. Though this facility used to be able to power all of Denver, with electricity demand soaring, these days the plant generates enough electricity to power approximately 16,000 homes (almost enough to power Glenwood Springs).

More information on Shoshone Hydro


Eagle River Valley State of the River

Watch the State of the River video. (May 29th, 2013)


A Peak At Colorado’s Climate: Is Drought Passing, Permanent or Periodic? by State Climatologist Nolan Doesken
Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken says Colorado has had drought patterns for hundreds of years. Photo credit: Randy Wyrick | rwyrick@vaildaily.com

Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken says Colorado has had drought patterns for hundreds of years. Photo credit: Randy Wyrick | rwyrick@vaildaily.com

The aqua apocalypse is not upon us, yet, says Nolan Doesken, Colorado’s state climatologist.

“Drought is a regular visitor to Colorado,” Doesken said. “This has been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years.” But …

“The whole state is dealing with it for the second year in a row, and the third year in a row in southeast Colorado. Warmer temperatures, especially in spring and summer, are making matters worse,” Doesken said.

Doesken was in town last week to talk to the Eagle River Watershed Council’s Water Wise Wednesday crowd. He asked the question, “Is drought permanent or periodic?”

The answer is “Yes.” Read More


Powell to Powell: Portraits of the Upper Colorado River

In the fall of 2011, State of the Rockies Researchers Zak Podmore and Will Stauffer-Norris paddled the entirety of the Colorado River from the Green River in Wyoming to the Gulf of California in Mexico, traveling 1,700 miles in 113 days. The following summer, the two expedition leaders returned to the river, this time paddling the Colorado River from its source in Rocky Mountain National Park all the way to Lake Mead. Along the way, Zak and his team interviewed a diverse collection of water users to capture their stories. Through his compelling videos, Zak shared these stories of Western agriculture, energy production, recreation and more.

downthecolorado.org

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