October precipitation — 2012 no longer stands as the driest year on record for Greeley #CODrought


From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

Don’t expect a parade in the streets from farmers, ranchers and water providers who’ve been battling drought all year, but 2012 no longer stands as the driest year on record for Greeley following a wet October. But it’s been plenty hot. Greeley received 1.35 inches of precipitation last month, 0.34 inches above the average for October and standing as the 12th­wettest October on record, according to figures provided by the Colorado Climate Center in Fort Collins.
Through the end of October, Greeley had received 7.47 inches of precipitation for the year, just more than half of the city’s average through the first 10 months of the year.

After standing as the driest year on record from the spring until the end of September, this year now stands as the second ­driest for Greeley, trailing only 1968. A portion of last month’s precipitation came from a couple rounds of snowstorms. Last month, Greeley received 2.1 inches of snow, falling short of the 2.8 inches the city receives on average in October and standing as the 16th­least snowy October on record. Agricultural producers and water providers are hoping the snowfall picks up its pace as the year rolls into winter.

With little rainfall in 2012, large amounts of water from reservoirs were used to grow crops and water lawns, and many of those reservoirs are now at historically low levels. Without snow this winter and spring to refill the reservoirs, irrigation supplies will be tight next growing season.

While October helped 2012 work its way out from the bottom of historic precipitation amounts in Greeley, it couldn’t do the same for the city’s record heat numbers. At the end of October, 2012 still stood as the hottest year on record for Greeley. The average mean temperature for the year was 59.0 degrees, nearly 3 degrees above the average.

A cold spell at the beginning of October this year kept last month from ranking high in heat historically. Last month, the average mean temperature was 51.5 degrees, only ranking as the 21st­ hottest October on record. The average high temperature last month was 66 degrees. Oct. 5 and 6 broke records for lowest high temperatures recorded on those days, 43 degrees and 38 degrees, respectively, breaking marks that temperatures recorded on those days, 43 degrees and 38 degrees, respectively, breaking marks that had been set in 1969 and 2000. On Oct. 7, the low for the day was 21 degrees, breaking that day’s previous record­low mark of 26 degrees, set in 1970.

Redstone: Wild & Scenic Rivers Educational Forum for the Crystal River November 14


Click on the thumbnail graphic to view Pete McBride’s photo essay about the river.

From the Roaring Fork Conservancy:

Roaring Fork Conservancy, Pitkin County, American Rivers, and the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association will host a public educational forum to explore the process of a Wild and Scenic River designation for the Crystal River. The forum panel will include Kay Hopkins from the White River National Forest, Chuck Wanner, former Ft. Collins city councilman who played an integral role in the designation of the Cache la Poudre as Wild & Scenic, Mike Moody from the Native Fish Society in Oregon who has participated in the Wild and Scenic process on the Molalla River in Oregon, and David Moryc, Senior Director of River Protection at American Rivers. The public is encouraged to participate to learn more about the process of designation, ask questions, and be part of the community to evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of this possible designation for the Crystal River.

What: Wild and Scenic River Educational Forum for the Crystal River
When: Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 6:30-8:30pm Redstone Church, Redstone
Thursday, November 15, 2012, 6:30-8:30pm Third Street Center, Carbondale
Who: All community members, stakeholders, land owners, and business owners

Partners for this Educational Forum include Pitkin County, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association, Town of Carbondale, White River National Forest, Avalanche Ranch, Wilderness Workshop, American Whitewater, Thompson Divide Coalition, Western Rivers Institute, Roaring Fork Audubon Society, American Rivers, Native Fish Society, and the Sierra Club.

Grand County and Northern Water are in negotiations for a 1041 permit for the Windy Gap Firming Project #CORiver


Here’s an analysis of last week’s meeting from Tonya Bina writing for the Sky-Hi Daily News. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

Working through a list of 32 conditions for the permit, representatives from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District sat before commissioners in the boardroom of the Grand County Administration Building on Tuesday, along with Grand County’s water counsel, and hashed out wording of each of the conditions in search of agreements among stakeholders…

Aside from disagreements about three different monitoring plans mentioned in conditions of the permit, at least one other condition remains a sticking point — a condition involving the clarity of Grand Lake. The county has proposed a condition stating the permit for the Windy Gap Firming Project will not go into effect until a federal plan, on course to include a National Environmental Policy Act process, is in place — charting the way toward a solution of the Grand Lake clarity problem. Grand County Commissioner Gary Bumgarner put pressure on Northern representatives during Tuesday’s hearing about needed “assurances” that a solution will be realized for Colorado’s largest natural water body. Bumgarner advocated for language “that holds feet to the fire.”

But Northern representatives objected to the project’s 1041 permit being conditional upon a long federal process concerning Grand Lake’s clarity problem. Eric Wilkinson, general manager of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said it was a matter of “authority and responsibility.” The municipal subdistrict seeking to firm up rights to Windy Gap water “doesn’t have the authority to control the other entities involved in the clarity issue,” he said. “It puts them in a position of being responsible without the authority to do something.”[…]

Concerning another condition on the Windy Gap bypass, the county proposes the “bypass/bythrough study shall commence on or before issuance of this 2012 permit” and if the study deems it, construction of the bypass “shall proceed” with cooperation on financing it among the parties. A 2011 Colorado Parks and Wildlife report by Barry Nehring concluded that the Colorado River below Windy Gap has suffered due to the reservoir, and that creating a bypass would be a solution…

no party knows yet how much a bypass around the reservoir might cost or where the money would come from. The Subdistrict has agreed to provide $250,000 toward research of a bypass, which is expected to reduce high temperature events caused by the dam, reduce sedimentation deposition, restore river connectivity, and reduce the impacts of whirling disease. About $3 million in funds — $2 million by Northern and possibly $1 million by Denver Water if negotiations are successful — would be available to construct the bypass and the construction would take place immediately after the study finds that the bypass would be beneficial to the river. There is the possibility another $2 million could be found from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

More Windy Gap coverage here and here.