Blanco Basin agricultural irrigation needs survey underway — San Juan Conservation District #SanJuanRiver #COWaterPlan

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From the San Juan Conservation District via The Pagosa Springs Sun (Cynthia Purcell):

The San Juan Conservation District has been focusing efforts on evaluating irrigation systems in the Upper San Juan River Basin and looking for opportunities to improve them.

We have completed our inventory from the upper reaches of the San Juan River Basin down to the Blanco Basin watershed. We are now looking to assess the needs within both the Upper and Lower Blanco Basin.

We have assembled a team of natural resource professionals to perform this agricultural in ventory. Sterling Moss, a retired Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservationist from southwest Colorado, will be leading the team.

With technical assistance from NRCS, the team will be reaching out to ditch representatives, water right holders and agricultural water users to discuss voluntary participation in this process. They will be out in the watershed throughout the summer evaluating the ditches and are happy to perform a free on-site visit to evaluate private on- farm systems when they are in the area. According to the landowner’s identified goals and objectives, agriculture water system improvements will be developed, with cost estimates provided for the improvements. The ultimate goal is to find funding to help improve these irrigation systems.

This is part of a larger project in cooperation with the Upper San Juan Watershed Enhancement Partnership to understand local water supply needs and identify potential project areas in the Upper San Juan River Basin. This process is part of the Colorado Water Plan and is funded in part by the Colorado Water Conservation Board as well as local organizations and partners.

The San Juan Conservation District is a special district of the state of Colorado and was established in 1947 to help farmers and ranchers with soil erosion as a result of the devastation of the Dust Bowl. Today, our mission is to promote the prudent use and adequate treatment of all land, water and related resources within its boundaries to sustain the use of these resources for future generations and to assist in restoration of these resources. We serve the residents of Archuleta County and parts of Hinsdale and Mineral counties up to the Continental Divide. We also work closely with our federal counterpart, the NRCS, and share an office with them.

Private landowner information will be kept confidential and not released to the public.

If you would like to have your irrigation water needs evaluated or have questions, please contact Cynthia Purcell, district manager, at (970) 731-3615 or

#PagosaSprings still in voluntary #drought stage — The Pagosa Springs Sun #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

At the time of publishing The Pagosa Springs Sun website was down so I couldn’t get a deep link to the article.

From the Pagosa Springs Sun (Clayton Chaney):

The voluntary drought stage was first announced in a press release on April 12.

Ramsey notes in his May 11 press release that the area has seen “higher than normal temperatures” this spring, which “will lead to a quicker than normal melting of the snowpack reducing our available water and could lead to water use restrictions.”

There are no water use restrictions in place under the voluntary drought stage; however, PAWSD does encourage responsible water use…

River report

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the San Juan River was flowing at a rate of 684 cfs in Pagosa Springs as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12.

Based on 85 years of water records at this site, the average flow rate for this date is 1,150 cfs.

The highest recorded rate for this date was 3,920 cfs in 1941. The lowest recorded rate was 156 cfs, recorded in 2002.

As of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12, the Piedra River near Arboles was flowing at a rate of 536 cfs.

Based on 58 years of water records at this site, the average flow rate for this date is 1,140 cfs.

The highest recorded rate was 3,460 cfs in 1973. The lowest recorded rate was 92.7 cfs in 2002.

Snow report

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Water and Climate Center’s snowpack report, the Wolf Creek summit, at 11,000 feet of elevation, had 20.8 inches of snow water equivalent as of 3 p.m. on May 12.

That amount is 63 percent of the May 12 median for this site.

The average snow water equivalent for this date at the Wolf Creek summit is 33.2 inches.

Glenwood Springs #water rates to increase June 1 — The #GlenwoodSprings Post Independent

Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Shannon Marvel):

The Glenwood Springs City Council passed a resolution which will adjust rates for all customers during their April 15 council meeting.

The rate change will appear on water bills arriving in July…

A 5,000-gallon user’s monthly combined bill will increase in year one from $92 to $122.

The resolution also includes a regular, yearly 5% increase until 2030, according to the release…

“Current utility revenues will not cover the cost for critical infrastructure improvements, some of which are immediately necessary to ensure safe and reliable service,” the release states. “Other capital needs primarily include replacement or rehabilitation of utility assets reaching the end of their service lives and additional storage capacity for firefighting capabilities.”

The city’s water and sewer fund operates on system improvement fees and user fees.

“Currently, water department revenues only pay for annual costs, bonding, and depreciation,” the release states.

Funding for capital projects currently comes from city reserves, low interest loans and competitive grants…

Upcoming or in-progress city water projects include:

• A new raw water pump line from the Roaring Fork Pump station up to the Red Mountain water plant

• Replacement of the lift station adjacent to the Colorado River, which is over 40 years old

• Red Mountain South subdivision water and roadway rebuild

• A second Cardiff water tank

• Restoring the Park East raw water irrigation system

• A city-wide water model to analyze distribution under various demands

• Sewer and/or water line repairs or replacements on more than 25 city streets

• A new North Glenwood water tank

• Review and repairs to all sewer lift stations and replacement of two of the remaining existing lift stations

2021 #COleg: SB21-200 (Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice) — Scott Fetchenhier (Guest Column in The #Durango Herald) #ActOnClimate

Scott “Fetch” Fetchenhier came to Silverton in 1980 in a 1969 GTO and thirty five dollars in his pocket and worked for a couple of small mining companies as a geologist and surveyor. He also worked at the Sunnyside mine as a nipper, trammer, and slusherman in the early 1980’s. He has always been fascinated by Silverton’s geology and history and has written numerous articles on the subjects and also a book on the Old Hundred mine, “Ghosts and Gold”. His hobby of exploring old mines the past three decades makes for some fascinating stories. Photo credit: Fetch’s Mining and Mercantile

Here’s a gust column from Scott Fetchenhier that’s running in The Durango Herald:

State leaders need to take action to protect the places in Southwest Colorado that we know, love and call home from the pollution that threatens our air, water and climate.

I live in and represent San Juan County, where my constituents and I are reliant on Tri-State Generation and Transmission for our electricity. As the second largest electricity provider in the state, Tri-State is a key player in reducing greenhouse gas pollution in our state, which is why we need Senate Bill 200.

SB21-200 (Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice) is designed to make sure the entire state of Colorado, and our electric utilities, actually stay on track and meet the commitments they have made to cut greenhouse gas pollution that is wreaking havoc on our state.

Our rural mountain communities are dependent on bold steps toward climate pollution reductions for our visitor-based, snow-reliant economies. We have seen the impacts of climate change in our county: unprecedented beetle kill, the 416 Fire in 2018 and the Ice Lake Fire in October 2020. Wind-blown dust from the Four Corners lands on our snowpack and causes the snow to melt off more quickly. We often see rain in December and March instead of snow because of higher temperatures.

We know that without big actions to reduce emissions, we will continue to see increasingly severe and frequent natural disasters.

With these impacts in mind, it’s great that Tri-State seems to have heard its members’ calls for carbon reductions of at least 80% by 2030. Last fall, Tri-State announced a commitment to 80% carbon reductions by 2030 from electricity delivered to Colorado customers as part of its Responsible Energy Plan. This Responsible Energy Plan is a big step in the right direction for Tri-State and the communities it serves, and we want to make sure it happens. However, the plan is currently only a voluntary commitment and my constituents need certainty that Tri-State will honor that commitment.

In fact, last fall San Juan County passed a county resolution urging state leaders to hold Tri-State accountable to 80% emissions reduction by 2030. Part of that resolution reads: “The evidence of climate change is impacting daily lives in San Juan County with near-historic drought, unprecedented smoke from fires across Colorado and the U.S., and rapidly increasing temperatures, and the urgency for our electric utility to take bold, immediate steps toward reducing emissions couldn’t be more clear.”

Colorado map credit:

And we’re not the only ones. Four other communities in Tri-State’s service territory have also passed similar resolutions, including the Town of Telluride, Summit County, the Town of Rico and San Miguel County.

Southwest Colorado can better prepare to combat and be resilient to climate change if we know we can count on our power provider to reduce carbon emissions significantly in the next 10 years. I thank Tri-State for its voluntary commitment to 80% reductions by 2030 in response to its member communities’ advocacy, and I ask our state leaders to ensure that Tri-State gets there in a timely and equitable way that allows Coloradans to generate clean electricity locally rather than import coal from other states. SB-200 takes care of that.

Tri-State is one among several utilities and industries that we need to be able to count on to do their part to reduce emissions in Colorado. While I appreciate the efforts that state leaders have underway to reduce carbon emissions, the reality is that Colorado’s utilities are not on track to meet our climate goals. In fact, we are at risk of increasing climate pollution in Colorado in the coming years, especially with the volume of people predicted to be moving to our state in the next 20 years.

To successfully meet the state’s climate pollution targets, we need not only the incentives and rule-makings that state leaders are working on now, but also clear and enforceable targets in each sector of our economy, starting with electricity.

Our mountain communities need to be able to count on utilities like Tri-State to reduce emissions and there is language in SB 200 that will ensure just that. I urge Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Legislature to support SB 200 in order to keep us on track to cut greenhouse gas pollution and protect the communities we all love.

Scott Fetchenhier is a San Juan County Commissioner based in Silverton. He originally came to Silverton to work in the mines as both a geologist and laborer. He owns a gift shop in Silverton and has been in business almost 40 years.

Editor’s Note: Tri-State Generation and Transmission is the provider of most of the power for La Plata Electric Association, the co-op that serves many of our readers.

Navajo Dam operations update (May 15, 2021): Releases to drop to 400 cfs #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Since the late 1980’s, this waterfall formed from interactions among reservoir levels and sedimentation that redirected the San Juan River over a 20-foot high sandstone ledge. Until recently, little was known about its effect on two endangered fishes. Between 2015-2017, more than 1,000 razorback sucker and dozens of Colorado pikeminnow were detected downstream of the waterfall. Credit: Bureau of Reclamation

From email from Reclamation (Susan Behery Novak):

In response to forecast increasing runoff and flows in the critical habitat reach, the Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled a decrease in the release from Navajo Dam from 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 400 cfs on Saturday, May 15th, starting at 0400 AM. Releases are made for the authorized purposes of the Navajo Unit, and to attempt to maintain a target base flow through the endangered fish critical habitat reach of the San Juan River (Farmington to Lake Powell).

The San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program recommends a target base flow of between 500 cfs and 1,000 cfs through the critical habitat area. The target base flow is calculated as the weekly average of gaged flows throughout the critical habitat area from Farmington to Lake Powell. Please be advised, due to the dry conditions this year, more release changes than usual may occur.

2021 #COleg: Busy #Colorado general assembly session continues, bills could have local impact — The Ark Valley Voice

LadyDragonflyCC — Creative Commons, Flickr

From The Ark Valley Voice (Jan Wondra):

HB21-1260: General Fund Transfer Implement State Water Plan

Sponsored by Senators Kerry Donovan and Cleave Simpson, this bill is focused on allocating $20 million from the general fund to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to be spent to implement the state water plan as follows:

  • $15 million, which is transferred to the water plan implementation cash fund for expenditures and grants administered by the CWCB to implement the state water plan; and
  • $5 million, which is transferred to the water supply reserve fund for CWCB to disperse to the basin roundtables.
  • Ensuring that Colorado can meet its future water needs is critical to maintaining our state as a competitive place to work, play, and live. Colorado has recently faced some of its worst drought years in the state’s history, and predictions are that the growing water demands will continue to strain our limited resources.

    The Colorado Water Plan has been established as the state’s framework for solutions to preserve water values to support a productive economy, healthy agricultural sector, and robust recreation industry. But the bill’s sponsors say the state Water Plan is currently underfunded and needs investments to ensure the state’s long-term economy and protection of our natural resources.

    Few realistic scenarios left to limit #globalwarming to 1.5°C — Potsdam Institute for #Climate Impact Research

    Here’s the release from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

    Of the over 400 climate scenarios assessed in the 1.5°C report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), only around 50 scenarios avoid significantly overshooting 1.5°C. Of those only around 20 make realistic assumptions on mitigation options, for instance the rate and scale of carbon removal from the atmosphere or extent of tree planting, a new study shows. All 20 scenarios need to pull at least one mitigation lever at “challenging” rather than “reasonable” levels, according to the analysis. Hence the world faces a high degree of risk of overstepping the 1.5°C limit. The realistic window for meeting the 1.5°C target is very rapidly closing.

    Greenhouse gas missions reduction pathways to achieve net zero. Cutout from fig.1a, Warszawski et al (2021)

    “If all climate mitigation levers are pulled, it may still be possible to limit global warming to 1.5°C in line with the Paris Agreement. The findings could help inform the heated climate policy debate. The emission scenarios differ in their reliance on each of the five mitigation levers we looked at. Yet all scenarios that we find to be realistic pull at least several levers at challenging levels,” says lead author Lila Warszawski from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “None of the realistic scenarios relies on a single silver bullet.”

    All realistic scenarios pull all five levers

    “The energy sector is key to the 1.5°C target of course, with on the one hand reduction of energy demand and on the other decarbonisation of energy use and production,” says Warszawski. “Yet we can’t do away with the other strategies. Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and for instance storing it underground also proves to be almost indispensable. Land use must become a net carbon sink, for instance by re-wetting peatlands or afforestation. Finally, emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane must be cut from animal production, but also from leaks in oil and gas extraction. This is quite a list.”

    The researchers drew from existing research to define bounds that delineate between the ‘reasonable’, ‘challenging’, and ‘speculative’ use of each of the levers by mid-century. The bounds quantify the range of emissions reduction potentials of each of the aggregate levers, which result from technological, economic, social and resource considerations. They can then be translated into contributions to keep warming at 1.5°C with no or low temperature overshoot.

    A triple challenge for humanity

    “This calls for an immediate acceleration of worldwide action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by all available means,” says co-author Tim Lenton from Exeter University. “We need a sustainability revolution to rival the industrial revolution. Otherwise those most vulnerable to climate change are going to bear the brunt of missing the 1.5°C target. This is a system-wide challenge – piecemeal actions and rhetorical commitments are not going to be enough.”

    “Humanity is facing a triple challenge to stabilize global warming without significantly overshooting the 1.5°C commitment” says co-author Nebojsa Nakicenovic from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA. “First is to half global emissions every decade requiring a herculean effort and a decarbonization revolution by phasing-out fossil energy, a quantum leap in efficiency and sufficiency, and climate-friendly behaviors and diets; second to pursue nature-friendly carbon removal through afforestation and land-use change; and third to assure safe operating of Earth systems that now remove half of global emissions from the atmosphere.”

    Unrealistically optimistic scenarios over-estimate e.g. carbon capture and storage potentials

    Those scenarios classified by the analysis as unrealistically optimistic most frequently tend to over-estimate carbon capture and storage potentials, while others over-estimate energy consumption or reduction of non-CO2 greenhouse gases like methane. Still others make all too bold assumptions about dietary changes towards more plant-based food or about limited population growth.

    The authors also took a closer look at the scenarios provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2018 and the one called ‘Sky’ produced by the Shell oil and gas company. Both scenarios foresee net emissions falling to zero globally as late as 2070. The researchers found that they do not lie within the corridor of carbon dioxide emissions over the next century that seems to offer a realistic chance of meeting the 1.5°C target. The Shell Sky scenario shows emissions levels in 2030 well above other scenarios considered in this study.

    “The Shell Sky scenario has been called a pie in the sky, and that’s indeed what it is,” says co-author Gail Whiteman from the University of Exeter’s Business School. “From a science perspective, this is quite clear. In the business community some still like it because it seems to offer, in comparison to other scenarios, a relatively easy way out of the climate crisis. Our analysis shows, however, that there are no easy ways out.”

    Irrespective of the specific climate target rapid emission reductions are key

    “The necessary emissions reductions are hard to achieve, technically but also politically. They require unprecedented innovation of lifestyles and international cooperation,” concludes co-author Johan Rockström from PIK. “I understand anyone who thinks we might fail the 1.5°C target. Also, it is clear that irrespective of the specific climate target rapidly implementing strong emission reductions is key now. Yet I think limiting warming at 1.5°C is worth just every effort because this would limit the risk of giving some tipping elements in the Earth system an additional push, such as ice sheets or ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest. As technical as this all might sound, it really is about assuring a safe climate future for all.”