The latest E-Newsletter is hot off the presses from @WaterCenterCMU


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

Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum

Keynote Speakers!
John Fleck, Director of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program and author of Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths about Water in the West

Brian Richter, President, Sustainable Waters

Draft Program

San Luis Valley: “We have had a good season so far” — Craig Cotten

Map of the Rio Grande watershed, showing the Rio Chama joining the Rio Grande near Santa Fe. Graphic credit WikiMedia.

From The Alamosa News (Ruth Heide):

Following record rainfall in July, water levels in area rivers have declined significantly, according to Colorado Division of Water Resources Division 3 Engineer Craig Cotten.

He said the annual streamflows on both the Rio Grande and Conejos River systems will wind up above normal, however, and the Rio Grande Basin (San Luis Valley) should have no trouble meeting its Compact obligations to downstream states.

“We have had a good season so far,” he said on Tuesday.

The basin experienced a good runoff, followed by a drop-off of flows and then above-average precipitation that bolstered streamflows, in some areas significantly, Cotten explained.

“We always anticipate precipitation in the monsoon periods, July and August time period, but the extent of that was a little bit unanticipated,” he added.

Streamflows in the San Luis Valley have dropped significantly in the last couple of weeks, Cotten said, on both the Rio Grande and Conejos River systems. The Rio Grande is currently below average for this time of year but should total about 700,000 acre feet streamflow for the year, which is above the average of 650,000 acre feet.

The Conejos River system should wind up with about 425,000 acre feet, which is well above the average of just over 300,000 acre feet…

Currently, irrigators are being curtailed 13 percent on the Rio Grande and 37 percent on the Conejos system, according to Cotten who said only three ditches with the highest priority are taking water on the Conejos River system right now.

Cotten said his goal is to meet the Compact obligation with some to spare but not over-deliver too much downstream…

With irrigation still ongoing, the Rio Grande Compact reservoir storage in Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs in New Mexico has dropped below 400,000 acre feet to about 350,000 acre feet, Cotten explained. When that happens, reservoirs like Platoro Reservoir in the Valley that were built after the Compact went into effect cannot store water until the Compact reservoir storage in New Mexico exceeds 400,000 acre feet again. The storage prohibition will probably last until January, Cotten said.

Irrigation use is tapering off somewhat in the Valley for most crops except alfalfa, which is gearing up for a third cutting.

@USBR: Nine Projects $2.1 Million for Planning Activities in the Development of WaterSMART Water Marketing Strategies

A canal moving water. Canals like this one may be used to move water in a water market.

Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

Projects in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington were selected to help establish or expand water markets or water marketing transactions

Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen announced that nine projects will receive $2.1 million for planning activities to help establish or expand water markets or water marketing transactions. The nine projects are located in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

“Through water markets, willing buyers and sellers come together to share the water within their delivery area,” Mikkelsen said. “Water managers need a variety of tools to manage water to assure a sustainable supply into the future. Water markets are just one of those tools.”

The full description of the selected projects is available at https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/weeg/watermarketing.html. The selected projects are:

Central Oregon Irrigation District (Oregon)
Reclamation Funding: $400,000 Total Project Cost: $800,000

East Bay Municipal Utility District (California)
Reclamation Funding: $400,000 Total Project Cost: $1,062,127

El Dorado County Water Agency (California)
Reclamation Funding: $400,000 Total Project Cost: $842,218

Grand Valley Water Users Association (Colorado)
Reclamation Funding: $128,000 Total Project Cost: $265,900

Kittitas Reclamation District (Washington)
Reclamation Funding: $198,990 Total Project Cost: $433,154

Lower South Platte Water Conservancy (Colorado)
Reclamation Funding: $236,245 Total Project Cost: $708,961

Shoshone-Bannock Tribes (Idaho)
Reclamation Funding: $42,887 Total Project Cost: $85,775

The New Cache La Poudre Irrigating Company, Inc. (Colorado)
Reclamation Funding: $192,950 Total Project Cost: $397,705

Warm Springs Water and Power Enterprises (Oregon)
Reclamation Funding: $172,062 Total Project Cost: $344,124

Water marketing strategy grants are used to conduct planning activities in developing a water marketing strategy. Water marketing refers to water rights transactions and includes the lease, sale or exchange of water rights undertaken in accordance with state and federal laws between willing buyers and sellers.

@infiniteharvest: An indoor hydroponic vertical farm

Vertical farming graphic via VisualCapitalist.com.

Click here to go to the website:

Infinite Harvest

Infinite Harvest is an indoor hydroponic vertical farm located in Lakewood, Colorado. Through our unique growing system we provide fresh and nutritious produce year-round that is consistent in flavor and superior in quality, all grown with little environmental impact. We sell our products to local restaurants and food markets along the Colorado Front Range. Ask your favorite retailer if they offer our products and see what delicious foods can be made with our products.

Infinite Harvest and the Future of Food Production

The ability to grow food and feed people today is becoming more difficult every year. Diminishing farm land contends with erratic weather patterns, growing population and diminishing natural resources. Localized farming and urban farming are two solutions to feed local populations with fresh food while sustainable agriculture and organic farming are movements to combat environmental damage caused by large scale farming. Infinite Harvest hits the sweet spot between all these farming movements.

As an Indoor vertical farm, Infinite Harvest is able to grow produce all year long and in places where farming could never occur – in large cities and industrialized communities, in vast desserts and mountainous regions. By building vertical farms anywhere, we can feed people everywhere. Equally important, the environmental impact of Infinite Harvest’s vertical farm is significantly less than that of a traditional farm, even an organic farm.

Infinite Harvest’s year round growing cycles means seasonality is no longer an issue. Want to eat arugula in July or March, with Infinite Harvest that is no problem; neither is Thai Basil in December or Micro Greens in April or Bibb Lettuce in October. This is a game changer for restaurants and their customers. We provide local, farm fresh and high-quality produce at any time of the year because at Infinite Harvest, it’s always the growing season.

From The Denver Post (Joseph Rios):

Walk down the aisles of the 5,400-square-foot building, and you’re flanked by green, leafy plants growing on white tiers.

Infinite Harvest’s crops are grown in a controlled environment — lights, humidity, temperature, gases (think carbon dioxide), nutrients and fertigation, can all be regulated. Fertigation provides nutrients to plants and soil through an irrigation system.

“We can’t control the sun, but we can control the LED lights. The only thing unnatural (about our farming methods) is our ability to control the environment,” said founder Tommy Romano.

Infinite Harvest’s methods also differ in other ways from those used on many traditional farms, Romano said.

“We don’t use any pesticides or herbicides, no foliar sprays whatsoever. What you eat is 100 percent plant. We have a phrase that we pretty much use: We are ‘going beyond organic,’” Romano said.

“Going beyond organic” means producing crops in a way that is better for the environment, Romano said. He estimates Infinite Harvest uses 95 percent less water than a traditional farm with the same harvest.

“We bring the water right to the plants rather than letting it seep through the soil. We don’t spray, we don’t irrigate through sprinkler systems. We save a lot of water from that standpoint,” Romano said.

Infinite Harvest, which was 5 years old when it made Lakewood its home in 2014, is currently growing about 60,000 plants. Romano said it has the capacity to feed roughly 2 percent of the more than 140,000 people who live in Lakewood, based on average annual consumption rate. It’s owned by a group of shareholders interested in boosting efficiency in modern farming. One example of Infinite Harvest’s efficiency: It can grow and harvest year-round with no worry about weather damage.

@ColoradoClimate: Weekly Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West

Upper Colorado River Basin precipitation as a percent of normal August 2017 via the Colorado Climate Center.

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

@WaterValues podcast: A Different Approach to Ag Water and Soil Health with Jimmy Emmons

Click here to listen to the podcast:

Jimmy Emmons, a 3rd generation Oklahoma farmer, describes the benefits of no-till farming combined with a soil health program. Jimmy explains how no-till farming uses less water, fits within the natural water cycle and reduces nutrient run-off and soil loss. You will be amazed as Jimmy explains the results of his conversion of his farmland to the no-till method with soil healthy practices.

In this session, you’ll learn about:

  • Jimmy’s background and why he switched to no till farming
  • The natural water cycle on the prairie
  • Why cover crops are an important piece of the ag water puzzle
  • Why and how traditional farming method practitioners view cover crops
  • How yields are impacted by the conversion to no till farming and soil health practices
  • How farm equipment manufacturers are reacting to the increased use of no till farming
  • #ColoradoRiver: Down with the Glen Canyon Dam? — @HighCountryNews #COriver

    Here’s an in-depth report about decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam from Krista Langlois writing for The High Country News. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

    For wilderness lovers, the 710-foot-tall concrete wall stuck out of the Colorado River like a middle finger — an insult that helped ignite the modern environmental movement. In 1981, the radical group Earth First! faked a “crack” on the dam by unfurling a 300-foot-long black banner down the structure’s front. The Sierra Club’s first executive director, David Brower, considered the dam’s construction a personal failure and spent the rest of his life advocating for its removal. And in his iconic novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, author Edward Abbey imagined a group of friends secretly plotting to blow up the dam and free the Colorado River.

    In real life, though, Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell made it possible for millions of people to live and grow food in the arid Southwest. Together, the dam and the reservoir store precious snowmelt for year-round use, help generate electricity for 5.8 million homes, and enable states from the Upper Colorado River Basin to fulfill their legal obligation to deliver water to downstream states. Last year, the federal government underscored its support for the dam by finalizing a plan that will guide management for the next two decades.

    Even so, an unprecedented interest in dam removals and the specter of climate change have created fresh hope for those who want to see the drowned canyon resurrected. From 1990 to 2010, the population of the American Southwest grew by 37 percent, even as the amount of water flowing into the Colorado River system shrank amid a historic drought. More people using fewer resources means that neither Lake Powell nor Lake Mead, the downstream reservoir created by Hoover Dam, have been full since 1999. And climate change promises to squeeze the water supply even further, with future droughts expected to bring even hotter and drier conditions.

    Meanwhile, Lake Powell may be squandering the very resource it was designed to protect. Every day, water slowly seeps into the soft, porous sandstone beneath the reservoir and evaporates off its surface into the desert air. When more water flowed in the system, this hardly mattered. But in an era where “every drop counts,” says Eric Balken, executive director of the nonprofit Glen Canyon Institute, it calls for a drastic re-evaluation of the Colorado River’s plumbing. “The Colorado River can no longer sustain two huge reservoirs,” Balken says. “There isn’t enough water.”

    That’s one reason the Glen Canyon Institute is pushing an audacious proposal called “Fill Mead First,” which calls for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to drain Lake Powell and send the water downstream to Lake Mead. In theory, combining two reservoirs into one would shrink their surface area, reducing the amount of water that’s lost to evaporation. It would also mitigate seepage, since Lake Mead is surrounded by hard volcanic rock rather than sandstone. The Colorado River would run freely through Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon, but Glen Canyon Dam would stay in place to store water if cooler, wetter conditions return — a compromise of sorts.

    Not long ago, the idea of breaching Glen Canyon Dam was laughably unrealistic. Since 1999, though, more than 850 dams have been removed from U.S. rivers, and ecological restorations that once seemed pie-in-the-sky are looking increasingly probable. There’s just one problem: The science behind Fill Mead First is as muddy as the Colorado River itself.