R.I.P. Floyd Dominy

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Here’s the release from Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

The longest serving Commissioner in the history of Reclamation, Floyd Dominy, has passed away at the age of 100. Dominy served as Reclamation Commissioner from 1959 to 1969 serving under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

“Reclamation has a long history of ‘larger than life’ Commissioners and Floyd was certainly at the top of that list,” said Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor. “I hope I have the strength, determination, and tenacity to carry on the legacy that Floyd set in this position to implement my agenda for Reclamation, as he was with his.”

Dominy joined Reclamation in 1946 as a land settlement specialist. He supervised the Allocations and Repayment Branch, Division of Irrigation in 1950. He rose to Assistant Commissioner in 1957 and was named Associate Commissioner in 1958. He retired from Reclamation in 1969.

Notable events that occurred during his term as Commissioner include the completion of Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, and Navajo Dams of the Colorado River Storage Project. He also played a role in the authorization and initiation of construction of the San Luis Unit and pushed for the completion of the Trinity River Division, Central Valley Project.

Dominy was born and grew up on a farm in Adams County, Neb., and graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1932.

“This is definitely the end of an era. His was a life full of great accomplishments and he will definitely be missed,” added Connor.

More Reclamation coverage here.

Beautiful storm

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What a beautiful storm. Here’s the 3 day rainfall map from Urban Drainage.

Here’s a report from The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker). From the article:

A series of cloudbursts throughout the day dropped about two inches of rain on the area in 24 hours…

Farmers are happy because the moisture will help the crops and the benefit outweighs the relatively small amount of damage, said Morgan County Extension Agent Marlin Eisenach. The official Morgan County weather monitor at the Fort Morgan Cemetery showed the area received about 2-1/4 inches of rain during the 24 hours ending this morning…

Probably about 10 percent of the corn was in the ground, which may mean some delays getting the rest planted, but even that planted later will be going into moist soil to help it get started, Eisenach said. Corn that was already planted will especially benefit from the rain, he said…

The city of Brush saw some high water in some intersections, but no real flooding, said City Administrator Monty Torres.

Grand Junction: National Weather service tweaks flood stage level for the Colorado mainstem

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From KKCO (Grand Junction):

[The National Weather Service] talked to emergency management, police and local residents, used flood data from past years and even looked at aerial photos. The conclusion they came up with: change the flood stage from 12 feet to 12.5 feet. “This means is that when we issue a warning we’re more confident that it’s not going to be a false alarm and it will actually be at a point which it can impact lives and property,” says Lawrence.

Energy policy — nuclear: HB 10-1348 makes it through state senate committee

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

A Senate committee passed a bill Wednesday that would require the Cotter uranium mill to clean up its mess before it could take in new materials. Cotter officials had told the panel if the bill passes, it would limit the mill’s ability to mitigate existing pollution. The bill’s proponents said better mitigation steps should have been taken to date if its operators didn’t want the Legislature to step in. The committee advanced the measure with a 10-1 vote.

More HB 10-1348 coverage here. More nuclear coverage here and here.

HB 10-1188 (Clarify River Outfitter Navigation Right): Rafting companies and developer agree to try mediation at the behest of Governor Ritter

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From the Crested Butte News (Seth Mensing):

The trick will be to find a way a two-mile section of the Taylor River can be shared by two disparate groups of rafting and fishing clientele who expect something completely different from their respective river experiences.

Mark Schumacher, owner of Three Rivers Tours, representatives from Scenic River Tours and the Colorado River Outfitters’ Association, along with attorney Lori Potter, will sit down with developer Lewis Shaw and his lawyers Thursday, April 22 to make another attempt finding that common ground, with the help of the Judicial Arbiter Group Inc., a team of retired trial and appellate court judges who mediate such disputes.

Schumacher says the mediation is non-binding and either party can walk away at anytime. If that happens without a resolution, his company’s future on the middle section of the Taylor River will rest largely on the passage of House Bill 1188, the Commercial Rafting Viability Act, which was introduced by Gunnison Rep. Kathleen Curry in the last legislative session, or with a November ballot measure.

More HB 10-1188 coverage here.

Snowpack news: Southwestern Colorado reservoir level update, Yampa runoff

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From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

The snowpack in the San Juan Mountains that feeds the Animas, Dolores, Pine and San Juan rivers and fills reservoirs peaked at 101 percent of average on April 1. But bare tree trunks and rocks were visible in Vallecito and Lemon reservoirs where, on March 30, the water level stood at only 33 percent of capacity in Vallecito (the 30-year average for the period is 49 percent) and at 20 percent of capacity in Lemon (the 30-year average being almost 54 percent). Runoff from snowmelt should fill the reservoirs. But the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center predicts that Vallecito will receive only 80 percent of the amount it normally receives from April through July and that the inflow to Lemon for the same period will be only 78 percent of normal. When full, Vallecito holds 125,000 acre-feet of water. The capacity of Lemon is 40,000 acre-feet…

Hal Pierce, the dam superintendent at Vallecito Reservoir, expects the lake, despite its current status, to fill this year. “I felt a lot more confident a month ago,” Pierce said Thursday. “But the water level is rising a foot a day, and the 80 percent (of normal) inflow should still fill it.”[…]

In comparison to Vallecito and Lemon reservoirs, Navajo Reservoir is 72 percent full, and McPhee Reservoir is 66 percent full. The predicted April-July runoff at Navajo is 81 percent of normal and 72 percent of normal at McPhee…

Because snow levels reach their peaks in April, the outlook for near-average snowpack is less than 10 percent, the report said. March provided little significant improvement in the snowpack, the report said. “Given the marginal snowpack conditions across much of the state, the outlook for spring and summer water supplies remain below average for most of Colorado,” the report said. “At least reservoir storage continues to track near-average volumes across most of the state. This water should help alleviate late-summer shortages in basins producing below-average runoff this year.”

Meanwhile March was the warmest month on record around the world, according to a report from Randolph E. Schmid writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

Last month was the warmest March on record worldwide, based on records back to 1880, scientists reported last week. The average temperature for the month was 56.3 degrees Fahrenheit (13.5 degrees Celsius), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That was 1.39 degrees F above the average for the month over the 20th century. NOAA researchers said the warmer-than-normal conditions were especially notable in northern Africa, South Asia, Tibet, Delhi, India and Canada. Cooler-than-normal regions included Mongolia and eastern Russia, northern and western Europe, Mexico, northern Australia, western Alaska and the southeastern United States…

NOAA also reported that in March Arctic sea ice, which normally reaches its maximum in that month, covered an average of 5.8 million square miles. That was 4.1 percent below the 1979-2000 average expanse, and the fifth-smallest March coverage since records began in 1979.

From Steamboat Today (Joe Reichenberger):

A spike in the river’s discharge turned the still-lazy Yampa into a kayaker’s delight earlier this week. The river was running at about 300 cubic feet per second as recently as Monday afternoon. A surge of water doubled that mark in the next 48 hours, however, and by Wednesday afternoon the river was running at nearly 650 cfs in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Just because the river was running Wednesday doesn’t mean much for the season, however. Local kayakers said just what the spring of 2010 will hold remains to be seen…

A warm streak could melt off the high-country snow and send all that water crashing into the Yampa in a short span. A more tempered weather cycle could lead to a longer season but no overwhelming whitewater.

Interbasin Compact Committee water transfer meeting recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We’ve been given a pop quiz,” Chips Barry, former director of Denver Water told the Interbasin Compact Committee. “If the reaction to Denver’s [Moffat Collection System Project] and Northern’s [Northern Integrated Supply Project] proposals are any indication, the IBCC has not fixed anything yet. We’ve got a ways to go.”[…]

Now, Denver faces the same sort of opposition to the enlargement that it experienced with Two Forks, even though it has done more than it was asked on the other two points. “We don’t oppose (Gross Reservoir enlargement),” said Drew Peternell, of Western Resource Advocates, who attended the IBCC meeting. “We want to see more documentation for conservation and reuse to make sure everything that can be done is being done.”

Barry, however, said the Gross Reservoir enlargement has every aspect the IBCC has talked about, with increased water and cash payments for Grand County concerns on the Western Slope and environmental flows on Boulder Creek in the South Platte. “We’ve done everything that we’ve been talking about,” Barry said. Barry acknowledged that basin roundtables and the IBCC have served to make Denver aware of concerns in the state, but said if the IBCC is going to succeed, it needs to address wider concerns. “If we take care of agriculture and recreation, what’s left?” Barry said. “There needs to be an economic test for the area from which the water was moved.”[…]

Other members of the IBCC see more sharing of water as the best solution for preserving agriculture while meeting the needs of cities. The roundtable’s central task Thursday was to begin talking about how “fairness” in water transfers can be measured. The IBCC began last year looking at factoring agricultural demands in with municipal demands to determine the future of the state…

While it was suggested that the amount of irrigated acreage could be a standard, [Jeris] Danielson suggested more profitable crops could be grown — cantaloupes and peppers rather than alfalfa and corn, for example — allowing water to become an additional “crop.”

Peter Nichols, a water lawyer appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter to the IBCC, said there has to be more bargaining in the process. “There has to be a willingness to give up something to get something,” Nichols said. He cited the example of the Palo Verde Irrigation District in Blythe, Calif., which he visited with a group of farmers in 2007 as a step in forming the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch. The Metro District paid more for the water than it was worth to lease from farmers as a way of mitigating economic impacts. “As a result, Blythe is thriving,” Nichols said…

IBCC Director Alex Davis also answered concerns raised by state Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, about how the IBCC is dealing with the question of water transfer mitigation. Pace said his legislation on empowering conservancy districts to work out mitigation plans was killed because some claimed the IBCC was already doing the work. “Mitigation is a narrow question that applies to the basin of origin. We need to meet all of the environmental and economic needs of each basin,” Davis said. “If we’re successful, we’ll answer those questions.”

More IBCC — Basin Roundtables coverage here.