NRCS: Lower #ColoradoRiver Water Supply Forecasts avaiable

NRCS: April Rio Grande Basin forecasts available

The Road Not Taken

Your Water Colorado Blog

By Julia Gallucci, water education coordinator, Colorado Springs Utilities

roadlesstakenWhen Robert Frost wrote his poem he probably wasn’t plagued by water issues, and neither are most Colorado citizens. While water is our bread and butter, how often do the rest of us think about, for example, the State Water Plan?

Two organizations, Colorado Competitive Council and Accelerate Colorado intend to brief the Colorado business community on Colorado’s Water Plan. These lobbying groups are interested in framing what Colorado Business wants around water, and they hope to use this framework to weigh in on the State’s Water Plan.

This is an excellent beginning to an independent State Water Plan public process, one from which, perhaps, the IBCC can draw ideas. Colorado Competitive Council and Accelerate Colorado have designed a “road show” which they successfully presented in Colorado Springs on April 2nd. In cities across Colorado, they leverage the…

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CU-Boulder offers well users guide for testing water in areas of oil and gas development

chemistryglassware

Here’s the release from the University of Colorado at Boulder:

A free, downloadable guide for individuals who want to collect baseline data on their well water quality and monitor their groundwater quantity over time was released this week by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Colorado Water and Energy Research Center (CWERC).

The “how to” guide, “Monitoring Water Quality in Areas of Oil and Natural Gas Development: A Guide for Water Well Users,” is available in PDF format at http://cwerc.colorado.edu. It seeks to provide well owners with helpful, independent, scientifically sound and politically neutral information about how energy extraction or other activities might affect their groundwater.

The guide spells out the process of establishing a baseline for groundwater conditions, including how best to monitor that baseline and develop a long-term record.

“Baseline data is important because, in its purest form, it documents groundwater quality and quantity before energy extraction begins,” said CWERC Co-founder and Director Mark Williams, who is also a fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and a CU-Boulder professor of geography.

“Once a baseline has been established, groundwater chemistry can be monitored for changes over time,” Williams said. “The most accurate baselines are collected before energy extraction begins, but if drilling has already begun, well owners can still test their water to establish a belated baseline and monitor it for changes. That might not be scientifically ideal, but it’s a lot better than doing no monitoring at all.”

CWERC’s guidance builds on the state’s public health recommendations that well owners annually test water for nitrates and bacteria. The guide encourages well water users to collect more than one pre-drilling baseline sample, if possible.

CWERC recommends collecting both spring and fall samples within a single year because water chemistry can vary during wet and dry seasons. Well owners should measure the depth from the ground surface to the water in their wells in the fall, during the dry season, so that they can keep track of any changes.

“Colorado’s oil and gas regulators have established some of the most comprehensive groundwater monitoring regulations in the country, but those regulations do not require oil and gas operators to sample every water well in an oil or gas field,” Williams said. “So we wanted to develop a meaningful tool for people who want to test their water themselves or those who need information to help negotiate water testing arrangements as part of surface use agreements with drillers in their area.

“Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the well owner to know their own well and understand their water. This guide will help Coloradans do just that.”

The guide specifically outlines what well water users may want to test for and provides a list of properly certified laboratories that offer water-testing services. In addition, the guide assists individuals in interpreting the scientific data, chemical references and compound levels that are outlined in the laboratory results they will receive and any industry tests or reports related to drilling in their area.

CWERC studies the connections between water and energy resources and the trade-offs that may be involved in their use. It seeks to engage the general public and policymakers, serving as a neutral broker of scientifically based information on even the most contentious “energy-water nexus” debates.

CWERC was co-founded in 2011 by Williams and Joseph Ryan, a CU-Boulder professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, with funding from the CU-Boulder Office for University Outreach.

To download a free copy of the guide, visit http://cwerc.colorado.edu. For questions about obtaining the guide or to order a printed version, visit the website or call 303-492-4561.

Having exhausted all toilet puns, House approves SB14-103, Unamended — Kristin Wyatt #COleg

Drought news

US Drought Monitor April 1, 2014
US Drought Monitor April 1, 2014

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

Summary

This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw an active weather pattern across much of the West coast and northern Rockies as a series of disturbances moved through the region delivering rain showers to the lower elevations and mountain snow showers to the higher elevations. Scattered snow showers were observed in higher elevations of the Intermountain West while the Southwest remained in a warm and dry pattern. Across portions of the South and Southeast, scattered rain showers were observed while locally heavy rain and snow showers fell across much of New England. In the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, the pattern of below-normal temperatures and snow showers persisted. Across the Southern Plains and western portions of Texas, dry and windy conditions continued to deplete soil moisture levels. On this week’s map, slight improvements were made in northern California and northeastern Oregon, while conditions deteriorated in southern Colorado. Moving eastward, conditions in the southern Plains, western Texas, and the lower Midwest deteriorated while New England saw improvements…

The Plains

As with most of the northern tier, the northern Plains experienced below-normal temperatures and areas of snowfall including blizzard-like conditions early this week in the Dakotas. According to the NWS in Bismarck, North Dakota, record daily maximum snowfall (8.1 inches) was observed in Bismarck on Monday. In the southern Plains, continued short-term precipitation deficits, declining range and pasture conditions, and areas of below-normal streamflow activity led to expansion of areas of Moderate Drought (D1) and Severe Drought (D2) in the eastern half of Kansas and central Oklahoma where areas of Severe Drought (D2) pushed eastward. Temperatures were generally near-normal to slightly above-normal in the southern portions of the Plains during the past week…

The West

During the past week, a series of disturbances pushed on-shore from the Pacific delivering much-needed rain and snow to northern California and Oregon. In northern California, liquid precipitation accumulations ranged from two-to-six inches in the northern coastal mountains while the northern Sierras received three-to-eleven inches. In the northern half of the Central Valley, precipitation accumulations were less than one and a half inch. Despite short-term gains, the long-term deficits across the region remained substantial. According to the California Department of Water Resources, California’s snowpack has increased since the first snow survey on January 3rd, but the latest survey results show California’s snow-water equivalent is only 32 percent of the average April 1st measurement when the snowpack is generally at its peak level prior to spring melt. In light of this week’s significant precipitation accumulations in the northern Sierra, a one-category improvement from Extreme Drought (D3) to Severe Drought (D2) was made to reflect short-term gains over the areas of greatest precipitation accumulations ranging from four-to-eleven inches. In northeastern Oregon, a one-category improvement from Moderate Drought (D1) to Abnormally Dry (D0) was made to reflect near-normal snowpack conditions in the Blue and Wallowa Mountains. In the Southwest, a warm and dry pattern continued across the region leading to slight deterioration of conditions in southwestern Colorado…

Looking Ahead

The NWS HPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for moderate-to-heavy precipitation accumulations (two-to-six inches) across the lower Midwest and moderate accumulations (two-to-three) in the South and Southeast. The Upper Midwest, New England, central Rockies, and Pacific Northwest are forecasted to receive accumulations of less than two inches. The 6-10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures across the West while below-normal temperatures are forecasted across the South, Midwest, and Eastern tier. A high probability of above-normal precipitation is forecasted across portions of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, New England, northern Plains, and Pacific Northwest while the remainder of the West, southern Plains, and western portions of the South are expected to have below-normal precipitation.

Republican River Water Conservation District quarterly board meeting, April 10 #COWaterPlan

Republican River Basin
Republican River Basin

From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

It is time for the Republican River Water Conservation District Board of Directors to hold its regular quarterly meeting in Yuma. It will be held at Quintech on Thursday, April 10, beginning at 10 a.m. Public comment is scheduled for 1 p.m.

The board will receive a report from Assistant Attorney General Scott Steinbrecher on the negotiations with Kansas regarding compliance with the Republican River Compact, the Bonny Reservoir accounting issue, and the compact compliance pipeline. There also could be other matters addressed by Steinbrecher.

The pipeline has been put to use this past winter as Kansas agreed to a one-year test run in 2014. Tracy Travis, the pipeline manager, will provide a report on the pipeline.

Conservation has been a focus, particularly with a symposium sponsored by the RRWCD and local businesses held last month highlighting the need to conserve the Ogallala Aquifer, the region’s source of water. The board will discuss conservation survey results during the April 10 meeting.

Also on the agenda, HDR Engineering will give a report regarding the Colorado Water Plan. There also will be a presentation on the Great Divide.

The board will consider purchasing agency bonds, and receive reports on various recent meetings and programs.

Quintech is located at 529 N. Albany St. in Yuma. For further information, or having any questions, please call RRWCD General Manager Deb Daniel at 970-332-3552, or email her at deb.daniel@rrwcd.net. The RRWCD website is http://www.republicanriver.com.