Colorados big lake seeks clarity |

Colorados big lake seeks clarity

Allen BestVail, CO Colorado

GRAND LAKE Grand Lake, located at the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, is the namesake of a town, but also the origin of the Colorado River. Until Congress dictated otherwise in 1924, the river was known as the Grand. The lake is the largest natural body of water in Colorado, and in 1937 had unusual clarity. It was possible, a scientist found, to see down into the lake for 30 feet.This is by no means a record. Lake Tahoe once had a clarity of more than 100 feet. But the clarity of both Tahoe and Grand Lake has diminished in recent decades.In Tahoe, the change in clarity is blamed on a wide variety of development. Grand Lakes reduced clarity is blamed on a water diversion project called the Colorado-Big Thompson, which diverts water to cities and farms from Boulder to Fort Collins.That diversion includes two dams immediately downstream from Grand Lake. One of those, called Shadow Mountain, essentially enlarges Grand Lake, making it into a reservoir before the water is pumped through the Continental Divide to Estes Park.But Shadow Mountain is shallow, which results in warmer temperatures. Warmer temperatures produce weeds and algae growth. All of this flows into the inter-connected Grand Lake, reducing the 30-foot clarity to only 5 to 10 feet.Activists, reports the Sky-Hi News, say that Grand Lake must cease to be used as a holding pond. They say a $60 million pipeline from downstream at Granby Reservoir could bypass Grand Lake altogether.Activists are also getting the Colorado Department of Health and Environment involved to verify and validate their claims that the water quality is deteriorating in a way that could be harmful.

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. July was on pace to be the hottest month in Jackson Hole in the last 25 years.Its not that the individual days set records. The high this year was 97, says the Jackson Hole News&Guide, and its been at least 98 before and possibly 100.But 21 of the first 24 days of July surpassed 90 degrees in Jackson, the local valleys only city. That easily surpasses the previous record of 90-plus days. That record, set only four years ago, was for 14 days.This story of oven-hot temperatures fits in with the pattern, of course. In the last 12 years, 11 of the Earths hottest mean temperatures have been record.

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