Conservation: Douglas County Water and the CWCB team up to install water efficient sprinklers

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From (Lori Obert):

Nearly 700 homeowners in Douglas County signed up for a free sprinkler upgrade. They are water-efficient sprinkler heads that distribute less water over a longer period of time. That means less runoff which is a waste. And the roots get what they need.

Nine college students were hired to supervise crews of 36 high school students who were trained to do the retrofits as summer jobs…

A grant from the Colorado Water Conservation board paid for the sprinkler upgrades. Douglas County Water says the rotary nozzles are 30 percent more efficient than the old sprinkler heads. The hope is for this program to spread to other communities in Colorado.

More conservation coverage here.

Drought news: Governor Hickenlooper requests more dough from the feds

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Here’s the release from Governor Hickenlooper’s office (Eric Brown):

Gov. John Hickenlooper sent letters this week to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting disaster assistance for eight additional counties.

One letter sought drought assistance for Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande and Saguache counties.

“Drought impacts are resulting in the loss of native grass, mixed forage, cool season grasses and alfalfa throughout the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado,” the governor’s letter said. “Losses are greatest to cool season grasses reaching 75 percent. The availability of surface water has resulted in many producers having to abandon alfalfa irrigation completely.”

A second letter sought disaster assistance for three Western Slope counties.

“Freezing temperatures struck the fruit growing areas in Delta, Mesa and Montrose counties beginning the last week of April and continuing through the first week in May 2011,” the governor’s letter said. “As a result, producers of apples and stone fruits in the counties suffered production losses as high as 95 percent.”

The declarations, if approved, would allow farmers and ranchers to apply for emergency loans if they are unable to obtain credit elsewhere.

Here’s the link to the U.S. Drought Monitor for Colorado in case you’d like greater detail for what’s happening here.

Aspinall Unit update: Flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon should be around 2,950 cfs by Thursday

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From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Our pattern of good fortune continues. Late season snowmelt in combination with the early season monsoon rains has kept inflows from receding as previously (and continuously predicted). Blue Mesa Reservoir continues to rise at 0.5 feet per day and is now at an elevation of 7518.35 feet. While inflows are expected to recede in the next few days as the monsoon rains take a brief hiatus, the current rate of fill would have Blue Mesa Reservoir spilling within 3 days. Therefore in keeping with the theme of always receiving more inflow than expected, releases from Crystal Dam will be increased by a total of 400 cfs over the next 2 days. This increase will be done in 200 cfs increments, one on Wednesday, July 13th in the early evening, and one early Thursday morning, July 14th. This should preserve the safety of any potential visitors to the canyon and provide all aquatic creatures with sufficient time to become reacquainted with these higher flows. Flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are expected to increase from 2550 cfs to around 2950 cfs by Thursday, July 14th.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Colorado WaterWise workshop: Assessing the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Implications of Water Management Decisions

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Here’s the announcement from the Colorado Water Wise website:

Water management decisions can have significant energy impacts. Multiple factors will influence the energy intensity of the water sector in the future. Climate change will affect water supply, quality, and demand for water, potentially creating a need for new water supply options. Population growth, changing water use patterns, new technologies, and pricing policies will all affect water demand. Stricter water quality requirements and emerging contaminants may require more energy-intensive treatment technologies. Yet, rising energy prices and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions are forcing water agencies to seek new ways to better manage their system’s energy use, such as integrat-ing water reuse. The Pacific Institute, with funding from the WateReuse Research Foundation, the California Energy Commission, and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, are developing an easy to use analytical tool that can be applied by water agencies, municipalities, and decision-makers to evaluate the energy and greenhouse gas implications of water management decisions. This model will be demonstrated at the workshop. Input will be solicited from workshop participants before the tool is finalized. The Alliance for Water Efficiency is also a partner in this project.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: 3,300 cfs in the Blue River below Green Mountain Reservoir

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Currently, we are releasing about 3300 cfs from the dam to the Lower Blue. The reservoir is about half an inch from completely full.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Just a quick note to say that both Horsetooth and Carter Lake reservoirs are pretty darn full…this is the highest the water elevation has been at Horsetooth since 2004. Currently, it’s at a water level elevation of 5421–and still rising!

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

As you’ve probably noticed, releases from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson Canyon have not changed much over the last week. We wound up dropping just less than 100 cfs since my last note.. We are currently releasing about 730 cfs. The forecasted rain storms in the mountains could bring some changes. If we see a rain run-off inflow peak into Lake Estes that is substantial, we could increase releases from Olympus Dam. However, right now we are planning to keep the 730 cfs release in place.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: Annual Ruedi operations meeting tonight in Basalt

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

[Monday] and [Tuesday] saw some reductions from the release out of Ruedi Dam. We should be releasing closer to around 800 cfs, now.

Also, just a quick reminder that we will be at the Basalt Town Hall tomorrow evening for our annual Ruedi operations public meeting. We’ll give an overview of run-off this year and the Fish and Wildlife Service will provide a forecast for what they are expecting to call from the reservoir during late summer and early fall.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Precipitation news: The Denver Metro area gets another dousing from the North American Monsoon

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Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for a screenshot of the 1-Day rain totals from the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

Here’s a report from (Wayne Harrison). From the article:

The monsoon moisture moved from the southwest to northeast across the metro area, pounding the downtown area starting just after 9 p.m.

From The Denver Post (Joey Bunch):

Areas north and southeast of the metro area had tornado and flood warnings through the evening, accompanied by 4 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. Northwestern Elbert County saw its “most severe flooding in at least a decade,” the National Weather Service said, relaying information from a trained weather spotter who reported more than 5 inches of rain southwest of Agate.

Here’s a screenshot of the 24 hour map from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network. Here’s the link to the weblog with reports and current weather for Thornton and Denver Metro. Here’s the link to the National Weather Service website. Enter your zip code for current information and the forecast for your area.


“The storms should not be as widespread (as Tuesday),” says meteorologist Jennifer Broome. “Even an inch of rain could cause some street flooding since the ground is saturated.”

“The Mountains can expect drier conditions today with only a slight chance for afternoon t-storms,” says meteorologist Chris Tomer. “Our weather pattern continues to dry out through Saturday. The Monsoon eases.”

Fromthe Montrose Daily Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

Montrose can blame its recent soaking on the early arrival of “monsoonal” sub-tropical moisture, the National Weather Service says. Measurements at Montrose Regional Airport show the area approached the 1-inch mark in precipitation for the period from July 5-10, with 0.91 inches overall, said Jim Pringle, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Grand Junction office…

The moisture is flowing up from Mexico, Central America and the eastern Pacific, and though it could clear out later in the week, it’s expected to again slide westward in the middle of next week.

From the Summit Daily News:

As of Monday, Denver Water was releasing 1,890 cubic feet per second of water from the Dillon Reservoir to prevent overflow, according to Bob Steger, manager of raw water supply for Denver Water. The release is planned to stay at that rate for the time being. Steger said the inflow into the reservoir has been dropping slowly, but is still high. The July 8, 9 and 10 inflows were 2,516, 2,416 and 2,357 cfs respectively, which is 1.39 feet below spillway. If the inflow stays the same, Steger said the reservoir will begin spilling in roughly five days…

This morning’s [July 12] reservoir elevation was 9015.82 feet, which is 1.18 feet below the spillway lip and 0.21 feet higher than yesterday morning. Yesterday’s inflow was 2224 cfs, down from 2357 cfs on Sunday. Yesterday’s outflow was about 1890 cfs.

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

A lack of rain and snow in the fall and extending through the spring left agriculture producers sweating it out for the first seven months after they had planted their winter wheat. But because the rain eventually came in May, “just in the nick of time,” local farmers are now rejoicing over the average crop that’s expected to be harvested starting this week. “Compared to what we were looking at, the crop we have now is really amazing,” Keith DeVoe, general manager at the Roggen Farmers Elevator, said. “It’s kind of a miracle.”

Energy policy — oil and gas: Are Colorado fines too low in water pollution instances?

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From Real Vail (David O. Williams):

Leslie Robinson, a Rifle resident and member of the Grand Valley Citizen Alliance, says she is concerned the fines are far too low and don’t meaningfully punish oil and gas operators for polluting local waters. Specifically, she is dismayed at COGCC agreements reached on June 23 with Berry Petroleum ($173,000) and Marathon Oil ($143,350) for hydraulic fracturing fluid and other drilling fluid spills into Garden Gulch on the Roan Plateau beginning in 2007. “Marathon paid a fine of only about a dime per gallon for draining over 1 million gallons of chemically contaminated drilling and fracking flow-back waste into local creeks and the Colorado River near Parachute,” said Robinson, a former journalist who first covered the Garden Gulch cases in early 2008. “The COGCC didn’t inflict any pain — except for a couple of days of bad PR. Really, what’s a hundred thousand dollars or two to this behemoth industry? That’s the cost of a Christmas party.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.