#Drought news: D0 (Abnormally Dry) expanded northward a bit into areas north of the #FourCorners near the #Colorado/#Utah border

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

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

This Week’s Drought Summary

Rainfall this week was highly variable across the eastern two-thirds of the country, which is not unusual during summer. Heavy rain was common in the High Plains, and from the Texas Panhandle and central Oklahoma northward in the Great Plains. Generally 2 to locally 5 inches of rain soaked the Plains from northern and eastern Kansas northward into the central Dakotas, and similar totals were spottier in central Montana, in the middle Mississippi Valley, across northern Minnesota, from the central Ohio Valley through the central Appalachians, over northern New England, and from the Florida Peninsula into southeastern Georgia. Scattered to isolated amounts of 2 to 3 inches were observed from the western half of Tennessee southward to the central Gulf Coast. Farther east, despite isolated moderate rains, only a few tenths of an inch fell on most of the upper Southeast, southern Appalachians, Carolinas, and middle Atlantic region. Several patches from northern California through the Pacific Northwest and northern Idaho recorded 0.5 to locally 2 inches, but most sites received light rain at best. The central and southern Sections of the Rockies and Intermountain West also observed generally light precipitation while no measurable rainfall was almost universal from the Red River to the Rio Grande in Texas, and in central and southern sections of California. The total area enduring abnormal dryness and drought increased, most noticeably in the Ohio Valley, the Midwest, and Texas. Widespread improvement was limited to a broad swath of Alaska from interior northeastern sections to near the Aleutians…

High Plains

Several inches of rain doused a broad area from eastern Kansas northwestward through South Dakota, western North Dakota, and the northern High Plains. Dryness and drought were confined to central and southern Kansas, east-central Nebraska, and northern North Dakota, where a small area of severe drought was introduced. In contrast to areas farther north, central and south-central Kansas recorded only 0.5 to locally 2.0 inches of rain since mid-July…


Periodic light to moderate rain has fallen for a few weeks now from central and southern Washington eastward through southwestern Montana, prompting improvement in some former D0 to D1 regions there, and in adjacent Oregon. Farther south, abnormal dryness persisted in several areas from southwestern Wyoming through Utah and western Colorado; D0 expanded northward a bit into areas north of the Four Corners near the Colorado/Utah border. Across the southern Rockies and southwestern deserts, deficient monsoon rains continued, and increasing moisture deficits prompted a broad expansion of abnormal dryness from southeasternmost California through eastern Arizona, and farther south from southeastern Arizona across southern New Mexico.


No measurable rain fell on a large area from the Red River Valley southward through Texas east of the Big Bend, extending eastward into southwestern Arkansas and central Louisiana. In contrast, most of northeastern Oklahoma and northern Arkansas were doused by 2 to locally 6 inches of rain. Less remarkable rainfall amounts exceeding one-half inch were recorded in the Texas Panhandle, central and northern Oklahoma, southwestern Tennessee, and Mississippi, with heavy rains approaching 4 inches reported in a few scattered areas. Dryness and drought expanded and intensified, with some degree of dryness now covering northeastern Texas, part of northern Louisiana, central and western Oklahoma, and roughly the western two-thirds of Texas from the upper reaches of Deep South Texas northward to the central Panhandle and the Big Bend. Severe drought was noted in parts of southern Texas, west-central Texas, and in a strip from southwestern Oklahoma westward along the southern fringes of the Texas Panhandle. Parts of these D2 areas received 3 to 6 inches less rainfall than normal over the past 60 days, including most of southwestern Oklahoma and adjacent Texas. Dating back to mid-July, most of Oklahoma (outside the northeastern quarter) and Texas were at least an inch short of normal rainfall; 30-day rainfall totals below 0.5 inch fell on southwestern Oklahoma and a broad swath of central and southern Texas from the Red River and lower Panhandle southward to the lower Rio Grande Valley…

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days (August 15 – 20, 2019) should bring heavy rains of at least 1.5 inches across the central Great Plains and much of the Midwest, with 3 to 5 inches forecast from northwestern Missouri and adjacent areas northward through central and eastern Iowa. Amounts exceeding 1.5 inches are also forecast for the Mississippi Delta and along the immediate Gulf and southern Atlantic Coasts. A few patches along the Atlantic Coast from southeastern Georgia through North Carolina should receive 3 to 4 inches. Moderate rains of 0.5 inch or more are anticipated in parts of upstate New York, northern New England, and inland areas near the central Gulf and southern Atlantic Coasts. Similar amounts are expected in most of the western Great Lakes, Midwest, Great Plains from Kansas into the central Dakotas, and upper Mississippi Valley. A few tenths of an inch should fall on the middle Atlantic region, the rest of the central and northern Great Plains and Mississippi Valley, and parts of central and northern Texas and adjacent Oklahoma. Little or no rain is expected in the rest of the 48 contiguous states, including the interior Southeast, the Ohio Valley, southern Texas, and most areas from the Rockies westward. Daytime high temperatures should average 3°F to 6°F below normal in the northern one-third of the Plains, and near 3°F below normal in north-central Florida. In contrast, daily highs are forecast to average around 3°F above normal in the middle Atlantic region, and 3°F to locally 9°F above normal from the southern half of the Great Plains westward through most of the Rockies, the Intermountain West, the Great Basin, and California away from the immediate coast.

The CPC 6-10 day outlook (August 21 -25, 2019) favors above-normal precipitation in the Alaskan Panhandle, parts of the Pacific Northwest, the northern Great Plains, the Mississippi Valley, southeast Texas, the Ohio Valley, the Southeast, and the middle Atlantic region. Meanwhile, enhanced chances for subnormal precipitation cover most of Alaska, although no tilt of the odds in either direction is indicated from the Kenai Peninsula westward through the Borough of Dillingham. Below normal precipitation chances are also elevated in upstate New York, most of New England, the central and southern Great Plains from central Texas through southwestern South Dakota, most of the High Plains, and the central Rockies. Neither precipitation extreme is favored elsewhere. Above-normal temperatures are favored across most of the country, with elevated chances for subnormal temperatures restricted to northwestern Montana, most of central and eastern Alaska, and the northern Alaska Peninsula. Neither positive nor negative temperature anomalies are favored in parts of the northern Rockies and in the lower Mississippi Valley.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending August 13, 2019.

@USDA NRCS announces $1.9 million in funding for 15 Soil Science Collaborative Research projects focused on soil science and soil survey research

Carbon sequestration is a term used to describe processes by which carbon dioxide (CO2) is either removed from the atmosphere or captured and diverted from an emissions source for long-term storage. There are two primary kinds of carbon sequestration: biological carbon sequestration (also referred to as terrestrial) and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Here’s the release from the USDA:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced $1.9 million in funding for 15 Soil Science Collaborative Research projects focused on soil science and soil survey research.

The information gained from the collaborative research will advance NRCS’ ability to provide scientifically based soil and ecosystem information to help address important natural resources issues facing our nation.

“NRCS is investing in universities across the country to leverage their scientific knowledge and expertise to support our conservation mission.,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “By engaging a diverse group of scholars through research, we can identify innovative solutions and technological advancements that will increase our contributions to both science and society.”

Now in its 12th year, the current Soil Science Collaborative Research projects were selected from among 32 applications. Projects were selected based on nationally identified needs in communities and landscapes.

Universities selected to receive funding for research projects include:

  • Alcorn State University
  • Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
  • Colorado State University
  • Kansas State University
  • New Mexico State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley
  • University of Wyoming (two projects)
  • Virginia Institute of Marine Science
  • A detailed description of the projects is available online.

    The information accumulated from these annual projects has helped NRCS develop integrated technical tools and information to assist planners and land managers in predicting and assessing soil health, ecosystem and landscape sustainability and the implementation of sustainable management systems.

    “NRCS is a world leader in soil research,” said Dave Hoover, director of the NRCS National Soil Survey Center. “This prioritized investment in science-based tools will develop innovative data sharing and information delivery tools and products to reach multiple stakeholders around the world from underserved audiences to the most technically advanced.”

    NRCS accepts proposals once a year. Interested researchers can learn more on the Soils Research Page.

    Guest Commentary: A wet year has filled our reservoirs but we must prepare for the drought to come — The Denver Post (@CORiverTed) #ColoradoRiver #COriver #DCP #aridification

    Changes in the northeastern reaches of Lake Powell are documented in this series of natural-color images taken by the Landsat series of satellites between 1999 and 2017. The Colorado River flows in from the east around Mile Crag Bend and is swallowed by the lake. At the west end of Narrow Canyon, the Dirty Devil River joins the lake from the north. (At normal water levels, both rivers are essentially part of the reservoir.) At the beginning of the series in 1999, water levels in Lake Powell were relatively high, and the water was a clear, dark blue. The sediment-filled Colorado River appeared green-brown. To see the complete series go to: earthobservatory.nasa.gov/WorldOfChange/LakePowell. Photos via NASA

    From The Denver Post (Ted Kowalski):

    Time and water are alike in a lot of important ways. Both are finite resources that we can take for granted, or that we can manage carefully for great benefit.

    On Thursday, as the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) issues its official projections for water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead, it’s important to think about where we were a year ago — following two extremely dry years; where we are today, after an extraordinarily wet winter; and, most importantly, where we want to be in another year — or ten years.

    In the year since the last BOR report, water security in the West took a huge step forward with the signing of the drought contingency plans (DCPs) — landmark agreements that update how the Colorado River is used, shared and managed across seven states and two countries. These DCPs combined with proactive conservation measures and a year of major snowfall mean that we’ve been able to avert dangerously low water levels at Lake Mead. So it can be tempting to relax a bit — but we have to ask ourselves, “how will we use this moment to prepare for the future?” We have to be smart about using the time and water we have right now.

    Common sense tells us that one wet winter does not alter or solve the fundamental challenges facing the water supply across the Colorado River Basin. As a reminder, 2011 was also a wet year in the Colorado River Basin, but it was immediately followed by 2012 and 2013 — the driest two-year period on record — causing rapid drops in water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which are the two main water supplies for the Colorado River.

    As an additional reminder, approximately one in eight Americans rely on the Colorado River. The stakes only go higher as the water levels go lower. As water usage in the West continues to outpace the supply, we have to continue making bold, structural improvements to our water management strategies and systems.

    In Colorado, as well as in Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah, a key component of the DCPs is for the states to explore whether, and how to, develop and implement a demand management program. That means that each state needs to thoughtfully agree on how best to conserve while ensuring that there’s enough water to keep communities, farmers, and businesses thriving — now and for future generations. It’s not an easy task.

    Still, there are reasons to be hopeful. First, as we saw with the DCPs, it is in our reach to do big, important things. In order to make those agreements possible, leaders from seven states, tribes, cities, advocacy groups, businesses, farmers and others across the Colorado River Basin had to partner with federal leaders from the U.S. and Mexico during some of the most politically divisive times in generations. And even with all of that, they were able to find ways to take care of their own needs while still recognizing the needs of their neighbors.

    Looking ahead to demand management planning, that same spirit of innovation, collaboration, and shared mission will continue to serve the people of the Colorado River Basin well.

    Demand management programs are being investigated in the Upper Basin. These types of programs involve temporary, voluntary and compensated reductions in water use. The water that would be conserved by demand management is water that otherwise would have been used — but is instead conserved and saved. So, for example, demand management means that farmers could opt to fallow some of their fields in the off season in order to conserve additional water (without losing their water rights).

    Demand management can offer multiple benefits: it can ensure that there’s enough water in the river to keep the system healthy, it can safeguard the water supply for communities who depend on it, and it can protect our vibrant agricultural communities.

    For several years, people all across the Colorado River Basin have been working together to begin testing water conservation projects and their workability. These pilot projects are critically important, as they allow us to learn about the benefits and shortcomings of how a demand management program may work. We cannot wait until all of the theoretical questions have answers. In short, we need to continue to learn by doing.

    We are in a moment right now where we have saved enough time and water to buy ourselves the opportunity to make meaningful change. We know that this moment, this time, and our water will not last indefinitely. We have to act fast and together for a more secure water future — our communities and environments depend on it.

    Ted Kowalski is the senior program officer for the Walton Family Foundation’s Colorado River Initiative.

    Republican River Water Conservation District board meeting, August 20, 2019

    Shirley Hotel Haxtun, Colorado via History Colorado

    From the Republican River Water Conservation District (Deb Daniel) via The Julesberg Advocate:

    The Board of Directors of the Republican River Water Conservation District will be holding its regular quarterly meeting in Haxtun, Colorado. The date, time, and location of the meeting and a summary of the agenda for the meeting are provided below.

    Regular Meeting of the RRWCD Board Date: Tuesday August 20, 2019 Time: 10:00AM to 4:15PM

    Agenda: Consider and potentially approve minutes of previous meetings; Board President’s report, General Manager’s report and consider and potentially approve quarterly financial report and expenditures. Report from the Compact Compliance Pipeline operator; receive report from chairmen of all RRWCD committees; receive program updates and reports from the RRWCD’s engineer, federal and state lobbyists reports, legal counsel reports. Public Comment will be at 1:00PM rrwcd Report by State Engineer’s Office and Attorney General’s Office, Consider grants applications from Groundwater Management Districts, consider various Resolutions including, RRWCD meeting date changes, increasing area of EQIP program to include acres from boundary change, approve edits in RRWCD By-laws, and consider edits made to Board Manual, and consider water use fee on acres brought into the RRWCD boundary due to HB19-1029. Consider contract with well owners who have augmentation plan to the Lower South Platte If necessary, the RRWCD Board of Directors will hold an executive session to receive legal advice on legal questions and litigation concerning South Fork water rights; to discuss and determine positions, develop strategies, and instrauct negotiators concerning the purchase or lease of water rights; determine positions and instruct negotiators concerning water supply acquisition, receive legal advice on legal questions related to such agreements, contracts and easements, discuss program applications; Compact Compliance and discussions with Kansas (to the extent subject to privilege), and the Compact Compliance Pipeline and Bonny Reservoir

    Location: Haxtun Community Center
    145 South Colorado
    Haxtun, CO 80731

    For further information concerning the details of this meeting, please contact:

    Deb Daniel, General Manager
    Republican River Water Conservation District
    Phone 970-332-3552 Email deb.daniel@rrwcd.com
    RRWCD Website http://www.republicanriver.com

    Republican River Basin. By Kansas Department of Agriculture – Kansas Department of Agriculture, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7123610

    Blue-green algae found at Pikeview Reservoir — @CSUtilities

    Cyanobacteria. By NASA – http://microbes.arc.nasa.gov/images/content/gallery/lightms/publication/unicells.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5084332

    Here’s the release from Colorado Springs Utilities:

    There is an increasing occurrence of toxic blue-green algae in reservoirs across the United States this year, forcing the limitation of recreational access to the bodies of water for public safety.

    In a recent test at Pikeview Reservoir, a popular fishing lake in central Colorado Springs and part of our water system, the bacteria was identified.

    While the reservoir is still safe for fishing, as a precautionary meaure, humans and pets are prohibited from entering the water until further notice. Anglers are directed to thoroughly clean fish and discard guts.

    We have removed Pikeview as a source for drinking water until the reservoir is determined to be clear of the algae. There are no concerns about this affecting water supply for our community.

    Presumptive testing has indicated levels of less than 5 mcg/L.

    Sickness including nausea, vomiting, rash, irritated eyes, seizures and breathing problems could occur following exposure to the blue-green algae in the water. Anyone suspicious of exposure with onset of symptoms should contact their doctor or veterinarian. For questions regarding health impacts of exposure, contact the El Paso County Health Department or Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

    Warming temperatures have contributed to the growth of the bacteria.

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Liz Henderson):

    The popular fishing lake that lies just south of Garden of the Gods Road tested above acceptable limits for the bacteria the news release read. The water is still safe to fish in, but humans and pets are not allowed. Anglers are asked to clean the fish thoroughly and remove guts, according to the news release.

    The reservoir has been removed as a drinking water source, Utilities stated, however there are no concerns about the tainted water affecting the community.

    Reservoir agreement helps trout by borrowing endangered fish water — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

    Some rejiggering of reservoir operations in the upper Colorado River watershed is taking the heat off trout in Grand County through the early release of water that had been set aside for endangered fish in Mesa County.

    The approach is being made possible by storing water elsewhere so it can be released for the endangered fish when they need it later.

    Under the agreement involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Colorado River District, an additional 35 cubic feet per second of water started being released last week from Lake Granby, also known as Granby Reservoir, in the Colorado River headwaters. That nearly doubled Colorado River flows immediately downstream.

    The increased flows help reduce daytime temperatures in the river, which had begun topping 60 degrees and threatening the health of trout. The releases involve water normally stored in Granby for use in boosting flows in the river near Grand Junction for endangered fish such as the humpback chub and razorback sucker.

    The endangered fish still will get water under the deal, however. In exchange for the additional water coming out of Granby, the river district is withholding 35 cfs of water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir, which sits above Kremmling on Muddy Creek, a Colorado River tributary. That’s below the problem stretch of the Colorado River, thanks to inflows to the river coming from Muddy Creek and other tributaries, so the Wolford water that’s being withheld doesn’t hold the importance to the trout that the released Granby water does.

    “There’s plenty of water in the river except for in that stretch below Granby,” said Jim Pokrandt, a river district spokesman.

    Pokrandt said the Colorado River is currently a “free river” right now in Colorado. There are no calls on it to meet the needs of senior water rights holders when flows are more limited. But the upper stretch in Grand County in the Hot Sulphur Springs area is depleted due to transmountain diversions to the Front Range.

    Withholding the Wolford water means it will be available for the endangered fish during lower-flow periods on the Colorado River in Mesa County, in lieu of the water that is being released from Granby.

    Seldom Seen: A Poignant Look Back at Glen Canyon Before the Dam — Yale Environment 360 #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    Ken Sleight the original Monkey Wrencher photo via Salon

    From Yale Environment 360

    Ken Sleight remembers the stunning beauty of Glen Canyon before it was flooded by a massive dam in the 1960s. Taylor Graham’s film “Seldom Seen Sleight” – winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest – shows the magnificent landscape lost and offers hope it might someday be restored.

    When Ken Sleight first floated through Utah’s Glen Canyon in 1955, he fell in love with its majestic landscape of red rock ravines and lush green Colorado River riverbed. He became a rafting guide, leading trips through a place where, he says, “You were in heaven, actually.”

    But even then, the mammoth Glen Canyon Dam was being built downstream in Arizona, and when the dam was completed in 1963, the canyon was flooded. Sleight, now 88, watched as the water quickly rose up the cliff walls, obliterating the riverbanks and side canyons.

    Taylor Graham’s film “Seldom Seen Sleight” — the winner of the 2019 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest – focuses on Sleight, now 89, as he describes the Glen Canyon he knew before it was flooded. Using never-before-seen archival footage, the film provides a poignant view of the pre-dam canyon and what has been lost.

    Sleight — who was the inspiration for the character Seldom Seen Smith in Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang — voices support for a campaign, now gaining interest, to take down the Glen Canyon Dam and restore that stretch of the Colorado River. “I seldom go down there anymore,” he says. “I have it in mind what it all was. We lost most of it. But you keep praying for something to happen, and it’s happening, I think. I just wish they would hurry it up a little.”

    About the Filmmaker: Taylor Graham is a multimedia storyteller and National Geographic Explorer interested in water sustainability issues and protecting the world’s free-flowing rivers. Graham recently spent a year in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Research Scholar, where he produced a series of documentary shorts about India’s diverse water challenges. He is currently completing work on a National Geographic Society-funded documentary film, Glen Canyon Rediscovered, for which he and his team completed a 350-mile through-paddle of the Colorado River and Lake Powell.

    About the Contest: The Yale Environment 360 Video Contest honors the year’s best environmental films, with the aim of recognizing work that has not previously been widely seen. Entries for 2019 were received from six continents, with a prize of $2,000 going to the first-place winner.

    Here’s a Coyote Gulch post which about Ken Sleight and his views about de-commissioning Lake Powell (Lake Foul).