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  • Writer's pictureMax Neumeyer

IN-RICHES receives $1.45M to support Open Soil Moisture Monitoring and Infrastructure for Colorado

IN-RICHES is excited to announce that it received critical funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 to support the Open Soil Moisture Monitoring and Infrastructure project and expansion of the Colorado Climate Center’s Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (COCORAHS). We are grateful to Senators Hickenlooper and Bennett for recognizing the importance of this project to furthering the state’s resilience to climate risks and supporting a robust agricultural sector.  

As one of the world’s largest stores of fresh water, soil water plays a critical role in sustaining ecosystem health and agriculture and also impacts weather and climate, including drought and extreme precipitation events. Understanding the soil moisture pool also greatly increases the ability to predict and cope with climatic extremes, including: 1) drought risk assessment and management; 2) water supply forecasting; and 3) wildfire prediction. The importance of understanding the soil water store in Colorado cannot be overstated.  Colorado has undergone an unprecedented megadrought, threatening agricultural production and increasing environmental risks, such as wildfires.  In addition, Colorado is the headwaters state for four regional rivers supplying key agricultural regions and millions with drinking water.  

Existing monitoring of the soil water store, however, is inadequate to meet the state’s and region’s needs. It is estimated that the soil water reservoir in Colorado contains 2.5 times as much water as the State’s surface waters.  More information about this reservoir will help make better water use decisions. 

To close these information gaps, IN-RICHES launched the Open Soil Moisture Monitoring and Infrastructure project last April.  This project has two goals: 

  1. Strategically expand soil moisture monitoring to inform water supply forecasting and climate risks; and 

  1. Develop a publicly accessible, web-based tool that may be used to forecast water supply and inform predictions and preventions of weather-related hazards, such as drought, wildfire, and flooding.  

Coupled with the expansion of COCORAHS, this project will substantially increase Colorado’s ability to predict and manage climate risks.  

We are also grateful to our many supporters and collaborators to date including the Colorado River District, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, and the Aspen Global Change Institute, among many others. 


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