Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: Ruedi releases for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program start today

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

As we discussed in our public meeting last week, today we began releasing water for the Upper Colorado Endangered Fish Recovery Program. Our first change occurred at 1 p.m. when we bumped up 30 cfs to 195 at the Ruedi gage. Our second increase is happening now at 5 p.m. We are increasing by 65 cfs to a total of 260 cfs at the Ruedi gage.

More endangered species coverage here.

Interbasin Compact Committee June meeting recap

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From email from the Interbasin Compact Committee (Alex Davis):

Thank you for your participation at the June IBCC meeting. I think it was a very positive meeting, and I hope that you did as well. This email is a follow-up to the IBCC meeting, including workgroup assignments and responsibilities. Attached are the minutes from the meeting and a list of the reports that are complete, in draft form, or in process.

At the IBCC meeting, several members volunteered to serve on one or more subcommittees to help further refine our thinking and/or draft options to help move us forward. The work of these subcommittees will lay the foundation for the discussion at our August meeting, and it is important that IBCC members participate in them fully. Participation in the subcommittees is still open, and anyone who wants to volunteer for one or more committees should do that. We also want to encourage those who were not in attendance at the June meeting to sign up for one or more of these subcommittees. (In particular, this would be Eric Kuhn, Stan Cazier, and Bill Trampe. If any of you have questions, please call me, Jennifer Gimbel, or Jacob Bornstein.)

Given the short timeframe that exists for the IBCC to finalize its work on these issues prior to submitting a report to the next governor, it is my understanding that IBCC members will either actively participate as a subcommittee member or respect the work of the subcommittee and its recommendations to the IBCC. CWCB staff will be working with each subcommittee organizer to set up meetings and identify any additional needs each group might have. Please let Jacob Bornstein (Jacob.bornstein@state.co.us) and Viola Bralish (viola.bralish@state.co.us) know if you would like to participate on one or more of the subcommittees and you are not already listed below. Subcommittees will begin planning meetings in the next week or so, so please let us know if you want to join one or more subcommittees by close of business on Monday, July 19th.

NEW SUPPLY SUBCOMMITTEE

Purpose:Develop draft guidelines or principles for new supply development. The results of this work will be discussed at the August IBCC meeting.

Members:

* Alex Davis (Organizer)
* Heather Bergman (Facilitator)
* Melinda Kassen
* Taylor Hawes
* Mark Pifher
* T. Wright Dickinson
* Steve Harris
* Peter Nichols
* Carlyle Currier
* Jennifer Gimbel

IDENTIFIED PROJECTS & PROCESSES SUBCOMMITTEE

Purpose:Hold an informal workshop to explore the “lessons learned” and obstacles to IPPs. CWCB staff will help the group gather existing summaries of IPP successes and challenges, and the group will examine these for cross-cutting challenges and opportunities. The group will focus on identifying specific ways to overcome the identified challenges. In its June meeting the IBCC concluded that it is not the role of roundtables, the IBCC, or the state to support or reject specific IPPs. However, there is a significant role for these entities to help overcome the many barriers to implementing the IPPs and to more broadly define the overall yield each basin needs from their IPPs.

Members:

* Jennifer Gimbel (Organizer)
* Carl Trick
* Alex Davis
* Eric Wilkinson
* Melinda Kassen
* Wayne Vanderschuere

CONSERVATION SUBCOMMITTEE

Purpose:Review Water Conservation Best Practices Guidebook and Conservation Strategy to create broad policy statements based on the results of the BMP Guidebook. If the task group feels it is appropriate and can make progress, they will also discuss options for better quantitative measure of conservation. In its June meeting the IBCC concluded that the task group will focus on the ability of utilities to adopt and implement best management practices rather than percent reductions.

Members:

* Wayne Vanderschuere (Organizer)
* Jay Winner
* Jeff Devere
* Taylor Hawes

CWCB STAFF NEXT STEPS:

1. Identified Projects & Processes:

a. CWCB will draft a one-page document regarding the IBCC’s view of the State’s role in IPPs. This will be edited/finalized by the IBCC subcommittee on IPPs.

b. CWCB staff will help the subcommittee gather existing summaries of IPP successes and challenges for the subcommittee to examine these for cross-cutting challenges and opportunities.

2. Nonconsumptive:

a. CWCB will send out summary of existing efforts and progress on nonconsumptive uses at the basin roundtables by the end of July

b. CWCB staff will rewrite the nonconsumptive one-page summary, including the summary of existing efforts above. Staff will complete this by the end of July as well.

3. Alternative Agricultural Transfer Methods:The existing Task Force addressing ag transfer methods will distribute a summary of options to IBCC members by the end of July

4. Conservation:CWCB staff will send IBCC members the final “Colorado Statewide Water Conservation Best Practices Guidebook” prior to the next IBCC meeting.

5. Land Use:CWCB staff previously sent a link to the density memo and report Linking Land Use Planning and Water Supply Planning (email sent 6/18/2010). Staff would be happy to resend this document to anyone who needs it upon request.

Thank you for your continued dedication to this process; I think we have a real opportunity to move this particular ‘ball’ forward, and I look forward to working with you.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Natural Resources Defense Council: One out of three counties in the U.S. lower 48 states faces an increased risk of water shortages due to climate change

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From PRNewswire:

Over 1,100 U.S. counties— more than one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states — now face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming and more than 400 of these counties will be at extremely high risk for water shortages, based on estimates from a new report by Tetra Tech for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The report uses publicly available water use data across the United States and climate projections from a set of models used in recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) work to evaluate withdrawals related to renewable water supply. The report finds that 14 states face an extreme or high risk to water sustainability, or are likely to see limitations on water availability as demand exceeds supply by 2050. These areas include parts of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In particular, in the Great Plains and Southwest United States, water sustainability is at extreme risk.

The more than 400 counties identified as being at greatest risk in the report reflects a 14-times increase from previous estimates. For a look at county- and state-specific maps detailing the report findings (including a Google Earth map), go to http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/watersustainability/ and http://rd.tetratech.com/climatechange/projects/nrdc_climate.asp.

Click on the thumbnail graphic above and check out the counties over the Ogallala Aquifer and the Green River Basin. The Green River Basin is where Aaron Million and the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition are in a race for transmountain water. They want it for the Front Range.

Here’s the link to the article. Here’s the NRDC’s climate change website

More Climate Change coverage here and here.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin

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Click here for Henry Reges’ notes from the Tuesday, July 13 meeting.

CWCB: Water Availability Task Force meeting recap

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Below are my notes from yesterday’s meeting:

Flood potential

No one gave a report on flooding potential.

Announcements

Taryn Hutchins-Cabibi said that the Colorado River Water Availability Study closes Wednesday. The CWCB will only consider comments in written form. Submit them to Ray Alvarado at the CWCB.

The public comment period for the statewide drought plan opens on Friday, July 23. They will accept comments until August 20. All materials will be available on the CWCB website on Friday.

State drought plan

Ms. Hutchins-Cabibi informed the group about the status of the statewide drought plan and some of the methodology used. She went into detail about their vulnerability assessment. She says that this was the first vulnerability assessment that she knows about that incorporates climate change. She detailed the timeline for the plan:

1. Incorporate written comments and finalize plan — September 14
2. Colorado Water Conservation Board approval — September 14
3. Submit to Colorado Department of Emergency Management so the plan can be included in the State Hazard Mitigation Plan– late September
4. Adoption by Governor Ritter and submittal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency — late 2010

State Climatologist’s report

Wendy Ryan said that June was the warmest in Colorado since the state started keeping records in 1895. Precipitation for June varied from dry in southwestern Colorado and the Rio Grande Basin to above average precipitation for the northeastern plains. Precipitation for the water year is above average for most of the state with some exceptions such as El Paso County.

Grand Lake is having a, “very dry year,” she said. They are tracking below the driest year on record.

Grand Junction is experiencing below average precipitation as is Montrose. Mesa Verde is a little below average, Del Norte is average, Pueblo is above average, Burlington is way above average, Akron is average and Fort Collins and Boulder are above average.

She said that the U.S. Drought Monitor is showing D0 (abnormally dry) in parts of the San Juans, San Luis Valley and the upper Colorado River Basin.

NRCS

Mike Gillespie said that his report would focused on precipitation since there is no snow left.

The Yampa and White River basins have been quite dry and that is the story so far for July. Reservoir storage is at 109% of average.

The Colorado Basin is coming in at 90% of average precipitation. After tracking just below average for most of the year things dried out in June and July, he said. Reservoir storage is at 113% of average and 99% of capacity.

The South Platte Basin is showing 91% of average precipitation and had average precipitation for June. Reservoir storage is 107% of average.

The Gunnison Basin is tracking at 91% of average precipitation for the water year and has been tracking below average for the year. They’ve seen two and a half months of below average making them, “quite dry,” he said. Reservoir storage is 104% of average.

In the southwest corner of the state the San Miguel, Dolores and San Juan basins precipitation is, “almost a flat line so far,” and things are, “beginning to lag quite a bit,” he said. They’ve been below average for precipitation for 3-4 months. Reservoir storage is sitting at 109% of average.

In the Rio Grande Basin the precipitation for the water year is 90% of average. They are experiencing a, “drying trend as well,” Gillespie said. Reservoir Storage is at 81% of average.

The Arkansas Basin has seen several months of below average precipitation and is sitting at 84% of average. Reservoir storage is 101% of average.

So the statewide figures are: 90% of average precipitation; reservoir storage at 106%; and a, “drying trend going into the summer months,” according to Gillespie.

More CWCB coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections: Scott McInnis makes a stop in the San Luis Valley

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Update: From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

During his [McInnis] previous tenure in public service he sat on natural resource committees at both the state and national levels, he said…

He criticized state legislative measures that took money away from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and Branding Board. He said those funds should be used for the projects for which those boards were set up, not to supplement other programs in the general fund…

When asked how the state could address projected water shortfalls in the future without drying up massive amounts of agricultural land, McInnis said agriculture is essential to the health of this state, and rather than dry up ag lands to provide water for future growth, Colorado needs to look at alternatives. He suggested additional water storage and pointed to a doctoral student’s project that proposes to draw water from the Flaming Gorge through Wyoming to the Front Range. “That’s the kind of answer that’s going to be our future,” he said. He said the cost of such a project might run $5 billion, but the cost could be spread over time. “It’s an investment we must make,” he said.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

While none of the 180 in attendance at the conference publicly questioned McInnis about the [“Musings on Water” – gate], he did get asked about water. He said it was critical for the state to find more water storage to supply the Front Range with water. “You can’t dry up farmland,” he said. “There are other options.” McInnis has backed Northern Integrated Supply Project, which would cost $426 million, build storage near Fort Collins, and prevent the dry-up of roughly 25,000 acres, according to its designers.

He also backed the proposal from Aaron Million to pump water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Utah-Wyoming border back to the Front Range. He noted that the project’s $4 billion price tag was an investment of the same magnitude of Denver International Airport.

From TPMDC.com (Eric Lach):

When given a list of other potential candidates, 64 percent of GOP voters picked another candidate. When asked who they thought would make the “strongest Republican gubernatorial candidate,” McInnis came in second with 19%. The top vote getter: ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo, with 29%. Of the 1,181 registered voters contacted last Thursday, 73% had heard about the plagiarism story. Thirty-seven percent of GOP voters think McInnis should drop out.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.