USGS: Piceance Basin Water-Quality Reports Now Available #ColoradoRiver

Click here to read the release.

CoCoRaHS blog: The never ending winter #COdrought #COwx

snowfallmapending04162013am

From CoCoRaHS:

…winter has kept an icy grip on an area from the Rockies through the Northern Plains to the upper Midwest. Late last week snow and ice fell from Nebraska to Wisconsin, and over the last few days more than a foot of snow has piled up in parts of Colorado and the Dakotas…

The snow in Colorado yesterday was produced by another low moving across the Great Basin. This setup is ideal for snow along the Front Range. Easterly flow resulting from the low to the west and strong high pressure to the northeast forces the air to rise as it encounters the Rockies, condensing the moisture and producing precipitation…

These storms often produce lots and lots of snow, and this system was no exception. A foot of snow and more fell across the Fort Collins, Co area, home to CoCoRaHS headquarters…

Snow in the Denver area ranged from around 4 inches east of the city to 12 to 24 inches in the higher terrain west of Denver, with 24.5 inches of snow reported by a CoCoRaHS observer in Golden…

And it isn’t over yet. The system that brought the snow to Colorado will be lifting out to the northeast, and winter storm warnings are in effect for portions of Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Winter weather advisories are in effect for parts of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

Western Resource Advocates video: The Water/Energy Nexus #COdrought

From Western Resource Advocates:

Ever wondered about the connection between energy and water? Or thought about how drought might impact electricity? Stacy Tellinghuisen, Senior Energy/Water Policy Analyst at Western Resource Advocates, explains how these two seemingly different issues are more connected than you might think.

Using the 2011 drought in Texas as an example, Tellinghusien explains how the connection between energy and water becomes even more apparent during times of drought. Recent droughts have had unexpected — and unprecedented — impacts on the energy sector, impacting both electricity demands and power plants’ ability to meet them.

More energy policy coverage here and here.

Forecast news: Isolated mountain showers ahead of next storm, red flag warning for San Luis Valley #CODrought #COwx

From the National Weather Service Pueblo office:

Expect a mix of clouds and sun over southeastern Colorado today. The mountains will have a chance for an isolated rain or snow shower throughout the day, while the valleys and plains will remain windy and dry. Temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than yesterday in most locations. Fire danger will remain high in the San Luis Valley. Wind driven snow, approaching blizzard conditions, is possible Wednesday night. Beginning across the Pike’s Peak area, the snow will move southeast through the eastern plains. Models still disagree on the timing and strength of this system.

From the National Weather Service Grand Junction office:

A moist Pacific storm system will continue to bring widespread snow across northwest Colorado today. Occasional moderate to heavy snow will occur across northwest Colorado. Valley areas will have snow, or a mix this morning, but precipitation is expected to change over to rain this afternoon. For the southern areas, considerably drier but more windy with gusts to 50 mph across the Four Corners region this afternoon. Rain and snow will stay confined to the La Sal, Abajo, and San Juan mountains. Precipitation will be on the increase tonight with snow levels lowering to the valley floors by morning. The storm will continue through Wednesday.

Snowpack/drought news: Upper Colorado River snowpack = 85% of avg, South Platte = 76% statewide = 77% #CODrought

snowpackcolorado04152013

uppercoloradoriverbasinhighlow04152013

southplattebasinhighlow04152013

Click on the thumbnail graphics for the South Platte Basin High/Low and Upper Colorado River Basin High/Low graphs along with the statewide snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Click here to view snowfall totals from the National Weather Service Boulder office.

2013 Colorado legislation: HB13-144 (Authorize Graywater Use) to get a hearing Wednesday in state Senate committee #COLeg

graywatersystem

From The Denver Post (Lynn Bartels):</p

Graywater is wastewater in a building that comes from showers, hand-washing sinks and washing machines. It does not come from toilets, urinals or kitchen sinks. Colorado is the only western state that doesn’t allow treated graywater to be used for flushing toilets, landscaping and such, but a proposal scheduled to be heard Wednesday in a Senate committee would change that.

House Bill 1044, by [Senator Gail] Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, legalizes the use of graywater, calls for the development of regulations to protect the public health and gives cities and counties the discretion to offer graywater permits to single- or multi-family dwellings.

Bill supporters say a household with four people could save 58,000 gallons a year if it had a graywater filtration system installed.

The House unanimously passed the measure, which will be heard Wednesday by the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, who sits on the committee, said he’s excited to hear the bill. “As long as we can protect the downstream users’ historical rights, there is nothing wrong with this idea,” he said. “A lot of money and energy goes into cleaning up water to bring it to drinking water standards, merely to put it on lawns and flush toilets, and we don’t need to do that.”

Schwartz also addressed that point, saying a number of Colorado’s wastewater treatment facilities are aging and need to be updated. She said the use of graywater would mean less input into those plants.

Fischer said he got the idea for carrying the bill from two Colorado State University professors who have been working on graywater issues. They have a graywater disinfectant vat set up in one of the residence halls and have been testing the system.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.

2013 Colorado legislation: Governor Hickenlooper signs SB13-074 #COleg

smithsditchwashingtonparkdenver

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation, Senate Bill 74, to correct a glitch in Colorado water law that threatened the value of senior water rights, specifically pre-1937 decrees.

Sponsored by state Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, and state Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, the new law is designed to mitigate the impact of two recent Colorado Supreme Court decisions, which require senior ditch companies to prove that the farmers who initiated the rights in the 1860s intended to irrigate all the lands and ditches irrigated today.

“If farmers couldn’t find sufficient evidence demonstrating the intent of the original appropriator, the water court reduced the number of acres that could be served by the rights, even though the ditches had been irrigating the acreages for over 100 years,” said Andy Jones, a water lawyer representing the Legacy Ditch Association. “Colorado farmers, especially those in the South Platte River Basin, faced the prospect of having a substantial percentage of their net worth wiped out.”

SB74 restores certainty for Colorado farmers by saying that if a decree was granted prior to 1937 and is silent on permissible acreage, then all acreage [irrigated by the water right] within 50 years of the decree is lawful.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.