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Fading Fast? Colorado's Iconic Aspen Trees Will Likely Decline with Climate Change

Tourists in Colorado's high country might want to snap a lot of pictures while they can. Researchers predict that climate change will reduce the number of aspens that make the fall color in the Rocky Mountains so captivating.
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The Sweet Smell of Victory—How Colorado Gardeners Are Drawing on History to Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With many people staying close to home during the coronavirus pandemic, gardening has become popular, specifically vegetable gardens. COVID-19 has led to high unemployment, causing food banks to be overwhelmed, so people are growing food not only to feed their families but also to help their communities. It’s an old idea reborn to meet the moment.
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Diving with Purpose—How Veterans Are Healing Their Wounds by Helping the National Park Service

When veterans retire from the military—whether voluntarily or from injury—it can be a difficult transition. Gone is the camaraderie that gave their lives structure and often lost is a sense of purpose. A partnership with the National Park Service is helping wounded warriors to heal and restore connections by giving them a mission underwater. Get the Full Story>>


The Dam Nobody Wants Just Won’t Go Away

The construction of dams on rivers worldwide has stopped the natural flow of sand and silt to the sea—resulting in coastal wetland loss and disappearing beaches—as well as preventing fish from reaching vital spawning grounds. But when the decision is made to remove a dam it can be remarkably challenging. Just ask the people of Ventura, California, who’ve been trying for 20 years—and are not much closer to ditching a dam that supplies no water but packs a lot of downsides—and risk. Get the Full Story>>


Damned from the Start—Many U.S. Reservoirs Could Be Rendered Useless—And That Was Part of the Plan

We’ve heard about the deteriorating status of American infrastructure and most imagine crumbling bridges and potholed roads. But there’s another looming infrastructure crisis that’s getting little to no attention—and it will eventually impact everyone: America’s reservoirs are filling up with sediment. Their storage capacity peaked in the 1980s and it’s been going downhill ever since—sometimes with disastrous consequences. Get the Full Story>>


Lawn Be Gone. Major Cities in the West Are Paying Residents to Take Out Turf to Save Water—With Two Notable Exceptions

A study in 2016 showed that lawns are the largest irrigated crop in America. There are over 40 million grassy acres in the continental U.S., and they take a lot of water to thrive. But in the West, where rainfall is less plentiful, many water providers have been offering rebates to residents willing to tear out turf and replace it with drought tolerant plants. The programs are working and thousands of gallons of water are being saved. So why are two major cities punting on the idea? Get the Full Story>>


Are Water Providers Ready for Climate Change?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said a changing climate is predicted to affect drinking water treatment and distribution systems in a negative way. Disturbances like wildfires, hurricanes, and floods are being exacerbated by global warming, and those who operate treatment facilities to ensure safe water comes out of our faucets are going to need to meet the challenge.

Dr. Monica Emelko, a professor of engineering and environmental science at Waterloo University in Ontario, Canada, is one of many scientists and engineers who recognize that uncertain conditions are going to require water providers to be resilient. Dr. Emelko spoke with H2O Radio in June 2019 following a presentation at the American Water Works Association Conference in Denver, and likened water treatment in the future to Formula 1 racing—it will require drivers who can anticipate curves in the road ahead—and, of course, a good pit crew. Get the Full Story>>


The Irony of an Electric Car Named "Tesla"

Thomas Edison became a household name for inventing the first practical incandescent light bulb. But because of what happened in a small town in Colorado, his bitter rival Nikola Tesla won the bigger prize to electrify our modern grid. Over a century later, could revenge be in the offing. Get the Full Story>>


Intoxicated: A New Study Finds the Weedkiller Glyphosate in Major Brands of Beer and Wine

The pesticide Roundup® is the most commonly used weedkiller in the world. While its main ingredient glyphosate has uncertain toxicity, the chemical is showing up in foods—and according to a new report—drinks we consume, compounding our exposure. What to do when your favorite beer or wine contains more than just excess calories? Get the Full Story>>


Accidents Waiting to Happen—The Toxic Threats to Our Rivers, Lakes,
and Streams

Thousands of miles of waterways across the U.S. are threatened by contamination from different chemical sources. A new report is calling for major actions to protect them—as the Trump administration moves to weaken safeguards. Get the Full Story>>


Going, Going...Gone? The Most Abundant Tree in Hawai'i Is Dying—and There's No Cure in Sight

"Rapid 'Ōhi'a Death" has killed over 135,000 acres on the Big Island of Hawai'i, and disappearance of Ōhi'a forests could have serious ramifications for watersheds and ecosystems in the state. But for native Hawaiians, who along with their ancestors revere the tree, vanishing Ōhi'a could mean the loss of a heritage that developed long before they had a written language. Get the Full Story>>


Hydropower Without New Dams—How Utilities Are Tapping into Energy They Once Not Only Wasted But Paid to Lose

Experts say that in order to reach climate goals we need to move away from fossil fuels as soon as possible and get our energy from renewable sources. While most assume that will mean more wind and solar, there’s a clean and environmentally sound way to generate electricity that’s been hiding in plain sight but only recently became affordable to harness. Get the Full Story>>


Terrified, Yet Optimistic. How Young People Are Responding to Grave Warnings About Climate Change

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in early October has sounded another alarm that drastic action is needed to avoid the catastrophic impacts of global warming. Is anyone listening? And if so, how are they reacting to a crisis that faces all of humankind? H2O Radio asked university students, who will be dealing with impacts, how they view the future. Get the Full Story>>


Girl Genius: This 12-year-old invented a device to detect lead in water—and as far as science goes—she's just getting started.

The discovery of lead in drinking water systems in Flint, Michigan, and other cities around the country has motivated researchers to find new—and faster—ways to detect contamination in water supplies. One scientist who recently invented a way to rapidly test for lead in water developed her award-winning solution between swim team practice and piano lessons. Get the Full Story>>


Do Future Generations Have Rights to a Healthy Planet? A Current Human Says They Do—and He’s Walking on Their Behalf.

Five years ago, Bob McCormick couldn’t walk a short city block without having to sit down, the pain was so bad. But remarkably, after two hip replacements and knee surgery, he’s able to walk 20 miles a day. And that, unto itself, would be an amazing story, were it not for the fact of what he’s doing now. In early August, Bob McCormick left—to walk—from Denver, Colorado, to Washington, DC—a distance of more than 1600 miles. Get the Full Story>>


Flight Plan: How Unmanned Aircraft Are Helping Scientific Research Take Off

The U.S. Geological Survey keeps track of how much water flows through rivers and streams across the country to help plan for shortages—or at the other extreme—brace for floods. But there are more waterways than the agency is able to track, so recently they added a new tool that will not only help them cover more ground, but also help them learn more about this precious resource—all without ever touching a drop. Get the Full Story>>


Gaming Gravity: How Farmers and Ranchers Are Using the Flow of Water to Power Operations on Their Land

Agriculture uses a lot of water. But what if that water were used for more than growing food? What if it could generate energy—renewable energy? It can, and a program in Colorado is helping farmers harness hydropower to lower costs, save time—and conserve the water itself. Get the Full Story>>


Dryland: Farmers in Some of the Toughest Places to Do Agriculture Are the Ones Innovating for Climate Change

"Dryland" farmers on the high plains of Colorado grow their crops with whatever falls from the sky—no irrigation, no pumped groundwater—just what Mother Nature delivers. In recent years some have been trying to innovate to protect their soils and conserve water to prepare for climate change. But they're getting pushback—not only from their neighbors and their own families—but also from the government. Get the Full Story>>


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>>


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.
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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.
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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.
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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>>


Want to Save the Amazon? Think Like an Ant.

Yasuni AmazonYasuni National Park in Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse places 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>>


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>>

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