Coyote Gulch outage #CRWUA2018 #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

I’m heading to Las Vegas for the Colorado River Water Users Association Annual Conference. Posting here may be intermittent.

You can follow along with the hash tag #CRWUA2018 or follow @CRWUAwater.

I love this conference. The networking opportunities blow me away. I’ll be up front in the sessions live-tweeting the goings on. Stop by and introduce yourself.

“The climate will continue to warm and will continue to surprise us. No one alive today will ever see a stable climate system again” — LeRoy Westerling #ActOnClimate

Camp Fire 2018. By NASA (Joshua Stevens) – NASA Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager ;, Public Domain,

From The Guardian (Oliver Milman):

Of the traumatic consequences of climate change, scientists consider increasingly ferocious wildfires to be one of the most starkly apparent

…the Camp fire is comfortably the deadliest in California history, with 85 confirmed deaths and a few dozen people unaccounted for. More than 50,000 others were scattered into refugee tent encampments, hotels, relatives’ couches. “We are a town in exile,” said Michael Orr, a Paradise resident now living on an air mattress at his in-laws’ house in Chico.

Nine in 10 homes in Paradise have been reduced to clumps of ash, mixed with twisted metal, as if the settlement has been carpet-bombed by a brutal invader. Chimneys, like tombstones for a lost town, are the only things left standing. The birds fled along with the humans leaving Paradise an eerily quiet place with a lingering smell of charcoal.

The visceral trauma of having a town wiped off the map is the nadir in an astonishing burst of recent wildfires – of the 10 most destructive fires in California’s recorded history, five have occurred since October last year.

“The landscape is changing into the appropriate climate zone that we are moving towards,” said LeRoy Westerling, a climate change and fire expert at the University of California, Merced, who attempts to work out how wildfires will spread as temperatures continue to rise. “The fires seem to be outpacing our predictions. The Camp fire shocked me by how fast it was.”

California is in the grip of what its governor, Jerry Brown, calls the “new abnormal”. The past five years have been the hottest on record in the state, which is in stuttering recovery from its worst drought in a millennium. The state has received just a fifth of its normal rainfall so far in 2018, with a record 1.6m acres of grassland, forest and urban area, an area larger than Delaware, burning this year.

Of the multifarious consequences of climate change, scientists consider increasingly ferocious wildfires to be one of the most starkly apparent. Rising atmospheric heat – average minimum temperatures in California are 2.3F warmer than a century ago – is drying out trees and shrubs, drawing moisture away from the soil and shrinking the snowpack. Dampening rains are becoming erratic, or, like this year, not materializing at all.

This creates a tinderbox for wildfires, which can ignite from actions as simple as sparks flying from a trailer dragging on the road or a faulty power line. There’s also evidence that climate change will help southern California’s autumn winds, known as Santa Anas or Diablos, fan wildfires. A 2016 study found climate change has doubled the total area burned in the western US since the 1980s.

Something on the scale of the Camp fire, where a funnel of flame seared through a town in a few hours, could’ve conceivably occurred 50 years ago but it would’ve involved a “very unlikely sequence of climate events you wouldn’t see again”, Westerling said.

“Now we are seeing it happen again and again, year after year,” he added. “The climate will continue to warm and will continue to surprise us. No one alive today will ever see a stable climate system again. This is going to be changing for the rest of our lives.”

Camp Fire, California, 2018. Photo credit:

Fountain Creek lawsuit negotiations update

The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile watershed that drains south into the Arkansas River at Pueblo. The watershed is bordered by the Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Map via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Boczkiewicz):

Negotiations are underway between Pueblo County, a water conservancy district and environmental protection agencies on one side, and Colorado Springs on the other side, to resolve disputes of many years regarding that city’s defiling of Fountain Creek.

The Pueblo Chieftain has obtained court documents stating that the parties in a two-year-old lawsuit are trying to reach an agreement to settle it, instead of pursuing it further in the U.S. District Court for Colorado.

Both sides have met three times in recent weeks “to discuss potential resolution of the (lawsuit) without further litigation,” states a court document filed last week at the court in Denver. It was filed by Pueblo County commissioners, the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

Those four entities sued Colorado Springs in 2016, claiming the city violated clean water laws by discharging excessive stormwater and pollutants into the creek, which flows through Pueblo County into the Arkansas River at Pueblo.

After a trial, the judge overseeing the case decided on Nov. 9 in favor of the four entities that sued. Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch ruled Colorado Springs violated its permit that regulates stormwater discharges into Fountain Creek.

The four entities in the court fight with Colorado Springs state in the new court document that the discussions so far “were productive.” They and the city asked the judge to put litigation on hold for three months, to see if they can agree how to remedy the city’s violations.

Matsch on Thursday granted the request.

#CRWUA2018 opens Wednesday as #ColoradoRiver #Drought Contingency Plan negotiations slog on #COriver #aridification

Las Vegas circa 1915

From the Associated Press (Ken Ritter) via the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle:

“There will be cuts. We all know the clock is ticking. That’s what a lot of the difficult negotiations have been around,” said Kim Mitchell, Western Resource Advocates water policy adviser and a delegate to ongoing meetings involving the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Central Arizona Project, agricultural, industrial and business interests, the governor, state lawmakers and cities including Tucson and Phoenix.

In Arizona, unlike other states, a final drought contingency plan must pass the state Legislature when it convenes in January.

Federal water managers wanted a deal to sign at the annual Colorado River Water Users Association conference beginning Wednesday in Las Vegas, and threatened earlier this year to impose unspecified measures from Washington if a voluntary drought contingency plan wasn’t reached.

However, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman is signaling that the agency that controls the levers on the river is willing to wait. She is scheduled to talk to the conference on Thursday.

“Reclamation remains cautiously optimistic that the parties will find a path forward,” the bureau said in a statement on Friday, “because finding a consensus deal recognizing the risks of continuing drought and the benefits of a drought contingency plan is in each state’s best interest.”


After 19 years of drought and increasing demand, federal water managers project a 52 percent chance that the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam, will fall low enough to trigger cutbacks under agreements governing the system.

The seven states saw this coming years ago, and used Colorado River Water Users Association meetings in December 2007 to sign a 20-year “guidelines” plan to share the burden of a shortage.

Contingency agreements would update that pact, running through 2026. They call for voluntarily using less to keep more water in the system’s two main reservoirs, lakes Powell and Mead.

Lake Powell upstream from of the Grand Canyon is currently at 43 percent capacity; Lake Mead, downstream, is at 38 percent.

Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the river’s Upper Basin states, aim to keep the surface of Lake Powell above a target level to continue water deliveries to irrigation districts and cities and also keep hydroelectric turbines humming at Glen Canyon Dam.

The Lower Basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada aim to keep Lake Mead above a shortage declaration trigger point by using less water than they’re legally entitled to.

If Lake Mead falls below that level, Arizona will face a 9 percent reduction in water supply, Nevada a 3 percent cut and California up to 8 percent. Mexico’s share of river water would also be reduced.

Water officials in most states — from the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas to the Colorado River Water Conservation District in Glenwood Springs, Colorado — have signed off on plans in recent weeks.

In Arizona, the board governing the Central Arizona Project irrigation system approved the Lower Basin plan on Thursday.

In California, the sprawling Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves some 19 million people, is set to approve it Tuesday.

Board members there were reminded the agreements are only a short-term fix.

According to a board briefing, the Bureau of Reclamation, seven basin states and water contractors will begin negotiating again beginning no later than 2020.

“That process is expected to result in new rules for management and operation of the Colorado River after 2026,” the board briefing said.

Tackle climate or face financial crash, say world’s biggest investors — The Guardian

Climate Science 101

From The Guardian (Damian Carrington):

UN summit urged to end all coal burning and introduce substantial taxes on emissions

Global investors managing $32tn issued a stark warning to governments at the UN climate summit on Monday, demanding urgent cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of all coal burning. Without these, the world faces a financial crash several times worse than the 2008 crisis, they said.

The investors include some of the world’s biggest pension funds, insurers and asset managers and marks the largest such intervention to date. They say fossil fuel subsidies must end and substantial taxes on carbon be introduced.

Ministers arrive at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, on Monday for its crucial second week, when the negotiations on turning the vision of the Paris agreement into reality reach a critical point, with finance for fighting global warming a key area of dispute.

“The long-term nature of the challenge has, in our view, met a zombie-like response by many,” said Chris Newton, of IFM Investors which manages $80bn and is one of the 415 groups that has signed the Global Investor Statement. “This is a recipe for disaster as the impacts of climate change can be sudden, severe and catastrophic.”

Investment firm Schroders said there could be $23tn of global economic losses a year in the long term without rapid action. This permanent economic damage would be almost four times the scale of the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis. Standard and Poor’s rating agency also warned leaders: “Climate change has already started to alter the functioning of our world.”

Thomas DiNapoli, of the $207bn New York State Common Retirement Fund, another signatory, said taking action on global warming not only avoided damage but could boost jobs and growth. “The low-carbon economy presents numerous opportunities and investors who ignore the changing world do so at their own peril.”

Lord Nicholas Stern, of the London School of Economics said: “The low-carbon economy is the growth story of the 21st century and it is inclusive growth. Without that story, we would not have got the 2015 Paris agreement, but the story has grown stronger and stronger and is really compelling now.”

Revised ‘green roofs’ ordinance good news for Denver Water – News on TAP

A bit more water use is expected to bring big benefits to the city and its people.

Source: Revised ‘green roofs’ ordinance good news for Denver Water – News on TAP

Antero Reservoir project builds upon its history – News on TAP

Denver Water dam built in 1909 gets a major tuneup for the next century.

Source: Antero Reservoir project builds upon its history – News on TAP

Cloud seeding off to a strong start for 2018-19 winter season – News on TAP

Denver Water and Colorado River partners happy for fresh powder now, and extra water later.

Source: Cloud seeding off to a strong start for 2018-19 winter season – News on TAP