Our Mission

Furthering the Organizational Goals of our Founding Member, the Colorado Wildlife Heritage Foundation, by using innovation, Public Private Partnerships and non-traditional funding sources to address unresolved legacy water-related issues within Colorado and the Western US.

Western States Water Partnership is designed to fill the “Mission, Timing and Funding Gaps” that exist within local, county, state and federal agencies and that impede their ability to effectively address legacy water issues critical to Colorado and other Western States.

Western States Water Partnership's Current Focus is on 2 Critical Legacy Water-Related Issues:

Gaps in the existing network of Weather Radars

Due to the “line of sight” nature of the existing network of National Weather Service (NWS) radars, significant portions of the Western US, to include most of the Western Slope of Colorado, have little to no weather radar coverage below 25,000 ft MSL. Those radar “gaps” prevent accurate weather forecasting needed to predict:

  1. Localized severe weather events;
  2. Localized wind speeds and direction in support of wild land fire managers; and
  3. Accumulated winter snow pack amounts; as well as, related stream flows as the snow packs melts.

80% of Colorado’s snowpack and water comes from the mountains that are poorly covered by existing NWS radars

BAD COVERAGE | GOOD COVERAGE

(Existing Colorado Radar Map)

Abandoned Mine Shaft Drainage

The Colorado Division of Reclamation states that there are an estimated 23,000 abandoned mine shafts in Colorado.  There may be as many as 500,000 abandoned throughout the Western US. 

The natural process of rain fall and surface water leaching through the mine shaft create acids that leach heavy metals such as:  Arsenic, mercury, cadmium and lead.

These heavy metals flow from the Mine Shaft and into local drainage systems, decimating nearly every living plant and water borne species it contacts.

The absence of any “Good Samaritan” legal underpinning has historically presented a barrier to addressing this issue. WSWP is pursuing an approach that could reduce the impact of such leaching despite these current legal uncertainties.

 

 

Our First Project

In January, 2016 the Colorado Water Conservation Board, in partnership with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), NASA and other technical partners, published a study that indicated that by using portable weather radars to fill the gap in existing permanent weather radars coupled with better stream flow forecasting software from NCAR, significant improvements in forecasting stream flows generated year round by winter snow pack could be achieved, see fig. 36 below

As encouraging as it was, this January, 2016 Report dealt only with the Upper Rio Grande River Basin in Southwest Colorado and for only one single year, thus referred to as a “Single Year – Single Basin” effort. 

Our First Project  will be a “Multi-Year Multi-Basin” effort.  This project will be a 5-year effort to include:

  • The installation of 3 permanent weather radars on the Western Slope of Colorado, within 3 separate river basins.
  • Additionally, this Multi-Year Multi-Basin project will also include engaging NCAR to adapt and improve their stream flow forecasting software tools specifically for these 3 river basins.

We currently have the funding for our first radar to be installed along the Colorado River. 

This Project is designed to: (a) duplicate and verify the findings of the original Single-Year Single-Basin study; as well as, (b) produce the Next Generation Stream Flow Forecasting Software Tool to enhance the accuracy in forecasting of stream flows critical to Western Colorado and it’s downstream users.

Excerpt from the January 2016 report

Figure 36, on page 49 of the January 2016 Report is a collection of graphs depicting data from 4 separate existing measuring points along the Upper Rio Grande River, measuring accumulative stream flows in Acre Feet.  The Light Blue Line depicts Forecasted Stream Flows using existing methods.  The Orange Line depicts Forecasted Stream Flows using the data from temporary radar and improved NCAR Software.  The Black Line depicts that Actual Measured Stream Flows.  It is clear that using the radar and NCAR Model produced better forecasts.

better data combined with better analytical software tools could improve stream flow forecasting by as much as 40%

This could mean saving thousands of acre feet of water, worth tens of millions of dollars for the State of Colorado

Water owners, users and managers, recreators, and conservationists would be positively impacted by such a system.

We intend to build upon this 2016 Colorado Water Conservation Board study:

Potential Partnerships

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