Rio Grande Water Conservation District Manager Steve Vandiver told the water board during their meeting in Alamosa on Tuesday that some of the irrigators who were going to fallow their land in the first sub-district area this year opted to go with prevented planting instead because it would pay them more than the sub-district.
Vandiver said the sub-district ended up with about 9,100 acres under contract for fallowing this year.
“It was higher than that, and as insurance programs kicked in for prevented planting, people started withdrawing their contracts,” Vandiver told the board. “A number of people withdrew their offers to fallow.”
Farmers could receive $500-600 per acre under prevented planting, while the sub-district was only paying $200-300 per acre, Vandiver explained.
He said at least 18,000 acres would be fallowed to some extent under the prevented planting program, and although that would not entail 100 percent dry up, “there’s a considerable amount of ground that’s going to have a lot less growing on it this year than it has before.”
More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.
To raise money for the Scholarship Fund, we are holding our third annual silent auction at the symposium. If you would like to donate an item for the auction, please contact Val Flory at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s going to be a tough year, but our storage is up,” said Alan Ward, water resources manager for the Pueblo Board of Water Works at Tuesday’s monthly meeting…
Snowpack in the Arkansas River basin is at 44 percent of normal, and has been melting since late March. The normal peak date is April 13. Things are worse in the Colorado River basin, which provides supplemental water for the Arkansas River, where snow levels have dropped to 37 percent. Normal peak is April 14, but was reached about three weeks ago. Pueblo has opened the Wurtz and Ewing ditches, which bring water across the Continental Divide. There also was recent heavy snowfall in the Busk-Ivanhoe collection area, which brings water through a tunnel…
In Pueblo, precipitation through mid-April is about 1.5 inches, about 65 percent of average.
This year, snowpack in the Colorado River basin, which supplies the Fry-Ark water, is at its lowest point in 45 years, melting off a month ahead of average and quickly reaching problematic limits on the amount that can be moved. “Storage is what’s saving us,” Executive Director Jim Broderick told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board Thursday. “If they wouldn’t have taken the clue in 2002, the cities would be in trouble today.” After the drought of 2002, the cities increased their levels of storage. Lake Pueblo is nearly full because cities are storing Fry-Ark water and water from other sources. The cities also have filled up accounts in Twin Lakes, Turquoise and municipal reservoirs to the point where they are not anticipating further water restrictions this summer.
But the Southeastern district’s operating principles give priority to domestic uses and after the 2002 drought, the district began discussing what sort of “trigger” would cut off agricultural allocations. The district never agreed on what the trigger should be, instead relying on a group of indicators including snowpack, municipal storage, drought designation, soil moisture and water availability forecasts…
he lack of water from the Fry-Ark Project has a domino effect because it will affect return flows, and to some extent water supply plans that rely on its contribution. Other diversions, like Twin Lakes or Pueblo’s transmountain ditches, also are expecting lower yields.
The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District voted Wednesday to charge farmers under the [augmentation] plan $75 per acre-foot to cover the cost of water to the district…
The district supplies water to make up for consumptive use depletions caused by sprinklers fed from surface ponds under Rule 10 of the state engineer’s consumptive use rules. The rules measure depletions under a formula and are designed to prevent depletions to Kansas.
[Colorado Division of Water Resources Division 3 Engineer Craig Cotten] said one of the few hopeful signs in the water world right now is the National Weather Service’s new three-month precipitation outlook for May, June and July. Where the last forecast showed the basin (the San Luis Valley) in a below-average precipitation area of the U.S., the new forecast puts this area in an average or equal chance of precipitation this summer.
In another bit of good news, Cotten’s office has been able to decrease curtailments of irrigators in the Conejos River system where flows the first part of April substantially boosted deliveries to downstream states to help satisfy Rio Grande Compact requirements. Irrigators on the Conejos waited until April 7 to turn on their ditches and initially were under a 6-percent curtailment. However, due to the deliveries made prior to April 7, Cotten said he was able to reduce curtailments to 4 percent on Tuesday. From April 1-15, 5,800 acre feet was sent downriver from the Conejos River system to meet compact obligations, leaving only 6,500 acre feet to be delivered between now and the end of the irrigation season. Cotten said the projected annual index on the Conejos is 215,000 acre feet, with 54,000 acre feet or 25 percent obligated for compact purposes. As much as possible of that is sent downriver during the winter months to lessen the curtailment during the irrigation season.
The April 1 forecast on the Rio Grande calls for a projected annual index flow of 465,000 acre feet, of which 116,500 acre feet or 25 percent must be sent downriver for the compact. Cotten said about 32,500 acre feet will need to be delivered downstream during the remainder of the irrigation system…
The Upper Rio Grande Basin as of yesterday stood at 47 percent of average, and Beartown, one of the major SNOTEL sites for the Rio Grande was 30 percent of average. Slumgullion, which is not in the basin but is close enough to assist with basin averages, showed the highest snowpack at 80 percent of average on Tuesday.
The site on which the plant will be built is zoned agricultural, but such a use for the land is permitted with a special use permit, said Jody Meyer of the planning and zoning department as she recommended approval. This treatment plant is one of the parts of the project which will bring a new water supply to the town of Wiggins. Its wells have been running dry and the water quality has become progressively worse, said Tim Holbrook of Industrial Facilities Engineering, the company overseeing the project…
The water treatment facility, which includes a reverse osmosis system, will be built over the new wells situated on Highway 144 near Highway 34. Other components of the project are a 7.3-mile pipeline which will bring the water from the wells to the existing town water tank. Another water tank will sit at the plant and two 19-acre augmentation ponds have been completed near Goodrich.
Environmentalists, government officials, academics and industry representatives are scheduled to address the San Juan Hardrock Mining and Water Quality Conference on April 26-27 at the Kendall Mountain Recreation Center. Strong sponsorship by a variety of entities allows the conference to be offered free, said Chris Peltz of the Mountain Studies Institute, the event coordinator. “The conference has been in the planning for months and months,” Peltz said Tuesday. “The purpose is to increase the understanding of issues affecting mining and water issues.”
The focus of the presentations April 26 will be the upper Animas River where toxic drainage from abandoned mines has compromised water quality, Peltz said…
Speakers will dominate the first day of the conference this year. Visits to the historic Mayflower Mill and the former mining community of Gladstone are scheduled April 27.
Among the speakers April 26 will be: Loretta Pineda, director of the Colorado Division of Mining, Safety and Reclamation; Larry Perino from the Sunnyside Gold Corp.; Mike Holmes, an Environmental Protection Agency expert on mine remediation and Superfund projects; Peter Butler from the Animas River Stakeholders Group and chairman of the state Water Quality Control Commission; John Ridley from Colorado State University; and Doug Yager from the U.S. Geological Survey.