Reclamation: Three Chinook Spotted Above Glines Canyon; First Salmon Return to the Upper Elwha in 102 Years

Demolition of the Glines Canyon Dam via The Seattle Times
Demolition of the Glines Canyon Dam via The Seattle Times

NWS Grand Junction: Keep an eye on this aurora modeling page tonight for aurora visibility in CO/UT

Drought news: Drought holds on across southern Colorado #COdrought

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

Over the last seven-day period, an active pattern has helped to bring precipitation over several of the drought regions in the country. As the monsoon season continues and has been aided by tropical moisture coming up the Gulf of California, portions of the Southwest continue to see significant moisture. Areas in and around the Phoenix metro area recorded up to 6 inches of rain on the morning of September 8. Substantial flooding took place in many parts of the area. Several days of rain and thunderstorms helped to bring some relief over the southern Plains where August was especially dry. In the Texas panhandle, central Oklahoma, and eastern Kansas, 1.5-3.0 inches of rain was recorded this week. The upper Midwest also had a good week of rain where 2-3 inches fell over portions of northern Wisconsin, northern Michigan, and central Minnesota. A change in the pattern over the southeastern United States allowed for a return of moisture into the region, with significant rains, up to 6 inches this week, over areas from northern Florida up the coast and into the Carolinas. Temperatures varied across the country this week, with above-normal temperatures over the eastern third and west coast of the United States. Below-normal temperatures were recorded over much of the central to southern Plains as well as the central to northern Rocky Mountains…

The High Plains
Mainly dry conditions over most of the region this week, with only portions of Kansas, central Nebraska, and North Dakota recording more than 200 percent of normal precipitation. Temperatures were generally below normal over Nebraska, Kansas, and northern Wyoming and into the western Dakotas. Improvements were made in Nebraska and Kansas as there was little support for D1 in the eastern portions of both states. In southeast Nebraska and eastern Kansas, D1 was improved, while improvements to D1 were also made in north central into western Kansas. In southwest Nebraska, D0 was also improved as the current pattern of above-normal moisture continued. Southeast Kansas saw D2 removed this week as well…

The West
Warm temperatures over most of the region were experienced during the week, with only areas of Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, and eastern Oregon having temperatures below normal this week. The monsoon moisture over the southwest continued and was amplified with some tropical moisture this week. Flooding rains over the Phoenix metro area along with significant moisture over much of the central portion of the state did help to ease drought concerns, and a full category improvement was made where the greatest precipitation was observed…

Looking Ahead
Over the next 5-7 days the precipitation pattern looks to be quite active and encompassing the eastern half of the United States. The greatest precipitation amounts are anticipated over the Midwest, southern Plains, and Southeast, with projected amounts of up to 3.50 inches. The moisture plume over the Southwest looks to shift east over the next week with amounts of up to an inch in New Mexico, west Texas, and Colorado. Temperatures will be cooler than normal over the High Plains, with maximum temperature departures of 12-15 degrees below normal forecast over Nebraska, South Dakota, and eastern Wyoming.

The 6-10 day outlook shows the cooler-than-normal temperatures more likely over the eastern half of the United States. The best chances for above-normal temperatures are centered on the Great Basin and western United States as well as most of Alaska. The projections show that most of the Midwest, New England, Plains, northern Rocky Mountains, and southern Mississippi Valley have the best chances for below-normal-precipitation. Above-normal precipitation chances are greatest over the southeast and southwestern United States as well as southern Alaska.

Glenwood Springs: How should Colorado prioritize economic benefits in the COWaterPlan?

Glenwood Springs via Wikipedia
Glenwood Springs via Wikipedia

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

The importance of green lawns to maintain quality of life and urban home values was heard alongside that of maintaining river flows for the Western Slope’s recreation-based economy in comments to the Colorado Water Conservation Board Thursday.

“Back yards are our recreational amenity,” Mark Pifher of the Front Range Water Council said during testimony before the CWCB on the draft Colorado Water Plan in Glenwood Springs as part of a two-day meeting that continues today at the Hotel Colorado.

Pifher also took to task Winter Park real estate broker Dennis Saffell, who cited statistics from Grand County that suggest riverfront properties sell for 134 percent more than other types of residential property, and even properties with a view of a river are 24 percent more valuable.

“It’s really important to keep our rivers viable economically, not just for the recreational aspects but for the entire economy that supports our communities,” Saffell said. “Rivers create a lifestyle, attract tourists and attract the people that live here.”

But aggressive conservation measures aimed at limiting outdoor water use in Front Range cities can have the effect of lowering real estate values in those areas, countered Pifher, who pointed out that outdoor irrigation makes up only 4 percent of consumptive water use in the state, according to statistics referenced in the draft water plan.

Joe Stibrich, representing the city of Aurora Water Department, suggested that, just as anglers and whitewater enthusiasts expect the state’s water plan to preserve the recreation experience in the mountains, urban dwellers have a right to expect a “reasonable residential experience.”

That includes reasonably irrigated lawns, public parks and sports fields, and golf courses, he said.

Statewide conservation measures also need to be considered on equal footing with viable alternatives to meet Front Range water needs, including new supply development through future trans-mountain diversions, he said…

“Water utilities do recognize the importance of healthy rivers and ecosystems,” Stibrich said. “But it’s equally important to maintain an urban environment with healthy landscapes.”

The debate pointed up the difficult task before the CWCB to deliver on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s directive to present a statewide water plan by December that addresses the often divergent views between the Western Slope interests and those of Front Range communities.

The first-ever statewide water plan is intended to address a significant gap in the amount of water needed to meet growth projections, especially on the Front Range, and what’s now available through both in-basin and trans-basin diversions.

But a key goal is also to protect healthy river flows on the Western Slope, including in the Colorado River Basin where members of the basin roundtable have recommended a strong emphasis on conservation in the water plan, along with opposition to any new trans-mountain diversions.

At some point, “the line has to be drawn … enough is enough” when it comes to Front Range water diversions, said fishing guide Jack Bombardier, owner of Confluence Casting in Gypsum in his testimony before the water board.

Bombardier was part of a coalition of river recreation business owners and enthusiasts, along with conservation groups, who spoke during the Thursday session. The coalition cited a study that shows river-based recreation in Colorado generates $9 billion a year and is responsible for 80,000 jobs.

“We all have skin in the game,” Bombardier said. “But we’re approaching a crossroads. The whole western [Colorado] ecosystem and economy hinges on healthy rivers.”

Water Conservation Board member Patricia Wells, representing the city and county of Denver, said one of the state’s recreational amenities that is reliant on water is missing from the equation in reference to those statistics — golf courses.

She requested that golf be mentioned in the section of the water plan that addresses recreational and environmental projects.

Wells also challenged speaker Annie Henderson, representing the Upper Colorado Private Boaters Association in Glenwood Springs, when she made reference to “wasteful and irresponsible water use” in relation to the need for better conservation measures to help protect the Western Slope’s quality of life.

“Quality of life exists in urban areas too,” Wells said. “Different people use water in ways that are valuable to them.”

Here’s some video from KREXTV.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Coalition: Can State Water Plan Sustain Colorado Recreation Economy? — Public News Service #COWaterPlan

Big Wood Falls photo via American Whitewater (2011)
Big Wood Falls photo via American Whitewater (2011)

From the Public News Service (Tommy Hough/Chris Thomas):

Outdoor business leaders and conservationists are joining forces to urge Colorado to prioritize river-based recreation in the state’s upcoming water plan.

As the Colorado Water Conservation Board meets Friday [September 12, 2014] to discuss the first statewide water plan, the conservation and business coalition will press the state to rely on data collected around the Colorado River Basin to ensure enough water remains in rivers to sustain the region’s $12 billion recreation economy.

Nathan Fey, director of Colorado River stewardship programs at American Whitewater, said he thinks the draft plan fails to make some crucial connections.

“We’re not seeing the state water plan make that effort and really invest in improving our understanding of river health and recreational health,” he said.

Fey said he finds that missing connection odd, since the science on which his coalition bases its concerns isn’t anything new.

“There are nearly four decades of science that have been developed around how to define stream flows for recreation,” he said, “and to understand the relationship between flow and recreation quality.”

The state’s draft water plan currently includes major trans-mountain diversions, and a movement of water across the Rocky Mountains for the state’s thirsty Front Range cities such as Denver and Boulder. Fey predicted that moving water on a speculative basis would jeopardize the health of many of the state’s most beloved rivers without considering greater conservation measures as an option.

“We think that the water plan should prioritize conservation and other concepts like reuse and water sharing,” he said. “That is much more palatable than these new, large-scale projects that are divisive and really destroy our river systems.”

The same need to prioritize river health, Fey said, will be on the agenda for the regionwide Colorado River Basin Study, a major federal document that will impact western rivers for decades to come.

“What really needs to happen next, because it’s not just Colorado,” he said, “is our neighboring states in the basin make a concerted effort to identify how much water we need to keep in our rivers to sustain a recreation economy.”

According to Fey, outdoor recreation access and quality, along with overall environmental health, are among the top concerns of Colorado residents – and one of the key advantages for Front Range-area businesses in attracting new employees.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.