Group Highlight: Water Association of Student Stewards Urban Program (WASSUP)
From the Inflow Newsletter 11/6/2014
The Water Association of Student Stewards Urban Program, better known as WASSUP, a student club on the Metropolitan State University of Denver campus, began in 2011 as a group of students who wanted to create a positive tool to engage students and connect them with internship opportunities and experiential learning to support their interests and careers.
Since then, WASSUP has worked hard to provide students interested in local and global water issues a variety of opportunities to not only educate themselves on a number of topics and career opportunities, but to have fun while they’re doing it. Their mission is to show tangible results of the educational benefits of the Water Studies Minor provided by the One World One Water Center (OWOW) for Urban Water Education and Stewardship. More information on OWOW can be found on their website.
With a number of dedicated members, other interested students, and partnerships with groups both on and off campus, they focus on 3 core activities:
1. Creekside Cleanups: WASSUP hosts a number of Creekside cleanups near campus, along the Cherry Creek Corridor from Auraria Parkway to Colfax, in partnership with the Earth and Atmospheric Science Department of MSU Denver and Denver Parks District. Students and faculty are encouraged to join, as the cleanups also include an educational aspect. Members of WASSUP act as tour guides as they clean, talking about such things as the value of healthy environmental waters and the impacts of plastics and other waste on various biospheres. The next few cleanups will take place November 7, 11, and 19.
2. Lunch & Learns: WASSUP periodically hosts Lunch & Learns, where a speaker comes in to talk about local or global water issues to students on campus. Students are provided with a nutritious, sustainable lunch while they are given the opportunity to learn from and network with experts on various water issues. Previous topics for Lunch & Learns have included soil erosion, stormwater pollution, plastic pollution, and water sacredness and scarcity. Through these events, WASSUP hopes students will gain an interest in a topic that could turn into a career or lifelong interest.
3. Education and Outreach: WASSUP takes the time to educate their members and other students about such topics as water consumption, the value of water, infrastructure, and maintenance in a fun and engaging way. Beyond that, the group works to get their members and other students interested in jobs related to water. In February, they will be hosting a water internship and job fair on campus with up to 40 companies in attendance. If you would like to participate in the fair, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASSUP works hard to promote sustainable behaviors and environmental stewardship onthe MSU campus. If you would like to be involved with WASSUP, email email@example.com. For more information on the many events they have coming up (including a First Friday event tomorrow!) check out their Facebook page.
Group Highlight: Water Association of Student Stewards Urban Program (WASSUP)
CWA Annual Member Luncheon Meeting Recap
The Colorado Watershed Assembly was proud to host our Annual Member Luncheon meeting at the Westin Riverfront Resort in Avon, CO earlier this month on October 7. It’s always a wonderful time to reconnect with our members who are in attendance, some of whom we only see in-person once a year. We would like to extend a huge thank you to Tetra Tech, our sponsor this year, for providing our hungry members with a delicious lunch from the hotel!
With about 30 members, Board Members, and staff in the room, our Executive Director and fearless leader, Casey Davenhill gave a short overview of what CWA and our programs have accomplished over the last year as well as what we have coming up (keep an eye out for more information on the reauthorization of the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund!). Our Annual Report, released just before the meeting, provides a great overview of what our year looked like, for those who are interested in learning more.
She then introduced our Board of Directors as well as two prospective new Board Members, both of whom you will hear more about in the coming weeks. If anyone is interested in nominating an exceptional, dedicated individual interested in water issues, fundraising, citizen science, and/or financial planning/management to be on the Colorado Watershed Assembly’s Board, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We then took care of a few more business items and took the time for more networking and discussion about what our members need from us and how we can help them.
As an organization, we were able to walk away from the meeting with a better understanding of what we can do for our members and the community. It was incredibly informative for us, as we love having opportunities to better connect with our members. We hope those who attended had a great time and that you all left with full bellies from the delicious food sponsored by Tetra Tech.
Thanks again to those who attended, as well as our generous sponsor. Though we hope to see you before then, we look forward to seeing you at our member luncheon next year!
Eagle River Watershed Council Highlight - Inflow Newsletter 7/10/2014
Guest Post written by Kate Burchenal
The Eagle River Watershed Council advocates for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle Rivers through research, education, and projects. We operate in the Eagle Valley and pride ourselves on being a collaborative organization with partners at the local, state and federal levels. You can find us and our River Watch sampling sites on maps on the Colorado Watershed Assembly's website.
Historically, we have been a small organization with wide-reaching impacts. For example, the Watershed Council was the recipient of the Vail Valley Partnership’s Small Nonprofit of the Year award in 2013. We are excited to announce that we have recently hired Doug Serrill as our projects and events coordinator. As a result, we have grown our full-time staff from 2 to 3 – not large by most standards but we are excited for the opportunities that this will bring. This is a new position for the Watershed Council that will have a big impact on the organization as a whole.
This spring, we wrapped up a project with the US Forest Service on Red Dirt Creek. Through these efforts, we planted over 800 willows and roses, removed 2.5 miles of road that was damaging the creek, and re-contoured 40 gullies and draws. It was a successful collaboration with the Forest Service on all counts and we are looking forward to diving into another project on Meadow Creek with them this summer.
The Meadow Creek project is entirely different from Red Dirt Creek. Meadow Creek is an example of pristine cutthroat trout habitat in Eagle’s Nest Wilderness. Non-native species of trout have invaded the reach and are harming the cutthroat trout population through predation and hybridization. The goal of this project is to rid the reach of all non-native fish and create a sturdy migration barrier to prevent future invasions. We are looking forward to having Serrill gets his feet wet with this exciting project (pun intended).
Projects are an integral part of the Watershed Council’s work, as is education. We recognize that river guides have a unique opportunity to connect with the visiting population and act as ambassadors for our watershed. Consistent client contact gives guides the chance to educate individuals through impromptu “teachable moments,” providing answers to those who otherwise might not have access to such information. For this reason, in 2013 ERWC launched an educational program for raft guides. In 2014, we have extended the program, now called the River Guide Education Program (RGEP), to include fishing, kayaking, stand up paddle and raft guides. We hope to reach over 100 guides annually.
When it comes down to it, we know that getting people out on the water is the best way to connect them to these incredible resources. Each year, we invite people to “discover their rivers” through our RiverFest fundraising event. Coming up on Saturday, August 9th, our 5th annual RiverFest is going to be bigger and better than ever! We will float a gorgeous stretch of the Upper Colorado River and take out at the historic Colorado River Ranch for a night of festivities. We will dance to live music, enjoy a great barbecue and local beer, play lawn games and jump around in a bouncy castle. This is an event not to be missed! Click here for more information and to buy your tickets today!
Colorado Water Plan - The Basin Implementation Plans
Are you keeping up to date with the Colorado Water Plan? If you have not had a chance to check out the website, we suggest you start by taking a look at the Frequently Asked Questions (under "About" in the menu). The FAQs includes a quick overview of Colorado’s Water Plan’s history, process, and other outstanding questions citizens might have.
The FAQs also explains the role of the Basin Roundtables and their individual Basin Implementation Plans (BIP), which will provide solutions for addressing each basin’s future water needs. The BIPs will then be incorporated into the Colorado Water Plan, to be certain we are understanding how water needs will be address at both the basin and statewide level.
Most of the Basin Implementation Plans have their own separate websites from which they can inform those in the basin of events/meetings, the progress of their particular BIP, and ways for individuals to get involved in the process. The following is a list of these websites:
- Metro and South Platte Basin: www.southplattebasin.com
Colorado Basin: coloradobip.sgm-inc.
- Rio Grande: www.riograndewaterplan.com
Gunnison and Colorado Basin Educational Website: www.coloradomesa.edu/
watercenter/ roundtableeducationproject. html
- Arkansas Watershed Forum Website: www.arbwf.org
More information about each basin can also be found in a draft section of the Colorado Water Plan, released in March 2014, here. This section will be updated as BIPs are completed.
This month, the “Initial Draft Statewide Basin Implementation Plan Goals” were released, which will help guide each basin in their plan, and might be of interest to those wanting to get involved with their BIP.
Your input is crucial to the completion of a successful Colorado Water Plan. If you are thinking of getting involved, we suggest you do so now, and start by taking a look at the above links and seeing what those in your particular basin are up to. If you have any general input that you would like to have considered for Colorado’s Water Plan, you can visit the General Input Form and let the Colorado Water Conservation Board what you are thinking.
Are you a member of the Colorado Watershed Assembly? You found your way to our website and blog and we hope you will take a look around to see what else we have to offer and what CWA members are a part of.
Explore our programs, including the Inflow Network, which is our electronic information system that compiles and disperses timely information on funding sources, events, trainings, job opportunities, and more. The Inflow Newsletter is free for all who sign up, and goes out to hundreds of citizens on a weekly basis. We welcome you to send in information on postings you would like included in the Inflow. Membership funds help support this important resource.
River Watch is our citizen science water quality monitoring program, which we administer in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 80% of our 130 volunteer teams are comprised of middle and high school students, with the remaining teams made up of citizen groups, individuals, colleges, and local governments. River Watch volunteers collect physical, biological, and chemical data from their sites, and are currently monitoring over 300 rivers. The data collected by our volunteers goes into a publically accessible database, which is utilized by the Water Quality Control Commission, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and many grassroots watershed groups to manage and protect Colorado’s waters.
Have you done your taxes yet? Did you notice the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund state tax checkoff? CWA works with the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Colorado Tax Check-off program to promote the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund. The Fund allows citizens to make a donation on line 42 of their individual state income tax returns (Form 104). These funds are used to support grassroots conservation groups throughout the state with various projects. You can only make this donation when completing your Colorado state taxes, so keep an eye out and remember to make a donation (and complete your taxes by April 15!).
Maybe you have heard of the Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference. The Colorado
The Colorado Watershed Assembly also offers a wide range of resources on our website, with information on funding opportunities, watershed reports, watershed groups throughout the state, watershed planning, and – a big focus in 2014 – Colorado’s Water Plan. We couldn’t make all of this information available without support from our members.
Become a member if you want to be a part of a collaborative, statewide association of individual citizens and watershed groups working together to inform public policy and restore, preserve, and enhance the water, land, and natural resources of Colorado watersheds.
Membership starts at $50 and can be completed here. As a member, you will be entitled to reduced registration fees at the Annual Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference and secures you a place at our annual membership luncheon. On top of it all, you will have the knowledge that your membership is supporting valuable resources to individuals and groups throughout the state.
Another Reason to Do Your Taxes: The Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund
Have you done your taxes yet? If not, be sure to have them completed by April 15, and don't forget to make a contribution to the Colorado Healthy River Fund on line 42 of your state income taxes. The Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund, financed by the Colorado Tax Checkoff Program, provides tax payers with the opportunity to contribute a portion of their tax return or make a donation to assist locally-based conservation groups in their efforts to protect our land and water resources.
Since 2003, over 125,000 citizens have donated more than $1,004,000 from their tax returns. Donations collected from the Fund have helped support 72 projects statewide. Projects include River Watch's Macroinvertebrate Bio-Indicator Assessment Project, whose goal was to improve and expand their macroinvertebrate program by providing volunteer groups with standard equipment/training and analysis of their samples. Thanks to funding from the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund, River Watch has able to provide supplies to 6 volunteer groups and have 56 macroinvertebrate samples analyzed. To read more about other projects funded by the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund, click here.
Help the Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund continue to support local conservation groups complete important projects by making a donation on your state income taxes this year. It's easy! Just fill in the amount you would like to donate on line 42 of your Colorado Individual Income Tax Form 104 or ask your tax consultant to include your donation on line 42.
A Message from the South Platte Basin and Metro Roundtables:
Help Guide the South Platte's Future
Residents of Colorado in the South Platte and Metro Basins — farmers, ranchers, business owners, environmentalists, and recreationalists interested in knowing more about Colorado’s water— are encouraged to attend one the several public information and input meetings being held in the coming months. The first meeting occurred in Fort Morgan on February 26.
|Location||Meeting Date||Meeting Venue|
|Denver, CO||March 3||
Tivoli Turnhall, Metro State College of Denver
900 Auraria Pkwy Suite #250
Denver, CO 80202
|Longmont, CO||March 5||
Southwest Complex Weld County
4209 County Rd 24 ½
Longmont, CO 80504
|Fairplay, CO||March 19th||
The Fair Barn
880 Bogue Street
|April 10, 2014||Yuma, CO|
Please contact SouthPlatteBIP@hdrinc.com or email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Have you spoken to your legislator lately?
The Colorado Legislature is now in session and Colorado’s Water Plan has become a topic of committee hearings and hallway conversation. It seems that everyone is talking about water, water supply, water quality, water for families, water for farms, even water for rivers. Now is the time to communicate with our legislators. Legislators want to know what their constituents care about. Your on-the-ground experience and watershed perspective are valuable. If you have been involved in the Basin Round Tables you should let your representatives know that you have participated in the process. So, have you spoken to your legislator lately?
We have created a clickable map (below or here) that includes a number of resources including contact information for members of the Senate and House Agricultural Committees (*see more about the Committees below the map) and where their districts are. Does a member of these important committees represent your watershed? We have also added Basin Roundtable information and encourage you to check the links in our Inflow Newsletter for current meeting information. If you don’t see any familiar names on any of these lists don’t let that stop you. You can find the legislators who represent you (and your watershed) by visiting the Colorado General Assembly website.
Just as we encourage you, as a citizen with a stake in water issues in Colorado, to become a part of Colorado’s Water Planning process, we also suggest you contact your legislator and ask them, “Water you doing?”
*Both the House and the State Senate have committees which focus on water resources and topics that surround it. The House Agriculture, Livestock, & Natural Resources Committee generally considers matters concerning water, agriculture, mineral development, and recreation. This committee also has legislative responsibility for the departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee generally considers the same matters as the House’s committee, but also deals with wildlife, renewal energy, energy conservation, and electric utilities. The committee also has legislative oversight responsibility for the departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Colorado Energy Office.
Colorado's Water Plan - Where we are and how we got here
In 2005, the state legislature passed the ‘Water for the 21st Century Act’ which set up several committees and a process for addressing complex water issues that have been difficult to resolve. The Committees are the Basin Roundtables and The Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC). There are 9 Basin Round Tables (BRT), comprised of citizens from each of the state’s major watersheds- South Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande, Southwest (Animas, Dolores, La Plata Rivers), Gunnison, Colorado River Mainstem, Yampa/White and North Platte. The Metro Roundtable was created to 1. Follow the format of the CWCB and 2. Recognize the major metropolitan area represented on that Roundtable. Basin Roundtables were designed to increase the number of people and the entities involved in addressing water supply problems and help plan for Colorado’s water future.
The Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) is a statewide entity comprised of representatives from each Roundtable and 6 ‘Governor appointees’. More information on the IBCC can be found here.
The IBCC and BRTs have spent years discussing and attempting to find some solutions to the vexing water supply problems in Colorado. In 2010, the IBCC wrote a letter to the outgoing Governor Ritter and the incoming Governor Hickenlooper that set forth what they had been working on, what they had achieved and where they hoped to go. This letter is a helpful snapshot of what had occurred up to the end of 2010 and can be found here.
On May 15th, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper directed the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) “…to draft (a) Colorado Water Plan that will support agriculture in rural Colorado and align state policy to the state’s water values.” In his executive order, the Governor stated: “Colorado’s water quantity and quality questions can no longer be thought of separately. Each impacts the other and state water policy should address them conjunctively.” It is helpful to understand that Colorado is one of two Western States that does not have a State Water Plan to guide policy, research and funding. The process to create a State Water Plan is going on right now, but it is being done very quickly. The current plan is that the CWCB is drafting the State Water Plan and each Basin Roundtable is drafting a Basin Implementation Plan.
If you want to learn about the Colorado Water Plan you will find more information at http://www.coloradowaterplan.com.
The Governor and CWCB leadership have repeatedly stated that they want this plan to be a citizen driven, grass-roots written plan. Thus, everyone with a stake in water issues has been invited to participate. However, there are limited ways to participate:
- Attend your Basin Roundtable, join the drafting committees and provide input as to what needs to be ‘in’ the Basin Implementation Plan. On the CWCB’s website is a document entitled “Basin Implementation Plan Guidance”. It can provide you with some background regarding the Basin Roundtable’s task and can be found here. The dates and locations of Roundtable meetings and more information on the BRTs can be found on their website.
- Attend CWCB meetings. The CWCB meets bi-monthly.
- Provide input to your CWCB representative
- Provide input to CWCB Director James Eklund or his staff of the Water Supply Section.
Colorado Flood Q&AThe Colorado floods that devastated much of the Front Range over the past week has been on our minds, as we are sure it's been on yours. We at the Colorado Watershed Assembly have been thinking about all those affected by the torrential rains and destructive flooding that occurred, and our hearts go out to you.
With the floods fresh on our minds, we wanted to answer the questions we've heard some of you asking about the flood in general or how it might affect our River Watch program. The questions answered below, by our resident experts, are just a start. If you have more questions you would like answered, please feel free to leave them in the comments section!
Question: How will this flood event affect overall water quality?
Question: What will this mean for River Watch?
Answer: RW's study design is to answer large scale questions, not specific questions such as is the discharge polluting, etc. but the overall health of a river between, during, and after events such as floods, fires, and all human impacts on a geologic scale, not an emergency response scale. The type of monitoring done to protect the public from health issues (locations, frequencies, indicators and such) is not what RW is qualified to do or sets out to do. That is under the local and state health departments who are in theory equipped to monitor this, because they have knowledge and access to do that, in a way our volunteers and networks are not, simply because it is not our role. River Watch will like see the impacts of these events in the long term. As with the fires, perhaps not as severe as one might think---as again these systems evolve with these events. We forget to look at the big picture, the ecosystem succession time scales which are longer than our lives. This provides a different perspective, one that is contrary to our human desire to not want to see things change. - Answered by Barn Horn, CPW Water Resource Specialist
Answer: We're sorry to hear the flood affected you, but hope you're safe. Our number one priority is volunteer safety during a sampling event. Please simply sample again when the waters are low enough that it's safe for you to do so. This will be different for each group, depending on the severity of flooding at the station. You can check with local authorities to make sure the threat of contamination is minimal and there are no safety concerns in regards to you getting to your site and getting in the water. While the information you get from your next sample would be useful in a way that it might be interesting to see what's going on due to the flood event, these samples would likely be outliers in the data and have the potential to be put aside regardless. Err on the side of caution and stay safe! - Michaela Taylor, River Watch Program Manager
For more information on how you can help with flood relief efforts, go to www.helpcoloradonow.org. Please leave any other questions you have in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Measurable Results Project (MRP) Highlight - Inflow Newsletter 9/12/2013
The Measurable Results Project (MRP) was started in 2010 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's (CDPHE) Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) Nonpoint Source Program (NPS). The MRP works with organizations conducting restoration projects throughout the state to scientifically document the effects of their restoration efforts while helping to enhance the overall quality and quantity of stream restoration monitoring data. It began as a program in partnership with the Division and the Colorado Watershed Assembly, and though it is now purely a Division project, the Assembly continues to include information about the project on their website.
Since it began, the MRP has worked on over 15 projects throughout the state, covering projects funded by NPS as well as the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
In the last year, the MRP developed a database of monitoring procedures and parameters that can be applied by local watershed groups to systematically and quantitatively measure the changes to chemical, biological, and physical attributes of river systems. Though the database houses information that is unique to each specific restoration project based on that project's goals, the information might also be very useful to those watershed professionals planning on conducting other projects in the future. The database can be found here.
Currently, the MRP is monitoring the following projects:
Florida River near Durango – The Animas River Stakeholders are working on a NPS funded project to fence out livestock and improve irrigation, with nutrient reduction being the overall objective. The MRP is monitoring pre- and post-project water chemistry, macroinvertebrates, riparian heath, and periphyton (algae).
Kerber Creek near Villa Grove, CO – Trout Unlimited received NPS funding to address streambank stabilization and to reduce connectivity to mining waste piles, reducing metals contamination. The MRP is providing post-project water quality and macroinvertebrate assessments.
Willow Creek near Creede – The Willow Creek Reclamation Committee is using NPS funding to address streambank stabilization and to reduce connectivity to mining waste piles, reducing metals contamination. The MRP is providing pre- and post-project macroinvertebrate and geomorphic assessments.
Halfmoon Creek in Upper Arkansas – The MRP is evaluating the water quality and macroinvertebrate status to assess the current state of the creek and determine the need for additional restoration/protection in the area.
Clear Creek near Idaho Springs – The Clear Creek Watershed Foundation is working on a NPS funded project to create a sediment catchment basin for metals contaminated sediments. The MRP is assisting in collecting pre-project data to determine baseline conditions. The MRP is also supporting the CCWF in post-project monitoring of Gilson GI and Trail Creek, which both addressed mining waste in the region and subsequent metals impairments.
Have questions about the Measurable Results Project? Contact Curtis Hartenstine at email@example.com.
The Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo (NRCP) was formed 30 years ago by the Arkansas Valley Audubon Society, who was looking for a place to provide environmental education programs. The group set up the NRCP in a perfect spot, just along the Arkansas River, where one can easily bird watch and hold other outdoor activities for visitors. 1981, the NRCP expanded with a raptor rehabilitation center, opened to take in injured birds of prey. Throughout the years, the group has seen many changes, but today, the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo and its small staff (including the approximately 200 injured and orphaned birds of prey they take in each year) provides a place for thousands of students and other community members to learn about conservation, recreation, and the environment.
Each year, the Nature and Raptor Center holds a number of programs both on- and off-site to increase Pueblo County community members' awareness, appreciation, and support for their natural environment. They are now wrapping up their summer programs, which includes a 7 week long Free Range Camp focused on getting children outdoors and discovering what they are most interested in about the environment. There are a handful of different Free Range Camps for children of different ages and with different interests, such as Fort and Shelter Building and Raptor Camp.
With school starting up soon, staff and volunteers are busy preparing materials for teachers and school groups they will work with throughout the school year. They provide a variety of programs for different age groups, which can be found on their website. The NRCP is also working with Puebloans Improving Our Community and other non-profits throughout Pueblo on a half-cent sales tax ballot measure which would support 6 Pueblo non-profits.
Being right along the Arkansas River, the Nature and Raptor Center also has a River Watch site, which has been sampled for the last few years by John Gallagher, Program Director, along with the occasional school group. However, one of the NRCP's dedicated volunteers, Alysia, recently attended the River Watch training in Beulah, CO, and she is now very prepared to join John in his sampling or even do it herself! The Colorado Watershed Assembly and River Watch are excited to see such enthusiastic volunteers eager to carry on with their water quality monitoring. Alysia said she had a great time at the training and that she learned a lot about both water quality monitoring technique and background. She was very interested to learn about where the data she collects goes, who throughout Colorado is utilizing it, and how important water quality monitoring really is. For more information about River Watch and its data, click here.
Have you ever been to Pueblo? If you've never been, now is the time and a visit to the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo might be in order! Not only does the NRCP have a raptor center where the public can view rehabilitating birds of prey, but they also have a number of biking, hiking, and walking trails both paved and unpaved for visitors who want to want to get out and explore the site. While you're in town, be sure you check out the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo. And don't forget to try some Pueblo chiles, if you need something to spice up your day!
If you're looking for a unique place to stay in the area, the Mountain Park and Education Center (MPEC) in Beulah is only 30 minutes away from Pueblo and offers picturesque views of forested mountains and clear creeks flowing through its campus. The most recent River Watch training was held at MPEC, and everyone loved it. They have beautiful bed and breakfast style rooms for rent or you can hold your next group retreat there in their dorms! No matter what, we know you are bound to have a wonderful time. For more information on visiting Pueblo, click here.
Groundwork Denver Lower Bear Creek Watershed Plan Highlight - Inflow Newsletter: June 27, 2013
Groundwork Denver’s mission is to bring about the sustained improvement of the physical environment and promote health and well-being through community-based partnerships and action. Our urban environmental work includes home energy audits, Brownfield redevelopment, youth employment, and air and water quality projects.
In autumn 2012, Groundwork Denver began convening partners from communities, local governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses to participate in a watershed planning process for Lower Bear Creek. The eight mile stretch from Kipling Parkway (downstream of Bear Creek Reservoir) to the confluence with the South Platte River was listed on the State’s polluted waters list in 2010 due to elevated levels of E. coli.
A 319 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment supports a two-year effort to bring partners together to characterize the watershed, set pollution reduction goals, and create a comprehensive implementation plan. As a part of Colorado’s Non Point Source program, the final watershed plan will offer voluntary recommendations to limit pollution in Lower Bear Creek.
The Lower Bear Creek basin includes land in Jefferson, Denver and Arapahoe Counties, and portions of Lakewood, Denver and Sheridan. This watershed supports residential neighborhoods, businesses, open space, and other land uses. Lower Bear Creek is a special place, offering thousands of residents an outstanding, close-to-home opportunity to explore natural areas, parks and trails, wildlife, and the creek itself.
Major partners involved in the project include Sheridan Public Works, Lakewood residents, Denver Environmental Health, Denver Parks & Recreation, Cutthroat Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Urban Drainage and Flood Control District and EPA Region 8. Facilitation partners from the National Park Service include Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance and the Denver Service Center. Activities related to the project include the inaugural Fair at the Bear, water quality sampling, steering committee and stakeholder meetings, and public outreach.
If you live, work, go to school or play near Lower Bear Creek, we want your input! Please take a short survey and let us know about your experiences of the creek. For project updates and to get involved, please visit our Facebook page.
Rally Ho! - Experiencing River Rally by Sabrina Kliman, OSM/VISTA for River Watch
Through the River Network's scholarship program, I was fortunate to be able to attend River Rally in St. Louis, Missouri this past month. It was a really great opportunity to connect with folks around the country who are doing great work to protect our nation’s waters. One of the greatest parts of the conference was the incredible networking opportunity. Everyone was very open and happy to talk about what they were working on and if their missions were related. I even spoke with a couple of folks from EPA in Washington who are using River Watch data for a mapping project! There were many workshops that were packed with useful information ranging from organizational development, information about fracking, tribal stories, building volunteer bases, and much more. One of the sessions was all about the Missouri Stream Team, the Missouri statewide volunteer water quality monitoring program, which started around the same time that River Watch did. Since the two programs have taken very different paths it was interesting to hear about how Stream Team has grown and what they’ve done to involve the community.
Since many of the people attending this gathering tend to be the type of people who really just want to be on the river, Sunday afternoon was a time for field trips to get out and explore. Both Michaela and I went on the LaBarque Creek hike, which contrary to what we believed, was not in fact along the creek. However, we did get to enjoy some lush forest, see a turtle, cross the creek, and get a great view of the Meramec River from the top of the bluff. It was a nice opportunity see a little bit of Missouri – and remember what humidity feels like.
River Rally was a wonderful opportunity to recharge and be with like-minded individuals, but I am happy to be back in Colorado, ready to put to use everything I learned from the many engaging workshops at Rally. Rally ho!
The Western Slope Conservation Center Highlight - from the Inflow Newsletter: May 29, 2013
The Western Slope Conservation Center works to ensure healthy lands, healthy rivers and healthy lives for the many communities and ecosystems in the diverse North Fork and Lower Gunnison Watersheds. Our region is characterized by extremes in habitat, from wind-swept alpine slopes to yawning canyon depths, and also in cultural and economic drivers, with highly productive coal mines next to prime agricultural lands, renewable energy centers, and artistic endeavors. The Conservation Center is celebrating its 35th year of protecting and preserving our watersheds by moving forward with an action-packed 2013 calendar.
The spring season has been exceptionally active. Building off our successful winter restoration of the Paonia River Park, in May we hosted a Conservation Days field trip for 150 students from the North Fork Valley. Partnering with local conservation experts, government agencies, artists, businesses, and environmental educators, we engaged and educated local youth on conservation issues in wildly productive experiential learning stations.
We followed this with our 14th annual float trip and inaugural river festival, with proceeds going toward future river restoration projects. This was our biggest event yet, with over 200 participants rafting the rapids, we highlighted a section of the Gunnison River recently rehabilitated and made safe for fish, fishermen, and floating families.
We have big plans for the Paonia River Park – the only public access to the North Fork River for 30 miles – and are excited to expand our outreach and education efforts here with summer events. This spotlight will be brighter yet as we move further in our trail building, tree planting, invasive species removal and landscaping exertions, coordinating a community-wide volunteer day on June 22, tied to the arrival of a talented and boisterous National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) work crew. Future events are in the works and will be announced soon.
These actions build into our broader application, such as expanding our volunteer monitoring networks to partner with schools in the region. Our River Watch team of volunteers has collected water quality data now for over 12 years and provides the people of Delta County with reliable information about the state of our watershed – and we’re looking to grow even more with baseline gas water monitoring and air quality studies.
In addition, we will soon be releasing the results of our selenium monitoring study, which evaluates 150 water samples for irrigation impacts on water quality and subsequently optimizes a predictive model of selenium loading for our watersheds.
We are continually looking for new partners and supporters who also want to give back to the region’s lands, rivers, and lives. The Conservation Center is entirely powered and supported by local citizens who love their home and quality of life, and our programming reflects this outpouring in any number of areas. We’re recruiting volunteers to join not only our air, water, and watershed monitoring networks, but also, for example, our recycling team who last year quadrupled Delta County’s recyclable output, our public lands partners who stage educational hikes showcasing our lands and values, and our board of directors who provide strategic vision and developmental guidance. And that’s to say nothing of the community’s broad engagement in collectively organizing and developing a community-based proposal to ensure responsible oil and gas development in our home area.
The Conservation Center is looking forward to another 35 years of healthy lands, healthy rivers and healthy lives in our North Fork Valley watersheds. If you haven't had a chance to visit the area, we suggest you take a trip down and visit with the Conservation Center in Paonia. While there, you should take the time to sample the locally grown fruits, take a hike in the West Elk Wilderness, and enjoy the many festivals and events this small town full of friendly people has to offer. Check out the North Fork Vally Chamber website for more information.
We want you to be part of this community. Please join in by visiting our website, subscribing to our mailing list, liking us on Facebook, or stopping into our Paonia offices.
South Platte Urban Waters Partnership Highlight - From the Inflow Newsletter: April 25, 2013
The South Platte Urban Waters Partnership is a collaborative association of organizations working across governmental and disciplinary boundaries to protect and restore lands and waters in the South Platte River watershed. We emphasize stewardship and community connection, linking urban areas with forested watersheds, and people with nature. This partnership involves more than 40 groups, ranging from federal and state agencies to municipalities, NGOs and private businesses, all coming together for the benefit of the silent partner, the South Platte River. The challenges surrounding water supply, resource protection and connecting people and nature are complex and call for informed and active partners. The diversity of this Partnership is its strength, and there’s a role for each individual, community, business and agency.
This partnership is all about resource efficiency – leveraging human capital and financial resources to accomplish the most we can, in terms of river restoration, community education and improving watershed health. The main goals are water conservation, reconnecting people to their waterways, improving water quality and using urban water systems as a way to promote economic revitalization, particularly in areas along the river that are economically distressed. Water is such a scarce resource in our region, which makes our forested watersheds and waterways even more valuable.
Collaborative partnerships can identify solutions to complex problems. When people understand that their drinking water is tied directly to the health of the South Platte River, it means more to them. The Greenway Foundation estimates that $100 million invested in green improvements to the South Platte River and its tributaries has facilitated more than $10 billion in residential and commercial development throughout the Denver metro area. That’s a very good return on investment. And that doesn’t even include the additional dollar value of air quality, water quality and other public health benefits from green infrastructure.
Projects supported either in full or partially with Urban Waters Partnership funds include:
• Hayman Burn Restoration;
• Denver Water “Forests to Faucets” partnership between Denver Water and United States Forest Service for fuel removal and tree planting;
• Get Outdoors Colorado Website;
• Urban Forestry projects funded by the Colorado State Forest Service for invasive species removal and planting of native trees in riparian and wetland areas;
• Wildfire Readiness and Response Workshop for Utilities focusing on source water protection and restoration, pre- and post-fire;
• Green Infrastructure Design Assistance;
• Funding for clean water messaging and environmental education;
• Design funding for riparian green infrastructure work along the river;
• South Platte Brownfields Area-Wide Planning in Denver and Aurora;
• Brownfields Assessment for Westerly Creek;
• River North Green Infrastructure Design;
• Westerly Creek Stream Restoration Design:
• Protect our Urban River Environment (PURE) trash monitoring protocols;
• Bear Creek Watershed Plan, Denver, Jefferson and Arapahoe Counties;
• World Water Monitoring Day;
• South Platte River Water Quality Monitoring - conducted by various groups, including River Watch (see sites here);
• Urban Waters River Rangers providing green jobs pilot for youth;
• South Platte Urban Waters Partnership Geomapping:
• South Platte River Connections analysis;
• Rocky Mountain Greenway Trails
• Ecological Restoration Study of the South Platte
The Partnership met in March to discuss the group's mission, vision, and goals. At this meeting with more than 40 attendees, the group developed 6 working groups focusing on Water Quality, Education and Outreach, Systems Mapping, Geomapping, the Headwaters-Urban Connection, and Funding. The next meeting will take place on June 5 at the Daniels Fund.
In the next year the Partnership will continue to facilitate funding for South Platte watershed projects, while working on messaging, community engagement, and developing tools to help the Partners make significant and lasting improvements for the river and its watershed.
Groups involved with the Partnership include the Colorado Watershed Assembly, the Cherry Creek Stewardship Partners, the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, the Barr Lake and Milton Reservoir Watershed Association, Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership, the Greenway Foundation, and a number of other groups. Take a look at the Assembly's Watershed Group Directory to learn more about these groups.
The South Platte Urban Waters Partnership will have a website up soon, but until then, learn more about the Urban Waters Partnership on the national website. Want to get involved? Contact Urban Waters Partnership Coordinator, Devon Buckels at Devon.Buckels@colostate.edu.
The Colorado River has been severely altered from the wild and natural river that many perceive it to be. 19 U.S. western states, which are lacking the water resources necessary to sustain life, rely on water from the Colorado River. Over the years the river has faced severe disturbances from damming, diversions, energy development, climate change, and ever increasing human demand as a result of population growth. Water storage supplies in the river have nearly reached their limit in every part of the basin due to 11 consecutive years of drought. Though the future supplies dwindle, water use and demand continue to increase with 30 million people wanting the river’s 5 trillion gallons for agriculture, drinking water, and electricity.
I recently watched the documentary Remains of a River which is an incredibly moving portrayal of the haunting truth of the state of the Colorado River. The documentary was put together by two recent college grads, Zak Podmore and Will Stauffer-Norris, who are now working on the State of the Rockies Project. The young men spent 113 days, from October 2011 to January 2012, exploring the current state of the waters that create the Colorado River. They began at its source waters in the Green River of Wyoming and ended at the sea in Mexico. Zak and Will were able to obtain an abundance of poignant footage throughout their voyage to paint an accurate portrayal of what human manipulation has caused the river to become. Zak and Will discover that the once mighty Colorado no longer reaches the sea. What remains is agricultural waste runoff, desert sand, and fond memories of the rich and diverse wetland habitat that once existed in Mexico’s Sonoran desert. Their efforts and hard work provide a visual document and tangible evidence that our actions directly correlate and greatly impact the natural world. So many of us get caught up in our everyday lives and forget that we are part of ONE great earth. As Jacque Cousteau once said “we forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” Zak and Will's journey exploring the Remains of a River helps us to remember this simple fact.
Since the completion of Remains of a River, Zak and Will have started on a second expedition. This voyage began on June 15, 2012 from the headwaters of the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park. The guys are now working to collect geographical and scientific data focusing on ecological quality, GPS points, and stakeholder input to create a vast database for the State of the Rockies Project. I am fully supportive of their project and wish them the best of luck!
Stephanie DiBetitto, OSM/VISTA Volunteer
For those of us in the non-profit sector of the water community we not only struggle with the challenges of the technical and administrative sides of our jobs but we are also constantly searching for those funding sources that can keep us going for another year. The burn-out factor is high and we often rely on the satisfaction of the work to pull us through but that can only go so far. The annual River Rally is my reset button. It is an annual event that re-boots my system and recharges me for another year. I have been attending these River Rally for 12 years now which probably accounts for my longevity in this business and this year was especially useful and fun (with emphasis on fun).
It is a time to reconnect with colleagues all across the country and the globe to compare notes and learn from each other. The four days of Rally is filled with 12 different tracks of workshops depending on your specific needs. They range from fundraising, organizational health, monitoring, local issues, global issues, technical issues and personal health. It is intermixed with excellent plenary speakers, banquets and social events. This year the Rally was combined with the Waterkeeper Alliance and sold out at 750 people. We heard from inspirational speakers like the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Alexandra Cousteau and Robert Kennedy, Jr. River Rally 2012, the largest gathering ever of clean water advocates, is now history but put Rally 2013 on your calendar for next year. It will be held in St. Louis from May 17th-20th. I hope to see you there. If you didn’t make the National River Rally then perhaps you should consider joining the Colorado version of the Rally at the Westin Hotel in Avon October 9th-11th. You won’t be disappointed.
Hello from the Colorado Watershed Assembly!
We have been wanting to set up a blog for months now, but weren't sure the best way to approach it. After looking at the number of annoucements we send out each month and the desire from some to have those annoucements compiled into one place, we decided to start this blog. We're starting it off nice and easy with some updates, news, and announcements that your busy eyes may have passed over in your email box and hope to build up to posting updates from program managers and staff about what's going on in the Colorado watershed community!
If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see in this blog, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org! As always, we want to be sure this is a tool that can be helpful to you!