Rivers flowing well below average — The #PagosaSprings Sun #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Clayton Chaney):

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the San Juan River was flowing at a rate of 27.3 cubic feet per second (cfs) in Pagosa Springs as of noon Wednesday, Sept. 8. That rate is more than 100 cfs below the average flow rate for Sept. 8.

Based on 85 years of water records at this site, the average flow rate for this date is 139 cfs.

The highest recorded rate for this date was in 1970 at 1,160 cfs. The lowest recorded rate was 17 cfs, recorded in 1978.

As of noon Wednesday, Sept. 1, the Piedra River near Arboles was flowing at a rate of 40.1, which is up from last week’s instantaneous reading of 31.5 cfs.

However, the flow rate for that date is almost 80 cfs below the average flow rate for Sept. 8.

Based on 58 years of water records at this site, the average flow rate for that date is 120 cfs.

The highest recorded rate for this date was 1,300 cfs in 1991. The lowest recorded rate was 8.94 cfs in 2002.

Water report

According to a press release from the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) Manager Justin Ramsey, the district remains in a Stage 1 drought per its drought management plan.

…the U.S. Drought Monitor…indicates our area is in a severe to moderate drought.

Ramsey notes that PAWSD is continuing to request voluntary odd/even watering days, “requesting that if your address is an odd number only irrigate on odd calender days and vice-versa for even number ad- dresses.”

There are no other mandatory water use restrictions in place, be- sides limiting irrigation to after 6 p.m. and before 9 a.m…

Colorado Drought Monitor map September 7, 2021.

Drought report

The NIDIS website indicates 95.29 percent of Archuleta County is abnormally dry, up slightly from the previous report of 94.84 percent of the county being abnormally dry.

The percentage of the county in a moderate drought remains at 67.47 percent.

The NIDIS website also notes that 41.75 percent of the county is in a severe drought stage, which is up slightly from the previous report of 41.2 percent.

Additionally, the NIDIS website notes that 9.12 percent of the county remains in an extreme drought — consistent with the previous report — mostly in the southwestern por- tion of the county.

The NIDIS website notes that under an extreme drought stage, large fires may develop and pasture conditions worsen.

No portion of the county is in exceptional drought.

For more information and maps, visit: https://www.drought.gov/states/Colorado/county/Archuleta.

Federal Agencies Are Ready To Loosen Protections On Certain Fish Native To The #ColoradoRiver — KUER #COriver #arifidification

Confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado River. Climate change is affecting western streams by diminishing snowpack and accelerating evaporation. The Colorado River’s flows and reservoirs are being impacted by climate change, and environmental groups are concerned about the status of the native fish in the river. Photo credit: DMY at Hebrew Wikipedia [Public domain]
From KUER (Lexi Peery):

The razorback sucker fish could be downlisted from an endangered species to threatened in the next year or so, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This week, environmental groups sent the agency a letter in opposition to the move.

The letter argues the razorback sucker is still in trouble, despite recoveries it’s made in the last 30 years, which is when it was first listed as federally endangered. The fish is native to the Colorado River, which is facing historic shortages due to the west’s megadrought…

The USFWS proposed a change in the fish’s status because they said its situation has improved and threats to it have been reduced. Though, they said it will need to be continually managed.

The letter from environmentalists was submitted as a public comment on the reclassification process. A spokesperson for the USFWS said they received around 35 comments.

Jen Pelz, Wild Rivers program director at the conservation group WildEarth Guardians, said it’s “irresponsible” to downlist the species now.

“Until the ecosystem that they live in can support self-sustaining populations, we believe that those species should maintain their endangered status, which is the highest protection under the law,” she said.

The humpback chub, another Colorado River native fish, could also be downlisted. The USFWS proposed a reclassification last year.

Screen shot from the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program website August 28, 2021:

#ClimateChange Is Intensifying the #Water Cycle, New IPCC Report Finds — Circle of Blue #ActOnClimate

US Drought Monitor map September 7, 2021.

From Circle of Blue (Laura Gersony):

The climate crisis will jeopardize key sources of fresh water and make extreme weather events more severe. But experts say there’s still time to prevent the worst outcomes.

  • Extreme droughts affecting agriculture and ecosystems are already more frequent and intense than they were last century. This trend will continue as glacial melting, decreased rainfall, and a “thirstier” atmosphere jeopardize sources of freshwater in some parts of the globe.
  • Heavy rainfall will also become more common and more powerful.
  • There are a handful of high-impact “tipping points” that could drastically change global or regional water cycles. These events are unlikely in our current climate—but the warmer Earth gets, the bigger the risk becomes.
  • With swift, drastic action, warming could still be limited to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, avoiding the worst-case scenarios for freshwater.
  • #Forget plans to lower emissions by 2050 – this is deadly procrastination: Fixating on ‘net zero’ means betting the future of life on Earth that someone will invent some kind of whiz-bang tech to draw down CO2 — The Guardian #ActOnClimate

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

    From The Guardian (Peter Kalmus):

    The world has by and large adopted “net zero by 2050” as its de facto climate goal, but two fatal flaws hide in plain sight within those 16 characters. One is “net zero.” The other is “by 2050”.

    These two flaws provide cover for big oil and politicians who wish to preserve the status quo. Together they comprise a deadly prescription for inaction and catastrophically high levels of irreversible climate and ecological breakdown.

    First, consider “by 2050”. This deadline feels comfortably far away, encouraging further climate procrastination. Who feels urgency over a deadline in 2050? This is convenient for the world’s elected leaders, who typically have term limits of between three and five years, less so for anyone who needs a livable planet.

    Pathways for achieving net zero by 2050 – meaning that in 2050 any carbon emissions would be balanced by CO2 withdrawn through natural means, like forests, and through hypothetical carbon-trapping technology – are designed to give roughly even odds for keeping global heating below 1.5C. But it’s now apparent that even the current 1.1C of global heating is not a “safe” level. Climate catastrophes are arriving with a frequency and ferocity that have shocked climate scientists. The fact that climate models failed to predict the intensity of the summer’s heatwaves and flooding suggests that severe impacts will come sooner than previously thought. Madagascar is on the brink of the first climate famine, and developments such as multi-regional crop losses and climate warfare even before reaching 1.5C should no longer be ruled out.

    “The Roundup” newsletter is hot off the presses from @AspenJournalism #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    The boat ramp at Elk Creek Marina had to be temporarily closed so the docks could be moved out into deeper water. Colorado water managers are not happy that emergency releases from Blue Mesa Reservoir are impacting late summer lake recreation.

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

    Colorado water managers unhappy with timing of emergency releases

    In an effort to prop up water levels at the declining Lake Powell, federal water managers are negatively impacting recreation on Colorado’s biggest man-made lake.

    That’s the message from Colorado water managers and marina operators at Blue Mesa Reservoir in Gunnison County. On Aug. 1, the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the reservoir, began emergency releases. By the time the releases are finished the first week of October, Blue Mesa is projected to fall to its second-lowest level ever, just 215,000 acre-feet, or 22.8% of its 941,000-acre-foot capacity.

    As of Sept. 1, the reservoir was 37% full, which is about 68 feet down from a full reservoir, and a ring of muddy shoreline was growing. Parking lots and boat slips sat empty, and Pappy’s Restaurant was closed for the season. The dwindling water levels are first impacting Iola, the easternmost of Blue Mesa’s three basins. Iola is where the Gunnison River now cuts through a field of mud.

    Eric Loken, who operates the reservoir’s two marinas (Elk Creek and Lake Fork), said he was given only nine days’ notice to empty Elk Creek Marina’s 180 slips. The dock system’s anchors, which are not built for low water, had to be moved deeper. He said about 25 people lost their jobs six weeks earlier than normal and the marinas lost about 25% of its revenue for the year.