Paper: The Risk of Curtailment under the #ColoradoRiver Compact #COriver #aridification

Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives

Click here to read the paper (Anne Castle and John Fleck). Here’s the abstract:

Water supply in the Colorado River could drop so far in the next decade that the ability of the Upper Colorado River Basin states – Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico – to meet their legal obligations to downstream users in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico would be in grave jeopardy.

Legal institutions designed nearly a century ago are inadequate to address the significant risk of shortfall combined with uncertainty about whose water supplies would be cut, and by how much.

This report indicates that declines in the Colorado River’s flow could force water curtailments in coming decades, posing a credible risk to Colorado communities and requiring serious consideration of insurance protection like demand management.

Protecting your water rights — White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts

White River Basin. By Shannon1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69281367

From the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts (Callie Hendrickson) via The Rio Blanco Herald-Times:

To date, there has not been a call on the White River. Therefore, the community has enjoyed the benefits of a “free river,” meaning it has not been under administration by the state. However, we are seeing more and more demand for Colorado’s precious water resource. Agriculture and other consumptive uses that rely on the Colorado River and its tributaries feel a target on their back as the thirsty cities continue to grow in Colorado and other states. Unfortunately, irrigated agriculture is the easiest and cheapest source of additional water for those that don’t understand the multiple benefits agriculture water provides. All Coloradans and visitors benefit from agriculture providing food, fiber, wildlife habitat, environmental benefits and open spaces.

Therefore, the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts have been looking for opportunities to help Rio Blanco County ag producers protect their water rights. We have held multiple water seminars in the county and will continue to do so to ensure producers can learn, ask questions, and provide input to attorneys and others involved in water policies.

District 43 (Rio Blanco County) Lead Water Commissioner Shanna Lewis met with the Douglas Creek Conservation District Board to answer questions regarding how producers can ensure their water usage is being recorded at the state. If the state does not have record of your water usage, your water right could be in jeopardy. Currently, Lewis is the only water commissioner working in White River Basin and she is working diligently to record water use.

As the irrigation season comes to a close, Lewis will begin entering water use data into the state’s data system in November and December. She will enter the information she has collected and the information that is submitted by the water user. Therefore, it is imperative for all water users to submit their water usage to Lewis by November 15 each year. If you do not have a measuring device, report the dates you turn your water on and off. If you do have a measuring device, report the amount you are diverting throughout the year. Indicate if you are using the water for irrigation and/or for livestock watering and when there are changes in the amount diverted. The more accurate your records and reporting to the state, the more protection for your water right.

How do you report your data to the water commissioner? Lewis will accept your data via email, mail and/or text. Visit the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts’ website at http://www.WhiteRiverCD.com and click on the “Water tab” for a form provided by the State Division of Water Resources that can be filled out and submitted via email to shanna.lewis@state.co.us or mail to P.O. Box 1388, Meeker, Colorado, 81641, attention Shanna Lewis. Or, send text messages as you turn water on and off and she will record your information. Her cell phone number is 970-439-8008. Please call Lewis with any questions and/or if you would like her to verify your measuring device, diversion structure or recorded usage. She is eager to help you.

Also note that taking a picture showing the water level on your measuring device is a great way to provide proof of the amount of water you are diverting. Most cell phones will document the date the picture was taken. Lewis welcomes you to either send her the pictures at the time you take them or send them all at the end of the irrigation season. This is a great way to assist the water commissioner in her documenting of your water use. Be sure to keep copies of all your records and pictures.

Additionally, the Conservation Districts encourage you to also review the state’s website to see what is recorded for your diversion structure. You can access that site through the Districts’ website noted above.

Remember, the best way you can protect your water right is to submit your water usage to the commissioner by Nov. 15.

San Juan County, #NewMexico falls back into severe #drought status after hot, dry summer — The Farmington Daily Times

West Drought Monitor November 5, 2019.

From The Farmington Daily Times (Mike Easterling):

  • The Four Corners region is locked in a severe drought, making it one of the driest parts of the United States.
  • San Juan County is once again the driest part of New Mexico.
  • A National Weather Service meteorologist said conditions could improve later this month.
  • The moisture-packed start to the year that culminated with a late-season snowstorm on May 20 is now a distant memory, with San Juan County now firmly locked in severe drought status again, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

    An exceptionally dry summer was the culprit, according to Brian Guyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

    “As we went through the summer, the monsoon flow never really impacted the Four Corners region at all,” he said.

    San Juan County is part of an area that includes most of southwest Colorado, southeast Utah and almost all of northern Arizona that has been classified as suffering from severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map. That makes the region one of the driest parts of the country.

    Only a handful of isolated patches of central and south Texas are in worse shape in the United States, with those areas having been designated as being in extreme drought — just one step above the worse classification of exceptional drought…

    As of Nov. 7, [total precipitation] stood at 6.23 inches, meaning [Farmington] has received only about three-quarters of an inch of moisture over the last five months. The normal year-to-date precipitation for Farmington on Nov. 7 is 9.37 inches, meaning the city is running more than 3 inches below normal…

    The monsoon season was beyond disappointing. Farmington received only 0.13 inches of precipitation in June, July and August, a fraction of what it normally receives during what historically is one of the wettest periods of the year…

    Those dry conditions were alleviated only marginally by the start of fall, as the city drew 0.39 inches in September and 0.17 inches in October…

    Moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions have been designated for most of the rest of New Mexico, with only the southwest corner escaping any negative status. But Guyer said the Four Corners is experiencing the driest conditions by far.