2017 River Sweep recap — The Greenway Foundation

Photo credit The Greenway Foundation.

Here’s the release from The Greenway Foundation:

Volunteers donated over 1,000 hours to 6 parks along the South Platte River. We were able to spread over 70 yards mulch to protect existing trees and plants. Volunteers collected 20 cubic yards of pant debris and 10 cubic yards of trash. Originateve, another local non-profit, sorted through the collected trash and sorted out 400 gallons of recyclable materials!

Over 30 families joined The Greenway Foundation SPREE Education team for the Publication Printers Family Event at City of Cuernavaca Park. We started the morning with a trash clean up along the South Platte River and removed invasive plants under the guidance of Arborforce staff. Families then came up to the pavilion for lawn games and fun guided nature crafts. We made butterflies out of coffee filters, clay stamps using natural materials, planted seeds, and drew with chalk. Thanks again to everyone who helped us clean up this beautiful park!

The Greenway Leadership Corp (GLC) team picked up trash along the road and river in City of Cuernavaca Park. We had a great crew helping clean up the park, with a bunch of new faces and some familiar ones as well! We all spent a couple of hours diligently removing trash, and then some of us hung around to eat food and try our hand at giant Jenga.

Check out the pictures from both events!

#Drought news: D1 (Abnormally dry) introduced in W. #Colorado, E. plains improved

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


An intense storm developed over the central Plains and moved through the Midwest, bringing with it torrential rains and thunderstorms on the front side and heavy, wet snow on the back side. A wide swath of the country from eastern Oklahoma through Arkansas, Missouri and into Illinois recorded over 5 inches of rain with the event. Portions of western Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle recorded several inches of snow, with some places over a foot. The Southeast remained dry as well as much of the Southwest. Long-term drought issues still linger in the Northeast even with the wet pattern of the last several months. Snow was still accumulating in the upper elevations of the Rocky Mountains, with water managers making room for the anticipated runoff…

High Plains

The week was mixed over the region; it was dry in the Dakotas but wet over much of Nebraska and Kansas as well as the plains of Colorado. The same storm system that brought the rain to the Midwest also brought rain and snow to both Kansas and Nebraska. Significant snow totals were associated with this storm for this time of year. In Kansas, Tribune had a storm total of 22 inches; Wallace, 21 inches; Hugoton, 17 inches; Russell Springs, 16.5 inches; and Ulysses, 15.5 inches. In Nebraska, Maywood had 12 inches; Miller, O’Neill, and Newport, 10 inches; Eustis, 8.4 inches; and Lexington, Bertrand, and Sumner, 8 inches. Moisture in the region allowed for improvement to drought and dryness in the region. All moderate drought was removed this week from Nebraska and eastern Colorado and only 2 small pockets of moderate drought remain in northeast Wyoming. Abnormally dry conditions were also improved over all of Kansas, western South Dakota, eastern Colorado, and southern Nebraska. Only a few pockets of dryness remain in the region…


Precipitation over New Mexico, the Pacific Northwest, and the Rocky Mountains was the highlight of the week. The precipitation over the Rocky Mountains and into northern New Mexico allowed for improvements to be made this week, with moderate drought reduced and abnormally dry conditions improved. Dryness over western Colorado and eastern Utah allowed for a new area of abnormally dry conditions to be introduced this week. Montana received above-normal rainfall in April, which allowed for the abnormally dry conditions that had previously been associated with below-normal snowpack to be removed. Over the last several months, dryness over western New Mexico and eastern Arizona has developed, and this area will need to be monitored closely for degradation in the near future…

Looking Ahead

Over the next 5-7 days, another storm system will impact the Midwest with good chances of heavy rain from Missouri northeast into Michigan. Heavy rains are anticipated along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle, with up to 3-4 inches projected. Much of the eastern third of the United States will see rain, with only southern Georgia and Florida on the lower end of the forecasted amounts. Temperatures will be below normal over the eastern United States as the wet pattern will suppress daily highs. Warmer than normal conditions are anticipated over the High Plains, northern Rocky Mountains and into the Great Basin, with departures of 12-15 degrees above normal anticipated.

The 6-10 day outlooks show that much of the western half of the United States will expect greater than normal chances of recording above-normal precipitation, especially over the Southwest and Alaska. Increased chances of drier than normal conditions are projected over the Midwest and Southeast, with the driest locations anticipated to be over south Florida and the upper Midwest. The temperature outlook correlates well with the anticipated precipitation pattern as the greatest chance of cooler than normal temperatures is over the Southwest and Northeast while much of the Southeast, Alaska, High Plains, and northern Rocky Mountains are anticipating a higher than normal probability of warmer than normal temperatures.

#AZ, #CA, #NV #Drought Contingency Plan update #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Colorado River Basin

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Henry Brean):

Since 2015, Nevada, California and Arizona have been negotiating a drought contingency plan to keep Lake Mead from shrinking enough to trigger a first-ever federal shortage declaration and force Nevada and Arizona to cut their use of river water.

Despite recent signs of discord, [John Entsminger, Southern Nevada Water Authority] said the states are still “holding firm” to an agreement in principle under which Nevada, Arizona and, eventually, California would voluntarily reduce use and leave water in Lake Mead when the surface of the reservoir falls to certain trigger points.

He said he expects the plan to be finalized late this year or early next year, once the “diverse constituencies” of water users in Arizona and California figure out how the voluntary cuts will be made in each state.

Apparently, Arizona has more work to do.

Over the past two weeks, three of the state’s top water managers have staked out opposing positions on the contingency plan in dueling opinion pieces published in the Arizona Republic.

Board members Alexandra Arboleda and Mark Taylor from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District got things started on April 21, when they floated an alternate plan in the state’s largest newspaper to artificially keep Lake Mead just above the trigger point for a shortage, a move they said would force the release of more water from Lake Powell upstream while lessening the need for water reductions in Arizona.

‘It doesn’t hold water’

Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, responded Sunday with an op-ed of his own dismissing Arboleda and Taylor’s idea as a “risky gambit” that seeks to game the system.

“It doesn’t hold water. I won’t support it. It’s that simple,” he wrote.

The unusual public exchange hints at a long-simmering power struggle between Buschatzke’s agency and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, which operates and maintains the canals that deliver Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson.

Buschatzke downplayed the dispute in a follow-up statement Wednesday, noting that progress is being made on “an intra-Arizona plan.”

“It is conceivable an agreement among Arizona water users could occur later this year,” he said. “However, it is likely the Arizona Legislature will not be in session then. Thus, the most likely time frame for (contingency plan) approval will be early next year.”

Luckily, Entsminger said, an unusually wet winter in the mountains that feed the Colorado has bought everyone more time. The additional snowmelt is expected to boost Lake Mead and delay a shortage declaration for at least another year.

Entsminger just hopes the temporary respite doesn’t cause water officials to lose the sense of urgency that has carried the talks this far. “It’s human nature to take your foot off the gas when it seems like you have more time,” he said.

Transition pauses water talks with Mexico

Progress also has stalled — this time for bureaucratic reasons — on treaty talks between the U.S. and Mexico over how to better manage the Colorado River across the international boundary.

Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager John Entsminger said discussions are in a “holding pattern” until President Donald Trump fills several key Department of Interior positions.

Under an existing treaty amendment, set to expire on Dec. 31, Mexico can store some of its annual Colorado River allotment in Lake Mead, providing a boost to the reservoir.

The two countries are close to a new pact that would spell out Mexico’s share of cuts in the event of a federal shortage declaration on the river. The latest amendment to the 1944 water treaty would also free Mexico to continue storing some of its river allotment in Lake Mead and allow U.S. water agencies to invest in infrastructure improvements south of the border in exchange for a portion of the saved water.

The May 2017 “WaterNews” is hot off the presses from @DenverWater

Denver Water Collection System via Denver Water

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

The Denver Board of Water Commissioners recently approved Denver Water’s refreshed strategic plan, which builds on our past achievements and sets the strategic direction of the organization for the next five years.

The strategic plan outlines our vision, mission, guiding principles, goals and objectives. The plan places our customers at the forefront of everything we do and provides us with guiding principles to ensure we weigh our decisions against customer centricity, industry leadership and taking the long-term view.

We use those guiding principles to evaluate all our decisions and purposefully move us toward our vision to be the best water utility in the nation. Our work is also guided by our mission, which is to expertly manage and supply an essential natural resource to sustain our vibrant community — because water connects us all.

Final decision made for Cherry Creek Dam Water Control Plan Modification Study

Cherry Creek Dam looking south

Here’s the release from the Army Corps of Engineers (Katie Seefus):

In October 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District began studying modifications to the Cherry Creek Dam Water Control Plan. A water control plan outlines predetermined regulation requirements for federally authorized project purposes.

Historically, Cherry Creek Dam has been regulated as a system with Bear Creek Dam and Chatfield Dam targeting a maximum flow of 5,000 cfs at the South Platte River at Denver, Colorado streamgage to mitigate flood risk in Denver, Colorado.

The purpose of the Cherry Creek Dam Water Control Plan Modification Study (WCPMS) was to reduce the potential risk of overtopping and failure of Cherry Creek Dam during extreme flooding events by releasing more water from the dam while limiting exposure to potential downstream damages.

The Cherry Creek Dam WCPMS analyzed the impacts due to six release alternatives and recommended an alternative that requires Cherry Creek Dam releases of 7,000 cfs if the reservoir reaches elevation 5590 feet Project Datum (PD), which is 24 feet higher than the record pool set in 1973.

Evacuating flood water from Cherry Creek Reservoir at an accelerated rate reduced the risk of overtopping and failure during an extreme rain event and resulted in minimal incremental downstream damage following single rain events that have limited rainfall downstream of the dam. Some risk of additional downstream damage is possible if releasing during subsequent storm events, however, due to the uncertainty in forecasting a thunderstorm’s intensity, duration, and location, the risk is outweighed by the need to release flood water and reduce the risk of Cherry Creek Dam’s overtopping and failure.

Public and agency meetings were held in January 2016 and again in September 2016 to collect and discuss comments from agencies and the public. All comments were resolved by December 2016 following a comment extension in November 2016. The environmental analysis resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in March 2017.

Effective April 2017, the Cherry Creek Dam, Chatfield Dam, and Bear Creek Dam water control plans were modified to reflect a 7,000 cfs release from Cherry Creek Dam if the reservoir reaches elevation 5590 feet. Releases from Chatfield Dam and Bear Creek Dam were not increased in the updated water control plans.

Background: The Cherry Creek Dam project was authorized in the 1940s for the primary purpose of mitigating flood risk to the downstream city of Denver from floods originating on Cherry Creek above Cherry Creek Dam. Cherry Creek Dam and Reservoir is located on Cherry Creek, 11.4 miles southeast of its confluence with the South Platte River in Aurora, Colo.

The final Cherry Creek Dam WCPMS report and the updated Cherry Creek Dam, Chatfield Dam, and Bear Creek Dam Water Control Plans are available below:


Mesa State of the River, May 15, 2017 #ColoradoRiver #COriver

From the Colorado River District via The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

Learn more about the Colorado River

The public is invited to a free day of learning about the Colorado River at the annual Mesa County State of the River meeting from 3:30 to 8 p.m. on May 15 at the Avalon Theatre.

The event is organized by the Colorado River District, Business for Water Stewardship and the Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center at Colorado Mesa University. The event is supported by Alpine Bank, Club 20 and the Tamarisk Coalition.

For more information, contact Jim Pokrandt at the Colorado River District at 970-945-8522 x236, or edinfo@crwcd.org; or Molly Mugglestone of the Business for Water Stewardship, molly@businessforwater.org.