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

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Here are this week’s notes from the Colorado Climate Center. Here’s an excerpt:

Since 
the
 beginning
 of 
June,
 much 
of 
the 
UCRB 
and
 surrounding 
areas 
have
 been 
fairly 
dry
…A 
few
 localized
 regions 
received
 isolated 
storms
 last 
week,
 resulting 
in 
higher 
accumulations — parts 
of 
northern
 CO
 and southeast 
WY 
have 
received
 over 
half
 an
 inch 
of 
precipitation.
 
Northeast 
UT 
and
 Southeast 
CO 
also 
saw
 around
a 
quarter 
to 
half 
an 
inch 
of 
precipitation. 

Most 
of 
the 
UCRB
 and 
eastern 
plains 
of 
CO 
have 
only
 received
 around
 a
 tenth 
of 
an 
inch 
or 
less 
of 
moisture 
for 
the 
month.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

It’s official: Denver Water top-notch — utility takes second in national taste test

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Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney):

Denver Water placed second in a taste test among water utilities across the nation at the American Water Works Association’s annual Best of the Best Water Taste in Washington, D.C. The event, composed of regional winners from water-tasting competitions across North America, was part of AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition.

“We are proud Denver Water placed so highly in this national taste test,” said Ken Pollock, superintendent of water treatment for Denver Water. “Our mission is to provide our customers with high-quality water and excellent service. This honor reflects the dedication and commitment that Denver Water employees have to high-quality water.”

A panel of experts rated each water system on its flavor characteristics. Judges included Dr. Russell Ford, deputy director of drinking water infrastructure for CH2M Hill and vice chair of AWWA’s Taste and Odor Committee; Monique Durand, engineer at Hazen and Sawyer, P.C., and member of the Taste and Odor Committee; Dr. Andrea Dietrich, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and past chair of the Taste and Odor Committee; and Neal Augenstein, reporter for Washington, D.C.’s WTOP Radio. Top honors went to the Greenville Water System, of the city of Greenville, South Carolina.

Denver Water moved on to the national competition after placing first in a taste test among water utilities in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico at the AWWA Rocky Mountain Section’s annual conference at Keystone Resort in Colorado last September.

More coverage from The Denver Post (Mitchell Byars). From the article:

“It’s pretty exciting to be able to represent Denver at a utility level,” said Melissa Elliott, the director of public affairs for Denver Water and a volunteer with AWWA who was at the competition in D.C.

Denver Water won a regional competition among Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico water utilities to get to the national competition, which featured 24 competitors from around the country.

More Denver Water coverage here.

Runoff news: Cache la Poudre flows are dropping, snowmelt flooding risk is dropping as well

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From The Greeley Tribune (Sharon Dunn):

Officials on Tuesday decided the Poudre River reached its peak last week and should ease off from here on — a stark contrast to earlier concerns that the high mountain snowpack would send a torrent of water down the mountain, flooding city streets and riverside trails.

“Unless there’s a rain event up there, it sure looks to me like we’ve peaked and we’re on our way down,” said George Varra, the Poudre River water commissioner. “But there’s still a lot of snow up there. What I’m hearing was that the snow was so hard it’s just taking a lot of warm days to start bringing it down. It was really packed, almost like an ice cube. That’s the main reason why we haven’t had this big river.”

The National Weather Service on Tuesday pulled a flood advisory for the Greeley area that it had previously issued through this afternoon. Water levels in Greeley, which peaked above 8 feet last week, were slowly going back down and expected to reach 7.5 feet by Sunday; 9 feet is considered a flood by National Weather Service standards…

Treste Huse, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, said though there is still about 60 percent of the snowpack left in the Cache La Poudre Basin, the early melt-off was much easier than officials expected. The snowpack is still 109 percent of the seasonal normal, which usually occurs in the latter part of April, Huse said. “It is generally, a lot (left) is above 10,000 feet. Snowpack at lower elevations is gone.”

A second wave, though it could be big, will likely not be as much of a threat, Varra said. Varra said next week, four major irrigation ditches should be running full speed, taking as much as 1,800 cubic feet per second off the Poudre. As of Tuesday morning, the Poudre registered a daily high of 2,670 cfs at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon, down from highs above 3,300 cfs last week.

Restoration: Should there be a ‘Good Samaritan’ exemption to the Clean Water Act?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, along with chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, sent a letter to the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson asking her to clarify the EPA’s ability to facilitate “Good Samaritan” cleanups of abandoned hard-rock mines. Good Samaritans are third-party groups that have no connection to or responsibility for the mining activities or resulting pollution but, nevertheless, they want to clean up these sites to mitigate damage to crucial watersheds and public health. The Government Accountability Office estimates that there are roughly 160,000 abandoned hard-rock mines in the twelve Western states and South Dakota, with 7,300 in Colorado…

The senators request that the agency update its administrative tools to clarify existing liability protections and improve outreach to Good Samaritan groups to promote more cleanups. The letter also lists specific questions, based on concerns the senators have heard from Good Samaritans, about the extent to which EPA believes existing administrative tools provide liability protection.

More water pollution coverage here.

More Good Samaritan exemption coverage here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: 400 cfs in the Big Thompson below Olympus Dam

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

You’ve probably noticed that throughout the weekend and for the last several days, we’ve been decreasing releases from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson River. This is because we have been receiving a little more “priority water” into the Colorado-Big Thompson system.

When our junior east slope water rights, priority water, come into play for the C-BT, we decrease, or even turn off, imports from the west slope and collect the east slope run-off at Olympus Dam. So, instead of sending it all over the dam, we run it through our power generation system and deposit it into Horsetooth Reservoir. As a result, the release from Olympus to the Big Thompson has dropped to about 400 cfs…

Tonight [June 14], we’ll drop it again to about 375 cfs.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Just a quick update on what we are releasing from the collection system of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

We are up to about 773 cfs from Granby Dam. About 343 cfs is coming over the spillway; the 430 cfs is still being released through the dam.

But we have seen inflows to both Willow Creek and Shadow Mountain drop off in the last 24 hours. Willow Creek has dropped to about 954 cfs. Shadow Mountain is now releasing 2150 cfs.

Click on the thumbnail graphics above for screen shots of Ms. Lamb’s photos of the Olympus and Granby releases from this week.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: 750 cfs in the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

As you all have likely heard, snow pack continues to hang on, yet inflows to Ruedi remain consistent with little change–around 1300 cfs for the last two weeks.

The reservoir is filling quickly. It is currently at an elevation of 7745 feet. As a result, we’re increasing releases again today, June 14, and tomorrow, June 15. Changes will be in 50 cfs increments at noon and again each day at 6 p.m.

With flows from the Rocky Fork running around 75 cfs, the gage below Ruedi Dam will read 650 cfs by this evening. Tomorrow, by evening, the gage will read 750 cfs.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.