Governor Polis & Ag. Commissioner Greenberg Request CARES Act Funds for @Colorado from @USDA

Center, Colorado, is surrounded by center-pivot-irrigated farms that draw water from shrinking aquifers below the San Luis Valley. Photo credit: Google Earth

Here’s the release from the Colorado Department of Agriculture:

Gov. Jared Polis and Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on April 9, 2020 requesting he consider the vital contributions and current needs of Colorado agriculture in the distribution of funds available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act is the federal stimulus Congress recently approved.

“In Colorado, we have come together in bipartisan leadership to show our shared commitment to all who grow and raise food, steward land and water, and keep our rural economies strong. This includes the farmers, ranchers, farmworkers, truck drivers, distributors, processors, retailers, and everyone in between who works to provide American consumers with the highest quality food, fuel, and fiber products in the world. We stand united in our vision of and commitment to a prosperous future for all who work in the Colorado food and agriculture industry,” Governor Polis and Commissioner Greenberg wrote.

The letter highlighted the importance of leveraging economic relief and support in Colorado for:

  • Livestock producers
  • Marketing programs for specialty crops and local food systems
  • Conservation programs
  • Industrial hemp and biofuel producers
  • Farmworkers, family farms, small businesses and independent operators
  • Rural healthcare and mental health programs
  • Farm Service Agency loans, rural broadband and food access
  • The letter also requested that funding be made available through block grants provided directly to states, territories, and tribes. In addition to providing immediate relief to independent local producers, grant funds would also be invested in agricultural market opportunities and local food systems across the food and agriculture supply chain.

    “We are grateful for your ongoing partnership and look forward to strengthening that in the weeks and months ahead. In particular, our Colorado Department of Agriculture is ready and able to partner with you in our joint effort of serving all of Colorado agriculture, our rural communities, and ultimately all who eat,” the letter concludes.

    USDA is finalizing its approach to disbursing $15 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) relief funds and $9.5 billion in relief funds authorized by Congress as part of the CARES Act.

    Click here to view the letter.

    Press Release: Statement on the Bureau of Reclamation’s April 24-Month Study — Arizona Water News

    PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Doug MacEachern or Shauna Evans April 16, 2020 PHONE: 602.771. 8507 or 602.771.8079 Statement on the Bureau of Reclamation’s April 24-Month Study PHOENIX – The […]

    via Press Release: Statement on the Bureau of Reclamation’s April 24-Month Study — Arizona Water News

    @USBR Forecasts “Tier Zero” Shortage On #ColoradoRiver — KNAU #COriver #aridification #runoff #DCP

    From KNAU (Melissa Sevigny):

    The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its projections for the Colorado River’s water supply for the next two years. Spring and summer inflow to Lake Powell is expected to be 78 percent of average, due to dry conditions last fall. Lake Mead is projected to fall into “Tier Zero” conditions for 2021 and 2022. That’s a new designation under the Drought Contingency Plan which requires Arizona, Nevada and Mexico take cuts in their water supply. Arizona’s reduction of nearly two hundred thousand acre-feet of water will come from the Central Arizona Project, the canal that serves Phoenix and Tucson. The Tier Zero reduction will affect CAP’s water banking program and agricultural customers, but not cities or tribes.

    Upper Colorado, Great, Virgin River Basins: 2018 April-July forecast volumes as a percent of 1981-2010 average (50% exceedance probability forecast)

    @USBR Prepares for Below Average #Runoff in the #RioGrande #snowpack

    Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Mary Carlson):

    On the heels of a banner water year on the Rio Grande, water managers are again preparing to manage through drought as a below average runoff is expected this spring based on the current snowpack in the mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

    The Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released their Annual Operating Plan for the Rio Grande today showing below average runoff. While the amount of water in the snowpack (snow water equivalent) measured in the mountains feeding the river was close to average in March, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) warns that runoff may be below average as a result of low soil moisture levels resulting from a dry fall in 2019.

    At the end of March, snow water equivalent was 81 percent of average for the Rio Chama Basin, 93 percent of average for the Upper Rio Grande Basin, 105 percent for the Sangre de Cristos, and 57 percent for the Jemez. Based on these values, the NRCS April streamflow forecast predicts that Rio Chama flow into El Vado Reservoir will be 56 percent of average with an inflow of about 125,000 acre-feet of water. Water is stored in El Vado for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and to meet the needs of the Six Middle Rio Grande Pueblos.

    Rio Grande Project storage is currently about 600,000 acre-feet and peaked at about 650,000 acre-feet at the beginning of March before declining as irrigation releases started. The forecast shows that combined usable project storage in Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs is likely to fall below 400,000 acre-feet in late June. This triggers restrictions under the Rio Grande Compact that limit storage in upstream reservoirs such as El Vado.

    The Annual Operating Plan public meetings were held by WebEx this year in accordance with federal and state health guidelines. Those who were not able to attend the meetings can still view the presentation on Reclamation’s website at or contact Mary Carlson at

    Westwide SNOTEL April 17, 2020 via the NRCS.

    #NISP update

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

    Save the Poudre has asked the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to reverse the water quality certification permit for the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

    The nonprofit that organized in 2004 in opposition of the reservoir project said it had 13 objections to the water quality permit, including criticisms of the mitigation plans as well as effects on streamflow…

    Aerial view of the roposed Glade Reservoir site — photo via Northern Water

    Northern Water has proposed the reservoir project on behalf of 15 water providers, who are relying on Glade and Galeton reservoirs to store water for their future supplies.

    The water in the reservoirs primarily would come from the Poudre River…

    The project requires three major permits — a record of decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which after more than a decade is expected later this year; a 1041 permit from Larimer County, which has public hearings scheduled this summer; and the water quality certification.

    Staff with the Colorado Water Quality Division granted the certification in January…

    The appeal alleges 13 violations of state regulations in the project, including that Northern Water has not yet secured all of the needed water rights, that the project does not take the effect of climate change into its streamflow levels and that mitigation will not occur until full buildout of the project and does not allow peak flows to flush the river and restore the riparian areas…

    Northern Water disputes the allegations made by Save the Poudre. The water district has repeatedly said that it has worked hard to mitigate any damage that may be caused by the project and that is has addressed streamflow.

    Conditions agreed upon in the water quality certification include extensive river monitoring and an adaptive management program “that will bring stakeholders together to work formally on the future of the Poudre River,” according to a statement released by Jeff Stahla, spokesman for Northern Water.

    “Northern Water and the NISP participants submitted extensive documentation in our application to demonstrate our commitment to high water quality in the Poudre River,” Stahla said in the statement. “That commitment will extend for decades through the conditions agreed to by NISP participants.”

    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.