#Wyoming seeks to stall #Colorado’s exit from #coal-generated electricity — The Mountain Town News #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Tri-State’s Laramie River Station. Photo credit: Allen Best/The Mountain Town News

From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

Focus on Tri-State’s stake in Laramie River plant

In 2009, Wyoming was riding high on coal. It supplied the coal that provided roughly half the nation’s power generation. The trains out of the Powder River Basin were almost non-stop, delivering the sub-bituminous low-sulphur coal from Wyoming’s subterranean to plants as far as Florida.

The Sierra Club had mounted a campaign in which it made fun of coal as a “dirty fuel.” One striking video had a lively young couple in the upper bunk delighting in the company of one another, and in the lower bunk a more pudgy young man fondling lumps of coal.

Still, when I visited Gillette, the center of the Powder River Basin, in April 2009 for a story that was published in Planning magazine, I heard no evidence of great worry.

Renewables? Nice, but …

Since 2008, coal production in Wyoming has declined by about half. Employment in the mines fell 40% over the decade ending in 2020.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports more disturbing news yet for Wyoming’s coal economy. Coal production in last year’s final quarter dropped by over 20% across the Powder River Basin. And recently, in a span of less than three months, two mines in the basin announced plans to close.

A trio of bills introduced into the Wyoming Legislature seeks to stem this decline. The argument underlying the proposed laws is that coal-fired generation must remain to ensure grid reliability.

  • One bill soon to be given to Gov. Mark Gordon for his signing before becoming law takes sharp aim at Colorado legislators 100 miles to the south along Interstate 25. House Bill 207 earmarks $1.2 million for use by Wyoming’s governor and attorney general to potentially sue other states restricting the import or use of Wyoming coal.
  • The central nexus for this not-so-friendly fire is Laramie River Station, a coal-fired power plant located near Wheatland, which is 70 miles north of Cheyenne. Basin Electric Power Cooperative operates the 3-unit plant and had 42.27% ownership in 2018. Metro Denver-based Tri-State Generation & Transmission had 27.1% ownership.

    One unit sends power eastward, and power from the other two units is distributed in the Western grid—some of this to the 8 electrical cooperatives in Wyoming who are members of Tri-State, but more of it south into Colorado.

    This was published in the March 31, 2021, issue of Big Pivots, an e-magazine, and updated to reflect news from this morning. For a free subscription, go to http://BigPivots.com

    The bill was approved by the Wyoming House last week and by the Wyoming Senate on Wednesday afternoon. The Wyoming House Thursday morning concurred with the $1.2 million allocation by the Senate in a 36-24 vote.

    The authorization is described by a University of Chicago Law School professor who specializes in electricity and the grid as a “waste of money.”

    Two other bills appear to be directed at PacifCorp, the largest utility in Wyoming. Last year PacifCorp announced plans to close 2 of its coal-burning units at the Jim Bridger Power Plant near Rock Springs and the two remaining units of the Naughton plant near Kemmerer. It also operates the giant but aging Dave Johnston plant near Glenrock.

  • House Bill 166 would require utilities to take additional steps before they can receive approval from state regulators to retire aging coal or natural gas plants. That includes proving evidence that closing of the coal or natural gas plant would not threaten power reliability and would deliver “significant cost savings.”
  • House Bill 155 would task state regulators with analyzing how closing a coal or natural gas plant could affect grid reliability in Wyoming and nationwide before permission can be granted for retirement.
  • Grid reliability?

    Wyoming State Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, a freshman legislator from Wheatland and a sponsor of H.B. 207, explained his reasoning for why Wyoming needs more money allocated for lawsuits. In a recent legislative hearing, he cited Colorado’s 2019 legislation, although he didn’t get the details quite right. He said that Colorado requires Tri-State to meet 80% renewables by 2034. (Tri-State wasn’t required, but it has agreed to reduce its emissions 80% by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels).

    Jeremy Haroldson. Photo via The Mountain Town News

    “We can’t hold an 80% renewable portfolio with current technology,” he said, according to a transcript of the meeting provided to Big Pivots. “And this isn’t a wind or solar battle we’re talking about. This is a power technology issue that we are having a problem with, where if we don’t have a way to produce reliable energy, then we are finding ourselves in a place where we’re going to see lives potentially lost. And so out of that came House Bill 207.”

    The legal argument described by Haroldson is that Colorado’s decision about its power generation mix within Colorado constitutes a violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution when it has repercussions on power providers outside Colorado. He cited the precedent of North Dakota suing Minnesota over Minnesota’s requirements governing electrical power that extended to imported power.

    A U.S. District Court in 2016 struck down Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act limiting electricity from coal-fired sources from North Dakota because of violation of the dormant Commerce Clause provision of the U.S. Constitution. The case is somewhat complicated but was dissected in this review by a law school professor in this 2018 posting on Energy Central.

    Joshua Macey, an assistant professor at the Chicago Law School who specializes in energy law, is skeptical that Wyoming is spending its money wisely.

    “I don’t see any possible way that Wyoming is going to recover the money, that (a lawsuit) will succeed,” he told Big Pivots. “It is a waste of money.”

    Macey says he is intimately familiar about the court case in which North Dakota prevailed against Minnesota. An article that he co-authored called “The Federal Power Act’s Bright Line,” which was published in February by the Harvard Law Review, discusses that case at length.

    In the Minnesota case, the law was written sloppily and there was the additional complication that Minnesota and North Dakota are both within the Midwest Independent System Operator system. Neither is the case with Wyoming vs. Colorado, if it comes to that.

    Under the Commerce Clause, Colorado cannot say it will use only that electricity that is produced in Colorado. It can, however, say that it has environmental goals and that how the electricity is created must conform with Colorado’s laws.

    Grid reliability is another tenet of the Wyoming bill.

    In the Wyoming legislative committee, Haroldson said the technology capable of protecting the grid’s reliability has not been delivered and removing coal plants will impair that reliability.

    Wyoming’s message to Colorado, he said, should be: “Hold on, let’s get some technology in place. Let’s do, let’s figure out carbon capture and those types of things, so we can produce clean, effective power that’s going to bring generation to the Front Range, that’s going to help make sure that we have a reliable power grid and do it in a way that’s intelligent.”

    For Tri-State to meet its voluntary commitment to achieve an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 in Colorado, it must reduce imports from Wyoming. But the market for energy generation is already pushing Tri-State that way.

    On Tuesday, Tri-State said that it was taking no position on HB-207.

    “As an interstate power supplier operating across four states, we recognize and respect that each state has its own values on, approaches to and concerns about energy and environmental policy, and its own jurisdiction over utility facilities and resources,” said Mark Stutz, public relations specialist for Tri-State in an e-mailed statement.

    The Colorado Attorney General’s office declined to comment.

    Production from one unit of the Laramie River Station goes eastward to Nebraska and two units deliver electricity to the Western Interconnection Grid, including customers of Tri-State Generation & Transmission in Colorado. Photo/Allen Best

    In Wyoming, Shannon Anderson of the Powder River Basin Resource Council described the allocation as a wrong-headed move for Wyoming. “It’s a chunk of change in a state strapped for cash and with limited opportunity for creating the change that bill sponsors want.

    “$1.2 million may not seem like a lot of money in some places, but in Wyoming it is. It’s more than some agencies have for a whole year,” said Anderson, the staff attorney.

    Wyoming’s government already is well staffed with attorneys versed in coal issues. This money will go to private sector legal firms, who tend to be costly, she said. “And what does it give Wyoming, if anything, in return?” she asked.

    The bill passed on third reading in the Wyoming Senate on a 26-4 vote on Wednesday afternoon.

    Tri-State’s opportunities, challenges

    Duane Highley, chief executive of Tri-State, said at a February forum organized by the Sierra Club that Tri-State plans to cease taking power from Laramie River by 2033 and a coal plant in Arizona called Springerville by 2038.

    “Those aren’t commitments,” he hastened to add, but the outcome of a single snapshot under a certain set of assumptions. Cost of power is at the bottom of it.

    “The economics dictate that you can’t continue to operate some of the lowest-priced coal plants in the country,” he said.

    In 2018, the Rocky Mountain Institute studied Tri-State’s coal-burning fleet and found that only Laramie River was delivering power at a rate better than what could be had from renewables.

    Duane Highley via The Mountain Town News

    In his Sierra Club-Zoomed presentation, Highley also emphasized the relatively low cost of coal from Laramie River, likely a consequence of its relative proximity to the strip mines of the Powder River Basin two hours to the north.

    It’s a coal plant with one of the lowest operating costs in the nation, he said.

    Laramie River delivers coal-fired power at 1.1 cents per kilowatt-hour. This compares with an average 1.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for both wind and solar in the 1,000 megawatts of wind and solar projects that Tri-State plans in the next few years. But wind itself sometimes approaches 1 cent per kilowatt-hour, and solar is routinely less than 2 cents, he added.

    Tri-State supplies customers in Nebraska via the power lines from Laramie River connected directly to the Eastern Interconnection Grid. That grid, in the Great Plains, is laden heavily with cheap wind.

    “Laramie River on that side sometimes has trouble running because there is so much wind available and it’s at such a good price that even one of the lowest priced coal plants in the nation has trouble competing,” he said, referring to Laramie River.

    Reliability—the core argument in the Wyoming bills—is another matter.

    First, a note about the reliability of coal plants. The fuel is consistent, but they have their problems, as can be seen at Comanche 3, the relatively new coal plant at Pueblo, which was down for repairs during much of 2020.

    Highley addressed reliability in his Sierra Club appearance.

    “I cannot leave this subject without talking about reliability, because we can only move as fast as we can reliably make power. It’s job one for us. If we fall down on that job, literally public health and safety and lives that could be lost are on the line. We have to keep that our first and foremost priority.”

    Coal, he said, does have reliability.

    “What does a coal project have? it has a 30-day supply of coal on the ground at the plant site.”

    Storage answers?

    As for battery storage – the lithium-ion technology hasn’t arrived yet to meet the needs of a very-low-carbon future.

    “The battery that a utility can buy today lasts somewhere from 2 to 4 hours. A 6-hour battery is pretty much of a stretch,” Highley said.

    He cited an example from this winter. “We had a period in Colorado when we had about 3 days of gray skies and no wind,” he said. “Those would be very difficult days for us if we didn’t have fossil fuels in the mix today.”

    Batteries can help, but they need to provide storage for 24 to 48 hours, he went on to say. Too, while costs have declined, they need to continue to decrease.

    “We are looking for the storage technology that is better than lithium-ion batteries and has a scalability that would be suitable for—finally— a former coal plant such as the Craig site. We think this is one of the best (sites) in the Western grid for mass storage at utility scale,” he said.

    Three units at Craig Generating Station will be closed during by 2030. Photo/Allen Best

    Tri-State has been working with the Electric Power Research Institute on a $100 million low-carbon research initiative in the hope of securing energy storage technology needed to fill in the gaps of renewables. Leading contenders, said Highley, are hydrogen and ammonia. Tri-State hopes to have that technology in place by 2030, when it takes the last of the Craig units off line.

    Can natural gas fill the void? Perhaps. That is what Colorado Springs Utilities sees as it closes its coal plants. Highley said Tri-State is considering it—and he doesn’t see a concern about creating infrastructure that becomes an expensive stranded asset.

    “When we retire Craig Unit 3, we need something that can run for those 3 or 4 days a winter—primarily winter—when we’re not getting wind and solar input. That gas plant is the plan. It runs a very small percentage of the time, and we still achieve 80% even when burning natural gas for reliability.”

    Highley said Tri-State is looking at an internal-combustion type of natural gas plant introduced by General Electric. That’s the same plant that Colorado Springs plans to use.

    But the plant may not necessarily have to burn natural gas. If hydrogen technology can be developed, renewable energy can be created to produce hydrogen, which can be stored and then burned as needed to fill in the gaps of storage.

    Dry weather, above normal temperatures expected through June with persistent #drought conditions — The #ColoradoSprings Gazette

    Colorado Drought Monitor March 30, 2021.

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Mary Shinn):

    While the Front Range was blessed with much needed snow in March, the state’s snowpack has not climbed back up to average on the Western Slope and drought conditions are likely to persist.

    As a result of those forecasts, Colorado Springs Utilities expects to rely heavily on its reservoirs this summer, said Patrick Wells, general manager of water resources and demand management for the utility.

    But water restrictions aren’t expected beyond its permanent Water-wise Rules that limit outdoor irrigation to three days a week, he said Thursday. The rules also prohibit outdoor watering from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May 1 to Oct. 15…

    While wet storms brought Colorado Springs twice its average snowfall for March, the city remains 5½ inches of precipitation behind what it should have received over the past 12 months, said Peter Goble, climatologist and drought specialist with the Colorado Climate Center.

    Conditions on the Western Slope in the Colorado River watershed — which supplies municipal water supplies and farms from Colorado to California — are also dry, with the amount of water in the snow at 85% to 89% of average, according the National Resources Conservation Service. The snowpack is not nearly enough to break the drought conditions, Goble said…

    The dry, thirsty soils are expected to soak up snowpack, cutting expected runoff down to 50% to 70% of average, Goble said. The runoff expectations are important to Colorado Springs because it relies in part on Western Slope water…

    The three-month outlook though June doesn’t offer much hope, with increased chances of below normal precipitation and above average temperatures, said Brad Rippey, a drought monitor author with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    March snowfall was great for skiing but #RoaringForkRiver #snowpack still lags behind — The #Aspen Times #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

    Snowmass picked up the most snowfall among Aspen Skiing Co.’s four ski areas in March with 68 inches, according to Skico’s records. That’s a foot above the ski area’s average snowfall of 56 inches for the month…

    Snowmass received snow on 20 of 31 days for the month, including dumps of 8 inches on March 13 and another 11 inches on March 14. There was a surprise dump of 8.5 inches on March 29…

    While the snowfall during March was impressive, it wasn’t up to par with really big years. In March 2019, for example, Snowmass reaped 96 inches. The ski area’s record for the month was 119 inches in 1995…

    Even with above average snowfall in March, the Roaring Fork River basin is still struggling to bounce back from a dry start to winter. As of March 31, snowpack on Independence Pass was 91 percent of the 41-year median, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which operates automated snow telemetry sites. That is up from 84 percent of median at the beginning of the month.

    McClure Pass was at 84 percent of median snowpack while Schofield Pass was at 86 percent. The North Lost Trail site near Marble fared better with snowpack at 97 percent of average.

    In the Fryingpan Valley, snowpack was close to the median for April 1.

    The weather over the next few weeks will be crucial in determining runoff in western Colorado. The Colorado River District’s website said snowpack in the region typically peaks between April 8-10. While it usually snows more after that, the snowfall is more than offset by melting from warmer weather later in the month…

    The implications go beyond water availability for irrigation. Reservoirs that are popular sites for boating and other recreation might not fill to capacity.

    “Ruedi Reservoir is forecasted not to fill this year,” Langenhuizen said.

    Baby, it’s dry outside: How the #drought is affecting #Utah — The Deseret News #snowpack #runoff

    Utah Drought Monitor March 30, 2021.

    From The Deseret News (Amy Joi O’Donoghue):

    …Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has declared a state of emergency due to the massive encroachment of drought impacting all the state’s more than 54 million acres.

    The U.S. Drought Monitor puts 90% of Utah in the category of “extreme drought” and says that more than 2.7 million people in the state are impacted. Southern Utah recently elevated its drought to exceptional — an even worse category…

    Most of the state is sitting at between 75% and 80% of average snowpack for this water year, which officially ended Thursday.

    On its face, that doesn’t sound necessarily that scary.

    But Jordan Clayton, supervisor of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Utah Snow Survey, said it is more complicated than that…

    The summer of 2020 was the driest ever logged in Utah and Nevada since record keeping began 126 years ago…

    Those dry soils will absorb much of what is already predicted to be a poor performing runoff at anywhere between 25% and 75% of average…

    Heather Patno, a hydraulic engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said the drought is impacting states across the Upper Colorado River Basin…

    Lake Powell is seen in a November 2019 aerial photo from the nonprofit EcoFlight. Keeping enough water in the reservoir to support downstream users in Arizona, Nevada and California is complicated by climate change, as well as projections that the upper basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico will use as much as 40% more water than current demand. A recent white paper from a lineup of river experts calls those use projections into question.
    CREDIT: ECOFLIGHT via Aspen Journalism

    While the upper basin will be able to meet its downstream water delivery obligations to lower basin states like Nevada and California, Lake Powell will be sitting at critical elevation levels…

    The good news, she stressed, is that there has been a smattering of water years over the last two decades in which Lake Powell rose by 50 feet or more.

    In 2019, for example, basin-wide snowpack was at 145% of average, she said, and other generous water years helped boost Powell levels…

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in March warned that nearly half the country is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions in what could be the most significant spring drought since 2013 impacting an estimated 74 million people.

    In fact, its seasonal drought outlook into June 30 of this year projects that most of California and all of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico will have drought that persists…

    Utah’s ranchers and farmers are already taking steps to brace for a financially debilitating season in the agriculture industry.

    Farmers who normally plant corn, which demands a lot of water, switched to spring grain that can be harvested in 60 to 90 days.

    Other farmers have cut back their farming acreage by 30% or even half.

    The problem is that corn yields greater revenue per acre and many fields will go fallow…

    With snowpack below average across the state — southwest Utah is sitting barely north of 50% — that becomes a problem for Utah when 95% of its water comes from snow, Clayton said.

    Opinion: If we fight each other over #water, we’ll all come out losers — Kirk Klancke #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    Kirk Klancke Erica Stock Fraser River. Photo credit: Bob Berwyn

    Here’s a guest column from Kirk Klancke that’s running in the Colorado Sun:

    There are no easy answers to water issues in the West. We have to consider all possible solutions and avoid the trap of single-minded thinking.

    of a very complex water project so succinctly. In his March 15 Colorado Sun article, “Colorado’s latest proposal to divert water from the Western Slope is a complex, disputed set of pipes,” he was able to explain a project in understandable terms that most people in Colorado have little understanding of.

    Restoring a river channel in the Upper Colorado Basin

    I do want to clarify a couple of the statements made by people quoted in his article. I think that it is important to point out that the Windy Gap Connectivity Channel is not a drainage ditch, as John Fielder was quoted saying. Instead it is a multi-million-dollar stream channel designed by hydrologists and stream biologists to optimize habitat for macroinvertebrate and trout life and the riparian zone on both sides of the river.

    The existing stream channel is at the bottom of a muddy reservoir with no ability to sustain any of these environmental values. A new stream channel around the reservoir will reconnect the disappearing aquatic species below the dam with the healthy species above the reservoir. When Fielder states that this new stream reach will not restore wildlife, he could not be more wrong.

    The article ended with quotes from Gary Wockner that I feel need a reality check. His suggested solutions to Colorado’s water shortage should be taken with a grain of salt.

    His first suggestion was to dry up agricultural land. Doing so has played a major role in damaging the Fraser and Upper Colorado rivers. Ranches that used to divert water from those rivers returned most of that water to those rivers. When Front Range cities bought that agricultural water and took it from the basin of origin to those cities, all of those return flows were lost to the river.

    “Buy and Dry” has been bad for our headwaters rivers and for our cultural heritage of ranching. My friends in the ranching business don’t need the target put on their back, and our rivers can’t afford to lose any more return flows.

    Gary also proposed ramping up conservation as an important solution to our water shortage. While I applaud this idea, I also know that it is only a piece of the puzzle in the water shortage problem. Every city in the West knows how important of a role conservation plays, and every city in the West has concluded that conservation will not solve their water shortage problems alone.

    Conservation, however, is under-utilized here in Colorado and we do need to pick up the pace to help preserve our rivers and the environment that depends on them. We just can’t rely on conservation alone.

    Gary’s final point was to stop all growth, stating that he will applaud the sanity of anyone that can accomplish this. I don’t find much reality in this possibility, but if he feels that there is, then I would like to see him use his talents to work toward that goal. This would allow him to work on solving most of Colorado’s problems with the exception maybe of the economy.

    There are no easy answers to water issues in the West. We have to consider all possible solutions and avoid the trap of single-minded thinking. Protecting our rivers will require cooperation from every entity that has an impact on our rivers.

    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.

    This is the reason that Colorado wrote a state Water Plan. If we allow that plan to guide us, conservation organizations, municipalities and the agricultural community will work together to assure that water is distributed equitably. If we decide instead to fight each other over water, all of us will come out losing.

    Kirk Klancke is the president of the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited, “an environmental organization with lots of members who like to fish.”

    Winter 2020-21 in Review: A Look Back at #Drought Across the U.S. in 8 Maps — NOAA/NIDIS

    From NOAA/NIDIS:

    U.S. Drought Monitor

    The first U.S. Drought Monitor issued over the winter was on December 22, 2020. As shown on the first map below, drought and dryness covered almost all of the Great Plains and West when winter began, except for parts of the Pacific Northwest and Southern Plains. The epicenter of the drought was the Southwest into the Central Rockies and W. Texas. East of the Plains, drought and dryness persisted in the Midwest, Northeast, and a few pockets in the South, but the intensity was much less than the West.

    The last U.S. Drought Monitor issued over the winter was on March 16, 2021. In general, drought across the U.S. didn’t change that much, which is a troubling sign for areas that depend on winter precipitation for water supplies, agriculture, and recreation. It could also lead to another bad fire season. Conditions in the Central Plains improved, but the Northern Plains worsened. Conditions in the West slightly improved but are still dire. East of the Plains, areas of Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) could worsen this spring if normal rains don’t develop.

    US Drought Monitor December 22, 2020.
    US Drought Monitor March 16, 2021.

    Percent of Normal Precipitation/Departure from Normal Precipitation

    As shown on the two maps below, the only drought areas that greatly benefitted from winter precipitation were the Central Plains and parts of the Rockies, and much of that precipitation was from the mid-March storm that dropped feet of snow in CO and WY and inches of rain in KS and NE. Much of the precipitation east of the Plains fell on areas that weren’t in drought. The Southwest and CA remained drier than normal. Two areas that have worsened towards the end of winter: the Northern Plains and S. TX.

    Percent of normal precipitation from December 23, 2020 to March 22, 2021 for the Contiguous U.S. Source: National Weather Service.
    Departure from Normal Precipitation from December 23, 2020 to March 22, 2021. Source: National Weather Service.

    Departure from Normal Temperature

    Temperatures were generally colder than normal over the winter for parts of the Midwest all the way to the West Coast. That’s not surprising after the bitter cold that hit Texas and other parts of the U.S. in February. One notable outlier: it was warmer (and drier) in the Northern Plains.

    Departure from Normal Temperature for the Contiguous U.S. from December 23, 2020 to March 22, 2021. Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center.

    U.S. Drought Monitor Change Map

    The greatest areas of drought degradation that took place over the winter were the Northern Plains, South/Southeast TX, the Upper Midwest, and FL. However, the Upper Midwest and FL only moved into Abnormal Dryness (D0). The Northern Plains and S. TX, on the other hand, are dealing with Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4) Drought, respectively. The greatest areas of improvements were the Central U.S. (where the big March storm hit) and W. TX. Scattered areas in the West also saw improvements but remain in intense drought.

    U.S. Drought Monitor category change for December 22, 2020 to March 16, 2021. Source: National Drought Mitigation Center.

    Snow Drought in the West 2020-21

    Much of the West began the winter in drought, and the snowfall in 2020-21 didn’t do much to help conditions. The only areas that had average to above-average snow water equivalent (SWE) as of March 19 (the last day of winter), were parts of the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, and the areas in CO and WY hit by the March blizzard. Some weak-to-moderate storms occurred in February and March in the Sierra Nevada, but it wasn’t enough. Similarly, snowpack improved in parts of OR, UT, CO, and WY in March, but SWE deficits were quite large prior to these improvements. Most of Alaska remained free of snow drought with the exception of the Koyukuk River Basin in north-central Alaska that drains part of the south slope of the Brooks Range.

    Snow water equivalent (SWE) basin values for the western U.S. as a percent of average on March 19, 2021. Source: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

    Ski Areas in Drought

    The ski resorts map below, found on the Recreation and Tourist Attractions By Sector page on the new U.S. Drought Portal, shows that 437 resorts are in drought areas, according to the March 18, 2021 U.S. Drought Monitor.

    U.S. ski resorts experiencing drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Ski resort data is recorded by NOAA’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC).

    @USBR awards $1.8 million to 11 tribes for #water projects

    North American Indian regional losses 1850 thru 1890.

    Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

    The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that 11 tribes in seven states will receive $1.8 million through the Native American Affairs Technical Assistance to Tribes Program.

    “This funding will help facilitate partnerships with tribes and tribal organizations as they develop, manage and protect their water resources,” said Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Reclamation is committed to working with Indian tribes and tribal nations on these important water resources issues.”

    The funding will be provided to the tribes as grants or cooperative agreements. The projects selected are:

  • Hopi Tribe-Range Well Assessment, $200,000 (Arizona)
  • Navajo Nation-Leupp Well PW-2B Planning Assessment, $116,951 (Arizona)
  • San Carlos Apache Tribe-Automated Solar-Powered Stock Watering Demonstration Project, $197,143 (Arizona)
  • Elk Valley Rancheria Water Storage Tank Rehabilitation, $200,000 (California)
  • Colusa Indian Community-Potable Water Security & Improved Human Safety Infrastructure, $50,000 (California)
  • Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho-Water Quality and Quantity and Toxic Algal Bloom Monitoring, $200,000 (Idaho)
  • Pueblo of Acoma-Phase 2-Sandoval Ditch Rehabilitation, $200,000 (New Mexico)
  • Ohkay Owingeh-El Guique Water Delivery System Design, $192,524 (New Mexico)
  • Chickasaw Nation-Water Supply, City of Lone Grove, $160,635 (Oklahoma)
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs-Groundwater Assessment for Domestic Water Supply, $99,960 (Oregon)
  • Paiute Tribe of Utah-Domestic Water System Improvements, $200,000 (Utah)
  • The Native American and International Affairs Office in the Commissioner’s Office serves as the central coordination point for the Native American Affairs Program and lead for policy guidance for Native American issues in Reclamation. To learn more, please visit http://www.usbr.gov/native.

    @CWCB_DNR Releases #DemandManagement Framework, Continues Feasibility Investigation #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification #DCP

    The Crystal River runs low outside of Carbondale on September 1, 2020. With average temperatures warming in summer months by as much as 3.5 degrees since the 1950s in Garfield County, streamflows are trending down as peak runoff comes earlier and more water is sucked up by evaporation and dry soils, stressing available water supplies in late summer and fall. Photo credit: Dan Bayer/Aspen Journalism

    Here’s the release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

    Following nearly two years of stakeholder discussions and input from Coloradans across the state and from various sectors, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) released a draft Demand Management Framework. The Framework captures threshold issues; implementation options; and proportionality, fairness, and equity considerations.

    Demand Management is the concept of temporary, voluntary, and compensated reductions in the consumptive use of water in the Colorado River Basin in order to ensure ongoing Colorado River Compact compliance and avoid involuntary curtailment of Colorado water uses.

    Notes to consider while viewing the Framework include: Demand Management is not a foregone conclusion; The framework is not a program, but a point for discussion; Issues will continue to be explored in an open and collaborative manner; and a program would be run by the state for the benefit of the whole state and its water users.

    The CWCB is currently scheduling several virtual events to ask questions and provide input on the Framework from April through June 2021. Details will be published on the Demand Management Upcoming Events chart online.

    Following these initial workshops and meetings, CWCB staff will host a Demand Management Public Listening Session on June 29. CWCB staff will track the input received and then present findings to the Board in July 2021.

    In addition to attending a workshop or listening session, interested parties and individuals are encouraged to complete the public survey on http://engagecwcb.org or submit a question or comment to demandmanagement@state.co.us.

    “We look forward to continuing this open and collaborative feasibility investigation, now focusing on various implementation options for a potential Demand Management program,” said CWCB Director Rebecca Mitchell. “We encourage all Coloradans to help inform the investigation by reviewing the Framework, attending a workshop, and filling out our online survey.”

    Demand Management Engagement Process

    Graphic credit: The Colorado Water Conservation Board