The latest El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) diagnostic discussion is hot off the presses from the CPC

Mid-November 2018 plume of ENSO predictions.

Click here to read the discussion:

ENSO Alert System Status: El Niño Watch

Synopsis: El Niño is expected to form and continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2018-19 (~90% chance) and through spring (~60% chance).

ENSO-neutral continued during November, despite the continuation of above-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The latest weekly SST indices for all four Niño regions were near +1.0C. Positive subsurface temperature anomalies (averaged across 180°-100°W) weakened slightly, but above-average temperatures persist at depth across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. However, the atmospheric anomalies largely reflected intra-seasonal variability related to the Madden-Julian Oscillation, and have not yet shown a clear coupling to the above-average ocean temperatures. For the month as a whole, atmospheric convection remained close to average near the Date Line and suppressed over Indonesia. Also, the low-level and upper level winds were mostly near average across the equatorial Pacific. The equatorial Southern Oscillation index (SOI) was negative, while the traditional SOI was near zero. Despite the above-average ocean temperatures, the overall coupled ocean-atmosphere system remained ENSO-neutral.

The majority of models in the IRI/CPC plume predict a Niño3.4 index of +0.5C or greater to continue through the winter and spring. The official forecast favors the formation of a weak El Niño, with the expectation that the atmospheric circulation will eventually couple to the anomalous equatorial Pacific warmth. In summary, El Niño is expected to form and continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2018-19 (~90% chance) and spring (~60% chance; click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).

@Northern_Water Winter Water Efficiency Stakeholder Meeting set for January 15, 2019

Irrigation sprinklers run over a farm in Longmont in the South Platte River basin. Photo credit: Lindsay Fendt/Aspen Journalism

Here’s the release from Northern Water:

Northern Water allottees and other water efficiency partners within our delivery area are invited to join us on Jan. 15 in Berthoud.

The 2019 Winter Water Efficiency Stakeholder Meeting – which will take place at Northern Water’s headquarters (220 Water Ave. in Berthoud), and run from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. – serves as an opportunity for all to learn and share innovative tools, techniques and policies needed for identifying, structuring and financing efficiency projects.

Our goal is to equip you with options to plan for and implement water efficiency, and attendees will also have the opportunity to share projects they have underway. We hope this will be a fun, informative and collaborative event. A schedule of the day’s events is listed below.

Lunch will be provided.

Be sure to RSVP by Jan. 8, which you can do by clicking here.
If you have any questions, please contact Lyndsey Lucia at llucia@northernwater.org, or at (970) 622-2342.

Fort Collins: 2019 Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance Conference, February 13-15, 2019

Unlined water ditch in Fort Collins. (Photo by Tina Griego)

Click here for all the inside skinny.

Fort Morgan councilors approve wastewater tap fee increases for 2019

From The Fort Morgan Times (Kara Morgan):

For 2019, the City Council passed an increase in the fees for water plant investment fees and water plant investment fees for new taps in 2019. From taps ¾-inch to 6-inch meters, the overall fee increase for wastewater and water plant investment fees will total by about 42 percent. Considered separately, the wastewater plant investment fees will increase about 29 percent and the water plant investment fees about 53 percent, for ¾-inch to 6-inch meters. For 8-inch meters, Rheem only provided the water plant investment fee information, which also will increase 53 percent in 2019.

Comparing fees in other towns and cities nearby, Rheem said they did not anticipate these fee increases to have an impact on economic development, considering the high quality of water within Fort Morgan. Mayor Ron Shaver characterized this and the other wastewater increases as ‘necessary evils’, and he and other Council members also noted the water quality factor in Fort Morgan.

#Snowpack news not good for the SW #Colorado basins

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

And here’s the Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map for December 25, 2018 from the NRCS.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map December 25, 2018 via the NRCS.

From The Durango Herald (Bret Hauff):

Two winter storms expected to slam into Durango in the past few days split and puttered through the region, a weather pattern that could repeat for a storm later this week.

The past two storm systems forecast to dump dozens of inches of snow across the San Juan Mountains did not quite reach Durango as expected – a natural and common disturbance in the systems split the storms and sent most of the snow to New Mexico, said Chris Cuoco, a meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

“The northern half of the storm is starved for energy and doesn’t dump much snow,” Cuoco said.

West of Durango did see some snow flurries, with up to 8 inches dropping in the foothills north of Cortez on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Cuoco said. Durango, however, was spared. Mancos received 5 inches from the system by Wednesday morning.

Cloud seeding starts up in #Wyoming

Cloud-seeding graphic via Science Matters

From KUNC (Luke Runyon):

On Nov. 15 Wyoming started using small airplanes to flare silver iodide into snowstorms that roll into the Sierra Madre and Medicine Bow mountains, north of the Colorado-Wyoming border. North Dakota-based Weather Modification Inc. operates the planes. Since starting this fall, WMI has seeded clouds over southern Wyoming four times.

Now, the Jackson County Water Conservancy District wants to expand the practice near the headwaters of the North Platte River in northern Colorado. The district is seeking a permit from the state’s Water Conservation Board to begin aerial seeding during winter storms.

Recent studies have shown cloud seeding can marginally increase snowpack in theory. But a 2018 study from researchers at the University of Wyoming and the University of Colorado said big questions still remain regarding the practice’s effectiveness.

If the state approves the permit, this would be Colorado’s first aerial cloud seeding program.

Wyoming’s program costs the state roughly $425,000, with Cheyenne’s water utility contributing $45,000. The state also oversees cloud seeding towers in the Wind River mountain range, which are partially paid for by water agencies in Arizona, California and Nevada.

Some of Colorado’s cloud seeding operations receive funding from the same states, all in the Colorado River’s lower basin. Earlier this year, water managers in the seven basin states signed a new agreement to continue cloud seeding operations in the southern Rockies, allocating up to $2 million annually. The practice was included as a way to increase water supplies in Drought Contingency Plans being negotiated now, and recently approved by Colorado’s top water authority, the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Aerial seeding in northern Colorado could begin later this month.

@USBR Releases #ColoradoRiver Basin Ten Tribes Partnership Tribal Water Study #COriver #aridification

Click here to read the report. Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Patti Aaron):

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced today the release of the Colorado River Basin Ten Tribes Partnership Tribal Water Study that was conducted collaboratively with the member tribes of the Ten Tribes Partnership.

The study documents how Partnership Tribes currently use their water, projects how future water development could occur and describes the potential effects of future tribal water development on the Colorado River System. The study also identifies challenges related to the use of tribal water and explores opportunities that provide a wide range of benefits to both Partnership Tribes and other water users.

“We face a prolonged drought that represents one of the driest 20-year periods on the Colorado River in the last 1,200 years,” said Commissioner Burman. “This study is an important step forward that furthers our understanding of the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin and the actions we can take to collaboratively address them.”

While not all federally-recognized tribes in the basin are members of the Ten Tribes Partnership, the Partnership Tribes have reserved water rights, including unresolved claims, to potentially divert nearly 2.8 million acre-feet of water per year from the Colorado River and its tributaries. In many cases, these rights are senior to other uses.

The study is the outcome of a commitment between Reclamation and the Partnership Tribes to engage in a joint study to build on the scientific foundation of the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, published by Reclamation in 2012.

“Reclamation recognized the need for additional analyses and work following the 2012 Colorado River Basin Study,” said Reclamation Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp. “Working together, the Ten Tribes Partnership and Reclamation have produced a valuable reference that is the first of its kind in the Colorado River Basin.”

The study highlights tribal observations and concerns, including lack of water security, incomplete distribution systems and regulatory and economic challenges to developing water systems in geographically diverse areas.

“In light of the importance of tribal water rights in the Colorado River Basin, the Partnership and Reclamation collaborated to contribute crucial tribal-specific information to the discussions regarding Colorado River management,” said Lorelei Cloud, Chairman of the Ten Tribes Partnership. “Without the hard work and dedication of Reclamation, tribal leaders, and tribal staff, this critical project would not have been possible.”

The Ten Tribes Partnership was formed in 1992 by ten federally recognized tribes with federal Indian reserved water rights in the Colorado River or its tributaries. Five member tribes are located in the Upper Basin (Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Nation and Navajo Nation) and five are in the Lower Basin (Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, Quechan Indian Tribe and Cocopah Indian Tribe).

The study is available at: https://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/crbstudy/tribalwaterstudy.html