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 +1.0C. 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 +0.5C 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (970) 622-2342.
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.
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.
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.
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 changes were negotiated earlier this year by Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both Democrats. The bill’s inclusion of the Salton Sea could also nudge California closer to approving a Colorado River drought contingency plan.
Officials said for the first time the Salton Sea now has access to guaranteed federal funding to help clean up environmental and public health issues caused by farming and water withdrawals. The sea, the state’s largest lake, is rapidly drying and releasing toxic dust clouds…
State officials have allocated a minimum of $10 million for a first phase program to build ponds and wetlands to cover growing stretches of dusty lake bed. The federal programs could provide matching funds or more.
The bill could also indirectly help with seven-state drought contingency plans to conserve Colorado River water.
The Imperial Irrigation District, which is entitled to the largest share of the river water, has signaled their support for one plan, but set conditions for signing it, including an ironclad guarantee of funding for the shrinking Salton Sea…
During talks in Las Vegas last week on the drought plans, Bureau of Reclamation chief Brenda Burman said, “I would caution folks … not to add unrealistic demands.”
IID president Jim Hanks fired back at her comments at a board meeting on Monday.
“It’s one thing to make bold statements from a Washington D.C. office or the luxurious Caesar’s Palace hotel ballroom. It’s something entirely different to see the shrinking sea or widening shoreline with your own eyes, or to witness a child or grandchild struggling to breathe due to their worsening asthma,” he said. “A shrinking sea … will blow untold quantities of fine dust in the air. … Matching federal funding for the Salton Sea makes up one-tenth of one percent of the $900 billion 2018 Farm Bill. That seems entirely reasonable.”
Meanwhile, down in the San Luis Valley the farm bill is welcome. Here’s a report from the Valley Courier via the Center Post Dispatch:
On Wednesday, Dec. 12, the House of Representatives passed the 2018 Farm Bill 369-47. The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday 87-13.
The Farm Bill, which among other provisions removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, now moves to the president’s desk for signature. The San Luis Valley is one of the areas in Colorado embracing hemp as a viable crop, and Colorado was the number-one hemp producing state in the nation last year with more than 10,000 acres.
Corbett Hefner, vice president of Research and Development for Power Zone Agriculture, a Valley company that has designed farm equipment to accommodate hemp production, said, “As an innovator developing hemp fiber-specific manufacturing technology, Power Zone is thrilled to see clarification at the federal level on industrial hemp in this Farm Bill. Thanks to this key step, we can take our business to the next level in rural Colorado and across the nation.”
Colorado State Senator and hemp producer Don Coram said, “As the sponsor of establishing hemp regulations in 2013 and actually becoming a hemp grower in 2017, I am thrilled that Colorado is leading the nation in this burgeoning new industry. The lack of clarity for hemp in federal law has long stalled the hemp industry from taking off. I appreciate Senator Bennet’s work on behalf of Colorado hemp growers to fully legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp. Colorado’s hemp industry will certainly benefit from this provision.”
Other agricultural leaders were also pleased with the passage of the Farm Bill.
For example, San Luis Valley resident and Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft said, “The passage of the 2018 farm bill is welcome news for Colorado farmers and ranchers. Not only will it ensure the safety net for producers, maintain and expand environmental stewardship programs, promote international trade and provide needed support to disadvantaged families, it removes future uncertainty for an industry struggling amongst low commodity prices.”
Colorado Potato Administrative Committee Executive Director Jim Ehrlich said, “The new Farm Bill continues to make great investments for specialty crop producers in the research arena, including fully funding the Specialty Crop Research Initiative at $80 million annually, and reauthorizing the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The potato industry has truly benefited from these programs. In addition, the bill provides important trade promotion funding through the Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program. Twenty percent of the U. S. potato crop is exported annually so a healthy trade environment is vital to the industry.”
Ehrlich added, “There are other provisions in the bill that will have potential positive impacts on the Valley as a whole, including making hemp legal nationally and eligible for crop insurance, and enhancements to the conservation title. In my opinion it represents a job well done by congress and how congress should function.”
Zoila Gomez, lead coordinator at San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition’s Cooking Matters, said, “The reauthorization of the Farm Bill only strengthens our commitment in The San Luis Valley and across the state to continue to educate and motivate our participants to make healthy and physical activity choices within a limited budget through the Cooking Matters Campaign by Share Our Strength. We are grateful for all of those who advocated and voted for the Farm Bill … In an era of social media, people do love learning about nutrition, cooking healthy meals and dining together. The passing of the Farm Bill allows us to continue to bring together more people and move on with our mission.”
“On behalf of beef cattle producers in Colorado, we support the hard work toward passage and the outcomes of the 2019 Farm Bill, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association President Mike Hogue said. “The bi-partisan legislation will continue the meaningful work of ranches and farms in conserving our natural resources while opening up the world to our high-quality foods, like beef. Furthermore, CCA is pleased with funding that will go toward protecting our livestock from foreign animal diseases through additional research and preparedness. These points and others contained in the 2018 Farm Bill support the global approach to food security and stewardship our producers have.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “The passage of the 2019 Farm Bill is good news because it provides a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers, who need the dependability and certainty this legislation affords. This Farm Bill will help producers make decisions about the future, while also investing in important agricultural research and supporting trade programs to bolster exports. While I feel there were missed opportunities in forest management and in improving work requirements for certain SNAP recipients, this bill does include several helpful provisions and we will continue to build upon these through our authorities. I commend Congress for bringing the Farm Bill across the finish line and am encouraging President Trump to sign it.”
Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown said, “The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill is more than a success for U.S. farm and ranch families; it’s a powerful win for all Americans. This country relies on a strong, abundant supply of the food, fiber, and fuel provided by America’s agricultural community. The programs within the 2018 Farm Bill provide true value to the people of Colorado, including expanding the Conservation Reserve Program acreage and legalizing hemp to help create more consistent programs as a U.S. crop. In particular, adjusting the Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage program provides a vital safety net for producers.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Bob Broscheid said, “Colorado’s wildlife and agriculture will both benefit from the 2018 Farm Bill; it’s a win-win. A long list of Colorado’s wildlife and recreation depends on working agricultural landscapes for food and cover, and the farm bill has several provisions that provide substantial incentives for farmers and ranchers to invest in practices that maintain wildlife habitat, as well as voluntary public access programs. Private lands are critical to Colorado’s quality of life, and this farm bill will provide the funding needed to ensure continued conservation of our soil, water, and wildlife.”
FromThe Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):
The possibility of using existing pipelines rather than having to build new ones entirely is one tack Million is taking in arguing in favor of the economic feasibility of his idea.
Financial viability is one of the issues that Utah State Engineer Kent Jones is pressing Million on as Million pursues a Utah water right for the project.
Jones heads the Utah Division of Water Rights, which last month heard from Million and numerous project opponents before deciding that it needed more information from Million.
On Dec. 10, Jones wrote to Million, asking for a detailed engineering cost-estimate for conveying the water to the Front Range that demonstrates the cost would be physically and economically feasible.
Million said Monday that he can’t speak in details about possible use of existing infrastructure due to a nondisclosure agreement, but said several pipelines cross the Green River at his proposed diversion point, and an existing pipeline goes to north of Greeley…
In his letter, Jones also asks Million for information on why Jones should believe there is water available, physically and under interstate Colorado River compacts, for diversion. Jones pointed to existing downstream water rights and approved applications to appropriate water, endangered-fish needs, and potential federal reserved water rights for Indian tribes and for national parks, monuments and recreation areas…
“This information is being requested since the state engineer has already established by policies adopted for this area a belief that the amount of water proposed under the application is not available for beneficial use as your application proposes,” Jones wrote to Million.
Million said a recent federal environmental review found a surplus of water beyond environmental, recreation and other needs in the stretch of the Green River where he proposes his diversion, upstream of where it is replenished by the Yampa River.
Million said his understanding is that Utah is concerned that a proposed pipeline project from Lake Powell would use some of its remaining compact allocation.
But he said that doesn’t mean there isn’t a surplus available for other states, and his project would count against Colorado’s allocation.