Click on a thumbnail below to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS. Please note that most of the High/Low graphs have not updated since Friday and I could not locate the one for the Rio Grande. The basin-filled maps are from this morning.
From the Craig Daily Press (Lauren Blair):
Like much of the West, Northwest Colorado saw one its most epic and most expensive wildfire seasons to date in 2018. The region is accustomed to dealing with lots of fires, but this year’s extreme heat and drought resulted in more volatile fires that consumed vastly larger numbers of acres than in years past.
“It was the busiest year we’ve had in the last 10 years, by far,” said Colt Mortenson, fire management officer for the Bureau of Land Management’s northwest region. “Usually, you get a fire, you get a rest, and then another comes up. It pulses. But this year, it didn’t pulse. It began about the 20th of June and lasted straight through until October.”
A total of 229 fires charred more than 108,000 acres across Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Jackson, and Grand counties, according to Mortenson, including some acreage burned across the border into neighboring Wyoming and Utah. That is nearly twice the acres that burned last year and more than any fire season in the past 20 years. In Moffat County, alone, more than 23,000 acres burned, most of them in the 19,955-acre Divide Fire north of Craig.
The fires strapped both local and national resources, destroyed grazing lands and sage grouse habitat, and cost local, state, and national agencies lots of money.
“Without question, this will be the most expensive wildland fire season Moffat County has experienced,” said Sheriff KC Hume.
Hume estimates that fires like the 4,100-acre Bender Mountain Fire, which burned from Utah into Colorado in September, and the 8,610-acre Boone Draw Fire cost several millions of dollars each.
Some fires are more expensive than others though, noted Mortenson.
“When you have fires burning in forest, like the Ryan Fire and Silver Creek Fire, (which) burned for up to 100 days … those are really, really expensive fires,” he said. “I’d say we easily spent over $30 million with the Ryan Fire and Silver Creek Fire,” which burned 28,585 acres and 20,120 acres, respectively, in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.
Firefighting costs are complex and split across multiple levels of government depending on whether a fire burned on private, state, or federal land. The Moffat County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for fighting fire on private and state land and shares that load with Craig Fire/Rescue, which is responsible for a 180-square-mile district.
Moffat County Road & Bridge provided nearly 2,500 man-hours of firefighting support on 13 fires this summer, of which about 840 hours were overtime.
“We’re at 108-percent of our overtime for the year,” said Ken Moncrief, motor grader supervisor for Road & Bridge. “Typically, our overtime would go for snowplowing … but the fire season is pretty much the culprit for eating up our overtime budgets. It hit us a little harder this year than it has in the past.”
The county often sends motor graders and dozers to help dig firelines and provides water tenders, when needed. Some of those hours may be reimbursed by state or federal agencies, but a significant portion will remain the county’s responsibility.
The Craig-Moffat County Airport also played a key role in firefighting efforts this summer with the addition of two new helipads for firefighting helicopters, as well as functioning as a base for single engine air tankers, or SEAT.
“Out of the Craig SEAT base, we flew over 400,000 gallons of water, thermal gel, and retardant, which is a record amount at least for the last 20 years,” Mortenson said.
The reason behind so many record-breaking numbers in this year’s fire season is a weather year that also broke records. Most of Moffat County experienced the hottest year on record for the 2018 water year, according to a report from the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, as did most of Northwest Colorado and the Western Slope. Conditions were also extremely dry, with a slice of western Moffat County claiming its driest year on record.
“Now, a lot of people are talking about how our fire season has gone from 100 days to 150 days. It’s getting warmer and seems to be getting drier,” Mortenson said. “The number of fires we’ve had in the last 20 years has increased, and the severity of the fires has increased.”
Lightning is usually prolific across Moffat County in summer, with as many as 8,000 lightning strikes in a single night in years past, Mortenson said. While lightning strikes were fewer than normal this year, they started even more fires, because they were met with extremely dry vegetation on the ground, he added.
“Usually, we spot a fire or get a report and have time to get an engine out there, but within 20 minutes, it was off and going,” he said. “This year, they just moved on us.”
The majority of fires in 2018 were lightning-caused, but nearly a third were human-caused, according to statistics from the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center.
Two homes were destroyed in the Divide Fire, and it left its mark upon residents and ranchers in other ways, as well. Miles upon miles of agricultural fencing burned, as did grazing land. Cattle rancher Wes McStay was one of several ranchers who felt the sting; about 1,800 of his own acres burned in the Divide Fire, as well as 500 acres of permitted BLM grazing lands and at least eight miles of fencing.
“It’s $10,000 to $12,000 a mile to replace it. It hurts,” McStay said, noting that it was a tough summer all-around for him and his neighbors due to drought. McStay has also had to resort to buying expensive feed and hay to make up for the losses. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it, the hottest and driest I’ve ever seen it. Everybody struggled, not just us.”
McStay also lamented wildfire’s impact on sage grouse. The Divide Fire consumed some of Moffat County’s prime sage grouse habitat, including a field on McStay’s property that was home to the state’s largest sage grouse lek, or mating ground.
“I’ve been working on this sage grouse thing for the last 20 years, and much of what I’ve done just went up in smoke. It’s disappointing,” McStay said.
A total of 38,100 acres of sage grouse habitat burned in Northwest Colorado this year, most of it priority habitat, accounting for more than a third of the acreage that burned in the region.
“The challenge with sage grouse habitat is that invasive annual grasses can replace the sagebrush,” said BLM spokesperson David Boyd in an email. “Also in areas where habitat is limited, there may not be many areas for birds displaced from a large fire to go.”
There were no major closures to hunters in the area due to fire this year, said Bill DeVergie, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks & Wildlife, based in Meeker. He did express some concern, however, for how big game populations will fare this winter.
“A couple of the big fires were further west on the winter range, so there will probably be less forage available,” DeVergie said. “It depends on what kind of winter and how much snow we get, but it could make it difficult for them to find food.”
Nonetheless, the ecological costs of fire are often eventually outweighed by the benefits, when new growth in the landscape emerges in the years to come. Meanwhile, the exact dollar costs of the 2018 fire season won’t be known until next spring, when the state completes a complex set of calculations and sends out bills to the different agencies responsible, including the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office.
“We had more wildland fire than we’ve ever had, and we spent more money than we ever have,” Hume said of 2018. But, “we have an extremely robust wildland fire suppression group. … I honestly believe that we do wildland fire better than many areas because of the relationships that we have here.”
Contact Lauren Blair at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.
From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):
Thornton leaders plan to lend up to 3,000 acre-feet of water to the ailing Poudre River.
The effort is part of a long-term plan to create a virtual barter market on the Poudre, where cities, farmers and ditch companies can lend their water rights to a stretch of the river before taking it back at a downstream point. Thornton is working with Fort Collins, Greeley, Northern Water and other stakeholders on the so-called Poudre Flows project.
The Poudre Flows project still needs sign-off from Colorado’s water court. Thornton leaders and other stakeholders previously told the Coloradoan they’re planning to carry out the project without infringing on other people’s water rights.
From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Thomas Phippen):
The Hot Springs Connection held its inaugural meeting in Glenwood Springs Wednesday through Friday. Organized by [Vicky] Nash, who founded tourism data marketing firm Resort Trends Inc., the aim of the conference was to gather owners and operators to share knowledge and build a network to help each other.
“The group really wants to form an industry association so they have a network of people they can communicate with. We’re going to start that process,” Nash said. She plans to work with association managers to begin the process of setting up the board and bylaws.
Nash will also move forward with a website to list every hot springs resort in North America. The site will likely have a buy-in for resorts to add additional information beyond a basic listing on the site.
“Why reinvent the wheel? Someone said that yesterday, and it’s true. We’re all dealing with similar issues,” Mike Sommer, who is assisting South Dakota hot springs owner Kara Hagen renovate a resort that has been defunct since the 1940s.
Each place where heated water bubbles up to the surface is an opportunity for something unique.
In Glenwood Springs, that variety exists in a few square miles — from the sulfuric vapor of the Yampah caves, which the Los Angeles Times once described as something out of Dante’s “Inferno,” to the largest hot springs pool in North America filled with water from the Yampah that functions as a community gathering place, to the aesthetic soaking pools in view of the Colorado River at Iron Mountain.
HOT TOWN TOUR
The owners of the three principal hot springs resorts in Glenwood — the Hot Springs Pool, Iron Mountain Hot Springs and the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves — led the attendees through the back-end of their businesses to show how the mineral-rich water gets from the ground to the guests.
The diversity is good for the industry because it limits how much each resort competes with another, but it also means there are numerous ways to design and create the thermal springs resort, and that can be daunting for the newcomer…
One thing Seibel hopes to see from an association of thermal springs owners is help in educating the public, and even lawmakers, about hot springs.
Legislators are “putting out laws that are very restrictive, but they don’t understand what is happening,” Seibel said.
Each state has different laws, and a trade association could help owners navigate the regulations, he said.
The big pool at Glenwood Hot Springs and the family pool at Iron Mountain must be chlorinated. Colorado statutes require water to be treated unless it completely cycles through a pool in two hours or less — as the 16 hotter soaking pools at Iron Mountain are set up to do.
At the Glenwood Hot Springs pool, manager Brian Ammerman told the group about the challenges of keeping the big million-gallon pool of water at a consistent 92 degrees.
Each hour, the operators take the temperature of the gravity-fed filter tanks and calculate how hot the water needs to be to keep the pool at the desired temperature. “You open up a little cold, a little hot, it’s all feel,” Ammerman said.
From Inkstain (John Fleck):
At Colorado Mesa University’s Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum [November 7-8, 2018] in Grand Junction, a distinguished panel of the Colorado River Basin brain trust cheerfully dodged an audience question about what the basin states’ Plan B is if Arizona can’t come to the internal agreement needed to sign on to a Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan.
“Arizona will figure it out,” said Chris Harris, Executive Director of the Colorado River Board of California.
With no one from Arizona on the panel to speak for themselves, it’s probably the best answer Harris could have given to an unfair question. Clearly the representatives of the federal government and the other six Colorado River Basin states can see what the rest of us can see regarding Arizona’s difficulties in coming to agreement on how to reduce water use to meet their obligations under the DCP. And they’re smart people, which means we have to believe they’ve thought about what a six-state, Arizona-less DCP might look like. But it would be unwise at this point to talk about it publicly.
Abigail Sullivan of Indiana University and colleagues published a fascinating new paper looking at Arizona’s DCP process that sheds some light on the current situation. It helps explain why a) Arizona’s current efforts to come to an agreement on a DCP have run aground, and b) why there’s reason to be optimistic that Harris’s answer to the question during the Grand Junction conference is ultimately probably the right one, and we won’t have to worry about how Plan B might work.
Sullivan and colleagues identify a window of opportunity that opened in 2016 “tied to declining Lake Mead elevations and perceived harm associated with inaction”. At the time, Arizona was staring at a formal shortage declaration that would have forced mandatory reductions in its supply of Colorado River water. And at the time, it appeared Arizona was on board with the complex shortage-sharing provisions in the DCP, which would importantly for the first time bring California voluntarily into the “we’re all gonna use less Lower Basin water” club.
And then the snows fell, and the window of opportunity closed:
“After continuing to decline throughout 2015 and 2016, increased winter precipitation in 2016–2017, combined with ongoing conservation efforts, raised Lake Mead’s elevation to 1089 feet in March 2017. After the period of increased precipitation in early 2017, evidence of short-term thinking related to the DCP emerged. In 2017, there were numerous instances of stakeholders planning or making decisions based on weather, as opposed to climate.”
From Inkstain (John Fleck):
Interesting letter from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District board leadership regarding Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan. Not sure what this means, seems kind of important. I guess we all need to set aside some time on Nov. 15 to find out.
“Please be advised that the Board of Directors of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District is holding a special meeting on November 15, 2018 to discuss a number of matters related to the Drought Contingency Plan in preparation for significant decisions that the Board may take up as soon as the December 6, 2018 regular Board meeting. We anticipate that a DCP Mitigation Proposal will result from the Board’s November 15 discussions, which we, the undersigned, as Delegates to the Arizona DCP Steering Committee, would like to present to the Steering Committee as soon as possible thereafter.”
From Inkstain (John Fleck):
Here, from the solution space, a proposal from Arizona’s Colorado River Indian Tribes to help Arizona reduce its use of the river’s water. The CRIT have some of the bestest most senior Colorado River water rights in the state:
“Attached to this letter is the proposal from the Colorado River Indian Tribes for System Conservation and Intentionally Created Surplus to assist the State of Arizona in its effort to adopt the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.
“We live on the Colorado River. The River runs through the middle of our land. We understand the risks to the River with continued drought throughout the Basin. Our proposal is to protect the life of the River. We believe that adopting the Drought Contingency Plan by all the Basin States, including Arizona, is the best way to protect the River during the decades?long drought, as temperatures rise and our climate changes.
“We have been working with Reclamation and your respective staffs over the last few months to prepare a proposal that will make a difference for this process. This proposal is one that we know we can fulfill, and that Reclamation can verify. The attached documents detail our plan to make 50,000 acre-feet of water available for Compensated System Conservation each year for three years beginning in January 2020 for a total of 150,000 acre?feet of water. in addition, we will agree to forebear from increasing our consumptive use on the Reservation above an agreed upon baseline. This will provide the CAWCD with increased certainty about the supply available for use in Arizona. We are also creating up to 20,000 acre-feet of intentionally Created Surplus in our name to be used as a buffer for our on-reservation water use when the Overrun and Payback Policy is suspended during shortages.
“The Tribes are asking for $250 an acre-foot for the Compensated System Conservation portion of the proposal. This does not reflect the economic value of CRIT water for farming on our reservation or the value of the number one priority water in the Lower Basin. However, we are willing to accept this price in order to assist with the Drought Contingency Plan to protect the River.
“Our water right does not best serve the State of Arizona by placing it in Lake Mead as System Conservation. The value of our water will be realized when we have the Congressional authorization to make a portion of our water available for off-reservation uses within the State of Arizona and preserve the first priority of our right during shortages.
“We look forward to working with Governor Ducey and our Representatives in Congress to pass
the federal legislation necessary to make this happen.”
From The Farmington Daily Times (Hannah Grover):
Approximately 19 years of drought in the Colorado River basin have led the seven states that rely on water from the river and its tributaries to look at ways they can avoid severe water crises.
That could have major impacts for San Juan County residents, according to Rolf Schmidt-Petersen, who serves as the bureau chief for the Colorado River basin for the Interstate Stream Commission.
“The issue that we’re talking about today and the plans that we are talking about today are very important for the Upper Colorado basin,” said Schmidt-Petersen during a San Juan Water Commission meeting on Wednesday…
That potential [pre-1922 call] could impact many water rights in San Juan County. Schmidt-Petersen cited the Navajo-Gallup project and the water rights in the Hammond area near Bloomfield as some of the post-1922 water rights.
The potential challenges the seven states that rely on the Colorado River could face in the future led to the two basins drafting drought contingency plans, which were released in October.
The upper-basin plan has two aims — ensuring the water level in Lake Powell does not drop below a certain point and developing a system for storing water in certain reservoirs, including Navajo Lake.
Schmidt-Petersen said Navajo Nation was not included in the process of drafting the plan.
The draft drought contingency plan can be read at http://ucrcommission.com.
From Arizona Public Media (Vanessa Barchfield and Tony Davis):
The gap between Pinal County farmers and the Gila River Indians over how to protect the Colorado River and Lake Mead is far wider than the interstate highway separating their communities.
Farmers Dan Thelander and Cindi Pearson grow cotton, alfalfa, grains, melons and other crops on fields amidst a bevy of dairies, cattle feedlots and small towns west of Interstate 10 and south of Casa Grande.
They’re worried that one version of a plan to stave off a catastrophe at Lake Mead is unfair and will threaten their long-term livelihood, along with the entire agriculture economy that has thrived in Pinal County since World War II.
Gila River Tribal Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis runs the Indian nation from his office in Sacaton, just east of Interstate 10 and a 50-minute drive from the non-Indian farmers.
He says a version of the water-saving plan favored by Pinal farmers is not only unfair, but will cost the tribe close to $200 million. Plus, it will slow the tribe’s efforts to heal its own agriculture economy, one wiped out 150 years ago when its water was “stolen” by non-Indian farmers living upstream, Lewis said.
These conflicting views are part of a broader controversy that has created an impasse among water interest groups. It’s jeopardizing the odds of Arizona approving a three-state plan to prevent imperiled Lake Mead from dropping to catastrophically low levels.
The Drought Contingency Plan’s goal is to reduce Arizona, Nevada and California’s take from the Colorado River over the next decade or so. Its goal is also to cut Central Arizona Project deliveries more than originally planned during early shortages of the river’s water.
That would delay more severe cuts that could slash supplies belonging to Arizona’s highest-priority users of Colorado River water through the CAP: Phoenix, Tucson and their suburbs, and the Gilas, the Tohono O’Odham and other tribes.
But non-Indian farmers, tribal leaders, cities, developers and other interest groups can’t agree on what to cut.
All are represented on a 41-member steering committee that’s trying to settle on a plan by November’s end and to get it approved next year by the Arizona Legislature.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has told the states that at least the outlines of drought plans for the river’s Lower and Upper basins should be in place by the end of 2018…
Thelander noted that the farms have known for a long time that their days on CAP water are numbered. The Pinal farmers signed an agreement with the U.S. in 2004 to get a discounted rate for CAP water. In return, they agreed to give up their CAP supplies entirely by 2030. This was in a federal water-rights settlement law that provided CAP rights to the Gila and Tohono O’Odham tribes.
Until now, Thelander planned to gradually switch to groundwater pumping, assuming he and his irrigation district could get some new wells online by then. While he’ll most likely be retired by 2030, his son is 31 and Thelander, 63, says his farm could continue “for the rest of my lifetime” if the CAP water holds out. But if his CAP supplies went away in 2020 — when the Colorado River’s first shortage could be declared — his Maricopa-area farm would drop from 1,700 to 775 acres, reducing crop yields 45 percent, he said. The other farm would drop to 350 acres.
“That size of farm would not be economically viable — I don’t think we would keep farming it,” he said. Thelander said that under the 595,000 acre-foot plan, farms would get 35 percent of their current supplies over the next seven years. Cities and tribes would get 78 to 96 percent of their current supplies at various times. When Mead drops to 1,025 feet, under any plan, cities and tribes would still get water while non-Indian farms would get none..
In reply, Gila Gov. Lewis invoked an earlier history: His tribe and its forebears have farmed for more than 1,000 years and have canal systems of that era that were engineered almost on a par with those of ancient Egypt.
The tribe welcomed a succession of other people to the area, from Spaniards to Mexicans to Mormons and later American settlers, he added. But there “are some sad chapters to this history as well. … When our water was taken away from us 150 years ago, when we had to mobilize our resources to fight for our water back,” he said.
He referred first to the historical diversions of the Gila River carried out by non-Indian farmers upstream, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, that stripped the tribe of the river’s water and its agricultural heritage, and second, to the 2004 water-settlements act.
Today, the Gilas see the water fight not only as an economic issue but as a moral issue, Lewis said in an interview at tribal offices.
“We can’t divorce ourselves from history. We are in a defensive posture,” he said. “All we are asking for is to be treated fairly and equitably at the table.”
The Gilas are not exactly water paupers, since their entire CAP supply of 311,000 acre-feet a year gives them by far the single biggest share of project water.
But in his Oct. 19 letter, Lewis wrote that the current mitigation proposal not only gives the farms a better deal than before, it fails to compensate for the harm to tribes.
Under the current plan, tribes and some Phoenix-area cities would lose more than half of another pool of CAP water known as non-Indian agriculture water when Mead falls below 1,075 feet. That pool used to belong to farms, but was turned over to tribes and cities in 2004…
Once Mead drops to 1,045 feet, water deliveries in that category would be axed.
These cuts amount to a nearly $200 million loss to the tribe over seven years, said tribal attorney Jason Hauter.
“What concerns our community is that there’s been no discussion for any mitigation for the non-Indian ag pool,” Lewis said. “What was discussed was a bailout for Central Arizona agriculture. If non-Indian ag is going to get more than they otherwise would get under the guidelines, then everyone else has to be mitigated. It’s only fair.”
Mesa Republican Rep. Rusty Bowers, a steering committee member who chairs a key House committee handling water issues, said he doesn’t like the conditions the Gilas are setting for accepting a drought plan: “Is this their version of vengeance?”
Lewis said tribal leaders are only trying to protect “what is rightfully ours” — water gained in the 2004 settlement.
Loss of the non-Indian agricultural water will prevent the tribe from storing as much underground as it would like and will slow the growth of tribal farms, Lewis said.
The Gila community now stores much of its CAP water in farms and artificial recharge basins in Central Arizona. In return, the tribe gets credits it can sell to developers, cities and businesses, which use the credits to pump out water elsewhere.
Today, about 60 tribal farmers grow cotton, alfalfa and traditional Gila crops such as tepary beans on nearly 36,000 acres, said David DeJong, director of the tribe’s Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project. The tribe’s goal is to boost that to 77,000 acres by 2030.
Lewis and Hauter emphasized they’re not necessarily against CAP mitigation for non-Indian farmers. The tribe has proposed another plan to the state, the CAP and the U.S. and is looking for other potential water supplies, said Hauter.
“We see ourselves as a moral conscience in this overall discussion,” Lewis said. “For generations, we’ve seen water taken away from us. We see the devastation it brings to the people. It’s one thing we don’t want to be visited on anyone.”
From KJZZ (Bret Jaspers):
Negotiations in Arizona are heating up over an additional plan for when the Colorado River is deemed “in shortage.”
Stakeholders have been working on a deal in earnest since the summer, with biweekly meetings of what’s called the Drought Contingency Plan Steering Committee.
But Thursday’s planned committee meeting was canceled to “give time for additional discussions and analysis,” according to a statement from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District and the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
The next public meeting will be Nov. 8, and formal talks will now almost certainly last beyond Thanksgiving.
From the Arizona Department of Water Resources:
While Arizona water managers and affected stakeholders have been meeting almost daily over the past several months to finalize the state’s Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), plans have been underway on a parallel track for several years to ensure the framework is in place for the entire Colorado River Basin DCP.
Chronic, often severe drought in the Southwest is seriously straining the Colorado River system. With Lake Powell less than half full and Lake Mead below 40 percent of capacity, the seven Colorado River states are preparing to act should Lake Mead continue falling toward critical surface levels. At the same time, some states – including Arizona – are developing drought contingency plans supporting intrastate needs to contend with future Colorado River shortages.
Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released drafts of the Upper Basin DCP and Lower Basin DCP documents. This gives the first glimpse at what will be included in the interstate agreement amongst the Upper Basin and Lower Basin states. These documents contain actions that are in addition to the provisions of the existing system-wide agreement, formally known as the Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
According to the Bureau’s website:
- The Upper Basin DCP is designed to: a) protect critical elevations at Lake Powell and help assure continued compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact, and b) authorize storage of conserved water in the Upper Basin that could help establish the foundation for a Demand Management Program that may be developed in the future.
- The Lower Basin DCP is designed to: a) require Arizona, California and Nevada to contribute additional water to Lake Mead storage at predetermined elevations, and b) create additional flexibility to incentivize additional voluntary conservation of water to be stored in Lake Mead.
These documents show the interstate framework into which the intrastate (in our case, AZDCP) will fit. AZDCP work continues and we anticipate our intrastate implementation plan and framework will be completed by the end of November, prior to the December Colorado River Water Users Association meeting, at which point the entire plan will come together.
From the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):
These small-scale projects are a result of planning efforts by the recipients to improve their water delivery efficiency
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced today that Reclamation has selected 58 projects to receive $3.7 million for small-scale water efficiency projects in 16 western states. The funding from Reclamation is being leveraged to support more than $8.2 million in improvements throughout the West. The projects funded with these grants include installation of flow measurement devices and automation technology, canal lining or piping to address seepage, municipal meter upgrades, and other projects to conserve water.
Funding of up to $75,000 is provided to projects on a 50-percent cost-share. A complete list of the projects selected is available at: https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/swep/.
The City of Avondale in Arizona is receiving $75,000 to update two water treatment/booster station wells within their system. They will connect them to their current supervisory control and data acquisition system which will help them better manage their water supplies.
The North Kern Water Storage District in Bakersfield, California, is receiving $75,000 to install SCADA software to interface with previously installed SCADA equipment and two evapotranspiration measurement stations in the service area.
The City of Gallup in northwest New Mexico is receiving $60,000 to upgrade old mechanical meters with modern solid-state meters for industrial, commercial and institutional users. This project will allow for allow for more accurate measurement of water consumption and is supported by its 2013 water conservation plan.
Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects are part of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Program. The program aims to improve water conservation and reliability, helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. Learn more at https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/swep/.
Visit https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart for additional information about the WaterSMART program.
From The Montrose Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):
Two local water projects have received a cut of $3.7 million in federal grant funding, which will help improve water efficiency in thirsty Montrose County.
The money awarded to Bostwick Park Water Conservancy District and the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association will provide technology for the real-time data necessary to accurately manage flows.
At the main river head gate on the Cimarron Canal, the Bostwick Park District and Cimarron Canal and Reservoir Company have a chute that provides a flow of water. “That water needs to be measured accurately and this grant is to put a new knife gate in there and monitor it so the flow off the Cimarron River can maintain steady,” said Allen Distel, who is president of the conservancy district and canal reservoir company.
The organizations received $15,000 from the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program for a $31,449 knife gate project that will install an automated water- control device.
The new controls will reduce over-diversions from the river to the canal and keep desired flows in line with real-time data, according to BuRec’s information. Because the process is automatic, it will also save on staff time.
The conservancy district and canal company provide irrigation water to the west side of the Big Cimarron Valley and the upper and lower Bostwick Park area. The canal company entails about 600 shares of water from the Cimarron.
“It’s really important to the flow of the Cimarron River,” Distel said, of the knife gate project and grant.
“The Bureau of Reclamation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have a reserve amount in Silver Jack Reservoir. They can all that water out of Silver Jack to maintain the river level. It’s real important we have an accurate measurement so when they call the water out, we can get that water down the river.”
The knife gate project is identified as one of three critical water management locations under the Bostwick district’s water management plan, according to BuRec.