#Drought news: #Colorado is now drought free, areas of abnormally dry (D0) remain

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of drought data from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Click here to go to the U.S. Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

This Week’s Drought Summary

Widespread precipitation this week led mostly to improvements in moderate drought and abnormally dry regions across the Southeast and South, and in the Rocky Mountains in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. In parts of central and western Washington where high evaporative demand and paltry precipitation amounts continued, conditions degraded to moderate drought. Moderate and severe drought continued in southeast Alaska and in parts of Hawaii, while moderate drought and abnormal dryness coverage was adjusted in Puerto Rico…

High Plains

Recent precipitation led to the removal of abnormal dryness in southeast Wyoming. Abnormally dry conditions continued from southwest Nebraska into northeast Colorado. Recent precipitation in the Wind River Range in Wyoming and improving surface moisture conditions led to a reduction of abnormal dryness in this area…

West

Precipitation over the past week in Colorado and New Mexico led to reduction of long-term precipitation deficits and improvement in conditions in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Moderate drought was completely removed from southern Colorado, and severe and moderate drought coverage was reduced in northwest New Mexico, where vegetation is prospering. A large area of long-term abnormal dryness also improved to normal conditions in south-central Colorado because of the continued precipitation. Abnormal dryness coverage in southwest Wyoming and northeast Utah was also reduced because of the effects of recent precipitation. Meanwhile, short- and long-term dry conditions, low streamflow, and high evaporative demand continue in western Washington, where moderate drought expanded to cover more of central and western Washington, including the coastal areas of the Olympic Peninsula…

South

Rainfall over the region was widespread and heavy in many areas, particularly Louisiana and southeast Texas, and this caused short-term precipitation deficits to improve in Texas and far southern Louisiana. Abnormal dryness in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles was removed after rainfall this week. Abnormal dryness was also reduced and adjusted in southern Texas in response to recent rainfall. Abnormal dryness also ceased in southern Louisiana where heavy rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches were common this week…

Looking Ahead

This week, a strong jet stream with several embedded storm systems will move into the continental U.S. and will interact with copious amounts of moisture. Though the evolution of each of the storm systems remains in question, moderate to heavy rain is possible in parts of the Great Plains and Midwest from this weekend into next week, including in areas that have received heavy rain recently, in addition to a risk for severe storms. Moderate to heavy precipitation amounts are also forecast in the Sierra Nevada and in some other parts of the West as the storm systems move from west to east. Warmer temperatures are forecast to occur in parts of the Southeast from this weekend into early next week.

Here’s the one week change map through May 16, 2019.

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One of Colorado’s largest synthetically lined, raw water reservoirs celebrates its grand opening May 15, 2019

From 9News.com (Erin Roney):

The Ranch Reservoir is located near the South Platte River and Kersey, on property adjacent to Weld Adams Water Development Authority President Bob Lembke’s 70 Ranch in Weld County.

“We don’t have a water shortage problem in Colorado,” Lembke said. “There is plenty of water in Colorado. We just have to capture and store it for those times and seasons when we need it.”

[…]

“This is a big deal,” said Drew Damiano, vice president of operations for the Weld Adams Water Development Authority. “The reservoir is a critically important component of our system. It will allow us to utilize our decreed water rights to the fullest extent for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes.”

70 Randh Reservoir: Partnering with the Platte River Water Development Authority, this facility will be used to store water for the support of 70 Ranch’s cattle and farming operations as well as provide storage for local agricultural and municipal water providers. Photo credit: 70 Ranch

2019 #COleg: SB19-181 rule-making #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

From The Denver Post (Judith Kohler):

Environmental and community organizations want the state to halt approval of oil and gas drilling permits until all new rules are written in the wake of more stringent regulations passed by the legislature in this year’s session.

Approving all the rules is expected to take at least a year, given the complexity of the new law. A new Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will need to be seated; new regulations to protect public health, safety and the environment will be developed; and new bond and fee rates to ensure cleanup of well sites will be set.

When the bill was moving through the legislature, the sponsors repeatedly disputed opponents’ arguments that Senate Bill 19-181 would lead to a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling.

But for several at a hearing Wednesday on the first set of rules being considered, the right thing to do is to halt approval of all permits until new regulations putting health and safety first are adopted…

Environmental and community activists who think no oil and gas permits should be approved until the new regulations take effect said so in letters sent Monday to Gov. Jared Polis, the COGCC and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment…

Jeff Robbins, executive director of the oil and gas commission, said Tuesday that his staff is moving forward as directed by the legislation. The staff is expected to release final criteria this week that will be used to consider permit applications while the new regulations are being developed.

The legislation directed the staff to draft criteria to provide additional review of permit applications to make sure new development meets the law’s objective of protecting public health and safety, the environment and wildlife, Robbins said.

The new law also clarifies that cities and counties can use their planning and land-use authority to regulate oil and gas in their borders. The guidelines, which the staff took public comments on, also address that change.

The COGCC staff has paused approval of new permits to write those guidelines and appoint an interim commission.

“Some permits may be approved and some may not given the heightened scrutiny and changes in progress. That course of action is consistent with SB 181,” Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayaette, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said in an email.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, a main sponsor of the bill, said the COGCC staff is following the process intended by the legislation.

“I have full faith in the director and the commission and the individuals there to ensure that they’re moving in a way that honors the spirit of the bill,” Fenberg said. “If they don’t, we will step in if we need to, not to punish anyone but to make sure our intentions are clear.”

[…]

The criteria the staff will use to determine if applications need more scrutiny include whether proposed wells are within certain distances from schools, homes or parks; are in a municipality; or if local governments want more input.

There are about 6,500 permit applications waiting in the queue. From January until the bill came law, the COGCC approved permits for 88 well locations and more than 800 associated wells.

The proposed change the COGCC took public comments on Wednesday deals with allowing administrative law judges to consider disputes and some administrative issues now handled by the commission. Robbins said the change is intended to give the commission more time to consider rules and policies.

Colorado has led the way on regulations designed to limit emissions of methane. Photo/Allen Best