Denver Water CEO earns prestigious Aspinall Award

Jim Lochhead -- photo via Westword (Alan Prendergast)
Jim Lochhead — photo via Westword (Alan Prendergast)

Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney):

The Colorado Water Congress awarded Jim Lochhead, Denver Water CEO/manager, the 2014 Wayne N. Aspinall “Water Leader of the Year” Award.

The Aspinall Award is given for a career of service and contribution to the water community. It is awarded to a person who has dedicated a significant part of his or her career to the advancement of the state and its programs that define the process of protecting, developing and preserving the state’s water resources.

A true statesman, Lochhead has navigated his 30-year career in the water industry by developing trust and confidence with interests throughout Colorado and the West. This characteristic ensured his leadership in the recent accomplishment of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement which changes the way diverse interest groups cohesively manage, protect and preserve water in Colorado. Described by many as a genuine and sincere person, Lochhead has deep experience and expertise in Colorado water issues and the political process. In addition to championing regional cooperation in the water industry, Lochhead now oversees the supply of water to the 1.3 million people Denver Water serves.

Lochhead was nominated and selected for the award by the previous Aspinall Award winners and a group of Colorado Water Congress officers. Eric Wilkinson, 2011 Aspinall Award recipient, said: “Jim is very deserving of the Aspinall ‘Water Leader of the Year’ Award as he epitomizes the true intent of the award. He is a recognized and respected leader in the water community, not only in Colorado but throughout the Colorado River Basin and the West. Colorado is indebted to Jim for his exemplary service and innumerable contributions to the Colorado Water community.”

About Jim Lochhead

Jim Lochhead was appointed Denver Water’s CEO/manager in 2010. He serves on the boards of Association of Municipal Water Agencies, Water Research Foundation, Western Urban Water Coalition, Water Utility Climate Alliance, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Denver Economic Development Council. He is on the Advisory Board of The Dividing the Waters Program at the National Judicial College. Prior to joining Denver Water, Lochhead was a shareholder at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP. He served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources from 1994 to 1998.

About the Aspinall Award

CWC presents the prestigious Wayne N. Aspinall “Water Leader of the Year” Award annually to an individual Coloradan who has long demonstrated courage, dedication, knowledge and strong leadership in the development, protection and preservation of Colorado water- those attributes possessed by Wayne N. Aspinall. The late Aspinall, a lawyer and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, remains one of the most influential water leaders in Colorado history.

More Denver Water coverage here.

The downside of a Twitter fest: You were out of line Wockner #COWaterPlatform

I’m really uncomfortable writing this post in a public forum, but Gary Wockner chose a public forum…

Today Gary Wockner retweeted one of my Tweets from the Colorado Water Congress’ Annual Convention. The Twitter UI allows you to edit the retweet.

Gary Wockner called Brian Werner a liar in the retweet. That was out of line.

First, he should clarify his charge. He is wrong about Brian being a liar.

Second, he should of used his own website — bare ass and all — or his own Twitter feed, and not piggybacked on mine. Brian Werner is my colleague and my friend. Anyone reading the Tweet could easily think that I typed the word liar and I would never characterize Brian in that way.

Here’s the offensive retweet:

Gary Wockner calling Brian Werner a liar piggybacking on @CoyoteGulch
Gary Wockner calling Brian Werner a liar piggybacking on @CoyoteGulch

I wish Gary hadn’t chosen such a public place to vent. I believe that he lives in a world without context.

Drought news #COdrought

US Drought Monitor January 28, 2014
US Drought Monitor January 28, 2014

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

California

Drought and relatively mild temperatures continue to prevail across the state. In the northwestern part of California, a 1-category degradation from severe to extreme drought (D2 to D3) was made across Humboldt and Trinity Counties. The Central Sierra Snow Lab near the Donner Summit reports 8 inches of snow on the ground, the lowest for this time in January since at least 1946. In the general vicinity of Monterey to Bakersfield, conditions warranted a 1-category downgrade, from extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4). A few of the impacts within the D4 area include fallowing of land, wells running dry, municipalities considering drilling deeper wells, and little to no rangeland grasses for cattle to graze on, prompting significant livestock sell off…

Southern and Central Plains

In Texas, much of the eastern Panhandle has received 25 percent or less of normal precipitation in the past 60-days, with some locales in the lowest 5 percent (AHPS). This sizable area of lowest quartile PNP’s extends into western Oklahoma. PNP’s within the second quartile (25-50 percent of normal) are widespread across much of Oklahoma and southeastern Texas. Thus far this month in Oklahoma, Lawton and Frederick have not received any precipitation, and Clinton has received only a trace of precipitation. Subzero dew points have occurred throughout much of January. As a result, 1-category degradations were made within these areas. In northwest Kansas, near the town of Colby, strong winds and blowing dust are being blamed for an 11-car pileup, which resulted in 3 fatalities…

Southwest

In Arizona, another week passed without precipitation. The last measurable precipitation in Flagstaff fell just before Christmas (December 20th). A predominantly dry pattern has been in place since the very beneficial and welcome late-season monsoon rains last September. Impacts are somewhat limited at this time due to lower ET rates during winter, but an increased snowpack in the next two months is needed to preclude more serious problems. SNOTEL Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), as of January 29, 2014, is mostly well below normal across the Mogollon Rim area (ranging from 18-44 percent), and in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona (SWE 27-40 percent of normal). As a result, a 1-category downgrade was made for both areas. In northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, SWE’s range from about 56-62 percent of normal. The last significant snowfall event for this region occurred from November 21-24, 2013, when about a foot of snow fell. Continued dryness since that time and fairly low SWE’s prompted a one-category downgrade across much of northern New Mexico up to the D3 designation.

In southwestern Colorado, with declining SNOTEL precipitation percentiles and snowpack percent of normal values, a 1-category downgrade (from no dryness to D0) was rendered to the drought depiction. In northeastern Colorado, a 1-category downgrade (from no dryness to D0) was made over southern Logan County, Washington County, and northern Lincoln County. In northeastern Colorado, the Standardized Precipitation Indices (SPIs) for the past 30 days (0 to -1.0) and 90 days (0 to -2.0) also support these alterations to the depiction. In addition to below-average precipitation from much of November through the present time, high winds have prevailed. There were reports of dry topsoil and blowing dust in Washington County, though some of this is due to management of fields…

Looking Ahead

During January 30-February 3, 2014, locally heavy precipitation amounts (2.5-3.5 inches, liquid equivalent) are expected for the higher elevations of the Cascades, the Sierras, the Bitterroots, the Wasatch, and the Colorado Front Range, which should help to elevate the SWE’s in those areas. Moderate precipitation (0.5-1.5 inches) is predicted across the abnormally dry regions of the central Gulf Coast and lower Mississippi Valley, as well as parts of south-central Florida. Elsewhere, precipitation amounts of less than a half-inch are generally forecast.

For the ensuing 5-day period, February 4-8, 2014, there are elevated odds of above-median precipitation over much of the nation east of the Continental Divide, except for portions of the upper Mississippi Valley and northern Plains, where odds favor below-median precipitation. Below-median precipitation is also favored for California, southern Arizona, and most of Alaska.

Colorado State University researchers receive $2.2 million for efforts to improve water quality

Blue-Green algae bloom
Blue-Green algae bloom

Here’s the release from the Environmental Protection Agency:

Today at the 14th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment in Washington, D.C., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy announced a grant of $2.2 million to the Center for Comprehensive, OptimaL and Effective Abatement of Nutrients (CLEAN) at Colorado State University to demonstrate sustainable solutions for reduction of nutrient pollution in the nation’s waterways.

Colorado State University is among four research institutions receiving a total of $9 million in EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants to advance innovative and sustainable water research to manage harmful nutrient pollution. Nutrient pollution is one of America’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems, and is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways.

The mission of Colorado State University’s CLEAN Center is to create knowledge, build capacity, and forge collaboration to develop and demonstrate sustainable solutions for reduction of nutrient pollution in the nation’s water resources. Colorado State University researchers will use the EPA grant to lead a multi-stakeholder effort to study and control the sources of excess nutrients in wastewater, stormwater, agricultural water, and natural systems. Key areas of research include: wastewater treatment technologies; water reuse systems; urban stormwater management; agricultural conservation; socioeconomic incentives; nutrient trading; and water rights.

“These grants will go towards research to help us better manage nutrients and better protect our precious water resources from the dangers of nutrient pollution, especially in a changing climate,” said Administrator McCarthy.

When excessive nitrogen and phosphorus enter our waterways — usually via stormwater runoff and industrial activities — our water can become polluted. Nutrient pollution has impacted many streams, rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters for the past several decades, resulting in serious environmental and health issues, and negatively impacting the economy. For example, nutrient pollution can reduce oxygen levels in water, leading to illnesses in fish and the death of large numbers of fish. In some cases nutrient pollution leads to elevated toxins and bacterial growth in waters that can make people sick.

The Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants announced by Administrator McCarthy are an integral part of EPA’s research on water quality and availability. Improving existing water infrastructure is costly, which makes creating new and sustainable approaches to water use, reuse and nutrient management important.

These grants support sustainable water research and demonstration projects consistent with a comprehensive strategy for managing nutrients and active community engagement throughout the research process.

In addition to Colorado State University, the following institutions received grants:

· Pennsylvania State University Center for Integrated Multi-scale Nutrient Pollution Solutions, to focus on nutrient flows in Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake basin

· University of South Florida Center for Reinventing Aging Infrastructure for Nutrient Management, to support Tampa Bay and similar coastal areas as they face problems of aging wastewater collection and treatment systems, and rapid population growth

· Water Environment Research Foundation, Alexandria, Va., National Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management, for innovative research in nutrient reduction through resource recovery and behavioral factors affecting acceptance and implementation.

For more information on Colorado State University’s CLEAN Center, visit: http://www.engr.colostate.edu/ce/

For more information on the grants and projects, visit: http://epa.gov/ncer/nutrient

For more information on EPA-funded research supporting water quality and availability, visit: http://www.epa.gov/research/waterscience

More water pollution coverage here.

‘I’m looking at the #COWaterPlan as a road map for an uncertain future’ — April Montgomery #COWaterPlatform

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

From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s call to develop a state water plan is the talk of the Colorado Water Congress’ annual convention this week, as people try to figure out what it is and whether it will be an aid or a threat. The plan has not been written, and no one is quite sure what it will be.

“I’m looking at the Colorado Water Plan as a road map for an uncertain future,” said April Montgomery of Telluride, who represents Southwest Colorado on a statewide water committee.

Montgomery spoke at a panel discussion Thursday at the Water Congress convention…

A bipartisan group of legislators, led by Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, is irked that Hickenlooper seemed to bypass the Legislature. Roberts is sponsoring a bill to require public hearings and legislative approval before the water plan can be implemented. Water is the state’s most critical resource, she said.

“It built our state, and it will be critical to building our state,” Roberts said. “For something that’s the No. 1 resource in our state, the Legislature has a place at the table.”

Roberts had a “very spirited discussion” Wednesday with Mike King, who serves in the governor’s Cabinet as director of the Department of Natural Resources, King told the crowd of around 300 at the Water Congress convention.

“Senator Roberts, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the good ones,” King said. “So when Senator Roberts expresses concerns about where we’re headed, I take that very seriously.”

The final plan will, “of course,” need approval by the Legislature, King said…

Coloradans have fought an East-West water war throughout state history, as the drier Front Range looked to Western Slope rivers to supply its cities and farms.

The fighting subsided the last eight years as the state tried out a new idea to create “roundtables” in every major river basin, along with a statewide group known as the Interbasin Compact Committee. Those groups have focused on building trust among the basins and assessing the water needs of every place in the state, from Arkansas Valley farms to Four Corners river rafters.

But after Hickenlooper put out his order for a water plan, several of the roundtables took tough stances on what should be in the plan. The Colorado River Roundtable put out a white paper that essentially said all the water in the river is spoken for, and there’s no way to pipe more water east to the Front Range.

Patricia Wells, general counsel for Denver Water, said she thinks the dueling white papers risk bringing Washington-style gridlock to Colorado’s water community.

She urged water experts from around the state to refrain from “demonizing or trivializing” each other’s water needs…

Montgomery, who represents Southwest Colorado on the Interbasin Compact Committee, said people need to think of their local communities, but also the state as a whole.

“A strong Denver helps the Southwest, as well as a strong recreational economy on the Western Slope, that’s going to help the Front Range,” Montgomery said.

From Aspen Public Radio (Marci Krivonen):

As the state prepares a statewide water plan, a local non profit wants to make sure our rivers and streams in the Valley are protected. Basalt-based Roaring Fork Conservancy is pinpointing environmental values, so, as the state searches for more water to fill growing needs, local waterways stay full…

“I think our role is kind of two-fold,” says Heather Tattersall.

She’s the Watershed Action Coordinator at the Roaring Fork Conservancy. The non profit is part of an advisory group looking into non-consumptive uses of local rivers, like fishing and rafting. Their research could become part of the statewide water plan.

“It’s looking at pieces so that, if or when water’s reallocated we don’t injure areas that are healthy right now and we don’t deteriorate areas that are already struggling,” Tattersall says.

So, if the state decides to pull more water from the Colorado River Basin to meet future demands, Tattersall says certain areas of the Roaring Fork Watershed, which feeds the Colorado, should be protected, like the lower Crystal River.

“There’s an in-stream flow right on the Crystal of 100 CFS (cubic feet per second). In low water years, that was down to two CFS. That can sort of be a red flag as a place to pay attention to. I think making sure that the places that are important to us, that we know about, that we’re able to use the knowledge we have and information and research we’ve gained, that we’re able to share that so that we’re getting adequate water and flows to protect the needs we have.”

The Conservancy’s efforts will be included in a larger plan that looks at the Colorado River Basin. It’s one of nine basins looking at what their needs are and formulating plans that will become part of the statewide water plan. Jim Pokrandt is with the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which aims to protect the Colorado from overuse.

“We know the Colorado River Basin, and all of Western Colorado, is the target for helping the Front Range fill its gaps,” he says.

Indeed, the biggest need for additional water will happen in the South Platte Basin, the most populous region of the state and an area that needs plenty of water for agriculture. Pokrandt says most of the state’s water is on the West Slope.

“It’s the belief of many on the Front Range that the Colorado River system is going to be part of their salvation. We’re not so sure over here on the West Slope. So, our version of the Colorado Water Plan will be keenly looking at that issue.”

The Colorado River basin is already stretched, says Pokrandt, diverting water to Front Range cities, as well as sending water to downstream states and Mexico.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention: ‘We’re [Arkansas Basin] hoping for a better 2014’ — Steve Witte

US Drought Monitor for Colorado January 28, 2014
US Drought Monitor for Colorado January 28, 2014

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Unless water conditions improve significantly this spring, farmers in the Lower Arkansas Valley could see a fourth year of reduced water supply. The low point so far was 2013, where many wells were cut off completely, and overall pumping was the lowest on record. Surface irrigators also dealt with reduced flows until the end of the growing season and large fires damaged several watersheds.

“We’re hoping for a better 2014,” Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte told the Colorado Water Congress this week. “But I don’t know if I have reason to be optimistic.”

While not as dry as 2012, the second driest on record, the water available in 2013 dropped to the fourth lowest amount ever, as measured at multiple locations, Witte said.

The convention wraps up today with the Aspinall award luncheon.

It was a veritable Twitter-fest yesterday during the sessions. You can follow the action with the hash tag #COWaterPlatform. I’ll be live-Tweeting @CoyoteGulch.

The Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention continues today #COWaterPlatform

I’ll be live-Tweeting the goings on at @CoyoteGulch using hash tag #COWaterPlatform.