@CWCB_DNR: August 2019 #Drought Update

Click here to read the update (Ben Wade, Tracy Kosloff):

August has been warmer than average across the majority of the state and each basin, except for the Republican basin, has experienced below average precipitation. The North American monsoon season has been disappointing in Colorado and other parts of the Southwestern U.S. The monsoon season sometimes results in beneficial moisture for south central Colorado and the eastern half of the state. Despite not receiving monsoon moisture, statewide precipitation for the Water Year, at mountain SNOTEL sites, is at 114% of average. After being the last state to experience a drought free U.S. Drought Monitor Map, which lasted eight weeks from late May through mid July, D0 has been introduced in various parts of the state (see map below). A portion of southwestern Colorado was downgraded to D1, moderate drought conditions. Reservoir storage across the state continues to be a bright spot at 116% of average.

Colorado Drought Monitor August 27, 2019.
  • According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, released August 29, D0, abnormally dry has been introduced in the central mountains and has expanded in the southwest part of the state. D0 has shown up in pockets in Las Animas, El Paso & Larimer counties. D1, moderate drought, has been introduced back in La Plata & Montezuma counties.
  • The weak El Niño has officially ended in favor of neutral conditions. The long term ENSO forecasts are trending toward neutral conditions remaining through the winter.
  • Statewide monthly precipitation as of August 26 at mountain SNOTEL sites has been 56% of average. For the Water Year, statewide precipitation is 114% of average. The Climate Prediction Center’s one month outlook is predicting above average precipitation and temperature for most of the state for September.
  • Reservoir storage across the state (as of the end of July) is 116% of average and 78% of capacity. At this time last year, statewide reservoir storage was at 86% of average. The Gunnison basin has seen significant recovery after storage was depleted last year. The South Platte basin reservoirs are in the best shape since the late 1990s.
  • Water providers in attendance report their systems are in decent shape but water demand has increased due to above average temperatures in the past several weeks.
  • Some agricultural producers are reporting that corn is behind schedule due to a late start to the season. They are hopeful that frost will not occur before the crops reach maturity.
  • @USBR awards $3.4 million to 19 tribes for technical assistance in water development

    Photo credit: USBR

    Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

    The Bureau of Reclamation is awarding $3.4 million to 19 tribes across the western United States for technical assistance as they develop, manage, and protect their water and related resources. The funding is being made available through Reclamation’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance to Tribes Program.

    “This funding provides the opportunity for Reclamation and the tribes to collaborate in finding the most effective and efficient ways to improve water reliability for these tribal communities,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.

    The funding will be provided to the tribes as grants or cooperative agreements. The nineteen projects selected are:


  • Hopi Tribe, develop georeferenced base maps of community water systems, $200,000
  • Quechan Indian Tribe, Tonawanda Lateral Structure Replacement, $171,346
  • Yavapai-Apache Tribe, domestic water system infrastructure and repair, $200,000
  • California

  • Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, Singley Hill well production and treatment facilities, $200,000
  • Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, water supply well completion, $98,746
  • Cahto Tribe of the Laytonville Rancheria, baseline stream monitoring and planning, $200,000
  • Calusa Community Council, community water system improvements, $200,000
  • La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians, drinking water supply improvements, $65,299
  • Hoopa Valley Indian Tribe, assess threats to drinking water supply, $181,980
  • Pinoleville Pomo Nation, Ackerman Creek environmental streamflow conservation projects, $194,303
  • Quartz Valley Indian Community, water resource management model, $159,022
  • Round Valley Indian Tribes, groundwater model for basin-wide groundwater management plan, $200,000
  • Idaho

  • Coeur D’Alene Tribe, water quality monitoring and assessment of Lake Coeur D’Alene, $195,979
  • Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, irrigation project surface water management program, $200,000
  • Oklahoma

  • Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, process improvements for failing water treatment plants in Choctaw Territory, $197,637
  • Osage Nation, water system assessment project, $199,973
  • Oregon

  • Klamath Tribes, Sprague River watershed nutrient assessment, $96,168
  • Washington

  • Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Upper Snoqualmie River resilient water corridor management plan, $199,995
  • Stillaquamish Tribe of Indians of Washington, water resources program development, $200,000
  • The Native American and International Affairs Office in the Commissioner’s Office serves as the central coordination point for the Native American Affairs Program and lead for policy guidance for Native American issues in Reclamation. To learn more, please visit http://www.usbr.gov/native.

    High temperatures, excess nutrients, and standing, stagnant water provide an optimal environment for blue-green algae to reproduce

    Blue-Green algae bloom

    From Colorado Public Radio (Hayley Sanchez):

    The blooms — they look like thick pea soup or bright green paint on top of the water — usually pop up in July with higher temperatures and in stagnant or slow-moving water. They eventually die off around September as the weather cools down.

    Health officials and municipalities have reported they’re monitoring at least a dozen lakes in Colorado with dangerous or potentially dangerous algae. Health effects vary depending on the kind of bacteria in the algae, but symptoms are pretty nasty and include skin irritation, rashes, blisters around the mouth and nose and other problems.

    “The blooms happen when the ecosystem gets out of balance,” said Sara Erickson with Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment. “So when we have high temperatures, excess nutrients, and standing, stagnant water, this provides an optimal environment for the blue-green algae to reproduce.”

    Tracking toxic algae is difficult because no single agency is tasked with testing waters for high levels of bacteria in lakes with blue-green algae, called cyanobacteria. The process gets even more complicated because a lake can have high levels of the bacteria at one time but levels can return to acceptable limits later on.

    That was the case with Windsor Lake in Windsor. CDPHE said it examined samples of the water and found toxic algae in July, but the lake reopened a week later when levels were back to acceptable limits.

    CDPHE said it tested and confirmed three other lakes with dangerous algae blooms. Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs, Barr Lake in Brighton and a pond in east El Paso County all have harmful algal blooms, according to CDPHE.

    The pond at Homestead Ranch Regional Park near Peyton tested positive for toxic levels of blue-green algae on Friday. Fishing is still permitted but anglers should clean their fish thoroughly. People should not let their pets in the water. Boating and swimming are already not allowed in the pond.

    Pikeview Reservoir, a popular spot for anglers off Garden of The Gods Road in Colorado Springs, also tested positive for blue-green algae. The reservoir is part of the Colorado Springs Utilities’ water system but has since been removed as a source of drinking water…

    The city of Lakewood has two lakes with high levels of toxic algae — Kountze Lake at Belmar Park and Horseshoe Pond in the Bear Creek Greenbelt. A city spokeswoman said people and pets should stay out of the water.

    Sloan’s Lake in Denver tested positive for blue-green algae in July. It’s being monitored and signs have been posted warning people to keep pets out of the water. Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment said it has tested three other lakes for cyanotoxins and tests came back negative, but that could change.

    Quincy Reservoir in Aurora had elevated levels of toxic algae earlier this month. Greg Baker with Aurora Water said the city applied an algaecide or non-toxic pesticide to kill the algae but wouldn’t impact the fish. He said toxicity levels have reduced dramatically in the past week and officials want to reopen the reservoir in the next couple of weeks. The reservoir is not used for drinking water so Aurora’s water system wasn’t impacted.

    Faversham Lake in Westminster was tested last week for toxic algae. Erin Stewart, an aquatic biologist with SOLitude Lake Management, the agency overseeing the lake, said rain helped clear the algae since the samples were collected. Even when test results come back, they’ll reflect what was in the lake a week ago and not its current condition…

    The only sure way to know if there is toxic algae in a lake is for it to be tested.

    Blooms are more likely in lower elevations with warmer air temperature and urban areas, where there is more nutrient runoff.

    CDPHE recommends people contact the agency that monitors the waterbody for testing if they’re concerned about harmful algae…

    Keep your pets away and don’t ingest the water

    It’s best for you, your pets and livestock to stay out of water if it looks questionable. Do not drink the water. Avoid boating where the algae is and clean fish caught in the water thoroughly. Ingesting the water can be deadly for animals.

    #Mexico water supply shortages loom

    Map via WorldAtlas.com

    From AZBigMedia.com (Victoria Harker):

    Mexico is one of a growing list of countries deemed most at risk of hitting “Day Zero” when they no longer have enough water to meet citizen needs, according to a new report by global research organization, World Resources Institute (WRI).

    The nonprofit institute categorized countries into five different levels according to their relative risk of consuming all of their water resources, ranging from “Low Baseline Water Stress” to “Extremely High Baseline Water Stress.”

    Mexico is one of 44 countries – representing one-third of the world’s population – that fall into the second-highest category, “High Baseline Water Stress,” meaning that the nation consumes between 40 and 80 percent of the water supply available in a year.

    Fifteen states in the northern and central part of Mexico fall within the “Extremely High” category, meaning they are withdrawing more than 80 percent of their available supply.Among them are some of Arizona’s closest neighbors: Sonora, Chihuahua, Baja California Sur.

    Arizona impacted by Mexican water woes

    That’s of concern to Arizona. If trends continue, this suggests that one of the world’s biggest water crises could happen at the state’s southern door.

    “Along the U.S.-Mexico border, there are significant issues with water use and they involve, particularly in Mexico, aging water infrastructure that is delivering water or treating wastewater,” said John Shepard, senior director of programs for the nonprofit Sonoran Institute in Tucson that raises funding and leads projects to protect fresh water and treat wastewater in border communities and in the massive Colorado River Delta.

    The Sonoran Institute has raised funding and support to revive former wetlands through projects like the Las Arenitas Wastewater Treatment Plant in border town, Mexicali, Mexico, where new wetlands have been established adjacent the plant and act as a natural bio filter to improve the quality of wastewater.

    That wastewater also is being used to revive rivers like the Santa Cruz and Hardy, a tributary of the Colorado RIver.

    Nogales wastewater pipeline next on list to fix

    Another goal is to raise funding to replace the 8.5-mile sewer pipeline that spills sewage from Mexico into Arizona. At one point the stink caused Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to declare a brief state of emergency.

    The pipeline, called the International Outfall Interceptor, takes sewage from the small Arizona city of Nogales and the adjacent manufacturing city of Nogales in Sonora, Mexico, to the Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant in Rio Rico, Arizona. Millions of gallons flow to the plant each day that are discharged into the Santa Cruz river.

    Leaking like a sieve

    In Mexico, many water problems are the result of decaying water and wastewater infrastructure.

    Mexico City, whose severe water issues come from being built in a valley that has no above water resources. The vast majority of water is stored in an underground aquifer. Leaks and breaks in the water and wastewater systems are causing a massive water loss, including an estimated 40 percent of drinking water.