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Compelling, fresh, and relevant stories about everything water. Soak it in.


Does a Changing Climate Require a Change in Vocabulary?

As the snowpack and moisture in the Colorado River Basin show large areas of moderate to extreme drought, some are wondering if the term “drought” is misleading people into thinking it’s a temporary situation. Do we need a new vocabulary to describe conditions in the West? Get the Full Story>>


Clouds with a Silver Lining: Seeding Storms to Boost the Colorado River

There's a battle going on in the west—a campaign to close the gap between a growing demand for water and a shrinking supply. H2O Radio reports on a little known tactic being used to squeeze every last drop out of storms to win the war on drought. Get the Full Story>>


Pipe Dream: One Couple’s Ideal Job of Moving Water Under Mountains

A lot of water is moved from the western part of Colorado to the east where much of the state's population lives. Those diversions involve a complex system of pipes, reservoirs, pumps, and canals to keep the whole operation flowing. Setting aside the heated politics of moving resources from one basin to another, the conveyance of water under the Continental Divide is an engineering triumph, and in one case, for a couple living isolated in a high mountain valley, it's a "pipe dream" come true. Get the Full Story>>


Pay Dirt: How Farmers Are Using Less Water, Avoiding Pesticides, and Building Healthy Soil—All While Maintaining or Increasing Yields

It's harvest time for much of the country and also a time to plan for the season ahead. For a growing number of farmers, that will mean planting something called "cover crops"—plants that control erosion, conserve water, build healthy soils, and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides—all while maintaining yields. As H2O Radio reports, the "soil health movement" is shifting the ground beneath farmers' feet—for the better.
Get the Full Story>>


Canary in the Coal Mine—What the American Pika Can Tell Us
About Climate Change

Pika are small, cute mammals that live in broken rock habitats or talus fields high in the mountains above treeline. Adorable as they are, these critters might have a serious story to tell about the impacts of climate change. Research is showing a correlation between the loss of ice and permafrost under the talus, and the disappearance of the pika. As temperatures rise, where pika live could indicate the health of a watershed—and foretell our future water supply. Get the Full Story>>


The Greening of a Desert: How a Youth-Led Nonprofit Is Bringing Fresh Food
to Underserved Areas

A food desert, as defined by the USDA, is an area where a substantial number of residents lack access to a supermarket or grocery store. The difficulty in obtaining affordable fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats can lead to poor diets and conditions such as obesity or diabetes. Research shows that food deserts occur more in low-income areas of cities, but one group of students is working to change that statistic with a fresh approach. Get the Full Story>>


South Platte Stories: Hell and High Water

Many people in Colorado are facing a problem you’d never expect to find in the arid West: too much water. In places along the South Platte River, which flows from the Rockies through Denver to the northeast, basements are flooding, sewage systems are being damaged, and rising water is leaving salt in farmers’ fields, robbing them of productivity. The situation is vexing and has been the subject of numerous meetings of state officials, farmers, and water experts. But no lasting solution has been found. The real question is whether the state’s water law that goes back to the Gold Rush era is flexible enough to deal with the issue.
Get the Full Story>>


Drilling Apart Democracy—Fracking, Politics, and the EPA

In December 2016 the EPA concluded that fracking does pose a risk to drinking water. That’s a stark reversal from a conclusion reached during the Bush administration, which gave the oil and gas industry exemptions to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Science has been whipsawed by politics, and now with the new Trump administration, there may be another sharp swing to the right—threatening many protections to air and water. Is there any line of defense left between us and environmental catastrophe? Get the Full Story>>


South Platte Stories: Leave No Trace

The South Platte River starts high up in the Rocky Mountains and is fed by many tributaries. The river nourishes cities and farms as it makes its way through the eastern plains, but its water isn’t as pristine as some of the snow-clad peaks might suggest. A recent study found a range of pharmaceuticals, from heart medication to birth control, high up in the watershed far from any urban center. How did they get there? They were most likely brought by hikers, backpackers, and others enjoying an outdoor experience. So, should we not venture into the backcountry because we could inadvertently affect the water? Absolutely not. There are easy ways to enjoy the outdoors, yet leave no trace behind. Get the Full Story>>


South Platte Stories: Can River Safety and Recreation Mix?

E. coli is a type of bacterium that lives in our intestines and in all warm-blooded animals. Most varieties are harmless, but some can lead to serious illness. High levels of E. coli, coming from leaking infrastructure, pet waste, or runoff from streets, are common in the South Platte River. In warm summer months—when the water is the most inviting—it creates a conundrum for public health officials and city planners: How do you engage people to care about a river they can't touch? For the city of Denver, one solution is hiding in plain sight. Get the Full Story>>


South Platte Stories: How a Flood Changed the Course of a River—
for the Better

The South Platte River starts high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and flows through the heart of Denver on its way to the Great Plains. The waterway went from being a polluted, noxious cesspool to some of the most sought-after real estate in the city. For decades, the river was so ignored that many didn’t know—or even care—that the South Platte ran right through downtown. All it took was a flood of biblical proportions to get their attention. Get the Full Story>>


Little Ditch. Big Deal. A Couple Living Off the Grid Challenged
Colorado Water Law—and Won.

Living off the grid in Colorado's vast San Luis Valley, Chuck and Barbara Tidd needed to find a source of energy to supplement their solar panels. Their solution, to use a creek on their property to generate power, led to a legal battle that went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court—where they won. That decision worries some who say their new right could upend water law that goes back 150 years. Get the Full Story>>


Vanishing Act: NASA Scientist Jay Famiglietti on Our Changing Water Future

NASA. The word evokes space exploration, rockets and missions to faraway planets. But one of the agency’s most intriguing ventures is what it learns by turning its view back at Earth. H2O Radio's Frani Halperin met Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist, to talk about NASA's latest endeavors. Satellites with names like "GRACE" are "amazing"—not just for their bird's-eye view of our home planet but for what that perspective is telling us about our challenging water future. Get the Full Story>>


Colorado Water Providers React to New EPA Health Advisory About

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new stricter guidelines for two perfluorinated chemicals: PFOA and PFOS. The agency said the new limits were to provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to the chemicals that have been linked to adverse health effects including cancer.

In Colorado, three water districts were found to have the chemicals in their systems. Does their location near a military base offer any clues as to the source? Get the Full Story>>


Known Unknowns: The Toxic Chemicals Swirling Through Your Veins
and Why It Didn’t Have to Be That Way

There was a time, back in the 1970s, when the United States was at the cutting edge of protecting human health and the environment. We passed the "Clean Water Act," the "Clean Air Act," and something called the "Toxic Substances Control Act," also known as "TSCA," which was intended to regulate chemicals for safety. But TSCA failed to live up to its promise. Of the over 84,000 chemicals in commercial use today, only nine are banned or regulated. The rest? They're in household products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and toys—many without adequate study about their health effects. Get the Full Story>>


Unregulated Chemicals Found in Drinking Water Trigger
Nationwide Testing

The EPA doesn't regulate many of the potentially harmful chemicals found in our drinking water, but now a different federal agency is hunting for some of them in groundwater near military bases. Some state governors are demanding immediate action at the same time some researchers insist that any regulations EPA would set wouldn't be stringent enough. H2O Radio reports on the latest developments. Get the Full Story>>


Forgotten. Did the State of Colorado Leave the Residents of
the Raton Basin with Bad Water?

Gas drilling came to the Raton Basin of southern Colorado in the late 1990s and along with it heavy traffic, noise—and what many locals believe—contaminated water.

This story picks up from where our reporting in the fall of 2014 left off. Numerous residents had discovered they had a chemical in their water, "tert-Butyl alcohol" or "TBA." No one could figure out how this man-made substance got there—a chemical that wasn't detected until after gas drilling came to the area. It was a mystery, so the COGCC, the state agency that regulates oil and gas activities, investigated and published a report suggesting TBA was naturally occurring, among other explanations. Now the case is closed and the report, not only leaves more questions than it answers—it resigns residents to live with water they feel they dare not drink. Did the state of Colorado do enough to help? Get the Full Story>>


What Do Latinos Really Care About? Mi Tierra

It’s election season and the news is full of headlines about the issues most on the minds of voters. And for candidates trying to woo Latino voters, there’s nothing more important than immigration, right? Wrong. Poll after poll shows Latinos are more concerned about the effects of climate change than voters overall and that reducing smog and air pollution, conserving water, and protecting waterways and clean drinking water scored higher than immigration reform. Politicians would do well to pay attention—or pay the consequences.
Get the Full Story>>


These First Climate Scientists Didn't Know About Global Warming

Meet Mary, George IX and William Vaux. They, along with their father George Sr., wanted to be among the first to ride the new rail line from Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies. What they saw captivated them—massive glaciers visible from a railway reststop. They took lots of photos and even measurements. Seven years later, when they returned they were shocked at what they found. Learn how a dining stop in the Canadian Rockies led to a lifetime of research, and gave rise to—unbeknownst to them—our first climate scientists.
Get the Full Story>>


How to Avert an Alien Invasion? Turn to Man’s Best Friend

They're only about the size of your fingernail, but they're a scourge of mammoth proportions. Zebra and quagga mussels are tiny mollusks that have spread from their accidental introduction to the Great Lakes in the 1980s to plague water bodies from coast to coast. The invasive mussels are disrupting ecosystems, depleting food sources for aquatic life and damaging infrastructure. At present, there is no solution. Can they be stopped before they attack every lake and river in North America? If two black labs and a German Shepherd have anything to say about it—yes.  Get the Full Story>>


Democracy and a Sustainable Environment: A Conversation with
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The environmental movement struggles daily to protect waterways, keep air clean, and ultimately stop the destruction of our planet. All over the globe people are organizing, for example: in North Carolina they work to mitigate pollution from industrial hog farms; in India citizens fight to keep garbage from being tossed into the Yamuna River; and, in China organizers try to find solutions to stop coal pollution. All of these localized efforts are part of a larger global attempt to create sustainable environments. What they all have in common is their requirement for success: a fully functioning democracy.  Get the Full Story>>


If Clothes Could Talk, Would They Talk Dirty?

It’s been said that "you can know the color of fashion's next season by the color of rivers in China." Fifty percent of global textile manufacturing in the world happens there and packs a mighty punch in terms of water consumption—and pollution. But the growing of fibers and the dyeing of fabrics is only part of the water footprint of textiles. Once a garment comes home with us from the store how much water do we use to wash it? And do we add to its toxic legacy? Is it possible to dress for sustainable success? H2O Radio investigates. Get the Full Story>>


The Hidden Costs of Road Salts

Road salts keep drivers safe in snowy and icy conditions. Chemicals like Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt) or Magnesium Chloride work by lowering the temperature at which water can freeze. But come Spring as snow melts, chlorides are making their way into steams and groundwater around the country where they stay. Removing them is difficult and costly. Are we trading mobility for environmental degradation?  Get the Full Story>>


The Galapagos of North America

Channel Islands of CaliforniaJust off the southern California coast lies a magical place of leaping dolphins, towering sea caves with painted ceilings and long stretches of isolated beaches. Only 60 miles away from over 18 million people who call the greater Los Angeles area home a remote archipelago beckons. Described as a "Living Laboratory" it attracts scientists and outdoor enthusiasts alike to see its wildlife and environment found no where else on earth. Venture out with H2O Radio to the Channel Islands National Park—"The Galapagos of North America"—where the mainland ends, and the adventure begins. Get the Full Story>>


Tank to Table: Growing Food Sustainably with Aquaponics

AquaponicsAquaponics is a food production system that combines aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. It’s a growing movement in Colorado where years of drought have made people in the state view water differently. We visit three locations using the method for the same—and very different reasons. Get the Full Story>>


Want to Save the Amazon? Think Like an Ant.

Yasuni AmazonYasuni National Park in Ecuador—the most biodiverse place on earth is at risk from oil development. A community of indigenous Kichwa people, rainforest caretakers for hundreds of years, think they know what's best for the Amazon and how to protect it. They've developed an award-winning model of preservation and sustainability that's providing the jobs, schools and healthcare they need. And all it took was having the mindset of a leaf-cutter ant. Get the Full Story>>


High, Dry and Overwhelmed

Raton Basin gas drillingThe Raton Basin which straddles the Colorado/New Mexico border has seen intense natural gas drilling and production in the past two decades. In 2008, a homeowner near Trinidad, Colorado, who was having his water well tested learned that it was contaminated by a chemical known as "tert-Butyl alcohol" or "TBA." TBA is a man-made substance found in many household items such as perfumes, cosmetics and paint removers. But one place it shouldn't be found? Underground. Get the Full Story>>


Changing Fixtures, Changing Lives

mile high youth corpsMile High Youth Corps (MHYC) is a nonprofit organization that provides pathways for young adults ages 18-24 to find a more promising future. Rooted in the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, it addresses the employment and educational needs of youth by putting them to work in "green" jobs.

Corpsmembers provide water and energy efficiency measures to low-income households and nonprofit facilities. How can the work of installing high-efficiency toilets be "the best thing that ever happened" to these men and women? Get the Full Story>>


Acequias—Wisdom in the Ditches

Acequias—communal irrigation canals—were once the lifelines of agriculture in much of the southwest. Back in the time of Spanish colonialism they were widespread in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

Now they're mostly found in northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley of Colorado. We spoke to acequia members in the Taos area during the annual "La limpia de la Acequia" or spring cleaning of the ditches to talk to them about how they think the system is faring in light of drought, water rights, and social change. Get the Full Story>>


Snow Job—The Hard Work of Measuring Snowpack

CurrentStory_SnowJobMelting snow flows into creeks and streams, and ultimately into drinking water for people living in the West. But understanding how much water snowpack will yield is much more complicated that it appears. It depends on many factors such as moisture content of the soil, precipitation patterns, winds, fluctuation in air temperature, and even water use by plants.

Since 1935, most of the West has relied on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's cooperative snow survey program to predict runoff. Snow surveyors from Natural Resources Conservation Service and the other cooperating agencies collect data from some 1,600 snow courses several times each winter. In 1977, NRCS began developing a network of automated radio telemetry data sites for collecting snow survey data, but some information is still collected manually involving long treks into remote areas, often in bad weather.

We tagged along with some of these quiet heroes who, quite literally, go to great lengths to understand just how much water will come out of your tap. Get the Full Story>>


Cowboy Conservation

Mark Glauth knows first-hand about wildfires. The ranch he runs with his sister near Woodland Park, Colorado was devastated by the Hayman Fire of 2002. Even though he grew up in a cow-calf operation, the disaster has taught him much about ranching. He's using a practice called "Holistic Management" in which livestock improve the health of soil and create the right conditions for grasses to thrive. He believes this method of ranching sustainably is a more effective way to restore the land and rehabilitate the watershed. It's a slow process, but he's starting to see the small green shoots of his labor. Get the Full Story>>


Saving the Dead Sea

When you think of the Middle East, do images of conflict and war come to mind? It would be understandable as headlines are full of reports about clashes and conflict. The region has been in turmoil for decades if not centuries, but human suffering is only part of the picture. The environment is also a victim of war and aggression. Lack of cooperation among regional adversaries has taken its toll on fragile, defenseless ecosystems. Climate change will only seemingly intensify the stress on the lands once known as "The Fertile Crescent." But amid these dire circumstances there is some positive news. While governments fail to reach meaningful solutions, people are working at the grassroots level to heal polluted rivers and rehabilitate watersheds—all while cultivating cross-border understanding in the process. Get the Full Story>>


The Promise of Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is a system involving the controlled delivery of water directly to the roots of individual plants through a network of tubes or pipes. Its ability to save water and reclaim land is getting increased attention worldwide as populations grow and climate change taxes the availability of fresh water. Get the Full Story>>


Forests to Faucets: Water 101 for Teachers

""Forests to Faucets" is a program by Aurora Water, the water provider for Aurora, Colorado, just east of Denver. The three-day workshop is designed to provide teachers with advanced knowledge about water and water-related issues such as water treatment, the importance of conservation, and the connection between clean water and a healthy environment. The interactive curriculum allows participants to get a behind-the-scenes tour of Aurora's water system, learn from experts, network with other teachers and discover new strategies to engage their students in real-world science. Get the Full Story>>

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Beer Straight from the Tap?

Water is an essential part of beer. It not only determines the flavor but also supports the fermentation process which turns barley and hops into alcohol. If you went back just 100 years people had to situate breweries where there was good, reliable water. Now thanks to municipal water systems a brewer can be anywhere they want—provided there's a spigot. Get the Full Story>>

All stories are available for download at PRX.org and Audioport.org. H2O Radio content cannot be broadcast, edited or reproduced without the permission of H2O Media, Ltd.

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St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District

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