CSU Water in the West Symposium poised to address challenges, showcase solutions — @CSUDenverCenter

Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Tiana Nelson):

Colorado State University will host its second annual Water in the West Symposium on March 13-14, 2019, at Gaylord Rockies, to convene diverse experts and thought leaders to highlight solutions and collaborate on one of the greatest global issues: water.

The https://source.colostate.edu/water-in-the-west-symposium-creates-foundation-for-work-in-water/ in 2018 sold out with 35 speakers from across the country and more than 400 diverse water stakeholders, ranging from recreation and environment to business and agriculture.

“Colorado State University is in the perfect position to act as a convener around the issue of water,” said former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, an advisor to CSU on the National Western Center project in north Denver. “As we focus on solutions and problem-solving around water issues at this event, we want everyone at the table to be part of this critical conversation for an issue that impacts everyone, regardless of where they live.”

The Symposium is an initial offering of the CSU Water Building, one of the three buildings that make up the future CSU Campus at the National Western Center. The new CSU Campus is scheduled to break ground in 2020 and open in 2021, and will also include an animal health building and a center focused on food and agriculture. Each of the CSU buildings will provide collaborative research and incubation spaces, and interactive and family-friendly educational opportunities focused largely on the themes of health, environment, energy, water, and food.

“CSU has long been an expert in water issues, and the CSU Campus at the National Western Center will place these conversations on an even larger stage,” said Dr. Tony Frank, chancellor of the CSU System and president of CSU in Fort Collins. “The University has a responsibility to use its resources and position as a land-grant institution to take the lead in convening conversations and efforts around these important global issues.”

The 2019 Water in the West Symposium will feature more than 35 speakers, including Gary Knell, National Geographic Partners; Claudia Ringler, International Food Policy Research Institute; Mark Cackler, World Bank; and Rick Cables, Vail Resorts. A full list of speakers, additional event information, and registration is available at http://nwc.colostate.edu/water-in-the-west-2019.

#Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon lukewarm to legislation that would that would require Senate approval of the appointment of key state water officials — WyoFile.com

Wyoming rivers map via Geology.com

From Wyofile.com (Angus M. Thuermer)via The Gillette News Record:

The bill would require Senate advice and consent of the governor’s appointment of water division superintendents, the four officials who settle water disputes across the state. Senate File 42 Water division superintendents, also would limit appointees to six-year terms at which time they would have to be re-appointed or replaced — again with Senate approval.

Sponsored by the Select Water Committee, the bill would give legislators the ability to respond to constituents’ complaints, Sen. Larry Hicks (R-Baggs) told colleagues Friday.

“As the process now sits those are lifetime appointments,” until a superintendent resigns, dies or is fired by the governor, Hicks told the Senate. “The water users felt there ought to be more oversight over these superintendents.”

Under current law, such oversight, including the authority to dismiss superintendents, resides in the executive branch.

The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the bill 5-0 last week and it cleared the Senate on its second reading Monday. But Governor Mark Gordon questioned its need at a press conference last week.

“I’m not sure that bill is necessary,” Gordon told reporters.

Other influential voices, including that of the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, also criticized the bill. Wyoming State Engineer Pat Tyrrell, who oversees the superintendents, told the Senate Agriculture Committee how imposing Senate confirmation could influence decisions that are supposed to be made on technical and legal grounds.

There are four water division superintendents who are state employees appointed by the governor and serve at his or her will. Superintendents have vast legal powers and sit, along with the state engineer, on the state Board of Control. The board is a quasi-judicial body that has jurisdiction over administration, amendment, and adjudication of water rights.

Tyrrell told the committee he didn’t want superintendents who are making a technical or legal decision about water rights and water use to worry about a looming senate confirmation.

Webinar: Is water reuse on the rise? — @WaterEdCO

Click here for all the inside skinny. Register here.

Impact on the Moon during the Jan.21 lunar eclipse — SpaceWeather.com

From Jm Madiedo via YouTube:

These images correspond to a lunar impact flash spotted by the telescopes operating in the framework of the MIDAS survey on Jan. 21, at 4:41:38 universal time (23:41:38 US eastern time). The impact took place during the totality phase of the lunar eclipse. The flash was produced by a rock (a meteoroid) that hit the lunar ground.

The MIDAS Survey is being conducted by the University of Huelva and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia.

2019 #NMleg: Professor warns legislators: Get serious on climate — The Sante Fe New Mexican #ActOnClimate

Photo via the City of Santa Fe

From The Santa Fe New Mexican (Andrew Oxford):

“The world will be moving away from fossil fuel production,” David Gutzler, a professor at the University of New Mexico and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told members of the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Gutzler went on to paint a stark picture of New Mexico in a changing climate.

The mountains outside Albuquerque will look like the mountains outside El Paso by the end of the century if current trends continue, he said.

There will not be any snowpack in the mountains above Santa Fe by the end of the century, Gutzler added.

We have already seen more land burned by wildfires, partly because of changes in forest management and partly because of climate change, Gutzler said.

Water supply will be negatively affected in what is already an arid state, he said.

“It’s real. It’s happening. We see it in the data. … This is not hypothetical in any way. This is real and we would be foolish to ignore it,” Gutzler said.

The professor warned lawmakers that the state must get serious about greenhouse gas emissions now by expanding clean energy sources and mitigating the societal costs of moving away from fossil fuels.

That cost, though, will be a sticking point for Republicans. Many of them represent southeastern New Mexico and the Four Corners, where oil and mining are big industries.

Middle #Colorado Watershed Council is hosting the 2019 Wild & Scenic Film Festival, February 21 and 23, 2019 #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Click here to go to the website for all the inside skinny.

#Arizona Speaker of the House is attempting to “improve” the lower basin #DCP with approval deadline looming

Gila River watershed. Graphic credit: Wikimedia

From The Arizona Capitol Times (Howard Fischer):

House Speaker Rusty Bowers is proposing changes to state laws in a way he said will protect the rights of farmers in the Safford Valley who have been “scratching it out” to water from the Gila River.

But attorney Don Pongrace, who represents the Gila River Indian Community, said what Bowers proposes to do would effectively overturn and nullify a federal appellate court ruling, which said those upstream who have not used the water have forfeited those rights.

And he said courts have ruled those rights — and the water that goes with it — belong to the tribe.

“These people are not scratching out an existence,” he said of the farmers Bowers wants to help. “They’ve been stealing water from the community since 1870.”

Pongrace said if Bowers pushes HB 2476, the tribe will withdraw from the plan for how the state will deal with the expected shortage of water coming from Lake Mead. That’s crucial because the state is counting on about 500,000 acre-feet of water from the tribe, much of it to help Pinal County farmers deal with the cutback in Colorado River water.

“This is a direct assault on the community’s water rights,” Pongrace told Capitol Media Services.

“It’s a poison pill,” he said. “If this bill were to be considered and enacted into law, the community will withdraw its prior approval (of the drought-contingency plan) and, more importantly, its water.”

Bowers is undeterred.

“I’m not going to back down,” he said.

And he lashed out at the tribe for trying to link the issues.

“This is just showing their mentality to everybody who gets in their way,” Bowers said. “It’s all ‘Our way or no way.’”

Pongrace, however, said the community doesn’t see it that way.

He said on the one hand, the state is seeking the tribe’s cooperation and its water for the drought-contingency plan. That, he said, is inconsistent with the state moving to undermine the tribe’s claim to Gila River water.

He said the state can’t have both.

“This is not negotiable,” Pongrace said, saying he is speaking for tribal Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis.

“You cannot take actions like this without consequences,” he said of the Bowers legislation.

“He can decide to try to take this up,” Pongrace continued. “And the consequence he’s going to face as it stands right now, is essentially no DCP.”

At this point, he said he believes the tribe has the upper hand.

Judge James Boyd rules against Powderhorn Ski Area in change case

Photo via PlateauValley.com.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Erin McIntyre):

Three Mesa Creek Ditch water users, Andrea Clark, Tom Kirkpatrick and Dana Black, objected to the resort’s plans to divert the water during the wintertime, transporting it to a nearby reservoir and storing it for snowmaking and other uses…

In that trial, the ditch users argued the ski resort bought a 1- cubic-foot-per-second water right that didn’t totally belong to the seller. They also accused Powderhorn of buying the water on speculation, as it had no way to transport or store the water in question when it asked the state for permission to change the way the water was being used.

George Bevan, a former Mesa Creek Ditch Co. president who died in October, sold the water to the ski resort about three years ago. Powderhorn intended to divert up to 150 acre-feet of the water during the winter, transporting it more than a mile away across private property to the H.U. Robbins Reservoir or a small pond at the base of the resort, and use the water for snowmaking.

The ski resort planned on purchasing, leasing or condemning rights of way necessary to transport the water, according to previous court documents. Powderhorn has 42 snowmaking acres and wanted to expand its operations.

But Boyd ruled the most water that Bevan could have used, historically, for watering his livestock from Oct. 1 to April 1 each year is only 6 or 7 acre-feet, at most.

While he decreed that Bevan owned the right to use 1 cubic foot per second of the water Powderhorn purchased from him, he ruled the water right had been used at much lower levels than the ski resort argued.

Bevan testified he kept a maximum of 400 cows at the location over the winter, using the water right for livestock.

A water engineer testified that amount of cattle would consume as much as 7 acre-feet of water over the course of a winter, and the judge used that amount to determine the historic use of the water right. An acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons, enough water to cover a football field a foot deep…

The issue of who owns exactly how much winter water in this section of the Mesa Creek Ditch remains unresolved, but the judge ruled that Powderhorn has the right to use the historical amount of water Bevan used and sold to the resort.

The judge also ruled the ski resort is one of only nine original claimants of the winter water right on the ditch, meaning other users who believed they had the right to use the water over time may be doing so illegally.

It’s unclear whether Powderhorn will opt to apply to use the lesser amount of water for snowmaking or pursue its plans to transport the water from Mesa Creek to the ski area. The judge denied the ski resort’s application in this instance but did not prevent it from reapplying in a future application.

The judge’s ruling leaves the ski resort with the option of reapplying to use 7 acre-feet of water over the course of a winter for snowmaking, one-fifth the amount Powderhorn wanted to use.

Photo essay: Summer ’18, Four Corners and beyond — Jonathan Thompson @JonnyPeace

San Juan River Basin. Graphic credit Wikipedia.

Drop what you are doing and click through to view Jonathan Thompson’s photo essay from the Four Corners and other western environs. He has a great eye for landscape photography and he knows the West as few do. Then go buy his book. It will open your eyes, show you some love, and introduce you to Colorado and the West in new ways (and enable a slick rock fix):

It’s a gray day here in Bulgaria, which has me yearning for warmer, sunnier days and the desert and mountains of my homeland, the Four Corners Country of the U.S.A. So, here’s a bunch of photos from my summer, much of which was spent cruising around the West in my 1989 Nissan Sentra, a.k.a. the Silver Bullet. Some thoughts gleaned from my travels here and here. I’ll be back in April, for another round of River of Lost Souls talks and a good slickrock fix.

Living West: Learn how water helped shape the state – News on TAP

Interactive exhibit at History Colorado explores connections between people, Colorado’s natural resources and its environment.

Source: Living West: Learn how water helped shape the state – News on TAP

Sustainability beyond water – News on TAP

How Denver Water is implementing efficient and environmentally friendly operations.

Source: Sustainability beyond water – News on TAP