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Eagle River Basin
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A special state legislative panel is looking into flood response #COflood

Surfing Boulder Creek September 2013 via @lauras
Surfing Boulder Creek September 2013 via @lauras

From the Associated Press via The Denver Post:

A special state legislative panel is holding its first meeting to study responses to the catastrophic Colorado floods in September. Lawmakers said the committee will begin looking Tuesday for any legislation needed to better react to a disaster that affected much of the Front Range in a short period of time.

The committee also wants to make sure federal and nonprofit resources are being used as efficiently as possible.

Glen Canyon Dam: High Flow Experiment – November 11-16, 2013 #ColoradoRiver

Here’s the release from Reclamation (Katrina Grantz):

On November 11-16, 2013, the Department of Interior will conduct a high flow experimental (HFE) release from Glen Canyon Dam in accordance with the High-Flow Protocol. Under this Protocol, high flow releases are linked to sediment input and other resource conditions below Glen Canyon Dam. This HFE will be the second conducted under the HFE Protocol.

Beginning on the morning of November 11th, releases from Glen Canyon Dam will begin ramping up to full power plant capacity (approximately 22,200 cfs). At midday on November 11th, bypass tubes at Glen Canyon Dam will be opened and releases will continue to increase up to full power plant and bypass capacity (approximately 37,200 cfs) by the evening of November 11th. Releases will be maintained at peak release for 4 days (96 hours) and then begin ramping back down. Releases will return to normal operations in the afternoon of November 16th. The entire experiment, including ramping is expected to last 5 and a half days, with 4 day (96 hours) at peak release. November releases from Glen Canyon Dam prior to and after the HFE are expected to fluctuate between 5,000cfs and 8,000cfs. The elevation of Lake Powell is expected to decrease approximately 2 ½ feet during the 5 and a half day experiment. The annual release volume from Lake Powell remains 7.48 maf and will not change as a result of the HFE. For additional information about High Flow Experiments at Glen Canyon Dam, please check back for links to the soon-to-be-updated High Flow Experiment webpages.

Related Information and graphics:
* Glen Canyon Dam November 2013 HFE Release Hydrograph
* 2013 HFE Downstream Flow Arrival Time Map
* Lake Powell 2013 HFE Projected Elevation Graphs
* Lake Mead Projected Elevation Graphs

Current Status
The unregulated inflow volume to Lake Powell in September was 857 thousand acre-feet (kaf) (210% of average). The release volume from Glen Canyon Dam in September was 600 kaf. The end of September elevation and storage of Lake Powell were 3591.3 feet (108.7 feet from full pool) and 10.93 million acre-feet (maf) (45% of full capacity), respectively. Due to above average runoff from monsoonal activity in September, Lake Powell elevation increased by about 2 feet over an 11-day period in September. The reservoir elevation is now declining and will continue to decline through the fall and winter until spring runoff in 2014.

To view the most current reservoir elevation, content, inflow and release, click on: Lake Powell Data.
To view the most current reservoir elevation projections, click on: Lake Powell Elevation Projections.

The water year 2013 unregulated inflow volume was 5.12 maf (47% of average), placing 2013 as the fourth driest on record since the closure of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. Water years 2002, 1977, and 2012 were drier, receiving 2.64 maf, 3.53 maf, and 4.91 maf, respectively. In terms of reservoir elevation and storage, Lake Powell reached its peak for water year 2013 on June 18th at 3,601.2 ft (98.8 feet from full pool) which is 35.7 feet lower than last year’s peak elevation of 3636.9 ft. The end of water year 2013 elevation and storage of Lake Powell were 3591.3 feet (108.7 feet from full pool) and 10.93maf (45% of capacity), respectively. This is 3.0 maf less than 2012 end of water year storage which was 13.93 maf (57% of capacity).

Releases for Water Year 2013 totaled 8.232 maf. Pursuant to the Interim Guidelines, Lake Powell operated under the Upper Elevation Balancing Tier in 2013. Throughout water year 2013, Reclamation adjusted operations of Glen Canyon Dam to release the appropriate annual volume during 2013 to achieve Upper Elevation Balancing Tier objectives as practicably as possible by September 30, 2012.

Current Operations
The operating tier for water year 2014 is the Mid-Elevation Release Tier with an annual release volume of 7.48 maf, as established in August 2013 and pursuant to the Interim Guidelines , Section 6.C.1. Reclamation will schedule operations at Glen Canyon Dam to achieve as practicably as possible a 7.48 maf annual release volume by September 30, 2014.
Releases from Glen Canyon Dam in October are currently averaging approximately 8,000 cfs with daily fluctuations between approximately 5,000 cfs at nighttime and approximately 10,000 cfs during the daytime and consistent with the Glen Canyon Operating Criteria (Federal Register, Volume 62, No. 41, March 3, 1997). The scheduled release volume for October 2013 is 480 kaf.

The anticipated release volume for November is 500 kaf with fluctuations for power generation throughout the day consistent with the Glen Canyon Operating Criteria (Federal Register, Volume 62, No. 41, March 3, 1997). However, the release volume may be adjusted in the event of a High Flow Experiment. Under the High-Flow Protocol, high flow releases are linked to sediment input and other resource conditions below Glen Canyon Dam. Preliminary analysis appears favorable for a high flow experimental release to occur during the period of November 11 – 19, 2013. During the High Flow Experiment, total releases from Glen Canyon Dam at full bypass may reach approximately 37,200 cfs. The total experiment, including ramping, could last up to about five and a half days. In the event of a high flow experiment, releases from Glen Canyon Dam prior to and after the high flow experiment are anticipated to fluctuate between 5,000cfs and 8,000cfs.

In December, the release volume will likely be about 600 kaf, with fluctuations throughout the day for hydropower generation.

In addition to daily scheduled fluctuations for power generation, the instantaneous releases from Glen Canyon Dam may also fluctuate to provide 40 MW of system regulation. These instantaneous release adjustments stabilize the electrical generation and transmission system and translate to a range of about 1,200 cfs above or below the hourly scheduled release rate. Under system normal conditions, fluctuations for regulation are typically short lived and generally balance out over the hour with minimal or no noticeable impacts on downstream river flow conditions.

Releases from Glen Canyon Dam can also fluctuate beyond scheduled fluctuations for power generation when called upon as a partner that shares reserve requirements within the electrical generator community (i.e. balancing area). Reserves provide system reliability in the event of an unscheduled outage. Glen Canyon Dam typically maintains 43 MW of reserves (approximately 1,200 cfs). Reserve calls can be maintained for a maximum of 2 hours after which time the generation rate should be returned to the original schedule. If reserves from Glen Canyon Dam are called upon, releases from the dam can exceed scheduled levels and can have a noticeable impact on the river downstream from Glen Canyon Dam. Calls for reserves are fairly infrequent and typically are for much less than 43 MW.

Inflow Forecasts and Model Projections
The hydrologic forecast for water year 2014 for Lake Powell, issued by the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, projects that the most probable (median) unregulated inflow volume will be 9.65 maf (89% of average based on the period 1981-2010). The water year 2013 forecast increased by 1.24 maf since last month, primarily due to much higher than expected monsoonal precipitation and runoff in September. At this early point in the season, there is significant uncertainty regarding next year’s water supply. The forecast ranges from a minimum probable of 6.5 maf (60% of average) to a maximum probable of 17.5 maf (162% of average). There is a 10% chance that inflows could be higher than the maximum probable and a 10% chance they could be lower than the minimum probable.

Based on the current forecast, the October 24-Month study projects Lake Powell elevation will peak near approximately 3,604 ft next summer and end the water year near 3,598 feet with approximately 11.6 maf in storage (48% capacity). Note that projections of elevation and storage have significant uncertainty at this point in the season, primarily due to uncertainty regarding next season’s snowpack and resulting inflow to Lake Powell. Under the minimum probable inflow scenario, the projected summer peak is 3,586 ft and end of water year storage is 9.3 maf (38% capacity). Under the maximum probable inflow scenario the projected summer peak is 3,661 ft and end of water year storage is 18.4 maf (76% capacity). There is a 10% chance that inflows will be higher, resulting in higher elevation and storage, and 10% chance that inflows will be lower, resulting in lower elevation and storage. The annual release volume from Lake Powell during water year 2014 is projected to be 7.48 maf under all inflow scenarios.

Consistent with Section 6.C.1 of the Interim Guidelines, the Lake Powell operational tier for water year 2014 is the Mid-Elevation Release Tier with an annual release volume of 7.48 maf. This was determined in the August 2013 24-Month study tier determination run which projected that, with an 8.23 maf annual release pattern in water year 2014, the January 1, 2014, Lake Powell elevation would be below 3,575.0 feet and the Lake Mead elevation would be above 1,025.0 feet. This determination will be documented in the 2014 AOP, which is currently in the final stages of development.

Upper Colorado River Basin Hydrology
The Upper Colorado River Basin regularly experiences significant year to year hydrologic variability. During the 14-year period 2000 to 2013, however, the unregulated inflow to Lake Powell, which is a good measure of hydrologic conditions in the Colorado River Basin, was above average in only 3 out of the past 14 years. The period 2000-2014 is the lowest 14-year period since the closure of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963, with an average unregulated inflow of 8.25 maf, or 76% of the 30-year average (1981-2010). (For comparison, the 1981-2010 average is 10.83maf.) The unregulated inflow during the 2000-2013 period has ranged from a low of 2.64 maf (24% of average) in water year 2002 to a high of 15.97 maf (147% of average) in water year 2011. One wet year can significantly increase total system reservoir storage, just as persistent dry years can draw down the system storage.

At the beginning of water year 2014, total system storage in the Colorado River Basin was 29.9 maf (50% of 59.6 maf total system capacity). This is about 4 maf less than the total storage at the beginning of water year 2013 which began at 34.0 maf (57% of capacity). Since the beginning of water year 2000, total Colorado Basin storage has experienced year to year increases and decreases in response to wet and dry hydrology, ranging from a high of 94% of capacity at the beginning of 2000 to a low of 50% of capacity at the beginning of water year 2014. Based on current forecasts, the current projected end of water year 2014 total Colorado Basin reservoir storage is approximately 29.6 maf (50% of capacity).

Updated: October 29, 2013
Katrina Grantz

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Tamarisk control: ‘When you get a group of people together, it’s amazing what you can do’ — Jesse Loughman

Goat munching tamarisk via The Pueblo Chieftain
Goat munching tamarisk via The Pueblo Chieftain

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Melinda Mawdsley):

Desa Loughman thinks tamarisk and Russian olive trees suck, as in suck up too much water. The Palisade resident is tired of watching the non-native plants choke out native trees and consume large amounts of the Colorado River in Riverbend Park.

“They suck the water. They smother out native plants. They literally suck,” Loughman said.

On [October 14], she and her husband, Jesse Loughman, owners of Colorado Alternative Health Care, organized an informal effort of invasive plant eradication in the popular Palisade park along the Colorado River.

“I hope this inspires people all over Colorado to clean up their rivers,” Loughman said. “When you get a group of people together, it’s amazing what you can do.”

For several hours Sunday, the Loughmans and nearly a dozen other people cut down and removed dozens of plants by the boat launch.

“Look at the beach,” Jesse Loughman joked after a huge area of sand was exposed.

The Loughmans coordinated the effort with Frank Watt, Palisade’s public works director, with the hope he can apply for a future grant to replant native plants, Desa Loughman said.

“Frank has a lot of neat opportunities for the town to do things but doesn’t have the manpower,” she added.

Sunday’s tamarisk and Russian olive destruction day was the latest Lend A Hand effort the Loughmans have coordinated to help beautify Palisade at no extra cost to the town. Another invasive plan eradication day is planned for next spring, but the timing depends on the weather, Desa Loughman said.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.

Cleveland Start-Up to Offer Smart Water Meter on Kickstarter

Sprav smart water meter
Sprav smart water meter

Here’s the release from Sprav Water, LLC:

Sprav Water LLC, the makers of a smart water meter that allows users to determine, in real time, shower water and energy usage, today announced the launch of their Kickstarter campaign ( to help fund the development of the revolutionary new product. The new meters, which easily clip onto the pipe behind the user’s existing showerhead, can help save consumers hundreds of dollars per year by reducing water and energy costs from showering.

“The idea started as an extra credit assignment at Case Western where we were tasked with creating a tool to reduce energy consumption in homes,” said Craig Lewis, CEO of Sprav Water. “We all sat down and thought back to the days when we were kids getting yelled at for taking too long in the shower, and realized that this was a market with little innovation and great opportunity for growth.”

Real-time feedback from an easy to view lighted indicator allows the user to manage shower duration and hot water usage. Users can also view periodic usage reports, set custom goals, and even view shower usage in real-time, through a simple mobile app on their smartphones or tablets. The device is designed to better control household water usage and drive greater awareness and action toward the conservation of local, state and national natural resources.

The Cleveland start-up is comprised of three Case Western Reserve University engineering students and an industrial design graduate from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Sprav Water was recently seed-funded by Bizdom, a nonprofit entrepreneurship accelerator for tech-based companies who operate their business in the downtown cores of Detroit and Cleveland.

“We’ve had a great deal of support from a variety of individuals and organizations both at CWRU and CIA, “said Craig Lewis, CEO of Sprav Water. “We have made extensive use of the 3D printing capabilities of think[box] at CWRU to help us quickly prototype designs. We also took advantage of several joint CWRU and CIA product competitions as well as the Blackstone Launchpad program. We are very fortunate to be located in an area where technical and creative resources can easily come together to create new businesses and potential jobs.”

Project backers can donate to the campaign by going to ( and they will receive a device in their choice of either chrome or satin nickel finish for $49 or $59 respectively. The first units will be shipped April 2014 to project backers, and eventually the meters will be available for purchase online at and at plumbing and hardware retailers nationwide.

About Sprav Water
Sprav Water LLC, is launching a smart water meter that allows users to monitor, in real time, shower water and energy usage. The device reduces water waste and energy consumption.

More conservation coverage here.

SunSpring Hybrid water system developed in Rocky Ford = amazing ex of #CO ingenuity going global — @MarkUdall

Click here to got to the website. Click here for Coyote Gulch coverage.

COGCC rule-making is on the agenda for the December 16-17 meeting: Tightened spill reporting?

Spill via Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog
Spill via Princess Sparkle Pony’s Photo Blog

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Colorado’s oil and gas regulators next month will consider tightening spill reporting rules by going beyond what’s required under a newly passed state law. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rulemaking is slated for its Dec. 16-17 meeting. It was prompted by the need to implement legislation introduced by state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, requiring companies to report within 24 hours exploration and production waste spills of more than one barrel (42 gallons) if they are outside berms or other secondary containment.

The current rule requires 24-hour reporting in the case of all spills of more than 20 barrels, and within 10 days for spills of five barrels or more. Immediate reporting is required for spills of any size that impact or threaten to impact any waters of the state, occupied structure, livestock or public byway. A draft proposal by oil and gas commission staff would eliminate the 20-barrel reference and would require reporting within 24 hours for all spills of five barrels or more, regardless of whether confined within berms or other containment.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has proposed keeping the 20-barrel and five-barrel reporting requirements as they are in the case of spills within contained areas.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is endorsing the proposal for more rapid reporting of all spills over five barrels, said the health department’s oil and gas liaison, Kent Kuster, in written comments to the commission. Otherwise, spills as large as 840 gallons may not be reported in a timely manner, he wrote.

“The majority of well pads are not designed to contain fluids and may contain areas where fill has been used. These fill areas may allow contaminated fluids to move quickly through the soil resulting in greater groundwater contamination,” he wrote.

He said the proposal to require 24-hour reporting for all spills larger than five barrels would result in “increasing the attention to spills and releases and potentially minimizing the impact to ground water.”

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Matt Lepore said during a recent stakeholder meeting on the rulemaking that one point of the agency’s draft proposal is to simplify the rules by reducing the number of reporting thresholds. But he said there’s also concern about the fact that “20 barrels is a fairly sizable release, approaching a thousand gallons.”

While secondary containment prevents lateral spreads of spills, it doesn’t necessarily prevent downward migration, depending on how it’s constructed, and even a 200-gallon spill can be of concern, he said.

While the commission hasn’t yet changed its rules, the new law took effect Aug. 7 and companies have been expected to comply with it.

Kirby Wynn, Garfield County’s oil and gas liaison, told county commissioners Monday that he has been receiving reports since then as required. He said that in his experience there has never been a case where a company hasn’t alerted him to a meaningful spill.

Garfield County will be preparing its own comments on the commission’s proposal.

Meanwhile, a presentation Wynn provided to commissioners shows that in the county, there’s been a gradual reduction in spills outside containment since 2008 and a corresponding drop in the percentage of spills affecting ground or surface water. The commission overhauled its rules in 2008, including tightening them for when containment is required around tanks. The county had 116 reported spills in 2008, rising to 140 by 2010, and declining to 59 last year and 65 so far this year. But spills outside containment numbered 64 in 2008 and just 21 last year. Spills affecting surface or groundwater steadily declined from 15 percent in 2008 to 3 percent last year.

“There’s a lot more containment now” than there was before 2008, Wynn said.

The commission has said that last year about 400 spills were reported statewide, including 66 cases where ground or surface water remediation was required.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

‘We’re looking at the possibility of a 9% decrease over the next 40 years’ — Eric Kuhn #ColoradoRiver

Turn up the heat slowly via the Sierra Club
Turn up the heat slowly via the Sierra Club

From (Andrew Reid):

Global warming and how it may change climates and affect the Colorado River has some in the valley concerned. On Monday, at Colorado Mesa University, a lecture was held focusing on the implications of global warming on the river.

Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation, spoke to students and Grand Valley residents. After the seminar the floor was opened up for questions and many of those in attendance were surprised by the things they heard.

“We’re looking at the possibility of a 9% decrease over the next 40 years in water on the Western Slope. 9 % decrease is a large decrease and we have to start thinking about that now and using water more wisely,” says Pamela Gubkin.

“I was kind of surprised by the extent of agricultural use. I thought more of it was domestic because I know we’re worried about low water levels and how it affects us, but it affects agricultural more than it affects domestic use it seems,” says Bryce MaClennan, a CMU student.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.