Atmospheric river = big rain for NW United States

atmosphericriver12092015noaa

Click here to learn all about atmospheric rivers from NOAA. Here’s an excerpt:

Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics. These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow.

North America from space. Elements of this image furnished by NASA
North America from space. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Although atmospheric rivers come in many shapes and sizes, those that contain the largest amounts of water vapor and the strongest winds can create extreme rainfall and floods, often by stalling over watersheds vulnerable to flooding. These events can disrupt travel, induce mudslides and cause catastrophic damage to life and property. A well-known example is the “Pineapple Express,” a strong atmospheric river that is capable of bringing moisture from the tropics near Hawaii over to the U.S. West Coast.

Aurora officials worry #COWaterPlan doesn’t do enough — The Aurora Sentinel

Aurora Reservoir via Active Rain
Aurora Reservoir via Active Rain

From The Aurora Sentinel (Rachel Sapin):

The plan presents nearly 500 pages of solutions for more water that include improving the permitting process, funding more storage and reducing the state’s projected 2050 municipal water demands by 400,000 acre-feet through conservation. That equates to a nearly 1-percent annual reduction in water use for the state’s cities and towns, according to the advocacy groups Conservation Colorado and Western Resource Advocates.

Aurora Water officials say they are disappointed with that goal because it could overly burden Front Range cities.

“I view the plan as a good starting point,” said Marshall Brown, director of Aurora Water. “To address this gap is going to require cooperation across all water users in the state. It’s not just addressed by focusing on the municipal sector.”

Brown said municipal and industrial use accounts for less than eight percent of the state’s water use, while agricultural use makes up the lion’s share…

Aurora has proven a leader in Colorado when it comes to water conservation with its innovative Prairie Waters Project, which developed in response to the 2003 drought.

The $653-million project increased Aurora’s water supply by 20 percent when it was completed, and today provides the city with an additional 3.3 billion gallons of water per year.

“It’s going to be difficult to come up with new savings when we already have a lot of the suggestions in place,” Brown said of the water plan.

Aurora water officials also said they are concerned about the plan’s discouragement for more water diversions, stating Colorado watersheds and ecosystems cannot handle any more of them.

“In fact, new diversions and storage will be needed to develop collaborative, regional projects,” said Joe Stibrich, a water resources policy manager with the city, in October.

Advocates of the plan have touted that the plan makes large, new river diversions from the Western Slope to the Front Range highly unlikely.

“A framework presented in the plan about how to make decisions on these projects will help ensure the expense, time and alternative approaches are thoroughly considered,” wrote Bart Miller, director of the Healthy Rivers Program for Western Resources Advocates, in a column for the Aurora Sentinel. “There are cheaper, faster and better ways to meet our water needs than piping water west to east over the Rockies.”

[…]

The plan does not yet have any legislation to enact its recommendations. That will be the role of state and local governments in coming months.

“This is a moment for Coloradans to be proud,” said James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, in a statement. “For 150 years water has been a source of conflict in our state. More recently, that story is changing, and Colorado’s Water Plan — a product of literally thousands of meetings and conversations across our state — is the best evidence yet for a new way of doing our water business.”

prairiewaterstreatment

#ElNino: The latest ENSO discussion is hot off the presses from the Climate Prediction Center

Mid-November 2015 plume of ENSO predictions from the Climate Prediction Center
Mid-November 2015 plume of ENSO predictions from the Climate Prediction Center

Click here to read the latest diagnostic discussion. Here’s the synopsis:

ENSO Alert System Status: El Niño Advisory

Synopsis: El Niño is expected to remain strong through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with a transition to ENSO-neutral anticipated during late spring or early summer 2016.

A strong El Niño continued during November as indicated by well above-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The Niño-4, Niño- 3.4 and Niño-3 indices rose to their highest levels so far during this event, while the Niño-1+2 index remained approximately steady. The subsurface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific, while still well above average, decreased slightly due to the eastward push of the upwelling phase of an equatorial oceanic Kelvin wave. Low-level westerly wind anomalies and upper-level easterly wind anomalies continued over the most of the tropical Pacific. The traditional and equatorial Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) values remained negative. These conditions are associated with enhanced convection over the central tropical Pacific and suppressed convection over Indonesia. Collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic anomalies reflect a strong El Niño episode that has matured.

Most models indicate that a strong El Niño will continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, followed by weakening and a transition to ENSO-neutral during the late spring or early summer. The forecaster consensus remains nearly unchanged from last month, with the expectation that this El Niño will rank among the three strongest episodes as measured by the 3-month SST departures in the Niño 3.4 region dating back to 1950. El Niño is expected to remain strong through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with a transition to ENSO-neutral anticipated during the late spring or early summer 2016 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).

El Niño has already produced significant global impacts and is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the upcoming months (the 3-month seasonal outlook will be updated on Thursday December 17th). Seasonal outlooks indicate an increased likelihood of above-median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and below-median precipitation over the northern tier of the United States. Above-average temperatures are favored in the West and northern half of the country with below-average favored in the southern Plains and along the Gulf Coast.

Responses filed to water rules — The Valley Courier

From The Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

This is the first of a series focusing on the responses filed to the Rio Grande Basin groundwater rules.

Although water users in Saguache County still have until the end of the month to respond to the Rio Grande Basin groundwater rules filed earlier this fall, the rules had generated nearly two dozen objections by the response deadline for everyone else last week.

About half of the 22 “objections ,” or responses to the rules, were in favor of the state promulgating rules requiring aquifer sustainability , setting the irrigation season and governing well usage in the basin, which encompasses the San Luis Valley. Several other responses were opposed to at least part of the rules, and a few responses were somewhat ambiguous.

The way the response mechanism was set up, those who supported the groundwater rules had to file statements of objections . Organizations filing statements of objections in support of the rules included : Rio Grande Water Conservation District; Rio Grande Water Users Association ; San Luis Valley Irrigation District; San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District; Battle Mountain Resources; Conejos Water Conservancy District; Natural Prairie Colorado Farmlands Holdings, LLC and Alpha Hay Farms, LLC; and Senior Water of the Rio Grande.

The organizations filing in support of the rules reserved the right to challenge future modifications of the rules. They and virtually all those responding to the rules also wanted leeway to respond or object to new information that might arise in the future in connection with the rules.

The towns of Del Norte, Crestone, Saguache and Monte Vista, all represented by the same law firm (Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP of Boulder), acknowledged they owned surface and groundwater rights (except for Crestone, which has no surface rights) in the Rio Grande Basin and might be required to replace out of priority well depletions under the rules.

They all stated the rules should only be approved “to the extent that they are adequately supported by accurate water modeling and equitably protect vested water rights in the Rio Grande Bain from injury from the withdrawal of groundwater.”

Those communities also reserved the right to raise additional objections “as additional information becomes known.”

The same law firm also represented Senior Water of the Rio Grande whose members hold the first 216 priorities decreed on the Rio Grande. The group “endeavors to protect and preserve the doctrine of prior appropriation while working to create partnerships to secure the health of the Rio Grande watershed for generations to come.” The group supported the rules.

The Northeast Water Users Association generally supported the rules but reserved the right to oppose portions of them in the future if it became necessary.

The City of Alamosa also generally supported the rules but stated the rules were subject to interpretation on two points, namely the criteria used in considering deviation from the presumptive irrigation season and in determining compliance with the sustainability requirement with respect to the confined aquifer. The city filed its statement in order to monitor litigation concerning those two aspects and ensure “judicial construction of the rules” on those two aspects was inline with the city’s understanding of those provisions, “allowing for consideration of irrigation needs of specific water users that may differ from overall average irrigation needs and providing benchmark tests for sustainability based on proportionate reduction of groundwater withdrawals of proponents of individual augmentation plans and not response area wide considerations.”

Another point the city of Alamosa wants to monitor is its understanding that the rules “consider point discharge effluent in coming up with net accretions to the stream in which the discharge is located, so long as the model predicts such accretions.”

The Trinchera Water Conservancy District was not opposed to the rules but sought clarification regarding the sub-district’s ability to develop a groundwater management plan. Given no opposition , the water court approved the sponsoring district’s sub-district in 2008.

“The proposed rules appear to contemplate that a subdistrict of a water conservancy district may pursue and implement a groundwater management plan,” the Trinchera district stated.

“However, they are not totally clear in this regard .”

The Rio Grande Water Conservation District has sponsored, and is in the process of sponsoring, several sub-districts , which are permitted under the state groundwater rules. The Trinchera Water Conservancy District sought the same type of clarification and permission for its sub-district .

Since the rules require compliance within a year, the Trinchera District asked for resolution of this issue as soon as possible , since it would have to make plans and investments in water rights, facilities and forbearance agreements or other arrangements “to protect wells within the Trinchera Subdistrict under the proposed rules.”

San Luis Valley. In this perspective, S is on top. Costilla County is along the edge of the southeastern side of the Valley between the Sangre de Cristo sub-range known as the Culebra Mountains (on the E) and the Rio Grande (on the W); upper left quadrant within SLV on this map. Source: http://geogdata.scsun.edu.
San Luis Valley. In this perspective, S is on top. Costilla County is along the edge of the southeastern side of the Valley between the Sangre de Cristo sub-range known as the Culebra Mountains (on the E) and the Rio Grande (on the W); upper left quadrant within SLV on this map. Source: http://geogdata.scsun.edu.

#Drought news: #Colorado drought map remains unchanged from last week

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

Northern California and the Northwest

It was a stormy week across Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and (to a lesser extent) northern California. Heavy precipitation pounded the western half of Washington (from the Cascades to the coast) and northwestern Oregon, with more than 20 inches reported in a small part of the latter region near the coast. Along the western slopes of the Washington Cascades and a larger section of northwesternmost Oregon, 10 to locally over 15 inches prevailed. More than 5 inches fell on the northern and central Oregon Cascades, along most of the Oregon and extreme northern California coastline, and spotty areas across the Idaho Panhandle. More moderate amounts of 2 to 5 inches were common in central and northern Idaho, eastern Washington, parts of northeastern Oregon, the northern Sierra Nevada, the California Cascades, and a broader area of northwestern California from west of the Cascades to the Pacific Coast, and southward along the coast to Santa Rosa County. Lesser amounts fell on the remainder of the Northwest and northern California, but almost all areas received at least half an inch.

However, an unusually small proportion of the precipitation fell as snow in the Oregon Cascades, reducing the positive impact of the heavy precipitation. Snowfall was a little more generous in the Washington Cascades, but the mountain chain in both states has less snowpack than normal for this time of year.

The California precipitation has produced some tangible benefits. National Agricultural Statistics Service reports say winter grain and silage is growing well, as are winter vegetables. On the east slope of the coastal range, some green-up has occurred, but not enough to bring cattle in to graze. However, the area’s multi-year drought means recovery will likely happen very slowly, and the only improvement made this week was the removal of the D3 in coastal northwestern California. Another small change was made in the southwestern Idaho Panhandle, where D3 improved to D2.

In contrast, Drought Monitor classifications improved by one category throughout northwestern Oregon, south-central Washington and adjacent Oregon, and the Washington Cascades, eliminating abnormal dryness as far southeast as Portland, OR. In a swath along the western side of the central Washington Cascades and in coastal northwestern Oregon, precipitation totals are 8 to locally 16 inches above normal. Most of the improved areas recorded a small surplus of precipitation during this period, and some orographically-favored areas, despite higher normals, are now a few inches above normal for the last 6 months…

The Great Plains

Little if any precipitation fell last week, keeping dryness and drought unchanged in most areas. Abnormal dryness was removed from a few regions where prior precipitation eased conditions more than initially thought. Specifically, dryness was removed from southwestern Oklahoma and adjacent Texas, as well as north-central Oklahoma and adjacent Kansas. Both of these areas received 1.5 to 3.0 more precipitation than normal during the last 30 days.

Only a small area in Deep South Texas deteriorated last week as the area of abnormal dryness expanded slightly. Only a few tenths of an inch of rain has fallen since early November, and observed evaporation rates have been higher than normal…

The High Plains, Rockies, Great Basin, Four Corners States, and Central and Southern California

This area covers everywhere from the High Plain westward to the Pacific Ocean, except northern California and the 3 northwesternmost states. The vast majority of this large area received little or no precipitation last week. Significant precipitation was limited to 2 areas: Northwestern Wyoming, where 0.5 to 1.5 inches of precipitation fell, and northwestern Montana, where amounts approached 3 inches in a few spots. Given how early it is in the cold (snowpack-producing) season, a week of moderate precipitation at best won’t affect conditions, and the Drought Monitor is unchanged from last week across this broad area…

Looking Ahead

During December 9-14, stormy weather should continue in the Northwest , bringing additional heavy precipitation to the climatologically-favored areas from the Cascades westward, as well as the Sierra Nevada. From the Washington Cascades westward, generally 2 to 5 inches of precipitation are anticipated while at least 4 inches are expected farther south into northern California. Coastal areas near the Oregon/California border should get 10 to 15 inches by mid-December. Farther east, a broad swath of moderate to heavy precipitation is forecast from the Great Lakes southwestward through much of the Mississippi Valley and eastern Texas. At least 1.5 inches are expected, with totals topping out near 5 inches in western Arkansas. Elsewhere, moderate precipitation is expected to the west and east of the wet swath in the central United States, specifically from the Plains to the Appalachians. Spotty areas in the central and northern Rockies and across Idaho can also expect moderate precipitation, with light amounts at best elsewhere.

The ensuing 5 days (December 15-19) bring enhanced chances for above normal precipitation to the Northwest and the northern half of the contiguous states from the Rockies to the Atlantic Ocean. Both Florida and Alaska have increased odds for above normal precipitation as well. Odds tilting toward drier than normal conditions are limited to much of Texas and adjacent New Mexico.

SDS: “It seems to me the EIS is based on bad information” — Jay Winner

Last section of pipe for Southern Delivery System photo via The Colorado Springs Gazette
Last section of pipe for Southern Delivery System photo via The Colorado Springs Gazette

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Plans for a federal lawsuit against Colorado Springs over Clean Water Act violations are being shelved until state and federal agencies show how stormwater violations will be handled.

But the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District still intends to be active and urge the city and county of Pueblo to join in assuring that Colorado Springs controls stormwater pollution of Fountain Creek, possibly by blocking the startup of the Southern Delivery System — the $841 million water pipeline scheduled to go online next year.

“We can’t sue, because both the state and federal government are taking enforcement action,” attorney Peter Nichols told the Lower Ark board Tuesday in a work session. “They’re not going to go away. This is not going to be a slap on the wrist.”

The Environmental Protection Agency last month revealed Colorado Springs is in violation of its state permit to discharge stormwater into Fountain Creek. The EPA said Colorado Springs is not spending enough or enforcing its own policies when it comes to stormwater after an audit showed the city made no progress in a two-year period.

“It may be a coincidence, but the EPA did an audit and found everything we found and more. They have more resources,” Nichols said. “When you look at the appendices (to the audit), there’s some egregious [stuff] in there.”

Most likely, that will lead to a federal court case with compliance from Colorado Springs or the possibility of daily fines of up to $37,500 for each violation. It’s unusual for a city to be cited, said Nichols, who was once director of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, which enforces permits.

“There are aggressive and tight requirements of what a city has to do,” Nichols said. “The penalties are held in abeyance so long as the violator complies with them.”

Nichols provides a memorandum showing similarities between the Lower Ark’s findings, compiled over the past five years, and the EPA audit, which include lack of funding, maintenance and enforcement of basic stormwater measures.

“We were a voice in the wilderness several years ago, but when we filed an intent to sue, the EPA paid attention,” Nichols said.

“So we care about it, but the city and county of Pueblo don’t?” asked Lower Ark board Chairman Lynden Gill.

One of the provisions of Pueblo County’s 1041 agreement in 2009 with Colorado Springs for SDS requires compliance with all county, state and federal regulations. It’s also one of the provisions in a 2004 intergovernmental agreement (Article VI, No. 8) among Pueblo, Colorado Springs and the Pueblo Board of Water Works.

General Manager Jay Winner pointed out that the district’s criticism has fallen on deaf ears with federal agencies related to SDS as well.

Those include the Bureau of the Reclamation, which approved the use of Lake Pueblo for SDS. Winner wants to reopen the federal process, which was mostly completed prior to abolishment of the stormwater enterprise by Colorado Springs City Council in late 2009.

Reclamation approved a contract for SDS in 2010, even after objections were raised that there was no stormwater enterprise. The only remedy suggested in the documents related to the contract, such as the environmental impact statement, is a vague “adoptive management plan” that is supposed to kick in when violations for things such as water quality violations occur.

“We’ve seen these happening for a long time,” Winner said. “It seems to me the EIS is based on bad information.”

Nichols added the district also can remain involved in questioning whether the violations cited by the EPA could aƒect the Clean Water Act Section 401 and 404 federal permits issued for SDS.

#AnimasRiver: “I don’t believe there’s anything in there to suggest criminal activity” — Sally Jewell

Gold King Mine circa 1899 via The Silverton Standard
Gold King Mine circa 1899 via The Silverton Standard

From the Associated Press (Matthew Brown) via The Durango Herald:

Republicans alleged a “whitewash” of a Colorado mining accident that unleashed 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater and requested a nonpartisan investigation after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday she’d seen no evidence of criminal negligence in the case.

The accident prompted harsh criticism of the EPA for failing to take adequate precautions despite warnings that such a blowout could occur. Yet Jewell said a review by her agency showed the spill was “clearly unintentional.”

“I don’t believe there’s anything in there to suggest criminal activity,” Jewell testified during an appearance before the House Natural Resources Committee.

GAO asked to investigate

Immediately after Wednesday’s hearing, Committee Chairman Rob Bishop asked Congress’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to investigate the Interior Department’s evaluation of what happened. The Utah Republican accused Jewell and other agency officials of stonewalling his repeated efforts to obtain documents relevant to the spill.

Bishop also questioned why the authors of the Interior evaluation included an agency official, civil engineer Michael Gobla, who discussed cleanup work at Gold King with EPA prior to the spill. Gobla also worked with the EPA during its response to the accident.

“How can you claim this report was even remotely independent?” Bishop asked.

California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock later added that the Interior review was “a complete and deliberate whitewash.”

Broader discussion sought

With assistance from the minority Democrats on the House panel, Jewell sought repeatedly during the 2½-hour hearing to steer the conversation to the broader issue of tens of thousands of abandoned mines on public and private lands across the country.

Many of those are “legacy” mines whose owners have long since abandoned them, leaving taxpayers potentially on the hook for cleanup costs.

There is little money to spend on old mines that could cost tens of billions of dollars to clean up, Jewell said, leaving government officials struggling simply to determine the scope of the problem.

Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, suggested Republicans were distracting from that broader issue with their focus on who was at fault in Colorado.

“We are having another hearing that ignores the elephant in the room. Instead, we are looking at a scapegoat,” Beyer said.

The response to the Gold King spill had cost the EPA almost $17 million through Nov. 24, according to an agency spokeswoman…

Federal officials have not released documents related to the Gold King investigation that The AP has sought through a public-records requests. That includes criticisms over the scope of the Interior evaluation, from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers geotechnical engineer who peer-reviewed the agency’s work.

Jewell aide David Palumbo, the deputy commissioner for operations at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said during Wednesday’s hearing that pending record requests were under internal review to determine what documents could be released.

#COWaterPlan: “We need to get the big picture and make sure that everyone’s interests are represented in the conversations” — John McClow

Sean Cronin and John McClow at the 2014 CFWE President's Award Reception
Sean Cronin and John McClow at the 2014 CFWE President’s Award Reception

From The Business Times of Western Colorado (Kelly Sloan):

“We need a chance for legislators to digest this,” said John McClow, a representative of the Gunnison-Uncompaghre River District on the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “We need to get the big picture and make sure that everyone’s interests are represented in the conversations. We don’t want to be helter-skelter on this.”

[…]

While it’s non-binding and therefore lacks legal force, the plan outlines proposals to address a projected shortfall between future water needs and supplies in Colorado. Conservation is a priority and sets a goal that by 2025, 75 percent of residents will live in communities that have incorporated water conservation measures into land-use planning. The plan also calls for more water storage projects in the state.

“The plan calls for 400,000 acre-feet of conservation as well as 400,000 acre-feet of storage,” Ecklund said…

Officials said key components of the water plan protect water rights and prevent transmountain divisions.
Prior to the rollout of the water plan, a group of Western Colorado state legislators sent a letter to Hickenlooper calling for the plan to protect West Slope interests, including a rejection of any additional transmountain divisions and to set priorities for efficiency and conservation and promote water-sharing agreements.

Hickenlooper said he believed the water plan addresses those concerns.

“They’re very worried about transmountain diversions, and that’s what I addressed up there … that the whole point of the water plan was that you try to make those superfluous,” Hickenlooper said. “We can’t take people’s property away, but we can make a system that provides alternatives that are beneficial to everyone.”
Most West Slope officials said that they needed time review the plan and examine the details.

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis took a pragmatic view. “It’s a planning tool, so from that perspective it is positive.”

But the plan doesn’t serve as the final word on water issues, McInnis added. “The courts will still have significant future involvement.”

State Rep. Yeulin Willett, a Republican from Grand Junction, said he would like to see the state’s executive branch consider such big issues as development and water use in a more inclusive manner.

“Rather than spending billions of dollars on further transmountain diversions and billions more on expansions of I-25 and I-70, why shouldn’t the state and private industry look to expand and start up on the West Slope, where we have plenty of water together with open roads and other transportation?” Willett asked. “Let’s collectively view the state more as a whole.”

Eklund said the plan would require state legislative action to implement its various parts, indicating that funding would be a key issue given the constraints on state budget.

He also pointed to a law passed two years ago that regulates the use of high-efficiency indoor water fixtures and suggested a similar law mandating the use of similar outdoor fixtures could be a possibility.

Gail Schwartz, a former state senator, agreed with McClow that the Legislature must proceed thoughtfully. Calling the water plan a “working document,” she said “the General Assembly needs to be careful how it weighs in.”

On the funding issue, Schwartz said severance tax should be a part of the conversation and funds should be put into water infrastructure. “We need to protect severance tax, especially as we see it diminish.”

#AnimasRiver: Disagreement between Colorado and EPA over Gold King Mine spill lingers — The Durango Herald

Gold King Mine entrance after blowout August 2015
Gold King Mine entrance after blowout August 2015

From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):

The EPA released further details on Tuesday evening, hours before a congressional panel on Wednesday morning would interrogate Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on her department’s role in investigating the August spill that turned the Animas River a mustard-yellow color.

State officials, in a September letter, contradicted the EPA’s account of how the incident unfolded. Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, was clear that the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) “did not have any authority to manage, assess, or approve any work at the Gold King Mine.

“(DRMS experts) were at the Gold King site the morning of Aug. 5 at EPA’s invitation, but their visit had nothing to do with work on the Gold King adit that morning, and they did not determine or advise that excavation of the adit should be continued,” King wrote.

The EPA has acknowledged fault in the incident, in which an estimated 3 million gallons of mining sludge poured into the Animas on Aug. 5. The river tested for initial spikes in heavy metals, including lead and arsenic.

The EPA found “insufficient” planning led to the spill. A contracted team was beginning reclamation work at Gold King with excavation at the entrance to the mine when debris gave way, releasing the contaminated wastewater. The team should have tested water pressure by drilling into the mine, investigations have found.

The EPA has maintained since an Aug. 24 internal investigation that the state was on board with a plan to send drainage piping through the entrance of the mine, despite King stating that “operations at Gold King were entirely under EPA management.”

In the documents released Tuesday evening, the EPA does not retract any statements regarding the state’s role, instead further underscoring its partnership.

“Throughout the winter and early spring months of 2015, EPA, DRMS and others were developing plans for an approach to assess a path forward for the (Gold King Mine) site …” the newest narrative from the EPA states.

“With consultation from DRMS as well as contractor support, the team began additional excavation to identify the location of bedrock above and around the adit …” the EPA account continues.

Despite the discrepancy between the state and federal accounts of the incident, the EPA maintains that the state played a role. “The documents released in the addendum, as well as documents released previously, reflect the cooperation between our two agencies. EPA was working collaboratively with the Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety at the Gold King Mine site as well as other sites in the area,” said Nancy Grantham, an EPA spokeswoman. “EPA was the lead agency on the site but was working closely with the state and with the Animas River Stakeholder Group. We stand by the contents of our internal review and addendum.”

Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said he does not believe the additional details from the EPA were intended to address King’s concerns.

The supplemental narrative follows up on an October Interior Department review of the incident, as well as reservations expressed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the scope of the investigations.

“It does not appear this addendum takes into account, or was designed to address, concerns raised by the Department of Natural Resources about the descriptions of DRMS activities outlined in EPA’s Internal Review,” Hartman said. “DNR laid out those matters in a letter to the EPA Inspector General in September, and would again refer to it in addressing characterizations contained in this addendum.”