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Discussion Starter #1
Can anyone point me towards real evidence that there is a drought , other than man made lakes being drawn down?Snowpacks are said to be down, but are still within reason in my opinion and whose doing the measuring ? Denver Water? Seems to me that it's people who are wanting to dam and divert it and ultimately sell it are creating a psychological shortage so that politically the climate will be right for these type of projects. I now agree after years of skeptecism that Global Warming maybe a real thing, (although we are coming out of an ice age... ), I have to wonder , what is real? Any experts out there?
 

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Some more info

Currently Denver reservoirs are approximately at 85% of there normal capacity, well beyond what was anticipated. So although snow pack was down an incredibly wet spring and summer have yeilded some much needed rain at least for the front range. Higher elevation also received large amounts of precip that have increased levels in both Dillon and Green Mtn. Unfortunately, we are still in a drought as far as history tells, hence the water restrictions. We have Denver Water to thank for all the increased rates to offset lost revenue from years past. It is so nice they ask us to conserve water and then charge the hell out us for the small amount they delagated. Just my little offering!

Don't worry next years snow pack is going to be incredible! I know this how, cause I asked Zoltar. Or at least lets hope so!!!!!

Mike
 

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Its all realitive. I think the term drought was coined because our precieved needs may not be getting met. Our forests, climate, and environment are very dynamic in nature. Us stupid humans want things to be static. One year or even a series of dry years is a normal thing. but we create a word that carries a negative connotation with it because, we have to addapt to it, a dryer period that is. So before we showed up, there were no dams or resovoirs. Fire had the largest role in managing our forests and range lands. In most forested areas the carrying capacity of the land has been surpassed because fires no longer control the thinning proccess. Most of the species out here are very "drought" tollerent. Look at the 5000 year old bristle cone pine trees just out side of fairplay. Just like the way disease runs wild through overpopulated developing world cities, nature will find a way to thin the forest. So pine beetle and dwarf mistletoe has steped in thin the forests. People mistakedly blame the drought for the massive die off of trees and devistating fires. It is the extinguishment of natural caused fires that causes these huge fires and disease problems.
I'm not saying that we should not be here, but we have thrown off the ballance of nature by desiring to have large green lawns in an arid environment. Lewis and Clark reported to congress that West of the Missippi was uncapable of supporting agriculture. A good point to be made, but dont take it too literaly.
Sorry, I'm rambling on a soapbox, but I could go on and on.
In my mind we are experiencing a fluxuation in climatic paterns. If you put too many flowers in the flower box, or you never pull the weeds, and forget to water it for a few days, you might run into problems.

But thats just my take.
ed
 

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Drought is a GOOD thing.

Did anyone else read the the APRIL 2004 BACKPACKER magazine?

The cover story was Glen Canyon Reborn: Paradise Found. About 15 pages of print, pictures and maps to re-born canyons for hiking and camping.

Here are some exerps, but check it out at the library if you don't already subscribe.

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-----The Southwest in now 4 years inot a drought that has more than halved Lake Powell, dropping water levels a record 100 feet.
-----Some Climatoligists think the area might be entering a decades- long "mega-drought".
-----At Northern Arizona University, hydrologists have developed a computer model that predicts that the reservoir's remaining water will dry up with only 10 years of medium-scale drought. If severe drought continues, like the current dry spell that's halved the reservoir in just 4 years, the end could come much sooner.
-----The real world implications of te drought's effects are on full display at tCathedral in the Desert, one of Glen Canyon's most iconic features. Though the bottom of the 1-acre alcove lies under 60 feet of water, it's arching redrock walls are visible for the first time in 35 years.
-----Dams were the Prozac of the Great Depression. The extensive environmental damage we caused got lost in the symbolism. But Lake Powell is lower now than anybod ever imagined, and it provides a new reality about what is possible.
-----...It's hard to imagine that the fate of Glen Canyon will be decided by polititians or environmentalists. What REALLY matters is whether or not it rains, and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

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The article give maps and directions to a bunch of now dry side canyons, gorges and trails.

Long live the drought! Water your lawns! Wash your cars! Leave the water running when you brush your teeth! Support yourt local golf course (most are excluded from any/most water use restrictions)!

SYOTR

Ed
 

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One word...Tamarisk

Atop of all of the aforementioned reasons for our drought (and adding the Golden PD watering their rose garden at 2 in the afternoon), the non-native Tamarisk plant has done wonders to lower our available water supply. It can be found in just about every drainage in Colorado and Utah growing along the banks of streams & rivers. It was introduced originally to help with erosion control but has grown unabated and now reduces the ability of native species to thrive in their given environments. In places such as Westwater, Grays & Deso, The Grand Canyon, & even the South Platte, seasoned river runners will have noticed it's growth & the subsequent reduction of camping space along the banks of the rivers over the years. A great bonus about the Tamarisk plant is that 1 plant consumes up to 300 gallons (NOT a typo) of water a day and can release up to 1/2 a million spores for reproduction. I don't know what that works out to in lost water, but next time you're out on the river take as look along the banks and you'll notice just how many of these things there are. It's somewhat staggering that something hasn't been done or said about these plants since they are consuming so much of our water supply. (1 plant = 110,000 gallons a year)

Here's a link to a government article about the plant.

http://www.nps.gov/whsa/tamarisk.htm



It is so nice they ask us to conserve water and then charge the hell out us for the small amount they delagated. Just my little offering!
.....I really appreciated that announcement last week. 'good job folks, you've really cut back your water usage & helped out everyone as a whole. As a way of saying thanks we now are going to charge you more since you've done such a good job that we can't operate in the black' F-ers!
 

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If you look at how incredibly inefficient farmers use water, then we are absolutely NOT in a drought.

Farmers just flood the field with water--probably wasting 50%. Their diversion ditches loose another 50% of the water. They grow moisture intensive, low yield crops.

With agricultural water so cheap and being wasted so much, we can't be in a drought. When farmers are being forced to change how they use water, or perhaps give up farming desert, then we are in a drought.

Agriculture uses 90% of the water in the state. Urban areas use 10%.
 

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300 gal/day = 0.00046417 cfs

not a huge deal with only one plant, but becomes significant when you multiply by the millions of plants that are out there.
 

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As for farmers being wasteful, one thing that you should consider is that the water actually gets recycled many times en route to being the corn you'll eat (or the cow you'll eat will eat) or whatever is grown with it. From irrigation ditches and fields the water that's not consumed percolates back into the aquifer where it brings aquifer levels up (compared to pre-settlement times), then the water is pumped from wells, applied to fields, some is consumed, the rest percolates back to the aquifer and is pumped and used again and again. The part that's consumed and evaporates is called the crop's "consumptive use" and is typically a fraction of what's actually applied to the crops.

Eventually a lot of the water gets back to the river via the aquifer as "return flow" throughout the year. There's evidence that before the massive irrigation systems were built, rivers like the South Platte only flowed for part of the year. Nowdays the return flow keeps the river flowing year round. Interestingly, before settlement, its said that there were very few cottonwoods along the South Platte and other Western rivers (buffalo grazed them) and aquifer water levels were much lower in areas now irrigated. A large cottonwood tree can consume a gallon every minute. For better or worse we've dramatically changed the hydrologic system by building the West's huge plumbing system and I wouldn't expect to see a return to natural conditions anytime soon.

Oh, yeah - even though we've had some good rains this summer, we're still in a drought.

--Andy
 

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Good points Andy. I've been studying up on the Clean Water Act lately, and last night was reading something that pointed out that large scale use of water resources is good in a way, b/c it necessitates some degree of protection of water quality. It's also a good point that the water doesn't "go away" it just gets re-routed from its natural course, but it turns up again somewhere! Not to say agriculture or other development as we currently do it is a good thing, just that its all about what we as a society decide is the best use of a limited resource.

One thing I'd like to see kayakers do is support water quality protection by buying organic and minimizing personal water use.
 

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Hell Claire, everyone knows we don't take showers. How much more water can we save?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Tamarisk I learned recently from a Ranger on the river that the National Park Service has released a Asian Beetle that is hoped to control the Tamarisk, neither will ever go away is the theory but the Tamarisk will be kept in check, seems like an extremely risky proposition to me , but so was bringing tamarisk to this country. Heres another issue since I have youtr ear... and were spewing environmentalism especially water quality related..... boaters (rafters, torts and yakers) have long had a policy of peeing right in the water, it is considered the right thing to do, inded it's policy, even though state law requires otherwise, furthermore bleachy gray water we dump into the river after straining, whereas if some corporate company did that we would have their head on a stake, then we bitch about the lakes downstreeam being too green and going eutrophic and dioxins in the fish and oh the HORROR. This so the camps don't smell like piss, fair enough..... but why not dump the bleach on the tamarisks and piss on the Cottonwoods and the willows who could surely use the nitrates? And this says nothing about all the pharmaceuticals and antibiotics in our spew that winds up in the ecosystems as well. I say piss on the land where aplant can uptake the nutrients , the sun can break down the prescriptions, and leave the river be, it's been pissed on /in enough.
 

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On a river trip, the trouble with peeing in the same spot on land is that it soon smells like :shock: piss. If all the groups using that campsite pee in the same place you got a mighty stinky camp. Pretty soon, people will avoid that area to pee and do it in another so it will start to smell pissy too. One person peeing on land somewhere does no harm but groups of people will make it all stinky. I say pee in the river and not on land.
 

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One thing, and it's just semantics, but something to think about anyway: blaming "farmers" illustrates a lack of understanding between "farming" & agribusiness. "farmers" tend to be family businessmen who live/work harmoniously with the land. there's few of them left. the finger needs to be pointed at "agribusiness" or corporate "farm" enterprises that operate on gross scale. from livestock to the grain harvested to feed the livestock, the agriculture conglomerates (and u.s. gov't) are the ones responsible for mass environmental degradation, topsoil nutrient depletion, overconsumptive water practices, & homogenization of foodstuffs. not to mention the stank in northern colorado. it's a super complex issue that i've only scratched the surface of in my studies, but there's tons of info out there if you're into learning about it ...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Corporate farms ........They is you is me is us...unless.......you don't support them .......which is tough.

Humans 1 , RIver Zero, ding ding ding , round two.. cmon folks I want to see a fair fight here, speak no evil , hear no evil see no evil and of course SMELL no evil , that could wreck your whole day. It is not illegal to pee in the river as long as you have a discharge permit. WHich means you may have to do an Envirnmental Impact Study on your private, that could get expensive.
So on another note why can't these biogenetics geniusus come up with some cross between Kentucky Bluegrass and Basil, that way we could make pesto with our lawn clippings ? Or better yet, a northern lights / kentucky blugrass cross? My yard is all weeds anyway. That would be something.
 

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Hi Kozmo,

Regarding your point about peeing into the river,

"...whereas if some corporate company did that we would have their head on a stake, then we bitch about the lakes downstreeam being too green and going eutrophic and dioxins in the fish and oh the HORROR."

here are a couple of points to consider:

First, there's probably been a study done to evaluate the impacts of some average number of boating parties discharging some average quantity of pee and gray water into the river, and its likely been determined that the impact would be minimal under average flow conditions, etc. etc. The whole reason we pee into Western desert rivers is because the land ecosystem is more easily harmed than the river is. In other areas that are more humid, where rain washes the soils more frequently, (like Idaho) boaters pee on land.

Secondly, if a big corporation or municipal wastewater treatment facility discharged to the river, which they do on a regular basis and in full compliance with the laws of the land, they'd probably be putting hundreds of thousands of gallons of pee and lots of other nasty stuff into the river daily. This is typically done under a discharge permit, which would have all kinds of allowable quantities of all kinds of chemicals and bacteria, human waste, oil and grease, etc. that can be legally dumped into the waters we'd like to boat.

Smell the South Platte River at Confluence when the river's low for a good whiff of what I'm talking about here. If you take a look downstream of Denver you'll see the eutrophic conditions (during low flows) that result from most of the river's flow consisting of sewage treatment plant effluent (and who knows what else it picks up through Commerce City and the rest of Urban Denver). During periods of non-peak runoff, many Western rivers that flow through urban areas are referred to as "effluent dominated streams." You can see this during low flow periods in the daily peaks and valleys on the hydrographs, which in turn can be traced back to that peak flow hitting the sewage treatment plant from an entire city's morning flush and shower.

So its not really fair to compare peeing into 3000 cfs on the Colorado or even 600 cfs on the Ark with the kind of discharge that comes from corporate or municipal wastewater plants.

And if I were a little crawdaddy or brown trout or damselfly nymph trying to live in that habitat, I'd probably be saying "oh the HORROR" too.

-Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Good Book

I guess I should have hit that new topic button a long time ago?
Anyhoo thanks for all your comments on the drought and on peeing in the river , let me recommend a good book about front range rivers and those other ones that used to be on the western slope.

Virtual Rivers by Ellen E. Wohl
Lessons from the Mountain Rivers of the Colorado Front Range



p.s. Hats off to Frenchy for this awesome website!
 

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Thanks for the book recommendation, Kozmo!

If you haven't read it yet, you may also be interested in Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner. Its a very well-written history of water projects and development in the West. It should be required reading for anyone who's interested in water resources in this part of the world.

SYOTR,

--Andy
 
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