#Drought news: The next 3-7 days will bring above normal temperatures for much of the CONUS

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


This week’s USDM period (ending on July 19) was characterized by typical hit and miss summer-time shower activity across the country, punctuated by extreme heat in the Southern Plains and the Northeast. The heaviest rains fell in southern Minnesota, southwest Iowa, much of Indiana and eastern Illinois, western Kentucky, eastern North Carolina, along the Gulf Coast and Florida. Below normal precipitation was observed in eastern Texas, northern Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New England. A strong ridge over the southern Plains contributed to abnormally warm temperatures in New Mexico and Texas during the period. Daily maximum temperatures soared well into the triple digits, as much as 10 degrees F above normal in the area. While not as intense, temperatures 6-8 degrees F above normal were observed in the Northeast. Cooler-than-normal temperatures encapsulated much of the Northwest and High Plains…

Southern Plains

Much of the Southern Plains suffered as stifling heat baked the soils while precipitation was non-existent. Recent rains over the northern half of Oklahoma did warrant some improvement, but there was huge disparity in the south central and southeast part of the state. A single-category degradation was needed due to the 30-day precipitation departures. In Texas, temperatures were for the most part 4 degrees F above normal during the period. The most intense heat was in western Texas where anomalies were around 8 degrees F above normal. According to the USDA, 64 percent of topsoil moisture conditions are in the very short to short category. Deterioration occurred in the north, southwest and eastern parts of the state…

High Plains

Precipitation in the High Plains this period ranged from greater than 300 percent in much of Montana to well below 10 percent along the North and South Dakota state border. Temperatures were muted across the region as anomalies were as much as 6 degrees below normal. Conditions continue to be drier than normal in the western South Dakota/eastern Wyoming area. Less than half of what is normally expected, in terms of precipitation, has fallen in that area during the last 30 days. 28-day stream flows are measuring in the 5-10 percent category and lower. All other indicators, including model based and satellite derived, are pointing to an extreme localized drought in the area. Ranchers and farmers in the area are experiencing no hay production at all and the cattle are already on winter pastures. There are not only water quantity issues, but also as the stock ponds and dams dry up, the water quality is suspect. Some ranchers have to haul water in every day. Wildfires are also a large concern. Based on all the indicators and impacts, all categories of drought were expanded in the area…


Precipitation was virtually non-existent in much of the Western region during the period. Light rain (0.5 inch) did fall in central Oregon and norther Washington. The southwest monsoon provided some relief to parts of Arizona, albeit only light amounts fell. Temperatures were cooler than normal in the Northwest, but slightly above normal for the desert southwest. The cooler than normal temperatures during July have helped suppress many new wildfires from emerging. This is the dry season for the West Coast, so changes to the drought monitor are very rare this time of year…

Looking Ahead

The next 3-7 days will bring above normal temperatures for much of the CONUS with the warmest anomalies forecasted for the Midwest and along the East Coast. Negative temperature anomalies will be confined to the Northwest. The High Plains, parts of New England, the Southeast, and Florida have the best chances of greater than normal precipitation.

The CPC 6-10 day outlook calls for the greatest chances of above normal temperatures in California and the Great Basin, as well as the East Coast. The probability is high that below normal precipitation will occur in the Northwest, especially in Washington and Oregon, and the Midwest, while odds are in favor of above normal precipitation in the Southeast and East Coast.

In #Colorado we go the extra mile to save cutthroats #HaydenCreekFire

Aerial photograph of Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery. Photo via Western State Colorado University.
Aerial photograph of Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery. Photo via Western State Colorado University.

From The Denver Post (Jesse Paul):

Some 200 of the unique cutthroat trout were removed from Hayden Creek

State wildlife officers on Wednesday rescued rare cutthroat trout from a creek in the Hayden Pass fire burn area, quelling concerns about their possible extinction because of the blaze.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife says many of the rare fish — with genetic links to the iconic, pure greenback cutthroat trout — were taken from the fire zone to an isolation chamber at the Roaring Judy Hatchery near Gunnison.

Officials were worried ash and sediment from the Hayden Pass fire would wash down into the lower prong of Hayden Creek, where the fish live, strangling their oxygen and food supplies. However, videos taken from the rescue mission show wildlife officers removing several of the trout from the stream.

The trout that live in the creek share a unique genetic anomaly with a cutthroat found in the Smithsonian Museum and said to have been taken from Twin Lakes near Leadville in 1889, CPW says.

Fire commanders say the trout mission on Wednesday resulted in the netting and removal of 200 fish. One of the firefight’s main objectives has been to protect the fish as much as possible.

Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout
Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout

#ColoradoRiver Day: Take care of Colorado’s great outdoors and it will take care of us — Luis Benitez

Here’s a guest column from Luis Benitez writing in The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

Those of us who live here, and the many recreationists and visitors who come to experience our state’s incredible landscapes and waterways, know exactly what I mean. It’s a beautiful compensation that as we are having the time of our lives, our love for the Colorado outdoors powers a huge economic engine for the state. The Colorado outdoor recreation economy generates $31.2 billion in revenue on a yearly basis, $994 million through taxes to our federal and state governments, and 125,000 Colorado jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. People and companies come to Colorado because they want a lifestyle that includes this unique layout of natural wonder.

At the core of our economic bounty lies a healthy river system, which allows for fishing, kayaking, healthy forests and lands, and is essential to daily life on farms, ranches, and in municipalities across the West. In Colorado alone, river-related activities account for $6.3 billion in direct consumer spending on recreation and sustain 80,000 recreation jobs. In total, according to a study commissioned by Protect the Flows, a group of Colorado River businesses, the Colorado River system is responsible for $26 billion in revenue from river-related activities across the seven basin states in the West, and supports 240,000 sustainable jobs.

Beyond the recreational activities supported by the river, more than 33 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Mexico all depend on the Colorado River for their water supply. Today, more than 1.8 million acres of land are irrigated with water from the Colorado River, producing about 15 percent of the nation’s crops and about 13 percent of its livestock generating about $1.5 billion a year in agricultural benefits.

These figures illuminate the importance of the Colorado River to our quality of life and our state’s prosperity. It’s easy to understand why we celebrate Colorado River Day on July 25 each year, the day the Colorado River was officially renamed from the Grand to the Colorado in 1921.

@CWCB_DNR: July 2016 #Drought Update

Colorado Drought Monitor July 21, 2016.
Colorado Drought Monitor July 21, 2016.

Here’s the update from DNR (Taryn Finnessey/Tracy Kosloff):

June 2016, was the 3rd warmest June on record, with only 2012 and 2002 logging hotter temperatures. Much of the state experienced average monthly temperatures four to six degrees above normal. July has seen cooler temperatures, thus far, with temperatures near normal across most of the state. The forecast for the next two weeks shows continued warm temperatures and better chances for precipitation as we move into monsoon season.

  • Statewide water year-to-date mountain precipitation as reported from NRCS is at 99 percent of normal as of July 19th.
  • July is the second consecutive month with below average statewide precipitation (June was 71 percent of average, while July to-date is 64 percent), this time of year precipitation tends to be spotty due to storms, but the WATF will continue to monitor the situation closely.
  • Reservoir storage statewide remains unchanged from last month at 108 percent. The Arkansas basin has the highest storage levels in the state at 116 percent of average; the Upper Rio Grande has the lowest storage levels at 79 percent. All other basins are near or above normal.
  •  Water providers all reported storage levels above 90 percent and are not anticipating any mandatory watering restrictions this season, however continued warm and dry conditions have resulted in increased demands.
  • The Statewide Water Supply Index (SWSI) is near normal across the majority of the state
  • Aurora Water sells $437 million in bonds to re-fund water plant debt — The Denver Post


    From the City of Aurora via The Denver Post:

    Looking to capitalize on historic-low bond rates, Aurora Water on Thursday sold $437 million in bonds toward re-funding debt associated with its Prairie Waters Project, making it the largest municipal bond issue in the state this year.

    With a net savings of $68.6 million, the issue consolidates two other issues and a state loan, water department officials said in a news release.

    The Prairie Waters Project was completed in 2010 at a cost of $637 million. It recaptures water Aurora already owns in the South Platte River, beginning in Weld County, and makes full use of Aurora’s mountain and agricultural water rights, increasing the city’s water supply by up to 12 million gallons per day. The water comes from 23 wells that use a riverbank filtration process, pulling water through hundreds of feet of sand and gravel to remove impurities.

    The bonds were offered on July 20 and July 21, with first priority given to Colorado residents and businesses.

    Coca-Cola and Unilever dive into water as a human right — @GreenBiz

    Young girl enjoying the Colorado River restored temporarily by the pulse flow March 2014 via National Geographic
    Young girl enjoying the Colorado River restored temporarily by the pulse flow March 2014 via National Geographic

    From GreenBiz.com (Will Sarni):

    Several companies have embraced a “license to grow” strategy. For some, this method of engaging the global community and becoming more active in solving resource, environmental and social problems will be a significant shift in its operational model and business strategy. The following are examples that illustrate elements of activating this strategy.

    Unilever is a multinational company that recognizes “building a better society and a better business goes hand in hand.” Unilever’s “Help a Child Reach 5” campaign and “Lifebuoy Handwashing Behaviour Change Program” aim to educate over 1 billion people on health and sanitation practices.

    Over 2.4 million people lack access to proper hygiene or sanitation and each year over 2 million children succumb to water-related illnesses, such as diarrhea, before their fifth birthday. Nearly 88 percent of those deaths are linked to inadequate hygiene, poor sanitation and contaminated water. Up to 35 percent are preventable with soap handwashing practices.

    Lifebuoy’s campaign focus is India, the leading country in water-borne illnesses — 318 out of 1,000 children under age 5 die from preventable diarrhea and respiratory infections each year. While Lifebuoy’s campaigns have reached over 130 million people in India, the truly innovative aspect of the campaign is the varied partnerships and stakeholders involved in Lifebuoy’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) mission.

    The Lifebuoy case study illustrates the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships, companies alongside NGOs, in designing effective change management programs in predominantly rural, low-income and isolated communities.

    To spread the message, Unilever collaborates with “Help a Child Reach 5” ambassadors — who range from academics to Bollywood stars — to build campaign recognition as well as establish trust, credibility and transparency in areas that the campaign is targeting. The “Help a Child Reach 5” campaign has been able to leverage well-established local resources in addition to Unilever’s marketing expertise.

    Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman, stated: “By working together we can combine the expertise, resources and policy needed to achieve real change.” For example, over 1,500 company employees volunteer at schools in India to promote better hand washing and sanitation practices.

    Additionally, at the school-level, Lifebuoy developed a “School of 5” change behavior program that teaches children “the importance of washing hands at five key points in the day” through subtle, yet powerful, messaging that “consists of superhero comic books, animation, radio shows, music and games, as well as walk-around characters that visit schools in person.”

    Parallel to this, Lifebuoy furthers its handwashing campaign through viral marketing and public advocacy. In 2008, Unilever was a founding partner of “Global Handwashing Day,” the aim of which was to increase the campaign’s profile and promote better handwashing practices. Lifebuoy also has reached over 8 million viewers on YouTube with its showcase films and educational cartoons.

    Lastly, Lifebuoy collaborated with a wide-range of NGOs and donors — USAID, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, Public Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap and Population Services International, among others. These varied efforts have catapulted Unilever’s profile while increasing sales of its products.

    The Coca-Cola Company
    Coca-Cola, as the world’s largest beverage provider, is a company where “[fresh] water is a strategic priority — it’s the main ingredient in every product the company makes.”

    Coca-Cola, which has targeted Africa as a focus of emerging market growth since 2009, also has engaged in multi-million dollar water sustainability initiatives in the region that are focused at the local level. In fact, the region accounts for 10 percent of Coca-Cola’s revenue and this figure is expected to double before 2020.

    The company, however, recognizes the connection between its emerging market growth strategy and water sustainability: “The communities that host our bottling plants are also our consumer base — we sell our products where we make them. If those communities stay strong, our business will stay strong.”

    For example, in 2009, the company pledged $30 million over six years to the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), with the goal of improving clean water access for 2 million people across 37 African countries. Since then RAIN has provided over 1 million people with safe, sustainable water access, 240,000 people access to sanitation.

    At a continent level, RAIN also replenished over 2 billion liters of water across 34 watersheds covering 65 percent of Africa. In addition to RAIN, Coca-Cola collaborated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to improve water efficiency by 20 percent by 2012, a goal that it met, and now it aims to save 50 million liters of water use annually.

    Coca-Cola’s partnership with the WWF and its RAIN initiative illustrates how addressing water risk is in the company’s best interest as a global citizen, as well as necessary to support business growth.

    Peterson Air Force Base to supply $108,000 in bottled water to some #Colorado Springs-area residents — The Colorado Springs Gazette

    Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.
    Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

    Private well owners and people in several small water systems south of Colorado Springs will be eligible to receive the bottled water, said Steve Brady, a base spokesman.

    Those places include the Fountain Valley Shopping Center, Security Mobile Home Park and NORAD View Mobile Home Park, according to the installation’s news release.

    “It’s in place as an interim solution until they can figure out a long-term solution,” Brady said.

    The water distributions will not include people relying on larger water systems, such as the Security Water & Sanitation Districts, the Widefield Water and Sanitation District and the city of Fountain, Brady said. That is because the smaller systems “don’t have any other options,” he said.

    Thursday’s announcement is part of a $4.3 million initiative by the Air Force to address the presence of perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, in drinking water across southern El Paso County.

    The bulk of that money is expected to be spent on granular activated carbon filters installed on wells tapped into the contaminated Widefield aquifer, which runs along Interstate 25 from the Stratton Meadows area to Fountain and extends east to the Colorado Springs Airport.

    The filters are viewed as vital to keeping contaminated water from flowing to the three larger water systems. But the filters are expected to take months to install, and no announcements have been made on how many filters water systems in Security, Widefield and Fountain will receive.

    In the meantime, each water district has been working to reduce their reliance on the aquifer, often by pumping in PFC-free water from the Pueblo reservoir. That strategy has allowed Fountain to wean itself completely from the aquifer.

    Security and Widefield, however, cannot meet demand without using contaminated well water – meaning some residents, particularly those along the western portion of each community, still receive PFC-laden tap water.

    One stopgap measure for Widefield involves a water distribution site for people living along the community’s western edge.