NWS meterologist Joe Ramey says there is a 70-80% that La Niña will be back this winter

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From Steamboat Today (Matt Stensland):

With 70 to 80 percent certainty, La Niña is expected to return, according to Joe Ramey, a meteorologist and climate expert at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “It’s not a given that it will be La Niña, but it’s about as strong as we can get,” he said. “We had La Niña last year, and it turned out to be a great year for Steamboat.”[…]

Ramey said that he is studying back-to-back La Niña events and the effect on snowfall. He said consecutive events have happened seven times since 1950 and that it appears the consecutive event has not typically been as strong. This could result in a near or slightly-above normal snowfall.

Click on the thumbnail graphic above and to the right for Klaus Wolter’s chart of first year and second year La Niña events. His data shows that there is often a drop off in flows at Lees Ferry in the second year.

Gunnison River basin: Next Upper Slate River Committee meeting September 6

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From The Crested Butte News (Alissa Johnson):

The Upper Slate River Committee, a new group formed by the Coal Creek Watershed Coalition (CCWC) in early 2011, is bringing together key stakeholders to develop a Slate River Watershed plan. The plan will identify potential non-point source pollutants and where to focus efforts to prevent contamination within the watershed…

In order to fully understand the Slate River, the committee has contracted with environmental consultant Ashley Bembeneck to compile an initial report to inform the group’s work. “[The report] will use existing water quality to assess spatial water quality trends…and identify areas or items for additional investigation,” Bembeneck said…

A more detailed summary of the report will be given at the next Upper Slate River Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 6 at 4 p.m. at the Crested Butte town hall.

“It’s additional data compilation,” said Poponi. “You identify where you would like more info, get that info and then roll it into the plan instead of doing the plan first with limited amount of data. We want to do the plan with most data possible.”

More Gunnison River basin coverage here.

The Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation District has switched disinfection dosing from chlorine gas to sodium hypchlorite

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From email from the Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation District (Steve Frank):

As of August 18, the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District stopped using gaseous chlorine brought to its treatment plant via rail car as its disinfecting agent. The District now uses a much safer chemical, sodium hypochlorite, instead.

Sodium hypochlorite is added to the treated water at the Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility (RWHTF) to disinfect it before it is discharged to the South Platte River. Sodium bisulfite is added after the sodium hypochlorite to remove residual chlorine to make the treated water friendlier to fish.

“We are glad to have transitioned away from the gaseous chlorine,” said Director of Operations and Maintenance Steve Rogowski.

“The sodium hypochlorite we now use is much safer, both for our employees and for people who live and work near our treatment facility.”

The District used gaseous chlorine for disinfection from the time the facility was built more than 45 years ago until recently.

From October 1988 to July 2009, liquid sulfur dioxide was used to remove residual chlorine from the effluent, but sodium bisulfite took its place in 2009.

The Metro District is the largest wastewater treatment agency in the Rocky Mountain West. The District’s Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility at 64th and York treats about 140 million gallons of wastewater a day. The service area includes nearly 1.7 million people and encompasses approximately 715 square miles, including Denver, Arvada, Aurora, Brighton, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Thornton, and part of Westminster, together with about 40 sanitation and water and sanitation districts in the metropolitan Denver area.

While on their website I ran into their page for the shiny new wastewater treatment plant they’re building on the South Platte River near Brighton. Say hello to the Northern Treatment Plant.

More wastewater coverage here.

Colorado College ‘State of the Rockies monthly Speaker Series’ kicks off September 12

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Update: From the press release for Monday night (Leslie Weddell):

Acclaimed photographer Peter McBride and award-winning author Jonathan Waterman will kick off the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Speakers Series on Monday, Sept. 12, presenting “The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict,” a discussion on the issues affecting the Colorado River Basin. They will present what they learned during the two years they spent documenting the Colorado River, which culminated in their book “The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict,” an award-winning short film, “Chasing Water” and a traveling exhibition currently on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Here’s the release. Here’s an excerpt:

Leading experts and well-known river advocates will headline the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project monthly Speakers Series, examining the Colorado River Basin and the complex water use, environmental and economic challenges facing future generations. This year’s topic is “The Colorado River Basin: Use, Restoration and Sustainability as if the Next Generation Counts.”

The Speakers Series, which is free and open to the public, kicks off on Monday, Sept. 12 with Peter McBride and Jonathan Waterman, who will discuss their book “The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict.” McBride and Waterman spent more than two years documenting the Colorado River culminating in the coffee table book, an award-winning short film, “Chasing Water,” and a traveling exhibition currently on display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The talk will be presented at the Celeste South Theatre, Cornerstone Arts Building, 825 N. Cascade Ave. on the Colorado College campus (corner of Cache La Poudre Street and Cascade Avenue).

The Colorado River Basin winds 1,400 miles through seven states on its way to Mexico. It supplies water to households, communities, businesses and farms. Roughly 27 million people rely on the river for water, energy and healthy ecosystems. But climate studies and projected population growth indicate that unless immediate action is taken, municipalities, industry, agriculture and recreation will be unable to meet the water demands of the next generation. Some experts predict that by 2050, climate change and burgeoning uses of the river system will result in inadequate water to meet all of its allocated shares 65 to 90 percent of the time.

The Speakers Series features monthly programs scheduled through January 2012, leading up to a public conference April 8-10, where students will present the 2012 State of the Rockies Report examining current water, agricultural and recreational issues in the Basin and highlighting how economic, demographic and climate changes will impact what the Colorado River looks like to future generations. All lectures in the series begin at 7 p.m. Additional upcoming talks include:

Monday, Oct. 17 – “The Law of the Colorado River Basin: Rigid Relic or Flexible Foundation for the Future?” presented by Gregory Hobbs Jr., Colorado Supreme Court, and Larry MacDonnell, University of Wyoming College of Law Location: Richard F. Celeste Theatre, Cornerstone Arts Building, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus

Monday, Nov. 7 – “The Colorado River Basin: Environmental Perspectives and Action” presented by Bart Miller, Water Program Director for Western Resource Advocates; Jennifer Pitt, Director of the Colorado River Project for the Environmental Defense Fund; and Tom Chart, USFWS, Director of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program
Location: Richard F. Celeste Theatre, Cornerstone Arts Building, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus

Monday, Dec. 5 – “The Colorado River Basin and Climate: Perfect Storm for the 21st Century?” presented by Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, and Jeff Lukas with the Western Water Assessment, and moderated by Beth Conover, editor of “How the West Was Warmed”
Location: Gates Common Room, Palmer Hall, 1025 N. Cascade Ave., east of Tutt Library on the Colorado College campus

Monday, Jan. 30, 2012 – “Unheard Voices of the Colorado River Basin: Bringing Mexico and the Native American Tribes to the Table” presented by Bidtah Becker with the Water Rights Unit of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and Osvel Hinojosa, director of the Pronatura Noroeste’s Water and Wetlands Program Location: Gates Common Room, Palmer Hall, 1025 N. Cascade Ave., east of Tutt Library on the Colorado College campus

The State of the Rockies Project is an annual research study conducted collaboratively by undergraduate students and faculty to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rockies. For more information, or to learn how to connect to podcast and videos of each program, visit the State of the Rockies Project website at http://www.stateoftherockies.com.

For information, directions or disability accommodation at the event, members of the public may call (719) 389-6607.

About State of the Rockies Project
The Colorado College State of the Rockies Project is in its ninth year and seeks to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rocky Mountain Region. All events are free and open to the public, and we encourage the public to join the ongoing discussion of the issues that affect our beautiful yet fragile region. More information can be found by visiting the State of the Rockies Project website, blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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

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Here are the presentations from Tuesday’s webinar from the Colorado Climate Center. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the precipitation summary.

Energy policy — oil and gas: The Denver Business Journal is running a photo essay about hydraulic fracturing

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Here’s the link to the photo essay.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Aquarius Makes First Ocean Salt Measurements

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Here’s the release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

NASA’s Aquarius instrument has successfully completed its commissioning phase and is now “tasting” the saltiness of Earth’s ocean surface, making measurements from its perch in near-polar orbit.

“This marks the end of the long odyssey to design, build and launch this mission, and the start of a new journey of scientific exploration,” said Aquarius Principal Investigator Gary Lagerloef of Earth & Space Research, Seattle. “Scientists from around the world are ready and waiting to study this important new satellite measurement for ocean and climate research.”

The Aquarius/SAC-D (Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas) observatory, a collaboration between NASA and Argentina’s space agency, Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 10 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket and was placed in its proper initial orbit. Ground controllers at the SAC-D Mission Operations Center in Teófilo Tabanera Space Center in Cordoba, Argentina, then began a complete in-orbit checkout of all SAC-D spacecraft systems.

With all observatory systems confirmed to be healthy, SAC-D spacecraft commissioning activities were completed on July 24. The spacecraft’s propulsion system then underwent a series of tests, and preliminary orbit adjustments were performed in preparation for turning on the observatory’s eight science instruments.

Aquarius will make NASA’s first space observations of the salinity, or concentration of salt, at the ocean surface, a key variable in satellite studies of Earth. Variations in salinity influence the ocean’s deep circulation, outline the path freshwater takes around our planet and help drive Earth’s climate.

On Aug. 14, the Aquarius Instrument Flight Operations Team, together with the SAC-D Mission Flight Operations Team, began powering up the Aquarius instrument, and successfully completed deployment of the Aquarius antenna on Aug. 17. The team then began sequentially powering on the instrument’s subsystems. On Aug. 20, the Aquarius radiometer, which collects the brightness temperature data from which salinity measurements are derived, was powered on for the first time in space and transmitted its first science data back to Earth, which were analyzed and found to be as expected. On Aug. 21, the team began powering on Aquarius’ radar scatterometer, which corrects for the effects of ocean roughness on the radiometer readings. Commissioning of Aquarius was completed and regular data collection began on Aug. 24.

The Aquarius science team will spend the coming months analyzing and calibrating the measurements and releasing preliminary data.

With the Aquarius instrument commissioning now complete, the SAC-D Instruments Flight Operations Teams, together with the SAC-D Mission Flight Operations Team in Argentina, are now engaged in commissioning the other seven SAC-D instruments. Once all the observatory instruments are commissioned, a maneuver will be conducted to place Aquarius/SAC-D in its final orbit, 408 miles (657 kilometers) above Earth.

Aquarius was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. NASA’s Launch Services Program, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, managed the launch. JPL is managing Aquarius through its commissioning phase and will archive mission data. Goddard will manage Aquarius mission operations and process science data. CONAE is providing the SAC-D spacecraft, an optical camera, a thermal camera with Canada, a microwave radiometer, other sensors and the mission operations center. France and Italy also are contributing instruments.

For more information about Aquarius/SAC-D, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/aquarius and http://www.conae.gov.ar/eng/principal.html.

Grand Junction: Interbasin Compact Committee meeting September 12

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From email from the IBCC (Eric Hecox):

The 34th meeting of the Interbasin Compact Committee, formed under the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, will be:

Date: Monday, September 12, 2011
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Ute Water Conservancy District, 2190 H 1⁄4 Road, Grand Junction, CO.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.