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Bringing you the quality water information you crave, over Colorado's radio airwaves and online. Our regular programming will complement what you're reading in Headwaters magazine and in the news.

Recovering the Big Thompson River and its Economy

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Three years ago, flood waters rushed down the Big Thompson River through Estes Park and eastward to Loveland destroying whole stretches of the river channel and adjoining roads. That flood echoed a similar one 40 years ago that killed 144 people, destroyed countless homes and decimated the river bedNow, roads are being repaired and the ecosystem is slowly recovering, and that  recovery is crucial for the economy of local communities.  

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Pair Sound with Sight 

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The Big Thompson River runs from the Rocky Mountains through Estes Park and eastward, south of Loveland across the plains into Weld County. This stretch in Estes Park suffered significant damage in the floods of 1976 and 2013. Repair work is being done now on the riverbed and adjoining parts of Highway 34 to make the road/river corridor more resilient to future floods and to restore the river to full health.
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Ben Swingle is an aquatic biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He leads the annual fish count on the Big Thompson River. 
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This stretch of the Big Thompson that runs through Estes Park generates millions of dollars for the local economy with anglers flocking each year to fish its trout-rich waters.
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Swingle and his team of aquatic biologists use electrodes that emit a mild electric charge into the water to stun the fish so they can be easily caught and counted. 
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The biologists take two passes at catching the fish. The first pass captures significantly more fish. The fish that are collected are stored in a holding pen until they are weighed, measured and counted, before being released. 

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Jack Deloose has been a fishing guide in Estes Park for four years. "We get an awful lot of people, we'll probably end up with 600 people that will fish with us this year. People come to Estes Park for a lot of reasons and fishing is one of them."

Economics of the Colorado River

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It's been almost a century since the Colorado River compact was created, divvying up the resources of this mighty waterway between seven states and Mexico—that's almost 40 million people who rely on the river in some way. Traditionally the economic value of the river was based on what the water could be used for...agriculture, mining, industry. But as Maeve Conran reports for Connecting the Drops, more people are pointing to the economic value of keeping water in the river itself.

 

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Read more: Economics of the Colorado River

Pricing the Priceless

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How to put a price on the priceless...That's something that water utilties grapple with as they figure out what to charge customers for this precious resource. As part of Connecting the Drops, our statewide radio series on water issues, Maeve Conran takes a look at how water is priced and whether we're paying enough.

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Read more: Pricing the Priceless

Rain barrels and water conservation tools

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Rainwater harvesting through rain barrels is now legal in Colorado. This comes after several years of debate and opposition from those concerned about possible impacts on downstream water users. Now, conservationists are eyeing them and other water capture tools as a way to stretch the state's overburdened supply.

 

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Climate and Water: The Shifting Hydrograph

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Researchers say climate change is already effecting Colorado farms and ranches-but not necessarily in the way people might expect. Because the state is so dry, farmers here rely on irrigation to raise their crops. But they, and climate researchers, are less concerned about there being enough water than when that water will be available. As Maeve Conran reports for our Connecting the Drops series, climate change means spring runoff is coming earlier, and that creates new challenges for farmers.  

 

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Read more: Climate and Water: The Shifting Hydrograph

Water Conservation Statewide Call-In Show

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The 5th Connecting the Drops statewide call-in show focused on water conservation and aired live on Sunday June 5, 2016 with guests and hosts at KGNU and KDNK. Brent Gardner-Smith with Aspen Journalism was the host at KDNK in Carbondale with guest April Long, an engineer and the clean river program manager for the city of Aspen. Maeve Conran was the host at KGNU with guest Peter Mayer, a water conservation engineer who prepared water conservation plans for communities in the Roaring Fork Valley in 2014 including Carbondale, Aspen, and Glenwood Springs. He also co-authored a new study: "Residential End Uses of Water, Version 2." Hear about the connections between stormwater and water conservation, hot topics like rainwater capture, standards in water conservation and much more. 

 

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Read more: Water Conservation Statewide Call-In Show

Deep Cooperation on The People's Ditch

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Water rights can be a touchy topic for Colorado families whose livelihoods are tied to the resource's availability. But in the tight knight community of San Luis in southern Colorado, a group of farmers and ranchers uses old methods of cooperation to help ensure healthy livestock and a good harvest in the arid region.

 

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Marijuana Grow Operations' Water Use Explored

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With the legalization of marijuana in various states and forms, conservation groups and others are asking how much legal grow operations affect water consumption. In Colorado, water managers and researchers are working together to answer that question.

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Read more: Marijuana Grow Operations' Water Use Explored

Endangered Fish Recovery on the Colorado River

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Some native fish in the Colorado River and its tributaries are struggling to stay afloat. Invasive species, dams and water diversions can complicate the recovery of endangered fish in those waterways. One long-standing program ties together federal and state agencies with regional groups to help these cold-blooded creatures make a comeback.

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Read more: Endangered Fish Recovery on the Colorado River

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Connecting the Drops Partners

Connecting the Drops is a radio collaboration between the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and Colorado Community Radio Stations KGNU, KDNK and KRCC.

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 Support for 2016 programming comes from CoBank