@NOAAclimate: Assessing the Global Climate in February 2017

Photo credit Pixbay.com via NOAA

Here’s the release from NOAA:

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for February 2017 was the second highest for the month of February in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The December–February seasonal and year to date global temperatures were also second warmest on record.

This monthly summary is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.

February 2017


  • The February temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.76°F above the 20th century average of 53.9°F. This was the second highest for February in the 1880–2017 record, behind 2016.
  • The February globally averaged land surface temperature was 3.20°F above the 20th century average of 37.8°F. This value was also the second highest February land global temperature in the record, trailing behind 2016.
  • The February globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.24°F above the 20th century monthly average of 60.6°F—the second highest global ocean temperature for February in the record, behind the record year 2016.
  • Snow Cover and Sea Ice

  • According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab (link is external), the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during February was 150,000 square miles above the 1981–2010 average. This was the 22nd largest February Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in the 51-year period of record. The North American snow cover extent was the 15th smallest on record, while the Eurasian snow cover extent was the 19th largest.
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent for February was 455,600 square miles (7.6 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest February extent since records began in 1979 and 15,400 square miles smaller than the previous record set in 2016, according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (link is external) based on data from NOAA and NASA.
  • The Antarctic sea ice extent for February was 290,000 square miles (24.4 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest February Antarctic sea ice extent since records began in 1979 and 60,000 square miles smaller than the previous record set in 1997. On February 13, the daily Antarctic sea ice extent reached a new record low at 884,000 square miles and continued to drop throughout the month, reaching 822,400 square miles by February 28.
  • Seasonal (December 2016–February 2017)

  • The December–February average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.60°F above the 20th century average of 53.8°F. This was the second highest for December–February in the 1880–2017 record, trailing behind 2015/16.
  • The globally averaged land surface temperature for December–February was 2.74°F above the 20th century average of 37.8°F. This was the second highest for December–February in the record, behind 2015/16.
  • The December–February globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.19°F above the 20th century average of 60.5°F – also the second highest for December–February in the record, behind the record set during 2015/16.
  • Year-to-Date (January–February 2017)

  • The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.69°F above the 20th century average of 53.8°F. This was the second highest for January–February in the 1880–2017 record, behind 2016.
  • The year-to-date globally averaged land surface temperature was 2.99°F above the 20th century average of 37.4°F. This was also the second highest for January–February in the record, behind 2016.
  • The year-to-date globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.21°F above the 20th century average of 60.6°F. This was the second highest for January–February in the record, behind 2016.
  • What to do when your toilet takes a leak – News on TAP

    Save water and money by hunting down and plugging those irritating drips during Fix a Leak Week.

    Source: What to do when your toilet takes a leak – News on TAP

    The March 2017 “Headwaters Pulse” is hot off the presses from @CFWEwater

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

    “Why waste water?” That’s the campaign for this year’s World Water Day, coming up next week on March 22, as designated by the United Nations. It’s a day to celebrate water and take action to tackle the world water crisis. In Colorado, while some organizations are working internationally to increase access to water and to boost public health through increased sanitation, many will be celebrating and taking action closer to home.

    How will you mark World Water Day? We have some ideas…

  • Revel in your connection, through waterways, to other parts of the world—Colorado is a headwaters state after all. Or consider how infrastructure connects so many of us to adequate clean water supplies and wastewater treatment systems.
  • Get physical by tackling a home-improvement project to conserve water, like building and installing a rain barrel. If you’re registered to join our sold-out workshop on March 24, you’ll be doing just that!
  • Learn and share new information about Colorado water, wastewater, sanitation, conservation, or water reuse by checking out our publications, connecting with your water or wastewater provider, or attending an upcoming event—find some upcoming offerings at the end of this email.
  • Support an organization doing water work that you can get behind (hint, hint).
  • …and, well, the list goes on. Here at the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, we’ll celebrate with a blog post or two. Plus, the timing is right to share the feature article below on water reuse.

    It’s great to feel the global connection with others celebrating and working with water on March 22, but we hope that your commitment to water extends beyond the day, perhaps to encompass this week…or if you’re like our team, every day is water day. Carry the spirit of World Water Day forward by joining us to connect with friends and learn about water on any or all of our upcoming tours, workshops or webinars this spring and summer.

    Presentations: #ClimateChange is water change — #Colorado update #ActOnClimate

    Smiley Library, Denver, Colorado. Photo credit courthouselover via Flickr.

    I will be speaking about the the climate crisis and the effects on Colorado at two events soon:

    Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
    Smiley Branch Library
    4501 W 46th Ave
    Denver, CO 80212
    (The meeting is in the basement)

    Monday, April 3, 2017, , 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
    Thornton Community Park
    2211 Eppinger Blvd.
    Thornton, CO 80229
    (Community Building next to the swimming pool)

    Please be sure to bring your children along. Mitigating the effects of the climate crisis is really for them. It is an existential threat for many species along with being the social justice movement of our time.

    I will address three questions:

  • Should we act to mitigate climate change?
  • Can we and how can we mitigate climate change?
  • Will we act to mitigate climate change and what can we do?
  • The program is presented in conjunction with the Climate Reality Project.

    As a kid I spent a lot of my time at Smiley Library, so it’s very appropriate that I kick off my current climate actions there.

    One of the librarians, Miss Ayres, always made me feel welcome. She seemed glad to see me and she actively helped direct my reading.

    I ran into her when I was managing the Hatch’s Book Store in the old Cinderella City shopping center. I was stationed at the cash register and she was making a purchase. We recognized each other and she said as she left, “And you’re still in books!”

    That was a big day for me.

    Rio Grande Basin Ag Producers workshop recap

    Pond on the Garcia Ranch via Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust

    From The Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

    Division of Water Resources State Engineer Dick Wolfe tackled the “use it or lose it” concern during the Rio Grande Basin Ag Producers’ Water Future Workshop in Alamosa on Tuesday.

    “People think they have got to divert everything under their water right or they will lose it,” Wolfe said.

    He said the important thing to remember is historical consumptive use.

    Most water in Colorado is diverted for irrigation, “for beneficial crop use,” he explained. Wolfe was involved in compiling a special report issued in February 2016 by the Colorado Water Institute in an effort to educate people on the “use it or lose it” concept.

    The report addresses five main concerns: 1) maintaining conditional water right; 2) administering absolute water right; 3) abandoned water right; 4) changing use of a water right from agriculture to municipal use; and 5) implications of conservation program participation.

    Wolfe specifically dealt with the fourth concern, changing the use of a water right, during Tuesday’s conference. He explained that water right changes come under dual administration, both from the state engineer’s office and the water court, which adjudicates the water right.

    “Any change of water right can be time consuming and costly,” he said.

    A change of water rights case has to consider whether the change will injure existing users or use more water than historically used.

    Water rights come with restrictions such as the maximum that can be diverted, flow rate and area of land, Wolfe explained. The historic consumptive use is critical in water use change cases, he added, with the historical consumptive use of a water right often being less than the maximum that was allowed to be diverted under the original decree. Wolfe used a hypothetical example of a water right decreed for 150 cfs (cubic feet per second), but only 100 cfs had historically been used to irrigate the farmland, with only 60 cfs actually consumed by the crop and 40 cfs returning to the river. If the owner of the property wanted to dry up the farmland and sell the water right to a factory, for example, the owner could not transfer the full 150 cfs that was decreed in the water right, Wolfe explained. The owner could only transfer the 60 cfs that was historically consumed on that property. The water that has historically gone down the river must continue to do so.

    Wolfe said someone might argue that they should divert their entire decreed right, then, but the crop can only consume so much water, and that consumptive use is what can be transferred.

    “The measure of that is still historical consumptive use,” Wolfe said. “It’s limited by the amount the crop can consume.”

    The duty of water is also something to consider, Wolfe added. If folks are diverting more water than they need, they could be depriving others and causing unintended impacts to the stream system, he explained.

    Colorado water law does not permit wasteful water use, and Wolfe said he would be issuing an order in the next few months giving clear guidance on what wasting water means.

    Less urgency for the #Drought plan for the Lower #ColoradoRiver Basin states #COriver

    The Colorado River Basin. The Upper Colorado River Basin is outlined in black.

    From The Arizona Daily Star (Tony Davis):

    For many months, water agencies including Tucson Water have discussed a plan to save 1.2 million acre-feet of river water over three years to delay the threat of shortages to the Central Arizona Project, which brings drinking water to Tucson and Phoenix and irrigation water to Central Arizona farmers.

    But the snowy winter appears to mean that the river and lake will be flush enough this year to significantly reduce the odds of short-term water cuts even without a conservation plan. The abrupt weather shift has intensified an already major split among water officials about what to do next.

    CAP officials say the earlier proposal is “no longer viable” and that it’s time for a new approach.

    “The improved hydrology has changed the landscape and given us a reprieve,” said Suzanne Ticknor, CAP’s water-policy director. “We have the opportunity to get it right, to sit back and find out what we want to do to find consensus in the state. We don’t need to do huge volumes of conservation right now.”

    Other water users disagree with this position, including the Arizona Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Tucson and Phoenix water utilities and the Gila River Indian Community, which controls the largest share of CAP water.

    “I do not believe one year of good hydrology is enough to stop us from seeking to conserve water in the lake,” Arizona DWR Director Tom Buschatzke said, referring to Lake Mead, a reservoir of Colorado River water.

    He and other officials said recent weather doesn’t substitute for a long-term policy during a 17-year drought, the longest in the historical record dating to 1906.

    At stake is an Arizona version of the Drought Contingency Plan, an effort by this state, California and Nevada to negotiate a long-term, water-use reduction agreement. The goal is to reduce the risks of Lake Mead dropping below 1,025 feet, compared to the 1,070s to 1,080s it has been at recently.

    At the lower lake level, water deliveries to Tucson and Phoenix would be jeopardized and Hoover Dam’s power output would be dramatically curtailed. The risk is due to what authorities say is a structural deficit, in which people in the Lower Colorado River Basin use more water each year than the over-allocated river provides, even when it’s not in a drought.

    The Arizona plan, called DCP Plus, seeks to delay for three years or longer the first CAP shortage, which would happen if the lake drops below 1,075 feet at year’s end. Last December, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicted that the chance of a shortage for 2018 through 2020 was around 50 percent and warned the river was “on the brink”.

    But at a March 2 CAP board meeting, project officials were rejoicing over the heavy snowfalls that had fallen in the river’s Upper Basin, which supplies crucial spring runoff to Lake Powell, another Colorado River reservoir.

    “The Green River has a tremendous snowpack situation. Flooding will occur in that watershed this spring. Not that we’re wishing it on our Wyoming friends, but quite frankly I’m for it,” said CAP Colorado River program manager Chuck Cullom.

    There’s so much snow that a major Wyoming cloud-seeding program has been suspended to reduce the risk of flood damage, Cullom added.

    As of March 1, Upper Basin snowpack was 154 percent of normal. Annual spring runoff into Powell was predicted to be 10.4 million acre-feet, or 145 percent of average, said Brenda Alcorn, a federal Colorado Basin River Forecast Center hydrologist.

    The reclamation agency now sees a greater chance of above-average water releases from Powell to Mead for three years than it does of shortages.

    So instead of a fixed, three-year conservation plan, CAP official Ticknor said that while the agency remains committed to reducing the river’s structural deficit over the long term, the best solution now is to plan annually.

    “It has to be more of an adaptive approach and look at things in real time and understand the hydrology, what the inflow to Powell is and what Mead’s elevation is each year,” she said.

    Setting hard, three-year targets can create an “overconserving” risk, Ticknor said.

    That’s possible due to the complex, seven-state guidelines covering management of Lake Mead at the Arizona-Nevada border and Lake Powell at the Arizona-Utah border, she said. Worrying about “overconserving” is a shift in emphasis among CAP officials, who have a “Protect Lake Mead” message on their home page and produced videos and other material saying the same.

    While remaining concerned about Mead’s long-term risks, CAP officials say that under certain circumstances, the guidelines mean that too much conservation can reduce how much water Powell releases to Mead. That deprives the three Lower Colorado River Basin states, including Arizona, of additional water.

    Phoenix Water Director Kathryn Sorensen counters, “The ‘risk’ of overconserving is a Colorado River that is less vulnerable to shortages and more resilient over the long run, a river that is more protective of our economy and our quality of life.”

    Under guidelines approved in 2007 by the seven basin states, Lake Mead gets an extra surge of water from Powell in a year in which forecasters predict that Powell will stay above 3,575 feet while Mead falls below 1,075 feet on a given date.

    This year, conditions are good enough that the lake is expected to get at least 9 million acre-feet, nearly 700,000 acre-feet above average. But if conservation pushes Mead’s forecast above 1,075 at the end of 2017, that extra water goes away.

    “You could have an unintended consequence,” Ticknor said. “You have a narrow band of operating space with the reservoirs. You have to be careful about what you do.”

    Old Time Poker Players. Photo credit: the 19th Century on Pinterest.

    Phoenix’s Sorensen replied that playing the probabilities of shortage year-by-year is a short-sighted strategy that fosters uncertainty and keeps Arizona’s economy closer to the razor’s edge.

    “This is not a game of poker. Arizona has weathered the last 17 years of drought precisely because generations ago, we planned methodically for the long run. We must continue this legacy,” Sorensen said.

    State Water Resources Director Buschatzke said he prefers the risk of overconserving “because if you underconserve there isn’t much you can do about it” if a shortage occurs. Tucson Water Director Tim Thomure said authorities should err on the side of conservation and focus on the longer term.

    “We have to be nimble enough to manage year by year, but decisions need to be made with the long-term in mind,” Thomure said.

    Plus, Mother Nature can make unanticipated weather shifts, Buschatzke said. Just since March 1, hot, dry weather has caused federal river-basin forecasters to lower projections for runoff into Powell by half a million acre-feet. That’s enough to serve Tucson Water’s 700,000-plus customers for five years.

    The April runoff forecast is still expected to be high enough for an above-average release from Powell. But if the region experiences the flip side of the “Miracle May” rains that pounded the Rockies in May 2015 — saving the river from an almost certain shortage — that wouldn’t leave authorities much time to forestall a 2018 shortage, Buschatzke said.

    “These are hard issues — harsh decisions. I want to err on the side of more certainty,” he said.

    The bottom line is that the water agency now can’t meet its goal of getting a water-saving plan to this year’s legislative session for approval, he said.

    #Snowpack is dropping across the state, still above the median

    Click on a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

    From The Mountain Mail (Brian McCabe):

    Despite a slightly drier February, snowpack for the Arkansas River Basin measures 143 percent above median, while statewide snowpack is at 139 percent, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reported.

    Reservoir storage for the Arkansas Basin at the end of February was 103 percent of average, down from 124 percent last year.

    Current streamflow forecasts range from 125 percent of average for the Arkansas River at Salida to 98 percent of average for Grape Creek near Westcliffe.

    Snowpack is also above average around the rest of the state, ranging from 155 percent for the Gunnison Basin to 125 percent for the combined Laramie, North Platte, Yampa and White basins.

    “With one more month of the primary snow accumulation season behind and above-normal snowpacks across the state in combination with these near-normal reservoir storages, water supply shortages in Colorado are looking less and less likely for the upcoming summer months,” said Brian Domonkos, NRCS Colorado snow survey supervisor.

    “Despite areas that experienced below-normal monthly snow accumulations during February and localized periods of unseasonably warm temperatures, the exceptional snowpack that fell during January allowed the mountains to remain at least 120 percent above normal in all areas,” he said.

    State reservoir storage had a small net gain between February and March and is now at 107 percent of average storage. All major basins are retaining more water relative to normal.

    “Thanks to the abundant snowfall this water year, 2017 is projected to be the first year since 2008 that the entire state is expected to have above normal April-July streamflow volumes,” Domonkos said.

    Here’s the westwide basin-filled SNOTEL map from the NRCS.

    Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 20, 2017 via the NRCS.

    Water Rights and Governance Guide for #Colorado’ s Acequias (Revised 2016)

    Click here to download the handbook. Here’s an excerpt:

    This handbook is a joint effort of the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association, the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School, Colorado Open Lands, and dedicated private attorneys. The handbook was inspired by the New Mexico Acequia Association’s Acequia Governance Handbook, which served as a wonderful model.

    The handbook represents the work of law student volunteers at the University of Colorado Law School, with supervision and guidance from Colorado law professors and attorneys.

    Building climate bridges, not walls — Allen Best

    From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

    Amid the bluster of the new president and the stampede toward a mythic past of a supposedly safer, more insular America, it’s been hard to bear down on climate change. Today’s noise drowns out tomorrow’s danger. But even as President Donald Trump builds walls, the climate change movement needs to build bridges.

    Climate activists have been built too many walls of their own, self-righteously dismissing laggard thinkers as “deniers” and rejecting their concerns. Creating a world smugly divided into believers vs. deniers serves no useful purpose. The politics of climate change are trickier than just red hats vs. blue shirts, conservatives vs. liberals.

    Voters in Washington state, among our most reliably Democratic since the late 1980s, last November were asked to approve a tax on carbon emissions. Nearly all economists say a carbon tax will most effectively accelerate changes in how we produce and consume energy. It assigns a price, or cost, to greenhouse emissions, but does not presume to know the best way to respond. It leaves the market to figure out solutions.

    Among the most vocal opponents in Washington state were liberal groups, among them Black Lives Matter, the Labor Council of the AFL-CIO, and Service Industries Union International. They argued the tax would disproportionately hurt lower-income residents. So did Van Jones, the CNN commentator and activist (who was also in the Obama White House). “I have been a climate hawk for 15 years,” Jones said in a pre-election conference call with reporters. “I literally wrote the book. I have never opposed any climate proposal at all. But I am opposing this one because it is that bad. It is just that bad.”

    This opposition offered a valuable lesson for those of who think that broad and deep changes must be made in how we produce and consume energy. The argument of these opponents in Washington state differed little from the traditional argument from red-state Republicans about the stinging economic impacts of shifting from fossil fuels. Somehow, the argument for the urgency of climate change must be recalculated to broaden support. More muscle must be enlisted to share the oars. Snarling the name “climate denier” isn’t likely to deliver the most robust cooperation.

    Finger-wagging was egregious in the November issue of a ski magazine called Powder. The magazine investigated the campaign contributions of ski area operators through the prism of climate change. Many major ski area operators give money to Republicans, and nearly all the Republicans cited in the story have opposed climate change efforts such as the Clean Power Plan. The story was strewn with the phrase “climate denier.”

    Photo credit Allen Best, the Mountain Town News.

    For example, Rusty Gregory, the chief executive of California’s Mammoth Mountain, gives money to his local congressman, U.S. Rep Paul Cook, a Republican who has bad-mouthed the Clean Power Plan as “sidestepping Congress and over-regulating the American economy.” He was, of course, a “climate denier.” In Wyoming, the chief executive of Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Jerry Blann, gives money to Republicans while advocating environmental reform within the industry trade organization, the National Association of Ski Areas. This makes him an environmental hypocrite. Vail Resorts, the nation’s largest ski area operator, gave $5,000 to House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, also a “climate denier.”

    If people in ski towns of the West veer liberal, the broader West remains more red than blue. Wyoming hasn’t had a Democrat in Congress since 1978, when a young Dick Cheney replaced a labor Democrat, Tino Roncalio. Even purplish Colorado, where Vail Resorts is based, sends more Republicans (5) to Congress than Democrats (4). Ski area operators say they give money to Republicans because they have a lot of business with the federal government and it’s not all about climate change. In the West, most operate on federal lands.

    Campaign contributions alone don’t explain the stalled progress on climate change policy. The top political donor in the 2016 elections was climate-change partisan Tom Steyer, the former hedge-fund manager from San Francisco. He gave $87.6 million to Democrats and liberals, according to OpenSecrets.org. In the 2014 mid-term elections, he gave $75.4 million. Democrats and supporters of climate change policies lost ground in both elections.

    Even when Democrats owned both the White House and Congress in 2009, cap-and-trade legislation stalled in the Senate. The coalition that defeated cap-and-trade consisted largely of coal and farm states. Fossil fuels have been a major component of industrialized agriculture, and the electrical cooperatives that serve many rural areas became heavily invested in coal-powered generation.

    If a majority of Americans see human fingerprints on the changing climate, only a minority see it with alarm. Even fewer act as if there truly is an apocalyptic clock ticking. Instead, we live our lives day to day, month to month. This is true even of the Aspen Skiing Co., the most vocal of the ski companies about the perils of climate change. The company’s basic business model will be severely damaged by the shift from snow to rain that climate models forest for later this century. Yet the company continues to build luxury hotels and cater to cater to customers who travel by gas-guzzling jets. Money matters in Aspen as it does among Republican farmers in Nebraska, liberals in Washington state, and everywhere else.

    Former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis, who was described by Atlantic magazine as a spokesperson of sorts for the “ecoright,” is among those pushing for a free market solution stimulated by a carbon tax. This differs from the somewhat less flexible approach of the Clean Power Plan. When I heard Inglis speak before a small group of climate activists in Boulder, Colo., last April, he singled out House Speaker Paul Ryan. “He knows it’s real – to the tip of his toes,” said Inglis, who has a group called RepublicEn, of the threat of climate change.

    The idea of a carbon tax got more wind in its sails recently when George P. Shultz, a cabinet secretary in three presidential administrations, and James. A. Baker II, the secretary of state in two presidential administrations, proposed a gradually increasing carbon tax beginning at $40 per ton carbon tax, with revenues to be redistributed to Americans in the form of dividends. Carbon adjustments would be imposed on imports based on their carbon footprints.

    Commenters on the website of the Wall Street Journal, where the Shultz-Baker proposal was published, quickly trashed the proposal as unnecessary. After all, there is no problem. Are they deniers? Maybe, but what matters more are those in the middle, including farmers.

    Farmers must be persuaded that they can benefit in this swivel to new energy economy. So must blue-collar voters and those in military communities. The Pentagon long ago identified climate change as a key threat to U.S. security. Too few people know this.

    Banish the word denier. Built bridges to those in the middle, not hurl insults to those at the far end. Find commonalities under the tent of red, white and blue patriotism. Stress America’s exceptionalism. The United States should lead this global transformation in energy innovation. That will make a great America even greater.

    I will be speaking about the climate crisis and the great message about renewable energy, and the jobs and recurring revenues for farmers and ranchers, on March 29th and April 3rd.

    Roundtable on renewable energy recap — The Guardian

    Wind farm Logan County

    From The Guardian (Martin Wright):

    What impact will the climate-sceptic, coal enthusiast President Trump have on the prospects for renewable energy? How will Brexit affect the UK’s renewable sector? And what’s driving the growth of clean energy in Asia? These were key questions for participants at a Guardian roundtable on the future of wind and solar power, supported by Julius Baer.

    And the answer to the Trump question? Precious little impact at all. The sheer strength of the renewables sector – driven by plummeting costs and a growing appetite among consumers and business alike – means it will continue to thrive despite the new administration’s doubts. That was the near-unanimous view of the participants. And it might even win over the president himself, as his business brain engages with the potential of clean energy on the one hand, and coal’s lack of it on the other.

    Gina V Hall, investment director at The Carbon Trust, predicted that “a lot of the talk about bringing back coal jobs will start to fade. The rhetoric will be put aside in the face of the facts.” And the most persuasive fact of all is market logic. With renewables approaching grid parity (costing the same as electricity bought from the mains supply), their momentum is becoming unstoppable.

    Many of America’s most powerful companies, such as Apple and Google, are strongly committed to clean energy, said Hall, “and they’re not going to let the government get in the way of what they want to do.”

    Several participants at the roundtable pointed to the fact that clean energy enjoys strong bipartisan support. As Laura Cozzi from the International Energy Agency commented, over half of the renewable capacity installed recently is in Republican-governed states. Such support might even help secure the future of the tax credits that presently help underpin new investments in the sector, said Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath of E.ON Climate and Renewables.

    “The word ‘renewable’ doesn’t feature in Trump’s America First plan – but it is full of talk of exploiting the country’s natural resources, delivering low-cost energy and creating jobs. Well, wind and solar can do all that.” And they have the potential to do a lot more, particularly in the rustbelt areas Trump is committed to helping.

    The jobs argument is particularly powerful, given that more US citizens are employed in solar power than in generating electricity through coal, oil and natural gas combined. As Clark MacFarlane, CEO of Siemens Wind Power UK, put it: “Trump’s core policy is more jobs. So why do anything to destroy American jobs, especially ones delivering low-cost energy?”

    Investors in the US are wary of being caught on the wrong side of history, said Martin Wright, chair of the Renewable Energy Association. “A lot of them are starting to view fossil fuels like tobacco – as a pariah sector.” And they don’t want to be left with stranded assets, stuck in coal as the market moves decisively away from it. By contrast, the falling prices of solar and wind make it increasingly appealing. Environmental economist Paul Ekins, of University College London, summed it up: “The markets will trump Trump.”


    Growth in China and India
    The real growth story in wind and solar, of course, is happening not in Europe or the States, but Asia, with both China and India investing heavily. So what’s driving that?

    It’s partly the same story of falling costs, with China eyeing huge export markets – in solar in particular. But there’s also growing local demand, driven by two things – energy access and health. “Public health concerns in China are changing energy policy fundamentally. There’s no going back now,” said Helena Molin Valdés of the UN Environment Programme.

    Anil Raj, co-founder of Indian solar business OMC Power, pointed out that air quality is front-page news there. “People worry about pollution in European cities, but they are like sanatoriums compared to New Delhi. Politicians spend a lot of time there, and they can’t help but see and feel it too, and that’s why things are happening.”

    But, he added, the need for energy access will always be the prime driver. “There are two narratives around energy. A developing-world narrative and a carbon-reduction one.” For the former, energy access is king. “We have 350 million people living off grid in India. If we needed to burn coal [to connect them], we would do that.” So it is fortunate, he continued, that fossil fuels are not the solution: “The cheapest and fastest way of connecting [off-grid people] in India is via renewables.” Sarah Chapman, CEO of Faro Energy, said that’s increasingly true in Latin America too.

    Energy storage next big thing
    So is everything in the renewables garden rosy? Not for Ekins. “We’re not getting nearly enough investment to meet the Paris target [of keeping the global temperature rise to two degrees above pre-industrial levels].” Other panellists echoed his concerns.

    So how can the process be sped up? “We need to design the power markets of the future to favour renewables,” said Cozzi. That will become all the more important as technologies such as smart grids and improved battery storage come into play. Wright argued for simplification, moving away from incentives based around specific technologies to a system in which if you’re producing renewables – or enabling storage of renewable power – you get paid for it, regardless of technology.

    And, he added, the government shouldn’t be shy of setting some tough rules to drive progress: “Look at the buildings industry. If you hadn’t had some tough regulation there, you wouldn’t have indoor toilets or double glazing.” Householders need incentives to do the right thing, he argued: “So why not link stamp duty to SAP [energy-efficiency] ratings?”

    All panellists agreed that the sheer speed of technological change would continue to disrupt the energy market – and, in the long term at least, renewables should be the clear winner. As battery technologies improve, so wind and solar will become even more appealing, overcoming the intermittent nature of such power sources (the wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine), by storing the electricity they produce for when it’s needed. “Storage will give us the next generation of energy billionaires,” predicted Ekins.

    Put all that together, and the logic of renewables becomes irresistible, said Wright. “It’s not a case of doing it to save the planet any more. People are seeing this as a business opportunity. It’s as simple as that.”

    I will be speaking about the climate crisis and the great message about renewable energy on March 29th and April 3rd.

    #Drought news: D2 (Severe) expanded in E. #Colorado

    Colorado Drought Monitor March 14, 2017.

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Cassa Niedringhaus):

    …Sunday’s was the eighth red flag warning for lower Larimer County this year, according to the Wellington Fire Protection District. The warning took effect at noon and was set to expire about 7 p.m.

    Most of the area in Larimer, Boulder and Weld counties is abnormally dry or in a drought, according to an update last week by the U.S. Drought Monitor. A swath across the east side of Larimer County — which includes Fort Collins and Loveland — is in a severe drought.

    Fort Collins had been in a severe drought for months at the end of 2016 and then improved at the beginning 2017, but the city has regressed into a severe drought again.

    Beyond Larimer County and neighboring counties, the eastern half of the state is also dry or in a drought. The southeastern corner of the state is in an extreme drought. The agency uses five classifications: abnormally dry, which is the precursor to drought, and moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional drought.

    From The Denver Post (Kieran Nicholson):

    “It’s not time to panic and turn on your sprinkler system, your yard is doing just fine,” said Travis Thompson, a Denver Water spokesman.

    Thompson recommends hand watering at this time of year, and giving special attention to shrubs, bushes and trees.

    The mountain snow pack water supply, stoked by above average snow in December and January, remains above average for this time of year, Thompson said.

    Current water supply for most Front Range residents isn’t low or critical, despite current drought and drought-like conditions parching lower-lying elevations of eastern Colorado.

    Denver Water, which typically sets water restrictions during the summer, does not have any current watering restrictions.

    Colorado State University Extension recommends winter watering during extremely dry stretches — the first day of spring is March 20 — of about 10 gallons of water for each inch of tree trunk diameter once or twice per month and anywhere from 5 to 18 gallons per month for shrubs. Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees and where there’s no snow on the ground.

    Two Rivers Water Co. is suing farmers under the Welton Ditch

    Cucharas Dam via The Pueblo Chieftain

    From The FencePost:

    For generations, this community under the Welton Ditch has been growing hay, winter wheat, barley, oats, vegetables and livestock, but all of that could soon come to a crashing halt…

    Two Rivers Water & Farming Co. (Two Rivers) is suing Welton Water and its shareholders for what they are calling “wasteful and inefficient water use practices.”

    In accordance with Welton Water’s senior rights, water is allocated from the Huerfano River in priority; however, satisfaction of those senior water rights, in accordance with Colorado law, means Two Rivers is sometimes precluded from filling its storage reservoirs while Welton Water’s senior rights are unsatisfied. If Two Rivers wins the suit, Welton Water, and its shareholders, will lose its right to divert and use water in accordance with their water rights in certain months of the year and a new precedent will be set for future water rights of Colorado farming and ranching families.

    “Two Rivers is suing each of the shareholders individually, and we believe that their game plan is to get us tied up in a legal battle that none of these farmers and ranchers can afford,” said Larry Morgan, Welton Land & Water Co. president. “If we can’t defend ourselves and we lose our water rights, we will all be in serious trouble.”

    Welton Water’s senior rights are still junior to the water rights of appropriators who live higher up in the mountains, meaning that very little summer water is available to satisfy the water rights decreed to the Welton Ditch and therefore the shareholders receive very little summer water. Without the winter water, it could prove difficult for Welton Water’s shareholders to run livestock on this land, raise winter wheat or get the ground wet in the springtime for planting.

    “We don’t know when we’ll go to court on this; I suppose, it depends on how much paperwork they throw at our attorneys,” Morgan said. “We think they are going to deep-pocket us to death, and without water, we won’t be able to water our cattle or crops, and our land becomes basically worthless.”

    John Justus, legal counsel for Welton Water, says he questions the validity of Two Rivers’ claims.

    “The litigation was initially triggered by a Colorado State Engineer’s enforcement action seeking enforcement of an unappealed administrative order requiring Two Rivers to cut down the dam associated with Cucharas Reservoir, one of Two Rivers two junior reservoirs,” Justus said. “That order was based on public safety concerns as a result of the condition of the dam at Cucharas Reservoir. Two Rivers, in its defense against the engineer’s enforcement action alleged that it was unreasonable to demand that the Two Rivers comply with the dam cut-down order, and the associated costs, unless the engineers addressed what Two Rivers characterized as ‘wasteful and unreasonable water practices’ by Welton Water and its shareholders. Consistent with that allegation Two Rivers brought a separate set of claims against Welton. Although Two Rivers ultimately entered into a consent decree with the state and division engineers, which requires it to cut down the dam and complete certain other tasks, it continues its litigation against Welton Water and its shareholders.”

    According to Justus, Two Rivers has several “creative claims” against Welton Water.

    The first is “Two Rivers claim that certain traditional winter irrigation practices of the Welton shareholders fail to constitute beneficial use of water under Colorado law,” Justus said. “Because of the nature of this claim and its impact on their individual water rights, the court required that Two Rivers join Welton Water’s shareholders to this action. However, many ditch companies and their shareholders utilize the same types of irrigation practices that Welton Water’s shareholders do, so this should be of great interest for other people with winter water rights across the state of Colorado.”

    Justus further explained, “Prevention of the form of winter irrigation practiced under the Welton would mean irrigation practices that are necessary for maintaining viability of certain lands for agricultural production would no longer be permitted. Importantly, the Winter Water Storage Program in Pueblo Reservoir, and the decree confirming the change of water rights necessary for the operation of that program would have been improper if Two Rivers’ theories are correct.”

    The second is “Two Rivers claim that Welton’s diversion structure from the Huerfano River must be a permanent concrete structure in order to be a reasonable means of diversion under Colorado law,” Justus said. “If that was to become the new standard, it would mean that hundreds and possibly thousands of structures in the state no longer constitute reasonable diversion methods. Although the court has declined to dismiss this claim at this point in the litigation, Welton Water is confident that the law paired with the facts to be demonstrated at trial will show Two Rivers’ allegations to ultimately be groundless.”

    Third is “Two Rivers claim that stream losses which occur in the division engineer’s administration of the waters of the Huerfano River in response to a ‘call’ petition by Welton Water pursuant to its senior water rights constitute unreasonable and actionable waste by Welton Water.”

    In a briefing to the court, which has yet to be decided, Justus said, “Both Welton Water and the state and division engineers have argued that no such claim is cognizable under Colorado law. The court has yet to issue an order on the matter.”

    The concept is simple according to Justus, “an appropriator like Welton Water and its shareholders cannot legally waste water over which it has no control, until water is diverted by Welton Water, the water remains within the exclusive administrative control and authority of the state and division engineers.”

    Not only is Two Rivers seeking year-round water rights for its cannabis business, but it appears development projects might be in the works.

    “In an investor update to its shareholders dated December 2016, Two Rivers says they are a vegetable company, but that document suggests that the entity is pivoting its near term focus to utilizing its water to grow hemp and for the development of infrastructure for the cannabis industry,” Justus said. With respect to its long-term focus, “that document suggests Two Rivers wants to take its existing water rights and use it in a development fashion, generating revenue through selling taps for development. Interestingly, Two Rivers water rights are not decreed for nonagricultural uses like domestic or municipal purposes. Nonetheless that document suggests Two Rivers plans to invest approximately $42 million in Cucharas Reservoir over the next two years.”

    Justus noted that “eliminating the effect of Welton Water’s downstream senior rights will however potentially increase the yield of Two Rivers more junior rights associated with its reservoirs and therefore its return on its investments.” 
The case is ongoing, and as Two Rivers is suing each shareholder individually, Justus said it’s unclear when this will go to trial; however, he anticipates a July setting conference with the court, with a trial following 6 to 9 months after.

    Meanwhile, Welton Water has a counter-claim against Two Rivers arguing that out-of-priority depletions to the Cucharas and Huerfano Rivers by Two Rivers’ Cucharas Reservoir, in amounts approaching 3,000-acre-feet per year, are injuring the water rights of Welton and others. Welton anticipates that the unabated depletions will continue again this irrigation season.

    Taos Valley Acequia Association Annual Meeting, March 26, 2017

    Taos Pueblo via Burch Street Casitas

    From the Taos Valley Acequia Association:

    Taos Valley Acequia Association will hold its Annual Meeting at the Juan I. Gonzales Agricultural Center Taos, New Mexico on Sunday March 26, 2017 Beginning at 1:00 p.m. As elected Mayordomo or Commissioner, it is part of your responsibility to your acequia and Parciantes, to report to them keep them informed on the acequia issues by attending this critical Annual Meeting. TVAA looks to the Mayordomos and Commissioners to pass this information to its parciantes.

    If you have any questions please feel free to contact the office at (575) 758-9461.

    We look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting