Heads Up: Urban heat mapping project, climate poll, Barker Dam spill update

Here’s some need-to-know information for the week:

City, NOAA to Map Boulder’s Urban Heat

As the summer of 2021 vividly illustrated, global warming and the associated climate changes will significantly increase the potential for extreme heat and other disruptive impacts such as wildfire, drought, and extreme winds.

Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the next cohort of over a dozen cities across the city participating in a groundbreaking urban heat mapping initiative. Boulder has been selected to participate in this effort. In this initiative, the city will recruit and coordinate up to 100 community volunteers in gathering urban heat data. Volunteer registration for volunteers is now open.

The city is also working with NASA/JPL, the CU Earthlab, CU researchers and others to integrate this data with information that will be gathered from a network for over 50 stationary sensor stations. This will create one of the most comprehensive urban heat maps ever constructed. This information will then be integrated into sophisticated heat management models developed by Georgia Tech’s Urban Climate Lab to help design urban forestry expansion strategies designed to target cooling to areas with the greatest vulnerability.

For more information, contact Natural Climate Solutions Policy Advisor Brett KenCairn.

Climate tax poll open through June 2

This week, the city began polling on the proposed climate tax that may, if approved by council, would go to Boulder voters in November. The statistically valid survey, available in English and Spanish, is being conducted online and over the phone. Registered voters can expect to receive a text message with a link to a survey and the city is promoting via several communication channels. The survey is open through June 2 to residents of the City of Boulder ages 18 and older.

The direct link to the survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Boulder_Climate_LIVE

The survey is not the only way the city plans to collect feedback on the ballot measure and climate projects. A separate survey for local businesses will be available later this month. The city will also conduct several focus groups designed to gather input from community groups, target communities and businesses throughout the summer.

For more information, contact Interim Director of Climate Initiatives Jonathan Koehn.

Barker Reservoir to fill and spill soon

Each spring as temperatures warm, stream flows increase due to runoff from melting mountain snow. Before peak stream flows occur at lower elevations (like in the city of Boulder), mountain reservoirs must first fill and start spilling.

Barker Reservoir is expected to start spilling in the next two weeks. This is a normal and expected event, which will increase flows in Boulder Creek throughout the city. Barker spill typically occurs sometime between mid-May to late June, with the exact date dependent on weather, snowpack and early spring reservoir levels.

Like all the city’s water supply reservoirs, Barker Reservoir provides a source of drinking water and its operation (storage and release timing) is dictated by water rights administration. Unlike flood control reservoirs that have extremely large storage volumes (e.g. Cherry Creek and Chatfield Reservoirs), Barker Reservoir has relatively limited storage space, which means that when the reservoir is full, excess water passes over the spillway and continues flowing downstream into Boulder Creek. To provide a sense of scale, the volume of water that flows through Middle Boulder Creek each spring could fill the reservoir multiple times.

For more information about the city’s mountain reservoirs, contact Kim Hutton, Water Resources Manager, at HuttonK@bouldercolorado.gov or 303-441-3115.

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