John Deere to partner with Colorado company on cloud platform for farmers — the Denver Business Journal

Cloud computing diagram via Information Q
Cloud computing diagram via Information Q

From the Denver Business Journal (Mark Harden):

The maker of John Deere tractors is forming a joint venture with Greenwood Village-based DN2K to further develop the Colorado company’s cloud software platform to analyze agricultural data and help farmers make better growing decisions.

The joint venture — dubbed SageInsights — by DN2K and Moline, Illinois-based Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) will “initially serve the agriculture industry with further development of DN2K’s existing cloud software platform, MyAgCentral, for agricultural retailers and others who provide consulting services to growers,” Deere said in a statement…

DN2K’s MyAgCentral tool allows farmers as well as “precision farming” consultants and retailers to more easily collect, store and evaluate a host of information — some of it gathered “machine to machine” by remote monitors — and use it to improve farm productivity. The platform was established in 2012.

“The agriculture industry has significant opportunities to increase productivity by understanding and leveraging the operational intelligence that is already available,” said Susan Lambert, DN2K’s president and CEO. “Creating SageInsights allows us to serve a broader range of the agricultural community.”

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin

Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation October 1 through October 12, 2015 via the Colorado Climate Center
Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation October 1 through October 12, 2015 via the Colorado Climate Center

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

Scholars want science-based review of Colorado River study — The Deseret News

From The Deseret News (Amy Joi O’Donoghue):

The scholars want the bureau’s 2012 Colorado River Basin’s Supply and Demand Study to get an analysis by the National Academy of Sciences that specifically probes key areas they assert aren’t getting adequate attention.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the scholars cite lack of information regarding groundwater depletion, flood management, water demand forecasts, ecology, water quality and climate change.

“If ever there was a time to undertake the first basinwide independent review of this vital natural resource, that time is now,” said John Weisheit, conservation director of Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper. “Decisions should be based on the best available information and the National Academy is well positioned to ensure that.”

The letter’s signatories include six faculty members from the University of Utah, among them Pat Shea and Dan McCool, who have argued for less diversions on the river and fewer water development projects.

The bureau’s supply and demand study, initiated in 2010 and released at the end of 2012, addressed both current and future supply and demand imbalances on the river in light of growing populations, increasing urbanization and potential climate shifts…

More than 150 study proposals were submitted to counter that shortfall, and the bureau is in the midst of another phase of implementing strategies that embrace environmental considerations, agricultural use, and municipal and industrial supplies.

The letter indicates that as this phase moves forward, there are key concerns that need to be addressed.

“Clearly (the Department of Interior) should seek the best available science for the management of this critical natural resource while taking a comprehensive look at the processes by which this important information will be integrated into Colorado River management.”

As an example, the signatories to the letter say they are fearful there are supply options on the table that fail to adequately consider growing conservation trends throughout the basin states. The letter stressed the need to more fully understand stream flow forecasts in light of a changing climate and the vulnerability of the Colorado River system as a whole.

“The National Academy of Sciences, through its National Research Council, has assisted the (Department of Interior) in the past on several Colorado River management issues,” the letter stated. “As scientists, we appreciate the peer review methods of the (National Academy of Sciences).”

TR-B_Water_Supply_Assessment_FINAlreclamation

US Senator Bennet calls for passage of SB 384 — The ditch irrigation bill

Greeley Irrigation Ditch No. 3 construction via Greeley Water
Greeley Irrigation Ditch No. 3 construction via Greeley Water

From The Greeley Tribune (James Redmond):

Bennet visited a farm west of Eaton early Monday afternoon to learn about ditch irrigation, hoping to take what he learned back to Washington to help pass Senate Bill 384, known as the ditch irrigation bill, an effort to amend the tax code to facilitate water leasing and water transfers to promote conservancy and efficiency. The bill would allow mutual ditch irrigation companies, which are nonprofits generally owned by local farmers, to lease water to local entities to earn revenue. The revenue would go toward the repairs and replacement of irrigation ditches.

Under the tax code, implemented in 1986, the companies would lose their nonprofit status by profiting from water leasing.

Brian Kuehl, director of federal affairs for K-Coe Isom, a national food and agriculture consulting firm, said losing the nonprofit status would be detrimental to the companies.

Kuehl explained the bill is important because when something goes wrong with a ditch system it’s on the mutual ditch irrigation company, or the local farmers, to fund the very expensive repair — even in the case of a natural disaster, such as the big floods in 2013, which caused a lot of ditch damage in Weld.

Local producers know the repairs and updates are necessary in northern Colorado.

“The reservoirs and canals were constructed in the late 1800s, so our facilities are in need of major repairs, and the revenue to make those repairs comes from shareholder assessments,” said Russ Leffler of Vic Leffler and Sons, where Bennet was visiting.

“The revision in the tax code is going to allow us to use other revenue to make repairs and replacements of deteriorating facilities,” Leffler said.

The bill made it through the Senate last year before it was killed in the House. It was attached to the highway bill, which was stripped of any extras before begrudgingly passing through the House.

Supporters of the bill would like to see SB 384 go through with either the highway bill or some tax credit extenders next year. Bennet, along with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, will have their names on the bill when it’s introduced to the Senate in February.

El Niño: “This baby is too big to fail” — Bill Patzert (NASA) #ElNino

elnino19972015vianasa

From NASA:

The latest analyses from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from NASA confirm that El Niño is strengthening and it looks a lot like the strong event that occurred in 1997–98. Observations of sea surface heights and temperatures, as well as wind patterns, show surface waters cooling off in the Western Pacific and warming significantly in the tropical Eastern Pacific.

“Whether El Niño gets slightly stronger or a little weaker is not statistically significant now. This baby is too big to fail,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. October sea level height anomalies show that 2015 is as big or bigger in heat content than 1997. “Over North America, this winter will definitely not be normal. However, the climatic events of the past decade make ‘normal’ difficult to define.”

The maps above show a comparison of sea surface heights in the Pacific Ocean as observed at the beginning of October in 1997 and 2015. The measurements come from altimeters on the TOPEX/Poseidon mission (left) and Jason-2 (right); both show averaged sea surface height anomalies. Shades of red indicate where the ocean stood higher (in tens of millimeters) than the normal sea level because warmer water expands to fill more volume. Shades of blue show where sea level and temperatures were lower than average (contraction). Normal sea-level conditions appear in white.

“The trade winds have been weakening again,” Patzert said. “This should strengthen this El Niño.” Weaker trade winds out of the eastern Pacific allow west wind bursts to push warm surface waters from the central and western Pacific toward the Americas. Click here to watch a video of Kelvin waves propagating across the ocean in the first seven months of 2015.

In its October monthly update, scientists at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center stated: “All multi-model averages predict a peak in late fall/early winter. The forecaster consensus unanimously favors a strong El Niño…Overall, there is an approximately 95 percent chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015–16.”

seasurfaceanomalywith2015

The July–September average of sea surface temperatures was 1.5°C above normal, NOAA reported, ranking third behind 1982 (1.6°C) and 1997 (1.7°C). The plot above shows sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific for all moderate to strong El Niño years since 1950.

Both Patzert and NOAA forecasters believe the southern tier of North America, particularly southern California, is likely to see a cooler and wetter than normal winter, while the northern tier could be warmer and drier. But the sample of El Niños in the meteorological record are still too few and other elements of our changing climate are too new to say with certainty what the winter will bring.

Greeley is looking at long-term water supplies for new development

Greeley irrigation ditch
Greeley irrigation ditch

From The Greeley Tribune (Catharine Sweeney):

As Greeley attempts to maintain its outward growth, booming water prices could slow it down.

The Greeley City Council on Tuesday held a work session on a water policy called “cash in lieu,” which allows developers to buy water access when a property’s existing supply is short of its city-mandated requirements.

Some developers already use the process, but it’s rare right now, said Water and Sewer Director Burt Knight. It’s going to become more common as Greeley continues to expand.

“Over time, there will be no more water to dedicate to the city,” said Eric Reckentine, deputy director of water resources.

Optimistic estimates give Greeley 40 years until cash in lieu water development is the norm. Pessimistic ones give it 10 years.

City officials contracted a firm to study Greeley’s cash in lieu policies and the options they have to modify it going forward.

If someone buys a pre-owned house in Greeley, for example, its water has already been set up. If a new house goes up in a developed area of town, it can use existing water infrastructure. If a new house goes up in an undeveloped area, often the property comes with water rights — access to a river or ditch that it gives to the city in exchange for access to treated water that comes out of a pipe.

But the land Greeley has left to develop is exceedingly short on water rights. Sometimes it’s because the land is far away from water. Other times, farmers have sold their water rights and later sold their land without them.

In this situation, the developer has to find a way to bring more water into the Greeley water system.

That water also is getting more expensive.

Water planners use the price of Colorado-Big Thompson access as a benchmark. For years, C-BT prices increased at about 13 percent a year. In the past three, the price has tripled, said Douglas Jeavons, managing director of BBC Research and Consulting, the contractor Greeley used for the study.

As cash in lieu policies become more common across the region, the price will continue to grow.

“There may not be very much C-BT left and changing hands at that point in time,” he said.

Greeley’s price for cash in lieu water is about $25,000 per acre foot, which BBC found was high compared to other communities.

For the city to acquire new water, it’s about $16,000 per acre foot, Jeavons said. It might be cheaper, but there is more uncertainty.

For example, one way to acquire more water is to build more reservoirs. Greeley is in the permit process for new ones, but those might fall through.

Developers, Realtors and economic development advocates already have issues with paying $25,000 to the city for water, according to the BBC report.

They say the city’s water amount requirements on new development — three acre feet of water per acre of land — and the costs associated with them are too high.

The report found that the required amount is standard throughout the northern Front Range, but the cost is $5,000 higher than average.

Changes in price as well as requirement amounts and charging processes will be discussed further by members of the Greeley Water and Sewer Board in an upcoming meeting.