Montezuma County: Don Magnuson takes the reins at the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company

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From the Cortez Journal (Reid Wright):

Formerly of Eaton, Colo., Magnuson served as superintendant of The New Cache La Poudre Irrigating Co. north of Greeley…

Magnuson said he had a huge learning curve to learn about local irrigation system, which differs from the Cache La Poudre. “They’re exactly alike and completely different,” he said…

MVIC oversees a vast network of reservoirs, canals and irrigation pipelines responsible for providing water to a majority of Montezuma County. “Without MVIC we would have no Cortez,” [MVIC President Randy Carver] said.

More Montezuma County coverage here.

NWS: U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

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Here’s the link to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center Expert Assessments and their Drought Assessment page. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the most recent map.

The California-based Newport Trial Group is spearheading a class action lawsuit against Fiji Water over greenwashing

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From TreeHugger (Rachel Cernansky):

The California-based Newport Trial Group brought the suit in a U.S. District Court on behalf of individuals seeking restitution for these false [from greenwashing claims that its products are carbon-negative], which are thought to be responsible for a significant amount of Fiji’s increased market share.

Precipitation news

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

For the second straight day snow pummeled the high country in the San Juan Mountains, dropping 24 inches on Wolf Creek Ski Area.

From the Loveland Reporter Herald (Sarah Bultema):

Those living along the Front Range have been a bit spoiled this winter, said Nolan Doesken, a climatologist at Colorado State University…

Yet Thursday, the mild winter was buried in as many as 5 inches of snow during the first major storm of the season. A cold front coming down from Wyoming paired with a Pacific storm moving over the Rockies created snowfall that’s expected to continue through this afternoon, Doesken said.

From the Associated Press (Catherine Tsai) via the Seattle Times:

The Silverton Mountain resort in Colorado reported 22 inches of snow, but only about 120 people were on the mountain because officials closed highways leading to the ski area for avalanche control and because of adverse conditions, resort co-founder Jen Brill said…

The National Weather Service said snow could fall at a rate close to an inch an hour starting Thursday evening in the Denver area, which usually has around 25 inches of snow by this time of the season but had just 1.5 inches before Thursday.

From The Denver Post (Yesenia Robles)

A total of 3 inches had fallen by late Thursday at DIA, 5 inches in Conifer, 3.2 in Wheat Ridge and 6 inches in Ken-Caryl. Forecasters expected the snow to intensify during the night. Before Thursday, Denver had seen just 1.5 inches of snow this fall and winter. Last year, Denver had more than 11 inches of snowfall in December alone. The average total snowfall for the season by the end of December is more than 2 feet.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Colorado Springs had received 4 to 5 inches of snow as of 7:45 p.m. Thursday, while Monument Hill and Woodland Park had recorded 5 to 8 inches of powder, said Kyle Mozley, National Weather Service meteorologist.

From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

In the 24 hours ending at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Coal Bank Pass received 31 inches of snow, [National Weather Service meteorologist Ellen Heffernan] said. Molas Pass got 21 inches and Red Mountain 19 inches in the same period.

Some Durango-area weather observers recorded two-day snow totals in the high teens.

– Bill Butler said 18.1 inches fell in Durango West II.

– Maureen Keilty recorded 22 inches at her home in Rafter J.

– Pam Snyder in Hesperus found 13 inches.

– Briggen Wrinkle, who reports rain and snow readings to the National Weather Service, collected 14 inches of snow in the 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Arkansas Valley Super Ditch update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Called the Super Ditch, it’s not really a ditch at all. Instead, the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch is a corporation formed in 2008 that hopes to gain the support of ditch companies in the Arkansas Valley to stop the pattern of buy-and-dry that has ravaged agriculture in the valley for 60 years. The basic philosophy of the Super Ditch is to pool water rights from seven ditches to create one-stop shopping for municipalities or others hunting for water. Backers say this will lessen the chances that water rights are purchased, and the water permanently taken from the land.

A study by The Pueblo Chieftain earlier this year found that at least 145,000 acres — a third of the valley’s farmland — could be dried up if cities were using all of the agricultural rights they already have purchased.

“It may be 30 years, 100 years or 150 years, but there will be a time. . . . As short as we are on water, there will be a day when it will not be economical to run water from the Continental Divide through dirt rivers and dirt ditches to my headgate,” said Lamar farmer Dale Mauch. “You can wish and think you can make ’em go away. They’re going to keep coming because they need this water.”[…]

“If anyone in this country thinks the cities are not going to try and buy the whole thing, they haven’t been paying attention,” [John Schweizer, president of the Super Ditch] said. “This way the farmer gets to keep the water to sell as another crop.”[…]

Ray Smith, president of the Oxford Canal, was asked to resign from the Super Ditch board after he opposed the company’s application for a right to exchange water in Division 2 Water Court. Smith still contends that taking any of the water out of the river would reduce the water needed to carry water to his fields. “Once this water is removed from the river, there will be a direct effect on the amount of water and water quality to the major ditches in the Arkansas Valley,” Smith said. He also said the amount farmers are being offered in initial leases of the Super Ditch are insultingly low and the 40-year terms tie up the water too long.

Smith brought his concerns to the October meeting of the Super Ditch board, but other members argued no farmers are required to participate in any lease, and that it will be valuable in the long run to have a mechanism in place that avoids the historic buy-and-dry deals…

By the year’s end, ditch companies and their shareholders were debating the pros and cons of the Super Ditch. Interest is especially high — 80 percent or more — on the Fort Lyon Canal, which already has seen many of its shares sold to outside water interests. The Catlin Canal changed its bylaws to allow for leasing outside the ditch. The Fort Lyon, Bessemer, High Line and Holbrook canals already allow for lease programs, while the Otero will consider the proposal in January. Of the seven ditches envisioned to participate, only the Oxford has rejected the idea, although some individual shareholders of the Oxford have expressed an interest.

Be sure to click through and read Mr. Woodka’s short bio of John Schweizer.

More Super Ditch coverage here and here.

Water treatment: Oasys Water says it will test complete, large-scale systems using forward osmosis early next year

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Here’s a report from MIT Technology Review (Kevin Bullis):

Oasys Water, a company that has been developing a novel, inexpensive desalination technology, showed off a new development facility in Boston this week. The company, which has been demonstrating commercial-scale components of its system in recent months, plans to begin testing a complete system early next year and to start selling the systems by the end of 2011.

Currently, desalination is done mainly in one of two ways: water is either heated until it evaporates (called a thermal process) or forced through a membrane that allows water molecules but not salt ions to pass (known as reverse osmosis). Oasys’s method uses a combination of ordinary (or forward) osmosis and heat to turn sea water into drinking water.

On one side of a membrane is sea water; on the other is a solution containing high concentrations of carbon dioxide and ammonia. Water naturally moves toward this more concentrated “draw” solution, and the membrane blocks salt and other impurities as it does so. The resulting mixture is then heated, causing the carbon dioxide and ammonia to evaporate. Fresh water is left behind, and the ammonia and carbon dioxide are captured and reused.

Oasys says the technology could make desalination economically attractive not only in arid regions where there are no alternatives to desalination, but also in places where fresh water must be transported long distances.

Thanks to Loretta Lohman for the link.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

Custer County augmentation plan update

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From The Wet Mountain Tribune (Nora Drenner):

If all goes according to plan, the Custer County commissioners and Upper Arkansas Conservancy District will meet after the first of the year to talk about the implementation of a blanket water augmentation plan for the county.

More Custer County coverage here and here.