water

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for water crisis victims to sue state and local government officials in Flint, Mich.

For years, Flint city officials and state regulators have argued that they are protected by "qualified immunity" from being sued for their role in the water contamination crisis. But lower courts have ruled to the contrary.

It was a dry start to the year for some mountain ranges in the region, but recent storms brought most Mountain West snowpack levels back to normal.

 


A group of chemicals called PFAS are common in firefighting foams, as well as household products like rain jackets, pizza boxes and non-stick pots and pans. They've been in use since the 1940s and have come to be known as "forever chemicals" because they persist in the environment.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have made their way into watersheds around the world, and as a recent study found, even into raindrops. Some are considered a threat to human health. 

Researchers including Jens Blotevogel, an environmental engineer at Colorado State University, are studying ways to get rid of the compounds. 

In a desert far from any city, farmers use groundwater to grow lush green hay. The hay fattens livestock all over the world. But there's a big problem: The water is drying up. Now scientists warn it will take thousands of years for an aquifer in southeastern Oregon to recover, while residents there are already hurting.

At Marjorie and John Thelen's house, the well ran dry in 2015.

"We're not ranchers. We're not growing hay. We're just retired in the country," said 72-year-old Marjorie Thelen, who moved to Oregon with her husband, John, 12 years ago.

With short-term drought plans finished, water managers from across the Southwest recently gathered in Las Vegas to figure out what's next.

The Colorado River Water Users Association annual conference brings together nearly every municipal water agency, irrigation district, Native American tribe and environmental group that relies on the Colorado River.

The West’s water security is wrapped up in snow. When it melts, it becomes drinking and irrigation water for millions throughout the region. A high snowpack lets farmers, skiers and water managers breathe a sigh of relief, while a low one can spell long-term trouble.


One day last June, Susannah Roberts and her boyfriend, Reilly Davis, drove out to Leazenby Lake, just outside of Laramie, Wyoming. They had their black lab Teton with them, and they fished in the clear water.

As climate change continues to sap the Colorado River’s water, some users face serious legal risks to their supplies, according to a new analysis by researchers in Colorado and New Mexico. 

Declining flows could force Southwest water managers to confront long-standing legal uncertainties, and threaten the water security of Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.

In A Revived Arizona River, A Wildlife Oasis Is Remade

Nov 29, 2019

Much of the Santa Cruz River is a dry, desert wash, only flowing after heavy monsoon rains. As Tucson Water hydrologist Dick Thompson and I walk along the river south of Starr Pass Boulevard, he points out how brown the vegetation looks.

A new federal program hopes to fill in knowledge gaps on how water moves through the headwaters of arguably the West’s most important drinking and irrigation water source. 

The U.S. Geological Survey announced the next location for its Next Generation Water Observing System (NGWOS) will be in the headwaters of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. It’s the second watershed in the country to be part of the program, after a successful pilot on the Delaware River started last year.

A report out this week shows a significant number of Americans don't have access to basic services like running water. And many of the places that lack plumbing are in the Mountain West.

“Small pockets of communities without complete plumbing exist in every state,” write the researchers, who also say the gap isn’t driven by people who choose to live off-the-grid, but instead by a lack of basic infrastructure. 

U.S. Air Force Academy

Drinking water near the U.S. Air Force Academy has tested safe from potentially toxic chemicals. 

On The Colorado River's Banks, A Toxic Pile Continues To Shrink

Nov 20, 2019

In a park, nestled in a red rock canyon outside Moab, Utah -- a short drive from a giant pile of uranium tailings -- a crowd gathered for a celebration. Elected officials and community members mingled, and enjoyed refreshments. 

Volunteers placed pieces of yellow cake in small paper bowls.

In Florida, Nestlé is taking heat from environmental groups and others concerned about the future of one of the state's most endangered natural resources — its freshwater springs. Florida has more than a thousand freshwater springs, which provide drinking water, important natural habitat and places for recreation. Nestlé wants to begin taking more than a million gallons of water each day from Ginnie Springs, a popular destination in north Florida for swimming, canoeing and tubing.

Updated 11/6/19 at 3:13 p.m.

Proposition DD has passed with 50.7% of the vote, according to unofficial vote totals from the Colorado Secretary of State's office. The Associated Press called the race Wednesday afternoon. Starting May 2020 the state will be regulating and taxing sports gambling in the state, with the vast majority of revenue set aside for projects and programs laid out in the Colorado Water Plan. 

Climate change has been called the new normal. But residents in some parts of the Southwest say after living through the last two years, there’s nothing normal about it. 

Communities in the Four Corners -- where the borders of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet -- have been bouncing between desperately dry and record-breaking moisture since the winter of 2017, forcing people dependent on the reliability and predictability of water to adapt.

Associated Press / Stock Photo

El Paso County is one of seven sites across the country where researchers will be studying the human health effects of drinking water contaminated by potentially toxic chemicals known as PFAS. The project is set to start within six months and will be led locally by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Courtesy photo Fountain Creek Watershed District / https://www.fountain-crk.org/projects/

The 6th Annual Creek Week begins this Saturday, Sept. 28, and continues until Sunday, Oct. 6. During those nine days volunteers will gather to remove litter and debris along creeks, trails, parks and open spaces from Palmer Lake to Pueblo and beyond. Alli Schuch, Fountain Creek Watershed Outreach Coordinator, sat down with 91.5 KRCC’s Abigail Beckman to talk about the event.


Reservoirs can get messy after a big wildfire. The issue isn’t the fire itself, it’s what happens after. 

Finding a river in the West that still behaves like a Western river -- one that rises and falls with the annual rush of melting snow -- is tough. 

Many of the region’s major streams are controlled by dams. Their flows come at the push of a button. Instead of experiencing dynamic flows, dammed rivers are evened out. Floods are mitigated and managed, seen as a natural disaster rather than an ecological necessity. 

Courtesy photo / Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Communities in the lower Arkansas River Valley have had issues with drinking water for years, including discoloration and poor taste. Recent data shows that two dozen water systems in the valley contain radioactive contaminants and are in violation of the Clean Water Act. There’s a possible solution though — the Arkansas Valley Conduit. It’s a pipeline that would deliver cleaner water from Pueblo Reservoir to the rest of the region. It’s been in the works for decades but has yet to be completely funded.

David Zalubowski

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — Researchers and farmers across the U.S. Southwest are experimenting with drones, specialized cameras and other technology to squeeze the most out of every drop of irrigation water from the vital but beleaguered Colorado River.

The Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon has been without safe drinking water all summer, and some people have no running water at all. In May, a burst pipe led to a cascade of infrastructure failures. That leaves around 4,000 people improvising for survival.

"I'll go back to being a teacher, hopefully, after this is done," said Dorothea Thurby, a volunteer emergency manager, whose days now revolve around a disaster.

One hundred and fifty years ago, a group of explorers led by Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell set out to document the canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers. It was the first trip of its kind. To commemorate the journey, a group of scientists, artists and graduate students from the University of Wyoming called the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition has been retracing his steps this summer. 

Wells built to bring underground water supplies to the surface are being dug deeper to tap into dwindling aquifers, according to a new study.  

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

It’s no secret that wildfires are getting worse in the West. They’re threatening lives, homes and ecosystems. And they are also threatening our already-precarious watersheds. It’s all becoming a vicious cycle  — especially for the drier parts of our region. 

Water managers on the Colorado River are facing a unique moment. With a temporary fix to the river’s scarcity problem recently completed, talk has begun to turn toward future agreements to manage the water source for 40 million people in the southwestern U.S. 

One morning in mid-February, David Herz went to turn on the faucet in his farmhouse outside the small western Colorado town of Paonia, and nothing came out.

“I thought, ‘Oh, f---. We got a problem,’” Herz said.

In India's sixth-largest city, lines for water snake around city blocks, restaurants are turning away customers and a man was killed in a brawl over water. Chennai, with a population of almost 10 million, is nearly out of water.

In much of India, municipal water, drawn from reservoirs or groundwater, typically runs for only a couple of hours each day. That's the norm year-round. The affluent fill tanks on their roofs; the poor fill jerrycans and buckets.

Groundwater pumping is causing rivers and small streams throughout the country to decline, according to a new study from researchers at the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Arizona.

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