The Water Information Program August/September 2019 Newsletter is hot off the presses #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Southwestern Water Conservation District Hires New Executive Director

Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD) is pleased to announce the confirmation of their new Executive Director, Frank Kugel.

Frank Kugel. Photo credit: Upper Gunnison River Conservancy District

Kugel was the General Manager of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District for almost 13 years, and is a registered Professional Engineer with a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Colorado – Denver. Frank was involved in construction engineering in the Denver area before joining the Colorado Division of Water Resources as a Dam Safety Engineer. He served in the Denver and Durango offices of DWR before moving to Montrose where he ultimately became Division 4 Engineer for the Gunnison, San Miguel and lower Dolores Basins. Frank joined the UGRWCD upon leaving DWR in 2006. He was a member of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable since its inception and chair of its Basin Implementation Planning Subcommittee.

WIP had a brief chat with Frank to give you a bit more information. Here are a few questions and answers from our conversation.

WIP: What experience and knowledge do you bring to the District?

Frank: I have been the General Manager of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District for the past 13 years. During that time I worked on local and statewide water issues and reported to an 11-member board. Prior to that, I was Division Engineer for Water Division 4, encompassing the Gunnison, San Miguel and lower Dolores River basins. As Division Engineer, I frequently attended SWCD board meetings and the SW seminar. Before that, I lived in Durango for 11 years while inspecting dams for the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

WIP: As the new Executive Director of SWCD, what is your vision for the district?

Frank: My vision as Executive Director is to build upon the many successes accomplished by the Southwestern Water Conservation District. I intend to work closely with the board of directors in developing policies that will help guide the district. Instream flows and drought contingency planning are two of the areas that could benefit from policy guidance.

WIP: What are some of your top priorities with/or within the district?

Frank: A top priority for me is to reach out to the local communities. I plan to attend a county commissioner meeting in each of the nine counties within my first year at the district. Working on Colorado River issues will also be a high priority.

WIP: What do you foresee being challenges?

Frank: Facing a future with reduced water supplies due to climate change, coupled with increasing population, is a challenge for all of Colorado. The Southwest District can play a lead role in educating our constituents about this pending gap between water supply and demand and how the District can mitigate its impact.

We welcome Frank Kugel to SWCD and wish him all the best in his new position!

Southwestern Water Conservation District Area Map. Credit: SWCD

@USBR selects 63 projects to receive $4.1 million to improve water efficiency and reliability

Dragon Line irrigation system. Photo credit:

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

The Bureau of Reclamation has selected 63 projects to receive a total of $4.1 million for small-scale water efficiency grants. The grants will help the water entities use water more efficiently and improve water supply reliability in the western United States.

“This WaterSMART program improves water conservation and reliability for communities throughout the West,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This cost-shared funding is providing an opportunity for these water providers and tribes to invest in using their water more efficiently.”

Projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington will receive funding. For example,

  • The Central Colorado Water Conservancy District in Greeley, Colorado, will receive $75,000 to install supervisory control and data acquisition devices on 120 irrigation wells in northeast Colorado.
  • The Pueblo of Zia in northern New Mexico will receive $70,320 to install 40 radio-read water meters at currently unmetered homes to access accurate water usage data.
  • The Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District in Quincy, Washington, will receive $23,130 to upgrade a turnout gate to an automated gate that will enable automatic adjustments to flows for more reliable water deliveries to farms.
  • Under this funding opportunity, applicants can request up to $75,000 in Reclamation funding and must contribute a non-federal cost-share of at least 50% of total project costs. Learn more at

    Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects are part of the WaterSMART Program. Through WaterSMART, Reclamation works cooperatively with states, tribes, and local entities as they plan and implement actions to increase water supply reliability through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts. Visit to learn more.

    #Drought news: In #CO and #Wy (and much of the SW) the #monsoon has been rather disappointing. 2- and 3-month SPIs are negative (dry), and precipitation shortages are common

    Click on a thumbnail graphic below 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 for the areas around and including Colorado:

    This Week’s Drought Summary

    The highlight of the week was intense and destructive Hurricane Dorian, with sustained winds of 185 mph and a central pressure as low as 911 mbs. Fortunately for the U.S. (as of Sep. 4), Dorian never made landfall along the Southeastern coast; however, while a Category 5 hurricane, it stalled over the northern Bahamas, devastating the islands of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama. For the most part, Florida dodged a Dorian disaster as the hurricane remained stalled over the northern Bahamas, slowly weakened, and finally drifted northward by the period’s end. Some rain bands from Dorian dropped 1-4 inches along Florida’s east coast. Puerto Rico also missed a direct hit from Dorian as it was strengthening into a hurricane to its east, although scattered convection did bring the island some welcome rain. Elsewhere, a series of cold fronts dropped southeastward out of Canada, bringing subnormal temperatures to most of the Nation east of the Rockies, and helping to prevent Hurricane Dorian from tracking westward and making landfall in Florida. The fronts brought light to moderate rain to the northern Plains, upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, and Northeast, while clusters of storms dumped occasionally moderate to heavy (2-6 inches) rains on parts of the south-central Great Plains, lower Missouri Valley, and Southeast. The Southwest monsoon made a partial comeback, bringing light showers to portions of southern Arizona, most of New Mexico, and southwestern Texas, but overall has been a disappointment. The Far West, with high pressure in control, was mostly dry and warm. Light to moderate showers fell along southern coastal Alaska, but it was not enough for any improvement. Meanwhile, increased rainfall across southern sections of the Big Island aided vegetative growth and diminished deficits, thus improvement was shown…

    High Plains

    Most of the High Plains experienced relatively dry and cool weather, but fortunately the few areas with dryness or drought (northern North Dakota and southwestern Kansas) received well-placed light to moderate rains. In North Dakota, a thunderstorm complex moved across the northern and eastern portions of the state on Day7, dropping 1-3 inches of rain over the D0-D2 area and effectively reducing dryness and drought by 1-category. 60- and 90-day precipitation anomalies were now close to zero, with only longer-term (6-months) deficits still lingering. In southwestern Kansas, 1-2.5 inches of rain fell across the eastern half of the D0-D1 areas, greatly reducing its coverage. In north-central Montana, although precipitation was light (<0.25”) this week, the past several weeks brought light to moderate amounts, and after reassessing conditions at 60- and 90-days, D0 was removed as most indices were normal or moist. In Colorado and Wyoming (and much of the Southwest), after a wet and cold winter and spring, the summer monsoon has been rather disappointing. 2- and 3-month SPIs are negative (dry), and precipitation shortages are common. With this week’s unseasonable warmth, D0(Abnormally Dry) was added across a large portion of the Southwest (see below) to depict the poor summer rains…


    In the Southwest, the gradual winding down of the southwest monsoon usually occurs in late September. So far, the 2019 southwest monsoon has been mostly disappointing, with parts of Arizona and the Four Corners region experiencing their driest summer on record mostly due to the notable lack of monsoon rainfall. Hot and dry weather occurred this week, although some rains (0.5-2 inches) fell on southeastern Arizona and most of New Mexico. Across most of the region, SPIs are less than -1 at the 30-, 60-, and 90-day time scales. While the longer-term SPIs show better numbers, the short-term stresses are outweighing the long-term values. Evaporative demand has been greater than normal, and even though water supplies are still in good shape, reservoir levels are dropping quicker than usual for this time of year, and stream flows have declined. Therefore, with August SPEIs less than -1.5, 3-month (JJA) precipitation in the lower tenth percentile, little or no rain this week, and 1-week EDDI at D2 or worse, a large area of D0 was added to reflect this short-term dryness. In southwest Colorado and southeast Utah, D1 was added to depict areas that have reported record low JJA rainfall. In Arizona, D0 was expanded across southeastern sections while D1 slightly increased in central areas in response to low SPIs and increased 90-day deficits. For example, Flagstaff, AZ has only received 1.15” of rain since June 15 (driest on record) when 6.10” should have fallen by now, and several nearby stations (Prescott, Heber, Payson, Winslow) have also measured near-record low monsoon totals…


    While northeastern, southwestern, and southeastern Texas, most of Oklahoma, and northwestern Louisiana received widespread light to moderate rains (1 to 3 inches, locally to 6 inches), little or no rain fell on the Oklahoma Panhandle, southern and central Texas, northeastern Louisiana, and most of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Accordingly, a 1-category short-term deterioration was made in southern and central Texas, but improvement occurred in portions of central Oklahoma and northeastern Texas, including a 2-category improvement (D1 to nothing) where 3-6 inches of rain fell in the latter area. 7-day averaged USGS stream flows dipped below the tenth percentile (much below normal) in south-central Texas where D2 and D3 expanded. Although it was dry in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, prior surplus rainfall has left the soil moisture in good shape for now. An exception was in extreme southeastern Tennessee where D0 and D1 increased…

    Looking Ahead

    During the next 5 days (September 5-9, 2019), Hurricane Dorian will turn north, then northeastward and make a close pass (or landfall) along the Carolina coasts before accelerating quickly off the Northeast coast and into the northern Atlantic Ocean. Heavy rains, gusty winds, and high waves will pound the Carolina coasts, possibly dropping up to 15 inches of rain on coastal sections of South and North Carolina. Elsewhere, an active Southwest monsoon should drop scattered showers across the Four Corners region, while an active northern jet stream should bring light to moderate precipitation to the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies and Plains, western Corn Belt, and upper Midwest. Little or no rain is expected in California and southern Nevada, the southern half of the Plains, lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and eastern Ohio Valleys, eastern Great Lakes region, and central Appalachians. Temperatures should average above-normal across the southern two-thirds of the Nation and Northwest, and subnormal from the northern Plains eastward to the Northeast.

    The CPC 6-10 day outlook (September 10-14, 2019) favors above-normal odds for precipitation in the Southwest, across the northern third of the U.S., and most of Alaska, with diminished rain chances in the Southeast. Above-normal temperatures are expected east of the Rockies, except for subnormal readings favored in New England. West of the Rockies, below normal temperatures are likely in the Intermountain West. Alaska should continue to experience above-normal temperatures.

    US Drought Monitor one week change map ending September 3, 2019.

    @ColoradoClimate: Weekly #Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West

    Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

    Seven. Freaking. Hours: CNN bodyslammed America with climate coverage last night. Here’s what happened — Heated #ActOnClimate

    Click here to read the inaugural issue of Emily Atkin’s new newsletter, Heated. Here’s an excerpt:

    If you’ve followed my work at all for the last six years, you know that I frequently complain about the lack of climate coverage on major television news networks.

    So it’d be natural to assume I’d be happy today, the morning after CNN’s epic 7-hour Climate Crisis Town Hall, during which reporters and citizens probed the top 10 Democratic presidential candidates about the potential collapse of human civilization.

    Well guess what.

    I’m not happy.


    HEATED! AWWWW YEAAAH THAT’S RIGHT!!! WELCOME TO THE FIRST ISSUE!! *airhorn sounds* (I am so sorry).

    Welcome to HEATED, a newsletter for people who are pissed off about the climate crisis. This is a special pre-launch issue for all you wonderful nerds who signed up early. I can hardly believe it, but there are more than 8,000 of us already! Who says people don’t care about climate change??

    Daily, Monday through Thursday coverage begins officially on September 9th. If you like it, please forward it a friend—it would mean the world to me…

    Now let’s get to it!

    It was not so bad, actually.

    Maybe this is because I’m a cynical jerk, but I really thought CNN would mess this up.

    I’m old enough to remember when the network’s president Jeff Zucker said he intentionally avoided climate coverage because of the public’s “lack of interest” in the subject. And when CNN did cover climate change, it invited deniers on so often that Media Matters deemed the network a “national platform for false balance” on climate. Two years later, Media Matters also reported that CNN aired advertisements for the fossil fuel industry five times more often than climate-related news. And in 2018, there was one week where three separate CNN guests claimed that climate change was a vast conspiracy to enrich climate scientists.

    So I was shocked at how productive Wednesday night’s town hall was. The moderator’s questions, for the most part, were tough and in line with the science. The outside questioners the network brought in were youthful, diverse and engaging. Both moderators and candidates called out the fossil fuel industry repeatedly for delaying climate action and spreading misinformation.

    And most importantly…

    It was a climate accountability bonanza.

    On Wednesday night, every single Democratic presidential candidate was asked at least one question that attempted to hold them accountable for controversial decisions they’ve made, or questionable positions they’ve taken regarding the most existential threat of our time.

    Click through and sign up for the newsletter.