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Global warming and climate change myths

Here is a summary of global warming and climate change myths, sorted by recent popularity vs what science says. Click the response for a more detailed response. You can also view them sorted by taxonomy, by popularity, in a print-friendly version, with short URLs or with fixed numbers you can use for permanent references.

@USBR: Reclamation Awards a $3.7 Million Contract for Silt Pumping Plant Modernization

Rifle Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group
Rifle Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group

Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Justyn Liff):

The Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $3.7 million contract for modernization of the Silt Pumping Plant to Aslan Construction, from Berthoud, Colorado. The pumping plant is part of the Silt Project located near Rifle, Colorado.

The pumping plant was completed in 1967 and pumps water from the Colorado River to be stored in Rifle Gap Reservoir. Water from the reservoir is used for irrigation in the area. Modernization of the pumping plant includes: installing new pumps, refurbishing the pump motors, and replacing the electrical system.

Manufacturing of equipment and parts will begin during the winter of 2016. In the fall of 2017, after the irrigation season ends, work will begin to modernize the pumping plant. The project will be completed before the 2018 irrigation season.

NASA Seeks To Unlock Secrets Of Colorado #Snowpack

Senator Beck Basin weather stations photo credit Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies.
Senator Beck Basin weather stations photo credit Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies.

From Colorado Public Radio (Nancy Lofholm):

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is preparing to boldly go where many Coloradoans have gone before — into mountain snowpack. NASA is undertaking a five-year study of snow, called SnowEx, so that eventually new combinations of snow sensors can be placed on satellites.

Those sensors will show, on a global scale, how much water is in snow and how fast it is melting. That will help manage the world’s water supply, as well as better predict floods and droughts.

This study, which will be carried out at two Western Colorado sites, is fraught with what NASA scientists call “confounding factors,” most notably, trees. Past attempts to measure snow from satellites have failed to “see” through tree canopy.

On the Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, NASA chose a study site that is heavily forested and should be able to confound an array of high-tech airborne sensors. At the Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies in the San Juan mountains, NASA will study an extreme, high-altitude headwaters basin that has the benefit of decades of on-the-ground data collection.

In February, the NASA snow study will bring sensor-carrying aircraft to the sites, including a lumbering turbo-prop that will fly very low over the treetops for five days. Other study aircraft will be flying high and will be less noticeable.

NASA also plans to have 40 to 50 researchers on the ground to perform what the agency refers to as “ground truthing.” That means digging snow pits and measuring snow factors by hand to determine if the high-tech sensors on the aircraft are producing accurate data.

Got more questions about SnowEx? NASA has created a slide presentation, “Got Snow?” to explain the ins and outs, and ups and downs, of the project.

NRCS: New Water Year Starts Slow Then Makes Big Turnaround

Here’s the release from the NRCS (Brian Domonkos):

The beginning of water year 2017, which started on October 1, 2016, experienced an extremely slow start. What little precipitation fell came in the form of rain, and warm autumn temperatures prevented snow from accumulating in all but the highest elevations. From the beginning of the water year through November 17th, 2016, statewide Colorado snowpack was off to the worst start in over 32 years at 6% of normal and year-to-date precipitation ranked in the bottom tenth percentile. “At that point prospects for reaching normal snowpack conditions by January 1st, 2017 were bleak and chances of achieving normal snowpack by late April, when snowpack typically peaks, looked doubtful” said Brian Domonkos, Snow Survey Supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation s Service.

statewidebasinhilo01072016

November 17th, 2016 was a real turning point for snowpack. Late summer quickly turned to winter and mountain snow began to accumulate quickly. According to automated Colorado Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) data, from November 17th through January 1st, 2017 snowpack in the mountains grew at the fastest rate dating back to 1986, with an statewide gain of 7.4 inches of snow water equivalent (SWE). That increase is greater than 1997, 2008, and 2011 for that same period in their respective years.

Providing more current information Domonkos went on to say, “As of January 1st 2017 Colorado statewide snowpack is a healthy 114% of normal, riding in on the back of a December which saw 171% of normal precipitation.” Late November and December precipitation boosted statewide year-to-date precipitation from nearly 30% of normal on November 17th to 98% of normal on the first of this month. Combined reservoir storages in the state of Colorado rounds out 2016 at 105% of normal. The start of water year 2017 has been one of extremes, so far ending up on the favorable side.

storagesnowpack-1-12017

At the time of this news release, streamflow forecasts are not available, but will be provided in detail in the January 1, 2017 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report when it is made available.

For more detailed and the most up to date information about Colorado snowpack and supporting water supply related information, refer to the Colorado Snow Survey website at:
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/co/snow/

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

#ColoradoRiver: Glen Canyon Dam structurally sound, no underachiever — Marlon Duke

From the Arizona Daily Sun (Marlon Duke):

Glen Canyon Dam is a National Resource

Last Friday’s editorial (“Lots to unwind if Glen Canyon Dam shuttered too soon“) discussed the newly signed management plan for Glen Canyon Dam, but incorrectly attributed its 20-year focus to a possible end to federal management by 2036. Glen Canyon Dam is a crucial national resource and the federal government remains fully committed to its long-term successful management well into the future. This new plan enhances certainty and predictability for water and power users, while protecting downstream environmental and cultural resources. The plan’s 20-year focus simply provides a timeline for regularly adjusting dam operations as ongoing science and other factors inform future planning.

Several other assertions merit correction as well. There are no mounting bills for dredging or structural upkeep. Silt buildup hasn’t yet reached the dam and sediment deltas are more than 100 miles upstream in the reservoir. Estimates predict silt won’t fill behind the dam for 700 to 1,000 years. Sediment buildup poses no threat to the dam’s integrity–it is completely structurally sound.

Claims of lost water through seepage are also overstated. Some groups advocate decommissioning the dam based in part on outdated water loss studies. However, a recent assessment by the Center for Colorado River Studies at Utah State University found seepage rates are much lower than those groups claim and that rates are actually declining over time. Seepage water enters the ground water system and eventually returns to the reservoir or river channel.

Without both Lake Powell and Lake Mead, basin-wide drought impacts would have been even more severe. In fact, seven of the past 17 drought years saw less than 8 million acre feet (maf) of unregulated inflow into Lake Powell—that’s the amount that would flow to Lake Mead without Glen Canyon Dam. Four years saw less than 6 maf and 2002’s inflow was only 2.64 maf. However, during even the driest years, storage in Lake Powell allowed full water deliveries with average annual releases of 8.71 maf throughout the drought.

Examining total water storage and use further highlights Lake Powell’s continued importance. Storage capacity at Lakes Mead and Powell is finite—Lake Mead’s maximum capacity is 28.9 maf and Lake Powell’s is 26.2 maf, for a total combined capacity of 55.1 maf. Both reservoirs were at or near full when the drought began in 2000. By the end of water year 2016, regular water deliveries had depleted combined reservoir storage by 30.7 maf—more than either Lake Mead or Lake Powell could support on its own. Without Lake Powell’s storage, those obligated water deliveries would have completely drained Lake Mead before 2016.

Far from being an underachiever, Glen Canyon Dam is doing precisely what is was intended to do — storing water in wet years to ensure predictable, full deliveries across the basin every year. Populations in Arizona and the west continue to grow, as do the challenges and complexities of efficiently managing limited water resources. Glen Canyon Dam has been integral to meeting those challenges for more than 50 years and will continue its role for many decades to come.

The latest Intermountain West Climate Dashboard is hot off the presses from Western Water Assessment

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 9, 2017 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 9, 2017 via the NRCS.

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

Highlights:

  • Snowpack conditions have completely turned around after a grim start. A major storm kicked off the new year, and as of January 9 nearly all basins across the region have above-median SWE, with most basins at 120-170% of median. The snowpack across Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming for the date appears to be the 3rd-highest in the past 25 years, after 1997 and 2011.
  • The January 1 NRCS spring-summer runoff forecasts call for near-average to much-above-average runoff across the region, with the highest runoff expected in Utah and western Wyoming. Note that these forecasts do not incorporate the most recent snowfall.
  • Nearly all of the region was wetter than normal in December, with many areas seeing over 200% of normal precipitation. Statewide, Wyoming was in the 96th percentile for precipitation, Colorado was in the 90th percentile, while Utah was in the 88th percentile.
  • There was a strong north-south gradient in temperature anomalies in December, with southern and eastern Utah and western Colorado warmer than normal, while much of Wyoming was 6-12°F below normal for the month.
  • Since early December there has been improvement in drought conditions, mainly from D0 to drought-free, in western Colorado, eastern Utah, and northern Wyoming. The proportion of the region in D1 or D2 conditions has held steady, with 37% of Colorado, 13% of Utah, and 16% of Wyoming.
  • Weak La Niña conditions are persisting, barely, in the tropical Pacific. The ENSO forecast models now more strongly favor a return to ENSO-neutral conditions by late winter/early spring. NOAA CPC seasonal forecasts show a La Niña-esque wet tilt in the odds for Wyoming over the next 3-4 months.
  • 2017 #coleg: Jerry Sonnenberg priority = storage

    Colorado Capitol building
    Colorado Capitol building

    From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

    “My priorities are, obviously, water storage, agriculture, and education,” Sonnenberg said during a lengthy interview Monday with the Journal-Advocate.

    On water, Sonnenberg already has declared that any bill coming across his committee’s desk that doesn’t include storage will be DOA.

    “Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for conserving water, but we have to have someplace to store all of that water we’re conserving,” he said. “But for some reason, water storage has become a partisan issue. People seem to think that conservatives, ag, Republicans — are all against conservation and we’re not. Agriculture has led the charge on water conservation.”

    He recounted the evolution of irrigation from flood to center pivot to drop-head sprinklers to drip irrigation.

    Barker Meadows Dam Construction
    Barker Meadows Dam Construction

    “But water storage has to be a major part of every conversation we have about water,” he said.

    Although he’s one of the few actual agricultural producers in the Legislature, Sonnenberg won’t spend much time advancing bills about growing food and fiber in Colorado. What he will do, however, is advocate for ways to make farming more profitable. After all, farm profitability is critical, Sonnenberg said, if America is going to entice young people to take over the responsibility of feeding the world. The senator said that, at 58, he’s still considered a “young farmer,” and that something needs to be done to lower the median age of farmers in the United States. That median age now is 59.

    “But kids can’t come back to the farm if they can’t survive,” he said, and then proceeded to tick off the capital investments needed in equipment, land, and infrastructure. It was a bleak picture.

    “What I can do is be an advocate,” he said. “My role as chair (of the Ag Committee) and as (President) Pro Tem (of the Senate) is to be an advocate to my federal partners. I have a good relationship with those people.”

    […]

    Sonnenberg has some ideas about what his “federal partners” can do to help make farming more profitable, especially for younger farmers.

    “What the government can do, without just outright giveaways, is help farmers manage the risk. They can do that by contributing a percentage of the premiums for crop insurance,” he said. “My biggest fear every year is hail, but hail insurance costs me $18 to $20 an acre,” he said. “You put that on top of all the other inputs — seed, fertilizer, fuel, pesticides — it’s just not profitable at anything less than $4 or $5 a bushel for wheat.”

    […]

    The first-term senator also will be keeping an eye on the conservation easement debacle, which he said he thinks will cost the state more than it will ever recover from tax credits that have been retroactively disallowed. He knows Rep. Becker will again introduce a bill aimed at giving landowners relief while they haggle with the state over paying back those tax credits, and is ready to do what he can to promote it in the Senate.

    He also intends to advocate on behalf of rural communities having to rebuild their sewer and water systems because of higher standards being imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

    “What they’re doing to those small communities is a travesty,” he said. “You have a town with only, maybe, 100 (water) taps and they’re being held to a water quality standard that can’t be met economically. Is it cost effective to make sure every community has distilled water to drink? I don’t think so.”

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

    Southwest Colorado got two new lawmakers over the weekend — one new lawmaker and a familiar one.

    That happened when the central committee for Senate District 6 chose Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, to replace Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango, who resigned her seat at the end of last year.

    In his place, the central committee for his seat in House District 58 chose Marc Catlin to replace him.

    Catlin, a graduate of Mesa State College, is the water rights development coordinator for Montrose County who also sits on the board of the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

    Catlin also is a former manager of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, and hosts a weekly talk show on 580 AM radio, where he mainly focuses on water issues on the Western Slope.

    Coram, who was first elected to the Colorado Legislature in 2011, was just re-elected to a third term in the Colorado House in November.

    He’s already been assigned to the Senate agriculture and judiciary committees.

    Both men will be sworn into office alongside their colleagues when the 2017 session of the Legislature convenes on Wednesday.

    Say hello to ColoradoPolitics.com a new service from The Colorado Springs Gazette.

    Stormwater improvement projects in Greeley’s Sunrise Neighborhood near completion — Greeley Tribune

    Greeley in 1870 via Denver Public Library http://photoswest.org/cgi-bin/imager?10009071+X-9071
    Greeley in 1870 via Denver Public Library http://photoswest.org/cgi-bin/imager?10009071+X-9071

    From the City of Greeley via the The Greeley Tribune:

    In 2016, the city of Greeley worked on several drainage improvement projects in the Sunrise Neighborhood.

    A study was done to define and prioritize the drainage solutions for the neighborhood, and it found many of the existing storm sewers in the neighborhood were over 100-years-old, narrow, damaged or failing. Through a series of projects, the city has replaced many of the damaged pipes to improve drainage and reduce flood potential to properties and public areas, according to a news release.

    Stormwater staff held public meetings, and visited ABC East Child Development Center in the neighborhood to teach children what was happening with the construction in their neighborhood and had all of the kids decorate and sign some of the stormwater pipes that were installed underground.

    In 2017, Stormwater work will resume in the area along 9th Street and 6th Avenue to further improve the drainage system in the neighborhood.

    Go to http://OperationRainDrain.com to keep informed about this and other projects to improve drainage and reduce flooding issues.