Rifle: Stream Management Plans. What are they? — #Colorado Ag Water Alliance

Credit: Cattleman’s Ditches Pipeline Project II Montrose County, Colorado EIS via USBR.

Click here for the inside skinny:

What is a Stream Management Plan? Can Stream Management Plans do anything for Ag?

The Colorado Ag Water Alliance (CAWA) and the Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side Conservation Districts want to explore the potential of these projects, if and what they can do for Ag, and why Ag should take a leadership role in these plans. Come listen to other farmers and ranchers about their experience with Stream Management Plans.

Free admission and dinner is provided.



City of Aspen to adjust its water-efficient landscaping regulations — @AspenJournalism

An irrigated landscape at the John Denver Sanctuary along the Roaring Fork River in Aspen. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith Aspen Journalism.

From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith):

City of Aspen staffers may recommend some changes to the water-efficient landscaping regulations adopted by the city in May before the most stringent aspects of the new rules kick in after a yearlong pilot phase.

The new regulations, which city staffers say have been well-received, require new or substantially remodeled residential projects in the city’s water-service area to include a landscape plan, an irrigation plan, and a water budget for the site.

But the city also now requires that an irrigation audit be completed after a new landscaping system has been installed. And the audit has to be done by a third-party certified landscape irrigation auditor. Trouble is, such certified auditors are rare in Colorado and only found in Grand Junction and Golden.

“We currently do not have anyone in the whole valley that has this certification,” Lee Ledesma, a utilities manager for the city, told the City Council at a work session [February 13, 2018].

Developers and property owners still can obtain a certificate of occupancy from the city even without a certified irrigation audit, at least during the ongoing pilot phase of the new regulations, which is set to end in June but may be extended.

The city also is exploring setting up a local training program to increase the number of certified auditors in the valley to make it easier for people to comply.

Outdoor residential use of water accounts for the largest percentage of use of the city’s treated water, according to a 2015 water efficiency study adopted by the city.

From 2009 to 2013, the city’s water customers used an average of 795 acre-feet a year for residential outdoor watering, according to the study, while using 598 acre-feet for indoor commercial uses, 486 acre-feet for indoor residential uses and 151 acre-feet for snowmaking.

The city’s regulations have set a water-budget goal for landscaping to use no more than 7.5 gallons per square foot. To date, 17 properties have been landscaped and irrigated using the new regulations, and the projects have averaged 7.2 gallons per square foot, according to Molly Somes, who works in the city’s parks and utilities departments.

However, some lushly landscaped homes in the West End of Aspen are coming in above average, in part because of the turf planted along the public rights of way.

The city may exclude the public rights of way from the water budget calculations to deal with that issue. It also may build in more incentives for owners to maintain native vegetation, which does not require irrigation.

The landscaping regulations state that they do not apply to “irrigation of public parks, sports fields, golf courses and schools.” And in response to a concern raised by City Councilman Bert Myrin about the city holding itself to the same high standards as others, Somes said the city is working diligently to improve irrigation efficiency on its own properties.

The Water Values Podcast: Wetlands Mitigation Banking with Jud Hill

Click here to listen to the podcast:

The Water Values Podcast veteran Jud Hill returns to discuss wetlands mitigation banking. Jud, an experienced water investor, now turns his attention to bringing scale, expertise and capital to the wetlands mitigation space. Jud gives a soup to nuts discussion of how wetlands mitigation banking works, what the drivers are, how he marshals expertise, capital and the need for mitigation to deliver efficient wetlands mitigation banking projects.

In this session, you’ll learn about:

  • When wetlands mitigation is required under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act
  • Why wetlands are important
  • How wetlands protect infrastructure
  • How wetlands nurture economic development
  • History of wetlands mitigation
  • The role of the US Army Corps of Engineers
  • How Ecological Service Partners (ESP) leverages scale for efficient wetlands projects
  • How ESP uses beneficial dredge to create functional wetlands
  • How the wetlands credit market functions
  • What the macro drivers for wetlands mitigation are (you’ll be surprised, I guarantee it!)
  • @NOAA: January was 5th warmest on record for the globe

    Here’s the release from NOAA:

    Arctic and Antarctic sea ice coverage remain at record, near-record lows

    Despite the cooling influence of La Nina this winter, the global temperature ranked among the five warmest on record in January. Earth’s polar regions continued to experience record-low ice conditions.

    Let’s dive deeper into NOAA’s monthly analysis to see how the planet fared in the first month of the year:

    Climate by the numbers
    January 2018

    The average global temperature in January 2018 was 1.28 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 53.6 degrees, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. This average temperature was the fifth highest for the month of January in the NOAA’s record, which dates back to 1880. This was the 42nd consecutive January (since 1977) and the 397th consecutive month (since January 1985) with temperatures above the 20th-century average. The last four years (2015-2018) saw the five warmest Januarys on record.

    An annotated map of the globe showing notable climate events that occurred in January 2018. For details, see bulleted list below in our story and also visit the NCEI report webpage at http://bit.ly/Global201801. (NOAA NCEI)

    Other notable climate facts from around the world last month included:

    Near-record-low sea ice at the poles

  • The average Arctic sea ice coverage in January was 9.4 percent below the 1981-2010 average, the smallest for the month since records began in 1979.
  • Antarctic sea ice extent in January was 17.4 percent below average, the second smallest January on record.
  • Warmer-than-average lands and oceans

  • The globally averaged land-surface temperature was 2 degrees F above the 20th-century average, ranking as the eighth warmest for the month of January.
  • The globally averaged sea-surface temperature was 1.01 degrees F above average and tied with 1998 as the fifth warmest for January on record.
  • Oceania and Europe led the continental warmth rankings

  • Oceania has its warmest January on record; Europe, its second; South America, its 14th; Africa, its 21st; North America, its 24th; and Asia, its 26th (tied with 1997).
  • #Snowpack news

    Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map February 19, 2018 via the NRCS.

    From The Vail Daily (Scott Miller):

    According to the mountain reports on Monday, Feb. 19, posted before an afternoon storm settled in, Vail Mountain had received 11 inches of snow in the past seven days. Beaver Creek had received 17 inches in the same period…

    The winter snow drought has been caused, in part, by a persistent ridge of high pressure over the desert Southwest and Southern California. That, combined with a months-long northerly track of the jet stream, pushed snow-making storms to the north of Colorado.

    Jimmy Fowler, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office, said that high pressure ridge had broken down a bit recently. More important, through, a low pressure system is now established off the coast of Southern California. That system has been sending some snow this way.

    The current snow season has been unusual in that event a weak “La Nina” effect — cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean — generally benefits the northern and central mountains in Colorado.

    That hasn’t happened, and the area’s snowpack has suffered as a result.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has snow-measurement sites around the mountains. The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District tracks several: on Vail Mountain, at Copper Mountain — near the headwaters of Gore Creek — and at Fremont Pass — near the Eagle River’s headwaters.

    Those numbers give water officials a look at how much water is in the current season’s snow. That’s essential, since snowpack is essentially the valley’s reservoir for summer water supplies.

    The news is OK at Copper Mountain and Fremont Pass. Compared to the 30-year median snowfall, Copper Mountain was at 85 percent of normal on Monday, Feb. 19. The Fremont Pass site on the same date was at 107 percent of normal.

    Vail Mountain, though, Monday was sitting at 69 percent of the 30-year median amount. The 8.8 inches of “snow water equivalent” was below even the lowest year on record, the historic drought season of 2011/2012.

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Chhun Sun):

    The Arkansas and Rio Grande river basins are “extremely low due to warm weather and sparse precipitation,” according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

    Statewide, the snowpack at the beginning of February was at 59 percent of normal, a sharp drop-off from last year when it was above 100 percent in every watershed. The Arkansas basin is at 55 percent, and the Rio Grande at only 31 percent.

    In January, the snowpack was at its worst levels in more than 30 years.

    Colorado Springs has received 9.1 inches of snow so far this season. That’s nearly 10 inches below normal through January, according to weather service data.

    Still, not all the news is bad; reservoirs haven’t been impacted much yet and the snowiest months are still ahead…

    According to the most recent statement from the U.S. Drought Monitor, El Paso County remains in a moderate drought. The city recorded just .16 inches of precipitation and 1.7 inches of snow last month, both well below normal.

    The lack of snow is particularly troubling for downstream states that rely on the Colorado River. Based on current conditions, Lake Powell, one of the most important reservoirs in the Southwest, could expect just 47 percent of its average inflow.

    Powell, along with Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona border, helps ensure the Colorado River system has enough water to get through dry years. The river supplies water to about 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

    Some climate scientists say global warming is already shrinking the river. A study published last year by researchers from the University of Arizona and Colorado State University said climate change could cut the Colorado’s flow by one-third by the end of the century.

    Wildfires, once mostly a concern during late spring through early fall, are becoming a year-round danger in the state because of drought…

    Time though is still on the state’s side. Nearly two weeks are left in February, and the month averages 4.9 inches of snow, according to the weather service. In March, the average snowfall is 8.1 inches.

    From the Associated Press via KOAA.com:

    Heavy snow and frigid wind chills are blasting much of the Rocky Mountain region.

    The National Weather Service predicts at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow from the Colorado high country through most of Wyoming, where winter storm warnings are in effect.

    More than a foot of snow (30 centimeters) could fall in some mountainous areas.

    The forecast Monday and Tuesday also calls for gusty winds in much of Wyoming and western Montana. That means wind chills as much as 30 degrees below zero (-34 Celsius).

    Countries made only modest #ClimateChange promises in Paris. They’re falling short anyway. #ActOnClimate

    Indigenous people #cop21 via the Department of Interior.

    From The Washington Post (Chris Mooney):

    Barely two years ago, after weeks of intense bargaining in Paris, leaders from 195 countries announced a global agreement that once had seemed impossible. For the first time, the nations of the world would band together to reduce humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels in an effort to hold off the most devastating effects of climate change.

    “History will remember this day,” the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said amid a backdrop of diplomats cheering and hugging.

    Two years later, the euphoria of Paris is colliding with the reality of the present.

    Global emissions of carbon dioxide are rising again after several years of remaining flat. The United States, under President Trump, is planning to withdraw from the Paris accord and is expected to see emissions increase by 1.8 percent this year, after a three-year string of declines. Other countries, too, are showing signs they might fail to live up to the pledges they made in Paris.

    In short, the world is off target…

    Even as renewable energy grows cheaper and automakers churn out battery-powered and more efficient cars, many nations around the world are nonetheless struggling to hit the relatively modest goals set in Paris.

    The reasons vary. Brazil has struggled to rein in deforestation, which fuels greenhouse gas emissions. In Turkey, Indonesia and other countries with growing economies, new coal plants are being planned to meet the demand for electricity. In the United States, the federal government has scaled back its support for clean energy and ramped up support for fossil fuels.

    There’s still time for the world to set itself on a more sustainable track; many countries have until 2030 to meet their initial targets. But when policymakers from around the world gather at a key U.N. climate meeting in Poland later this year, countries will be forced to reckon with the difference between how much they say they want to limit the warming of the planet and how little they actually are doing to make that happen.

    Graphic via The Washington Post.

    Groundwater levels steady in western Kansas, decrease around Wichita — @KUNews

    Graphic via the University of Kansas.

    From the University of Kansas:

    Groundwater levels during 2017, on average, rose slightly or nearly broke even in western Kansas but fell in the Wichita area, according to preliminary data compiled by the Kansas Geological Survey. This was a reversal from 2016 when overall groundwater levels dropped in western Kansas and increased significantly near Wichita.

    The KGS — based at the University of Kansas — and the Division of Water Resources (DWR) of the Kansas Department of Agriculture annually measure levels in about 1,400 water wells in western and central Kansas. The collected data are used to monitor the condition and long-term trends of the High Plains aquifer, the state’s most valuable groundwater resource, as well as smaller deep and shallow aquifers.

    The High Plains aquifer is a network of water-bearing rocks that underlies parts of eight states and, in Kansas, comprises three individual aquifers—the far-reaching Ogallala aquifer that makes up the majority of the High Plains aquifer, the Equus Beds around Wichita and Hutchinson, and the Great Bend Prairie aquifer in the center of the state. Ninety percent of the measured wells draw from these three aquifers.

    Water level changes or stability in the Ogallala aquifer in western Kansas correspond primarily with the amount of water withdrawn for irrigation, which in turn is influenced by the rate and timing of precipitation.

    “Much of the western border of Kansas and eastern Colorado saw above normal precipitation patterns in 2017, especially through most of the growing season,” said Brownie Wilson, KGS water-data manager. “As a consequence, water levels were at or above the 2016 levels in much of the region.”

    Water level increases in western Kansas mainly occur when the levels in wells rebound as pumping slows. Recharge — water seeping down from the surface — is negligible in western Kansas. In central Kansas, where the aquifer is shallower and average precipitation is higher, recharge can make a difference.

    “For areas that have higher local recharge capabilities, such as along and north of the Arkansas River in the Equus Beds and Great Bend Prairie aquifer, precipitation generally influences both pumping and recharge,” Wilson said. “There you can get large swings in declines and rises from year to year.”

    The 2017 growing season around the Equus Beds was fairly dry, which led to low recharge and higher withdrawal for irrigation, industry and municipal water supplies. Consequently, the Equus Beds declined nearly 2 feet. The Great Bend Prairie aquifer, which encompasses Great Bend, Kinsley, Greensburg and Pratt, fared better with an increase of about a quarter of a foot.

    Most of the wells in the network monitored by the KGS and DWR are within the boundaries of the state’s five Groundwater Management Districts (GMDs), which are organized and governed by area landowners and local water users to address water-resource issues.

    In Southwest Kansas GMD 3, average levels dropped just 0.05 feet, the lowest decline there since since the state began administrating the water-level program in 1996. In comparison, the average level fell a total of 23 feet over the previous 10 years.

    “Water levels were notably higher in Morton County and along and north of the Arkansas River,” Wilson said. “Still, there were localized areas in the GMD that experienced declines of 1 to 3 feet.”

    Even with better overall measurement results in the region for the year, the aquifer is nearly depleted in places.

    Wells monitored in GMD 3 are drilled into the Ogallala aquifer except in a few areas where they draw from the deeper Dakota aquifer. The district includes all or part of Grant, Haskell, Gray, Finney, Stanton, Ford, Morton, Stevens, Seward, Hamilton, Kearny and Meade counties.

    Another rare water-related event in the region occurred in the summer of 2017 when the Arkansas River flowed in Garden City. The river there has been mainly dry for decades due to high water use and less river flow from Colorado. When there is surface water in the river, it interacts with groundwater in an adjacent shallow alluvial aquifer.

    Western Kansas GMD 1 experienced a slight drop of 0.19 feet in 2017 following a 0.55 feet in 2016. Although decreases there have been less drastic than farther south, annual levels have risen only twice since 1996. The GMD includes portions of Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, Scott and Lane counties, where the majority of wells are drilled into the Ogallala aquifer.

    Northwest Kansas GMD 4 had an average increase in water levels of 0.33 feet after falling slightly in all but two year since 1996. GMD 4 covers Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan and parts of Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Graham, Wallace, Logan and Gove counties. Groundwater there is pumped almost exclusively from the Ogallala aquifer and shallow alluvial sources associated with streams.

    Big Bend GMD 5 had an average increase of 0.26 feet following an increase of 0.88 feet in 2016. Since 1996, annual levels there rose nine times and fell 13 times. The GMD is centered on the Great Bend Prairie aquifer underlying Stafford and Pratt counties and parts of Barton, Pawnee, Edwards, Kiowa, Reno and Rice counties.

    Equus Beds GMD 2, a major source of water for Wichita, Hutchinson and surrounding towns experienced a decline of 1.93 feet, which followed an increase of 2.08 feet in 2016. Since 1996, annual levels there rose nine times and dropped 13 times. The GMD covers portions of Reno, Sedgwick, Harvey and McPherson counties.

    “Even with the big declines in GMD 2, this is one of the best years we’ve seen in quite a long time,” Wilson said.

    The KGS measures approximately 570 wells in western Kansas each January, and DWR staff from field offices in Stockton, Garden City and Stafford measure about 220, 224 and 360 wells in western and central Kansas, respectively. Most of the wells, spread over 48 counties, are used for irrigation and have been measured for decades.

    Measurements are taken primarily in January when water levels are least likely to fluctuate due to irrigation. Infrequently, however, later-than-normal pumping during dry conditions may affect measurement results.

    The results are provisional and subject to revision based on additional analysis. Data by well will be available in late February at http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Magellan/WaterLevels/index.html.
    The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. The university’s mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The KU News Service is the central public relations office for the Lawrence campus.