Initiatives 3 and 45: ‘We now know that the process is adversarial’ — Richard Hamilton


From The Colorado Statesman (Peter Marcus):

Two efforts to protect water sources in Colorado also failed after sponsors were unable to submit signatures on Monday. Both initiatives aimed to declare water as belonging to the people of Colorado.

Initiative 3 would have simply declared that the public owns the water of Colorado; Initiative 45 would have addressed use and environmental issues by allowing the public to “limit” or “curtail” the right to divert water within the state.

Richard Hamilton, who sponsored both initiatives, said they were hampered by a challenge to the title language, which went to the Colorado Supreme Court and was not settled until April 16, dramatically shrinking the period of time sponsors had to collect signatures.

In the end, sponsors ended up with about 30,000 signatures, said Hamilton.

“We’ll go back and put something in and go after them again in 2014,” he said. “Hopefully there will not be such inordinate delays. We now know that the process is adversarial.”

Critics, including the Colorado Water Congress, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the Colorado River Water District, had opposed the measures, stating that the initiatives were too broad, allowing the public to block water diversions for a wide range of issues that could affect how the state and local governments distributed needed water.

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.

Drought news: USDA predicts corn crop crash, while prices soar


From CNN (Aaron Smith):

In its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand report, the USDA projected the corn harvest would plunge by 2.2 billion bushels, or by 22.6 bushels per acre, resulting in a harvest of 123.4 acres per acre. That’s worse than expected and puts the 2012-2013 yield on track to be the lowest since the 1995-1996 harvest…

Meanwhile, the USDA also said it now expects farm prices for corn to hit a record high this season of $7.50 to $8.90 per bushel, sharply higher than its July forecast of $5.40 to $6.40 per bushel. The USDA blamed “extreme and dryness” in the Central Plains and the Corn Belt…

Fewer crops has translated into higher prices for consumers. On Thursday, the United Nations released a report that showed world food prices jumped 6% in July.
Corn was the biggest culprit for the price hike. The global price of corn surged nearly 23% last month…

The drought is also taking a toll on soybeans, which are essential to oil products such as cooking oil, margarine and peanut butter. The USDA dropped its yield forecast to 36.1 bushels per acre. That’s 4.4 bushels lower than last month’s estimate, and 5.4 bushels below last year’s yield. The USDA said that soybean prices surged to record levels, up $2 to a range of $15 to $17 per bushel.

I think the U.S. Drought Monitor computer was so depressed it committed suicide today. I’m lucky I had the drought map from last week, I can’t get the latest one this afternoon.

South Platte River Basin: New stream flow and river call map from United Water and Sanitation


Update: It was early this morning when I first posted this and I neglected to point out that they have mapped selected stream gages as well.

Sometimes it’s nice to look at the calls on the river graphically. Thanks to the United Water and Sanitation District you don’t have to haul out your straight line diagram for the South Platte Basin. They’ve built an online map with current river calls.

Click on the thumbnail graphic for a screen shot of this morning’s map.

Here’s the release from United Water and Sanitation:

United Water and Sanitation District has unveiled a first-of-its-kind South Platte River Basin map that allows water users and providers throughout the Front Range to get real-time, visual information about the status of the South Platte River and its tributaries.

The map (”>) aggregates hourly data from a variety of sources, including the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Colorado Division of Water Resources, providing comprehensive streamflow information from the South Platte River Basin. Map users can scroll over dozens of river locations to get valuable and timely information, including:

– River height (ft)
– Streamflow rates in cubic feet per second(cfs)
– Active calls on the river
– Apparent dry-up points

“This map allows users to see the supply side along with the demand side of the river basin as conditions change,” said Josh Shipman, asset manager for United Water and Sanitation District. “We have taken a tremendous amount of data and put it in a visual, interactive format, making it easier for water users and providers to quickly and easily get information. It now only takes a few seconds to get information on the river that previously took hours to compile and compare.”

With numerous water rights and supply interests along the South Platte River basin, United Water anticipates a variety of interest in the map – from ditch companies and water districts to farmers and municipalities – particularly in a dry year like one we are currently experiencing.

“Ultimately this map allows any interested party to monitor real time, stream conditions to ensure they are receiving the full allocation of their call on the river,” said Ron von Lembke, chief of staff at United Water and Sanitation District. “But it can also be useful for water recreationalists such as kayakers and fishermen who are interested in water conditions related to their activities.”

The map encompasses all of the South Platte River basin – including each of the 16 Districts included in Water Division 1 of the Colorado Division of Water Resources( Maps/ColoradoRiverBasins.pdf) While there is potential to expand the map to other divisions throughout the state, United Water’s immediate focus will be on adding streamflow monitoring stations and select weather stations in these districts to further enhance its current functionality.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

Ruedi Reservoir operations update: 244 cfs in the Fryingpan River at the Ruedi gage


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Despite some guesstimates I made over the phone and e-mail the past few days, the slight bump up we’ll see later today has more to do with the senior water right call down at Cameo on the Colorado River than anything else.

Around 5 p.m. today, August 9, we’ll bump releases from Ruedi Dam to the Fryingpan River up by about 20 cfs to a flow of around 244 cfs at the Ruedi gage.

We have not seen the Cameo senior water right call really affect Ruedi Reservoir for about 15 years. In more typical water years, reservoirs further upstream on the Colorado keep the call off of Ruedi. With the extreme conditions this year, however, we are seeing this water right call have effect. Recent afternoon rainstorms have generated a little bit of run-off into Ruedi Reservoir and we are adjusting our releases to pass that inflow on downstream.

Still, the draw at Ruedi is not as steep as other reservoirs are currently experiencing. Today, it is at a water level elevation of about 7745 feet, or roughly 81% full.

Green Mountain Reservoir operations update: 380 cfs in the Blue River below the dam


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

After the weekly coordination call today, we have made another change at Green Mountain Dam. We have dropped releases down to about 380 cfs in the Lower Blue River. Green Mountain Reservoir is currently at a water level elevation of about 7915 feet, or roughly 60% full. Considering the reservoir only got to an elevation of 7928 feet this year, that means it has dropped about 13 vertical feet since late June.

Durango: San Juan Citizens Alliance Annual Membership Meeting August 22


From email from the San Juan Citizens Alliance:

SJCA Annual Membership Meeting

August 22
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Durango Public Library
1900 E. 3rd, Ave., Durango

Join us for dinner, board member nominations, and updates on our accomplishments over the past year.

Please bring a dish to share, beverages will be provided.

More San Juan Basin coverage here and here.