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Springing into Summer

Sonja Chavez, General Manager


Here in the valley, snow has completely disappeared from agricultural fields and lawns and in the high country, it is melting quickly. It’s hard every year not to go crazy buying seed or getting excited about what you can grow. If you’re a local, you know not to make the mistake of putting out your tender flowers or garden vegetable seedlings too early and aren’t fooled by this mild recent weather. 

One of our goals as a District is to stay abreast of the latest data, studies and technology that help us manage Upper Gunnison basin water supplies. The science of hydrology, meteorology and water forecasting continue to advance and we are seeing significant research dollars and scientific effort being put into headwater communities like the Upper Gunnison basin to improve ways to measure and predict snowpack like aerial snow flights, understanding groundwater surface water interactions, dust on snow and soil moisture content. 

In the meantime, the District is doing everything it can to closely monitor water supply and drought conditions. We’re also serving as a critical information hub on all local water related information, assisting federal agencies in coming up with improved plans to better manage water supply while minimizing local economic impacts, addressing rangeland resiliency, implementing critical studies that further our understanding of harmful algal blooms in Blue Mesa Reservoir, advocating for our water users and helping them access critically needed water infrastructure dollars, and getting projects on the ground that improve water use efficiency, management, habitat and protection of critical water resources.

Related to the above, I am pleased to announce that the District’s Board of Directors has approved $306,001 through our District Grant Program for diverse water projects in the Upper Gunnison Basin.  Projects this year will promote drought tolerant xeriscape, modernize irrigation infrastructure, further research on remote sensing tools for tracking soil moisture, further potable water loss studies, restore stream channels and foster local stewardship, so we look forward to their commencement.  You can read more about the Grant funding awards in this issue.

Our Board of Directors and staff are also delighted to inform water users that this June 9th and 10th, the District will host what I hope is the first of many “Upper Gunnison Basin Water Roundup” annual conferences where we highlight local water issues and creative problem solving and bring together state, regional and local water policy leaders and experts in hydrology, watershed and fire science, habitat restoration, and most importantly you, our Upper Gunnison Basin water users, who have a vested interest in the health of our watershed.  There’s nothing quite like meeting face-to-face to share important information and learn what our peers are working on in the Basin. This year’s Water Roundup will also kick-off the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Gunnison River Festival, so be sure to read the article in this issue to get all of the details.  We will have the registration link for the Water Roundup on our website at so be sure to check back soon to take part in this conference, which is sure to be informative and fun! This is for you!

Finally, if the long-range weather forecast holds true, it looks like we’re going to have another warmer, dryer summer, so as always, I encourage each of you to pay attention to local drought warnings, do your part to reduce your carbon footprint, and practice water conservation.  You will read and hear from us throughout the summer on radio and in newsprint reminding everyone to be conscious of water use and if you need a reminder in or around your home, come see us for a yard sign, water bottle, cell phone dry bag, or one of our other promotional items that includes important messaging about water conservation. If everyone commits to doing their part, we can weather this weather!

Lawrence and Sun Ditch - before

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