@CAPArizona: Historic Agreement Signed to Protect #ColoradoRiver #Minute323 #COriver

Roberto Salmon and Edward Drusina at the Minute 323 signing ceremony September 27, 2017. Photo credit .U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

From the Central Arizona Project:

Since September 2015, the United States, the seven Colorado River Basin states, and key water users including CAWCD, have been working with their counterparts in Mexico to develop a successor agreement to Minute 319, now known as Minute 323.

The direct negotiations with Mexico included the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) representing the interests of Arizona. CAWCD staff participated in several work groups supporting the negotiation effort. The Minute was finalized by the Commissioners of the International Boundary and Water Commission in the United States and the Republic of Mexico on September 27, 2017.

The Minute provides significant and lasting benefits to water users in Mexico and the United States, including CAP water users. The Minute provides for new investments in water conservation infrastructure in Mexico which will make water uses in the Mexicali Valley more efficient for the long-term. Mexico and the U.S. agreed to share the risks of shortages and to share opportunities for surplus Colorado River water. In addition, Mexico agreed to participate in additional actions to protect Lake Mead, in the event that the U.S. water users implement a Drought Contingency Plan in the U.S. The new Minute is an extension and expansion of the collaborative and cooperative efforts to protect Lake Mead and sustain the shared resources of the Colorado River.

CAWCD has participated in the binational process between the United States and Mexico since 2008 to achieve four main goals, which have been included in Minute 323:

  • Decrease the duration or magnitude of shortages by seeking Mexico’s voluntary agreement to share in Colorado River shortages with U.S. water users.
  • Increase the storage in Lake Mead through the development and implementation of water conservation projects in Mexico.
  • Augment CAP water supplies through the implementation of conservation projects in Mexico and explore binational desalination projects to benefit Arizona and Mexico water users.
  • Manage salinity compliance operations so that river operational changes made as part of these agreements will not reduce Arizona’s return flows and thereby reduce CAP deliveries.
  • The key components on Minute 323 are:

  • Effective through 2026, consistent with the 2007 Guidelines.
  • Shortage is shared – if one country is in shortage, then the other country is in shortage with the same triggers that are identified for U.S. water users in the 2007 Guidelines; this is similar to Minute 319.
  • Surplus is shared – if one country can receive surplus, then the other country can receive surplus with the same initial trigger as U.S. water users as identified in the 2007 Guidelines; this is also similar to Minute 319.
  • Binational conservation projects have been expanded through the commitment to fund specified conservation projects in Mexico, to develop and fund additional projects, and to study binational desalination in the Gulf of California region.
  • Environmental flows and habitat restoration in the Colorado River delta region in Mexico will continue to be funded.
  • Salinity management projects will be expanded to improve the water quality of deliveries to Mexico while minimizing the impact to U.S. water users.
  • Binational Water Scarcity Contingency Plan has Mexico taking additional voluntary reductions upon the implementation of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, with the Mexico reductions similar to the Lower Basin states at the same elevation triggers.
  • In order to implement the Minute, a series of domestic agreements between U.S. parties were also executed. Overall, there are eight domestic agreements necessary to implement Minute 323 in Arizona and CAWCD is a party to six of these agreements, including a Memorandum of Agreement with ADWR. The CAWCD Board approved the execution of these agreements at the Board meeting on August 3, 2017. The domestic agreements were executed simultaneously with Minute 323. These agreements will serve to provide additional protection for CAP water users, and further CAWCD’s cooperative actions with its interstate and international partners to protect its Colorado River supply.

    #ColoradoSprings: Ballot issue debate, October 17, 2017

    Heavy rains inundate Sand Creek. Photo via the City of Colorado Springs and the Colorado Springs Independent.

    From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

    Two key ballot measures will be debated on Oct. 17 at a public forum at the MCI/Verizon Building, located at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road. The forum will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    Mayor John Suthers will promote the city’s proposed stormwater fee. If 2A is approved, it would require every household to pay $5 a month on their water bill to fund stormwater projects, and owners of nonresidential property to pay $30 per acre per month. Property owners of developed land larger than five acres would pay fees set by the city’s stormwater manager, based on impervious surface.

    Taking the “vote no” position will be political strategist Laura Carno, who’s mounting an opposition effort.

    #Snowpack news: Report from Grand County

    From the Sky-Hi News (Lance Maggart):

    A frigid storm front began moving into the Fraser and Colorado River valleys Sunday afternoon, sending sleet down across Grand County as a heavy driving wind pushed many citizens indoors. As night fell across the high Rockies the storm’s precipitation shifted from rain to snow. Colorado Department of Transportation snowplows were hard at work on Berthoud Pass Sunday night as the white stuff started piling up in the valleys below.

    Officials at Winter Park Resort were thrilled with the preseason moisture. Steve Hurlbert, director of Resort Communications, said Winter Park received a minimum of eight inches overnight into the morning of Oct. 2. Hurlbert noted the Resort is working to get their winter snow stake set up for the coming ski season and as such did not have a precise figure for the overnight snowfall.

    #Drought news: DO (Abnormally Dry) trimmed in Denver area, Lake, Chaffee, and eastern Gunnison counties

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


    A cold front approached the Eastern Seaboard early in the drought week, which drove Tropical Storm Maria farther away from the mid-Atlantic coast, keeping substantial impacts to a minimum. About the same time, the western edge of this cold front moved through southern Texas and New Mexico, bringing significant upslope precipitation (0.5-3.0 inches, locally greater) to the southern Great Plains and adjacent Rockies. Another cold front then moved southeastward out of central Canada, accompanied by primarily light precipitation (0.75-inch or less) to the Great Lakes region and Northeast. Towards the end of the drought week, yet another cold front progressed eastward across the Rockies, and the northern halves of the Great Plains and Mississippi Valley, bringing 1-2 inches of rain to much of the region…

    High Plains

    Beneficial rains (generally 2-5 inches) in the past 14-days have resulted in drought depiction improvements across North Dakota and eastern South Dakota this week. Accordingly, the impacts line was adjusted to better reflect the updated conditions across this area. In North Dakota, rainfall and cold temperatures halted agricultural progress where rainfall was significant. Short-term precipitation has been helpful, but needs to be weighed against long-term drought impacts…


    In southeastern Arizona, the D0 “hole” in the depiction was filled in with D0, as there is little difference in conditions between that area and its surroundings. In Colorado, D0 was removed from the Denver area, and some D0 was trimmed away from Lake, Chaffee, and eastern Gunnison Counties. These locations received ample precipitation in September, and SPIs are mostly positive across multiple timescales. In eastern Utah (Uintah County), the western part of the moderate drought area (D1) was trimmed away. This area ended the Water Year with near average precipitation, and received above average precipitation in September. In Montana, welcome precipitation and increasing soil moisture warranted significant improvements statewide this week…

    Looking Ahead

    During the upcoming 5-day period (October 5-9), a meandering baroclinic zone is predicted to bring 1-4 inches of rain (locally greater amounts possible) from New Mexico across the south-central Plains, the north-central Mississippi Valley, and Great Lakes region. This may be enough to warrant some improvements across Kansas next week, if this forecast verifies. Across the eastern half of the Gulf Coast region, 2-4 inches of rain are generally anticipated, but these amounts could be exceeded if Tropical Depression 16 (TD-16) moves into that region. As of 2pm EDT, Oct 4, TD-16 is located near the coast of Nicaragua. This scenario would certainly help with some of the dryness across Alabama.

    During the 6-10 day period (October 10-14), odds for above normal precipitation are elevated above climatological odds from about the western slopes of the Appalachians to the Atlantic Coast, and over extreme southern Texas. This would be expected to at least offset additional degradation across this region. From about the Mississippi Valley westward to the Pacific Coast, sub-normal precipitation amounts are favored.

    #ColoradoRiver: #Minute 323 includes binational environmental flows for the delta #COriver

    Colorado River pulse flow (Minute 319) reaches the Sea of Cortez for the first time since 1998 on May 15, 2014 via the Sonoran Institute

    From Water Deeply (Alastair Bland):

    A new agreement signed between the U.S. and Mexico continues an important collaboration in managing the Colorado River, but also gives new hope for reviving stretches of the river that have run dry.

    The new agreement, signed on September 27 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, by officials from both nations, requires the United States to invest millions of dollars in water conservation projects in Mexico – like plugging leaks in irrigation canals and helping farmers implement water-efficient technology.

    Minute 323 also allows Mexico, which has no significant reservoirs in the Colorado basin, to store some of its water north of the border. In return, the U.S. will receive a portion of the Colorado River water to which Mexico has historically been entitled.

    But the river’s beleaguered delta, which has received barely a trickle of water for years, may see the most dramatic benefits of all. Through 2026 – the lifespan of the new arrangement – 210,000 acre-feet of water, provided by stakeholders both north and south of the border, will be allowed to flow through the lower reaches of the Colorado, just upstream from the Sea of Cortez.

    “We don’t know of any other international agreement that provides for binational environmental flows,” said Anne Castle, a senior fellow with the University of Colorado’s Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment. “Minute 323 is really an agreement between two countries to manage their shared river as one.”


    Minute 323 requires the U.S. and Mexican governments and a coalition of environmental groups to bear equal shares of the cost of delivering the environmental flows, which will provide basic seasonal benefits, like supporting the regrowth of riparian habitat stressed by dry years and replenishing local groundwater reserves. Pitt says the delta flows will likely be delivered sporadically through each year’s March-October growing season…

    Castle, who was involved in steering the outcome of Minute 319 and calls herself “an interested observer” in the newer agreement, said Minute 323 was a “win-win for both countries.”

    In signing the 23-page document, stakeholders north of the border agreed to invest $31 million in Mexican water conservation and development projects, like making farms more efficient, compensating growers who fallow their fields, reducing seepage from irrigation canals and possibly desalinating water from the Sea of Cortez for municipal use.

    The water saved or produced through these projects will be stored in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, and could produce up to 220,000 acre-feet to be used by the U.S. – including 110,000 acre-feet for the Metropolitan Water District and the 70,000 acre-feet that the country must set aside for environmental uses. The rest of the water produced by the conservation projects will be reserved for Mexico, which already receives 1.5 million acre-feet each year from the Colorado. North-of-the-border users consume about 15 million acre-feet annually.

    Lake Mead has not been entirely full since 1999. The lower basin, Castle says, has remained for decades in a state of chronic overuse – a troubling imbalance in which total consumption of the reservoir’s water exceeds the volume of water flowing into it. Since 2000, the lake’s elevation has been steadily declining, though it is currently on the rise thanks to last winter’s heavy precipitation and snowfall. Today the lake is only about 40 percent full – its lowest level since the 1950s.

    Minute 323 aims to stabilize the declining level of the lake. When filled, the lake surface elevation is 1,232ft above sea level. It is now at about 1,080ft. The lowest intake on the face of Hoover Dam sits at 860ft above sea level. Below this point, the lake’s water is considered to be “dead storage” – water that is essentially inaccessible.

    Detailed Colorado River Basin map via the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

    @ColoradoStateU appoints Russ Schumacher State Climatologist @ColoradoClimate

    Russ Schumacher photo credit Colorado State University.

    Here’s the release from the Colorado Climate Center:

    On October 3, the Department of Atmospheric Science appointed Professor Russ Schumacher as the Director of the Colorado Climate Center and the newest State Climatologist.

    CSU Atmospheric Science Associate Professor Russ Schumacher has been chosen as the next director of the Colorado Climate Center and Colorado State Climatologist. His appointment begins Oct. 6. Schumacher will continue in his role as an ATS faculty member, with a shift in his effort distribution and responsibilities to reflect the significant and important duties associated with this new assignment.

    Schumacher is intimately familiar with Colorado weather and climate, leaving him well-positioned to lead the climate center staff in their three primary missions concerning climate monitoring, climate research, and climate services. In his role as state climatologist, Schumacher will be a key resource to public and private stakeholders within Colorado and beyond as they seek expert information regarding the weather and climate of our state.

    Schumacher first came to Colorado as an ATS graduate student in Fall 2001. He completed his M.S. in 2003 and Ph.D. in 2008. Schumacher joined the ATS faculty in 2011 following a postdoc stint at NCAR and three years as an assistant professor at Texas A&M. He received an NSF CAREER award in 2010 and serves as editor of Monthly Weather Review. Schumacher’s research interests include mesoscale meteorology, mesoscale convective systems, weather analysis and forecasting, the climatology of precipitation, precipitation extremes, flash floods, and societal impacts of weather.

    Outside of work, Russ has been a frequent contestant on the TV quiz show Jeopardy. After his first successful run, he won the Tournament of Champions in 2004 and made it to the semifinals of the Battle of the Decades tournament in 2014. He and his wife, Andrea, live in Fort Collins with their four-year-old son.

    Message from Our New Director…

    I’m honored by and excited about the opportunity to lead the Colorado Climate Center and serve as State Climatologist. Colorado’s weather and climate are diverse and fascinating, and since first moving here in 2001, I’ve been mystified and challenged by trying to better understand and predict it, because it’s important: scientifically, economically, and societally. The Colorado Climate Center collects and provides vital weather and climate information to stakeholders all across our state, and I look forward to working alongside the CCC staff to be a source of the most relevant information backed by the latest research to serve the needs of our state. It will never be possible to fill the shoes of my predecessor, Nolan Doesken, who greatly advanced climate services across Colorado, but I will work hard to apply my background in weather research to continue the Colorado Climate Center’s legacy of excellent service to our state. – Russ

    #ColoradoSprings: Dry September water bills surprise some rate payers

    From KOAA (Lena Howland):

    Unusually high water bills have started to roll in for several folks in Colorado Springs for the month of September.

    Colorado Springs Utilities says there are no leaks and no issues with their meters, it simply comes down to a matter of consumption and usage per household.

    But many homeowners in the Stetson Hills neighborhood say that’s just not the case and they haven’t made any changes all summer.

    “We got our bill and it was $460,” Stephanie Gordon, a Colorado Springs rate payer said…

    So News 5 took these concerns straight to Colorado Springs Utilities.

    “We take them seriously, we look into them, we investigate them, we checked out all of our billing and metering functionalities and our systems are working correctly so there is no reason to believe that we have billing errors on our side,” Eric Isaacson, a spokesperson for Colorado Springs Utilities said.

    They say it’s likely an issue of consumption which could be to blame on the weather.

    “When you see that hot, dry, spell come in for a little while, and you increase, if you do turn on your sprinkler system again, yeah it’s going to be a bit of a jump, you’re going to see that because it’s reflected in what you’re using,” Isaacson said.