͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ 
Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.


Image description

Water Quality Watch

June 2023

If you do not see the photos in this email, please click the link above that says, 

"Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser."

Welcome to our Newsletter

Welcome to Grand County Water Information Network's (GCWIN)'s Water Quality Watch newsletter where we keep you updated on the most pressing issues related to water quality and conservation. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage, settle in, and explore GCWIN's latest news and updates.

This edition of Water Quality Watch newsletter contains the following sections: 

  • From the Field - update from our field team
  • Education Corner - update from our education coordinator
  • Parameter Spotlight - info on one of our tracked parameters
  • Data Dump - overview of recent data collected by our field team
  • The More You Know - featured article on a water quality or conservation topic
  • Member Highlight - spotlight on one of GCWIN's members 
  • In the Boardroom - update from one of GCWIN's board members or GCWIN's Executive Director


GCWIN is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was established in 2004 to coordinate, manage and consolidate the comprehensive water quality monitoring, information, and educational programs in Grand County, Colorado.  GCWIN's work is guided by a Board of Directors and membership network that includes Grand County's town and county governments, water and sanitation districts, and other non-governmental organizations with vested interests in Grand County's water.

Learn about GCWIN

From the Field

Now that the seasons are changing, temperatures are on the rise, and our snow-capped peaks are beginning to melt, staff at GCWIN are gearing up for an exciting field season.  Our faithful field technicians spend their time monitoring water quality, recording stream temperature data, assessing lake clarity, and checking for harmful cyanobacteria.  The goal of our monitoring programs is to enable better decision-making by providing scientifically sound, watershed-based data to our members and the public.

New Year - New Staff

It is with great pleasure that GCWIN announces our newly hired staff.  At the beginning of the year, GCWIN only had two staff members - our Executive Director, Mary Price, and our Administrative Assistant, Stephanie Sloan. Since then, we have hired four new staff members.  With a full staff this summer, our field season is sure to be a success.  New staff members include:

  • Katlin Miller, Education Coordinator
  • Kyle Masterson, Data and Field Technician
  • Brooklyn Cimino, Field Technician
  • Rick Inhofer, Boat Operator
Winne (Field Dog), Brooklyn Cimino (Field Tech), Mary Price (ED), Katlin Miller (Education Coordinator), Molly Good (WCC), Rick Inofer (Boat Driver), Kyle Masterson (Field and Data Tech)

2023 Field Team: Brooklyn Cimino (Field Technician), Mary Price (Executive Director), Kyle Masterson (Field and Data Technician).  Missing: Rick Inofer (Boat Operator).

Image description

Katlin Miller (Education Coordinator)

Education Corner

Point Park Day was a success!

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, GCWIN and its partnering agencies were blessed with perfect weather for "Point Park Day".  After a 3-year break due to COVID-19, this second-grade field trip came back with a bang.  

In total, 84 students attended a full-day, outdoor education event at Point Park and Hilltop Boat Launch in Grand Lake.  Students rotated through eight stations to increase their appreciation for the land, water, plants, and animals of Grand County.

Stations included:

  • Canoeing - By National Sports Center for the Disabled
  • Leave No Trace Principles - By Headwaters Trails Alliance
  • Bird Adaptations - By Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Hug A Tree Outdoor Survival - By Grand County Search and Rescue
  • Forest Ecology - By Colorado State Forest Service
  • Wilderness Camping Etiquette - By US Forest Service Sulphur Ranger District
  • Fishing and Casting - By Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Solutions to Water Pollution - By GCWIN

Thanks to a generous donation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, each student also received a fishing rod to practice their fishing skills over the summer break.  

GCWIN thanks all of its partner agencies and their staff for making this field trip a huge success; we could not have done it alone.  We also thank Kremmling and Granby Elementary schools, as well as three homeschool students, for attending this spectacular day.  

Photos below: Student enjoying their emergency shelter; students learning about water pollution; students canoeing on Grand Lake; students learning about bird adaptations.

Image description
Image description
Image description
Image description

Parameter Spotlight: Stream Temperature

GCWIN has 57 stream temperature sites throughout Grand County.  Temperature probes are monitored once per week throughout the summer and fall. GCWIN's spatial coverage ranges from the Fraser River near the Mary Jane entrance all the way to the Colorado River in Kremmling!  

Stream Temperature: A Vital Sign of Aquatic Health

Changing the temperature of a water body is considered pollution by the state. Stream temperature plays a crucial role in determining the overall health and viability of aquatic ecosystems. Increases in temperature can influence the distribution of aquatic organisms from species that are more sensitive to pollution to those that are less sensitive, alter their growth rates, impact reproduction cycles, and even disrupt entire food webs. In recent years, Colorado has seen some notable changes in stream temperature, warranting our attention and proactive efforts to protect these valuable water resources. 

Understanding the Factors at Play

Several factors contribute to stream temperature fluctuations, including weather patterns, streamflow rates, elevation, shading from vegetation, and human activities. The interconnectedness of these variables makes it essential to consider multiple factors when assessing the temperature dynamics of Colorado's streams. 

Climate Change and Stream Temperature

As climate change continues to exert its influence on our planet, it has become increasingly evident that stream temperatures are rising across the globe. Colorado is no exception, with observable shifts in temperature patterns in recent years. Warmer air temperatures and altered precipitation patterns can directly impact stream temperatures, making it a critical concern for water quality advocates and conservationists. 

Implications for Aquatic Life

Aquatic organisms, such as fish, insects, and plants, have specific temperature ranges within which they thrive. When stream temperatures deviate from these ranges, it can lead to significant ecological consequences. Warmer waters can lead to decreased dissolved oxygen levels, increased vulnerability to diseases and parasites, and reduced reproductive success. These factors collectively affect the biodiversity and sustainability of aquatic ecosystems. 

Mitigation and Conservation Efforts

To address the challenges posed by rising stream temperatures, various mitigation and conservation strategies are being implemented across Colorado. Here are a few notable efforts: 

  1. Riparian Restoration: Planting native vegetation along stream banks helps create shade and stabilize stream temperatures. 

  2. Water Conservation: Conserving water at an individual and community level reduces the stress on aquatic ecosystems by maintaining natural streamflows. 

  3. Pollution Prevention: Limiting the discharge of pollutants into water bodies helps preserve water quality and protect the overall health of aquatic organisms. 
Image description

GCWIN field tech, Brooklyn Cimino, checking the water temperature at one of GCWIN's stream temperature sites.

Data Dump

This section is dedicated to our database and the data we collect throughout the field season.  To better access the information we collect, GCWIN has established a publicly accessible water quality database that holds all the water quality data for the county. In 2018, we migrated our data over to the Ambient Water Quality Monitoring System (AWQMS).  This is the same database used by the Colorado Data Sharing Network.  

GCWIN Database

Recent Data

Below is a graph displaying the daily average stream temperatures on the Fraser River at Kaibab Park in Granby. The red line is data from 2022, and the green line is 2023 through June 12, 2023. This graph shows us a comparison of temperatures year to year. As most of us can feel in this year, it is a little more chilly than last year in our streams so far! This is a location on the Fraser River the GCWIN Field Team checks on a weekly basis. Once uploaded to the database, this data will be available to the public as well. 

Image description

The More You Know

Where does our water flow?

Did you know there is only one natural outlet for water flowing out of Grand County (besides evaporation)?  

Grand County is a unique and special place.  Appropriately coined "Island in the Rockies", Grand County is a secluded park in the Rocky Mountains.  Bounded by the Continental Divide to the east, the Gore Range to the west, and the Rabbit Ears Range to the north, precipitation that falls in Grand County flows from the peaks, down the mountains, and into the valleys below. 

Naturally, all streams, creeks, and tributaries that begin in Grand County merge with the Colorado River before exiting through Gore Canyon near Kremmling. This water eventually ends up in the Gulf of California (Pacific Watershed). 

However, prior to reaching the Colorado River, some water is captured and diverted to the East Slope through four transmountain diversions.  Water that is diverted over or under the Continental Divide eventually ends up in the Gulf of Mexico (Atlantic Watershed).  The four transmountain diversions originating in Grand County include:

Grand Ditch: In Rocky Mountain National Park, the Grand Ditch diverts water from the North Fork of the Colorado River to the Water Supply & Storage Company in the Cache la Poudre River Valley.  

Alva B. Adams Tunnel: Near Grand Lake, the Alva B. Adams Tunnel is part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT Project), which diverts water in the Three Lakes and Willow Creek Reservoir and the North Fork of the Colorado River to Northeastern Colorado for water users within the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Northern Water). Northern Water also utilizes the C-BT Project to convey Windy Gap water to participants on the eastern slope.

Moffat Tunnel: Near Winter Park Ski Area, the Moffat Water Tunnel diverts water from the Fraser River and its tributaries, as well as the Williams Fork collection system, to Denver Water. 

Berthoud Pass Ditch: On Berthoud Pass, the Berthoud Pass Ditch diverts water from Fraser River tributaries to the cities of Northglenn and Golden.  

Image description

The Colorado River at Gore Canyon.

Other Water News

Are you interested in receiving more water news and articles in your inbox?  If so, you might consider subscribing to the following newsletters electronically distributed by GCWIN's member organizations.

Member Highlight

GCWIN is supported by its strong membership network. Our membership is committed to protecting water quality in Grand County by supporting GCWIN's mission.

GCWIN Membership

Grand County Government and the Board of County Commissioners

Grand County was instrumental in the founding of GCWIN. Each year the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has approved funding and staff time to support GCWIN. This funding goes towards our mission in funding education events, data storage, and our monitoring efforts.  This year GCWIN has served the county in being the collection team for various samples including: sediment sampling, and cyanobacteria sampling. Thank you, Grand County and the BOCC, for your continued support and collaboration with GCWIN. 

Image description
Image description

In the Boardroom

GCWIN is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by GCWIN's membership.  The Board of Directors meets every two months throughout the year.

GCWIN Board of Directors

Our Newest Board Member: Rebecca Briesmoore, Representing the Colorado River District

Scraping a coating of ice off a boat in Rock Island, Illinois, to collect samples isn’t the most fun introduction to water quality, but nevertheless, I was hooked. Back then, as a freshly-graduated engineer, water quality sampling was an exciting out-of-office learning opportunity, even if it did involve some frigid early mornings.

Now, almost ten years later, I am thrilled to work in the water quality world once again and serve on the GCWIN board as the Colorado River District (River District) representative. Although I am no longer in the field collecting samples, the Board of Directors plays an important role by collaboratively providing direction and support for GCWIN and its employees.

As a Water Resources Engineer/Project Manager and the point person for water quality at the River District, I work with diverse stakeholder groups across the state to protect the ability of our constituents to use water beneficially now and in the future. The River District, a local governmental agency established in 1937 to oversee and protect the water resources of the Colorado River and its tributaries within the state of Colorado, recognizes that clean, healthy rivers support vibrant communities and thriving rural communities on the Western Slope. We are committed to listening to the needs and priorities of our constituents and will continue to be part of the conversations and projects in Grand County to protect water quality for the region.

On the Board, we have a deep appreciation for the GCWIN staff who brave sunburns, early mornings, and cold or rainy weather to collect this valuable data for water users in Colorado. And while we hope that they never find themselves scraping ice off a boat, we thank the staff for their hard work and dedication to GCWIN's important mission!

Rebecca Briesmoore
Water Resources Engineer/Project Manager
Colorado River District

Image description

Rebecca Briesmoore

Grand County Water Information Network
610 Center Dr | Grand Lake | CO 80447 | USA

(970) 627-8162


If you want to unsubscribe, click here.