Larimer County commissioners have again delayed their vote on a controversial water pipeline the city of Thornton wants to build north of Fort Collins. The issue has been tabled until December.

Sean Munson/Flickr Creative Commons

More than thirty years ago, the city of Thornton purchased water rights along the Poudre River in Larimer County. Those rights, about 14,000 acre-feet, haven't been tapped for municipal use — until now.

Michael de Yoanna / KUNC

[Updated 11/2/17,  8:45 a.m.] Two men and a woman are dead following a shooting at a Walmart in Thornton Wednesday night. Colorado authorities have arrested 47-year-old Scott Ostrem as the suspect.

Courtesy of Denver Museum of Nature & Science

UPDATE: In December 2017, officials with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science announced that the fossils actually were that of a rare torosaurus, not a triceratops as originally believed.

It started out as just an ordinary Friday for construction inspector Dan Wagner, who was working on the City of Thornton’s new public safety building.

“I just started kicking around the dirt underneath my feet, and I found another couple fragments of it,” Wagner said. “And then I dusted off the area, and found a -- kind of a plate bone -- ended up being what was the horn.”

Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Few things are more valuable to a farmer in the arid West than irrigation water. Without it, the land turns back into its natural state: dry, dusty plains. If a fast-growing city is your neighbor, then your water holds even more value.

Farm families in Western states like California and Colorado are increasingly under pressure to sell their water. It’s been coined “buy and dry,” as water is diverted from farm fields and instead used to fill pipes in condos and subdivisions.

Buy and dry deals are usually cut behind closed doors, in quiet, unassuming meetings. A city approaches a farmer, or a farmer approaches a city, and strikes a deal. But a recent public auction in Loveland, Colorado threw the doors wide open, bringing myriad bidders and interests into one room to duke it out. It gives a glimpse of the unique stresses and opportunities farmers face in parched portions of the West.

The City of Thornton is one of many growing suburbs of Denver, Colo. On a day without much traffic, it's only a 20-minute commute into the state capitol, and its new homes with big yards make it an attractive bedroom community. Nearly 130,000 people live there, and the population is expected to keep booming.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

Every year Bill LeBlanc, a senior adviser with Colorado-based E Source, hits the streets with a video camera to chat with average Americans about energy. He usually starts with the basics like, "what exactly is electricity?"

Through those videos he finds that most utilities customers don't really understand electricity or most of them don't really care to. That's a challenge for the nation's aging electrical grid. Public knowledge will likely play a bigger role in finding solutions to challenges like reliability, expansion and efficiency.

There are occasions though when greater knowledge actually leads to extra roadblocks for utilities.


Thanks to an unsolicited funding bid in 2013 from Regional Rail Partners, cities like Thornton and Northglenn will be linked to the entire RTD system by 2018 instead of 2042.

The city of Thornton almost touched off a modern-day water war when it bought thousands of acres in Northern Colorado for the water rights back in the 1980s. Now it may sell some back for flood control. KUNC’s Erin O’Toole talks with Jeff Nuttall, publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report, about those plans.