@WaterLawReview: 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Act Symposium of the University Of Denver Water Law Review, April 4-5, 2019

At the University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Thursday, April 4, 2019 – 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
(Dinner Served)
Friday, April 5, 2019 – 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
(Continental Breakfast and Lunch Served)

Offered for 12 General CLE Credits

The Volume 22 Water Law Review Symposium will take place April 4 and 5, 2019, at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. We are dedicating this symposium to the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Water Rights Determination and Administration Act. The symposium will be slightly different from years past. The symposium and the spring issue will work in tandem, with select topics and papers from the symposium being published in a “spring plus” issue.
The theme for the symposium is the past, present, and future of the 1969 Act. The past section includes topics related to the history of the 1969 Act, the Act’s implementation, and some of the major changes and decisions that have shaped the current state of water law in Colorado. The present section focuses on current programs and major issues and questions that practitioners are grappling with. The future portion looks at issues that Colorado and the water community might encounter as we head into the next 50 years of water law.

This celebration of the 1969 Act is organized and made possible by the generosity and support of the Sturm College of Law, the Colorado Supreme Court, and Colorado Bar Association CLE.

Thursday, April 4 – 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Locaton: The Sie Building: Josef Korbel School of International Studies – Maglione Hall

Pioneers of the Act
This panel leads off celebrating pioneers and key provisions of the 1969 Act.
Panel: Ken Wright, David Harrison, Bill Hillhouse, Jim Witwer, and Justice Greg Hobbs (Moderator)

6:15 – Dinner

7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Vignettes About Practicing Under the Act
This panel continues the celebration with vignettes from water professionals who spent a career interacting with the statutory scheme.
Panel: Dick Wolfe, Carolyn Burr, David Robbins, and Kole Kelley (Moderator)

Friday, April 5
Location: DU Sturm College of law Room 165

8:30 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Remarks
Kole Kelley, Dean Bruce Smith, and Professor Tom Romero II

9:00 a.m.
Integrating Groundwater and Surface Water
This panel discusses the integration of ground water and surface water. Steve Leonhardt will discuss plans for augmentation under the 1969 Act; Andy Jones and Tom Cech will discuss the well crisis along the South Platte; and Bill Paddock will discuss the implementation of the 1969 Act in Division 3, with David Robbins (Moderating)

10:25 – Break

10:35 a.m.
How About the Environment?
This panel will discuss the environmental considerations handled under the 1969 Act. Linda Bassi will discuss instream flow rights; Dan Luecke will be discussing National Environmental Policy Act and the Two Forks veto; and Trisha Oeth and Jen Mele will be discussing the intersection between water quality and water rights. Amy Beatie (Moderating)

Noon – Lunch

1:00 p.m.
Engineering a Water Case and Ethical Considerations
This panel will discuss the ethical considerations of dealing with water engineers, how to engineer a water case, and the ethical considerations engineers go through while handling a water case.
Panel: Mark Palumbo, Steve Wittie, Cristy Radabaugh, Joe Tom Wood, and Kevin Rein (Moderating/Participant)

2:45 p.m. – Break

3:00 p.m.

The Future of Water Law and the Pro Se Party
This panel is composed of five people that all have very different perspectives. For the future of water, the panel will discuss the day-to-day workings of the water court process (from Referee Susan Ryan’s perspective), ways to improve the process for engineers on the witness stand (from Eric Harmon’s perspective), the pro se party and what water law looks like from the law student perspective (from Lindsey Ratcliff’s perspective), the water law professor’s perspective (from Professor Tom Romero II’s perspective), and the beginning practitioner perspective (from Whitney Phillip’s perspective). Referee Susan Ryan (Moderating/ Participant)

Adjourn – 4:30 p.m.

For questions, please contact
Kole Kelley at kkelley19@law.du.edu

#Runoff/#Snowpack news: In the #AnimasRiver Valley highs in the 60s and plenty of solar radiation have kicked off the snowmelt season

Screen shot of the USGS Water Watch streamflow map for Colorado March 30, 2019.

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

A water gauge on the Animas River near the Powerhouse Science Center saw levels rise from 300 cubic feet per second Monday to more than 700 cfs as of Friday afternoon.

Water levels came close, but not close enough, to a previous high for March 29 set in 1916 of 1,100 cfs. The water gauge near the Powerhouse has 108 years of records.

Throughout the past week, daytime highs have lingered in the mid-60s, prompting the first round of snowmelt and runoff…

But early next week, Kormos said temperatures will rise once again, and the river along with it. By late next week, the center calls for the Animas River to exceed 1,000 cfs, though Kormos noted forecasts that far out are difficult to predict.

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Animas, Dolores, San Juan and San Miguel river basins are at 161 percent of historic, normal averages as of Wednesday, the latest available data. Those snow totals, however, are taken from weather stations placed in high elevations…

The rise in water and promise of a sustained spring runoff is a welcome sight to members of the boating community, especially after one of the lowest water years on record in 2018.

#SaltonSea: “It is a disaster in the making, yet it is an afterthought’ — The Los Angeles Times #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Here’s an editorial from The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

California’s largest internal body of water is steadily drying up, exposing a lake bed that threatens to trigger toxic dust storms and exacerbate already high levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases in Southern California.

Yet there is something about the Salton Sea that leads many lawmakers to ignore the urgency and put off remediation programs. It’s just so far south — off the mental map of officials who represent more densely populated urban areas to the north, like Los Angeles. It is hydrologically unconnected to the Bay Area and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies water for so much of the state’s agricultural and residential use. It is a disaster in the making, yet it is an afterthought.

That attitude is understandably galling to residents of the adjacent Imperial Valley, who are (for now) the ones most affected by the increasing dust and who have witnessed firsthand the degrading ecological conditions. They have heard officials promise repeatedly to fix this catastrophe by creating wetlands that moisten the exposed bed and sustain an ecosystem that continues to support migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway. They have repeatedly seen those promises broken.

The dimensions of the failure were for many years merely theoretical, but they became real in the winter just past. As the rain and snow washed away drought and at least temporarily diminished environmental problems in the rest of the state, the contraction of the Salton Sea accelerated. Increasing salinity kept the lake from sustaining even the salt-hardy tilapia. The birds failed to appear…

That leaves a shrinking lake, lots of broken promises and a looming disaster. Both California and the feds have to do better than this — especially if they want to encourage agreements such as the one that makes Imperial Valley farmers more water-wise while keeping San Diego residents from deep rationing. The Salton Sea is not going away, even if it goes away. It can become a wetland and wildlife preserve, or it can become — if we let it — a health and ecological catastrophe.

“@GOP in Washington refuse to treat #climatechange as a serious issue” — @SenatorBennet #ActOnClimate

Nebraska state officials flew over the flood-ravaged Spencer Dam on March 16, 2019. The Niobrara River had been running at 5 or 6 feet of gage height before it broke through the 90-year-old dam early on March 14, 2019. After that, an 11-foot wave rolled through. Photo credit: State of Nebraska

From The Colorado Independent (Robin Bravender):

Rebuffed on climate change by their Republican colleagues, Senate Democrats — including Colorado’s Michael Bennet — are launching their own committee to tackle the issue.

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused an attempt by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to create a bipartisan special climate change committee in the chamber, Democrats on Wednesday announced that they would assemble their own panel to hold hearings and issue findings on climate change.

Bennet is one of 10 Senate Democrats on the Special Committee on the Climate Crisis that will be led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

“For many reasons — most of all, the corruption of money in our politics — Republicans in Washington refuse to treat climate change as a serious issue,” Bennet said in a statement. “Our children’s future can’t become another casualty of Washington’s mindless partisanship. We need to construct enduring solutions to climate change, and this committee is a step forward in accomplishing that goal.”

Senate Democrats formally announced the creation of the new special committee at a press conference Wednesday morning, the day after Senate Republicans uniformly opposed the adoption of Democrats’ sweeping Green New Deal resolution to combat climate change. Most Senate Democrats, including Bennet, voted “present” on the measure, which they dubbed a “sham” vote aimed at dividing Democrats on the issue.

The panel will serve as a messaging platform for Democrats, but it won’t have any legislative authority. A select committee on climate change that was launched by House Democrats this year also doesn’t have legislative authority, but it does have Republican members.

Also on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse joined other House Democrats in unveiling climate legislation aimed at preventing the United States from following through on President Trump’s promise to exit the Paris climate treaty.

The measure also calls for the president to issue a public plan for the country to achieve an economy-wide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that are 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

“The administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords and halt progress being made forward is severely detrimental to the planet and to the next generation,” Neguse said at a press conference announcing the bill.

“We are the only country to reject this global pact. We can and we must do better. Now is not the time for ignorance, it is not the time for shortcuts, it is the time for action. We must act and we must act on climate now.”

Neguse, a freshman, was appointed to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) created this Congress.

Pelosi said Wednesday that this bill is “only step one,” and that action on climate change is a Congress-wide initiative and a moral issue. In 2009, under her leadership, the House passed sweeping climate legislation that ultimately died in the Senate.

“If you do believe, as I do, that this is God’s creation, this planet, we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of it,” she said. “But even if you don’t subscribe to that, you know we have a moral responsibility to future generations to pass on this planet in a responsible, responsible way.”

Photo of Lake Powell in extreme drought conditions by Andy Pernick, Bureau of Reclamation, via Flickr creative commons

Streamflow On The Crystal, LOCC Carbondale Short Film — CIRESVideos

Why is the Crystal River significant and what would happen if it dried up? LOCC students look into the importance of this river to the people of Carbondale. This film was made by students in Carbondale, Colorado during summer 2018.

Learn more: http://cires.colorado.edu/outreach/LOCC

#Drought/#Snowpack news:

From The Kiowa County Press (Chris Sorensen):

Three months after a quarter of the state had been in the worst drought conditions, only a small part of Colorado remains in even moderate drought according to the most recent report from the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Colorado Drought Monitor March 26, 2019.

Since February, a series of storms systems have brought significant snow, particularly to southwest Colorado where extreme and exceptional drought – the two worst categories – had been entrenched for months. River basins in the area started the year at 70 to 80 percent of the median snow water equivalent. They now stand at 150 percent or greater, with the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basin at 161 percent as of March 27.

Statewide snowpack basin-filled map March 27, 2019 via the NRCS.

Moderate drought remains across all but small portion of Costilla county. Western Huerfano and southwest Las Animas counties are also impacted by moderate drought.

The southern half of Archuleta County, along with slivers of southern La Plata and Montezuma counties are also in moderate drought.

Abnormally dry conditions continued to fall back across the state, now affecting only south central and southwest counties.

Overall, 75 percent of Colorado is drought-free, up from 54 percent one week ago. Twenty percent is abnormally dry, down from 40 percent. Moderate drought impacts five percent of the state, down from six percent. Severe drought fell to zero from one percent. Extreme and exceptional conditions exited the state earlier in the year.

Colorado Drought Monitor March 19, 2019.

Across the state, snow water equivalent stood at 140 percent, with all basis reporting 124 of the median or greater.

#Snowpack news: Roaring Fork SWE ~50% above average

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 28, 2019 via the NRCS.