CWCB: Board meeting recap

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

The Colorado River probably still has water that could be used for development in Colorado, but how much remains unknown, according to a new study of the river. As many as 900,000 acre-feet of water could be available for development, the study suggests. It also suggests that under a worst-case scenario, there could be no water for development by 2040. The Colorado River Water Availability Study presented to the Colorado Water Conservation Board on Tuesday is the first phase of two phases of study on the river. “We are on the cutting edge, and we are far ahead of the other basin states” in determining how much water is available, said Jennifer Gimble, director of the water conservation board.

The study will be released next month for public comment, which will be used to develop the second phase of the study, Gimble said. The second phase is to address availability of water for municipal, industrial, agricultural, recreational and other needs. The study, which was authorized by the Legislature in 2007, examined 1,100 measuring stations in the Colorado River Basin to predict how climate change would affect individual streams. Five climate-change models were applied to the basin in an effort to predict how much water would be available by 2040.

Meanwhile the CWCB has set aside funds for the next two years for the Arkansas Valley Conduit, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“We don’t foresee a problem right now,” said Jennifer Gimbel, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board Tuesday. The Conduit was awarded a $60.6 million construction loan by the state Legislature. However, about half of that was suspended last year to cope with budget shortfalls in other areas. The remainder is being rebuilt as other state loan payments are made, Gimbel said…

Gimbel earlier this month asked state lawmakers not to make further cuts in state water construction project funds, saying it would cripple development and create revenue shortfalls in future years…

Under legislation passed last year, the local share is 35 percent, while CWCB loan represents about 20 percent of the total costs. Other funding would come through contributions from communities and revenues from Bureau of Reclamation contracts. Repayment of the CWCB loans would not begin until the project is completed. Last year, Congress allocated $5 million to the conduit, for pre-engineering work and to begin the environmental impact statement. The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, sponsor of the project, is seeking $14 million in next year’s budget to continue work on the conduit.

Meanwhile to the north Wyoming has their own study to chew on, according to a report from the Environmental News Service. From the article:

The Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources produced the report, “Assessing the Future of Wyoming’s Water Resources: Adding Climate Change to the Equation,” as a basis for water management strategies. “This report covers what we know and what we wish we knew about Wyoming and the West’s changing climate and the various impacts on water resources,” says Wyoming State Climatologist Steve Gray, the lead author and director of the Water Resources Data System at University of Wyoming…

First, Wyoming is the fifth driest state in the United States. More than 70 percent of the state receives less than 16 inches of precipitation on average each year. Though technically speaking, much of Wyoming does not qualify as true desert, it is a dry state by any measure.

Second, the majority of snowpack in Wyoming is concentrated in a relatively small area that is responsible for the majority of Wyoming’s runoff and surface water supplies. Any events such as changes in climate, vegetation change, fires, or insect outbreaks that impact these mountain watersheds will have major consequences for all of Wyoming’s water users, and for water users far downstream.

Finally, Wyoming is a headwaters state for some of the largest river systems in North America, including the Snake-Columbia, Green-Colorado, Yellowstone-Missouri, and Platte Rivers. This puts Wyoming at a disadvantage when faced with many scenarios for climatic, economic, and demographic change, according to the report.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

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