Poems: “Before us the River is” and “Compact with the Grand” — Greg Hobbs #CRWUA2017


When Hopi Boatman sets off to explore
where it is the water goes when his people need it
to grow families, flocks and fruit trees,

When Navajo honor male San Juan
and female Colorado and their offspring Rainbow Children arc
deep within the sandstone slick rock,

When Mountain Ute warn Mountain Men
of impassable passages between disparate worlds
and Wesley Powell goes there,

All return their stories full of how Storm Gods play upon
the rocks and fade away in soft and low murmurs
beneath heaven’s infinite blue.

We find in joining them here
there is only one law of the River:

Within the limits of living together
Is the common ground of all possibility.

Justice Greg Hobbs, The Public’s Water Resource at 199

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Upstream from Lee Ferry,
Lake Powell,

the Grand Canyon,

Each and both,
chambers of the heart

Of the great Southwest.

Save the Grand Canyon,
save Lake Powell,

Tree rings teach
flood and drought endure,

Frequent the experience
of every western community

In all the western Americas.

Ancient Andeans, Mayans,
Hohokam, Puebloans, Hispanos,

Praise, store, and carry
the treasured life-giving waters

In their time and place of need
to live, harsh and beautiful,

This opportunity for community.

So the waters of the great Lake Powell
with flood and drought fluctuate,

As weather and the mountains will,
warning and nurturing

We the peoples, all the creatures,
in common compact with the Grand:

Preserve, conserve, sustain, and inspire.

Justice Greg Hobbs, The Public’s Water Resource at 301

Colorado River Water Users Association Las Vegas 12/ 12-13/ 2017

Fort Morgan councillors OK 2018 budget

From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

Water Fund

Overall, the Water Fund budget would total about $8.24 million in projected revenue, but just $6.3 million in expenditures.

That revenue would come mainly from base rates and commodity charges from city customers, as well as some money from rural customers, interest income, the restricted Northern Integrated Supply Project fee, Colorado-Big Thompson unit income and various other water-related fees. But there also will be a large transfer in from other city funds totaling almost $1.09 million.

Included in the Water Fund are the budgets for water distribution and the Water Treatment Plant and the $2.29 million debt service payment on the treatment plant.

Water distribution

Expenditures in the water distribution budget total almost $2.04 million, which is down some from about $2.05 million in 2017. The 2018 planned expenditures also are far below the actual expenditures of $3.92 million in 2016, which included about $1 million in plant depreciation costs.

This budget includes: $269,143 for salaries and wages, which is up from $223,085 this year; $7,500 for overtime expenses; $350,000 for distribution system maintenance; $145,000 for wells maintenance, up by $30,000; $140,000 for meters maintenance; $2,000 for data processing; $4,500 for office supplies, down by $500 from 2017; $9,000 for fuel and oil; $15,000 for tools and equipment, down by $500; $15,000 for vehicle maintenance; $50,000 for groundwater assessments, up by $10,000; $10,000 for augmentation pond maintenance and repairs; $10,000 for Morgan County Quality Water District buyout fees; $2,000 for water conservation program; $1,800 for uncollectible accounts; $5,000 for education and training; $4,000 for engineering and consulting; $10,000 for litigation, up by $5,000 from 2017; a transfer out of $243,257 for admin support, which is up by about $1,200 from 2017; and $500,000 for replacing water meters.

Water treatment

Expenditures in the water treatment budget total around $3.91 million, which is down from $4.31 million in 2017. The difference is mainly coming from fewer large capital projects and half the amount of costly water purchases planned for next year.

However, the city’s NISP participation fees are more than double this year, with it set to cost $720,000 in 2018 for the city’s 9 percent stake in the project and covering the costs of Northern Water’s continued preliminary engineering work. In 2017, the city’s NISP participation cost was $360,000. City leaders have said these numbers will only go up in coming years, especially if the large water storage project does get permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2019.

The water treatment budget also includes: $278,959 in salaries and wages, which is up from $271,160 in 2017; $9,000 for overtime expenses, up by $3,000 from this year; a transfer for admin support of $243,438, which is up a bit from $242,262in 2017; $28,000 for outside lab services, up by $8,000 from this year; $18,000 for lab chemicals; $15,000 for data processing; $110,000 for rented water carry-over costs, down by $4,000 in 2017; $320,000 for C-BT water assessments, up by $10,000 from 2017; $200,000 for pipeline assessments, down by $6,000 from this year; $539,100 for water leases; $260,000 for treatment chemicals, up by $30,000 from 2017; $3,500 for education and training; $15,000 for dues and subscriptions; $50,000 for engineering and consulting; $500,000 for water purchases, down from $1 million in 2017; and $280,000 for participation in Northern Water building an eastern pump for the pipeline that carries C-BT water to Fort Morgan…

Sewer fund

The sewer fund totals around $2.85 million in expenditures on the same amount of projected revenue. In 2017, those numbers were $2.39 million in expenditures on about $2.42 million in revenue.

The revenue comes mainly from city sewer rate-payers, but there are some rural rate-payers. The city also counts as sewer fund revenue the fees collected by the lab at the wastewater treatment plant, interest income, tap fees and system development fees.

Included in the sewer fund are the budgets for the sewer/wastewater collection system and Fort Morgan Wastewater Treatment Plant. The city has paid off the treatment plant, so there are no more debt service payments to be made.

Sewer/Wastewater Collection

Expenditures in the sewer/wastewater collection budget total about $1.36 million for 2018, compared with about $1.07 million in 2017. The difference is mainly due to allocations for larger capital expenditures.

This budget includes: $135,159 in salaries and wages, up slightly from $134,955 in 2017; $4,000 in overtime expenses; a transfer out of $178,165 for admin support, which is up some from $175,911 this year; $145,000 to maintain the collection system, which is down from the ramped up maintenance projects budgeted at $205,000 this year; $10,000 to maintain the lift stations; $25,000 for equipment and vehicle maintenance; $9,000 for fuel and oil; $5,000 for tools and equipment,; $20,000 for improving alley approaches; $2,500 for education and training; $2,000 for engineering and consulting; $110,000 for in-lieu of taxes costs, up from $96,000 this year; $300,000 for sewer main replacements; $60,000 toward a future specialty jet truck purchase; and $250,000 for a new sewer inspection camera and van.

Wastewater Treatment

Expenditures in the Wastewater Treatment Plant budget total around $1.5 million, up from $1.3 million in 2017. Contributing to that difference are increased costs for sludge removal, more expenses for testing of treated samples at an outside lab, some projected cost increase for the plant’s discharge permit and a couple of expensive capital purchases to replace some aging plant equipment.

This budget includes: $311,003 in salaries and wages, down slightly from $312,563 in 2017; $7,500 in overtime expenses; a transfer out of $178,165 for admin support, up a bit from $175,911 in 2017; $35,000 for outside lab services, up from $22,000 this year; $30,000 for lab chemicals, up by $2,000; $20,000 for sludge removal, double the cost of 2017; $4,000 for fuel and oil, up by $1,000; $5,000 for tools and equipment; $50,000 for property maintenance; $14,800 for industrial pretreatment; $25,000 for plant chemicals; $30,000 for engineering and consulting; $3,500 for education and training; $9,000 for gauging station operation, up by $1,000; $10,000 for discharge permit, up by $1,000; $175,000 for digester aeration piping; and $250,000 to replace the plant’s east bar screen.

Arvada water rate increase on January 1, 2018

Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

From The Arvada Patch (Jean Lotus):

Water rates in Arvada will increase about 2.5 percent next year, starting in Jan., 2018, the city announced. The increase will go toward expenses running the water system in infrastructure and to bolster the city’s water supplies.

“[Residents will] start seeing the increase on their March/April bills,” said Jim Sullivan, the city’s director of utilities in a video released by the city.

Sullivan said the increases should add up to about 90 cents a month per average household of three-four people, totaling around $11 a year…

The city will not be increasing rates for wastewater storm water charges, Sullivan said.

#NE Supremes: State not liable for delivery shortages due to Republican River Compact compliance

More than 9,000 Landsat images provide vegetation health metrics for the Republican River Basin. Credit: David Hyndman

From The Omaha World-Herald (Joe Duggan):

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state is immune from lawsuits when compliance with the three-state river agreement reduces the amount of water available for irrigation…

The high court upheld a district court ruling that had dismissed a lawsuit by Rodney and Steven Cappel, who own irrigated farmland in the Republican River valley in south-central Nebraska.

The Cappels showed that from 2013 to 2015 they were blocked from using surface water by the compact because the river was too low. The landowners sued the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, claiming a constitutional loss of property rights and violation of due process rights. They sought monetary damages and restitution.

Hitchcock County District Judge James Doyle dismissed the lawsuit, saying the landowners did not properly state a claim for relief. The Supreme Court upheld the dismissal, although it ruled the claims couldn’t proceed because the state had not waived immunity to such lawsuits.

#ColoradoRiver mainstem streamflow on downward trend against average in this century #COriver

View of Lake Mead and Hoover dam. Photo credit BBC.

From The Desert Sun (Ian James):

After a 17-year run of mostly dry years, the Colorado River’s flow has decreased significantly below the 20th century average.

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, now stands just 39 percent full. The level of the reservoir behind Hoover Dam has been hovering a bit above historic lows during the past year, helped by a bigger snowpack last winter and strides in water conservation.

But with scenarios of the reservoir falling to critical lows looking very possible in the coming years, managers of water agencies in California, Arizona and Nevada have signaled their interest in finalizing a deal under which they would take less water from Lake Mead in an attempt to head off severe shortages.

It’s not clear how much longer it might take for officials at water districts in the three states to agree on the details of the proposed Drought Contingency Plan, which they’ve been discussing since 2015. But given the enormous strains on the river, the disconnect between its flow and the amounts diverted, and the growing impacts of climate change, experts say this sort of agreement seems a necessary first step toward preparing for a hotter and drier future in the Southwest.

“It’s great to have the structural deficit taken care of, and that’s frankly what the Drought Contingency Plan does is take care of that,” said Brad Udall, a water and climate scientist at Colorado State University. But if the flow of the river decreases more in the coming years — by say, more than 20 percent, for example — he said those measures won’t go far enough in “dealing with the conflict that will fall out of such declines.”

In March, Udall and fellow climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck published research in which they found that reductions in the river’s flow averaged 19 percent per year between 2000 and 2014. They estimated that somewhere between one-sixth and one-half of that loss in flow was due to higher temperatures — 0.9 degree Celsius, or 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above the average over the previous 94 years.