Science Magazine: Concerns of young protesters are justified #ActOnClimate

From Science Magazine (Gregor Hagedorn, et. al):

The world’s youth have begun to persistently demonstrate for the protection of the climate and other foundations of human well-being. As scientists and scholars who have recently initiated similar letters of support in our countries, we call for our colleagues across all disciplines and from the entire world to support these young climate protesters. We declare: Their concerns are justified and supported by the best available science. The current measures for protecting the climate and biosphere are deeply inadequate…

It is critical to immediately begin a rapid reduction in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. The degree of climate crisis that humanity will experience in the future will be determined by our cumulative emissions; rapid reduction now will limit the damage. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently assessed that halving CO2 emissions by 2030 (relative to 2010 levels) and globally achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 (as well as strong reductions in other greenhouse gases) would allow a 50% chance of staying below 1.5°C of warming. Considering that industrialized countries produced more of and benefited more from previous emissions, they have an ethical responsibility to achieve this transition more quickly than the world as a whole.

The basic explanation for why CO2 and other greenhouse gases warm the planet is so simple and has been known science for more than a century. Our atmosphere is transparent to visible light — the rainbow of colors from red to violet that make up natural sunlight. When the sun shines, its light passes right through the atmosphere to warm the Earth.
The warm Earth then radiates some of its energy back upward in the form of infrared radiation — the “color” of light that lies just beyond red that our eyes can’t see (unless we’re wearing infrared-sensitive night-vision goggles). If all of that infrared radiation escaped back into space, the Earth would be frozen solid. However, naturally occurring greenhouse gas molecules, including not just CO2 but also methane and water vapor, intercept some of it — re-emitting the infrared radiation in all directions, including back to Earth. That keeps us warm.
When we add extra greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, though, we increase the atmosphere’s heat-trapping capacity. Less heat escapes to space, more returns to Earth, and the planet warms.

#Colorado native David Bernhardt confirmed as @Interior secretary — The Colorado Sun

From The Colorado Sun (Jesse Paul):

The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Colorado native David Bernhardt as secretary of the Interior Department.

Colorado’s Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was a “yes” vote while Michael Bennet, his Democratic counterpart, was a “no.”

Bernhardt’s nomination cleared the chamber by a 56-41 vote.

Bernhardt, from Rifle, worked as an oil and gas lobbyist before he was initially tapped to be the Interior’s No. 2 official.

When former Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned last year, Bernhardt was chosen to be the agency’s interim leader. In February, President Donald Trump picked him as Zinke’s permanent replacement.

Democrats and environmental groups have lambasted Bernhardt as being too close to drilling interests. Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado, said Thursday that letting Bernhardt lead the Interior is like “letting the fox guard the henhouse.”

Bennet previously supported Bernhardt’s nomination as deputy secretary of the Interior in July 2017, but switched his vote this time around citing Bernhardt’s support of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He said the earlier decision “is a vote I regret.”

“The Zinke ethics hurricane was bad enough. America should not be harmed again by a Bernhardt ethical typhoon,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

Citing figures from the Office of Government Ethics, Wyden said at least 27 former clients representing the oil and gas industry, coal, water districts and agriculture pose “unlimited numbers of conflicts of interest” for Bernhardt.

Republicans say Bernhardt is well-prepared for the job. “David knows how important public lands are to our state and has a keen understanding of the issues Coloradans face every day,” Gardner said in an earlier statement.

Oil and gas development on the Roan via Airphotona

@USBR: Aspinall Unit Forecast for Spring Operations: Current projected inflow to Blue Mesa Reservoir = 925,000 acre-feet

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

The April 1 forecast for the April – July unregulated inflow volume to Blue Mesa Reservoir is 925,000 acre-feet. This is 137% of the 30 year average. Snowpack in the upper Gunnison River basin is currently 132% of average. Blue Mesa Reservoir current content is 259,000 acre-feet which is 31% of full. Current elevation is 7440 feet. Maximum content at Blue Mesa Reservoir is 829,500 acre-feet at an elevation of 7519.4 feet.

Black Canyon Water Right
The peak flow and shoulder flow components of the Black Canyon Water Right will be determined by the May 1 forecast of the April – July unregulated inflow volume to Blue Mesa Reservoir. If the May 1 forecast is equal to the current forecast of 925,000 acre-feet of runoff volume, the peak flow target will be 6,513 cfs for a duration of 24 hours. The shoulder flow target will be 915 cfs, for the period between May 1 and July 25. The point of measurement of flows to satisfy the Black Canyon Water Right is at the Gunnison River below Gunnison Tunnel streamgage at the upstream boundary of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Aspinall Unit Operations ROD
Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the peak flow and duration flow targets in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, will be determined by the forecast of the April – July unregulated inflow volume to Blue Mesa Reservoir and the hydrologic year type. At the time of the spring operation, if the forecast is equal to the current forecast of 925,000 acre-feet of runoff volume, the hydrologic year type will be set as Moderately Wet. Under a Moderately Wet year the peak flow target will be 14,350 cfs and the duration target at this flow will be 10 days. The duration target for the half-bankfull flow of 8,070 cfs will be 20 days. The criteria have been met for the drought rule that allows half-bankfull flows to be reduced from 40 days to 20 days.

Projected Spring Operations
During spring operations, releases from the Aspinall Unit will be made in an attempt to match the peak flow of the North Fork of the Gunnison River to maximize the potential of meeting the desired peak at the Whitewater gage, while simultaneously meeting the Black Canyon Water Right peak flow amount. The magnitude of release necessary to meet the desired peak at the Whitewater gage will be dependent on the flow contribution from the North Fork of the Gunnison River and other tributaries downstream from the Aspinall Unit. Current projections for spring peak operations show that flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon could be over 7,500 cfs for 10 days in order to achieve the desired peak flow and duration at Whitewater. With this runoff forecast and corresponding downstream targets, Blue Mesa Reservoir is currently projected to fill to an elevation of around 7500 feet with an approximate peak content of 660,000 acre-feet.

Aspinall Unit dams

#Snowpack/#Runoff news: @Northern_Water declares a 70% quota for the 2019 season #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Lake Granby spill June 2011 via USBR. Granby Dam was retrofitted with a hydroelectric component and began producing electricity earlier this year as water is released in the Colorado River.

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Sam Lounsberry):

Unit owners of the Colorado-Big Thompson project, which delivers Colorado River water from the wet Western Slope to the dryer Front Range, will get 70% of their quota this year, according to a Northern Water news release.

The 70% allocation means that a farmer who owns 10 acre-feet of Colorado-Big Thompson water will get seven in a year, with the remaining three kept in storage for use in dry years…

In wet years like this one, Northern sometimes downsizes the quota of Colorado-Big Thompson water distributed, since native streams can be full enough to provide farmers late-season growing supply, which provides Northern a storage opportunity for use in dry years.

But the move to boost the Colorado-Big Thompson quota from 50% — the level normally set at the start of Northern’s water year in November just to get users through the winter so snowfall can inform spring allocation rates — ensures farmers will have a more flexible late growing season.

The quota increases available Colorado-Big Thompson water supplies by 62,000 acre-feet from the initial 50% quota made available in November…

The snow-water equivalent mark for the Upper Colorado Basin is 120% of the normal median as of Thursday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, with snowpack levels in other river basins across the southwest at even higher marks. But KUNC and The Aspen Times reported this year that despite the good snowfall this winter, officials predict spring runoff won’t be enough to replenish reservoirs across the southwest, because years of drought have left dry soil that sucks up extra drops.

“Modeled soil moisture conditions as of November 15th were below average over most of the Upper Colorado River Basin and Great Basin,” the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center stated in its April 1 report. “In the Upper Colorado River Mainstem River Basin, soil moisture conditions were below average in headwater basins along the Continental Divide, and closer to average downstream.”

Water from the Colorado-Big Thompson project supplements other sources for 33 cities and towns, 120 agricultural irrigation companies, various industries and other water users within Northern Water’s 1.6 million-acre service area, across parts of eight counties, the Northern release said.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map April 11, 2019 via the NRCS.

City of Thornton Larimer County 1041 permit update

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

The city of Thornton plans to sue Larimer County over commissioners’ rejection of the Thornton pipeline proposal, according to the county’s attorney.

Larimer County attorney Jeannine Haag told the Coloradoan she learned Thornton would be filing a lawsuit when she called the city’s attorney and asked whether the city would pursue legal action contesting the pipeline decision.

Thornton will file a lawsuit in Larimer County District Court next week, Haag said. Thornton spokesman Todd Barnes told the Coloradoan the city doesn’t comment on issues of potential litigation…

Thornton officials have kept quiet about their plans since commissioners unanimously rejected their proposal to build a pipeline to carry Poudre River water through Larimer County. Thornton leaders said they wouldn’t decide what to do until they could review commissioners’ written explanation of the vote. Commissioners approved that document March 18…

It was also possible that Thornton officials would pursue an agreement with the city of Greeley, which has extra capacity in a water pipeline that might have been useful for Thornton. The cities met on the matter last month.

In the written explanation of their decision on the pipeline, Larimer County commissioners said Thornton didn’t meet eight of the 12 criteria for the 1041 permit required to build the pipeline. The commissioners’ ruling was the county’s first-ever rejection of a 1041 permit.

Commissioners wrote that Thornton didn’t meet the following criteria:

  • The proposal is consistent with the county’s master plan for land use and development
  • The applicant presented reasonable siting or design alternatives or explained why no reasonable alternatives are available
  • The proposal conforms with county standards and mitigation requirements for environmental impacts
  • The proposal won’t have a significant adverse effect on the land on which it’s situated and adjacent land, or will adequately mitigate significant adverse effects
  • The proposal won’t negatively impact public heath and safety
  • The benefits of proposed development outweigh the losses of any natural resources or resulting reduction of productivity of agricultural lands
  • The proposal demonstrates a reasonable balance between the costs to the applicant to mitigate significant adverse effects and the benefits achieved by that mitigation