KUNC

A printing error is keeping some Colorado voters from studying up on statewide ballot items this election season.

The error caused some of the state's voting guides, known as blue books, to be printed without some of the pages.

In 2007, years into a record-breaking drought throughout the southwestern U.S., officials along the Colorado River finally came to an agreement on how they’d deal with future water shortages -- and then quietly hoped that wet weather would return.

But it didn’t.

Colorado once turned to comedy to warn residents about the dangerous mixture of drugs and driving. Early advertisements featured actors who got so high, they were trying to start grills without propane. The ads warned that although grilling while high is not illegal, driving while high is.

But as more drivers under the influence of drugs get into fatal car crashes in Colorado, state officials are hoping a new, more simple advertising campaign will help reduce impaired driving.

The buses are packed together so tight, it's difficult to walk between them without getting hurt.

Standing in a Glenwood Springs maintenance facility, Dan Blankenship, CEO and president of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, points to a driver slowly backing into a narrow slot.

Cathy Kipp was at a recent back-to-school night at Kruse Elementary School in Fort Collins. She was handing out flyers and printed information about Amendment 73.

"This is game changing," said Kipp, a member of the Poudre School District Board of Education. "This would be the best increase in public school funding that we've been able to get in decades in Colorado."

In addition to electing a new governor this November, Colorado voters will also decide the fate of 13 statewide ballot questions, including two specifically aimed at funding transportation projects.

But beyond that shared goal, propositions 109 and 110 differ greatly.

A computer science major in college, 25-year-old Garrett Hause would fit in at a Silicon Valley startup. But he said he prefers to stay busy and work with his hands, so he decided to do something different.

Last year he took over his grandparents’ farm in Lafayette, Colorado and replaced the fields of alfalfa with five acres of hemp.

Cliff Redish is a political exile. He lives in a world that's colored Republican red and Democrat blue. He used to be a Democrat, but now he's unaffiliated. Perched on a barstool in a pub in Carbondale on Colorado's Western Slope, he's hesitant to even talk about it.

"We're so divided," Redish said. "It's just unbelievable. It's hard to even bring this up in a bar right now."

In early August three years ago, Barb Horn stood along the banks of the Animas River in the city of Durango, Colorado. Word had spread of a mine waste spill upstream near Silverton. She waited, alongside hundreds of others, for the waste to appear. But the plume took longer than expected and eventually arrived at night.

The next morning, she saw the change.

“It was absolutely surreal,” Horn says. “And I think that's why it went viral. It’s like somebody photoshopped the river orange.”

This year's governor's race is like no other in Colorado history -- at least in terms of money. The $29 million contributed so far to candidates shatters prior records. A large chunk of that money comes from millionaires, spending big in hopes of being elected to a job that pays $90,000 a year.

"There actually are no limits to what an individual can contribute to their own campaign," said Steve Bouey, a manager with the elections division of the Secretary of State's Office.

As Colorado’s population has grown, so has the oil and gas industry. Its presence is an unavoidable part of the landscape. That’s why volunteer Patricia Nelson said she has spent part of her summer collecting signatures for Initiative 97.

Between growing populations and changing climate conditions, our water sources are only expected to get more crunched. Communities in some very dry states have had to get creative about where to get their water, sometimes purifying sewage into drinking water. More western cities are beginning to get on board, too. But there’s a problem: the ick factor.

Gov. John Hickenlooper wants the federal government to withdraw a proposed rule that restricts conversations health care professionals can have with their patients.

On July 30 Hickenlooper sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking that it remove the "Compliance With Statutory Program Integrity Requirements" rule.

Jose Alvarez, a supervisor at R. H. Dupper Landscaping, stood up from changing a sprinkler nozzle on a large grassy field at a homeowner’s association in Chandler, Arizona. He surveyed the turf, a patchwork of green and brown.

In The Desert City Of Tucson, The Grass Is Not Greener

Jul 25, 2018

Tucson, Arizona used to be a city of lawns. Patches of Bermuda grass lined residential neighborhoods, kept green — even in blazing summer months — with diligent watering. Over the decades, that has changed. Tucsonans eschew lush lawns for landscaping that is more in tune with the city's desert setting — though that doesn't necessarily mean there's no green.

Since 2013, more than 6,700 court cases in Colorado have been hidden from public view . Thousands of those remain suppressed to this day. That’s the findings of a more than year-long Denver Post investigation.

Throughout the Western U.S., water conservation is in the toilet.

And that’s a good thing.

A warm spring has already melted much of the limited snowpack that sits high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in southern Colorado. Water is already flowing through the ditches near the rural village of San Pablo.

It’s 9 a.m. on a windy Saturday morning. Every now and then Dan Quintana -- in weathered work gloves and a ball cap -- raises up his shovel and slams it into the mud and matted willows that line the waterway that runs through his hay fields. His slight frame makes it easy for him to jump across the narrow ditch.

2018 wasn't the worst winter on record for the southern Rocky Mountain region, but it was close to it.

“It was an extreme year on the dry side, widespread across the Colorado River Basin,” says Greg Smith, a hydrologist at the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) in Salt Lake City.

After nearly a month of terse exchanges among water managers in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona about Colorado River conservation strategies, representatives from the five states met Monday in Salt Lake City to hash out their differences.

At issue is how the Central Arizona Project (CAP) -- the operator of a 336-mile aqueduct that pumps Colorado River water to farmers and cities -- is conserving water in Lake Mead, the river’s largest reservoir. The project is managed by the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District (CAWCD) and is the state’s largest water provider.

Wikipedia Commons

Snowpack that feeds the Colorado River is at record lows as we begin moving into the longer and drier days of summer. Water managers throughout the West are already sounding the alarm about less water flowing in streams and reservoirs. But as Luke Runyon reports, there’s another factor that could make things even worse...

KUNC

The biggest lake in California is shrinking. KUNC's Luke Runyon reports.

In 2014, the Colorado River did something it hadn’t done in decades. For a few short weeks that spring, the overdrawn, overallocated river reached the Pacific Ocean.

Instead of diverting the river’s last bit of water toward farm fields, the final dam on the Colorado River at the Mexican border lifted, and water inundated nearly 100 miles of the dry riverbed. It was called the pulse flow, meant to mimic a spring flood.


We’ve heard it before: The West just doesn’t have enough water to satisfy all the different demands on it. In Colorado, the majority of our water supply comes from mountainous snowpack, which melts each year to fill streambeds and reservoirs.

But could there be another way?

In poll after poll, Americans make it clear: People working together is a good thing.

Collaboration is a lofty goal touted by political and business leaders as a potential way forward on anything from climate change to healthcare to obesity. Drop your weapons, turn your enemies into partners and achieve great things — or so the thinking goes. But collaboration is a concept that sounds great in the abstract and quickly turns messy in practice, with plenty of pitfalls along the way toward a common goal.

Avoiding drawn out fights has always been tough when dealing with water issues in the West.  Collaboration wasn’t always the go-to strategy for environmentalists, political figures and water managers who held competing interests on overtaxed, overdrawn rivers.

But with the Windy Gap Firming Project in northern Colorado’s mountains, old grudges are being put aside in favor of new, collaborative tactics. While some of the West’s oldest enemies are working together, those who feel left behind by all the newfound teamwork aren’t ready to sing "Kumbaya."

Pages