Job Announcement: General Manager Position Northern Colorado Water Association Wellington, #Colorado

From email from the Northern Colorado Water Association:

The Northern Colorado Water Association (NCWA), a Colorado non-profit corporation, which provides potable water service to approximately 1,500 rural customers in northern Larimer County, is seeking a General Manager. NCWA provides domestic water to the rural area roughly between Fort Collins and the Wyoming border; and between the foothills and the Interstate 25 corridor. Existing sources of water supply include wells and connections to area water districts. The current General Manager is retiring at the end of 2019 and it is anticipated that the replacement would start around December 1, 2019.

If you are qualified and interested in applying for this position, please email your resume and a letter of interest identifying your unique qualifications to perform the required duties to rich.ncwa@cowisp.net by September 1, 2019.

Duties of the General Manager include the following:

Provides overall company management, subject to review and approval by the Board of Directors.

Provides overall company management, subject to review and approval by the Board of Directors.

Responsible for all aspects of financial management including:

  • Budgeting
  • Billing
  • Revenue
  • Expenditures
  • Payroll
  • Cash flow
  • Banking
  • Investments
  • Insurance
  • Taxes
  • Coordination with outside accountants/auditors
  • Preparation of monthly reports of financial activities for the Board of Directors
  • Performs continual monitoring, assessment, and identification of the water system’s capability to provide reliable water service to existing and future customers including:

  • Evaluation of water system supply capability
  • Determination of ability to serve new taps
  • Identification of needed capital improvements
  • Assessing maintenance needs
  • Evaluation of raw water supplies
  • Long range strategic planning
  • Coordination with outside consultants/jurisdictional agencies
  • Participates in extensive communication and coordination with the Water System Operator relative to field activities and system operation

    Responsible for human resource activities including;

  • Hiring employees
  • Compensation
  • Performance evaluation
  • Acquiring and administering employee benefits
  • Filing periodic government reports
  • Addresses customer questions and/or complaints

    Attends Board of Directors meetings, prepares agendas, takes minutes, and advises the Board of the company’s activities, status, etc.

    Organizes the annual Membership meeting, provides legal notice, secures proxies, and provides a report of the company’s activities during the previous year to the attendees

    Administers the acquisition and maintenance of office equipment and software

    Acquires and coordinates legal counsel when appropriate.

    Organizes and maintains company records

    Other activities that may arise or be directed by the Board

    Photo credit: Melissa Wiseheart via the Northern Colorado Water Association

    @USDA: Farmers Prevented from Planting Crops on More than 19 Million Acres

    2019 Nebraska flooding. Photo Credit: University of Nebraska Lincoln Crop Watch

    Here’s the release from the Department of Agriculture:

    Agricultural producers reported they were not able to plant crops on more than 19.4 million acres in 2019, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This marks the most prevented plant acres reported since USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) began releasing the report in 2007 and 17.49 million acres more than reported at this time last year.

    Of those prevented plant acres, more than 73 percent were in 12 Midwestern states, where heavy rainfall and flooding this year has prevented many producers from planting mostly corn, soybeans and wheat.

    “Agricultural producers across the country are facing significant challenges and tough decisions on their farms and ranches,” USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey said. “We know these are challenging times for farmers, and we have worked to improve flexibility of our programs to assist producers prevented from planting.”

    Cover Crops

    USDA supported planting of cover crops on fields where farmers were not able to plant because of their benefits in preventing soil erosion, protecting water quality and boosting soil health. The report showed where producers planted 2.71 million acres of cover crops so far in 2019, compared with 2.14 million acres at this time in 2018 and 1.88 million at this time in 2017.

    To help make cover crops a more viable option, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) adjusted the haying and grazing date of cover crops, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service held signups in select states that offered producers assistance in planting cover crops. Meanwhile, USDA added other flexibilities to help impacted producers, including adjusting the deadline to file acreage reports in select states.

    About the Report

    This data report aggregates information from crop acreage reports as of August 1, 2019, which producers file with FSA to maintain program eligibility and to calculate losses for various disaster assistance programs. The crop acreage data report outlines the number of acres planted, prevented from planting, and failed by crop, county and state. To find more information, view the Aug. 12 report.

    Because some producers have not completed their filing and data are still being processed, FSA will make available subsequent data reports in September, October, November, December and January. You can find reports from 2007 to the present on FSA’s Crop Acreage Data webpage.

    To receive FSA program benefits, producers are required to submit crop acreage reports annually regarding all cropland uses on their farm. This report includes data for producers who had already filed for all deadlines in 2019, including the mid-July deadlines, which are for spring-seeded crops in many locations.

    Other Prevented Planting Indicators

    In addition to acreage reports filed with FSA, producers with crop insurance coverage for prevented planting file claims with their insurance providers. These claims are provided to RMA and may differ from the prevented planted acres reported to FSA. More information on prevented plant coverage is available on the RMA website.

    Official USDA estimates of total acres planted, harvested and to be harvested, yield, and production are available from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service at http://nass.usda.gov.

    #ClimateChange could threaten Carbondale’s water supply — @AspenJournalism

    The Ella Ditch, in the Crystal River Valley, placed a call for the first time ever during the drought-stricken summer of 2018. That meant the Town of Carbondale had to borrow water from the East Mesa Ditch under an emergency water supply plan.

    From Aspen Journalism (Heather Sackett):

    A new climate study and a first-ever call on a tributary of the Crystal River offer a glimpse of the future for Carbondale’s water supply.

    A Vulnerability, Consequences and Adaptation Planning Scenario report by the Western Water Assessment found a strong upward trend in local temperatures over the past 40 years, which could threaten local water supplies.

    “This report sort of drove the message home that (climate change) is here and it’s no longer a conceptual discussion — it’s a pragmatic discussion,” Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson said. “It was sobering from that perspective.”

    According to the report, the average temperature since 2000 has been 2.2 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average. Water year 2018 was more than 4 degrees higher than the 20th-century average and was the warmest recorded in the past 120 years.

    Warmer temperatures are bad news for the watershed because they have an overall drying effect, even if precipitation remains constant. According to the report, Roaring Fork River streamflows since 2000 have been about 13% lower than the 20th-century average, due, in part, to warmer temperatures. By 2050, a typical year in the Roaring Fork Valley is projected to be warmer than the hottest years of the 20th century, which means mild drought conditions even during years with average precipitation.

    “Just the warming temperatures alone are enough to tell us drought will be a concern in the future and drought conditions are likely to persist for longer,” said WWA managing director Benét Duncan. “What does that mean for the water supply?”

    The Town of Carbondale treats water at its facility on Nettle Creek, a tributary of the Crystal River. The town nearly had to shut the plant down during the summer of 2018 because of a senior call on the downstream Ella Ditch. Photo credit: Town of Carbondale

    Drought illustrates vulnerability

    The summer of 2018’s historic drought illustrated a vulnerability in Carbondale’s water supply that surprised local officials. Senior water-rights holder Ella Ditch, which serves agriculture lands south of Carbondale, placed a call for the first time Aug. 8.

    This meant that because there wasn’t enough water in the Crystal for Ella Ditch to divert the amount to which it was legally entitled, junior water-rights holders, including Carbondale, had to reduce their water use — threatening the domestic water supply to roughly 40 homes on the Nettle Creek pipeline.

    “We had a situation last summer where we were inches away from having to shut down our water-treatment plant at Nettle Creek because there was a more senior call on the river,” Richardson said. “When you look at the water rights we have on paper, most municipalities feel confident their water portfolio is resilient and can stand the test of time, but that was paper water. And when it comes to wet water, we were pretty vulnerable.”

    Carbondale applied for and received an emergency substitute water-supply plan from the state engineer. The emergency plan allowed for a temporary change in water right — from agricultural use to municipal use — so that another irrigation ditch could provide water to the town.

    The East Mesa Ditch Co., whose water right is senior to Ella Ditch’s, agreed to loan the town 1 cubic foot per second of water from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7 under the agreement. However, Carbondale had to borrow the water only until Sept. 28, when the call was lifted on Ella Ditch. East Mesa Ditch is located upstream from Ella Ditch. Both are used to irrigate lands farther downstream on the east side of the Crystal River.

    The town didn’t pay East Mesa Ditch for the water but paid the company about $5,000 in legal and engineering fees to draw up the water loan agreement, according to Town Manager Jay Harrington.

    A wake-up call

    Although Carbondale has other sources it can turn to for municipal use, including wells on the Roaring Fork, the summer of 2018 and the VCAPS report were a wake-up call.

    “Nettle Creek is a pretty senior right, and we didn’t anticipate it to be called like it was,” Harrington said.

    Potential solutions to another Ella Creek call outlined in the report include moving away from Crystal water sources to Roaring Fork sources and providing upstream pumps to the homes on the Nettle Creek pipeline.

    “I think (the report) gives one of the clearest pictures of where we are heading and what we need to look at as a municipality as the climate changes,” Harrington said.

    Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism is collaborating with the Aspen Times and Glenwood Springs Post-Independent on coverage of water and rivers.

    #Colorado Farmers Market Week highlights direct-to-consumer role — Ag Journal #farmersmarket

    Sorry, I missed National Farmers Market Week (August 4-11, 2019). Here’ a report Candace Krebs that’s running in The Ag Journal:

    Farmers markets play an essential role in providing farmers with direct access to consumers while allowing them to earn retail prices for what they produce.

    With seasonal markets now brimming with produce, it’s an ideal time to celebrate Colorado Farmers Market Week, which was designated by Governor Jared Polis to coincide with National Farmers Market Week during the first full week in August.

    “We’re very excited to have the support of the governor’s office to highlight farmers markets across Colorado,” said Rosalind May, executive director of the Colorado Farmers Market Association.

    Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced the snappy catchphrase “Know Your Food, Know Your Farmer” back in 2012, weekly visits to seasonal outdoor markets have become a routine part of life for many shoppers.

    “Farmers markets serve as small business incubators for farmers and value-added producers,” May said. “We’re at a time when people really want to know where their food comes from. People are really looking for that connection.”

    The markets also play an important public health role by creating access to fresh, local food in their communities. Many of them accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) vouchers and use double-up food bucks to stretch those funds even further.

    “We can provide better access to fresh fruits and vegetables for recipients while supporting local farmers at same time,” May said.

    Countless farms have used the markets to get started, expand, diversify or bring the next generation into their operations.

    Jeni Nagle, sales director for Ela Family Farms of Poania, has been bringing fresh fruit and prepared items like applesauce, jams and fruit butters to the Boulder Farmers Market since 2006.

    “We are actually able to grow new farmers because of this market,” she said on a recent Saturday morning as shoppers streamed by.

    In addition to being among the largest in the state, the Boulder market consistently ranks among the top ten farmers markets nationwide, attracting an estimated 70,000 visitors a year. It is so popular that getting a space to sell there can take years on a waiting list.

    Nagle said a number of factors contribute to the success of the market, starting with the fact that it is organized as a nonprofit run by the farmer vendors.

    “They keep the fees low,” she said.

    Farmers markets do best when they prioritize the needs of the growers, May confirmed, adding that many of the markets charge lower fees to farmers than to other vendors and give them more stall space.

    They also rally around them when crops are lost to hail or other natural disasters, making it a point to educate customers about the risks inherent in farming.

    In short, community support is vital.

    “Support from cities and local businesses adds to the strength of the markets and makes them vastly easier for the market managers to run,” she said. “Some of the markets are even run by the cities, and that can make a huge difference.”

    As an example, she cited the Greeley market, which is run by a city employee and housed under a special shade structure the city built.

    The surrounding farms are what give many Colorado communities their character, but loss of water rights, lack of labor and cheaper foreign imports are chipping away at that legacy.

    Nagle said small orchards are dying out all over Colorado simply because it’s just not economically feasible to sustain them.

    “The only way we can keep going is with direct marketing,” she said. “Without being able to charge retail prices, all of the Ela apple trees would be gone. That’s why our direct customers are so important to us.”

    Ela Family Farms is an organic operation that relies on 11 farmers markets in the Denver area to help pay the bills.

    Ironically, it was here in Boulder where Steve Ela’s family first got into fruit production. Ela’s grandfather planted his first orchard in the Boulder area before the family eventually migrated west to Paonia, where their farm is located now.

    As old family orchards die out, a renewed interest in old apple varieties is being rekindled. At the University of Colorado-Boulder, researchers started the Boulder Apple Tree Project in 2017 to seek out and map old orchards and graft heirloom varieties onto hardier rootstock so they wouldn’t be lost for good.

    “I’m in awe that those might be the same apples my grandfather tended,” Ela said during a cider-tasting workshop held in Denver in mid-July.

    Ela grows 32 different apple varieties, including some that are considered worthy of protecting due to their rarity and unique flavor.

    Farmers markets have helped rejuvenate demand for novelty products, enhancing biodiversity and keeping things interesting for growers as well as shoppers.

    At the Boulder market, fourth generation Kersey farmer Kyle Monroe was beaming about a recent interview he did with National Public Road in which he shared the story of what he calls the “Greeley wonder cantaloupe.”

    “My great grandfather saved the seeds from it, and now we are bringing it back out of extinction,” he said with obvious satisfaction. “We even sent some of the seed to Svalbard, in Norway, to be put in the seed vault there.”

    Monroe said the one-of-a-kind melons can weigh almost 20 pounds by harvest.

    Despite his enthusiasm, Monroe was also candid about the challenges market growers face.

    That morning he and three other workers scrambled to pick 250 bushels of produce before heading out to the markets.

    Labor shortages and water skirmishes are taking a toll, he said.

    He credited the burgeoning hemp movement as a factor making it more difficult than ever to hire and retain good help.

    In fact, Monroe is planning to try the government’s H-2A program for the first time next year, even though many growers complain that it’s expensive, inflexible and often unreliable.

    The program is costly because it requires employers to provide transportation and housing for foreign workers and sets a pay level based on salaries in the area. But a big positive in Monroe’s mind is that it also limits foreign workers to working only for the farm that brings them in.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that it is proposing some changes to the H-2A program, evoking praise from the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Western Growers and other industry groups.

    The proposed rules are intended to streamline and simplify the process. Suggested provisions include electronic filing of job orders and applications, some flexibility for post-certification modifications, staggered entry of H-2A workers, updates to how the “adverse effect wage rate” is calculated and other changes intended to add flexibility and make the paperwork less burdensome.

    Back in May, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited with Colorado produce growers at Sakata Farms in Brighton to discuss ways to make the program easier to use.

    Like Robert Sakata, who heads up the fruit and vegetable growers association, Monroe has stopped growing sweet corn, even though it is a popular summer staple. There’s just too much hassle involved in harvesting it and not enough labor to go around, Monroe said.

    On top of that, many customers now prefer to buy their corn already shucked, he said.

    Highlands Square farmers market in Denver. Photo credit: Colorado.com