Arizona Moving Forward On Lower Basin Drought Contingency Planning Discussions

#ColoradoRiver #COriver #DCPNow #aridification

Arizona Water News

By Thomas Buschatzke, Arizona Department of Water Resources Director and Ted Cooke, Central Arizona Project General Manager

In a joint statement in May, our agencies, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) announced that we are committed to bringing the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (LBDCP) to closure in Arizona by addressing a broad range of issues that respect the concerns of all stakeholders across the state.

The discussions between ADWR and CAWCD were only the first step and today, we hosted a public briefing describing the proposed LBDCP, which was developed to address those risks. Colorado River managers were invited to learn about the LBDCP and its importance within Arizona.

We were joined by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. The Bureau of Reclamation discussed how the risks to the Colorado River have increased from what was expected when the…

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@azwater and @CAPArizona plan to finalize #drought contingency plan to submit to legislature for next session

Back of Hoover Dam prior to first fill photo via Reclamation.

From The Associated Press (Felicia Fonseca) via The Arizona Daily Star:

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been prodding Western states to wrap up drought contingency plans, one each in the lower and upper basins. Little snowpack, rising temperatures and ongoing drought have led to steady declines in the river that serves 40 million people in seven U.S. states.

The amount of water that gets sent to the lower basin states — Arizona, Nevada and California — and Mexico depends on Lake Mead, the reservoir formed by Hoover Dam. No shortage has ever been declared, but the federal agency puts the possibility at more than 50 percent in 2020 and even higher in subsequent years.

Those states so far have avoided shortages through conservation, leaving water in Lake Mead and other efforts.

“The question is: How much of this do we need to do in the future and how can we stay out of shortage?” said Terry Fulp, director of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado River Region. “The likelihood is that we probably can’t.”

The Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project said they would form a committee to work out the details of a drought plan among Arizona water users and present it to the Legislature in January.

Ted Cooke, the general manager of the Central Arizona Project, said the key elements in Arizona are reaching agreement on how to handle any excess water, a program to allow tribes to store water behind Lake Mead, a mitigation plan for central Arizona farmers who would lose water under shortages and a water conservation plan.

The drought contingency plan is meant as an overlay to 2007 guidelines on what levels would trigger shortages and where they would be felt. If approved, it would spread shortages more widely and loop in California. Mexico also has agreed to cutbacks.

The plan also gives states flexibility on how to help prop up Lake Mead and an opportunity to recover the water if the lake rises above certain levels. It’s meant to last until 2026 when water users are scheduled to renegotiate the 2007 guidelines, but some provisions extend beyond that time.


From KUNC (Luke Runyon):

The mention of one plausible future scenario along the Colorado River is enough to make some water managers in the West break into a sweat. It’s called the Compact Call, and even though it’s never happened — and is years away from ever happening — its invocation conjures up dystopian imagery of a southwest battling over scarce water supplies…

Imagine this: It’s 2030. The Colorado River, sapped by record high temperatures, is seeing its biggest reservoirs — Lakes Powell and Mead — plummet to near dead pool elevations.

Negotiations to mandate increased water conservation in Arizona and California have stalled. Throughout the southwest, frequent water shortages continue to scare off new businesses.

Bad blood among states simmering for years boils over with an exchange of nasty letters. Water managers in California, receiving less and less water from the Colorado River each year, feel slighted and start making demands for their share, kicking off a decade long legal battle. Ripples are felt all the way from Los Angeles to Denver.

To some water managers this nightmare is far from fiction. And without immediate action it could very well come true.

“It’s like a train wreck happening in glacial speed,” says Andy Mueller, Colorado River District general manager in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. “We’ll see it coming. I believe we see it coming now.”

The ‘cornerstone’

To talk about the Colorado River’s present and future, you need to start in the past. One of the most important dates in the river’s history is Nov. 24, 1922, when leaders from the seven Western states that rely on the river met at a Santa Fe, New Mexico resort to sign the Colorado River Compact.

“It’s the cornerstone of how we allocate water on the Colorado River,” Mueller says. “On that cornerstone is built an incredible scaffolding of complex agreements, but it’s all based on that 1922 compact.”

Pilloried for decades for its structural problems, the compact did accomplish a few basic things. To make it easier to govern, the agreement divided the river into halves: the Upper and Lower Basins. The Upper Basin includes the snowy Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. The Lower is home to the desert landscapes of Arizona, Nevada and California.

Engineers used stream gauge data to estimate the river’s annual flow and the politicians took those measurements to divide the water amongst themselves. Each basin got 7.5 million acre-feet…and each state within the basin got a portion of the water. California then and today is the largest user of Colorado River water.

California’s use of the river’s water is what brought these political figures together in the first place, Mueller says. Concerns about the state’s rapid development were growing louder. If the whole watershed functioned under the frontier water law doctrine of prior appropriation (where the person who claims the water first is given priority in receiving it) California could end up owning every drop.

“The reality is that the Lower Basin had the upper hand in those negotiations,” Mueller says. “They were developing faster.”

To get a deal, the Upper Basin agreed that Lower Basin states would be guaranteed a certain amount of water right at the line that divides their two regions. Some years would be wetter, some would be drier, but the decade-long rolling average couldn’t dip below 75 million acre feet of water, measured at a spot just below Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona. If it did drop below that point, then the Lower Basin could come calling for its water.

This system works fine when there’s enough water to go around. But that’s the signature bug of the Colorado River: More water exists on paper than in reality..

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

As of 2016 the Upper Basin is going above and beyond its ten-year obligation to the Lower Basin. According to the Upper Colorado River Commission, the 10-year total flow, starting in 2007, was just over 91 million acre-feet, well above the obligated 75 million acre-feet. But continuing dry conditions like those recorded during the winter of 2018 could quickly erode that.

“Things can get bad very quickly,” Castle says. “We have to be ready. We don’t want to make decisions about how we’re going to handle a compact call should one occur when it’s right there in front of us.”

In Colorado, the largest user of the Colorado River’s water in the Upper Basin, the threat of a compact call has prompted ongoing discussions within the state engineer’s office.

“Broadly speaking, yes, Colorado participates in ongoing efforts, alongside interstate partners, to manage this concern,” says Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “The bulk of our collective energy, however, is to take steps through risk assessment, policies and technical planning to avoid a scenario like this in the first place.”

Those plans are closely held to avoid intrastate fights over future water plans, the Colorado River District’s Andy Mueller says. The state also wouldn’t want to give other Colorado River water users insight into future legal strategy should the call move from thought experiment to reality.

While the thought of a Compact Call strikes fear into Upper Basin water managers, it’s less on the minds of their Lower Basin counterparts.

“I was surprised to hear the Upper Basin express their concerns and fears when it’s not something we’ve even thought much about in the Lower Basin,” says Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the water wholesaler for the greater Los Angeles area.

“But every time we have a conversation with the Upper Basin you can tell it’s very front and foremost in their minds as something that they really want to work on and avoid,” he says.

For a call to materialize, water managers like Kightlinger and farmers throughout the southwest would need to apply pressure to their state leaders. And right now, he says they have way bigger fish to fry, like keeping Lake Mead from entering into shortage and negotiating a drought contingency plan that would require Lower Basin states to cut their water use sooner than is currently required.

But Kightlinger says he understands the Upper Basin’s fears.

“We are going to have shortages. We are going to have challenges,” he says. “But I also believe that the complex process and lengthy battle that a Supreme Court battle would take will drive the agencies to work and resolve these issues in some other fashion other than a compact call.”

This story is part of a project covering the Colorado River, produced by KUNC and supported through a Walton Family Foundation grant. KUNC is solely responsible for its editorial content.

First Train in Phoenix. Image Courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society.

From The Mohave Valley Daily News (DK McDonald):

Arizona Water Banking Authority commissioners met in Phoenix recently for their quarterly meeting where they heard updates on the status of the Colorado River system, deliveries, recovery planning, Central Arizona Project system and to approve the agency’s annual report and budget…

Commissioners heard the total Colorado River system content is at 50 percent or 30.68 million acre-feet of water. Lake Powell is at 53 percent or 12.9 million acre-feet with a lake elevation of 3,611.99 feet and Lake Mead is at 38 percent or 9.88 million acre-feet with a lake elevation of 1,078.38 feet…

Snowpack for 2018 has ended and the projected unregulated inflow for 2018 is 5.25 million acre-feet or 48.4 percent of the 30-year average, said Bret Esslin, Arizona Department of Water Resources’ Colorado River Management division, in his report. The most probable release from Lake Powell is 9 million acre-feet.

Esslin said the probability for shortage increased to 52 percent in 2020 and escalated to 68 percent by 2022.

Whether or not a shortage is declared will be determined when Bureau of Reclamation releases its 24-month study in August that estimates the elevation of Lake Mead and Lake Powell in January, Clark said.

“The August study is the critical one for us,” Clark said. “If the Lake Mead elevation is at or above 1,075 feet, there is no shortage, but if it is below that they’re going to have to declare a shortage.”

Clark said addressing potential shortages through development of a Drought Contingency Plan is vital for the state.

“The probabilities (of shortage) are getting so high now, we’ll have one unless we can get things like the DCP going, where we can put even more water behind the dam,” Clark said. “The DCP briefing (co-hosted by ADWR and Central Arizona Project) is today and BOR Commissioner Brenda Burman is going to be there — she’s really pushing for us to get this finalized. We really need to get this DCP done or the whole state is in trouble.”

#ColoradoRiver: “We are not here to scare you” — @USBR Commissioner Brenda Burman #DCP #COriver

From The Arizona Daily Star (Tony Davis):

At a presentation before hundreds of local and state officials, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman and a top aide warned that the risks to the lake are unacceptable. They said it’s urgent that Arizona officials resolve their differences over the drought plan and get on board with six other Colorado River Basin states that are moving toward adopting one.

Since the seven states approved a set of guidelines for managing the river’s reservoirs in 2007, the risks of Lake Mead dropping to very low levels has increased by three to six times, the bureau officials said.

They spoke at a briefing that also found once-warring Arizona Department of Water Resources and Central Arizona Project officials moving closer together on issues that had split them apart for well over a year. Both ADWR chief Tom Buschatzke and CAP general manager Ted Cooke enthusiastically endorsed the idea of a drought plan, although Cooke warned that the resulting reduction in river water use would boost water rates the CAP charges to Tucson, Phoenix and other municipal customers over time.

“We are not here to scare you. We are just presenting the best information we have,” Burman told a gathering that virtually filled a 275-person auditorium at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe.

“Keeping our fingers crossed, hoping for good hydrology” and waiting for the current and future interior secretaries to ignore the laws of the Colorado River that require protecting its reservoirs from depletion is not how to deal with this problem, she said.

“It’s not how we’ve dealt with it in the past, and it’s not how Arizona wants to deal with it in the future,” said Burman, a longtime Arizonan who has worked for the Salt River Project utility and for former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona in the past.

The bureau’s forecasts for how far and fast Lake Mead’s elevations could fall were most severe when the forecasters used what they called a “stress test.” It relies on computer models assuming a continuation of the last 30 years of unusually dry weather.

Less severe risks of such declines were predicted when the bureau relied on the river’s entire historical record, covering 1906 to 2015, which included several much wetter spells, including the wettest period on record for the river, in the early 20th century.

Specifically, the bureau said:

  • Based on the river’s entire historical record, there’s about a 65 percent chance of Lake Mead falling below 1,075 feet — the level at which the first shortage in river water available to the CAP would occur — by 2026. Using just the last 30 years of records as a base for forecasting, that risk grows to more than 80 to 90 percent, covering a period from 2020 to 2026.
  • The risk of Mead dropping below 1,025 feet by 2026 is more than 40 percent using the bureau’s “stress test” forecasts, and about 30 percent when the forecasts rely on the river’s entire historical record.
  • The risk of Mead being less than 1,000 feet high by 2026 is about 20 percent under the “stress test” forecast and less than 10 percent when the river’s entire historical record is used.

The thought of Mead dropping below 1,025 or 1,000 feet is particularly alarming to many state water officials in Arizona and elsewhere. At those levels, U.S. interior Department intervention to manage the river’s reservoirs is certain.

At that point, nobody knows what steps Interior would take to prop up the reservoirs, but it would almost certainly make drastic cuts in water deliveries to major cities such as Tucson and Phoenix that rely on the river for drinking water via the $4 billion Central Arizona Project.

On the other hand, all these risks would drop dramatically if Arizona, Nevada and California agree on a drought plan to conserve up to 1.2 million acre feet a year of river water annually over time, bureau officials predicted.

Here’s the Twitter feed for #DCPNow. Click the “Latest” button and read up from the bottom. (Twitter is in reverse-chronological order.)

Many were using the #ColoradoRiver hash tag yesterday as well.

From Arizona Central (Joshua Bowling):

State officials outlined their plans at a briefing in Tempe on Thursday with Brenda Burman, the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water operations on the Colorado.

Much like her visit to California earlier this year, Burman stressed that the “time to act is now” for finishing and adopting a plan to store more water in Lake Mead in hopes of avoiding shortages on the river.

Officials from other states echoed Burman’s call for quick action, urging Arizona to settle differences among water agencies and agree to a conservation plan that will benefit the entire river.

“We are at a point where we have a potential crisis on the Colorado River,” said Jim Lochhead, Denver Water CEO. “If we all contribute together, we can — I believe — sustain this river.”

Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke, Central Arizona Project General Manager Ted Cooke and Reclamation Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp also spoke in favor of finalizing a plan sooner rather than later.

Officials stressed that such a plan likely won’t stave off all shortages — but they hope it will prevent more severe ones.

While more Colorado River water is allocated to cities and agriculture than what has flowed into its reservoirs in recent years, intense drought and climate change exacerbate the disparity.

“We know this 19-year drought is one of the worst in 1,200 years,” Burman told a gathering of about 300 people. “This is the time for action.”


Ultimately, if Arizona doesn’t pass a plan, the secretary of the Interior could step in. But that’s uncharted territory, Burman said, and it isn’t fully known what the secretary could or couldn’t do.

So the rest of the river users are banking on Arizona passing a plan before it gets to that point.

“If Arizona is unable to do that, then the secretary (of the Interior) is going to have to exercise authority and the rest of us are going to have to protect our own interest,” Lochhead said. “And that’s not something we want to do.”

He said the rest of the Colorado River states want Arizona officials to resolve their “internal issues” and finish a plan.

Arizona officials say they are doing that by acting with urgency to get a plan in place before shortages come.

“The consequences of getting these lakes into really low places could be absolutely devastating,” Fulp said. “The risk is real. We can’t exactly quantify it, but it’s there.”

Razorback & Flannelmouth Sucker Hybridization — Arizona Game and Fish

The endangered razorback sucker, a fish native to the Grand Canyon, has been hybridizing with another Colorado River fish – the flannelmouth sucker. Arizona Game and Fish biologist Pilar Wolters is conducting a 5-year research project to learn how hybridization could impact the recovery of wild razorback suckers. This video was produced by the Information Branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Producer: David Majure

#Drought news: D2 (Severe Drought), D3 (Extreme Drought), and D4 (Exceptional Drought) expanded in central and western #Colorado

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


A couple [of] strong upper-level low pressure systems, moving in the jet stream flow, slowly crossed the northern half of the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) during this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) week. The lows dragged surface lows and frontal systems with them. Supplied with abundant Gulf of Mexico moisture, these systems generated numerous mesoscale thunderstorm complexes which dumped heavy rain across parts of the Plains to Midwest and Mid-Atlantic coast. The clouds and rain associated with the lows and fronts also brought cooler-than-normal temperatures to the central Plains to Northeast. A moist low pressure system at the beginning of the week dumped heavy rains along the Texas Gulf coast. Contraction of drought and abnormally dry areas occurred in the Plains and Texas Gulf coast where precipitation was above normal for the week. However, these lows tracked within a larger-scale upper-level ridge system. Drier-than-normal weather dominated much of the West, large parts of Texas and the Southeast States, and from the western Great Lakes to most of the Northeast, with drought and abnormal dryness expanding in parts of the West, South, and Northeast. The week was warmer than normal across much of the West, along the northern tier states, much of Texas, and most of the Southeast…


Much of coastal Texas was inundated by heavy tropical moisture. Reports of 2 to 5 inches of rain were common, with 5 to 10 inches falling in the southern areas. An automated station near Weslaco Airport recorded 8.39 inches of rain in just 2 and a half hours. According to the Texas mesonet, Weslaco received 9 inches of rain. The average total precipitation is 6.73 inches there for the entire summer (June through August). The rains eliminated dryness on the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) drought indictor out to 6 months back in South Texas. The rains led to widespread 1 to 2 category reductions along the coast, with D1-D2 shrinking down to D0 (Abnormally Dry) or to no drought or abnormal dryness (“D-Nothing”).

Meanwhile, several mesoscale thunderstorm complexes over multiple days moved through Oklahoma and clipped the northern Texas panhandle, with their remnants making it into parts of Arkansas, while other thunderstorm systems brought rain to parts of northern Mississippi and southern Tennessee. These areas received 2 inches or more of rain for the week, with parts of Oklahoma recording over 5 inches. The D4 in western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle was eliminated, improvement occurred in the northern Texas panhandle, and D0-D3 shrank across much of Oklahoma, with some 2-category reductions. Elsewhere in Texas, the week was dry with multi-month precipitation deficits mounting, so D0-D3 expanded across the central half of the state. June 25 USDA statistics indicated that 41% of pastures and rangeland were in poor to very poor condition in Texas. The rains mostly missed northeast Oklahoma, where D1 expanded. D0-D2 expanded in parts of Louisiana, D0-D1 expanded in Mississippi, and there was expansion of drought and abnormal dryness and some contraction, as well, in Arkansas. D0 was added to northern Tennessee, with a little spillage into parts of southern Kentucky, where precipitation deficits have been mounting over the last 3 months…

High Plains

Several rounds of heavy thunderstorms moved along frontal boundaries on multiple days in the High Plains states. Two inches or more of rain was measured across the western two-thirds of Kansas, the eastern half of Nebraska, and in parts of South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, with 5 inches or more indicated for southwestern Kansas, eastern Nebraska, and southeast South Dakota. The week was drier than normal for other parts of the High Plains, with western Colorado to southwestern Wyoming receiving little to no precipitation. The rains resulted in pullback of D0-D2 in Kansas, with some 2-category improvements in southwest Kansas, contraction of D0-D1 in Nebraska, and trimming of D0 in South Dakota. With the heavy rains missing eastern Kansas, the week ended drier than normal there, further increasing precipitation deficits for the last 1 to 3 months and, in northeast Kansas, out to 9 months, so D0-D2 were expanded in eastern Kansas. Some of the heavier rains crossed from Kansas into Colorado, but just barely. D2-D3 were pulled back a bit in far eastern Colorado, but the dry conditions further west resulted in D2-D3 expanding in central and west-central Colorado, and D4 expanding in west-central Colorado. June 25 USDA statistics indicated 53% of the pastures and rangeland in Colorado were in poor to very poor condition…


Dry weather and mostly warmer-than-normal temperatures dominated the West this week. June 25 USDA statistics indicated that pastures and rangeland were in poor to very poor condition for 90% of the pastures and rangeland in Arizona, 68% in New Mexico, 36% in Utah, 25% in Nevada, and 22% in Oregon. D0 and D1 expanded in parts of Oregon and Washington where streamflow was at near to record low levels for this time of year and SPI values were low for the last 1 to 3 months. The D2 was continued in eastern Oregon. In this region, drought impacts from Baker County include very dry soil conditions, blowing dust, no water for livestock, dry springs and storage ponds, below-normal range grass growth; drought impacts from Harney County include significantly low water supplies from early melt-out of winter snow pack are reducing water available for irrigators and ranchers; and drought impacts from Lake County include reduced water supplies for irrigators and ranchers due to low streamflow and low reservoir storage at some basin reservoirs. In Utah, D2 was expanded in the northeast and new ovals of D3 and D4 were added. But in southwest New Mexico, D1-D3 were pulled back where the rains from Tropical Storm Bud last week were reflected in SPoRT soil moisture and SPI indicators.

Several indicators, including SPI and other precipitation indices, evapotranspiration indices, soil moisture indices, and vegetation indices, showed worsening meteorological conditions in California. June 25 USDA statistics have 75% of topsoil moisture and 75% of subsoil moisture in California short or very short (dry to very dry), with 40% of pastures and rangeland in poor to very poor condition. D0 was expanded in northern and central California, and D1 crept in from the north to capture the extremely low 6- to 12-month SPI values. The water resources of California are carefully managed to mitigate the impacts of drought. With reservoirs in good shape, the D0-D1 in northern California reflects the climatological indicators. D0 was expanded to the California coast to reflect abnormally dry meteorological conditions over the last several months, and a low snowpack during the latter months of the wet season. Since drought impacts along the coast are not happening, the D0 reflects just meteorological conditions and further degradation (to a level of drought, D1) is extremely unlikely there this summer because even zero precipitation over the next few months would not be enough to drop water year precipitation into D1 levels…

Looking Ahead

Since the Tuesday morning cutoff time of this week’s USDM, additional heavy rains have fallen across parts of Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky, with rain falling over the East Coast states. For June 28-July 4, dry weather will continue across most of the West and southern Plains. An inch or more of rain is expected for much of the Southeast and New England, and parts of the northern Plains to Upper Midwest. The forecast models predict less than an inch of rain across other parts of the CONUS east of the Rockies. Temperatures are expected to be mostly warmer than normal, except some cooling in the northwestern CONUS. For July 5-11, odds favor above-normal temperatures across most of Alaska and the CONUS, with a chance for below-normal temperatures in the Northwest. There is a higher probability for drier-than-normal weather across the Northwest, central Plains to Great Lakes, and southern Alaska, and wetter-than-normal weather for the Southwest, southern Plains to Mid-Atlantic region, and northern Alaska, as well as the Upper Mississippi Valley.

@USBR allocates more than $4 million to combat quagga and zebra mussels in the West

Quaggas on sandal at Lake Mead

Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

The Bureau of Reclamation has allocated more than $4 million for federal, state, and tribal projects to prevent, contain, control, and monitor invasive quagga and zebra mussels in the West. This funding advances actions announced by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in June 2017 as part of the initiative called “Safeguarding the West: Actions to Strengthen Federal, State, and Tribal Coordination to Address Invasive Mussels.” This funding builds on $1 million in 2017 to support initiatives by the federal government, as well as work by the Western Governors’ Association, western states, and tribes to protect western ecosystems, water infrastructure, and hydroelectric facilities from invasive mussels.

“For more than a century, Reclamation and its partners in the West have invested in water infrastructure that is today at risk from invasive quagga and zebra mussels,” Commissioner Brenda Burman said. “The funding we are announcing today will be used on efforts to prevent their spread while improving ways to manage facilities when the first sign of these invasive mussels is detected.”

“The fight against invasive mussels in the West requires collaboration and partnership at all levels of government, including, importantly, those between Reclamation and Western states,” said the Western Governors’ Association. “With this new funding, western states will be able to enhance invasive mussel management at many levels, including research, monitoring, prevention, and enforcement.”

Highlights of the funded projects include these actions:

  • Purchasing inspection and decontamination stations to inspect and decontaminate boats leaving the lower Colorado River in California and Nevada, including supporting the National Park Service at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
  • Supporting the Salish Kootenai Tribe at Flathead Lake Aquatic Invasive Species program.
  • Developing vulnerability assessments for facilities and infrastructure at risk of mussel infestation in the Columbia River Basin.
  • Assisting the State of Arizona in providing law enforcement support at inspection stations.
  • Funding research for the State of Montana and Reclamation on viability of veligers in residual water in boats.
  • Supporting watercraft inspection stations at Reclamation reservoirs in Nebraska and Kansas.
  • Implementing the state Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan at water bodies owned by Reclamation in Utah.
  • Analyzing water quality to determine which water bodies should be prioritized for invasive mussel monitoring and prevention in California.
  • Continuing and enhancing water quality and quagga mussel monitoring program at high-priority programs in the Pacific Northwest and various reservoirs in the upper Colorado River Basin.
  • Conducting watercraft inspections at Navajo and Elephant Butte reservoirs in New Mexico.
  • Invasive mussels pose challenges for Reclamation and others who manage water. Invasive mussels are prolific breeders and settle on or within water facility infrastructure such as water intakes, gates, diversion screens, hydropower equipment, pumps, pipelines and boats. Infested water and hydropower infrastructure can fail or choke off water transmissions. The mussels also negatively impact the natural ecology, which can be detrimental to native and endangered species, including native fisheries. To learn more about invasive mussel management and research at Reclamation, please visit

    Boulder inks deal to sell hydroelectric power to Tri-State

    Small hydroelectric via City of Boulder.

    From BizWest (Jensen Werley):

    The city of Boulder signed a contract with the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association for the sale of hydroelectric power generated at five of the city’s eight hydroelectric plants.

    The deal is a 10-year agreement with an option to renew for another five years. It’s expected to generate about $500,000 per year in revenue, which will offset water utility capital improvements and operating costs that would otherwise be paid through higher water rates for customers.

    The city had previously sold hydroelectric power to Tri-State from the Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric plant. This agreement renews the contract for Boulder Canyon and adds four facilities: the Kohler, Maxwell, Orodell and Sunshine plants…

    Hydroelectric generation harnesses the energy generated during the downhill trip from water sources to the water distribution system. Boulder’s hydro program consists of eight plants that generate about 37 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power 4,600 households and displace 20,400 tons of coal.