— NOAA (@NOAA) May 6, 2014
— NOAA (@NOAA) May 6, 2014
— NOAA (@NOAA) May 6, 2014
— NOAA (@NOAA) May 6, 2014
Drought conditions across a large swath of the Western United States are unlikely to improve during May, according to the Monthly Drought Outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. From the state of Washington south to the Mexican border, then east into Texas and north into the High Plains, increased chances for warmer-than-average temperatures and a normal decline in the amount of precipitation expected across the West and Southwest in late spring mean that existing drought conditions will likely remain in place or become worse.
The map…shows the monthly drought outlook for May 2014. Yellow areas show where drought is likely to develop. Areas where drought is already present and likely to persist or worsen are shown in brown—not a hopeful outlook for California or southeastern Colorado. Tan areas show where drought conditions are likely to improve, and green areas show where drought is likely to end. Drought is likely to expand in southern Texas, but the eastern portion of the southern Great Plains is likely to see drought improve or end.
Here’s the release from Governor Hickenlooper’s office via the Chaffee County Times:
The historic flooding last September and the lingering drought affecting many Colorado communities demonstrate the need for safe drinking water. In the absence of disasters that threaten water supplies, few people think about safe drinking water and what it takes to make it available at the turn of the faucet.
Water is an essential but limited resource that can become contaminated by natural forces and human activity. Water system managers and operators, laboratory workers, and state and local agencies make water safe to drink.
From the state’s varied source waters including rivers, reservoirs, wells and springs to the facilities that filter and disinfect the water, to the tanks that store it and the pipes that deliver it to our homes, cooperation and coordination by local utilities and state workers is required to ensure safe drinking water flows from the tap on demand.
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proclamation of Colorado Drinking Water Week, May 5-10, calls on Coloradans to be aware of our role as stewards of nature’s water and the infrastructure upon which future generations depend. The proclamation serves as a reminder to be diligent about protecting our water from pollution and conserving water, and to recognize the professionals who keep our drinking water safe.
Many communities – even those unaffected by the flooding – need to upgrade their aging systems to continue providing safe drinking water. The Water Quality Control Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment oversees approximately 2,000 public drinking water systems in Colorado. The systems are operated and maintained by local authorities. During the past year, nearly half the incidents involving poor water quality investigated by the Water Quality Control Division were associated with infrastructure deficiencies, such as broken or excessively leaking pipes or problems with storage tanks.
Rebuilding aging drinking water infrastructure is almost always a financial challenge, even with the grants and loans available though federal and state agencies. It requires citizen support and careful planning by water system managers. Since 1997, the department, in cooperation with the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority and the Department of Local Affairs, has approved about 180 loans, worth $449 million, to water systems through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The fund provides below-market financing to help water systems treat and deliver safe drinking water.
The responsibility to ensure safe drinking water does not reside solely with water systems and government agencies. Individuals play a significant role as well. In addition to conserving water, individuals must protect water quality in rivers, lakes, streams and wells by being careful with herbicides and pesticides; disposing of oil, antifreeze, unused prescriptions and personal care products properly; and becoming involved in water quantity and quality issues within the watersheds and water systems that supply their drinking water.
Consumers served by a community public water system can get an in-depth understanding of their water system by reading its annual Consumer Confidence Report. This year’s reports will be distributed to consumers this summer. Past copies generally are posted on each water system’s website. Citizens who have difficulty obtaining their system’s Consumer Confidence Report may contact the Water Quality Control Division at 303-692-3556.
More water treatment coverage here.
Here’s the release from Reclamation via the Lake Powell Chronicle:
As part of its ongoing management of Colorado River reservoirs, the Bureau of Reclamation has determined that, based on the best available data projections of Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoir elevations, under the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead (2007 Interim Guidelines) a release of 7.48 million acre-feet (maf) from Lake Powell is required in water year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014).
An annual release of 7.48 maf is the lowest release since the filling of Lake Powell in the 1960s. Lake Mead is projected to decline an additional eight feet during 2014 as a result of the lower Lake Powell annual release; however, Lake Mead will operate under normal conditions in calendar year 2014, with water users in the Lower Colorado River Basin and Mexico receiving their full water orders in accordance with the 2007 Interim Guidelines and the 1944 Treaty with Mexico.
The 2007 Interim Guidelines Record of Decision was signed by the Secretary of the Interior after extensive consultation with the seven Colorado River Basin states, Native American tribes, federal agencies, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders and interested parties. The guidelines were adopted to coordinate reservoir management strategies and address annual operations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead, particularly under low reservoir conditions.
“This is the worst 14-year drought period in the last hundred years,” said Upper Colorado Regional Director Larry Walkoviak. “Reclamation’s collaboration with the seven Colorado River Basin states on the 2007 Interim Guidelines is proving to be invaluable in coordinating the operations of the reservoirs and helping protect future availability of Colorado River water supplies.”
Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp also pointed to the variability in the system.
“With a good winter snowpack next year, the outlook could change significantly as it did in 2011, but we also need to be prepared for continuing drought,” he said. “Currently the longer-term projections from Reclamation’s hydrologic models show a very small chance of lower basin delivery shortages in 2015, with the first significant chance of reduced water deliveries in the lower basin in 2016. These projections will be updated monthly and will reflect changes in weather and the resulting hydrology.”
Updated monthly, Reclamation’s 24-Month Study is an operational report that provides projected reservoir operations for all major system reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin for the next two years. The August 24-Month Study is available on the Reclamation websites for the Upper and Lower Colorado regions:
Upper Colorado Region: http://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/crsp/studies/index.html
Lower Colorado Region: http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/24mo/index.html
By planning ahead for varying reservoir levels, the 2007 Interim Guidelines provide Colorado River users, especially those in the lower basin states of Arizona, Nevada and California, with a greater degree of certainty about annual water deliveries. The 2007 Interim Guidelines also define the reservoir levels that would trigger delivery shortages and specify those reduced delivery amounts in the lower Colorado River Basin once Lake Mead reaches certain elevations. Information about the 2007 Interim Guidelines is available at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/strategies.html.
From the Taos News (J.R. Logan):
Streamflow data from the Colorado Division of Water Resources showed the Río Grande was flowing at 1,330 cubic-feet per second (cfs) when it came out of the mountains near Del Norte, Colo Wednesday (April 30).
But by the time it was just about to cross the New Mexico border, it was at just 209 cfs.
The 84 percent drop is due almost entirely to irrigation in the San Luís Valley, which begins in earnest around this time of year.
A hydrograph of the Río Grande near Cerro showed the river was hovering at nearly 700 cfs between the end of February and the end of March. But starting at April 1, the streamflow at Cerro begin to plummet. At one point in mid-April, the river in New Mexico was at just 100 cfs.
The amount of water in the river as it crosses state lines is dictated by the Río Grande Compact — a deal hashed out between New Mexico, Colorado and Texas in the 1930s…
Water officials in New Mexico and Colorado say Colorado has met its legal obligation in recent years. The total water delivery from Colorado is calculated on an annual basis, meaning water that runs unimpeded in the fall and winter makes up for big diversions in the spring and early summer.
Taos County residents — especially some rafting guides — have been vocal critics of the arrangement, which they say does harm to their business and affects the ecology of the river.
Farmers and water managers in the San Luís Valley, meanwhile, point out that they too are suffering from the effects of drought and are operating within the limits of the compact.
From Reclamation via the Loveland Reporter-Herald:
With runoff starting to increase in the Big Thompson Basin, the Bureau of Reclamation bumped up outflow from Olympus Dam, at the east side of Estes Park, into the river Monday morning.
Kara Lamb, public information officer for the agency, said the flow was gradually increased through the day from 40 cubic feet per second to about 140 cfs.
“The heat over the next few days will likely increase nightly runoff inflows to Lake Estes, which will pass on through Olympus Dam to the canyon,” she said in a press release, adding, “So far, runoff inflows have been typical for this time of year.”
Warm weather has started melting mountain snowpack, leading to the increase in river flow.
On Friday Lamb had reported runoff inflow reaching up to 200 cfs at night. Runoff typically reaches its peak at night as water from snow that melted during the day heads downstream.
Lamb said it’s possible there could be more increases in outflow into the Big Thompson on Tuesday.
Last week, the bureau diverted some of the runoff inflow to the Colorado-Big Thompson Projects reservoirs, including Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir.
By Friday, Carter Lake was at 98 percent of capacity, and more water was being diverted to Horsetooth. By Sunday it was reported at 88 percent full.
From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):
We’re still making space for the upcoming runoff on the Blue River. As a result, about an hour ago, we bumped up releases from Green Mountain Dam to the lower Blue by 50 cfs. We are now sending about 950 cfs on downstream.
From the Lamar Ledger:
Residents in the Arkansas River basin are encouraged to participate in developing Colorado’s Water Plan.
Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order in 2013 calling for the development of a statewide water plan, the first draft of which will be complete in Dec. of this year.
Each river basin in the state, including the Arkansas Basin, is developing a Basin Implementation Plan (BIP) that will forecast future water needs in the basin and identify way to meet those growing needs in a state where water is scarce.
The BIP information from all basins will be folded into the final state plan.
The Arkansas Basin Roundtable has been working on this issue for many years, and wants to be sure every voice is heard as many interests compete for a limited supply of water.
several ways of providing input are being offered to basin residents.
Attend a meeting of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable
Upcoming meetings include:
May 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at CSU in Pueblo.
June 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a location to be determined.
Attend a meeting hosted by a member of the Roundtable
Attend one of these meetings in or near your community to hear more about the planning process and offer your opinion on water issues that affect you and suggest potential projects or policies that will help meet future needs. Meetings planned so far can be found at arkansasbasin.com.
Long on to the basin Web site
You will find a wealth of information about what has been done so far in the planning process and complete a survey that will ask for your opinion on water matters at http://arkansasbasin.com.
Contact the Arkansas Basin Roundtable member to share your thoughts or find out more about this statewide effort to secure Colorado’s water future.
When finalized, Colorado’s Water Plan will be an important tool in protecting water for all uses in our state – agriculture, the environment, recreation, municipalities and industries. The members of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable urge all citizens to consider the importance of water to our future.
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.