@USBR/@EPA: Federal Officials Announce Priority Actions Supporting Long-Term #Drought #Resilience

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation and Environmental Protection Agency (Theresa Eisenman and the EPA Press Office):

Today, senior administration officials participated in the Second National Drought Forum where they announced Priority Actions Supporting Long-Term Drought Resilience. This document outlines key ways in which federal agencies support state, tribal and local efforts to protect the security of our food supply, the integrity of critical infrastructure, the resilience of our economy, and the health and safety of our people and ecosystems.

The document was developed by the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP), a federal collaborative formed to promote long-term drought resilience nationwide. While authority lies with the states to manage water resources, federal agencies play a key role in supporting states, tribes, communities, agriculture, industry, and the private sector owners and operators of critical national infrastructure to prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from drought.

The following statements were released after today’s panel:

“Under the leadership of President Trump, we are taking unprecedented steps at the federal level to coordinate and empower states, tribes, local communities, and water users to promote drought preparedness and resiliency and ensure reliable water supply throughout the West. The U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Reclamation play integral parts in this, whether it’s the science or infrastructure piece of this equation,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Dr. Tim Petty.

“The Western states have experienced intense drought with the potential to severely impact agriculture, municipal water supplies and hydropower production. We’ve demonstrated that infrastructure investments, innovative approaches to conservation, and collaboration build drought resiliency and reduces risks,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.

“We know we can accomplish more when we work together, and the National Drought Resilience Partnership facilitates collaboration among federal partners to help the country respond to drought and to prepare for the future” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “These priorities are a large part of our game plan to how we can protect our food and water supply, and to build resilience on our farms and ranches and in our communities and businesses”

“The impact of drought on public health and the environment is far reaching because it reduces both water quantity and water quality,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “Through EPA initiatives, such as the National Water Reuse Action Plan, we are working to ensure a sufficient supply of clean water for the American people.”

“Water quality and availability is a national issue and it is one that affects every American. Through this partnership, the data produced by the U.S. Geological Survey will be integrated into a comprehensive framework of information sharing that is flexible and responsive to the nation’s decision-makers, ensuring every community understands drought preparedness, mitigation, and resiliency,” said U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly.

“The National Drought Resilience Partnership is essential to the continued collaboration amongst federal agencies regarding the nation’s water resources. I am committed to this partnership and will ensure the Corps’ support to other agencies as they work drought-related issues and coordinate to reduce duplicative and redundant efforts,” said U.S. Department of Army Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Ricky “R.D.” James.

“The National Drought Resilience Partnership is inspiring action across the federal government. DOE is pleased to collaborate with other agencies to stimulate American innovation and technology solutions that address drought resilience through the Water Security Grand Challenge and other activities,” said U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons.

The NDRP and the document released today focus on fostering a national dialogue about how federal agencies can support these entities in building a more drought-resilient nation for sufficient water quality and quantity and a vibrant economy at the local level. NDRP categorizes its drought resilience efforts along six goal areas, which provide a framework to systematically address how the federal government supports building long-term drought resilience:

  • Data Collection and Integration
  • Communicating Drought Risk to Critical Infrastructure
  • Drought Planning and Capacity Building
  • Coordination of Drought Activity
  • Market-based Approaches for Infrastructure and Efficiency
  • Innovative Water Use, Efficiency, and Technology
  • Background

    Established in 2016, the NDRP is comprised of federal agencies that work together to leverage technical and financial federal resources, strengthen communication, and foster collaboration among its members to productively support state, tribal, and local efforts to build, protect, and sustain drought resilience capacity at regional and basin scales.

    The NDRP co-chairs are the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency. The additional interagency NDRP Member Agencies and offices include the Department of Defense; the Department of the Interior (DOI); the Department of Commerce; the Department of Energy; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; the Office of Management and Budget; the Office of Science and Technology Policy; the National Economic Council; the Council on Environmental Quality; the National Security Council staff; and such other agencies or offices as the agencies set forth above, by consensus, deem appropriate. Currently, other offices include: the Office of Water Prediction, the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Integrated Drought Information System, which all are within the Department of Commerce; the Bureau of Reclamation and the United States Geological Survey, within the DOI; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency – National Risk Management Center; the Centers for Disease Control; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Member agencies collaborate to ensure successful outcomes with maximum efficiency and minimal duplication.

    Hydro-Illogical Cycle graphic via the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

    Windsor reservoir open again

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Miles Blumhardt):

    Windsor Lake Reservoir reopened Thursday, nine days after being closed because of high levels of bacteria.

    Recent water samples tested by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment were well below harmful levels of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, which is common in lakes throughout Colorado.

    Windsor Lake Reservoir. Photo credit: The Town of Windsor

    #Colorado Proud 20th anniversary: Colorado Agriculture Is Loud and Proud Today (Yesterday)– Westword #ColoradoDay

    From Westword (Patricia Calhoun):

    Governor Jared Polis has declared August “Colorado Proud Month” in honor of the Colorado Department of Agriculture local-product program’s twentieth anniversary. Colorado Proud got its start in 1999, long before the local food movement caught fire (and some time after the Always Buy Colorado campaign disappeared into history). Initially, Colorado Proud’s membership consisted of 65 companies selling state-grown and -made products; today it has more than 2,700 members, including growers, food manufacturers, restaurants, ranchers and retailers.

    Wendy White, marketing specialist for the ag department, has been with Colorado Proud from the beginning. “I don’t know where the time went,” she says. “We’ve seen such a shift. When Colorado Proud started, I was knocking on doors and encouraging them to participate…we were local before it was hip to be local.” Now, though, it’s not only hip, but consumers are increasingly interested in knowing more about the products they’re buying and the practices of the ranches and farms that produce them.

    New businesses are jumping in all the time, too. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in microgreens,” says White. “Lavender we’re really starting to see blossom — pun intended. Hops and hemp, too. Even manufactured food products such as salsas and sauces.”

    “Colorado Proud is a national leader in championing the diverse agricultural products grown, raised or processed in our state,” says new Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg, who lists three major goals for her department: supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers; scaling up investment in high-value agriculture and diversifying market opportunities; and promising and incentivizing soil, water and climate stewardship.

    To mark its anniversary, Colorado Proud not only got that Polis proclamation, but replaced its purple-and-gold sunrise logo with one that more closely resembles the Colorado flag (not to mention Polis’s new state logo). It’s also adopted a new outreach theme, “The Next Generation of Ag,” and will be hosting an agricultural community tour around the state this month, including stops at the Union Station Farmers’ Market on Saturday, August 3; the South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market on Sunday, August 4; and the Broomfield Farmers’ Market on Tuesday, August 6.

    U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing recap

    From KOAA/Associated Press:

    The committee held a hearing at the University of Colorado. Earlier this week, committee members toured three federal laboratories in Boulder that address climate issues: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    Polis said climate change is hurting Colorado’s water supply and environment and its agricultural and recreation industries.

    He told the committee Colorado will help retrain workers at coal-fired power plants who lose their jobs as the state pushes utilities to switch to renewable power.

    From Westword (Chase Woodruff):

    The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis held its first field hearing in Boulder today, August 1, inviting state and local leaders from across Colorado to testify about the state’s efforts to reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. Representative Joe Neguse, a Democrat who represents Boulder in Congress, was among the members selected for the committee when it was established by House Democrats earlier this year.

    “I can think of no better place than Boulder, Colorado, and Colorado as a state, to host this first field hearing,” said Neguse. “It’s the epicenter of climate research in the United States.”

    […]

    “As the committee works [on a] national climate action plan, we need to build on what is working in states and communities across this great country,” said committee chair Representative Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Florida, in opening remarks at the August 1 hearing, which was held in the Wittemyer Courtroom at the University of Colorado School of Law.

    Governor Jared Polis, who made a plan to achieve a 100 percent renewable electric grid by 2040 a centerpiece of his 2018 campaign, spoke to the committee about Colorado’s efforts to fight climate change, which he called “an existential threat to our security, our health, our economy, our public lands and ecosystems, and our very way of life.”

    Under Polis, Colorado has enshrined into law a series of ambitious greenhouse gas emissions goals, including a 50 percent cut by 2030, and enacted a slate of new legislative and regulatory measures to help achieve them. In contrast to sweeping progressive proposals like the Green New Deal and the actions taken by other governments around the world, Colorado’s approach has emphasized private-sector innovation and a market-based transition to clean energy rather than new mandates or substantial increases in public investment.

    “We’ve taken significant strides during my first seven months in office to put us on the path to achieving this bold goal,” said Polis. “But the truth is that through price reductions and technological advances, the shift to renewable energy is already happening.”

    For some, the shift isn’t happening fast enough. Climate activists rallied outside CU’s Wolf Law Building before the hearing began, urging policymakers at both the state and federal levels to adopt a more aggressive stance. Members of environmental groups like Extinction Rebellion, Food & Water Watch and 350 Colorado demonstrated in support of measures like a national declaration of “climate emergency,” restrictions on new fossil fuel development and a more aggressive timeline for reducing emissions…

    In addition to Polis, the committee heard from a panel of local elected officials and energy experts that included Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones, Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell and Chris Wright, the CEO of Denver-based Liberty Oilfield Services. Wright, who was the only witness invited by the committee’s Republican members, dismissed the notion that Colorado’s oil and gas industry is responsible for declining air quality along the Front Range…

    “I would implore you to read the data, to talk to people in the communities that are being impacted here in Boulder County and elsewhere across the state,” Neguse said. “It is a very real, visceral issue for them.”

    The Climate Crisis committee will continue to hold hearings through the end of next year, and is tasked with making recommendations to permanent House committees on potential new legislation to more effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change…

    Neguse, a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution, spoke to some of the activists before the hearing began, and told them he agrees that action to stop climate change should include restrictions on new fossil-fuel development.

    “That is part of the conversation around the transition,” Neguse said. “You get there by doing both, by transitioning off of fossil fuels and by increasing investments in renewables.”

    As the hearing wrapped up, Castor emphasized the need for strong federal climate policy to support the work being done in Colorado and other states.

    Spring Creek Coal Mine. Photo credit: Cloud Peak Energy

    Firestone: Fred Sekich Farm to be auctioned off August 28, 2019, split into smaller parcels, and the water rights sold separately

    Screenshot of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project boundaries via Northern Water’s interactive mapping tool , June 5, 2019.

    From The Denver Post (Mark Samuelson):

    …the game of selling farm property has changed — particularly the auction game — as information technology makes offerings much more attractive for sellers and widens the opportunities for buyers and investors.

    “Today’s farm auction is structured to create better potential for the buyer,” says Scott Shuman, partner in Hall and Hall, brokers and auctioneers who have been selling western real estate since the 1940s. In 2010, Hall and Hall made a move into auctioning — and have been pioneers in structuring auctions to get better returns for farm sellers.

    When the Fred Sekich Farm, east of I-25, north of Firestone, is auctioned at The Ranch/Larimer County Event Complex on Aug. 28, its 546 acres will be cut into 58 offerings — one as small as 4 acres, one as large as 141 acres, with the parceled surface water rights (176 Colorado-Big Thompson Units and 18.75 ditch shares) auctioned separately.

    Those water rights may be as valuable as the land, maybe more.

    “Water is gold,” says Rick Sekich, who along with his mom and two brothers are the sellers…

    Grandpa Nick Sekich would have had little idea the value that surface water would hold as Colorado grows.

    “It’s really gone up,” says Sherri Rasmussen, contract manager for Northern Water, administering the CB-T’s vast distribution all the way east to Sedgwick County. When the project began in the 1930s, an acre-foot sold for $1.50; by 2013, it was 10,000 times that…

    All of this could stay agricultural — selling to an owner with holdings nearby. But either way, Shuman adds, sellers make out better in these auction sales, where buyers have an opportunity to customize a purchase…

    Hall and Hall, with 15 offices across the West, is in Eaton, Colo., 800-829-8747. The complete sale catalog is at HallandHall.com.