Steamboat Springs: Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference August 15 – 17

steamboatsprings.jpg

Here’s the link to the registration page. Here’s the description of the event (Meg Meyer):

The 2012 Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference will include water and energy interests once again as we combine forces and explore areas of common interest. The theme of the conference is The Balance of Power. We will spin the concept several different ways as we look at the balance of political power, the balance of governance, and the balance of energy and water sources.

Immediately preceding the CWC Summer Conference, the Colorado Coal and Power Generation group will hold an all-day event at the Holiday Inn in Craig on Tuesday, August 14th which will include a golf tournament and evening barbeque.

In addition, the Interim Water Resources Review Committee will meet in Steamboat, Tuesday afternoon, for their first substantive meeting to prepare for the 2013 legislative session.

The CWC Summer Conference will be held August 15th through August17th at the Sheraton in Steamboat Springs.

We will have three workshops on Wednesday morning covering topics of drought and current weather conditions, public trust, and endangered species. We will try something a little different this year with the conference kicking off with a luncheon on Wednesday. General Sessions will follow on Wednesday afternoon. An evening open public forum will held on Wednesday at 7:30 pm (attendance is optional for water and energy professionals).

We will have networking breakfasts on Thursday or Friday – a light continental breakfast will be served, but no formal speaker. The hotel restaurant or other local venues are available for those that prefer a heartier breakfast. General Sessions will be held on Thursday from 9:00 to 12:00. On Thursday afternoon, we will offer a couple of tours or you may want to use this time to catch up on other business. The POND Committee is also planning outdoor activities. We will have a reception on Thursday evening at 5:00. The Friday morning format will be similar to Thursday and the conference will conclude with a box lunch.

Old Dillon Reservoir expansion update: Reservoir will hold 286 acre-feet of water when project is completed

olddillonreservoir.jpg

From the Summit Daily News (Caddie Nath):

The $5 million resurrection of the Old Dillon Reservoir will allow each of the three local governments involved in the project to store, release and exchange their own water rights…

When it does fill, Silverthorne will own approximately 8 percent of the water, Dillon will take roughly 38 percent and Summit County government will have the remainder — slightly more than 53 percent. The three entities split the bill for the restoration and expansion project…

The water in the reservoir will complement the town of Silverthorne’s water rights. The county will use the reservoir to supplement environmental and other projects in the works, while the Dillon sees the facility as an alternate water source, to be tapped if something were happen to Straight Creek, the town’s primary water source…

Old Dillon Reservoir is fed by the Dillon Ditch, constructed at the same time as the reservoir to divert water from Salt Lick Gulch. Local entities will bypass some of the stream flow, allowing the water to continue downstream to where it sustains environmental features including beaver ponds and a wetlands area.

More Old Dillon Reservoir coverage here and here.

Colorado Waterwise: An interview with Reagan Waskom

reaganwaskomcsu.jpg

Click here to read the interview (Ruth Quade) from Colorado Waterwise: The voice of the conservation community. Here’s an excerpt:

WW: Regarding water resources and conservation, what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing Colorado?

I’ll separate these two issues because I see them as somewhat distinct. Regarding water resources, the challenge is living within the limits imposed by our climate, while our economy and population grows. If we do not figure out how to live within these limits, the losers will be the environment and agriculture, which I think are the two greatest assets we have in Colorado. Sure, this is partially about conservation, but it is also about growth and what we value in this state. Water quality is a big part of this equation – as humans divert and discharge we degrade the aquatic resources in Colorado. Nutrients, sediment, mercury, selenium and temperature concern me the most for Colorado, but we’ll have to deal with emerging contaminants sooner or later.

Regarding conservation, as a state we still have lots we can do. Per capita water use values revealed by the SWSI 2010 study are all over the map – from several hundred gpcd to less than 100 gpcd. Statewide values are 172 gpcd, which I think shows many Colorado communities can still tighten up their water use.

More conservation coverage here.

Reclamation Releases Rural Water Program Assessment Report, Seeks Comments on Proposed Funding Criteria

thegranddiversion1.jpg

Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Dan DuBray):

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking comments on its Rural Water Assessment Report that reviews the status of potable water projects for rural areas, provides Reclamation’s plan for completing congressionally authorized projects, and includes proposed construction funding prioritization criteria for projects in the Rural Water program.
“Rural communities, including farms and ranches, are the backbone of America. Water supply infrastructure is critical and Reclamation has developed a comprehensive strategy for effectively using available resources towards the construction of rural water projects authorized for its involvement,” Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “Given the budgetary uncertainties, and rising construction costs, the strategy focuses on maximizing the impact of its limited available funding by establishing clear programmatic goals and a set of transparent prioritization criteria. This approach is intended to continue to make meaningful progress in the construction of rural water projects and we look forward to receiving comments on our proposed strategy and criteria.”

The Rural Water Assessment Report also describes federal programs supporting the development and management of water supplies in rural communities in the 17 western states and describes Reclamation’s plans to coordinate the Rural Water Supply Program with similar programs managed by other agencies.

The proposed strategy for funding rural water construction projects describes the prioritization criteria intended to be used in a two-step process for requesting rural water construction appropriations. Reclamation is proposing to evaluate and rank projects using the criteria, then allocate requested funds to reflect project priorities and the ability of sponsors to complete phases that will deliver water and other project benefits.

The comment period for the Report is 60 days. Comments are now due by 5 p.m., (MDT), Sept. 10, 2012.

Please visit www.usbr.gov/ruralwater to read the Rural Water Program Assessment Report or learn more about the Rural Water Program.

More Reclamation coverage here.

El Niño: Be careful what you wish for #CODrought

elninolanina.jpg

From Reuters via the Huffington Post (Rene Pastor/Jeffrey Benkoe:

…global food production could also suffer massive disruptions from the warming caused by El Nino. Three years ago, it slowed development of India’s vital monsoon rains, sparking a rally in sugar prices to 30-year highs as the No. 2 producer in the world produced a poor cane crop. Unwanted rains also damage crops in agricultural powerhouses like Brazil and Argentina, while the normally dry areas of Chile, the world’s No. 1 copper producer, could see rampant floods…

Further ahead to the end of the year, the pattern could trigger severe winter storms during the northern hemisphere’s winter, particularly in California and other Western U.S. states.

Drought/precipitation news: Farmers and communities are facing supply shortages #CODrought

sevendayrainurbandrainage07092012.jpg

Click on the thumbnail graphic for the seven-day precipitation map for the Metro Denver Area from the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

From The Denver Post (Nancy Lofholm):

This year’s dearth of water is creating headaches across Colorado from farm fields to home faucets as water managers and users try to stretch low to no water levels. The state’s drought can be pictured in vivid colors on Colorado Climate Center charts and maps where red splotches across northwestern Colorado and in part of the Eastern Plains indicate extreme drought. The orange and tan that cover everything else west of the Continental Divide signal severe to moderate drought.

Precipitation charts for much of the state look like the flat line on the monitor of a dying patient.

“Things are tight” is how Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association manager Steve Fletcher sums up the situation for the water users on the 80,000 acres his association covers. “Tight” in that farming belt means users are getting only 70 percent of their normal allotment of water. For the farmers, that means working nearly around the clock to switch around irrigation water so everything gets a partial drink…

Not all the water news is bad around Colorado. John Harold, owner of the Tuxedo Corn Co. in Olathe, said he has been able to manage with 70 percent of his water — and is starting to pick sweet corn this week. The harvest is 12 days earlier than normal years because of the hot temperatures. He would have been picking corn last week except that his fields just got a soaking for several days and were too wet and muddy. “We’re doing good,” he said. “We’re going to have corn this week.”

Meanwhile, the recent hot spell broke records across Colorado. Here’s a report from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

Most of the state sat under a strong ridge of high pressure most of the month, reflected by the Denver weather stats, record daily highs were recorded June 4 and June 9, 17, 18, 25 and 26. Late in the month, Denver also recorded a five-day stretch with highs climbing above 100 degrees June 22-26) for only the third time in the city’s weather history. The previous five-day streaks were Jul 4-8, 1989 and July 19-23 in 2005. The 105-degree readings on June 25 and 26 were both all-time temperature records for the month of June and tied Denver’s all-time high for any month…

In Summit County, June precipitation was also well below normal, with the Dillon site reporting only 0.38 inches of water, only about a third of the average 1.14 inches. There were only four days with measurable precipitation, as compared to 11 on average.

From the Vail Daily (Scott N. Miller):

“Everything helps, but a tenth of an inch here and a tenth of an inch there isn’t really going to do us much good,” said Diane Johnson, of the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District. In fact, showers over the past couple of days have put just small spikes in local streamflows…

Eagle County’s in a little better shape than the Front Range foothills, but fire managers there have reported that standing trees are just about firewood dry. Getting more moisture into those standing trees will require deep, soil-soaking rain and lots of it. And even that may not be sufficient to revive the finer fuels that can spread fire. “The grasses may have already cured out and may not green up again until next year,” Eagle River Fire Protection District Chief Karl Bauer said.

From Steamboat Today (Brent Boyer):

The National Weather Service confirmed Saturday that the official weather monitoring station in Steamboat recorded 1.78 inches of rain in the 24-hour period from 7:30 a.m. Friday to 7:30 a.m. Saturday. That easily bested the previous July single-day rainfall record of 1.39 inches established on July 14, 1937. Although the 1.78 inches of rain established a new record, the spotty nature of Rocky Mountain thunderstorms proved true again Friday. Other unofficial weather monitoring stations in various locations throughout the city picked up 0.69 inches, 0.72 inches and 1.45 inches of rain, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Travis Booth. Regardless, the 1.78 inches will be the total that is referenced by history. Buoyed by that rainfall, Steamboat had received just short of 2 inches of rain through the first six days of the month. That already surpasses the average July total of 1.51 inches…

The recent rain, combined with additional water releases from Stagecoach Reservoir, continue to prop up flows in the Yampa River through Steamboat. The river was flowing at 126 cubic feet per second under the Fifth Street Bridge early Saturday evening. That flow remains above the 85 cfs threshold required for recreational activities like tubing. However, Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife has not lifted the voluntary ban on fishing the town stretch of the Yampa River.

From The Greeley Tribune (Nate A. Miller):

The storms Friday and Saturday nights marked the first significant rainfall in the county [Weld] since early June. Saturday’s storm brought the heaviest rain to the northern and southern parts of Weld, though about half an inch fell in Greeley, according to the National Weather Service. Near Dacono, where more than 1 inch of rain fell, Interstate 25 was closed Saturday night near Dacono from mile marker 232 to mile marker 235 because of flooding…

Jim Kalina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, said the heaviest rain in Weld came in the northern part of the county. About 4 miles north of Purcell, about 2 inches fell, based on radar estimates. Not much rain fell east of Kersey, he said…

Outside of Greeley, much of the rest of Weld saw about half an inch of rain, though precipitation totals varied widely throughout the county, according to data compiled by the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.