Lake Nighthorse: “…there’s time, and there’s water time” — Charlie Smith

From The Durango Herald (Jessica Pace):

A 4.6-mile pipeline that will carry water from Lake Nighthorse to Lake Durango went to bid March 31, and construction is expected to start within a month.

“That side of the county really needs help, and that’s what La Plata West is going to do,” said Mardi Gebhardt, a La Plata West Water Authority board member. “Lake Durango is going to be our partner in treating the raw water.”

A 30-inch line will extend from Nighthorse’s north shore, cutting through Bureau of Reclamation land and private property along Wildcat Ridge to a booster pump station. There, an 8-inch line will make a right angle west, running parallel to Wildcat Canyon Road (County Road 141) before winding north to Lake Durango.

Tap fees and a Colorado Water Conservation Board grant will finance the $3.4 million project, which is a collaborative between Lake Durango Water Authority, La Plata West Water Authority and the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes.

Charlie Smith, general manager of Lake Durango Water Authority, said more than 100 customers are on the waiting list for taps.

“For our service area, this is enough to meet the demands and future demands in the system,” Smith said, referring to the many customers hauling water. The authority can pump 400 gallons per minute, depending on demand.

Early projections anticipated the project would be complete by the end of 2015, but as Smith said, “there’s time, and there’s water time.”

A pending final environmental assessment from the Bureau of Reclamation and negotiations with 16 property owners abutting the project is a large part of that…

The pipeline is the first mechanism that will pump water out of Lake Nighthorse and a first step to fulfilling a grander scheme to supply water, particularly to the tribes, which have the largest claims to Nighthorse water.

The agreement among the four stakeholders allows the Ute Mountain Utes to come back at a later time and extend the pipeline. Peter Ortega, legal counsel for the Ute Mountain Utes, said the pipeline is the first phase of moving water to where the tribe really needs it.

“We hope it eventually will reach the western edge of the reservation,” Ortega said. “It’s moving water slowly in our direction.”

Click here to read the draft EIS.


#Snowpack news: April streamflow forecast via Northern Water #ColoradoRiver #COriver

April 2016 streamflow forecast from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Click to enlarge).
April 2016 streamflow forecast from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Click to enlarge).

Business voices come out in support of Clean Power Plan — GreenBiz #keepitintheground

Solar panels, such these at the Garfield County Airport near Rifle, Colo., need virtually no water, once they are manufactured. Photo/Allen Best
Solar panels, such these at the Garfield County Airport near Rifle, Colo., need virtually no water, once they are manufactured. Photo/Allen Best

From GreenBiz (Barbara Grady):

Tech titans Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon as well as global brand companies Ikea, Mars, Adobe and Blue Shield Blue Cross Massachusetts told a U.S. court Friday that they need the federal Clean Power Plan for economic reasons.

In two separate Amici Curiae briefs filed in U.S. Circuit Court supporting the EPA’s plan for reducing carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants by 32 percent, the corporate giants said without a “national carbon mitigation plan,” they face “undesirable business risk,” energy price volatility and higher costs.

With these arguments, the businesses seem to have flipped prospects for the Obama administration’s centerpiece climate change policy, which only a month ago looked dim after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to delay its enforcement.

Since the eight companies collectively employ about 1 million people, account for nearly $2 trillion in market capitalization and are major energy consumers — the tech companies alone use 10 million megawatt hours of electricity a year — they have clout.

Their briefs refute some claims made by 27 states that are plaintiffs in the State of West Virginia, et al vs. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency case challenging the Clean Power Plan as an overreach of federal authority by the EPA in a way that would harm jobs and raise electricity prices.

Among the companies’ most interesting refutations? Their expansion plans depend partly on how they can procure low-carbon electricity.

#Drought news: D1 (Moderate Drought) expanded in SE #Colorado

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


The week’s heaviest precipitation fell on a swath from central Arkansas and adjacent Missouri southeastward across the Gulf Coast states. Between 2 and 6 inches fell on most of this region, easing some areas of abnormal dryness. Meanwhile, heavy snow blanketed parts of Wyoming and adjacent locales, with nearly 3 feet piling up on some spots in the higher elevations. This precipitation, along with assessments of a variety of monthly data recently updated through March, led to broad reductions in the extent and severity of drought and dryness in much of the interior Northwest, northern Intermountain West, and northern half of the Rockies, though patches of severe drought remain. Sharply dry conditions abetted the persistence or worsening of dryness and drought in the southern Rockies and most of the Plains, with strong winds and low relative humidity exacerbating conditions in the southern Plains toward the end of the period. Changeable conditions, alternating between spring-like and wintery, brought moderate precipitation to the central Appalachians and Northeast which had no significant effect on the abnormally dry areas in that region…

The Northern Plains

Around an inch of rain in south-central North Dakota and adjacent South Dakota prompted the removal of D0 from that relatively small region, but only a few tenths of an inch at most fell on other areas from eastern Montana through central Minnesota, generally keeping dryness and drought intact and prompting deterioration in a few areas. Very little precipitation this past month induced some D0 expansion in northeastern Montana and a new area of moderate drought in part of central and western North Dakota. Part of southwestern North Dakota received less than half of normal precipitation during the last 60 days…

Southern Rockies and Plains

Several tenths of an inch of precipitation fell on parts of western and central Texas, but another week of little or no precipitation was observed in most areas from the southern Rockies into the central and south-central Plains. The showery weather relieved some of the D0 in western Texas, but farther north and west, abnormal dryness and moderate drought continued to expand. D0 conditions worsened to D1 in southern New Mexico, and D1 expanded across central and southern Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and part of Oklahoma. To the north and east, abnormal dryness expanded to cover southern Nebraska and enveloped additional areas in northern Kansas, northern Missouri, and west-central Illinois as well. Strong wind gusts reached tropical storm to minimal hurricane force, most significantly in the Oklahoma Panhandle. This, along with low humidity, stirred up dense dust storms in a few spots, and favored the development and rapid expansion of wildfires. One large fire in Oklahoma caused by arcing power lines burned more than 53,000 acres over the course of a few days in Woodland and Harper Counties…

The Central and Northern Intermountain West and Rockies

A potent late-season snowstorm blanketed large parts of Wyoming and some adjacent areas under at least a few inches of snow, with 15 to 35 inches covering some of the higher elevations in Fremont, Natrona, Lincoln, and Park Counties. This precipitation and favorable conditions during March led to a significant reduction in the coverage of abnormally dry conditions, and lesser dramatic reductions in the coverage of moderate to severe drought. Moderate drought was removed from the entire northeastern quarter of Oregon…

The Far West

Some changes were introduced across California and the Southwest despite the fact that little or no precipitation fell during the week. Improved reservoirs and surface moisture indicators led to the removal of exceptional drought (in favor of D3) in the Sacramento Valley. However, there was some increase in D1 and D2 coverage in southern Nevada. Drought improvement has been observed in significant parts of California this past wet season, but only a portion of northern California has been pulled completely out of drought, and large swaths of extreme to exceptional drought remain in Nevada and the southern half of California…

Looking Ahead

For the next 5 days (April 7 – 11, 2016) should feature a swath of moderate to heavy rain from central Kansas and eastern Oklahoma northeastward through the Ohio Valley, lower Great Lakes region, the Appalachians, and the Northeast. Totals are forecast to range from just under an inch to near 2.5 inches, with the largest amounts expected in and around central and southern Missouri, and across New England. Moderate precipitation is also anticipated in much of California, with at least half an inch forecast everywhere but the southeastern deserts and west-central sections of the state, and locally 1.5 to 3.5 inches in the higher elevations statewide. The southern half of Nevada and the higher elevations of Arizona are expecting 0.5 to locally 2.0 inches. In contrast, little precipitation is expected in the northern tier of the West and Rockies, along the High Plains, in the northern Great Plains, and near the Gulf of Mexico. Light to moderate amounts (up to several tenths of an inch) are expected elsewhere. It should be a warm 5 days for most of the Plains and central and northern sections of the Far West, with daily maxima averaging 10F to 15F above normal in the northern Intermountain West and adjacent Rockies. Conversely, unseasonably cold weather should dominate the East, with temperatures on average topping out 10F to 15F below normal from the upper Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes, and Northeast southward into the Ohio Valley, central Appalachians, and mid-Atlantic region.

The next 5 days (April 12 – 16, 2016) should bring drier than normal conditions to the Great Lakes, adjacent Midwest, and middle Mississippi Valley, but odds favor wetter-than-normal weather for a large swath of the nation, including the East (outside Florida), the Tennessee and lower Mississippi Valleys, much of the southern Great Plains, and all but the northern tier of the country from the High Plains to the West Coast. Enhanced chances for wet weather also exist across Alaska.

Deficit irrigation workshop offered in Morgan County — The Sterling Journal Advocate


From the CSU Extension Office (Wilma Trujillo) via The Sterling Journal Advocate:

Colorado State University Extension is offering a continuing education program on “Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods: Deficit irrigation monitoring.”

This hands-on experience workshop is aimed to educate and train crop producers, crop consultants, water managers, users and regulators on the principles, advantages and disadvantages (including limitations) of selected water management techniques to quantify water balance components and consumptive use under different deficit irrigation levels. Colorado State University Extension specialist, Dr. José Chávez, Dr. Allan Andales, Joel Schneeklot, and Dr. Aymm Elhaddad, will provide information on the methods to estimate and measure crop water use or evapotranspiration and how to use the techniques for managing deficit irrigation regimes and documenting water balance components.

This one-day water management technical program will be held at the Country Steak Out Restaurant in Fort Morgan on April 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The workshop offers 5 CEUs for certified crop advisor at no cost.

For registration, please contact the Morgan County Extension Office at 970 542-3540 or or Wilma Trujillo at wilma.trujillo@ Registration is free and lunch will be provided at no cost. Please RSVP by April 15; space and hand-outs are limited.

This program is sponsored by Colorado State University Extension, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Northern Water Conservancy District, West Greeley Conservation District and Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.

#Snowpack news: The April 1st #Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report is hot off the presses from the NRCS


Click here to read the report. Here’s an excerpt:

The beginning of March started off slow on the heels of a poor February but precipitation slowly ramped up, first in the northern half of the state then eventually working the wetter weather pattern throughout much of Colorado’s mountains. Unfortunately by the time the wet weather had impacted the southern mountains it was too little, too late, and also too warm. In some mountain locations, March precipitation was between 50 and 65 percent of normal and at lower elevations fell in the form of rain instead of snow. Snowpack at the lower elevations of the southern mountains have experienced snowpack melt since the beginning of March. The Dolores and San Juan River basins as a whole gained little additional snowpack since February 1, where the losses in snowpack at lower elevations nullified the accumulations at the higher elevations. Fortunately the northern portion of the state not only avoided the dry, warm weather but made considerable improvements beyond March 1 snowpack levels. Peak snowpack typically occurs in early to mid-April for much of Colorado, which means streamflows will likely begin to crescendo in the near future. This month’s forecasts are near normal in the Upper Colorado, North and South Platte watersheds but slightly below to below normal in all other basins.



#Colorado #Snowpack – Improvement in North, Deprecation in South — @USDA_NRCS

Here’s the release from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (Brian Domonkos):

After lackluster February precipitation, the month of March provided near normal increases for the state as a whole, with year-to-date precipitation on April 1st at 98 percent of normal. March weather patterns in Colorado favored the northern half of the state, but provided little accumulation in the southern half. Upon closer analysis of the underlying data, the map below shows that snowpack is near to slightly above normal in the Colorado, Yampa, White, North and South Platte River basins. However, in much of the Gunnison, Arkansas, Rio Grande and San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins snowpack received minor accumulations and even experienced snowmelt at lower elevations, leading to below normal snowpack conditions in those southern basins.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 5.15.41 AM

“Snowpack improved markedly in the North Platte, Willow Creek (Colorado River) and Cache La Poudre River basins with increases of 17 percent or more in these watersheds. Unfortunately, some southern watersheds saw proportionate decreases in snowpack levels – the greater Arkansas, Rio Grande, San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins averaged nearly a 17 percent decrease in percent of median snowpack,” commented Brian Domonkos, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor.

Cumulative reservoir storage for Colorado has increased only minimally since last month and decreased as much as 4 percent in the Arkansas River watershed.

Domonkos went on to say, “Generally Colorado’s mountain snowpack typically peaks in the beginning of April. Without an abnormally cool or wet spring, snowpack should begin running off soon.”

Because various parts of the state are experiencing different weather patterns, streamflow predictions are ranging greatly. In general, water users and planners in southern basins should begin to expect 60 to 90 percent of normal runoff, while those in northern basins should expect 85 to 105 percent of normal runoff.


For more detailed information about individual Colorado watersheds or supporting water supply related information, have a look at the Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report or feel free to go to the Colorado Snow Survey website at:

Or contact Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor at or 720-544-2852.