Organizers of Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan effort tab Steering Committee members

Arizona Water News

The co-sponsors of the statewide effort to complete a Drought Contingency Plan for  Arizona that helps protect Lake Mead from falling to dangerously low levels have named their Steering Committee.

The 37-member panel, co-chaired by Tom Buschatzke of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and Ted Cooke of the Central Arizona Project, will gather for the first time on July 26 at the CAP board meeting room in north Phoenix.

The meeting is a first, major step toward bringing DCP to closure in Arizona by addressing a broad range of issues that respect the concerns of all Colorado River stakeholders across the state. The two co-sponsoring organizations previously hosted two public briefings illustrating the need for a Colorado River system-wide DCP and the perils facing the system without one.

The Steering Committee gatherings also will be open to the public.

The Steering Committee’s goal is to prepare the way…

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#NewMexico: 2018 Draft State Water Plan Released

A forested lava dome in the midst of the Valle Grande, the largest meadow in the Valles Caldera National Preserve

Here’s the release from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer / Interstate Stream Commission:

The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC), in collaboration with the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE), has released the 2018 Draft New Mexico State Water Plan. The State Water Plan provides important information about the state’s water resources and strategies to plan for the state’s water future. For the first time, a public review and comment period has been incorporated for the Draft State Water Plan.

The ISC began working on the State Water Plan in April 2017, following the completion of the last Regional Water Plan. This draft plan has been developed on schedule and under budget.

“Getting the public’s input is a valuable aspect to ensuring all New Mexicans have a say in planning for New Mexico’s water future,” said Interstate Stream Commission Director John Longworth. “This plan will help New Mexicans make informed decisions that will allow the state to grow and change as needed and yet still preserve what people love about the state.”

The plan has three parts:

Policies: provides descriptions of proposed water resource management policies.

Technical Report: The 16 Regional Water Plans and attendant recommendations developed through a collaborative process at the December 2017 New Mexico State Water Plan Town Hall have informed and influenced the state water policies.

Legal Landmarks: provides summary information about historic decisions in New Mexico water law establishing the legal structure for water resource administration.

The 16 Regional Water Plans and attendant recommendations developed through a collaborative process at the December 2017 New Mexico State Water Plan Town Hall have informed and influenced the state water policies. Additionally, many state agencies have participated in the review of the draft plan and provided valuable input. The ISC has also been active in conducting tribal consultation to ensure tribal concerns have been incorporated in the State Water Plan.

There will be a 30 day public comment period. Comments on the plan can be submitted online via the above website or can be mailed to Lucia F. Sanchez, Interstate Stream Commission Water Planning Program Manager, 407 Galisteo Street, Santa Fe, NM 87504. The Draft New Mexico State Water Plan can be accessed at

#Drought news: Minor improvement SW of #Denver due to heavy rain

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


Over the last week, relatively warm weather was common over much of the country, particularly in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, and California. Widespread rainfall fell over parts of Pennsylvania and New York, Illinois, and from southwest Nebraska to the Michigan Upper Peninsula. Elsewhere across the central and eastern United States, rainfall, some moderate to heavy, was generally hit or miss. In the western United States, monsoonal rains fell over Arizona and New Mexico and parts of southern Utah and Nevada, keeping temperatures in the areas receiving rain near or cooler than normal. Most other areas, with the exceptions of eastern Wyoming, the Montana high plains, and parts of Colorado, stayed mostly dry…

High Plains

Warm conditions over the last week took place in eastern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, and eastern Kansas. Warm temperatures also occurred over much of western Wyoming and the high plains of Montana. Moderate to heavy rain fell over roughly the eastern half of Wyoming, much of Nebraska (excluding the Omaha and Lincoln areas), and parts of South Dakota and central Kansas. Heavy rainfall Monday night prevented the introduction of abnormal dryness in south-central Nebraska and north-central Kansas, where some long-term precipitation deficits and groundwater shortages are present. Heavy rain this week in parts of central Kansas led to small areal improvements where severe and extreme drought conditions were present. Meanwhile, in areas that mostly missed the rain, short- and long-term deficits caused degradation of conditions. Exceptional drought was introduced in a small area of east-central Kansas, and extreme drought was introduced in the Kansas side of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area and in far southeast Kansas. Conditions remained mostly status quo in Montana and the Dakotas, with a minor improvement from moderate drought to abnormal dryness southwest of Denver, Colorado, due to heavy rain…


Generally warm conditions were found across the South during the last week. Scattered, generally disorganized areas of moderate to heavy rain fell over parts of Oklahoma, Texas (excluding central and south Texas), Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Improvements in drought conditions occurred in parts of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, while drought expanded in other parts of the panhandles. Extreme drought developed over a small area of northeast Oklahoma as a result of short- and long-term precipitation deficits. Scattered heavy rain over north Texas led to changing drought conditions as many areas that received heavy rain saw improvements to their conditions. Heavy rain in southwest Texas also partially alleviated drought conditions. The hit-and-miss rains in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi led to small changes in areas of mostly moderate drought and abnormal dryness that were caused by short-term precipitation deficits. In western Tennessee, which mostly missed this week’s heavier rains, conditions continued to dry out in the short term, which may soon lead to abnormal dryness…


Very warm and generally dry weather occurred over the last week in California, Oregon, and Washington. Meanwhile, in southern Nevada, southeastern California, and parts of Utah and Arizona and New Mexico, scattered monsoonal rains continued, leading to localized heavy rains. Because of the short- and long-term precipitation deficits present in much of the region coming into this past week, large amounts of rainfall were needed for drought conditions to improve. Improvements in extreme and exceptional drought conditions occurred over parts of Arizona where enough rain fell to substantially reduce the ongoing deficits. Conditions in Washington continued to dry out in the short term. Combined with warm temperatures, this led to the development of moderate drought in the Olympic Peninsula and the expansion of abnormal dryness in parts of eastern Washington. Abnormally dry conditions also developed in parts of the Idaho Panhandle because of precipitation deficits and low streamflow…

Looking Ahead

Over the next 5-7 days, the southern Plains and the Northwest are forecast to remain mostly dry. Rain chances will likely continue over the Southwest, though the focus of the heaviest precipitation will likely be from the mountains in Colorado and New Mexico northeastward into the southern and central High Plains. Rain is also forecast in the northern Plains and Upper Midwest. The best chances for heavy rain amounts during the next week will generally be east of the Mississippi River. The highest chances for warmer than normal temperatures over the next week will be in Alaska, New England, the Florida Peninsula, the Intermountain West, the Desert Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. In between these areas, the greatest chances for cooler than normal temperatures will occur in the central and northern Plains and in the Upper Midwest.

Minnesota Supreme Court allows “necessity defense” for pipeline protesters #ActOnClimate

A sign along U.S. Highway 20 in Stuart, Nebraska, in May 2012. Stuart is on the edge of the Sand Hills, a few miles from Newport. Photo/Allen Best – See more at:

From the Associated Press:

Climate change protesters are claiming victory in their effort to present an unusual “necessity defense” against felony charges stemming from efforts to shut down oil pipelines.

The Minnesota Supreme Court declined Wednesday to review a ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that backed the protesters, who will still face an uphill legal battle when their case goes to trial this fall.

Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein acknowledge turning the emergency shut-off valves on two pipelines in 2016 in Clearwater County of northwestern Minnesota as part of a coordinated nationwide action. Eleven activists were charged in all.

The Court of Appeals ruled in April the two Seattle-area women can argue that they believe the threat of climate change from Canadian tar sands crude is so imminent that they were justified.

#Wildfire update

Spring Creek Fire becomes third largest in state history (July 2018). Photo credit: Wildfire Today

From The Denver Post (Kieran Nicholson):

Wildfires have scorched more than 175,000 acres this season, leaving lands stripped of trees, brush and other vegetation. When rains come, water washes down barren landscapes, uprooting fire debris and channeling mudslides and flash floods.

Rocks, dirt, tree limbs, logs and other debris are often swept into floods and slides, creating dangerous situations. Structures, roads, vehicles and energy infrastructure, including power poles and energy lines, can be damaged or destroyed.

416 FIRE

A flash flood warning was posted Tuesday, by the National Weather Service, through 9 p.m. for north and central La Plata County.

U.S. 550 north of Durango, in the 416 fire area, was closed from La Plata County Road 203B to Hermosa Meadows Road by a mudslide, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. A section of U.S. 160, in the Chimney Rock area, between Bayfield and Pagosa Springs, was shut down by heavy rains and mudslide, according to San Juan National Forest officials.

The highways were shut down when heavy rains from thunderstorms swept through the area between 5 and 6 p.m., the weather service said. Areas that were flooding included Rockwood, Hermosa and Trimble…

A KOA campground on County Road 250, north of Hermosa, was evacuated Tuesday evening because of mudslides. Evacuated campers were instructed to go to La Plata County County Fairgrounds for safety…

The fire, which started on June 1 about 13 miles north of Durango, has burned more than 54,000 acres and was 50 percent contained Tuesday night.


The Upper Colorado River Type 3 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire on Monday. The incident command post is now located at Basalt Fire Station 42, on JW Drive in El Jebel.

Fire crews on Tuesday mopped up and worked on control lines on the west and south flanks of the fire. They were supported by helicopters dropping water on hotspots. Isolated torching is ongoing, but fire spread is limited to the steep, rocky terrain around Basalt Mountain, according to fire officials. “Smoke will be visible in the coming days and may impact residents as interior fuels burn themselves out.”


The fire, which started on July 3 and was human caused, has burned more than 6,800 acres and was 59 percent contained Tuesday night.


The fire, the third largest in Colorado history, has burned more than 108,000 acres and was 91 percent contained Tuesday night. In 2013, the West Fork Complex fire, which was sparked by lightning, burned 109,049 acres. West Fork holds the No. 2 spot…

The human-caused fire started June 27 about 5 miles northeast of Fort Garland.

#Drought news: Despite recent rainfall S. #Colorado still impacted by deepening #drought

Florence back in the day via

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

Southern Colorado is experiencing plenty of wildfires, thirsty lawns and stressed trees, all of which are leaving water suppliers working overtime to keep up.

In Fremont County, employees at the Florence Water Treatment plant are feeling the greatest impact as they work to supply water to the Fremont County Airport where air tankers are filling up for water and retardant drops on wildfires throughout the region.

Perfluorinated compounds found in Adams County groundwater wells

Graphic vis the National Institutes of Health

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Faith Miller):

Tests showed perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, in certain groundwater wells that supply drinking water to north metro Denver, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced July 12. PFCs are toxic chemicals used in a variety of products, including firefighting foam, that have contaminated water supplies near military bases around the world — including in El Paso County.

So far, South Adams County Water and Sanitation District officials have detected PFCs in 12 municipal wells along Quebec Parkway near Interstate 270, The Denver Post reports. Those wells supply water to 50,000 residents across 65 square miles.

The District’s water system manager is quoted in the Post’s article as saying that the wells’ PFC levels ranged from 24 parts per trillion (ppt) to 2,280 ppt. That’s up to 32 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s current acceptable limit for PFCs, which is 70 ppt. A study released June 20 by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry suggests that safe drinking water should contain less than 12 ppt.

“We are working with our partners at EPA and local governments to address this issue and protect public health,” Ron Falco, safe drinking water program manager for the Water Quality Control Division, is quoted in the CDPHE’s statement.