#Drought news: D0 (Abnormally Dry) expands into Washington County

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


Precipitation was above normal across much of the nation’s mid-section and below normal in portions of the Deep South, Southeast, Ohio Valley and much of the West. The heaviest rainfall was in southern Minnesota, western Iowa, eastern Nebraska, western Missouri, eastern Kansas and northwest Arkansas. Temperatures were above normal for much of the eastern third of the nation, the Deep South and Far West. The Northern Plains, Southwest and much of the West had below-normal temperatures. Drought and dryness persisted in the northern Plains and expanded westward significantly in Montana…

High Plains

Precipitation was above normal for much of the Dakotas and Nebraska during the week. Rainfall totals exceeded 5 inches in eastern Nebraska and the eastern Dakotas received 3-5 inches. The precipitation helped ease some of the drought conditions that have persisted in the region for several months. Despite the recent rains, significant long-term dryness still existed so drought conditions continued for much of the region. In North Dakota, it was reported that some ranchers are resorting to drilling new wells as the previously established wells have dried up. In South Dakota, reported impacts include: dry dams or unusable water, lack of well water, failed hay crops, and wildfire danger. In Nebraska, it was reported that crops are beginning to stress due to the lack of rain…


Most of the West region received little to no precipitation for this period, as this time of year is normally the dry season. Temperatures were cooler than average for much of the Southwest and interior West, but 2-4 degrees F above normal for much of Nevada, as much as 2 degrees F above normal for central California and 6-8 degrees F above normal for northern California. Drought continued to expand in western Montana where the extremely dry weather pattern has persisted. It was reported that 98 percent of the topsoil moisture in Montana was rated very short to short and 90 percent of subsoil moisture was rated very short to short. The USDA reported 67 percent of the state’s pasture and rangeland was in poor to very poor condition. It was also noted that livestock sales have been accelerated 3 to 4 weeks ahead of normal due to the extreme lack of moisture. Wildfires have resulted in poor air quality. The Lolo Peak fire has scorched 32,000 acres thus far…

Looking Ahead

Looking at the next 7 days, Tropical System Harvey is forecasted to make landfall in southeast Texas Friday morning bringing with it several days of heavy rainfall in eastern Texas, Louisiana, and the lower Mississippi Valley Friday through early next week. Precipitation totals may approach 1 foot in some locations. Elsewhere, precipitation totals may total 1-2 inches in the northern High Plains stretching southwestward into the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico. Another tropical disturbance is forecasted to bring precipitation to southern Florida and depending on its development and track, along the Southeastern coastline. An active weather is expected in the Southwest as weak disturbances move over New Mexico. Temperatures will remain below normal for much of the eastern half of the country while the western half will be above normal. The coolest anomalies will be in the South and Southeast.

Looking ahead 8-14 days, the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook calls for the greatest probability of above normal temperatures in the Northwest while the South and Southeast have the best odds of being cooler than normal. Odds are in favor of precipitation falling in the Southwest and East while the Midwest and Northwest remain dry.

@CWCB_DNR: August 2017 #Drought Update

Click here to read the update:

July was characterized by warm and wet conditions. The first half of August has been cool, particularly east of the Continental Divide with near normal precipitation. Reservoir storage remains high, and municipal water providers have no immediate concerns with levels of supply and demand in their systems.

  • Reservoir storage statewide remains high at 116% of average.
  • After receiving 130% percent of statewide average precipitation in July at SNOTEL stations, August precipitation through August 16 was 110% of average in the mountain areas. Much of eastern Colorado was exceptionally wet in early August.
  • Reference evapotranspiration (ET), an indicator of how much water that can be consumed by crops, has been below normal for the first half of August.
  • Colorado Drought Monitor August 15, 2017.

    Colorado water and climate professionals are bidding a sad farewell to our longtime State Climatologist, Nolan Doesken. Nolan is retiring after 40 years of service to Colorado. In his presentation to the August Water Availability Task Force meeting, Nolan provided some long-term graphs relevant to Colorado climate and water supply.

    Professor Emeritus and former State Climatologist Tom McKee, left, shared memories dating back to 1977, the year Nolan started working at CSU as Assistant State Climatologist.

    Aspen officials hesitant to respond to court-raised issues about potential dams

    The site of the potential Maroon Creek Reservoir, just below the confluence of East and West Maroon creeks.

    A water court referee has advised the city of Aspen it must provide “substantive” responses to issues raised by the division engineer and the court before she issues a ruling in two water court cases tied to the potential Maroon and Castle creek dams and reservoirs.

    The issues raised include whether the city can get a permit for the dams, if it can build the dams in reasonable time, if it has a specific plan to build them, and if it needs the water.

    The referee, Susan Ryan, wants the city’s responses to those outstanding questions, even if the city reaches a settlement agreement with the 10 parties currently opposing the city’s applications.

    “Regarding the response to the summary of consultation, I think it would be useful to see a substantive response prior to the next status conference in this case,” Ryan said at the start of an Aug. 10 status conference on the two cases.

    But Cindy Covell, the water attorney for the city, said the city does not want to make its case to the court at this stage of the proceedings.

    “Obviously the reason this case is so highly opposed, among other reasons, is that there is a lot of people who think we can’t meet the burden of proof, and that would be the subject of the trial,” Covell said in response to Ryan. “And to the extent that we are putting our case out there ahead of time, it just may make it that much harder to reach a settlement from Aspen’s standpoint, because we know it is a difficult case.”

    On July 19 the city issued a statement saying it was seeking “a way to transfer decreed storage rights to locations other than the decreed locations on Castle Creek and Maroon Creek.”

    Maroon Creek Reservoir would hold 4,567 acre-feet of water on 85 acres of land, all owned by the USFS. It also would encroach on portions of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Castle Creek Reservoir, as currently decreed, would hold 9,062 acre-feet on 120 acres of mostly private, high-end residential property, but also flood some USFS land and cross the wilderness boundary.

    The city has maintained conditional water-storage rights for both reservoirs since 1965.

    “To the extent that you feel that the summary of consultation is asking you to lay out all your evidence, I don’t really see that it is,” Ryan told Covell during the status conference. “I think it is more asking to make sure we have something in the record to support that you’ve met your burden of proof here, before any ruling is entered.”

    As water court referee, Ryan’s also charged with investigating the factual and legal aspects of water rights applications before making a ruling.

    The issues facing the city were raised in two summaries of consultation that Alan Martellaro, the division engineer, filed with the water court in January after consulting with Ryan about the city’s applications.

    Both summaries of consultation filed in response to the Castle and Maroon applications said the city “must demonstrate that it will secure permits and land-use approvals that are necessary to apply the subject water rights to beneficial use.”

    They said the city must show that it “will complete the appropriations within a reasonable time” and that “a specific plan is in place to develop the subject water rights.”

    They also said the city “must demonstrate substantiated population growth in order to justify the continued need for these water rights” and that it must show it is “not speculating with the subject water rights.”

    The U.S. Forest Service, one of 10 parties opposing the city in water court, has told the court it cannot issue a permit for the reservoirs, and so the city cannot complete the reservoirs in a reasonable time. Pitkin County, another opposer, told the court the city has not demonstrated it needs the water and that the city appears to be speculating.

    The summaries of consultation required a response from the city to the court, and on July 10, the city submitted only a limited response.

    During the Aug. 10 status conference, Ryan told Covell she did not find Aspen’s answers in July to the summaries of consultation “substantive.”

    “We’re not trying to play hide the ball here,” Covell then told Ryan, “but a lot of those questions were legal questions, basically asking the city to put out the evidence it is going to use to prove its case at trial, and we just don’t think that’s an appropriate use of the summary of consultation process.”

    But Ryan, the water court referee, disagreed.

    “I think the purpose of the summary of consultation is to make sure the applicant can support any ruling that is entered in this case. And here the issues raised in the summary of consultation were ‘can and will’ — can the applicant develop this water right within a reasonable amount of time?” Ryan said. “And I do think that is something that needs to be in the record before I can enter any ruling in this case.”

    If Ryan is dissatisfied with the city’s responses, she could issue a ruling denying the city’s applications. And the city could then appeal her ruling and take the case to trial before a water court judge. Ryan also can accept the city’s responses and issue a ruling that would maintain the city’s water rights for another six years.

    During the Aug. 10 status conference, Ryan agreed to give the city more time (90 days) to respond to the issues raised in the summaries of consultation. The next status conference is set for Nov. 9.

    Sometime after that, the city will need to file a substantive response, Ryan said.

    Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism is collaborating with The Aspen Times on coverage of water and rivers. The Times published this story online on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.

    Did Katy Perry predict our customers’ water consumption? – News on TAP

    The pop icon’s 2008 song lyrics had remarkable insight on recent water use and temperature patterns.

    Source: Did Katy Perry predict our customers’ water consumption? – News on TAP