Sports betting ballot question off to a slow start in early polling; backers raise $430,000+ for ads — @WaterEdCO

The broad priorities of the Colorado Water Plan as put forward by Becky Mitchell in a June 20, 2017 presentation to three Front Range roundtables. The slide reflects the competing priorities in Colorado when it comes to water and rivers.

From Water Education Colorado (Jerd Smith):

With just weeks left before the Nov. 5 election, a proposal that would legalize sports betting in casinos, then use the proceeds to help pay for water infrastructure and environmental programs, has yet to win widespread recognition from the public.

Backers say that could change this week with the launch of a wave of television ads touting Proposition DD, as the sports betting proposal is known.

As of Sept. 17, Yes on Proposition DD had raised more than $433,000, according to filings at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. It is money that analysts said could be enough to push it to a successful vote in November. The funds came from some Central City casinos, a New York-based gaming company, FanDuel, and the Environmental Defense Fund, among others.

But much work remains to be done to educate voters on what the measure would accomplish, backers said.

“It’s not a slam dunk,” said Colorado House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, who was a sponsor of the bill that referred the measure to the ballot so that voters could weigh in. “There’s a lot on the line here.”

As written, DD would impose a 10 percent tax on sports betting in casinos and dedicate the tax revenue to helping fund the Colorado Water Plan, launched at the end of 2015. Initial estimates by the legislature indicate DD could raise $10 million to $20 million a year to go toward implementing the water plan. The money would flow into a new fund overseen by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). It could be used for a variety of purposes, including water-saving programs for cities and farms, habitat restoration programs, storage projects, and legal and planning work.

Since 2015, the CWCB has financed the water plan using income derived from severance taxes, the state’s general fund and other sources. Those amounts have varied widely, with the state setting aside $30 million this year, up from $5 million in 2015, according to the CWCB.

Even as lawmakers were sending Proposition DD to the ballot, another group, For the Love of Colorado, was examining ways to secure even more funding for water projects. It hopes to sponsor a second statewide ballot initiative in future years, say in 2020 or 2021, that would raise far more than DD will generate.

They look at DD as a sort of down payment on the $3 billion in additional funding the state has previously estimated it needs to fully implement the water plan between now and 2050, including projects to protect streams and rivers even as new water supply projects are developed to meet looming shortages.

“Tax measures are really hard in Colorado,” said Brian Jackson, a western water specialist with the Environmental Defense Fund and a key architect of DD. “They all die, even for things people care deeply about — roads, children, education. But DD is an opportunity that couldn’t be missed, so we’re not missing it. It’s a good down payment. But we have a lot of hard work to do.”

Key among the tasks backers must accomplish is to clarify, despite ballot language that describes a statewide increase in taxes, that the measure would actually raise taxes only on casinos who implement sports betting programs, Garnett said.

Polls conducted last month in Adams County by pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli showed 40 percent of likely Adams County voters supported the measure, with 42 percent opposing it and 18 percent undecided.

Gary Wockner, founder of Save the Colorado, is chair of the issue committee opposing DD. In an email, Wockner said his group would battle any effort that raises money for environmentally damaging water projects.

“We oppose DD because it would pay for new river-destroying dams and diversions,” Wockner said in an email. Coloradans for Climate Justice, as the anti-DD campaign is known, also states on its Facebook page that it sees DD as a tax on Coloradans to pay for damage caused by climate change on the state’s river systems, and that “if taxes are to be raised, they should be raised on entities which caused climate change, principally the fossil fuel corporations.”

Ciruli and others said that Coloradans for Climate Justice will have difficulty defeating DD without cash to launch a statewide opposition movement. The committee had not raised any money according to its last finance filing. Wockner did not respond to a question regarding his committee’s fundraising to date.

With campaign coffers full, DD could get a yes from Coloradans, Ciruli said.

“The public, over the years, has demonstrated that water is very valued and the water plan itself was popular,” Ciruli said. “Right now, beyond extreme environmental interests, [DD] isn’t generating much opposition. It could be a good sell.”

Jerd Smith is editor of Fresh Water News. She can be reached at 720-398-6474, via email at jerd@wateredco.org.

Basalt applies flood mitigation lessons learned in August flash flood — The Aspen Times

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

Lessons learned from an Aug. 4 flash flood on the south side of Basalt Mountain educated a consortium of governments on what needed to be done to try to avoid a repeat performance.

A contractor for the town of Basalt is working at the intersection of Cedar Drive and Pinon Drive in the Hill District to better handle water spilling out of the Lake Christine burn scar…

He credited the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a federal agency, for looking at the road intersection and adapting a flood mitigation plan. The NRCS had to sign off on all work performed after the federal government awarded a $1.23 million Emergency Watershed Protection Program grant earlier in the year to Basalt, Eagle County and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Basalt via Panoramio

Aspinall Unit operations update: Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs

Gunnison River Basin. By Shannon1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69257550

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from the Aspinall Unit will be increased by 200 cfs, today, September 30th. Releases will be decreased by 200 cfs late Friday, October 4th. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future.

Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1050 cfs for September through December.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are 1040 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will increase to 800 cfs today. At the end of this week Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be 1040 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will return to 600 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.

#SouthPlatte Forum, October 23-24, 2019, keynote speakers announced

The upper South Platte River, above the confluence with the North Fork of the South Platte. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Click here for all the inside skinny. Click here to register. From email from the South Platte Forum:

We are honored to have over twenty expert and informative speakers joining us this year at The Westin for the 30th anniversary South Platte Forum on October 23rd and 24th.

Among our many illuminating speakers, we are thrilled to announce our 2019 keynotes.

5 of our favorite photos of Colorado’s fall colors — News on TAP

Beautiful colors this time of year remind us just how lucky we are to live, work and play in the Rockies. The post 5 of our favorite photos of Colorado’s fall colors appeared first on News on TAP.

via 5 of our favorite photos of Colorado’s fall colors — News on TAP

Managing #stormwater and stream #restoration projects together — Phys.org

The City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department (OSMP) has begun a major restoration project that will improve native fish habitat in Boulder Creek and restore natural areas surrounding the creek. This ecological project also will repair damage from the 2013 floods by returning Boulder Creek to its pre-flood channel, and will include the planting of more than 11,000 native trees and shrubs. These plantings will help improve the creek’s sustainability and resiliency, and help mitigate damage to private and public property during future floods. These efforts are occurring in two areas east of Boulder. Photo credit the City of Boulder.

Click here to read the report (paywall). Here’s the abstract:

Urbanization alters the delivery of water and sediment to receiving streams, often leading to channel erosion and enlargement, which increases loading of sediment and nutrients, degrades habitat, and harms sensitive biota. Stormwater control measures (SCMs) are constructed in an attempt to mitigate some of these effects. In addition, stream restoration practices such as bank stabilization are increasingly promoted as a means of improving water quality by reducing downstream sediment and pollutant loading. Each unique combination of SCMs and stream restoration practices results in a novel hydrologic regime and set of geomorphic characteristics that interact to determine stream condition, but in practice, implementation is rarely coordinated due to funding and other constraints. In this study, we examine links between watershed-scale implementation of SCMs and stream restoration in Big Dry Creek, a suburban watershed in the Front Range of northern Colorado. We combine continuous hydrologic model simulations of watershed-scale response to SCM design scenarios with channel evolution modeling to examine interactions between stormwater management and stream restoration strategies for reducing loading of sediment and adsorbed phosphorus from channel erosion. Modeling results indicate that integrated design of SCMs and stream restoration interventions can result in synergistic reductions in pollutant loading. Not only do piecemeal and disunited approaches to stormwater management and stream restoration miss these synergistic benefits, they make restoration projects more prone to failure, wasting valuable resources for pollutant reduction. We conclude with a set of recommendations for integrated planning of SCMs and stream restoration to simultaneously achieve water quality and channel protection goals.

From Phys.org (Susan V. Fisk):

Both stormwater control and stream restoration are proven ways to reduce erosion along water channels. Often, though, each method is managed by a different urban land-management department, measuring different success values. Efforts are rarely coordinated due to funding and other constraints.

Rod Lammers and his colleagues at the University of Georgia looked at some computerized models to see if coordinating these land management practices with common goals might have a greater positive impact on erosion. The good news? It does.

First, let’s take a look at why stormwater management systems are necessary. In nature, precipitation falls onto forests, prairies and other soil-based areas. The water is soaked into the soil, down into the water table, and out into water bodies. Eventually, through evaporation, that water gets back into the atmosphere—until the next precipitation event.

In cities, though, pavement, rooftops, and other structures break the water cycle. City managers and engineers develop stormwater management systems to collect and move water in long tunnels, under buildings, and out to waterways. The more impermeable structures and the larger the area, the more complex the system must be…

Because this stormwater hasn’t been able to take advantage of soils’ natural ability to clean water, the water can be filled with sediment, and undesirable nutrients. These can take a toll on the stream habitats and harm sensitive ecosystems downstream. In addition, the larger runoff volumes and higher and more frequent peak flows can lead to stream bank erosion. The UGA study only looked at sediments and nutrients coming from the soil eroded in the channels.

Lammers and his team looked at newer stormwater management approaches, called green infrastructure. These types of structures attempt to allow more water to soak into the soil like a natural system. “We are essentially trying to ‘restore’ the city to a more natural water cycle,” says Lammers.

Each combination of stormwater controls and restoration projects results in its own improvements. However, “piecemeal approaches to stormwater management and stream restoration miss synergistic benefits,” says Lammers. “They make restoration projects more prone to failure, wasting valuable resources for pollutant reduction.”

Stormwater management programs often focus on peak flow rates of large, less frequent storms. They also attempt to removed suspended solids, as well and nitrogen and phosphorus.

Lammers’ team developed computerized models to predict the effects of three different stream restoration scenarios and three different stormwater treatment scenarios. Thus, there were scenarios with a combination of restoration and treatment techniques. Such an “experiment” in the field would take a long time and involve a lot of expense.

“Computer modeling is a powerful tool. We can test the relative success of different management approaches, over years or even decades,” says Lammers. “These results can then be used by agencies to help with their planning. Of course, modeling has its limitations. Monitoring the actual performance of stormwater practices and stream restoration is essential. They also have to adapt management approaches based on observed successes and failures.”

“Our results suggest that watershed-scale implementation of stormwater controls that reduce runoff volume is essential,” says Lammers. “The controls need to address a spectrum of storm sizes. This is a more effective approach for reducing channel erosion than stream restoration. Aggressive, early implementation may have resulted in even less pollution by avoiding erosion early on. Much like investing early in life leads to greater financial returns, early implementation of stormwater controls and restoration can result in greater water quality and channel stability benefits.”

“Stream restoration can complement effective stormwater treatment to reduce erosion and pollutant loading,” says Lammers. “However, these approaches should be coordinated to achieve the best results. In addition, stormwater controls have a much greater potential to reduce stream erosion than channel restoration. Cities need to address the root cause of erosion—the altered urban water cycle. That is more effective than only treating the symptoms by stabilizing the channel itself.”

Since this study was done in Colorado, future research could be done to apply similar approaches in different climates. Different rainfall patterns might result in different effectiveness of stormwater controls. Also, looking at different restoration strategies, like floodplain reconnection to reduce the velocity and erosive power of floods, would be interesting. Similarly, it would be useful to compare different stormwater control strategies, to see which perform best in different scenarios.

Weather forecast accuracy is at risk from 5G wireless technology, key lawmaker warns FCC, seeking documents — The Washington Post

Screen shot of Dorian Cone of Uncertainty September 4, 2019 4:00 AM EDT via the National Hurricane Center

From The Washington Post (Andrew Freedman):

The issue nears a turning point with an upcoming international meeting

A botched rollout of 5G technology, intended to revolutionize the way we communicate and usher in a new era of innovation, could paradoxically roll back some of these forecasting gains.

In a letter Monday to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the chairwoman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), expresses concern that we’re headed for such a scenario because of the potential interference of planned urban 5G networks with existing weather satellite sensors. The sensors, mounted aboard polar-orbiting satellites, are used to discern the presence and properties of water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere.

The letter, addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, calls for the FCC to provide the scientific evidence it is using to inform the commission’s negotiating position ahead of a key international telecommunications meeting. Johnson is seeking the information by Oct. 7 for the committee to review before the start of that meeting Oct. 28.

“It is imperative that U.S. federal agencies resolve this disagreement about out-of-band emission limits before we begin negotiations with international partners,” the letter states, referring to the limits that describe the amount of noise that 5G devices could be permitted to emit beyond 24 gigahertz.

The letter also, for the first time, releases two reports produced in the past year: one by NASA on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which operates satellites and contains the National Weather Service, and another by NOAA itself.

These highly technical analyses concluded that if deployed widely and without adequate restrictions, telecommunications equipment operating in the 24 GHz frequency band would bleed into the frequencies that NOAA and NASA satellite sensors also use, significantly interfering with the collection and transmission of critical weather data.

The NOAA report, for example, warns of a potential loss of 77.4 percent of data coming from microwave sounders mounted on the agency’s polar-orbiting satellites.

This issue has been percolating in scientific and communications policy circles for months but will come to a head in late October, when nations gather for the World Radiocommunications Conference in Egypt. That is when countries will agree to guidelines governing the use of the 24 GHz band of spectrum, which the FCC auctioned off for about $2 billion beginning this past March.

That auction went forward despite the warnings of NOAA and NASA leadership and the objection of the Commerce Department, NOAA’s parent agency, as well as the concerns of some on Capitol Hill.

Instead, after a breakdown in interagency negotiations, political leaders at the White House sided with the FCC and telecommunications industry in allowing the wireless spectrum auction to proceed, according to multiple people familiar with the process, dismissing the possible implications for weather forecasts.