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 email@example.com!