Colorado Water

Craft Brewers to Urge Gardner to Advance CORE Act

Mar 11, 2020
Lucas Turner

DENVER -- Leaders from Colorado's multi-billion-dollar craft beverage industry delivered a letter this week urging U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner to co-sponsor the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy - or CORE - Act, designed in part to protect watersheds.

Coal-fired power plants are closing, or being given firm deadlines for closure, across the country. In the Western states that make up the overallocated and drought-plagued Colorado River, these facilities use a significant amount of the region's scarce water supplies.

With closure dates looming, communities are starting the contentious debate about how this newly freed up water should be put to use.

Patrick Johnson closed on 2,500 acres in Pinal County over five years ago. The property, just off Interstate 8, is mostly farm fields right now. Johnson’s plan is to build a dream spot for motorsports lovers, including two tracks for racing or testing, 2,000 homes, and a hotel. 

But millions of dollars in, Johnson is a long way from a grand opening.

Today was the third annual Healthy Rivers Youth Water Summit. Students from six local schools met at Third Street Center in Carbondale to share presentations on topics like Health of the Roaring Fork River, Impacts of Snowmaking, Hydro Power, Grey-Water Use and more. Sarah Johnson is the director of the Youth Water Leadership Program, the group that organizes the event. She spoke about what makes this year’s summit stand out.

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.

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.

Music is blaring and grills are firing up at a parking lot awash in navy blue and orange outside Empower Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

Todd Endicott of Lafayette stands outside an ambulance turned Broncos fan-mobile. He outfitted this orange and blue rig for tailgates. It’s plastered in life-size stickers of players, and the football team’s logos, vintage and new. 

Brent Gardner-Smith


Glenwood Springs is one step closer to building three whitewater recreation parks on the Colorado River. The City began working on the project in 2013. Challenges include new water rights and appeasing the opposition. Brent Gardner-Smith of Aspen Journalism has been following the story and joins KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh for this week’s News Brief.

AH Marsh photo

Colorado River water demand is on the rise but the supply is dwindling. Is there enough water to meet agricultural, industrial, and municipal needs, and still leave some for recreation and ecosystems? In western Colorado, ranchers and conservationists have a plan to help ensure that all water needs from Glenwood Springs to DeBeque are secure. KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh found that, so far, the project has produced some surprising results.

Courtesy RFC


The Roaring Fork Conservancy recently released its 2018 Voters Guide to Water Issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and Beyond. Twenty-five out of around 30 candidates responded, including Democrats, Republicans, independents, unaffiliated, Unity Party, Green Party and Libertarians. KDNK's Amy Hadden Marsh spoke with the Conservancy’s Kristen Doyle to find out more.

AH Marsh photo


The Colorado River Basin Roundtable met in Glenwood Springs this week. KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh has more about how “demand management” could play a big part in state drought contingency plans.

Courtesy Aspen Journalism


Water officials statewide are worried about what is now an 18-year drought wreaking havoc on water supply and water use along the Colorado River.  For this week’s News Brief, KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh spoke with Brent Gardner-Smith, editor of Aspen Journalism, about “demand management” and more from the August water meetings in Vail.

AH Marsh photo

Close to 100 people attended the Colorado River District’s State of the Rivers meeting in Carbondale last week. The news wasn’t good but some locals are ready to change how they use water. KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh reports.


The snow-water equivalent on McClure Pass hit zero on May 1st, and local run-off has already peaked. What does that mean for the Roaring Fork Watershed this summer? How are drought and low flows effecting Colorado? This and more will be discussed tonight at the Roaring Fork Valley State of the Rivers event at the Third Street Center. KDNK's Amy Hadden Marsh spoke with Zane Kessler, communications director for the Colorado River District, to find out more.

The Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program news team discusses Colorado River water issues and potential solutions with the Director of Community Affairs from the Colorado River District, Jim Pokrandt.

The Colorado River's First Dam Transformed The Desert Southwest

Feb 22, 2018
Bret Jaspers/KJZZ

We’re all familiar with the Hoover Dam. And you might know about Glen Canyon or other dams that manage the Colorado River. But the very first dam on the Colorado was the Laguna Dam. It diverted water to farm fields in Arizona’s Yuma Valley. Bret Jaspers from KJZZ in Phoenix has more on how the Laguna Dam set the table for large-scale farming in the southwest.

The Shoshone Hydroelectric Power Plant, just east of Glenwood Springs along the Colorado River, was built in 1905. It generates 15 megawatts of power and is a popular rafting spot in the summer. It also holds the state’s oldest water right on the river. For this edition of Sounds of the High Country, KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh talks to Emily Benson, editorial fellow at High Country News, about the impact of this single water right. Here's her story: The Tiny Power Plant That Shapes the Colorado River.