Palmer Lake, that body of water from which a little town takes its name, is dry — and reader Steve Krizman wants to know what’s up with that.
The simple answer is that the region’s enduring drought has robbed the lake of groundwater flows that historically settled in that small low spot on the top of the Palmer Divide. A small pipeline built long ago by a railroad also fed the lake, but with the passing of the steam engines that once took on water there, that use was discontinued.
In purely hydrologic terms, “that lake has always been subsidized,” said Jeff Hulsmann, longtime resident and restaurant owner. “But it’s the focal point of the town.”
The lake has been dry since summer and re-filling it is “going to be a longer process than people think,” said Hulsmann, a member of a citizens group, Awake Palmer Lake.
The town is united, but water is scarce and expensive and Colorado water law is complicated, especially for a lake that sits on the divide between two major river basins. Technically the lake resides in the Platte River Basin, even though excess water from the lake in the past has run south — to the Arkansas River Basin. Law requires that water cannot be moved from one basin to another without a court decree.
The town wanted to reactivate the old railroad pipeline, but state water officials said the pipe had not been used for steam engines in so long, the water right was deemed abandoned.
The group raises money for a solution that is not in sight, but Hulsmann said they’re not giving up.
On the lighter side, reader Janna Botello asked “When did I become a Coloradan? I moved in 1991 as a Coloradoan and when I moved back I was suddenly a Coloradan?”
Judi Terzotis, former advertising director at The Gazette and now publisher of the Fort Collins Coloradoan, laughed and said “we get teased in Fort Collins. We’re proud to be Coloradoans.”
The best research I could find was done by the late Denver Post columnist, Ed Quillen, whose digging led to this explanation, printed in 2007: “When a place name ends in “o,” you add “an.” The exception is if the place name is of Spanish origin; then you drop the “o” before adding “an.”
Thus one resident is a Chicagoan but another is a San Franciscan, or a Coloradan.
“Since Colorado is a Spanish word for the color red, we are properly Coloradans, not Coloradoans,” Quillen concluded.
But if it’s good enough for the newspaper in Fort Collins, if there is no law against it and if we have more important things to disagree about, then there may be room for both Coloradans and Coloradoans.
It’s the holiday season, after all.
Listen to Barry Noreen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Contact him at 719-636-0363 or firstname.lastname@example.org