Climate Prediction Center: The latest ENSO discussion is hot off the press #codrought #cowx


From the CPC. Here’s the synopsis:

ENSO-neutral is favored through Northern Hemisphere spring 2013.

Aspinall Unit: Next operations meeting January 24


From email from Reclamtion (Dan Crabtree):

The January Aspinall Operations Meeting will be held on January 24th, 2013 at the Holiday Inn Express in Montrose, Colorado. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. Discussion will include a review of 2012 operations and a preview of the coming year’s operations.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Frederick: Water rates jump 20.2 percent


From the Carbon Valley Farmer and Miner (Ben Wiebesiek):

The 20.2-percent rate increase was approved Nov. 27. Trustee Rafer Burnham voted against the increase. Frederick water customers will see the new rate go into effect on the first water bill of the year. Town Manager Matt LeCerf said the changes to the water utility ordinance were significant but necessary…

The Central Weld County Water District, which treats and provides water to Frederick, introduced a new method for calculating costs. This resulted in a 19-percent increase in the cost of the town’s potable water supply…

When designing the proposed rate structures, town staff included the first 3,000 gallons of water used within the base rate.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Parker: ‘They don’t go dry out there’ — Ken Wright


Back when Governor Hickenlooper was first on the scene as Mayor Hickenlooper he hosted a series about water at the Museum of Nature and Science. Ken Wright was on hand to introduce Frank Jaeger, the General Manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District.

“They don’t go dry out there,” said Wright. That’s the ultimate compliment for a water provider.

Mr. Jaeger is now officially retired. Here’s report the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

“I’ve always understood that I had a reputation, a sort of toughness. It intimidated people, and I let it intimidate some people when it was necessary for the benefit of the district,” he says. “If people want to denigrate me for that fact, I don’t care.”

Despite departing earlier than expected — Jaeger frequently pledged to retire when he died, but was forced out after a change in board leadership — the 67-year-old is leaving with his head held high. He said he never compromised the integrity of the position and has “done all I can do for Parker Water.”

At the recommendation of a neighbor, Jaeger joined the board of directors for the fledgling, financially troubled PWSD in 1981. He soon became its manager and was instrumental in turning around a district that was headed in the wrong direction. Since that time, Jaeger has slowly built up the district’s infrastructure, received permission to divert excess flows from Cherry Creek, and got public authorization to build Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which at the time was the first federally approved off-stream reservoir in more than 20 years.

Jaeger, of Elizabeth, plans to enjoy his retirement by golfing (without keeping score), hunting, fishing and taking vacations with his wife, but will continue to offer guidance on water issues that affect Colorado. He is a lifetime member of the Colorado Water Congress and will regularly visit the Capitol to review the merits of proposed legislation.

“They know I won’t be silent and will give honest opinions,” he said.

More Parker coverage here.

Castle Rock: The town council recently reviewed the long-term water plan


From the Castle Rock News-Press (Rhonda Moore):

During one of their last meetings of 2012, councilmembers had their final public meeting with former utilities director Ron Redd, with word that Redd’s efforts of the last year could begin to take shape in 2013. Those efforts are designed to help Castle Rock wean itself from its underground water sources and, within the next 20 years, transition to a 75 percent renewable source. The proposed solutions include a series of 11 wells in Adams County’s Box Elder Farm, projected to provide up to 3,000 acre-feet of water, and the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency regional partnership, projected to provide up to 1,000 acre-feet of water for Castle Rock residents…

The WISE agreement, which involves the participation of 11 water providers in an effort to purchase return flows from Denver and Aurora, remains in draft form as the partnership works out a number of issues, Redd said. Among the issues are agreeing on a reasonable solution to set long-term water rates; how to address impacts from climate changes; purchasing the pipelines to move the water from Aurora to Rueter-Hess reservoir; meeting the demands of the Army Corp of Engineers for permission to store the water in Rueter-Hess; and awaiting final approval from eight Western Slope entities to permit Denver and Aurora to sell the water to the WISE partners. Councilmembers can expect staff presentations within the first three to six months of 2013 for terms of the agreements necessary to secure a long-term water supply, Redd said…

Next steps in Castle Rock’s water acquisition:

  • WISE water delivery agreement with Denver and Aurora.
  • WISE participation agreement among 11 South Metro water providers.
  • WISE transmission pipeline agreement.
  • Stillwater Resources brokerage agreement to represent Castle Rock in Box Elder Farms negotiations
  • Box Elder Farms purchase and sale agreement.
  • Various augmentation supply purchase term sheets or agreements.
  • More infrastructure coverage here.

    CWCB: The next meeting of the Water Availability Task Force is January 23 #codrought #cowx


    Update: Click here for the agenda.

    Click here for the details.

    I plan to live-Tweet the shindig @CoyoteGulch.

    More CWCB coverage here.

    Colorado River Cooperative Agreement: Slow, steady progress seen #coriver


    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

    Negotiations to finalize a sweeping in-state water agreement for the Colorado River Basin continue to drag on, but holdout Western Slope entities have conditionally approved it pending resolution of outstanding issues.

    The proposed deal was announced in April 2011 and involves Denver Water and more than 30 Western Slope entities. In September, Peter Fleming, general counsel for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, based in Glenwood Springs, expressed hope that it would be finalized by the end of October. But final approval continues to await the conclusion of negotiations on two major issues ­­­— the senior water right for Xcel Energy’s Shoshone Power Plant in Glenwood Canyon and future administration of Green Mountain Reservoir near Kremmling.

    Conditional approvals to the overall deal have been given by the river district and all Grand Valley entities involved with the it.

    More Colorado River Cooperative Agreement coverage here.

    ‘The West doesn’t have enough water’ — Mark Jaffe


    Here’s an in-depth look at John Wesley Powell’s attempt to get politicians to pay attention to the science when laying out development policy in the West, from Mark Jaffe writing for The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

    Powell’s solution was a completely new approach to development. Cutting up the land in square, 160-acre quarter sections, as was done in the fertile and wet Midwest, would not work. Instead, for areas dedicated to grazing, he said the minimum grant should be 2,560 acres and rather than blocks, farm boundaries should be drawn so each grant had access to a stream or river. There were areas where development would have to be banned outright.

    Irrigation cooperatives had to be developed, and the federal government would also have to take a bigger role in developing water supplies. There would also have to be a larger federal presence in the West, with better surveys to assay resources and Washington taking over surveying from local contractors.
    Powell’s report ran into opposition from political interests promoting a totally different idea of the West, and also from America’s original climate deniers.

    The heart of this alternative vision was in Colorado. William Gilpin, the first Colorado territorial governor, had spent decades promoting the West, trying to erase the rubric given to the region by early explorers: “The Great American Desert.”

    Gilpin was in inveterate dreamer. In his 1890 book, “The Cosmopolitan Railway,” he envisioned linking America to Europe by rail over the Bering Strait and through Moscow. He also made half a million dollars on land speculation in the San Luis Valley.

    Gilpin was a promoter of the “rain follows the plow” theory, which said that as the West was settled, trees planted and reservoirs built, the climate would become more temperate. There was no evidence to prove the contention, and scientists had already expressed doubts, but no matter.

    Powell’s report attacked more than the “rain-follows-the-plow” chestnut. It undermined the ethos of the solitary pioneer, replacing it with cooperatives and government. It completely throttled the vision of settlers streaming into the West. It was almost as if Powell was telling the rugged Western individualist, “You can’t build this alone.”

    More USGS coverage here.

    ‘The Administration does not support blowing up planets’ — Paul Shawcross


    The White House has answered the petition for the U.S. to build a death star. Here’s an excerpt:

    The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
  • Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review


    Click on the thumbnail graphic for the map of expected temperature increases for the Southwestern United States.

    Click here to read their letter “Climate Change and the American People. Here’s an excerpt:

    Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. This report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee concludes that the evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report, written in 2009. Many more impacts of human-caused climate change have now been observed. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience. So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation.

    Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between.

    Coyote Gulch friend and teacher, Reagan Waskom, is one of the lead authors of the chapter about the Southwest. Here’s an excerpt:

    Key Messages

  • 1. Snowpack and streamflow amounts are projected to decline, decreasing water supply for cities, agriculture, and ecosystems.
  • 2. The Southwest produces more than half the nation’s high-value specialty crops, which are irrigation-dependent and particularly vulnerable to extremes of moisture, cold, and heat. Reduced yields from increased temperatures and increasing competition for scarce water supplies will displace jobs in some rural communities.
  • 3. Increased warming, due to climate change, and drought have increased wildfires and impacts to people and ecosystems in the Southwest. Fire models project more wildfire and increased risks to communities across extensive areas.
  • 4. Flooding and erosion in coastal areas is already occurring and is damaging some areas of the California coast during storms and extreme high tides. Sea level rise is projected to increase, resulting in major damage as wind-driven waves ride upon higher seas and reach further inland.
  • 5. Projected regional temperature increases, combined with the way cities amplify heat, will pose increased threats and costs to public health in Southwestern cities, which are home to more than 90 percent of the region’s population. Disruptions to urban electricity and water supplies will exacerbate these health problems.
  • Introduction

    The Southwest is the hottest and driest region in the U.S., where the availability of water has defined its landscapes, history of human settlement, and modern economy. Climate changes pose challenges for an already parched region that is expected to get hotter and, in its southern half, significantly drier. Increased heat and changes to rain and snowpack will send ripple effects throughout the region’s critical agriculture sector, affecting the lives and economies of 56 million people – a population that is expected to increase by 38 million by 2050. Severe and sustained drought will stress water sources already over-utilized in many areas, forcing increasing competition among farmers, urban dwellers, and the region’s varied plant and animal life for the region’s most precious resource.

    The region’s populous coastal cities face rising sea levels, extreme high tides, and storm surges, which pose particular risks to highways, bridges, power plants, and sewage treatment plants. Climate challenges also increase risks to critical port cities, which handle half of the nation’s incoming shipping containers.

    Agriculture, a mainstay of the regional and national economies, faces uncertainty and change. The Southwest produces more than half of the nation’s high-value specialty crops, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

    The severity of future impacts will depend upon the complex interaction of pests, water supply, reduced chilling periods, and more rapid changes in the seasonal timing of crop development due to projected warming and extreme events.

    Climate changes will increase stress on the region’s rich diversity of plant and animal species. Widespread tree death and fires, which already have caused billions of dollars in economic losses, are projected to increase, forcing wholesale changes to forest types, landscapes, and the communities that depend on them (See also Ch 7: Forestry).

    Tourism and recreation, generated by the Southwest’s winding canyons, snow-capped peaks, and Pacific Ocean beaches, provide a significant economic force that also faces climate change challenges. The recreational economy will be increasingly affected by reduced streamflow and a shorter snow season, influencing everything from the ski industry to lake and river recreation.

    Click here to go to the website to download the whole report.

    The January 11 newsletter from the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is hot off the press #coriver


    Click here to read the newsletter.

    More education coverage here.

    Forecast news: The northern mountains may see some showers today #cowx

    Fountain Creek: ‘The plan was hit by a rain of criticism, however’ — Chris Woodka


    Here’s a recap of this week’s Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

    A plan to stabilize the banks of Fountain Creek on an El Paso County ranch went around a few more bends than usual at the Arkansas Basin Roundtable Wednesday. The roundtable routinely passes grant requests with few ripples, but the Fountain Creek proposal hit more than the usual number of snags. In the end, the plan was kicked back to its sponsors with instructions to obtain more matching funds.

    “What we’re after is the long­term stability of Fountain Creek,” said Graham Thompson, an engineering consultant for the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway district. “We’re trying to mimic the river’s natural flow.”

    The district sought more than $150,000 in state grants to restore natural curves and stabilize banks on the Frost Ranch. The plan incorporated $30,000 in in­kind contributions from Colorado Springs Utilities, based on lessons learned at the nearby Clear Springs Ranch. Thompson said the Frost Ranch was chosen after 10 properties were looked at, partly because the landowners were willing to work with the district. The demonstration project could be useful in convincing other landowners to make improvements that are designed to reduce erosion and sedimentation.

    The Fountain Creek district board last month committed to pursuing more grants until it can put permanent financial sources in place. The district has been looking at asking voters for a property tax, but otherwise will continue to patch together budgets until 2016, when it begins receiving $50 million that was promised by Colorado Springs Utilities after the Southern Delivery System goes online.

    The plan was hit by a rain of criticism, however.

    On a technical level, some roundtable members questioned whether the improvements would hold up to the next flood. “You’re messing with Mother Nature and things tend to get moved around in high flows,” said David Taussig. On a financial level, some asked why Colorado Springs and the landowners are not putting cash money into the improvements.

    Others thought it more important to try to make improvements on Fountain Creek. Beulah rancher Reeves Brown said paying some of the bill for landowners has the same value as a conservation easement.

    “This plan has good things that will benefit the roundtable,” said Betty Konarski, who represents El Paso County. “If you can show a project that works, you’ll have more people working with the district.”

    More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.