Text Size

Site Search

Alt. Water Transfers

Cover HW Fall 2017

Water sharing and banking, coined "alternative transfer methods" or ATMs, could provide flexibility for stretched water supplies —but not without marked challenges. Read the Fall 2017 issue of Headwaters magazine and explore options to:

  • keep water in farming
  • help municipalities plan ahead
  • share between ag and environmental uses
  • bank water on the Colorado River

Browse articles and find a flipbook of the magazine here.

Connecting the Drops

connectingdropslogo4.1Bringing you the reporting you crave over the radio airways with extras and archives on our website. Visit the audio archives or listen to the latest story on the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the Colorado river that could become the state's second wild and scenic protect river—Deep Creek:

Deep Creek 5 web

Water Education Colorado

In the Summer 2010 issue of Headwaters, Water Education Colorado explores the world of volunteerism and grassroots river protection. There are over 80 community watershed groups in Colorado. Their purposes are as varied as the environments they are working to study, restore and protect. Watershed groups provide so many services: they bring our communities together through promoting volunteerism; they provide data on water quality, habitat integrity and recreational use that is needed by state and federal agencies to make informed decisions; and they work collaboratively to achieve land and water protections that can be embraced by stakeholders of many different viewpoints. Read on to learn more about the work of these committed individuals. Read featured articles below, or view the magazine online.


Case for the Private Partner: Landowners ease into conservation

By Cally Carswell

On a bluebird spring day, Jeff Crane stands beside Highway 92 where it crosses the North Fork of the Gunnison River just outside of Hotchkiss, a small town on Colorado’s Western Slope. With his hands tucked in the pockets of comfortably-worn Levis, Crane looks up and down the river, surveying the results of his handiwork.
Eleven years ago, Crane began giving this mile-and-a-half stretch of river, coursing through at least nine private properties, a makeover. He replaced a bulldozed diversion with an inconspicuous, permanent headgate. He carved out a gently meandering channel, stabilized the curves with strategically placed boulders, and planted willows along the river’s banks and wetland grasses beyond those. “We wanted to build a natural river system here,” he says. “And let [the North Fork] be a river again.”  

Re-imagining the river this way would be a dramatic departure for many landowners. The farmers and ranchers who made their livelihood on the river’s edge had taken a heavy hand with the river for years, using plows, bulldozers, even dynamite to tame its flow.

Read more: Case for the Private Partner: Landowners ease into conservation

Fountain Creek’s New Advocate

By Jayla Poppleton

It’s not everyday that the government starts a watershed group. Watershed groups tend to be the non-profit, citizen-led counterparts to government agencies. But last year, through an act of the Colorado Legislature, the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District arrived on the scene of a watershed plagued by flooding and other urban drainage-related problems. The district, though officially a government entity, will function like many watershed groups that serve to coordinate a multitude of players working to improve their shared watershed.

Gary Barber, who was hired as the district’s executive director in February, thinks the district is “a bit of a public policy experiment.”
“Hopefully, we bring the best qualities of a watershed group, an advocacy group, to the front, and we also bring forth the best aspects of a regional flood control, erosion control and storm control entity,” he says.

Read more: Fountain Creek’s New Advocate

The Grassroots: A homegrown approach to healthy watersheds

By George Sibley

Mount Emmons is probably the closest thing to a holy mountain that the people of Crested Butte, Colo., would acknowledge. It rises 3,000 vertical feet in long, gentle slopes from the western edge of town to an abrupt, glaciated bowl called The Red Lady, named for the early sun that lights her face while the town still lies in night’s shadow.
Draining the west and south slopes of Mount Emmons is Coal Creek, a modest headwaters tributary of the Gunnison River that flows through downtown Crested Butte and provides the town’s water supply. Its name reflects its path, which cuts a narrow valley through a layer of coal. The mountain sitting atop that layer of coal contains rich, if geologically jumbled, lodes of silver and all the heavy metals—lead and zinc among them—that are typically found near silver.

Historically, Mount Emmons was a central element in the town’s economic as well as its spiritual life. Coal mines there and in adjacent mountains were Crested Butte’s economic mainstay for its first 75 years, until the mid-1950s. Hardrock metal mines also operated on and off, corresponding to fluctuating markets.
In 2003, the High Country Citizens Alliance, an organization initially formed in 1977 to oppose molybdenum mining on Mount Emmons, initiated a water quality study of Coal Creek. The study found parts of the stream were contaminated enough with heavy metals, some naturally occurring but most from mine drainage, to warrant designating them as “impaired stream segments,” giving them priority for federal and state mitigation funding. The long-abandoned Standard Mine on Mount Emmons was designated as a Superfund site, being placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s priority list.

Read more: The Grassroots: A homegrown approach to healthy watersheds

Social Media

Stay in touch and connect through:

FB-fLogo-Blue-broadcast-2 Twitter Logo White On Blue instagram    

Sign Up for our e-newsletter

learn more3learn more

 And view the latest issue of Headwaters Pulse, Water Education Colorado's monthly e-newsletter, here.


Click the icons below for videos about climate change, ranching and more; or audio from Water Education Colorado's Connecting the Drops radio series.

filmicon   headphonesicon

1750 Humboldt Street, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80218