Brenda Burman confirmed as Commissioner of @USBR

Lake Nighthorse August 2017 via the US Bureau of Reclamation.

From The Arizona Republic (Marcella Baietto):

Brenda Burman, the director of water policy for Salt River Project who previously worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior, has been confirmed as the nation’s first female commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Burman, who was nominated for the post in June by President Donald Trump, was confirmed on a unanimous voice vote by the U.S. Senate on Thursday, according to the Senate record.

Burman will take the helm of an agency with nearly 5,000 employees and assist in maintaining almost 500 dams and about 330 reservoirs managed by the bureau across 17 Western states, according to a U.S Department of the Interior press release that announced her nomination this summer.

The bureau also maintains 53 hydroelectric plants in the United States.

Burman, a University of Arizona law-school graduate, previously worked for the bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, from 2006-08, as deputy commissioner for external and intergovernmental affairs and as the deputy assistant secretary.

She also was on the staff of former U.S. Sen. John Kyl of Arizona, specializing in water and energy matters.

“​I welcome this opportunity and am thankful for the chance to serve again on the Bureau of Reclamation team,” Burman said in a prepared statement after she was nominated. “The men and woman of Reclamation have helped the West work through our most difficult water issues for over a hundred years.”


Burman’s background also includes working for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Nature Conservancy.

@CoAgWater: Colorado’s Ag Water Summit 2017 December 5, 2017

Lake Loveland

Click here to read the agenda. Click here for the inside skinny and to register.

The Ag Water Summit brings together agricultural leaders from across the state, water professionals, elected officials, and decision makers to discuss agricultural water issues. We want to continue the discussion of pertinent water issues, but also want to make this event an opportunity to tell the story of “Water and Agriculture” for people unfamiliar with the role of agriculture in Colorado.

Long Hollow Reservoir late season augmentation water working as planned

Long Hollow location map via The Durango Herald

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

In the 1960s, irrigators in southwestern La Plata County had their dreams dashed when plans for a major transmountain diversion, which would have taken water from the Animas River into the low-flow La Plata River, were quashed.

The water project – called the Animas-La Plata Project – was considered the last major water storage effort in the American West. Then in 1990, the project was downsized again, removing plans for irrigation out of Lake Nighthorse.

“That’s when we started thinking seriously about this,” said Brice Lee, president of the La Plata Water Conservancy District.

Irrigators on the western side of the county have historically had to rely on the La Plata River, a generous moniker for a relatively low-flow waterway that is reduced to a trickle, and even dries up, after a short spring runoff.

Yet despite the lack of natural flows, the water has been terribly over-appropriated.

In the 1920s, Congress approved a water compact that requires the state of Colorado to deliver one-half of the daily flow of the La Plata River, measured at Hesperus, to the New Mexico state line for the use of irrigators to the south.

However, Colorado, which must live up to those terms from Feb. 1 to Dec. 1, has not always made good on that requirement for a number of reasons, including drought and water demands.

As a result, Long Hollow Dam was concocted in the 1990s, with construction starting in 2012. It cost nearly $23 million. Funds set aside from the Animas-La Plata Project paid for the 151-foot-high, 800-foot-wide dam.

The reservoir, located along Colorado Highway 140, has a capacity of nearly 5,400 acre-feet – small change when you consider Vallecito Reservoir has a capacity of 125,000 acre-feet and Lake Nighthorse, also relatively new, has a capacity of 123,541 acre-feet.

Still, the stored water in Long Hollow Dam functions as a win-win water exchange.

About 100 to 150 irrigators in southwestern La Plata County can draw and divert water out of the La Plata River farther north of Long Hollow Dam.

Then, to meet the terms of the compact, water is released from the Long Hollow Dam into the La Plata River, which takes water from Long Hollow Creek and Government Draw, tiny tributaries of the La Plata River that drain 43 square miles east of Colorado Highway 140.

Lee said thanks to strong winter snowfall and spring rains, Long Hollow Dam was able send 2,000 acre-feet to New Mexico this year. That means irrigators in southwestern La Plata County were able to use an additional 2,000 acre-feet out of the La Plata River.

“We’re pretty pleased,” he said. “We had a good year.”

The uptick in available water has had a predictably positive affect for ranchers and farmers, extending the growing season anywhere from 10 to 14 days – a vital extension in an industry that runs on margins.

“This is helping families that were drying up and getting discouraged,” said Ron Crawford, a fourth-generation La Plata County resident who is in charge of dam maintenance.

Taylor, whose father, Bobby, sold the land for the dam, said he was able to produce 30 to 40 percent more hay and grain than in years past because of the water Long Hollow Dam freed up.

Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District board meeting recap

Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain

From The La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Bette McFarren):

Mark Shea of Colorado Springs Public Works Department was early to the meeting with the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District with the good news that Colorado Springs voters have approved funding of the Fountain Creek Flood Mitigation Project by approving Ballot Issue 2A. The project has not been funded for several years, but some of the projects have been funded through the general fund, explained Engineer Richard Mulledy. The project is now the subject of litigation between Colorado Springs and the LAVWCD, so Attorney Bart Mendenhall urged both sides not to get into the territory of the lawsuit in progress.

Mulledy has been at the helm of the storm water project for two and a half years. Anthony Nunez, Director from Pueblo, asked Mulledy if the current 2A funding replaced the Enterprise Zone, which was originally designed to fund the project but voted out by the people of Colorado Springs. Mulledy said yes. The 2A mandate is intended only for capital projects associated with Fountain Creek Flood Mitigation, drainage maintenance over the 395 square miles of the Colorado Springs area, and the water quality program associated with it. Fees for litigation are not included…

Winner brought up sedimentation as the major cause of the North La Junta flooding problem. “Thirteen feet of sediment under the North La Junta Bridge,” said Winner. “More like 15 feet,” said Bud Quick, whose volunteer earth-moving has protected North La Junta several times. Earlier Quick had declared the problem of flooding in North La Junta will never be solved until the river is dredged and sediment controlled in the Arkansas River.
At the end of the meeting, Rose Ward thanked the LAVWCD for its help in flood mitigation for North La Junta, and at the present time for helping them establish a special district that will enable North La Junta Conservancy District to help itself.