The Bureau of Reclamation commits $413,000 for a study of the Republican River Basin

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Here’s and excerpt from the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Adam Fetcher/Dan DuBray):

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation is providing $2.4 million in funding for comprehensive water studies in California, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma…

Republican River Basin Study (Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska) Federal Funding: $413,000; Non-Federal Funding: $435,000

The Republican River flows from its headwaters in Colorado into northwest Kansas, through southern Nebraska and back into north-central Kansas. It drains approximately 23,300 square miles of these three states and supplies water for municipalities, industries, surface and ground water irrigation, recreation and wildlife. The basin is subject to an interstate compact that was ratified in 1943. The three states have proposed a collaborative basin study that will cover the entire basin down to the Clay Center stream-gauging station in northeast Kansas. The study will identify mitigation and adaptation strategies that address the impacts of climate change on water resources in the basin.

Thanks to the Lincoln Journal Star for the heads up.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

In recent years, irrigation in the Colorado portion of the basin has been curtailed to meet conditions of the 1943 Republican River interstate compact. Among other measures, Bonny Reservoir north of Burlington had to be drained to provide water to downstream states. The study will identify mitigation and adaptation strategies that address the impacts of climate change on water resources in the basin.

More Republican River basin coverage here and here.

NRCS Announces Sign-up Period for Wetlands Reserve Program Deadline for Applications is March 30, 2012

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Here’s the release from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (Katherine Burse-Johnson):

The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced that Friday, March 30, 2012 will be the deadline to submit applications to be considered for fiscal year 2012 funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).

“Wetlands support diverse populations of wildlife and plants,” said Phyllis Ann Philipps, NRCS State Conservationist, Colorado. “WRP offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.”

Though conservation plans are not required in order to participate in any of the NRCS programs, it is strongly suggested that landowners develop one because, in doing so, it will provide them with an inventory and assessment of their resources and a right start to the enhancement and improvement of the quality of their soil, water, air, plants, and wildlife.

Landowners who participate in WRP voluntarily limit future use of the land but retain private ownership. The program offers landowners three enrollment options: Permanent or 30-year easements, or a restoration cost-share agreement.

For more information about WRP, visit our website at www.co.nrcs.usda.gov.

More Conservation coverage here.

Ogallala Aquifer, Lesser Prairie Chicken, Sage Grouse Initiatives Target Local Resource Concerns NRCS seeks applications for financial, technical assistance

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Here’s the release from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (Katherine Burse-Johnson):

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Colorado recently announced that funding is available to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices, as part of the Ogallala Aquifer, Lesser Prairie Chicken, and Sage Grouse initiatives. These initiatives target efforts to address local resource concerns for important Colorado wildlife species, and water quality and quantity.

NRCS accepts applications on an ongoing basis. There will be two funding cycles in 2012. The first funding cycle will be March 30, 2012 and the second will be June 1.

“The Ogallala Aquifer, Lesser Prairie Chicken, and Sage Grouse initiatives are a few of several landscape conservation initiatives that maximize our conservation efforts to address some of Colorado’s most pressing natural resource challenges,” said Phyllis Ann Philipps, State Conservationist, NRCS, Colorado.

NRCS’ landscape conservation initiatives use a systems approach that focuses technical and financial assistance to implement a suite of conservation practices to address specific resource concerns. Through the Lesser Prairie Chicken and Sage Grouse initiatives, farmers and ranchers are incorporating conservation practices to improve healthy plant and animal communities by implementing practices such as prescribed grazing systems, fence marking, range plantings, brush/pinon-juniper management, and cross fencing into their agricultural operations. The Ogallala Aquifer Initiative will allow producers to install conservation practices that directly benefit water quality and water quantity issues.

Conservation assistance is available to producers through several 2008 Farm Bill conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Producers interested in becoming a part of the Ogallala Aquifer, Lesser Prairie Chicken, or Sage Grouse initiative, or any other NRCS programs and services, should contact their local USDA Service Center, or visit www.co.nrcs.usda.gov for more information.

Thanks to The Holyoke Enterprise for the heads up.

More Ogallala Aquifer coverage here.

CWCB: Water Availability Task Force meets today

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The CWCB Water Availability Task Force is meeting today. I don’t expect to see a dry eye in the place when Mage Skordahl from the Natural Resources Conservation Service gives her snowpack and precipitation report.

I’ll be live-Tweeting the meeting: @coyotegulch hash tag #cwcbwatf.

Celebrate World Water Day 2012 today: Be thankful that Colorado is at the top of the hill

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Colorado is the “Mother of Rivers” according to Justice Hobbs’ book of poetry. It’s true, the Colorado, Platte, Arkansas and Rio Grande rise here. Today be thankful that we have a good supply replenished each year by the snowpack and that our water problems here in Colorado come down to moving water from agriculture, removing water from the environment and elimintating bluegrass (someday).

Today is World Water Day. I’m always struck by the statistics around child mortality around the world from waterborne disease.

Take some time today to learn how you can help.

125,000 acre-feet stored by the Arkansas Valley irrigators winter storage program– 88% of 20 year average

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The program, established by a court decree in 1990, allows ditch companies to store water from Nov. 15-March 15 each year for use later in the season.

Irrigation season began for the ditches in the Lower Arkansas Valley last week, and water is diverted by ditches according to a seniority system determined by water court. A little more than 125,000 acre-feet of water was stored this year, about 88 percent of the 20-year average, said Steve Witte, Water Division 2 engineer. The total is about 4,000 acre-feet greater than 2010-11.

The two-year period, coinciding with drought conditions across Southeastern Colorado, is one of the driest on record since winter storage began as a voluntary program in 1975. The only drier time since the program has been fully operated among 11 canal companies came in the 2002-05 period during a series of drought years.

About one-third of the water, 42,000 acre-feet is stored in Lake Pueblo. Unlike the past few years, there is little danger of any water in storage accounts being spilled during spring runoff. Water is also stored in John Martin Reservoir and in reservoirs owned by several canal companies. Participants in the winter water program are the Bessemer, Highline, Oxford, Catlin, Las Animas Consolidated, Riverside, West Pueblo, Colorado, Holbrook, Fort Lyon and Amity ditch systems.

The release of water into the Arkansas River has increased flows through Pueblo at Moffat Street to about 150 cubic feet per second from 60 cfs a week ago, according the U.S. Geological Survey stream gage.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.