Colorado lawmakers want to beef up state climate plan

Summit County Citizens Voice

sdf Global temperatures are rising inexorably. A state climate plan with teeth could ensure that Colorado is doing its part to meet the goals of the 2015 climate agreement reached at the COP21 talks in Paris.

Proposed House Bill 1004 would require state to set measurable targets and report progress annually to lawmakers

By Bob Berwyn

Colorado climate activists and their allies in the State Legislature want to add some teeth to a climate plan released last year by the Hickenlooper administration. The plan acknowledges the impacts and establishes a vague framework for addressing global warming in Colorado, but was criticized for lacking measurable targets.

2015 was by far the hottest year on record for the globe, breaking the record set in 2014. It was the third-warmest year on record for Colorado. The year also saw a modern record set for wildfires, as well as the most widespread bloom of…

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Broomfield City Council approves $3.7 million wastewater facility expansion — Broomfield Enterprise

Wastewater Treatment Process
Wastewater Treatment Process

From The Broomfield Enterprise (Jennifer Rios):

Broomfield City Council gave the green light for the wastewater treatment facility to seek proposals for expansion to their laboratory and administrative office space.

Councilmembers unanimously passed six consent agenda items Tuesday night without discussion…

The Environmental Services Division in Public Works provides laboratory services to the Water and Wastewater Treatment facilities. The laboratories share staff, space and equipment between the two facilities to comply with all water and wastewater regulations in an efficient and cost effective manner.

“The laboratory at the water treatment facility, constructed in 1997, is adequately seized for the staff and work load,” a memo reads. “The laboratory at the wastewater treatment facility, constructed in 1987, has not been expanded to keep up with the additional staff and work lead increase over the last 28 years.”

The lab was built with work space for two staff member, and does not support the five employees and equipment added since 1987.

Burns & McDonnell, a Denver-based engineering firm, was retained in late 2014 to complete a study for the facility, east of Lowell Boulevard on West 124th Avenue, and determined the existing space was about half of the size that is typical for the staffing and testing performed at the facility.

Construction costs are estimated between $3.7 million to $3.8 million, according to a city memo. That amount is included in the 2016 budget.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education events


I’ve been remiss in posting links to the events below from the Colorado Foundation for
Water Education. Here goes:

February 12: Water Fluency Spring 2016

Click here to register.

A professional development course to help you understand water and lead with confidence

Course curriculum focuses on:

  • Colorado’s water resources: the role of water in society, the economic value of water, ties to public policy, emerging issues
  • Legal and institutional frameworks: water law and administration, project planning and approval, interbasin projects and agreements
  • Water resource management: watershed health, environmental protection, water quality, natural disasters
  • Colorado water for the future: assessing supply and meeting demand, ecosystem values, conservation and land use, alignment of resources and policies
  • This unique educational experience will increase your water fluency so you can better analyze water’s influence on the issues you deal with everyday and evaluate creative solutions. Become immersed in the language and concepts of water as well as tools for navigating the culture, complexity and future of water management and policy issues. You will leave equipped with relevant knowledge and a new network of peers to create lasting, positive change in your community. If you’re an elected official, a professional interested in water or a community or business leader, this program is for you!

    Registration is now open for Water Fluency Spring 2016: Northern Front Range

    Register here by February 12. A limited number of partial scholarships are available. Members of the Special District Association may be eligible for a 75 percent scholarship, while some 50 percent scholarships are also available thanks to local program sponsors. Water Fluency scholarships are competitive. You can apply for a scholarship after you have completed your registration. Scholarship applicants will be notified by 2/12.

    Participants learn through site visits; four half-day in-person classroom discussions; and online material, presented in partnership with Colorado State University’s online water course, with an estimated total time commitment of 30 hours over 10 weeks.

    Attendance is required at in-person sessions and will be held during the afternoon on the following dates and locations:

    March 2, Greeley
    March 23, Fort Collins
    April 19, Berthoud
    May 10, Longmont photo via Todd McPhail photo via Todd McPhail

    February 26: Water for Commodity Production Tour

    Click here to register.

    On February 26, 2016 spend the day with CFWE on our Water for Commodity Production Tour. We’ll explore the relationship between water demands, public policy and economic development, and see innovative approaches in the Pueblo area. Hear about land use policy and planning for economic development, economic return and distribution scale of local agricultural products, industrial hemp and commercial marijuana operations, leasing water for industrial water uses, gain some historical and current context of water for steel production and much more.

    Review the draft itinerary here. Seats are limited and expected to sell out…Register here.

    Ice core storage March 13, 2015 National Ice Core Laboratory
    Ice core storage March 13, 2015 National Ice Core Laboratory

    March 11: Climate & Colorado’s Water Future

    Register here.

    Join us on Friday March 11, 2016 for CFWE’s annual Climate and Colorado’s Water Future Workshop! This year we’ll meet in Boulder to tour INSTAAR’s Stable Isotope Lab and hear from many local experts to learn about Colorado’s crazy climate. Hear and see how researchers use ice cores to understand the composition and temperature of Earth’s atmosphere; explore drought, climate change, the water cycle and ecosystem; find out how changes in climate can alter hydrology and how water managers are preparing and planning for an uncertain future. We’ll come away with new tools to better teach and communicate about climate. View the draft agenda and register here—this annual offering always fills. Reserve your space today!

    * 0.5 credit hour is available through the Colorado School of Mines Office of Continuing Education to teachers requiring graduate-level relicensure hours. Teachers seeking credit must bring a $35 tuition check (in addition to paying the course registration fee) made payable to “CSM Continuing Education” the day of the workshop. Please contact if seeking continuing education credit or with any questions.

    Colorado Leopold Conservation Award® Program Seeks Nominees

    Aldo Leopold
    Aldo Leopold

    Here’s the release from the Colorado Cattleman’s Association (Paula Waggoner):

    Applications are now being accepted for the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award® honoring agricultural landowners in Colorado who demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources.

    Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the $10,000 award recognizes private landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. It is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and American AgCredit.

    Applications are due by March 8, 2016. Finalists and recipient will be announced by April. For complete application information, visit

    In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”

    “The outstanding agricultural landowners we honor with the Leopold Conservation Award exemplify what it means to be leaders in conservation for the benefit of our environment,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President.

    “Ranchers are the original environmentalists. The Leopold Conservation Award recognizes a long history of caring for the land, while rewarding ranchers who are excelling in their holistic approach of stewardship,” says Bob Patterson President of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

    Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

    The Colorado award is sponsored by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Assoc., American AgCredit, DuPont Pioneer, The Mosaic Company and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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

    Upper Colorado River Basin January 2016 precipitation as a percent of normal via the Colorado Climate Center.
    Upper Colorado River Basin January 2016 precipitation as a percent of normal 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.

    Above normal #snowpack in some of last winter’s driest regions — High Country News

    From The High Country News (Paige Blankenbuehler):

    At the beginning of February last year, South Lake Tahoe in California was nearly 60 degrees Fahrenheit, almost 20 degrees above its historic average. At that time, the drought had been dragging along for four years and chair lifts at nearby ski resorts were swaying over barren slopes. Representatives from the California Department of Water Resources called the Sierra Nevada snowpack “dismally meager,” at only 23 percent of normal.

    Now, it’s a drastically different story. January has been California’s best month for snowpack since 2011, and the state’s measurements are at 127 percent of normal. Although California’s snowpack is above normal this year, it’s still not enough to make up the deficit from the persisting drought in the state. It is enough, though, to keep ski resorts running and reservoirs in the state from drying up.

    Above normal snowpack measurements are tracking for most of the West, too. The season was off to a slow start with sporadic storms October through December, but January winter precipitation increased measurements across all states, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s SNOTEL sites, which measure snow depth at thousands of stations nation-wide. Utah claimed the biggest increase from early season snowpack, from 84 percent to 118 percent snowpack readings on February 1. Over the past month, California snowpack increased from 90 to 127 percent, and Arizona jumped from 83 percent to 113 percent of normal.

    Only two Western states, Montana and Wyoming, are below the historic benchmark for “normal” at this time of year — and not by much. North-central Wyoming and the eastern slope of the Northern Rockies in Montana are the low-snow areas. Both states are more than 80 percent of normal for this time of year, and February is a crucial month for snow. Snowpack typically builds until April, says Alan Haynes, a hydrologist for the California Nevada River Forecast Center.

    But even states with snowpack measurements lagging behind, readings from early in the season have improved. Since December, snow depth in Montana has hobbled to 84 percent of normal — from 73 percent in early December. And Wyoming similarly increased to 84 percent, from about 75.

    Measurements from SNOTEL sites across the West, which have been recording precipitation and snow depth this season since Oct. 1, 2015, are painting a reverse picture of last year. Areas that were far below average last year — the Tahoe Basin in California and the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest — are recording the highest precipitation in the West so far this season.

    The most precipitation has fallen in Washington and Oregon. In terms of percent of normal snowpack, Nevada has been leading the region with nearly 140 percent of normal readings across the state, according to data compiled by NRCS.

    In California, local forecasters say the past few months are finally chipping away at the state’s five-year drought. The deficit will be hard to overcome, Haynes says, but if this season continues, the state might avoid fallowing fields. California gets 30 percent of its total water supply from snowpack, and reservoirs that have been low are now slowly filling up. Shasta Reservoir, one of the largest storage systems in the state is currently more than 50 percent full, or about 75 percent of the historical average for this time. “If we get shut out for the rest of the winter, the outlook could be bleak,” Haynes says.

    Winter recreation in California is also benefitting from the abundant snow. The Hagens Meadow SNOTEL site near South Lake Tahoe is reporting 53 inches of snow depth, or 158 percent of normal, and Ostrander Lake site, in south Yosemite National Park, has had 220 inches of snow…

    While El Niño may be creating a more robust winter storm pattern, it’s difficult to attribute all of the heavy snow to the global weather phenomenon. “This year has been a really strong El Niño, but we’re seeing snowfall patterns that are somewhat unusual for this weather event,” Haynes says. The Northwest, which would typically be fairly dry, is wet. And precipitation in south-central California hasn’t lived up to early El Niño predictions for that part of the state. The U.S. Drought Monitor remains cautiously optimistic about recovery. According to the center’s January 28 report, “the trend is going in the right direction for now with a good chunk of the snow season still left to play out over the next two months.”

    From The Kearney Hub (Lori Potter):

    “Everything is just in good shape,” Civil engineer Cory Steinke said in his report Monday to the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District Board of Directors.

    Lake McConaughy, which stores water for CNPPID irrigation, hydropower, wildlife habitat and recreation, and for other water interests, is 83.5 percent of a full volume at 1,457,000 acre-feet.
    Steinke said North Platte River inflows at Lewellen have been around 1,200 cubic feet per second, and the South Platte is “roaring pretty good” at 1,200-1,400 cfs at the Colorado-Nebraska state line. Releases from Lake McConaughy were at 900 cfs Monday.

    He said South Platte water is running through CNPPID hydros and is the main factor in overall flows exceeding current Central Platte River targets set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for wildlife habitat. Steinke expects diversions into the Phelps Canal for seepage into groundwater that eventually reaches the river can continue until at least Feb. 15.

    Meanwhile, mountain snowpacks that produce the Platte River’s headwaters continue to grow. Steinke said that in the North Platte Basin, the upper area’s snowpack is at 98 percent of normal for Feb. 1, and the lower basin is at 106 percent. The South Platte Basin is at 105 percent.

    Westwide SNOTEL February 2, 2016 via the NRCS.
    Westwide SNOTEL February 2, 2016 via the NRCS.

    Arkansas Valley Farm/Ranch/Water Symposium and Trade Show to focus on hemp, water, more

    From The Pueblo Chieftain:

    An update on a 15-year study of water tables, salinity and selenium in the Lower Arkansas Valley will be shared Feb. 11 at the annual Arkansas Valley Farm/Ranch/ Water Symposium and Trade Show.
    There will also be information on farming trends, techniques and new crops such as hemp.

    The event will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 11 at the William L. Gobin Community Building, 105 N. Main St., Rocky Ford.

    Tim Gates, a civil engineering professor at Colorado State University- Fort Collins will speak about Arkansas River return flows from ditches at the meeting. Gates and his team have found that better irrigation practices could reduce the amount of salinity and selenium in the Arkansas River, as well as eliminating waterlogging, or high groundwater tables.

    Also in the lineup for the meeting will be Chuck Hanagan, with the federal Farm Services Agency; Brian Bledsoe, KKTV 11 chief meteorologist; James Robb, director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center; Kathy Voss, consultant for Livestock for Landscapes; Troy Bauder of Colorado State University Extension Service, on conservation tillage; and Joel Lundquist, a farmer and custom harvester, on new opportunities for growing hemp.

    Reservations are $20 per person, $30 per couple and $5 per student in advance; $25 per person, $35 per couple and $5 per student at the door. Payment and contact information may be sent to P.O. Box 190, Rocky Ford, CO 81067.

    For information, call 791-254-7608.

    Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth
    Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth