What a drier and hotter future means for the arid #Southwest — Yale Climate Connections #ActOnClimate

Colorado River “Beginnings”. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From Yale Climate Connections (Daisy Simmons):

Water shortages, wildfires, and algal blooms to become more common.

“It’s a dry heat” is usually considered a positive expression, a relief on high-temperature days, and salve for the reality that the southwestern U.S. has never been what you’d call water-rich. But now human-caused climate change is adding new credence to the region’s bone-dry reputation – and not in a good way.

For starters, that’s because regional temperatures are on the rise, according to a late 2018 federal government assessment report. Between 1901 and 2016, temperatures increased across the Southwest, with the greatest upturns in California and Colorado. This warming trend – together with its diminished snowfall – have intensified recent droughts.

Meanwhile, growing population, aging infrastructure, and groundwater depletion are also compounding long-standing water scarcity issues in the region.

These mounting pressures have a bevvy of potential implications, from human health and ecological function, to food and energy supply. Consider:

  • Food production is deeply affected by drought, and recent years have seen crops and livelihoods across the region, ruined.
  • Recent droughts have dried out forests, altering habitats and making them more susceptible to fire.
  • Indigenous tribes across the region are experiencing adverse effects of drought, such as declines in traditional staple foods like acorns and corn.
  • Less snowpack means less water available for hydropower. In states like California, at times, when hydropower supply goes down, carbon emissions go up.
  • And that’s just the nutshell. To really understand the potential effects of climate change on water supply, it’s useful first to crack into the basic history of water in the American West.

    The Southwest’s history with water

    Aridity long has been a defining characteristic of the region, from 19th-century maps that labeled it the “Great American Desert,” to those of its states consumed by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Cities in the region have grown undeterred by this thirstiness, with 32 percent growth in the last quarter of the 20th century alone. In fact, western states comprise nine of the top 10 slots in population growth over the past century, based on Census records from 1917-2017.

    Humans, of course, could not build cities without access to water, so massive efforts have been made all along the way to connect drier areas with wetter ones. Diversions from the Colorado River, as a prime example, have redirected its flow hundreds of miles away, to major cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix, using dams and aqueducts to divvy up the river’s waters (ultimately weakening the river, but that’s a story for another day).

    Today, the American West is home to more people than ever – along with their fundamental thirst for water. And the region’s hard-won water supply doesn’t just support the locals, either. It also affects the millions of people across the country and around the globe who eat food grown in agriculture hubs like California, home to an estimated two-thirds of all the country’s fruits and nuts.

    The trouble is, climate change is already making water harder to come by in these parts. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment cited above, human-caused climate change is making the West hotter, with greater temperature increases there than in any other region, and drier; and with “chronic” deficits of precipitation expected in the future, particularly in the Southwest.

    What ‘drier, hotter’ means for water across the West

    Roughly three-quarters of the country’s water supply comes from surface water, that is, rivers, streams and lakes, which are replenished naturally by rain or snow. The rest comes from groundwater, also replenished by precipitation.

    But under the drier and hotter conditions of climate change in the western U.S., there’s less precipitation falling to fully replenish what’s being consumed.

    Consider these additional key conditions increasingly affecting water supply in the Southwest:

    1. Warmer winters are reducing snowpack across the West.

    In the high mountains of the West, winter snowpack is a critical piece of the water supply picture. As these “frozen reservoirs” melt through spring and summer, they keep mountain-fed rivers and streams flowing fast all season long, filling up reservoirs to contribute to regional water supply all year long.

    California, for example, receives 75 percent of its rain and snow in the watersheds north of Sacramento. As snow from the Sierra Nevada mountain range melts to fill reservoirs in the spring and summer, it provides roughly 30 percent of the state’s water supply throughout the year.

    But the region’s snowpack has been declining dramatically for decades. A new study of long-term snowfall in the western U.S. found declines, one-third of them “significant,” in snowpack at more than 90 percent of monitored sites.

    Why? Because the long-term trend toward warmer winters is causing more winter precipitation to fall as rain. And what snow has fallen is often melting earlier, flooding riverbeds and overwhelming reservoirs in spring, then leaving drier conditions behind as the summer months tick on.

    Complicating matters further is the fact that warmer air temperatures in summer also mean more water is lost to evaporation.

    2. Western states have always endured drought, but it’s getting worse.

    Droughts have historically plagued the Southwest, but the region is now considered “one of the more sensitive regions in the world” for heightened risk of drought sparked by climate change. For example, the California drought that stretched from 2011 to 2017 is now considered one of most extreme in the state’s history.

    One reason drought is becoming more intense and frequent? Warmer temperatures also leads to higher evaporation rates and plant transpiration, increasing water loss in soil and plants.

    It’s important to note here that increasing drought doesn’t mean precipitation is off the table. Climate change is also associated with more extreme weather in the region, including, at times, periods of heavy precipitation followed by possible flash flooding, causing what’s been called “precipitation whiplash.”

    In addition to implications for water supply, drought is also a major cost sink. Since tracking began in 1980, drought is the second most economically costly of U.S. weather and climate disasters, costing a net $247 billion as of 2019.

    3. Warming weather can lead to harmful algal blooms.

    Warmer air temperatures and less snow-fed water can contribute to warmer water, a potential boon to algae growth. Although naturally occurring, algae can sometimes grow out of proportion to its ecosystem and create harmful, even toxic, water conditions.

    Algal blooms can also be compounded by excess nutrient pollution that pours in during the severe weather events increasingly associated with climate change. More than just creating murky water, these blooms can produce toxins that can infiltrate a city’s drinking water supply, as recently evidenced in Oregon.

    More research is needed to understand the direct links between algal bloom and climate change, but some of the worst blooms on record have occurred within the past decade or so.

    So what solutions may lie ahead?

    Rising temperatures and more frequent and severe droughts are expected to ramp up competition for water across the western U.S., whether for civic use, agriculture, or hydropower production. So what can be done?

    There are a few ways communities are working to protect water supply into the future.

    Phoenix, Arizona, for example, has been preparing for increasing drought in several key ways. For starters, it’s been banking water since 1996, to save for a non-rainy day. The fast-growing city also recycles wastewater, uses gray water in agriculture, and is working on “toilet-to-tap” technology. Private citizens are increasingly answering the call: In 2000, roughly 80 percent of city buildings were surrounded by lawns; now it’s estimated at just 14 percent. Plus Arizona, along with other states in the Colorado River basin, recently signed onto an interstate Drought Contingency Plan, which aims to reduce the risk of declining water levels.

    Cities can also modernize aging infrastructure to help keep water from being lost to old, leaky pipes and unprotected channels, which are prone to evaporation. In Los Angeles for example, one-fifth of the city’s water pipes were built in 1931 – and are considered the culprits behind nearly half the city’s water loss.

    Landscape restoration is another way forward. In the West, restoration efforts could include increasing natural water storage by restoring prairies and meadows around headlands, which soak up melting snow and hold it for later release.

    These and other actions will be needed to sustain water supply for the West’s booming populations. But experts agree that the most powerful, long-term fix for this problem must include addressing the underlying threat: climate change.

    “#Colorado is the #Southwest’s water cooler” — Michael Cox #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    Here’s a guest column from the Michael Cox via The Montrose Press:

    All hell needs is water.

    That iconic declaration could have been uttered by any number of famous writers, government officials and even men and women of the cloth. In fact, it was the observation of an undertaker from Prescott, Arizona. Budge Ruffner was forced to become a mortician when his father won the funeral home in a card game on Whiskey Row. Budge was a better philosopher/writer than he was an embalmer. He was a student of the history of this corner of the nation. And so, one of his books, published by the University of Arizona, carried this astute observation as the title.

    For much of the great Southwest, from El Centro to Amarillo, and from Idaho to the Mexico border, one of the only things that ever really stood in the way of progress or economic stability was the availability of a dependable water supply. Sunny and dry with, in many cases, fertile soil, the desert only needed moisture, as is testified to whenever it rains in the desert and a profusion of flowers burst forth.

    The Uncompahgre River Valley is technically high desert, even though a river runs through it. Early, it seemed like a nice place to live and the river valley soil proved rich. But the water came and went — it went more often than it came. Farming was a gamble at best. Often the summer months would see the river reduced to a trickle.

    The solution came when one of those early farmers, Frank Lauzon, put forth the idea of a tunnel bringing water from the much bigger, and more consistent, Gunnison River to the Montrose valley. The longest irrigation tunnel in the world turned Montrose into a fertile place to grow everything from beans to a sweet corn variety that is now in demand worldwide.

    But that is not the happy ending to the story. The prince is still a frog. And frogs need more water. What happens with water in Montrose and on the Western Slope of Colorado eventually affects places like Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha. Yes Omaha. That’s where the South Platte River, born in Colorado, joins the Missouri River. Omaha depends on the South Platte and the Missouri. Over here on the Western Slope we are the watershed that produces one of the most embattled, highly regulated and now overused rivers in the U.S., The Rio Colorado and its tributaries.

    The Colorado River itself is born in the Rockies and flows in multiple iterations to the Gulf of California. It has not been a wild river for a very long time. It is damned at Glen Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Parker, Davis Camp, Imperial and Morales. On the way, 1 million acre feet (AF) go to Las Vegas, 1.5 million to the Central Arizona Project, half-a-million to California’s Coachella Valley, 4.4 million to the Imperial Valley, plus more to other municipalities, a dozen Indian tribes and other entities. At Morales Dam on the Mexican border it gives the last of itself, a guaranteed 1.5 million acre feet to the Mexican farm lands and Mexicali, Baja, California. The river itself never reaches the ocean anymore.

    Colorado is the Southwest’s water cooler.

    Here is the bottom line, when it comes to water in the Southwestern U.S.: We have it, they want it. It has always been that way. Colorado has always been the water cooler for the rest of the southwest. Without it, lettuce doesn’t grow in the Imperial Valley. Palm Springs doesn’t water golf courses. Phoenix or Tucson don’t keep growing. Believe it or not, they all care how much water Montrose and Delta farms take out of the rivers. Which isn’t all that much.

    Agriculture on the Western Slope uses about 1.4 million acre-feet per year. The cities and towns use about 77,000 acre feet per year. There are about 80,000 acres under cultivation, primarily in Delta and Montrose counties. Those farms and ranches are a major part of the economy here. But, there are folks in Phoenix (and Denver) who would sooner those farms went fallow. That’s what causes concern for people like Steve Anderson, the General Manager of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association (UVWUA).

    How much water is kept and used in the Uncompahgre River Valley depends on a staggering number of factors, the most important of which are the water rights connected to the land.

    “We are somewhat insulated in that the water rights are connected to the land,” Anderson explained. “Those senior rights are federal, connected to the agreements made when the Bureau of Reclamation facilitated the Gunnison tunnel. The rights will always been connected to the land.”

    That is important because under that arrangement, a landowner cannot simply sell his water rights to, say, a downstream entity.

    The UVWUA, which has 3,500 shareholders (landowners), gets a constant 1,000 cubic-feet per second (CFS) flow from the tunnel, 24/7, April through October. To be sure, there are folks both on the Front Range and downstream who think that is more water than is really needed in the Montrose and Delta Valleys.

    “There will always be pressure on areas like the Western Slope to cede water to the populated areas,” says Anderson. “When push comes to shove, the votes are there to change the rules.”

    It is no secret that, while there is a big mountain between Denver and Montrose, there are those who would see water moved over the mountains to satisfy the needs of the growing Denver/Colorado Springs corridor. That is in fact already being done. There was a series of clandestine, closed door meetings involving those who control those diversions in which they deeply explored the idea of mandatory, non compensated curtailing of certain Western Slope water rights, to the point of creating a scenario that would bankrupt Montrose farmers and communities. Those secret meetings were outed by the Colorado River District, a public policy agency chartered to provide planning and policy guidance regarding the Colorado River Basin. State Rep. Marc Catlin is a member of the river district board. He is also a former manager of the UVWUA and a farmer. “My life’s equity is water. It is a big deal to me,” he has been quoted as saying.

    There has always been the pervasive attitude among the urban entities who use the Colorado River, that cities are more important than agriculture, recreation and environment. It is interesting to note that water lifted over the mountains to the Eastern Slope may not necessarily wind up coming from taps in Denver. It could end up going into the South Platte system to satisfy guarantees to the downstream users in Nebraska.

    But why is everybody worried about water and river flows, we just ended a drought? The Colorado snowpack reached a record level…The upstream reservoirs, like Blue Mesa, are at 90-plus percent capacity. Lake Powell, the master pool for all downstream withdrawals, is up almost 20 feet from last year (although it is still down almost 80 feet from a full pool).

    The rest of the Lake Powell numbers give us a clue. The releases from the dam, with two months to go in the water year (October to September), are already at 100 percent of minimum withdrawal. According to the Colorado River District figures, the compacts that govern downstream releases call for a 7.5 million acre feet minimum draw down of Powell. The fact is, the lake has had a rolling average release of more than 9 million acre feet per year over the past ten years, several of which had well below average input from upstream. The sum is that only 4.5 million acre feet per year went into the lake over the past ten years and 9.1 million was released. The current wet year not withstanding, the river is very much overused, now and for the foreseeable future.

    Coloradans cannot be complacent.

    Insulated by senior rights, or not, the Uncompahgre Valley has vultures circling and they are thirsty. Big money and many times more votes make laws and rules change. According to Catlin, Anderson and anyone else involved, like agriculture water users and growing small cities like Montrose, have to be part of the fight to make sure the local economies remain viable with enough water for all uses.

    Catlin campaigned on water as his main issue last year.

    “It’s the biggest issue on the Western Slope,” he said. “We are in a drought, the Colorado River’s in a drought, and the Front Range and Southern California are wanting us to stop farming our land so that they’ll have water. I’m really not in favor of that because it seems to me that we are asking one segment of our society to change how they live so that other people can continue in the same way they always have.”

    Catlin’s remarks last winter came ahead of the current improved condition. Even, so the issue remains.

    The Colorado Farm Bureau ranks water as its top issue. Montrose County Farm Bureau director Hugh Sanburg said last month that dealing with losing more and more water downstream is a major issue for the bureau. Sanburg is a cattle rancher in the Eckert area at the foot of the Grand Mesa.

    But, put agriculture aside, there is another facet that Catlin and Anderson both talk about.

    “We are not talking about just water rights for farmers, we also are talking about recreation based on water,” Anderson said. “We keep shipping all the water to the cities and when those folks come out here to fish and paddle their kayaks, there won’t be any water.”

    Is there an answer?

    To quote MacBeth, “maybe, maybe not.” The problem is not unique to the Uncompahgre River Valley and the tributaries of the Colorado River. Water has always been an issue, everywhere. Range wars have been fought over it. Millions of hours and dollars have gone in long court cases. Predictions have been horribly wrong.

    Anderson says a new water plan for Colorado is needed.

    “It is going to cost a lot of money, as much as 100 million dollars,” he said.

    What do we get for $100 million?

    “We get storage, infrastructure, education and management,” Anderson declared.

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board, on which Anderson serves, has taken on the task. The draft of Colorado’s Water Plan is now public. The primary thrust of the plan is conservation. The funding for the project comes from a wide assortment of organizations from the Colorado Water Trust to the Gates Family Foundation. In all, there are 21 entities that have signed on for the project. In some cases there is reason to believe that some of those 21 have competing goals for water use.

    Next week: The Water Plan and what it means for the Western Slope.

    Michael A Cox is a Montrose-based content developer and author. He may be reached at mcox@burrocreekpictures.com

    #ColoradoSprings: Detention ponds helping to improve safety — The Colorado Springs Gazette

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Patrick Nelson):

    Water left behind by severe weather in northeast Colorado Springs has some neighbors are concerned about rising water in ponding basins near their homes.

    Taxpayers agreed to pay more money for improvements to the stormwater system in the Colorado Springs area and while some folks in Wolf Ranch were concerned about a detention pond filling up, the experts say it’s evidence the stormwater system is doing its job.

    On the surface it’s calm, but the stormwater system below this detention pond in Wolf Ranch is moving thousands of gallons of water down stream. Seeing this normally dry basin full of water had some neighbors on edge. Even some of the wildlife came in for a closer look, but stormwater expert Richard Mulledy says the system is performing at a high level.

    “You’ve got to give it an “A”,” said the Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise Manager. “I mean, it really took a hard hit and we didn’t see anything major.”

    Just down the road near Research Parkway and Black Forest Road, work is going on to build another detention pond to help mitigate flooding during severe weather.

    “Our stormwater infrastructure is enormous. we’re 195 square miles we’re actually the largest landwise city in the state,” said Mulledy.

    It’s become a requirement for new neighborhoods because if there isn’t somewhere for the water to go it could cause major problems.

    “If this facility wasn’t here you would’ve seen that giant flash flood come down erode the banks, flow over the top of roads, that’s when you see people’s backyards caving in. things like that,” said Mulledy.

    The water in this Wolf Ranch detention pond will completely drain into Cottonwood Creek within 72-hours. Across the city, ponds like this are used to control the water flow making areas near waterways safer downstream all the way to Pueblo.

    Colorado Springs with the Front Range in background. Photo credit Wikipedia.

    #ColoradoSprings closes Prospect Lake in Memorial Park due to positive blue-green algae testing — Colorado Springs Gazette

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Liz Henderson):

    Prospect Lake in Memorial Park has been closed indefinitely after a test found toxic blue-green algae in the water, Colorado Springs officials said Friday.

    A “precautionary water sample,” taken from the lake Friday morning by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, tested positive for mycrocystin toxin, also known as blue-green algae.

    The lake’s swim beach was roped off and closure signs were posted. Fishing areas remain open, but anglers are encouraged to clean the fish and remove guts. Rentals are not available, and pets are not allowed.

    “Given today’s positive test for mycrocystin toxin, we have closed Prospect Lake for usage,” said Erik Rodriguez of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services in a statement. “CDPHE will continue to test weekly until the bacteria clears up.”

    In the meantime, the city has banned swimming, bathing, paddleboarding, motorized and nonmotorized boats even with permits, tubing and water skiing.

    Prospect Lake in Memorial Park. By Beverly & Pack – Colorado Ballon Classic 2009, Labor Day Weekend, Prospect Lake in Memorial Park in Colorado Springs, CO. Uploaded by Tomer T, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19191608

    @EPA and the shame of this @POTUS administration: “They’re gutting science across the agencies, across the departments, across the government” — Christine Todd Whitman

    In a historic win of the common man against a powerful corporate, chemical giant Monsanto was ordered to pay $289m damages to a man who claimed he got cancer after being directly exposed to the company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including the widely used Roundup. Screenshot from meaww.com

    From the Associated Press via the The Aurora Sentinel:

    EPA won’t approve warning labels for Roundup chemical

    The Trump administration has instructed companies not to warn customers about products that contain glyphosate, a move aimed at California as it fights one of the world’s largest agriculture companies about the potentially cancer-causing chemical.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will no longer approve labels warning glyphosate is known to cause cancer. The chemical is marketed as a weed killer by Monsanto under the brand Roundup.

    California requires warning labels on glyphosate products because the International Agency for Research on Cancer has said it is “probably carcinogenic.”

    The EPA disagrees, saying its research shows the chemical poses no risks to public health.

    “It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not pose a cancer risk,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “We will not allow California’s flawed program to dictate federal policy.”

    California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, approved by voters in 1986, requires the government to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, as determined by a variety of outside groups that include the EPA and IARC. The law also requires companies to warn customers about those chemicals.

    California regulators have twice concluded glyphosate did not pose a cancer risk for drinking water. But in 2015, the IARC classified the chemical as “probably carcinogenic,” triggering a warning label under California law. Monsanto sued, and last year a federal judge blocked California from enforcing the warning label until the lawsuit is resolved.

    Federal law regulates how pesticides are used and how they are labeled. States are often allowed to impose their own requirements, but they can’t be weaker than the federal law, according to Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

    Hartl said it is unusual for the EPA to tell a state it can’t go beyond the federal requirements.

    “It’s a little bit sad the EPA is the biggest cheerleader and defender of glyphosate,” Hartl said. “It’s the Environmental Protection Agency, not the pesticide protection agency.”

    In a letter to companies explaining its decision, Michael L. Goodis, director of EPA’s registration division in its Office of Pesticide Programs, said the agency considers labels warning glyphosate to cause cancer to “constitute a false and misleading statement,” which is prohibited by federal law.

    From CNN New via NBC4i.com:

    Bristol Bay. By own work – maps-for-free.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3709948

    EPA scientists ordered to allow Alaska mine to move forward; could endanger wildlife

    In a major environmental reversal, EPA scientists have been ordered to get out of the way of a massive, controversial copper and gold mine slated for a highly sensitive area in Alaska.

    The order may have originated from the President himself.

    The meeting took place on the tarmac during an Air Force One stopover June 26. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a pro-mining, pro-business, anti-EPA governor, met with Donald Trump for nearly a half-hour.

    Dunleavy has been pushing for approval of a massive gold and copper mine known as the Pebble Mine, planned for Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, home to the breeding grounds for one fo the world’s largest and most pristine sockeye salmon fisheries.

    After his meeting on Air Force One, Dunleavy said, “He (Trump) really believes in the opportunities here in Alaska and he’s doing everything he can to help us on our mining concerns.”

    Inside EPA sources now tell CNN the very next day, June 27, top EPA officials in Washington held an internal video conference with Seattle, and told staff the EPA was removing a special protection for Bristol Bay, and, in essence, clearing the way for what could be one fo the largest open-pit mines in the world.

    That internal announcement was a “total shock” to top EPA scientists, sources told CNN, because their environmental concerns were overruled by Trump political appointees at EPA headquarters in Washington.

    Bristol Bay and its tributaries are regarded as one of the world’s most important salmon fisheries, roughly half the world’s sockeye salmon come from there.

    It’s been protected since 2014, when after three years of study, the Obama-era EPA used a rare provision of the Clean Water Act — to basically veto any mining that could pose a threat.

    “EPA scientists writing a mine ‘would result in complete loss of fish habitat’ that was ‘irreversible.’ It’s mindboggling that it’s still being considered at all,” said Christine Todd Whitman, former EPA administrator.

    Todd Whitman is a Republican, former New Jersey governor, and under President George W. Bush, ran the EPA. She has joined several other former EPA chiefs to publically oppose the mine.

    “The potential damage is overwhelming,” she said. “The opposition to it up there is amazing and everywhere. I mean, this was a huge, the potential of over 80 miles of streams, thousands of acres, could be damaged from this project.”

    This is the second time during the Trump administration the political appointees at the EPA have decided to remove special protections for Bristol Bay to pave the way for this huge mine.

    In 2017, President Trump’s first EPA administrator, scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt, canceled the protections after a private meeting with the mine company’s CEO.

    After a report exposed the meeting and the lack of scientific debate behind the reversal, Pruitt backed down and put the protections back in place.

    Now, another private meeting, this time with the president himself, has led to yet another win for the mine, and the removal of environmental protections for this pristine watershed.

    “One of the most troubling things about this administration, I mean there are a lot of things that trouble me, but on the environmental side is this disregard of science,” Todd Whitman said. “They’re gutting science across the agencies, across the departments, across the government.”

    If the order is followed through with, Todd Whitman sees a number of lawsuits possibly being filed.

    “Environmental groups, native Alaskans, you’ll have a host of lawsuits, I’m convinced,” she said…

    At EPA headquarters, Andrew Wheeler, the former coal company lobbyist who now runs the agency, has a tie to Pebble Mine, too. He has recused himself from decision making on the project because his former law firm represents the mine.

    EPA scientists said political and business favors are driving decision making.

    One top EPA official said, “We were told to get out of the way and just make it happen.”

    The EPA said the Obama-era protections were outdated and the mine still has to go through the approval process.

    When asked about the internal EPA meeting on June 27, at first, the EPA denied it happened, but when presented with evidence, they admitted the meeting took place.

    Sources said the meeting is when officials told scientists the decision had been made and their work was not needed.