The Southern Nevada Water Authority is looking at investing in a S. #CA #reuse project in exchange for #ColoradoRiver water #COriver #aridification #ActOnClimate

Some Colorado River water users in 2020 will begin taking voluntary reductions to protect the water elevation level at Lake Mead. (Source: Bureau of Reclamation)

From The Nevada Independent (Daniel Rothberg):

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has expressed interest in helping finance a wastewater reuse project being pursued by Southern California’s municipal wholesale water provider.

The goal: To free up Colorado River water.

The concept looks something like this. If the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) could recycle a portion of its water, it could reduce its overall consumption of Colorado River water stored at Lake Mead. In turn, the water authority would help fund the project in exchange for additional water that MWD would be able to leave in the reservoir because of it.

Such a project is in the early stages, and it could take at least a decade to build out. Still, the water authority and MWD are actively discussing a potential partnership. John Entsminger, the water authority’s general manager, said he hoped there would be a preliminary deal next spring…

If the project moves forward, it would cost about $3.4 billion, recycling water for about $1,800 per acre-foot, Hasencamp said. It has not yet been determined what Nevada’s financial contribution would be. The project would still need to be approved by both the water district’s full board the MWD board.

The project is similar to other water-swapping proposals. Minute 323, a binational agreement between the United States and Mexico, tasked a working group with studying desalination plants. New supplies would allow Colorado River users to more easily exchange water at Lake Mead.

Why Lakes and Rivers Should Have the Same Rights as Humans

Water is essential to life. Yet in the eyes of the law, it remains largely unprotected — leaving many communities without access to safe drinking water, says legal scholar Kelsey Leonard. In this powerful talk, she shows why granting lakes and rivers legal “personhood” — giving them the same legal rights as humans — is the first step to protecting our bodies of water and fundamentally transforming how we value this vital resource.

Shavano Conservation District: The past and the present — The Montrose Press

Photo credit: Shavano Conservation District

Here’s a report from Michael Cox that’s running in The Montrose Press:

Prior to the Great World War (great only signifying size and intensity), one of the most productive pieces of land on the Western Slope of Colorado was regularly converted to a destructive river of Spring snow or Summer storm runoff from the Uncompahgre Plateau.

The Shavano (shav-a-no) Valley was named for a Ute Chief, and was either visited or inhabited by native peoples as early as 3,000 years ago. The Ute’s came about a thousand years ago. It was fine winter ground and in spring and summer the grass was lush, affording excellent feed for the tribe’s livestock.

American settlers came in the late 1800s and found the Valley to have the most fertile and easy-to-till soil in the area. There was also a bit of water from an artisian spring that feed a meandering creek. There is an excellent explanation for how the soil developed in the valley. In all probability, it was those regular floods that swept from the plateau and covered much of the Valley, at various times of the year, in water. Along with the water, the floods were depositing a new layer of silt to the already deep soil.

But enough is enough already. By the late 1930s and early 1940s the farmers in the Valley grew weary of rebuilding and reclaiming after the floods. The damage to their infrastructure was immense and included dead livestock, ruined roads, and lost homes. The locals tried some small diversions, dykes, and flood ways, which had only minimal effect. The task was tantamount to parting the sea, but Moses and his stick were nowhere nearby. Enter the Shavano Conservation District, a cooperative of farms and ranches joining together and forming the district with the idea of petitioning the Bureau of Reclamation to help put up some defenses against the floods.

“The farmers had figured out that they needed some serious diversion dams along the west side of the Valley,” says Mendy Stewart the Shavano District chief of education and communication. “But they had neither the tools nor the money to build them.”

In May of 1937, the Shavano Soil Conservation District (SSCD) was organized under the Colorado Soil Conservation District Act. By October of 1941, the intensifying world war not withstanding, the district plan got the nod from 111 landowners, representing 20,200 acres in Montrose County.

Eventually, two other smaller districts, the Uncompahgre and the Cimarron, joined the Shavano group – soil conservation became a way of life. Now the district covers 1.2 million acres in Montrose, Ouray, Gunnison and Delta counties. The Delta County segment is a tiny bit of acreage on the Montrose/Delta County line. In 2002 the District dropped the use of the word “soil” from the name as did other such entities across the country…

Eventually, with grants from the Bureau of Reclamation and using the equipment and manpower pool of the district, three diversion dams were built to stop the wild flow off the plateau and divert it into ditches. This kept the flood waters off the farm land and out of the homes and barns in the Valley.

The largest of the three dams is at the south head of the Valley and involves an earthen structure measuring more than a half mile from one end to the other. The spillway and some of the dam are concrete reinforced. The runoff from the Plateau collects behind the dam. The flow out of the pool is controlled and put into ditches, such as the M&D canal below the dam…

According to Stewart the list of things the SCD is involved in includes irrigation water management, flood control, technical assistance with conservation efforts, youth and adult environmental education, and special projects such as the Western Colorado Soil Health Conference. The 2020 conference is scheduled for February 20 and 21 at the Delta Center for the Performing Arts.

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

Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center. Here’s the summary:

Summary: December 23, 2019

The last week over the Intermountain West has been a fairly quiet one, with almost no precipitation falling throughout the region. Temperatures across the Upper Colorado River Basin were near to slightly cooler than average. Month-to-date, the higher elevations of the IMW have received between 1 and 3 inches of precipitation, with the lower elevations mostly getting less than half an inch. This is a pretty normal pattern for this time of year, although most areas are a bit drier than average for the month. Despite that, 30 and 60 day SPIs look pretty good for the entire region, with some drier 60-day SPIs creeping into northwest Wyoming.

SNOTEL snowpack for the Intermountain West is off to a good start, with basin-wide averages ranging from near average in western WY to almost 200% of average in southern Utah. Individual SNOTEL sites in western WY are struggling a bit, but Utah and Colorado snowpack are in good condition.

Following this quiet week, there is good news on the horizon, with decent precipitation amounts forecasted over the next 7 days, especially focused in some drier spots. The southern half of Arizona is forecasted to get between 1 and 3 inches over the next week. Eastern New Mexico and into southeast CO are also expected to get over 1 inch of moisture. Most of the higher elevations should be able to get in on some of the activity as well. Unfortunately, Wyoming looks to miss out on the bigger accumulations.

Warm temperatures will dominate the region through Christmas, with cooler than average temperatures coming after the holiday. Climate Prediction Center shows a higher possibility of cooler than average temperatures continuing into the new year.

Statewide basin-filled snowpack map December 26, 2019 via the NRCS.

Gunnison County Board meeting recap #DCP #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

The Crystal River on Sept. 18, 2018. Photo by John Herrick.

From The Crested Butte News (Katherine Nettles):

Colorado River Water Conservation District (CRWCD) board member Bill Trampe spoke to the county commissioners this past fall on behalf of the neighboring river district. Kathleen Curry, the chairman of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable, also spoke with commissioners during that meeting.

Trampe reported that the transfer of ownership of Wolford Mountain reservoir near Kremmling in Grand County occurs on January 1, 2020. “So at that point in time Denver Water gets 40 percent of the ownership,” he said.

Trampe said demand management and drought contingency planning is always front and center for the board, and said the board is frustrated with the state process moving forward and its slowness putting the nine working groups involved in the state water planning process (Colorado’s Water Plan) to work…

Trampe described issues relating to water resource demand management, with “interests” on the Western Slope trying to make deals with Front Range entities.

Trampe said the district felt that individual groups making those deals could lead to a lot more “working the market and eventual condemnation rather than purchase—meaning condemnation by force rather than a deal between parties. If condemnation starts, I think that’s going to ruin everything.”

The solution, he said, is to work together with Western Slope entities and keep a strong base in the river district to negotiate more collectively. “If there’s one pot of money under state control to pay for demand management, then that’s the way it ought to be. There shouldn’t be individual groups out there doing their own thing.”

County commissioner John Messner asked if there’s been discussion among river districts about a de-Gallagherizing measure to open up current tax funding constraints. De-Gallagherizing refers to ballot measures that freeze the residential property tax rate as a way to stabilize budgets of rural governments.

Messner asked if the CRWCD has an opinion on whether a measure will address special districts such as this one.

“We considered a ballot issue for this fall, but didn’t think we were ready,” replied Trampe. He said the reason to wait was to start more outreach to the public in terms of what the districts are and what they do beforehand. He said the districts are hoping to do this in 2020.

“Whether it’s de-Gallagherization, or TABOR issues, we’re still trying to decide. But yes, we’re going to do something. We’ve got to do something,” he said.

Looking to support a water survey on the Crystal River basin

Commissioner Jonathan Houck reported that during a fall Gunnison Basin Roundtable meeting, members discussed the Upper Crystal River watershed at length.

That watershed has an application in with the state to conduct a water study, because the 2018 drought demonstrated that several subdivisions in that basin, some of which are in Gunnison County, had no water plan or storage without the Crystal River’s regular flow.

The Water Supply Reserve Fund (WSRF) is managing that application, and the Gunnison Roundtable considered and ultimately decided on drafting a letter of support…

Curry noted that a project in a different river basin asking an adjacent roundtable to write a letter is “a little out of the ordinary. So that threw our roundtable a little bit, wondering if that was even the right role. But I put it on our agenda since, if it involved looking at storage feasibility near Marble, in Gunnison County, I thought [commissioners] might be interested in that,” said Curry.

Houck responded that the county should send a message as well. “We want to see good, thoughtful water planning per all residents within the county. Due to the size and geography of our county we actually span two watersheds. And it’s important for us to advocate for that but understand that the funding needs to come from the appropriate basin,” he said…

Last, Curry said that the roundtable is preparing to submit a Basin Implementation Plan (BIP) in contribution to Colorado’s Water Plan, and that will include an updated project list. “This is our opportunity to change our project list,” she suggested, with additions or deletions as appropriate. The roundtable formed a subcommittee to begin the process, and its first meeting was this fall.

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

@USDA Invests in Drinking #WaterQuality and #Wastewater Management for 784,000 Rural Residents and Businesses in 42 States

Did you know that Leadville’s water system is the OLDEST in the state? Back in Leadville’s early “boom” days the pipes were soldered with silver, not metal! There was more silver than metal available back then. Photo: Parkville Water District.

Here’s the release from the USDA (Jay Fletcher/Weldon Freeman):

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy [on November 19, 2019] announced that the department is investing $635 million in 122 projects (PDF, 315 KB) to improve water systems and wastewater handling services in rural communities in 42 states. USDA is funding the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.

“These investments will bring reliable infrastructure to rural communities. They will replace old, fragile, leaking water pipes with new ones and allow upgrades to water handling systems that are decades old, boosting water pressure and cutting water losses. Working with our partners, these investments create jobs and improve public health and safety,” LaVoy said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their infrastructure, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The projects announced today are in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Eligible applicants include rural cities, towns and water districts. The funds can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities that meet population limits.

Below are examples of water and wastewater projects in rural communities that will receive funding:

  • The city of Amity in northwest Oregon will use a $1.6 million loan and a $1.7 million grant to upgrade the municipal water system, which can no longer reliably provide the volume of clean drinking water the community needs. The investment will be used to improve the water treatment intake system. Additionally, larger pumps will be installed in reservoirs and at the water treatment plant.
  • The Forest Park Tenants’ Association Cooperative in Jaffrey, N.H., will use a $2 million loan and a $1.4 million grant to make water, wastewater and stormwater improvements at a 116-unit housing park. The current system no longer works properly, causing water loss and frequent sewage line blockages. All water mains and a section of the sewer main will be replaced, and a stormwater management system will be installed. The project also includes roadway improvements that will be funded through a Community Development Block Grant.
  • Starke, Fla., will use an $8.8 million loan and a $7.8 million grant to improve the city’s wastewater treatment facility, which is more than 40 years old. System improvements will correct health and sanitary issues and improve service to 2,331 customers.
  • View the interactive RD Apply tool or contact one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices for application or eligibility information.

    In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

    To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

    USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov.

    No rate increases for Clifton in 2020, tap fees will increase

    F Road (US Highway 6) in Clifton looking toward Grand Mesa. By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25479675

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dan West):

    The Clifton Water District will not be raising water rates in 2020 District Manager Dale Tooker announced Thursday, but it will raise its tap fee for its most popular-size pipe by $500…

    While the district has seen expenses rise, it has been able to keep its water rate level since 2016, Tooker said, at $22 for the first 3,000 gallons. The tap fees don’t go toward operations, Tooker said, but are used for capital projects…

    One major way the district has been able to reduce its costs is by identifying and replacing its oldest water lines, Tooker said. Replacing lines before they break and leak is much more cost effective, Tooker said. Replacing an old line before it is leaking is around 30% less expensive than doing so after a leak, Tooker said…

    Tooker said the district was increasing its tap fee, the amount it charges to add a new customer to the district, to reflect the increased cost to the district.

    The new fee will be $7,500 for a 3/4-inch by 5/8-inch water tap, which is the most common size tap in the district, Tooker said. All other tap fees will remain the same.

    Tooker said, while the district could ask voters to authorize a property tax to go toward sewer operations, the Clifton District has managed to operate for nearly four decades without relying on tax money.