FEMA: Broomfield, Denver, Gilpin, Otero and Pueblo counties denied Individual Assistance program coverage #COflood

Denver City Park sunrise
Denver City Park Sunrise

From The Denver Post (Ryan Parker):

The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied additional county designations for flood disaster assistance on Thursday. Governor John Hickenlooper was notified residences in Broomfield, Denver, Gilpin, Otero and Pueblo counties would not be covered under the Individual Assistance program, according to a news release from the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

The determination was based on the results of the joint federal, state and local government Preliminary Damage Assessments, which determined damage in those counties “is not of the severity and magnitude to warrant their designation under the Individual Assistance program.”

“Furthermore, it has been determined that the damage to the infrastructure in Broomfield, Otero, and Pueblo counties is not of the severity to warrant their designation under the Public Assistance program,” the letter to Hickenlooper stated, according to the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

The state may appeal the denial within 30 days, which Hickenlooper is currently considering, according to the release.

FEMA previously awarded Individual Assistance status to 11 counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan and Weld.

The deadline to apply for disaster assistance is Nov. 14.

FEMA also has awarded Public Assistance status to 18 counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, Crowley, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Gilpin, Jefferson, Lake, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Sedgwick, Washington and Weld.

Public Assistance — Category B Emergency Protective Measures – Direct Federal Assistance — for Broomfield and Pueblo counties.

Say hello to ColoradoWaterPlan.com

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From the website:

Colorado’s Water Plan will leverage and integrate nine years of work accomplished by Colorado’s Basin Roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee, and Colorado Water Conservation Board to determine how to implement water supply planning solutions that meet Colorado’s future water needs while supporting healthy watersheds and environment, robust recreation and tourism economies, vibrant and sustainable cities, and viable and productive agriculture.

From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (John Stulp):

Water is an essential ingredient to what makes Colorado special. Whether one lives on the Western Slope, the Front Range, or in the Arkansas Valley, it is what makes Colorado’s productive farms and ranches, our thriving recreational industry, our beautiful environment and our vibrant cities possible.

Water is also in short supply. In the coming decades, there could be a gap between supply and demand of as much as half a million acre-feet per year or more. The entire state is threatened by this scenario, and it is particularly threatening to Colorado’s rural communities. Unless we do something to manage our water future, more and more agricultural water will be bought to supply our growing cities, potentially drying up thousands of acres of productive farm land and jeopardizing the economy and livelihoods of rural Colorado. Northeastern Colorado alone is expected to lose approximately 20 percent of agricultural land currently under production. Here in southern Colorado, one only needs to drive through Crowley County to see the impact of dewatering a once viable irrigated community. In the Arkansas Basin, without a plan of action, we could lose an additional 73,000 acres of our valued irrigated agriculture land. This would be devastating to our economy, our rural way of life, open space, wetlands and wildlife habitat.

This future scenario is unacceptable. We must have a plan that provides a secure water future for all Coloradans. In May of this year, the Governor issued an Executive Order directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop Colorado’s Water Plan (Plan). This is an unprecedented undertaking for Colorado but fortunately, much of the work that is needed to develop the plan is already done.

During the drought of 2002-03, the state commissioned the most comprehensive study ever done of Colorado’s current and future water demands and supplies, the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI). SWSI is continually being updated so it includes the most current information available. In addition, in 2005 the state legislature created the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), a group of 27 water leaders representing every major river basin and water constituency. It also created nine Basin Roundtables, groups of water leaders in every major river basin that have been taking an in-depth look at their basin’s water challenges. For the last several years, these groups have been engaged in thoughtful dialog while working hard to understand Colorado’s water challenges and ways they could be addressed.

Colorado’s Water Plan will not be a top-down plan full of state mandates and requirements. Instead, it will be built on the foundation of the work of the CWCB, the IBCC and the Basin Roundtables. And that is a strong foundation. Through their work, they have reached consensus on a variety of actions that will lead to a better water future, including support for alternatives to permanent buy-and-dry of agriculture, conservation, projects that meet certain criteria and more.

Each basin is in the process of developing water plans for their region. Because this effort is under way, we don’t yet know all that Colorado’s Water Plan will include. What we do know is the Plan will be a balanced one and reflective of Colorado’s values. The Governor’s Executive Order specifies that the plan must promote: a productive economy that supports vibrant and sustainable cities, viable and productive agriculture, and a robust skiing, recreation and tourism industry; efficient and effective water infrastructure promoting smart land use; and a strong environment that includes healthy watersheds, rivers and streams, and wildlife.

The CWCB will have a draft of Colorado’s Water Plan completed by Dec. 10, 2014, and will then work with the Governor’s Office to finalize the Plan no later than December 2015. To provide your insights and perspectives, participate in the next meeting of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable on Nov. 13, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. at CSU Pueblo’s Occhiato Center. To learn who the members of your Roundtable are and when they meet, visit http://www.cwcb.state.co.us and go to the IBCC and Basin Roundtable link. You can also submit your comments to the CWCB by emailing cowaterplan@state.co.us. For more information, visit Colorado’s Water Plan online at http://www.coloradowaterplan.com – a new website is planned for release on Nov. 1, 2013.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Drought news: US drought shrinks to 34.7% of Lower 48: Recedes in south, expands in northeast #COdrought

US Drought Monitor October 29, 2013
US Drought Monitor October 29, 2013

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

The Plains

It was mainly a dry week on the Plains. Some improvements were made in North Dakota, eliminating some D0 in the eastern portion of the state. Rain at the end of the current U.S. Drought Monitor period in Kansas allowed for slight improvements to the D0 in the southern portion of the state.

The West

Some precipitation was recorded in New Mexico and into Colorado this past week but for the most part the area was dry and status on the United States Drought Monitor was unchanged for the week.

Looking Ahead

Over the next five days (October 31-November 4) the trend is for a wetter pattern over the eastern half of the United States. As a strong cold front moves eastward, showers and thunderstorms will develop. The greatest precipitation is expected over the Ark-La-Tex region, with amounts up to 4 inches, and through the Midwest, with amounts of 2-3 inches from Missouri up into the Great Lakes. Temperatures will be at to slightly above seasonal normal for most of the area east of the Rocky Mountains, with departures of up to 3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. The area to the west will be right at normal to slightly below.

The CPC 6-10 day forecast (November 5-November 10) continues with the best chances of above-normal temperatures over the eastern half of the United States and Alaska while the West has good chances of being below normal. Precipitation chances are projected to be the greatest over the Mississippi River Valley as well as portions of the southern Plains. Drier-than-normal conditions can be expected in New England and the Mid Atlantic coast as well as in the southwestern United States.

‘Climate change is upon us…You see it in droughts throughout the West’ — Sally Jewell #ColoradoRiver

Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives
Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives

From the Havasu News-Herald (Jack Fitzpatrick):

On water issues, Jewell said the region has not done enough to conserve water and that the federal government needs to work with states on conservation efforts. She also said the Colorado River Basin’s water issues are a symptom of climate change.

“Climate change is upon us,” she said. “You see it in droughts throughout the West. You see it in the Colorado River. If you look at the levels in Lake Powell or Lake Mead or any of the other lakes that are in that region, you will see that we have a huge problem.”

Her comments came the same day that more than 80 public officials from the Colorado River basin – including 16 local government officials from Arizona – sent a letter to the Interior Department supporting water conservation measures. While thin on specifics, the letter supported “urban and agricultural water conservation” and urged state and federal governments to follow up on a 2012 Bureau of Reclamation report that warned about the future of the Colorado River.

That report said the Colorado is not on track to keep up with the demand on its water. It said the river’s water supply could be reduced by 10 to 20 percent by midcentury, creating a deficit that would be exacerbated by the area’s rapidly growing population. Demand for Colorado River water may surpass the river’s supply by 2060, the report said – or even by 2025 in extreme circumstances…

Liz Archuleta, a member of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, said she hoped Interior would follow up on the Bureau of Reclamation report by supporting education efforts on water conservation. Educating people on planting desert plants in their yards and turning off the water when they brush their teeth could make a significant difference, Archuleta said.

Jewell also said Thursday that simple measures can help. She advocated covering canals to reduce evaporation and preventing leaks in water lines.

Archuleta, who traveled to Washington with the Colorado River advocacy group Nuestro Rio in late September to meet with Jewell and members of Congress, said she was glad to hear that the secretary considers the river a high priority.

“When you’re looking at the Colorado River, which is the lifeblood for so many people, we cannot continue to use as much water as we are now,” Archuleta said.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.