Aspinall Unit update: Monsoon moisture helps streamflow in the Gunnison River #CODrought #monsoon


From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

The rain came through this weekend and flows at the Whitewater gage have now reached 1400 cfs. Rain is expected to continue today and then taper off by Wednesday. Diversions at the Gunnison Tunnel are also decreasing by 50 cfs this morning. In order to further water conservation in the Aspinall Unit reservoirs, we will match the tunnel decrease from Crystal Dam plus an additional decrease of 100 cfs because of the higher flows at the Whitewater gage. After this change, flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon should drop to about 520 cfs.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Arkansas Valley Conduit: Reclamation public open houses July 17 and 18


Here’s the release from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Who: Neighboring communities, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District need your help.

Why: Access to private land is needed in order to conduct geology and environmental studies for the proposed Arkansas Valley Conduit. The AVC would bring clean and safe drinking water to Arkansas River valley communities.

What: The proposed AVC is a feature of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project that was never built, but its possibilities are now being investigated. Pipeline routes are being analyzed and engineering details are being designed. Collection of soil and geotechnical data from land parcels in eastern Colorado as well as environmental resource investigations will help with this planning process. The Bureau of Reclamation is preparing an environmental impact statement to evaluate the effects of this proposed project.

By allowing access to your land, Reclamation engineers and their contractors might dig or drill for soil samples, or record environmental data, which includes cultural or biological resources. Residents in the area might also see drill rigs or survey crews on adjacent properties.

Where: If constructed, the pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir would bring drinking water to communities east of Pueblo to Lamar in the Arkansas Valley.

When: This summer through 2013, the Bureau of Reclamation is conducting its geotechnical study,
drill sampling program, and cultural and biological resource studies to analyze possible pipeline routes and design project features. Public hearings for the environmental impact statement will be held in September 2012.

To obtain more information regarding right of entry on private lands for the AVC Project:

1. Attend local public open houses hosted by City of Las Animas, McClave Water Association, and Hasty Water Company. Each meeting will run from 6-8 p.m.

• Tuesday, July 17, 2012, Hasty Fire House, South Main Street, Hasty, CO
• Wednesday, July 18, 2012, Las Animas City Hall, 532 Carson St., Las Animas, CO

2. Visit our website at

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.

Flaming Gorge pipeline task force update: Have the committee members been spending too much time on problems?


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“There was a great deal of negativism in the first meetings, but at the last meeting we had a bit of a turnaround because we realized that we had not considered any of the positive things that would happen if we built Flaming Gorge,” Betty Konarski told the Arkansas Basin Roundtable Wednesday. Konarski, a task force member who represents El Paso County on the roundtable, said the task force has been so busy trying to identify problems that it has neglected the other side of its mission: to evaluate the potential benefits of a new supply of water. The task force was formed to evaluate competing plans by Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million and the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition to build a Flaming Gorge pipeline.

More Flaming Gorge Task Force coverage here.

Pagosa Springs geothermal development hampered by shortage of capital


From the Pagosa Springs Sun (Jim McQuiggin):

…two recent events highlighted the growing sense that Pagosa Country is edging closer towards making that geothermal resource the centerpiece of a larger economic development initiative.

Late last month, several community members made their way to Denver to make a presentation at the Geothermal Working Group meeting, sponsored by the Colorado Energy Office (previously known as the Governor’s Energy Office). In fact, Pagosa Country featured three speakers at the meeting out of a total 19 presenters, providing substantial representation for geothermal issues in the area…

“One problem,” [Archuleta County Commissioner Michael Whiting] told SUN staff last week, “is the lack of capital,” stating that it is difficult for rural communities to secure government dollars needed to develop geothermal resources. “The problem is parochialism,” Whiting continued, referring to attitudes that reject, or are unable to grasp, the potential of geothermal as an important resource for energy and economic development…

In essence, Starr’s presentation implied that, not only could local governments identify resources (geothermal) for state interests, but, after having done so, could apply for state funds to develop those resources. Starr’s presentation went on to show that the next provision of that section states, “(2) (a) The department of local affairs shall oversee and coordinate the provision of technical assistance and provide financial assistance as may be authorized by law.”[…]

local businessman Jerome Smith (founder of Pagosa Verde, LLC., a company currently engaged in researching the energy-producing potential of the local geothermal aquifer) presented on a subject Whiting had previously touched on: The challenges businesses faced acquiring needed funding for geothermal projects. As a solution, Smith spoke about the importance of an alliance of geothermal communities in the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado and throughout the state. Smith also spoke to the opportunities for financing geothermal development and power generation.

More geothermal coverage here.

Drought/forecast news: Monsoon moisture expected over the next few days #CODrought


Click on the thumbnail graphic for a screen shot of the 7-day forecast for Metro Denver from the National Weather Service. Here’s a report from the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

National Weather Service forecasters in Grand Junction described conditions in western Colorado as almost tropical, with dew points in the mid-40s and 50s, which means there’s plenty of moisture available for condensation and formation of rain clouds. Precipitable water values in the atmosphere hovered close to 1 inch Sunday, and while a bit of drying is expected over western Colorado Monday, chances for rain remain good the next few days…

The rain won’t put a big dent in the long-term drought; only a big winter, or possibly an El Niño-fueled wet autumn, will help with that. But the monsoon rains could take the edge of the fire danger during the peak of the busy summer season, and help boost stream flows and lower stream temperatures just a bit until the days get a little shorter with more radiational cooling at night. That’s good news for fish. A large high pressure ridge over Colorado is forecast to move slightly eastward Monday and Tuesday, enabling a large plume of subtropical moisture move northward over Colorado, bringing more widely scattered showers the first part of the week. Most storms should deliver about 0.25 inches of water, with higher amounts possible under some of the stronger, slower-moving storms.

From the CWCB Colorado Flood Threat Portal (John Henz):

Monsoon moisture has split the state into two very different local climate regimes for the past five days. East of the Divide hot, dry weather dominates with near record temperatures in the mid-90 to low 100’s. West of the Divide monsoon moisture has produced strong thunderstorms, rains and reports of mud and rock slides, small stream flooding. Extensive cloud cover and rains have resulted in below normal temperature. It’ll be another LOW FLOOD THREAT day west of the Divide. We are issuing a MODERATE FLOOD THREAT for Ouray, San Juan, Gunnison, Pitkin, Lake, Summit, Eagle Garfield and Grand Counties where repeated rains have saturated the soils producing a higher likelihood of mud and rock slides and flash flooding. Hot, dry conditions will prevail east of the Divide before sunset. However look for the monsoon moisture to spill east of the Divide near sunset producing a round of gusty thundershowers along the Front Range foothills and urban corridor…

Saturday a strong surge of monsoon storms moved through Arizona causing extensive flooding issues and heavy rain. This new monsoon surge will arrive in Colorado this afternoon and linger into Tuesday evening increasing rainfall and storminess across western portions of the state [Sunday] that could spill over into northeastern Colorado [Sunday] evening.

The flood threat for [Sunday] will focus on the central Colorado mountains where strong storms will likely form and repeatedly move over the same areas. This storm training effect and rain rates of 0.50in to 1.50 inch /hr will produce minor stream flooding and rock slides. Wind gusts to 60mph and hail to 1.00 inch in diameter will be possible with severe storms. Storms across the northern mountains, Front Range and northeastern plains could produce strong microburst winds of 50-65mph, small hail and active cloud-to-ground lightning with squally rains of 0.25in/15-20 minutes.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Ryan Severance):

Eric Hanagan, who owns Hanagan Farms, said the rain is a mixed bag for crops. “You know, it’s good and bad,” he said. “The timing isn’t great because we are starting to harvest right now with melons and squash and stuff, and any excess moisture can cause some damage if it’s too prolonged…

Hanagan said the biggest benefit of the recent moisture is its impact on farmer’s morale. “A good, consistent rain like that gives renewed optimism for all of us farmers and reminds us that it actually can rain again,” Hanagan said. “It will help out some with our crops, too — everything is coming along.”

From Steamboat Today (Matt Stensland):

The 85 cfs threshold is dictated by the Yampa River Management Plan. A voluntary fishing ban remains in effect for the town stretch of the Yampa River. Private tubing, kayaking and swimming also are included in the voluntary ban that takes effect when the river’s flow dips below 85 cfs…

Efforts are being made to keep the river at healthy levels.

The Colorado Water Trust agreed June 25 to pay $140,000 to the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District to lease 4,000 acre-feet of water from Stagecoach Reservoir. That water began flowing out of the reservoir June 28 and is expected to contribute about 26 cfs to the Yampa through September. There also is a proposal to release water from Lake Catamount. The Catamount Homeowners Association has offered to donate 500 acre-feet of water from the lake, but it needs the city of Steamboat to move its 500 acre-feet of emergency reserves currently located at Stagecoach downstream to Lake Catamount.

From The Mountain Mail:

Compromising on flow levels so anglers, trout and the rafting industry will all prosper caused debate during the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Citizens Task Force meeting Thursday. Roy Vaughan with the Bureau of Reclamation said the bureau’s highest priority with the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project is the fish hatchery, which prefers about 250 cubic feet per second.