Colorado Water 2012: Schools ‘Rain Gauge Week’ happening September 5th-11th — CoCoRaHS


Here’s all the information about the program from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.

More education coverage here.

Drought news: Telluride tables repeal of emergency fire ordinance


From The Telluride Daily Planet (Collin McRann):

Telluride Town Council members voted Tuesday to table the repeal of an emergency fire ordinance, which has been in place since June. During its Aug. 7 meeting, the council cast one of two required votes to repeal the ordinance. However, due to the uncertainty of its water supply — and a lingering potential for fire — the council decided to table the second vote until its Sept. 18 meeting. The ordinance bans all open fires in the Town of Telluride as well as smoking on combustible surfaces…

When the ordinance was put into place, the area was experiencing one of the worst dry periods in a decade. However, recent monsoonal moisture has given eastern San Miguel County some much-needed rain.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

There is enough water in storage to serve the Grand Valley for the rest of the year, but providers “are preparing for the unknown in 2013,” said Joe Burtard, chairman of the Drought Response Information Project. “If the snowpack this winter looks anything like last year’s snowpack, then our customers can expect to be placed on mandatory water restrictions.”

The hammer for those restrictions would be Stage II drought rates, which remain to be set, said Burtard, who also is the spokesman for Ute Water. Stage II drought restrictions also would require that restaurants serve water only when requested by customers and curbside vehicle washing would be prohibited. Private swimming pools couldn’t be filled and ornamental fountains would have to be turned off.

“We’ll have a pretty good feel in February” whether water suppliers will have to set rates intended to rein in water use in the face of an even greater drought than the one so far this year, said Dave Reinertsen, assistant general manager of Clifton Water District.

From the Grand Junction Free Press (Scott Condon):

The big shift from warm and dry weather in Colorado dating back to March to cooler and wetter conditions will be triggered by an El Niño replacing a La Niña weather system, [Meteorologist Jack Boston] said. In an El Niño, the water in the Pacific Ocean along the equator warms up and influences the world’s climate. “We expect it to kind of come to a peak as a moderate El Niño around mid-November then back off as a weak El Niño,” Boston said…

The difference this winter from last winter will be colder Canada air masses dropping down into the Plains states, Boston said. That sets up Colorado’s mountains for snow. Last year, AccuWeather and “everybody else” issued what turned out to be a poor forecast, Boston said. The cold air mass settled west of Colorado, so mountains stayed warmer and drier than expected, he said.

AccuWeather is forecasting near-normal temperatures into mid-October and then lower-than-normal temperatures in November and December. Boston said he is “on the fence” about temperatures in the Colorado mountains in September and October. He believes there is a chance those months also will be cooler than usual.

From The Brighton Blade:

The prolonged drought — one of the worst in modern Colorado history — has prompted city officials to declare a Phase 3 drought warning. The warning comes with a number of water restrictions that will be in place through Nov. 1, when winter watering rules will go into effect. Residents are restricted to watering their yard only every third day under the restrictions, and turf watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Additionally, large irrigation users such as farms will be asked to curb consumption by 25 percent through October.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Lisa Walton):

Monday’s high of 90 put Colorado Springs at 44 days of scorching 90-degree heat this year, tying last year’s record. National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Wankowski said Colorado Springs will likely topple last year’s record as the hottest by Tuesday or Wednesday. Since 1893, Colorado Springs has hit 100 degrees only seven times. Three of those came in the last week of June: June 23, when the Waldo Canyon fire erupted, June 24 and June 26, the hottest day in Colorado Springs history.

Morgan County dairy tour highlights importance of water to agriculture


From The Fort Morgan Times (John La Porte):

Lawyers, Front Range city council members, a grain elevator operator, water purification company executives and a power company representative were among the others making the trip.

The group also heard from Joe Frank of the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District about efforts by people from Kersey to the Colorado-Nebraska state line to work together and better manage water, particularly augmentation plans.
The group would like to partner with some Front Range municipalities to do some leases and exchanges of water instead of the “buy and dry” philosophy some Front Range entities are pursuing…

Morgan County Quality Water District started in the mid-1970s from efforts by dairy farmers Paul McDill and Bob Samples to get better water for their cattle, Kip Barthlama of the district’s board of directors said.

Water quality gets worse as one moves downstream along the Platte, it was noted. Frank pointed out that Sterling is in the process of building a $30 million reverse osmosis plant.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

San Miguel River: Montrose County water rights application heading to trial


From the Montrose Daily Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

Montrose County’s stipulation with several objectors in its water rights case has been accepted by District Judge J. Steven Patrick, court records show. A three-day trial remains set, however, as the stipulation did not encompass all 29 objectors to the county’s filing for water rights on the San Miguel River. The Colorado Water Conservation Board in June had filed a statement of opposition, as well as a motion to intervene in the case “due to information that was not in the (water rights) applications, but was revealed in the engineering report,” unclear language, and proposed actions, such as appropriating instream flow and recreational in-channel diversions, that were not listed in the application.

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.

Reclamation releases draft Arkansas Valley Conduit environmental impact statement


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

The Bureau of Reclamation announces the public comment period for the Arkansas Valley Conduit and Long-Term Excess Capacity Master Contract Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Comments will be accepted through October 30, 2012.
“Public comments are a key component to our environmental compliance process,” said Mike Ryan, Regional Director for Reclamation’s Great Plains Region.

As part of the National Environmental Policy Act, Reclamation is analyzing three proposed federal actions for the AVC and Master Contract that would tie into its Fryingpan-Arkansas water project. The Draft EIS summarizes the analyses to date.

To access the Draft EIS, Executive Summary, and supporting technical reports please visit A list of libraries where the Draft EIS is available is also included on the website.

In late September, Reclamation will host five public hearings to present the Draft EIS to the public, answer questions, and accept both written and oral comments. The hearings will include an open house, presentation, question and answer forum, and an opportunity for oral comments from the public. Meetings will be held in Salida, Pueblo, La Junta and Lamar, Colo. For dates, times and locations, please visit the website at

Comments outside of the hearings must be sent to the attention of J. Signe Snortland, Reclamation Environmental Specialist, via mail or e-mail at Bureau of Reclamation, Dakotas Area Office, PO Box 1017, Bismarck ND 58502; or

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

The Bureau of Reclamation Wednesday released a draft environmental impact statement for the conduit and a master storage contract proposed by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District…

The 40 communities that would receive clean drinking water from the conduit would pay some of the costs, but many face more costly alternatives to remove salts and radionuclides.

The master contract would provide more certainty for long-term storage of nonproject water in Lake Pueblo both for use by the conduit participants and other users within the Southeastern district. The 400-page report does not recommend an alignment for the conduit, but instead lists a no-action alternative, five possible alternatives for the conduit and an alternative that includes only the master contract.

Meetings are planned next month to discuss the report in Salida, Pueblo, La Junta and Lamar.

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.