Rainwater catchment demystified
Local homeowners looking to go even farther off the grid or just cut their summer water bill can learn how next week.

As part of its Brown Bag Lunch Series, 4CORE will offer “Rainwater Harvesting” from 12 noon - 1:15 p.m. Wed., May 16, at the 1st National Bank of Durango. The talk is meant to inform local residents of the ins and outs of rainwater harvesting, which was legalized in Colorado in 2009.

The lecture will include local homeowners who have installed their own rainwater collection systems as well as an answer-and-question session with Jeff Titus of the Colorado Division of Water Resources. Under the law, SB 09-080, residents must obtain a permit from the DWR before installing their rainwater systems.

“He will speak about the 2009 law and clarifications,” 4CORE’s Cori Andreatta said. “There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about who can qualify, does it cost, etc. He is the one you would go to locally to get a permit.”

Andreatta said systems run the gamut from complicated, underground cisterns for year-round use to simple rain barrels for yards.
“Landscaping and gardens are the two biggest uses, but some people are also using the water to bathe and drink,” she said.

There is an online calculator available that uses google maps and zip codes to give homeowners an idea of how much water their roof will generate at www.braewater.com/calculator.

“My roof would generate about 11,000 gallons a year, and my house isn’t very big,” Andreatta said.

Before the law collection was passed, it was illegal in Colorado to gather rainwater and snowmelt that fell from a rooftop, patio or driveway into barrels. Under the “first in time, first in right” system, the first person to allocate and use water is considered the senior water right holder within a particular stream system. Therefore, diverting water was seen as stealing from downstream water right holders.

However, that belief started to change with a study on rainwater in the Denver area, which found that 97 percent of precipitation never makes it to streams and is taken up by plants or lost to evaporation. While the law is credited for actually reducing municipal water demand and consumption, strict guidelines still apply:
- Harvesting must take place on residential property
- The property owner must have legal entitlement to a well
- Rainwater can only be collected if no water is provided in the area by a water district or municipality
- The roof is the only location collecting rainwater

The Brown Bag Lunch is open to homeowners, renters, landscapers, retail nurseries, builders, architects, energy performance contractors, Realtors and anyone interested, said Andreatta. To RSVP, email Andreatta at cori@fourcore.org or call 259-1916.

Verde P.R. lands big one with K2
One of the biggest names in skis now has a local connection.

Last week, local firm Verde PR and Consulting announced a contract with K2 Sports. In addition to its flagship skis, snowboards and inline skates, the Seattle-based K2 Sports’ other 16 brands include 5150, Morrow, Ride, Line, Full Tilt, Atlas, Tubbs, Madshus and Zoot.
“This is really big news for us,” said Verde account manager MJ Carroll.

Founded by Durango resident Kristen Carpenter-Ogden in 2002, the outdoors communications firm has grown to include satellite offices in Jackson, Wyo., and Boulder, and employs 16 people, six in Durango.

Verde, whose other clients over the years have included Athleta, RAB, Outdoor Research and Primaloft, is no stranger to the K2 line. Since 2009, it has worked for K2 snowshoe subsidiaries Tubbs and Atlas as well as Nordic ski maker, Madshus.

“Verde’s proven track record in the active outdoor sports industries and its diverse offerings in traditional public relations, social media, and paid media makes it an ideal partner,” said Anthony DeRocco, president and CEO of K2 Sports in a press release. “The Verde team demonstrates a passion and authenticity for our core markets that parallels the culture here at K2 Sports.”

Starting June 1, Verde will be responsible for managing public relations for the entire K2 Sports empire, via both traditional and digital avenues. Verde will act as a media liaison for all K2’s lines, from snow sports to action sports, and will facilitate gear reviews for web sites and magazines, supply gear for trade show events and write press releases, among other duties.

“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with such an influential, strongly-rooted company as K2,” said Carpenter-Ogden. “Our team is genuinely passionate about the lifestyle we work and play in, and K2 is a great match.”

Study: Colorado River recreation big biz
Aside from being an agricultural and municipal lifeblood, the Colorado River is also a recreational one, according to a new study.

Released last week, “Colorado River, Inc.: The $26 Billion Recreation Resource Employing a Quarter Million Americans,” found the Colorado River to be the 19th largest employer on the Fortune 500 and a major economic powerhouse fueling economies in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Commissioned by Protect the Flows, a coalition of more than 400 businesses from the seven Colorado River basin states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the report was conducted by economic research firm Southwick Associates Inc. The goal was to understand the economic impact derived from recreational activities in and around the Colorado River and its tributaries.
The study found that annually 5.36 million adults visit the Colorado and its tributaries, for everything from hiking, wildlife watching, camping and fishing to rafting, bicycling and snow sports. Such recreation, in turn, contributes significantly to the economic growth of basin region states.

Among the findings, annually the Colorado and its tributaries:
- Support 234,000 jobs
- Produce $26 billion in economic output
- Generate $17 billion in retail sales
- Contribute $3.2 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue
- Create $10.4 billion in earnings, salaries and wages

“The Colorado River is a major provider of recreation, which is a tremendous economic driver across the basin region,” said Rob Southwick, the study’s lead economist. “But what must be emphasized here, is that unlike other income generators, there are very few substitutes for the Colorado River. Well over half the people surveyed said their outdoor recreation would significantly decrease if the river was not available. Without recreation, the federal government is risking over half a billion dollars in taxes.”

The study comes as the Bureau of Reclamation considers proposals to resolve the supply and demand imbalance during the final weeks of the Options and Strategies Phase of the Colorado River Basin Study. Upon completion in July, the BOR Study will define imbalances in water supply and demand over the next 50 years and provide strategies to resolve those imbalances.

“This study makes it clear just how much the Colorado River needs to watch its bottom line. Water-related recreation is our lifeline,” said Protect the Flows Coordinator Molly Mugglestone. “The West’s economic future is tied to this magnificent resource and the recreation it encourages, so we would do well to do all we can to protect it and keep the river flowing.”

U.S. Senators Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., were encouraged by the numbers and met with the study’s lead economist and mountain region business leaders Fri., May 4, in Denver to determine what actions could be taken to preserve the Colorado River’s recreation and tourism economy.

“The Colorado River is the economic, cultural and social backbone of the Southwest. This is true for recreational uses of the river as well,” said Udall. “We must be mindful of the important role outdoor recreation plays in our economy and to our way of life as we make decisions about how to allocate water, because we stand to lose thousands of jobs and billions of dollars if we do not.”
For the complete report and state-specific fact sheets, go to http://protectflows.com/creating-jobs/.
– Missy Votel