UNM: “New Mexico Water: What Our Next Leaders Need to Know,” May 17, 2018

An acequia along the Las Trampas in northern New Mexico is suspended on a trestle. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

From the University of New Mexico Center for Water and the Environment:

Following the 2018 gubernatorial election, New Mexico will have new leaders of its resource management agencies. Other important water developments in the state include: 1) New administration at the City of Albuquerque; 2) Major shifts in federal policies & implementation; 3) Evolution of legal issues, especially interstate lawsuits; and 4) Financial challenges for our agencies and programs. This conference will feature presentations on water & environmental challenges facing the state by former senior state and federal managers. Each speaker has a long history of high level experience working on NM water issues. Speakers include:

Speakers include:

Presentations by federal water managers:

· Ron Curry – Former Administrator, EPA Region VI (former NMED Secretary)
· Estevan Lopez – Former Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner (former ISC Director)
· John D’Antonio – Currently with US Army Corps of Engineers (former NM State Engineer)
· Hilary Tompkins – Former Solicitor for the Dept. of Interior (former Chief Counsel to Gov. Richardson)

Presentations by state water managers:

· Scott Verhines – Former NM State Engineer
· Ryan Flynn – Former Secretary of NM Environment Department
· Amy Haas – Former Acting Director & former General Counsel, NM Interstate Stream Commission
· Tanya Trujillo –Former General Counsel, NM Interstate Stream Commission & Past Director of Colorado River Board of California
Concluding remarks: Mike Connor, Former Deputy Secretary, Department of Interior

Registration (includes lunch and parking):

Early registration – extended to Sunday, April 29: General – $30, Full time students – $10

Late registration (after April 29): General – $50, Full time students – $20

To Register with Credit Card:

Register online by clicking HERE. (scroll to the bottom of the page)

To Register with Check or Purchase Order:

Complete this form and send, along with payment, to cwe@unm.edu.

Tentative Program

#Snowpack news: Best news North

Click on a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

Ski resorts offer summer fun as they look toward a water-short future

Your Water Colorado Blog

Blog7 Vail Mountain’s Epic Discovery brings activities like ziplines, adventure courses and more. Photo courtesy of Vail

By Heather Hansman

When Vail’s Epic Discovery Center, with its mountain coaster and disc golf course, opened in the summer of 2016, it became the first of five resorts within the White River National Forest to offer non-skiing activities. That’s thanks to a 2011 bill sponsored by Colorado Senator Mark Udall. The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act amended the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986, which limited ski area recreation to Nordic and alpine skiing. The 2011 act includes activities like zip lines, mountain bike parks disc golf courses and rope courses. It prohibits water-intensive activities like pools, water parks and golf courses. The idea was to open the scope of economic opportunities in mountain towns.

The Forest Service projects it bringing an estimated $40 million into ski resort communities. But…

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Don’t be a hammerhead! Know the fishing and boating rules – News on TAP

A simple guide to safely and responsibly recreating on Denver Water reservoirs.

Source: Don’t be a hammerhead! Know the fishing and boating rules – News on TAP

First-Timer’s Guide: Fruita, Colorado

Katie Klingsporn

There are few places I’d rather be on a spring evening than the high desert mountain biking trails of 18 Road outside of Fruita, Colorado, where the sun casts buckets of gold on the book cliffs. Fruita has come a long way in the last couple decades. The once sleepy Western Slope farm burg on the edge of the Colorado River has transformed into a vibrant mecca for mountain bikers, hikers, and outdoor lovers—and it doesn’t skimp on the  excellent restaurants or quirky public art, either. I wrote a piece about is for 5280. Read it here. 

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@CAPArizona to meet with Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin Commission #COriver

From The Arizona Republic (Brandon Loomis):

Central Arizona water managers, facing backlash from other Colorado River users for allegedly undercutting regional conservation efforts, will visit Utah later this month aiming to smooth relations across a region struggling to agree on a way to save a key water supply…

CAP General Manager Ted Cooke initially shot back that his agency was following the rules and manipulating nothing. But as the week progressed, CAP asked for an audience and planned an April 30 meeting with the Upper Colorado Basin Commission in Salt Lake City.

“We reached out to (commissioners) individually, and they said, ‘How about we hear you all at once?’” CAP spokeswoman Crystal Thompson said.

An official with the commission representing Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico water interests confirmed they are scheduling a private meeting to discuss the conflict.

Finding ways to avoid shortages

Lake Powell April 12, 2017. Photo credit Patti Weeks via Earth Science Picture of the day.

The open sniping follows months of power struggles within Arizona as the state has tried to negotiate shared cutbacks with other states to prevent drought from pushing the Colorado into severe shortage.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources and Gov. Doug Ducey have sought but so far failed to secure legislative authority to hold back some of the water the CAP delivers from Lake Mead as part of the state’s offering for a regional conservation agreement. That water would come from Arizona tribes and other users who would willingly store it in the Southwest’s largest reservoir rather than taking their full legal share each year.

#ColoradoRiver District voices opposition to Aaron Million’s latest transmountain diversion plan

Green River

From the Rio Blanco Water Conservation District via the Rio Blanco Herald Times:

Earlier this month the Colorado River District released a statement protesting the application for water rights filed by Water Horse Resources LLC, owned by Aaron Million.

The application for Utah water rights requests 55,000 acre feet of water from the Green River with two pump stations located five miles from the Colorado state line in Dagget County, Utah, on Bureau of Land Management land. The water would then run through a hydroelectric facility before being piped nearly 500 miles northeast into Wyoming and then south down the Colorado Front Range.

The river district’s letter of opposition cites a variety of reasons why the application should be denied, including the speculative nature of the application saying, “A fundamental precept of water use in Colorado (and, we believe, in Utah as well) is a strict prohibition on speculative claims of water. No specific beneficial use or need has been identified for the project other than a general reference to future water demands in Colorado.”

The district also raises concerns about the legal and practical nature of enforcing and accounting for a water right issued by the State of Utah but with great impact on Colorado water users. The letter states, “The proposed water right would exacerbate the supply problems currently faced in the Colorado River Basin, and would increase the need and cost of any Upper Basin demand management program.”

Another concern raised by both the river district and numerous environmental groups including the Center for Biological Diversity who have spoken against the application is the lack of environmental analysis.

In years prior Million has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain water rights that would allow him to pipe water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir to the Front Range. The Colorado River District opposed that application as well.

“This new application suffers from many of the same problems as his previous proposals but presents a number of new problems and interstate legal issues as well,” said Peter Fleming, General Counsel for the Colorado River District.

In a statement released last week Colorado River District General Manager Andy Mueller said, “Development of this resource in this manner would not only harm existing Western Slope water users but would impact the ability of the River District and the State of Colorado to plan for and develop future water resources as well.”

Thirty-two letters of protest have been filed against the project including letters from the Utah Board of Water Resources and Division of Water Resources who raise similar concerns to those mentioned by the Colorado River District.

In a press release issued last week Million stated, “Utah is initiating an identical project…The Lake Powell pipeline. Point of diversion in Arizona, water and hydroelectric power into Utah. We are watching that closely as they are still sorting out federal permitting responsibilities. The Upper Colorado River Compact is clear and allows the use of water from Utah or Wyoming into Colorado. Or vice versa. For the last 96 years the Upper Basin, which includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico has over-delivered its’ Compact share. The issues on the Colorado are almost strictly a Lower Basin over-use issue, which includes California, Arizona and Nevada. Had the Lower Basin not drained the Lower Colorado River and over-utilized their water allocation, Lake Powell and Mead would be full by five times plus.”

The project, nicknamed Grasshopper by Water Horse, is estimated to cost $890 million. Tom Wood, Project Management team member stated, “The Green has numerous advantages. A huge river system, excellent water quality, and Flaming Gorge Reservoir that will double the State of Colorado’s storage availability. Additionally, all the global warming models are indicating the Green River will be wetter than average in the future, coupled with a later snowmelt than the Colorado River main stem. The Green River headwaters is located several hundred miles north of the Colorado River headwaters. This year is a classic reason that two hydrologically diverse basins, meaning the Colorado River and Green River, and their respective water supplies, should be managed collectively. The Upper Green is currently running 140 percent of average snowpack, the Colorado River main-stem is half that or less, at maybe 60 to 65 percent. It diversifies water supply management risk, which ties directly to alleviating ecosystem and environmental impacts.”

Rio Blanco Water Conservation District Manager Alden Vanden Brink is concerned about the project. “Focusing on the water resource needs in Northwest Colorado I intimately understand how water projects that are speculative in nature, as Mr. Million’s project is, include, intrastate concerns and potentially put water resour ces in Western Colorado at risk to Compact curtailment are certainly something that we need to pay close attention to,” he said.