The Water Information Program September 2020 Newsletter is hot off the presses

Mancos and the Mesa Verde area from the La Plata Mountains.

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

The Southwestern Water Conservation District (“District”), based in Durango, Colorado, is seeking candidates for the General Manager position. The District was created by Colorado statute in 1941 to lead in the protection, conservation, use and development of the water of the San Juan and Dolores River basins for the welfare of the District, and to safeguard for Colorado all waters of the basin to which the state is entitled. The District encompasses all of La Plata, Montezuma, Archuleta, San Juan, San Miguel and Dolores counties and parts of Montrose, Hinsdale and Mineral counties. The District has a nine-member board of directors with an appointee from each board of county commissioners.

The General Manager serves as the chief executive and management official of the organization reporting directly to the District’s Board of Directors. The General Manager is responsible for all business operations (administrative, financial, technical and external affairs) and manages a small team of staff and contractors. The General Manager must be able to lead the team, delegate, and play to the strengths of others, and must possess strong oral and written communication skills and be capable of clearly communicating difficult issues with candor. The General Manager works collaboratively to bring together groups of diverse interests in complicated and sometimes contentious matters, and is expected to offer creative solutions to the Board that take into consideration the varying water-related priorities and perspectives of the District’s diverse constituency. The General Manager represents the District’s broad range of constituents and priorities at conferences, speaking engagements and on local, statewide, and national matters, as directed by the Board.

All application materials should be submitted electronically (PDF preferred) to generalmanager@swwcd.org by Friday, September 25, 2020 at 5:00 PM. Applicants are encouraged to apply promptly and are responsible for ensuring that application materials are received by the District before the closing date and time listed above.

For more information and full job desctiption go to: https://swwcd.org/about-us/careers/.

Pagosa Area Water & Sanitation District chooses contractor to rebuild Snowball water treatment plant — The Pagosa Springs Sun

Pagosa Springs Panorama. Photo credit: Gmhatfield via Wikimedia Commons

From The Pagosa Sun (Clayton Chaney):

At the most recent Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) meeting held on Sept. 10, the board of directors agreed to sign a new contract with SGM, an engineering and consulting firm based out of Durango, regarding the rebuilding of the Snowball water treatment plant.

Engineer Chad Hill spoke before the board on behalf of SGM. He outlined the company’s plans and ideas for rebuilding the Snowball water treatment plant.

Part of SGM’s plan includes a pretreatment study of the plant, which is already underway and should be done by the new year, according to Hill. Following the pretreatment phase, SGM will perform a pilot study on the plant. The pilot study is expected to start the last week of April and run through the first week of June or “longer if we need it to,” according to Hill.

The current Snowball plant was built in 1984 and, according to PAWSD Manager Justin Ramsey, is currently functioning properly. However, in a phone interview, Ramsey added that, “its like an old car, at some point we’re going to be spending more money than its worth to keep it running.”

Ramsey indicated that a main reason for rebuilding the plant is to expand its size.

At the meeting, Hill reassured board members that the project will be getting the “focus and at- tention that it deserves.”

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg Knew the Dark Elements in American History Never Die” — @CharlesPPierce

Justice: Ginsburg seated in her robe. By Supreme Court of the United States – Supreme Court of the United States (Source 2), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55329542

From Esquire (Charles P. Pierce):

The associate justice of the Supreme Court, whose career runs parallel to that of Justice Thurgood Marshall, is dead at 87

will remember her most for the umbrella in the rain.

It was 2013, and the Supreme Court was announcing its decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, the decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act and in which Chief Justice John Roberts declared the Day of Jubilee, writing:

Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically. Shelby County contends that the preclearance requirement, even without regard to its disparate coverage, is now unconstitutional. Its arguments have a good deal of force. In the covered jurisdictions, “[v]oter turnout and registration rates now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”
In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg measured Roberts for a feckless child who understands less about this country and its history than he knows about Sumerian calligraphy. She told him in no uncertain terms what his fanciful decision would mean in the real world.

“Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court’s opinion today. The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. … One would expect more from an opinion striking at the heart of the Nation’s signal piece of civil-rights legislation…Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

It was more than a clever metaphor, although clever it was. It was a statement of remarkable prescience, a statement from someone who knew that the dark elements in American history never die, but only sleep until the opportunity to wreak the old vengeances reveals itself again, as it almost always does. Justice Ginsburg fought those forces in the days when nobody even acknowledged their existence. Her career runs parallel to that of Justice Thurgood Marshall—two champions of freedom and equality who won great victories in front of a Court that they eventually were asked to join. It is a very small club. To join you need a will of iron, an unshakable granite commitment to principle, and a good measure of controlled, implacable ferocity. It is the ferocity that is the most important thing.

By all accounts, Justice Ginsburg was a boon companion, the late Antonin Scalia’s opera buddy, and a woman of great personal charisma. (On MSNBC Friday night, Hillary Rodham Clinton reminisced about how Justice Ginsburg essentially talked President Bill Clinton into nominating her to the Court by completely acing her face-to-face interview.) Her former clerks adored her. In an admirable demonstration of self-effacement, she thoroughly embraced her late-in-life persona as The Notorious RBG, even inviting camera crews in to watch her workouts. But, make no mistake, there was in Ruth Bader Ginsburg the soul and the heart of a terrifying opponent for the late rounds. In a remarkable string of victories before the Supreme Court in 1971, she forced the country to admit that, yes, the 14th Amendment’s guarantees covered women, too. This was a fight for a winter soldier and that was what it found in Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just as racial equality had found one in Thurgood Marshall. And she did it through broken ribs and five different fights with cancer.

The U.S. #drought vulnerability rankings are in: How does your state compare? — @NOAA

Drought Vulnerability Indexes 2020. Credit: NOAA

From NOAA (Alison Stevens):

If asked where in the United States is most vulnerable to drought, you might point to those states in the West currently suffering under hot and dry conditions and raging wildfires. However, according to a new NOAA-funded assessment, what makes a state vulnerable is driven by more than just a lack of rain: it’s a combination of how susceptible a state is to drought and whether it’s prepared for impacts. And the most and least vulnerable states could surprise you.

These maps show each state’s overall drought vulnerability (red) and how it ranks in the three individual categories that make up the score: sensitivity (blue), exposure (yellow-orange), and ability to adapt (purple). Darker colors show higher overall drought vulnerability and a greater degree of factors that increase the state’s vulnerability.

Sensitivity is the likelihood of negative economic impacts, which is based on the percentage of agricultural land, number of cattle, how much the state relies on hydropower, and recreational lakes. The exposure score reflects how often a state experiences drought and what assets, like the number of people and freshwater ecosystems, are at risk when it occurs. The ability to adapt score ranks how well the state can cope with and recover from drought, which depends on whether the state has a drought plan, how equipped it is to irrigate its land, and whether it is financially strong overall.

By this scoring system, the most vulnerable states are Oklahoma, Montana, and Iowa, while Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California are least vulnerable to drought. Oklahoma gets its high vulnerability score from having an outdated drought plan and limited irrigation (low ability to adapt), as well as extensive agricultural activities and cattle ranching (high sensitivity). Despite facing recurring multi-year droughts (relatively high exposure), California ranks very low in drought vulnerability. Thanks to a strong economy and well-developed adaptation measures, it’s better prepared for an extreme drought when it occurs than most other states.

On the East Coast, the region is generally less vulnerable than other areas, given its wetter climate and lack of farming—except for New Jersey. As the most densely populated state in the country (very high exposure), it gets the region’s highest vulnerability score.

By breaking down drought vulnerability into three components, this assessment can help decision makers identify what makes their state vulnerable for better planning. And, as the study shows, even states that receive lots of rain can still be vulnerable.

Though drought is one of the costliest natural hazards in the United States, there are actions states can take to become more resilient.

This research was led by Johanna Engström, Keighobad Jafarzadegan, and Hamid Moradkhani from the University of Alabama and funded in part by NOAA’s Climate Program Office through its Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projection (MAPP) program. The MAPP Program enhances our capability to understand, predict, and project variability and long-term changes in Earth’s climate system.