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HW Winter2018 FINAL2cover

Colorado's public lands are faced with new challenges but water and land management depend on working together. Read about the relationship between water and land in Colorado and how Coloradans are converging to restore Colorado's public lands in the Spring 2018 issue of Headwaters magazine.

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 connection between Colorado's forests, watersheds, and forest fires:

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Water Education Colorado

Headwaters magazineLearn about planning efforts for Colorado's water future by reading feature articles below, flipping through, or downloading the online version of Headwaters.

Water Archives Help History Come Alive By Kevin Darst

By Kevin Darst

The well-known 20th century water lawyer Delph Carpenter helped divide the waters of the Colorado River by developing a legal agreement in use to this day. In the process, he kept voluminous reports, diaries and letters that decades later would almost be lost to, of all things, a flood.

Now those records are safe and will soon be available to researchers and the public alike at Colorado State University’s Water Resources Archive. Created in 2001, the archive is a collaborative venture by CSU and the Colorado Water

Resources Research Institute to preserve and protect Colorado’s water history. Water engineers, historians and researchers say the archives will play an invaluable role in centralizing and preserving the photographs, maps, records, letters and other primary sources that can help modern-day scholars understand how Colorado’s communities, economy and lifestyle have been shaped by our scarce water resources.

Carpenter, a leader in the creation of the Colorado River Compact of 1922, became known as the “Father of Colorado River Treaties.” His commitment to negotiation, not litigation, spawned many complex interstate compacts which determined how Colorado would share its rivers with adjacent states. Carpenter died in 1951, leaving his collection of water memoirs with his family.

But when a clogged culvert pushed groundwater into the Greeley-area basement of Donald Carpenter—Delph’s son—and threatened boxes of irreplaceable documents, the family knew the papers needed a new home.
In a triage effort, the documents were first stored at the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District offices in Loveland. But the collection was molding and in need of professional restoration. Looking for a place that could both care for and provide access to the papers, the Carpenter family decided to donate the collection to Colorado State University in May 2004. Currently, the university is busy restoring and organizing Carpenter’s 90 boxes of water history that make up what is likely one of the most valuable assets in its archives.

Among the documents in the Carpenter collection are letters from President Herbert Hoover, who became a friend of Delph’s during the compact negotiations and credited Carpenter’s “tenacity and intelligence” with seeing the compact negotiations to their end.

Prolonged drought in the West accompanied with unprecedented water use and growth has recently renewed tensions in the Colorado River Basin—tensions quite similar to those present 80 years ago when Delph worked to craft the Colorado River and other compacts. As author and historian Daniel Tyler found in his recent book “Silver Fox of the Rockies: Delphus E. Carpenter and Western Water Compacts,” many of Carpenter’s strategies and lessons-learned are very salient to the tough water negotiations facing Colorado and the West today.

That’s what makes the Carpenter collection the most important acquisition to the university’s water archives, says Robert Ward, director of the Colorado Water Resource Research Institute at CSU.

“It’s going to be a very contentious time and understanding history is going to be more important than ever,” Ward says. “The Carpenter collection is most significant because it deals with a key segment of the evolution of water development in the West. Carpenter led the charge.”

Other collections in the archives include the personal papers of the inventor of modern-day water measurement devices, Ralph L. Parshall, a collection of historic groundwater data, as well as organizational records from groups such as the Colorado Association of (Soil) Conservation Districts.

Patty Rettig, head archivist for the university’s water and agricultural collections, knows these collections are one of a kind.

Although she acknowledges the university will allow limited access to some collections until they can be better organized and restored, Rettig says she is pleased the university is working toward providing public access to all these important and one-of-a-kind materials

Fishing in the Cold: Improving winter habitat makes for healthier fisheries

By Ken Neubecker

Fish looking for a home in the cold waters of Colorado’s high mountain streams are having a tough time, especially in the winter. However, as river recreation and fishing become more important to the economy and lifestyle of mountain communities, rehabilitation projects to improve fish habitat are increasingly popular. What proponents have found is that designing river habitat to help fish through the long winter months is good for the trout, and good for business.

Read more: Fishing in the Cold: Improving winter habitat makes for healthier fisheries

Taking the Initiative: Taking the Initiative

By Kevin Darst

The numbers generated by the Statewide Water Supply Initiative are plentiful, splashed across 500 pages in the state’s most comprehensive water supply assessment to date. In and beyond those numbers lies Colorado’s map to its water future.

Read more: Taking the Initiative: Taking the Initiative

10 Major Findings of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative10 Major Findings of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative

  1. Significant increases in Colorado’s population, together with agricultural water needs and an increased focus on recreational and environmental uses, will intensify competition for water.

    Read more: 10 Major Findings of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative10 Major Findings of the Statewide Water...

Firm Yield: Water supply projects in the works statewide

Numerous water supply projects are currently in development across the state. What water providers are looking for is “firm yield” or the ability to provide a dependable water supply available in all years, including drought.

Read more: Firm Yield: Water supply projects in the works statewide

Northern Integrated Supply Project

By Kevin Darst

Smaller cities and water districts in northern Colorado are courting Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s first proposed storage project in more than two decades to help them meet the demands of population growth.

Read more: Northern Integrated Supply Project

Colorado Springs’ Southern Delivery System

By Dan MacArthur

Colorado Springs is staking its bets on its proposed Southern Delivery System as the best way of supporting continued growth and addressing potential urban water shortages by as early as the end of the decade. But the city still must withstand environmental scrutiny and overcome a major permitting obstacle that could further delay its ambitious schedule.

Read more: Colorado Springs’ Southern Delivery System

Windy Gap Firming Project

By Kevin Darst

The idea wasn’t new: store water on the Western Slope and pump it to the Eastern Slope to satisfy rising water demand in the state’s most populated river basin, the South Platte.

Read more: Windy Gap Firming Project

Moffat Collection System Expansion


By Dan MacArthur

Denver Water considers its proposed Moffat Collection System Project important to bring better balance and reliability to its water supply system.

Read more: Moffat Collection System Expansion

Firm Yield on the Drawing Board


The Statewide Water Supply Initiative helped inventory dozens of proposed water supply projects all over the state. The following is meant to provide a sample of the some of the projects on the drawing board and is not meant to be a comprehensive list.

Read more: Firm Yield on the Drawing Board

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