South Routt County Water Users Meeting, May 29, 2019 — Colorado Division of Water Resources #YampaRiver

Here’s the notice from the the Colorado Division of Water Resources (Scott Hummer):

South Routt County Water Users Meeting

Bear River at CR7 near Yampa / 3:30 PM, May 16, 2019 / Flow Rate = 0.52 CFS. Photo credit: Scott Hummer

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Soroco High School / Oak Creek, CO
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Representatives from the Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR), Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District (UYWCD), United States Forest Service (USFS), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

The agenda will address the agencies specific roles regarding:

Authority and Responsibilities associated with Administration, Management, and Oversight of water matters in the Morrison Creek, Oak Creek, and all Tributary drainages above Stagecoach Reservoir

All waters users are encouraged to Attend

Special recognition to the Soroco High School, FFA Chapter for helping organize the event!

#Drought news: Moderate drought exits #Colorado, pockets of abnormal dryness (D0) remain — The Kiowa County Press

From The Kiowa County Press (Chris Sorensen):

The final remnants of drought that spanned late 2017 through early 2019 have been removed from Colorado according to the latest update from the National Drought Mitigation Center…

Colorado Drought Monitor May 16, 2019.

Just three months ago, as frequent heavy snow storms began to impact western and central Colorado, the area was in extreme drought. A portion of southwest Archuleta County was still in exceptional drought – the worst category.

With this week’s update, abnormally dry conditions were also removed from the south central part of the state as rain and snow continued in the area.

Abnormally dry expanses continue for the east central mountains, portions of four southwest counties, and east central Yuma County.

Colorado Drought Monitor February 12, 2019.

Overall, 89 percent of Colorado is drought-free, with the remaining 11 percent in abnormally dry conditions.

One year ago, just 20 percent of the state was drought-free. Abnormally dry and moderate drought each covered 14 percent of the state, while another 20 percent was experiencing severe drought. Twenty-three percent of Colorado was in extreme drought, with the remaining eight percent in exceptional conditions. (Total does not equal 100 percent due to rounding.)

Colorado Drought Monitor February 13, 2018.

We were warned 150 years ago about our water shortage. We have to do better. — The Washington Post #aridification #ColoradoRiver #COriver

John Wesley Powell’s recommendation for political boundaries in the west by watershed

From The Washington Post (Heather Hansman):

Heather Hansman is the author of “Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West.”

Coming into the crush of the first real rapid, Red Creek, I white-knuckle my paddle, try to keep breathing and think about what John Wesley Powell must have felt when he teed up to the trough of the first wave.

It’s May, the same time of year that, 150 years ago, Powell and a nine-man crew put onto the Green River just upstream from here and paddled on down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon — the first non-Native Americans on record to do so.

When Powell made his trip, the Homestead Act was less than a decade old, and the chalk-dust canyons of the Colorado Plateau were a big blank space on the map. America’s manifest destiny was just manifesting itself, but he could see that as the West filled up, human demand for its resources would outstrip supply.

His predictions about water shortages have proved eerily true. The Colorado River — of which the Green is the biggest tributary — is the main water source for 40 million people. It’s already overallocated, and climate change is predicted to shrink flows by up to 50 percent by the end of the century. We’re finally coming to grips with those forecasts and beginning to heed Powell’s century-and-a-half-old warnings. But it’s taken drought and desperation to get us there, and we have to do better.

This spring, the seven states in the Colorado River Basin signed a drought contingency plan. For the first time, each of the states has agreed to take less than its individual allocated share of water, to try to shore up the supply for a drier future. It’s a small but significant step in dialing back demand to meet supply — the heart of Powell’s prediction — but no one, not even the state leaders who agreed to it after almost 100 years of battling over water rights, thinks it goes far enough.

Climate change and overuse are still advancing. I followed Powell’s path because I wanted to understand how water conflicts were going to play out, and my first move was the same as his: get on the river to see what’s going on. Today, Red Creek is in the tailwater of Flaming Gorge Dam, and I can see the impacts of a highly regulated waterway: the non-native trout, the unnaturally clear water, because the dam stops sediment that would normally make the current milky and thick. We’ve constructed a vast network of pipes, reservoirs and dams and built up a society around that man-made river, and that’s not going to change. No one wants to cut off water to Salt Lake City or to stop growing food in Yuma, Ariz.

This winter brought above-average snowfall, but it barely dents two decades of extended drought that experts are now calling aridity, because drought sounds temporary and fixable. It was another anomalous winter in the swinging yo-yo of climate change: unpredictable and hard to manage, in a river system that’s managed down to every drop.

We’ve been okay so far, in part because reservoirs give us a buffer in the dry years, but we’re sucking down our storage, and in the fragile interlocking mesh of current water use, our squeezed supply won’t last for long.

As I paddled, I saw the intractability of an overstretched water system firsthand: ranchers with decades of family history who told me they were unable to pass down their land, cities building new reservoirs to shore up their reserves, desiccated tribal reservations where opportunity has been thwarted by withheld water rights. It was obvious, as Powell anticipated, that the math didn’t line up.

In his “Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States,” he predicted that there wouldn’t be enough water for unchecked westward growth in the drylands beyond the Great Plains; he warned that groundwater wouldn’t be enough to sustain agriculture and that the most sustainable way to use water in the West would be lightly, and within a river’s own watershed.

The prevailing climate theory at the time, pushed by land speculator Charles Dana Wilber, was that “rain follows the plow” — that is, agriculture itself could change the climate of arid regions — so Powell’s message of moderation was inconvenient to the culture of optimism and American exceptionalism. It still is. We know better than that now, I think, but it’s hard to shake the outdated dreams that we can keep growing and not suffer consequences. The drought contingency plan is an important step in addressing that, but there will need to be more compromises and creative ways to incentivize using less.

Spring, if you’re a boater, always comes with the fragile dream of following the hydrograph, watching for the spike of runoff, trying to predict your risk and your rush as you hope that snowmelt and spring rains have provided the depth to make your way downstream. But at some point, that risk has to line up with reality. You can’t float if you don’t have any water.

“This year the snow is melting out a little later higher up…I do expect water to be fairly high for the [Ruedi] reservoir” — John Currier

Ruedi Dam. Photo credit Greg Hobbs.

From The Aspen Times (Chad Abraham):

Ruedi Reservoir on Friday was just under 63 percent full as it continues to recover from the recent drought, but the wet, cool spring — more snow and rain is possible today — means there is plenty of snow remaining in the upper Fryingpan River Valley.

Gauges at and near the reservoir show winter is loosening its grip, albeit slowly. The Ivanhoe Snotel site, which sits at 10,400 feet, had a snowpack Friday that is 185 percent of normal for the day, while the Kiln site (9,600 feet) stood at 161 percent of average.

That simply means more snow is locked in at high elevations than normal for this time of the year, said John Currier, chief engineer with the Colorado River District.

“This year the snow is melting out a little later higher up,” he said. “I do expect water to be fairly high for the reservoir.”

Currier predicted Bureau of Reclamation officials, who control releases from Ruedi, to keep flows in the Fryingpan at around 300 cubic feet per second (CFS) for most of the summer. That level, which will increase drastically as snowmelt increases and fills the tub, is preferable for “fisherman wade-ability reasons,” he said. “They are typically going to have to bypass [that CFS rate] because there’s much, much more water during runoff.”

Ruedi being roughly three-quarters full in mid-May is somewhat below normal, said Mark Fuller, who recently retired after nearly four decades as director of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority. That’s a sign of both a stubborn snowpack and the reclamation bureau “trying to leave plenty of room for late runoff in anticipation of a flood out of the upper Fryingpan when it gets warm,” he said…

Releases from Ruedi may make fishing the gold-medal waters below the reservoir a bit more difficult when they occur, but greatly aid the river environment in the long term, said Scott Montrose, a guide with Frying Pan Anglers.

2019 #COleg: Colorado lawmakers approve a bevy of energy bills — The Denver Post #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Coyote Gulch’s Leaf charging at campsite near Steamboat Springs August 21, 2017.

From The Denver Post (Judith Kohler):

“If I had to sum it up in a word, I think I’d say ‘transformative.’ It’s a real shift in our policy, and I think it really shows the direction that Colorado is headed,” said Erin Overturf, chief energy counsel for the conservation group Western Resource Advocates. “I think it shows that we’re starting to take climate change seriously and recognize the task that’s truly ahead of us if we’re going to do our part to help solve this problem.”

The bills include efforts to make houses and appliances — from refrigerators, to light bulbs to air conditioners and furnaces — more energy-efficient…

Lawmakers extended state tax credits for buying electric vehicles and allowed regulated electric utilities to own and operate vehicle charging stations to try to encourage people to buy and drive zero-emission vehicles.

One of the things that sets Colorado apart from other states working to boost the use of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is its efforts to look out for affected workers and communities, said Anna McDevitt, an organizer with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

The bill reauthorizing the PUC has a provision requiring utilities to include a workforce transition plan when they propose shutting down a power plant. Another section on low-cost bonds to retire power plants for cleaner, cheaper alternatives also provides that a portion of the proceeds helps workers and communities affected by the closures…

Referring to the PUC bill and its carbon-reduction targets, Xcel Energy said in a statement Friday that the legislation was “heavily negotiated with a broad set of stakeholders” and protects safety reliability and customer costs…

One bill expands the size of community solar gardens, which are centralized arrays of solar panels that users “subscribe” to. They are intended for people who want to use solar power but whose roofs aren’t suitable, who live in an apartment or can’t afford to install a system.

Other legislation directs the PUC to study regional transmission organizations that would make it easier for utilities or municipalities to buy wholesale power. Another section requires regulators to take on planning to help facilitate rooftop solar and other distributed-energy installations.

The PUC also will have to look into so-called “performance-based ratemaking.” That would allow utilities to earn a certain rate of return on things such as increasing energy efficiency or installing a certain amount of rooftop solar rather than just on construction of plants or other infrastructure.

‘Now I Am Speaking to the Whole World.’ How Teen Climate Activist @GretaThunberg Got Everyone to Listen #ActOnClimate #ClimateCrisis

Greta Thunberg in Stockholm screen shot from the Time Magazine website May 19, 2019.

Here’s an in-depth report from Suyin Haynes that’s running in Time Magazine. Click through and read the whole thing (and then do one thing to mitigate Global Heating today). Here’s an excerpt:

Thunberg attributes her determination to her diagnosis of Asperger’s, a mild form of autism spectrum disorder. “It makes me see the world differently. I see through lies more easily,” she says. “I don’t like compromising. For me, it’s either you are sustainable or not — you can’t be a little bit sustainable.” Her openness about her diagnosis, and willingness to share about her experiences of depression, anxiety and eating disorders, are another reason why many see Thunberg as a role model. “To be different is not a weakness. It’s a strength in many ways, because you stand out from the crowd.”

Not that all of the attention has made her terribly impressed. She indulges a brief smile at a mention of President Barack Obama’s tweet in praise of her, but she returns quickly to her larger message. “I believe that once we start behaving as if we were in an existential crisis, then we can avoid a climate and ecological breakdown,” she says. “But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We have to start today.”

[…]

“People are taking their cues from Greta,” says Naomi Klein, activist and author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. “There’s something very hard to categorize about her, and I think because she’s not looking for approval and is not easily impressed, people don’t know what to do with that.”

Thunberg has been greatly influenced by Klein’s work and has welcomed her support. But Klein thinks the teenager doesn’t really need anyone’s advice. “I don’t think I would deign to tell Greta what she should do in the future. She is following her own path with such clarity, and she has tremendously good instincts.”

[…]

Thunberg’s main goal is for governments to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels. In October 2018, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report warning that carbon emissions would need to be cut by 45% by 2030 to reach this target. “The report made it very clear that we have to act now,” says Myles Allen, a co-author of the report. Since the price of failing to heed these warnings will be paid by young people, Thunberg believes the school strike follows an inevitable logic. “We are children, saying why should we care about our future when no one else is doing that?” she says. “When children say something like that, I think adults feel very bad.”