Colorado Water Conservation Board drought tournament recap

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What a cool time today at the CWCB’s drought tournament.

Teams were tasked with working through a three year drought across a river basin with cities, storage, sub-basins, whitewater sports, flat water boating, agriculture, past mining activity, endangered/threatened species, groundwater pumping, federal reserved water rights, transbasin diversions, prior appropriation, recreation in-channel water rights, instream flow rights, state parks, oil and gas, a ski resort and a compact senior to all other water rights.

AMEC organized the event and developed the materials, including the drought news, which became grimmer as time went on.

On the bike ride back to Gulch Manor from the Colorado History Center I determined that the real takeaway, for me, was the complexity of planning on that level.

The mix of players from recreation, energy, water and environment present was a real eye-opener as well. The conversation was as varied as the experience around each table.

Congratulations to the winning team whose frugal use of funds tipped the scales after the competition ended in a tie.

More CWCB coverage here.

Sterling Ranch developers appeal ruling

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From the Denver Business Journal (Dennis Huspeni):

Attorneys for the planned Sterling Ranch subdivision in northwest Douglas County last week filed a motion asking for a judge to reconsider his ruling or at least send it back to the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners. The motion states District Court Judge Paul King erred when he ruled in late August that the commission had improperly approved a zoning changed and approved a development permit. The judge said the developers had failed to show the water supply was adequate for the Sterling Ranch project.

King’s ruling came in the civil lawsuit filed last year by the Chatfield Community Association against the Douglas County commission, challenging its approval of Sterling Ranch LLC’s plan for development.

Drought news: Ranchers in the U.S. far far west [Hawaii] are battling drought

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From the Associated Press (Jennifer Sinco Kelleher) via The Durango Herald:

While large swaths of the mainland United States are in the middle of the worst drought in decades, the far-away Hawaiian islands in the middle of the Pacific are familiar with occasional drought. The wide-ranging weather of the islands can bring rainfall on one side of an island but be very dry just a few miles away.

Ponoholo Ranch, one of the three biggest on the Big Island of Hawaii, is heading into its eighth year of drought conditions.

“It’s our biggest challenge now,” said Sabrina White, a manager at the ranch in North Kohala. “It’s too dry. We don’t have the grass we need to feed the cows.” They’ve had to reduce their herd by about 2,000.

Ranchers in other parts of the state, where there are pockets of extreme drought conditions, are reporting the same to the National Weather Service in Honolulu. There have been reports of dried-out pastures on the southern point of the Big Island, with ranchers having to haul thousands of gallons of water. Dry conditions on Molokai have caused an increase in crop damage by axis deer. Maui County continues to call for a voluntary reduction in water usage in some areas, the weather service said.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 54 percent of Hawaii is in a drought now, compared with about 21 percent a year ago. Nearly 9 percent – mainly leeward parts of the Big Island, Maui and Molokai – are suffering from extreme drought.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: The Carter Lake pump is off for the season

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Just a quick note to let you know that as of today, September 17, the pump up to Carter Lake has gone off for the season.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.