#ColoradoRiver System Projections Overview: 5-Year Probabilistic Projections — Reclamation #COriver #aridfication

Click the link to read the release on The Reclamation website:


Five-Year Probabilistic Projections of future conditions in the Colorado River system currently extend through 2026. They are typically updated every January, April, and August, while probabilistic results for the 2-year period are updated every month. The 5-Year Probabilistic Projections are generated using the Colorado River Mid-term Modeling System (CRMMS) in Ensemble Mode. CRMMS Ensemble Mode is driven by an ensemble of monthly unregulated streamflow forecasts developed by the National Weather Service Colorado Basin River Forecasting Center (CBRFC) using the Ensemble Streamflow Prediction (ESP) method. Results from CRMMS run with ESP are referred to as CRMMS-ESP.

The most recent 5-year projections of future Colorado River system conditions were produced in February of 2022 using the following assumptions:

  • Initial Conditions: CRMMS is initialized with previous end-of-month reservoir elevations.
  • Hydrology: Upper Basin inflows are 30 unregulated inflow forecasts traces produced by the CBRFC using the ESP method, which relies on observed temperature and precipitation from 1991-2020. Lower Basin inflows are the historical intervening flows from 1991-2020 that align with the ESP traces.
  • Water Demand: Upper Basin demands are estimated and incorporated in the unregulated inflow forecasts provided by the CBRFC; Lower Basin demands are developed in coordination with the Lower Basin States and Mexico.
  • Policy: 2007 Interim Guidelines, Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, and Minute 323 are modeled reflecting Colorado River policies.
  • Additional details are available in CRMMS Ensemble Mode page. All modeling assumptions and projections are subject to varying degrees of uncertainty. Please refer to this discussion of uncertainty for more information.


    5-Year Probabilistic Projections presented in the tables below are reported as the percentage of projected Lake Powell and Lake Mead operations that fall below critically low elevations or are within each operational tier in the next five years…

    The following two figures show a combination of historical and projected reservoir elevations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

    For additional information or questions, please contact us via email at: ColoradoRiverModeling@usbr.gov.

    To be notified when updated projections are available, please email ColoradoRiverModeling@usbr.gov with “Add Me” as the subject.

    2022 Begins with $1 Million Awarded for Five New Water Projects: Community Funding Partnership begins its second year supporting local projectsCommunity Funding Partnership begins its second year supporting local projects — The #ColoradoRiver District #COriver #aridfication

    Winter sunset in the Upper Colorado River Basin. Photo credit: The Colorado River District

    Click the link to read the release on the Colorado River District website (Marielle Cowdin and Lindsay DeFrates):

    The passing of ballot measure 7A continues to pay dividends to communities across the fifteen counties of the Colorado River District through the Community Funding Partnership (CFP). The Community Funding Partnership program closed its inaugural year with nearly $3 million distributed to 23 multi-benefit water projects, six of which were fully completed within a year after funding.

    “We continue to be humbled by the creativity and resilience of our West Slope water users as they move ideas into action and confront the realities of a hotter and drier future,” said Amy Moyer, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the River District.

    Community Funding Partnership grants have also aided recipients in leveraging over $40 million from other funding sources. With the passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in late 2021, even more federal funding will be available for projects which prioritize infrastructure upgrades and water quality. Given these new opportunities and the Community Funding Partnership’s increased notoriety across the District, staff anticipates increased demands and applications in 2022.

    “I am glad to see that awareness of this program is growing throughout our district,” said Moyer. “We are looking forward to working with new partners on projects of all scopes in this upcoming year.”

    At the recent Special Joint Board meeting on February 9, Moyer presented four new projects to the Board of Directors for funding approval. The approved projects total over $1 million in new grants to start off the CFP program’s second year. A fifth project, which did not require board action, was approved shortly thereafter.

    Below is a summary of the most recent project awards. A complete list of Community Funding Partnership projects is available on the River District’s website at: https://www.coloradoriverdistrict.org/community-funding-partnership/

    Eagle Mine

    Minturn Storage Tank Project, Town of Minturn
    $250,000 awarded, Eagle County

    At 25 –years-old, the Town of Minturn’s existing water tank is deteriorating and experiencing active water leaks. This project seeks to upgrade the Town of Minturn’s water infrastructure to address existing water loss rates, increased wildfire risk in the area, and preparations to meet the community’s development demands.

    Fruitgrowers Reservoir

    Fruitgrowers Dam Outlet Gates Improvement Project, Orchard City Irrigation District
    $225,000 awarded, Delta County

    The Orchard City Irrigation District (OCID) has partnered with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, owners of the Fruitgrowers Reservoir, to plan for upgrades to the reservoir’s control gates. The project modernizes an irrigation dam and reservoir that has been used continuously since 1937, while allowing for more accurate flow monitoring and water releases.

    A gaging station in the Yampa River near Maybell has documented 1.5 million acre-feet a century ago to 1.1 million acre-feet now, with one recent year showing only 500,000 acre-feet. Photo/Allen Best

    Maybell Diversion and Headgate Modernization Project, The Nature Conservancy
    $500,000 awarded, Moffat County

    This proposed project involves reconstructing the historic Maybell diversion and modernizing the headgate in the lower Yampa River. The project will improve drought resilience and habitat connectivity in at least 20 miles of the Yampa River, while supporting the recovery of endangered fish and meeting water users’ long-term irrigation needs.

    Laying pipe near Crawford, Colorado. Photo credit: USBR

    West Slope Growing Water Smart Projects, The Sonoran Institute
    $102,000 awarded, District-wide

    This project will deliver a Growing Water Smart training and assistance program for five to seven West Slope communities in the fall of 2023. The program aims to catalyze implementation of water conservation measures and the wise use of our water assets through land use planning. The project focuses on strengthening local land-use policies that influence water demand and to support communities as they manage their water resources into the future.

    The Schatz Ditch irrigates nearly 70 acres of land south of Silt, according to a ditch inventory by Colorado River Engineering. The ditch is one of 59 inventoried in the Middle Colorado region of western Colorado.

    Silt Preserve Water Rights and Pond Delivery, Middle Colorado Watershed Council
    $8,250 awarded, Garfield County

    In 2008, the Aspen Valley Land Trust worked with the Town of Silt and other community partners to purchase and permanently conserve the 132-acre Silt River Preserve. Once heavily grazed and later part of a proposed 2,000‐unit development, this land has the restoration potential to become a natural, riverside park that incorporates innovative agricultural projects. Funds will support restoration opportunities to re-establish high-quality riparian and transitional upland areas.

    Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project receives funding from federal infrastructure law — The Farmington #NewMexico Daily Times

    Installing pipe along the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Photo credit: USBR

    Click the link to read the article from The Farmington Daily Times website (Noel Lyn Smith). Here’s an excerpt:

    The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is receiving $123 million from the recent federal infrastructure law to help complete the regional water system.

    U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced this week that $1.7 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be used to fulfill settlements for several tribal water rights claims, in addition to funding for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project…

    Components of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project remain under construction in northwest New Mexico. When completed, it will deliver San Juan River water to communities on the Navajo Nation and the Jicarilla Apache Nation as well as the city of Gallup…

    The $123 million will fully fund four existing construction projects and two new construction contracts that the bureau plans to award this fiscal year…

    According to the bureau, the current construction projects are pumping plants in Sheep Springs and in the area of Bahatl’ah and Coyote Canyon chapters, a pipeline from Yah-ta-hey to Tsé Bonito and the segment that will serve Church Rock, Iyanbito, Bááháálí, Chichiltah and Tsé Lichíí chapters.

    The amount will also pay for the project’s portion on a new electrical transmission line being built by Western Area Power Authority and Navajo Tribal Utility Authority…

    That settlement will bring a regional water system to the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso and Tesuque.

    Many Indian reservations are located in or near contentious river basins where demand for water outstrips supply. Map courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

    Panama Enacts a #RightsofNature Law, Guaranteeing the Natural World’s ‘Right to Exist, Persist and Regenerate’ — Inside #Climate News

    Photo credit: Destimap.com.

    Click the link to read the article on Inside Climate News (Katie Surma). Here’s an excerpt:

    After just over a year of debate in Panama’s National Assembly, President ​​Laurentino Cortizo signed legislation on Thursday that defines nature as “a unique, indivisible and self-regulating community of living beings, elements and ecosystems interrelated to each other that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.”

    The legislation includes six paragraphs of rights extended to nature, including the “right to exist, persist and regenerate its life cycles,” the “right to conserve its biodiversity,” and the “right to be restored after being affected directly or indirectly by any human activity.”

    Panama now joins Bolivia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, among other countries, which have either issued court decisions, enacted laws or amended constitutions recognizing the legal rights of nature. Panama’s law will go into effect one year after it is published in the country’s Official Gazette.

    The legislation also imposes new obligations on Panama’s government, including a requirement that its plans, policies and programs respect the rights of nature. It instructs the government to develop manufacturing processes and energy policies that safeguard ecosystems, and it requires the government to promote the rights of nature as part of its foreign policy.

    Say hello to the new newsletter “Nine Basins Bulletin”

    Click the link to read the newsletter at Nine Basins Bulletin. Here’s an excerpt:

    This is your new water newsletter.

    The Nine Basins Bulletin is the new newsletter from the Southwestern Water Conservation District and the Water Information Program, a summary of the latest updates from southwest Colorado. In this email forum, we want to raise awareness, engagement, and coordination among our nine distinct watersheds—and share our successes with the state. It’s for you.

    Send your updates, jobs, and events to lauras@swwcd.org.

    What would you like your newsletter to be called? Submit the best newsletter name and win free admission to the seminar and kudos in the next edition…

    Southwestern Water Conservation District Awards $197,500 to Local Water Projects

    At their February meeting, the Southwestern Water Conservation District Board of Directors approved grants to support the following local water projects:

    $60,000 for the Eaklor Ditch Company’s emergency piping project in the Navajo river basin

    $28,500 to repair Lone Cone Reservoir’s outlet and intake in the San Miguel river basin

    $25,000 toward the Mancos Conservation District’s remote metering program for three historic irrigation ditches

    $16,500 to support the Dolores River Restoration Partnership’s ongoing monitoring and stewardship of their tamarisk removal project

    $30,000 for the Town of Pagosa Springs’ Yamaguchi South river restoration project on the San Juan river

    $16,000 to help Animas Watershed Partnership launch a basin-wide stream management planning process

    $5,000 for the Mancos Conservation District’s urban water quality and conservation plan

    $16,500 for Science on the Fly’s innovative partnership with anglers to collect water quality data in the San Miguel, Animas and La Plata basins

    2022 #COleg: #Nuclear bill failed, but the conversation will continue — @BigPivots #ActOnClimate

    Colorado State Capitol. Photo credit: Allen Best/Big Pivots

    Click the link to read the article on Big Pivots (Allen Best):

    A bill proposing study of nuclear energy in Colorado was killed in an obscure legislative committee last week by the majority Democrats.

    This debate isn’t over, though, nor will it be until we’ve learned how to store our bounty of renewable energy for weeks or even months.

    We have made huge strides since voters in 2004 mandated Colorado’s largest utilities achieve 10% of their generation from renewables by 2015. Xcel Energy now expects to achieve 86% penetration of renewables by 2030. Nearly all other utilities, large and small, expect to be close behind, or like the Glenwood Springs-based Holy Cross Energy, further ahead.

    Sharing of renewables across broad, multi-state areas will be imperative. Smaller, incremental approaches will help. For example, new programs will help us run our dishwashers and charge our electric cars when renewable energy is most abundant.

    This gets utilities to maybe 90% emissions-free electricity without imperiling reliability or jacking up costs. It’s that last 10% that perplexes.

    Possible paths include molten-salt storage. Xcel Energy considers this an option at Hayden, in northwestern Colorado, when it closes those coal units by 2028. Tri-State, operator of the three coal units at Craig, has indicated an openness to all options, including green hydrogen, which is made from renewable electricity and water in a still-expensive process. Some hope for improved batteries.

    Divide West Unaweep Canyon. Photo credit: Atlas Obscura

    Another answer may be pumped-storage hydro, as Xcel has been thinking about in Unaweep Canyon, in western Colorado. Others have similar hydro thoughts for the Yampa Valley.

    State Sen. Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, represents Craig and Hayden. An electrical engineer by training, Rankin had a career in technology, including a stint managing the aerospace division of Ford Motors. He pitched nuclear energy last week to members of the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee as necessary for Colorado to meet its decarbonization goals.

    That a Republican representing coal country accepts that coal is not coming back is itself noteworthy. In Wyoming, many have not.
    The second major component of the bill was the most telling. Rankin initially wanted Colorado’s economic development agency to commission the $500,000 study (pared to $250,000 before the vote). The Colorado Energy Office, the more obvious choice, was too strictly focused on wind and solar, he said.

    That’s not entirely accurate. Wind and solar have been major successes, but just weeks before, the energy office released a study about the legal framework Colorado needs for carbon capture and storage. Carbon capture would allow continued burning of natural gas—a possible way to get to 100%—or, for that matter, burning of coal.

    Rankin was absolutely on target in describing nuclear power as being a way to make use of existing infrastructure, both the coal plant sites at Hayden and Craig and transmission. Nuclear could also produce jobs and tax base for those communities. Just as 100% emissions-free energy (at an affordable price) remains elusive, so do the answers for Craig’s economy once the coal plants close. For the same reasons, commissioners in Pueblo County last summer quietly began pushing the idea of nuclear energy.

    Cost is the conversational crux of nuclear. The technology has a history of high costs for construction. A new generation of small, modular reactors, if done in many places, may be more economical. One such reactor backed financially by Bill Gates is proposed for a Wyoming coal town, but it’s years from breaking ground. It may be the future—but it’s a big gamble.

    Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa Observatory August 7, 2021.

    Climate change is an even larger, more costly gamble. That’s one reason nuclear power does not fall neatly along a Republican/Democratic divide. One person who testified in support of Rankin’s bill identified himself as a card-carrying Democratic activist.

    Democrats were unpersuaded, even after Rankin moved the study to the energy office. He never explained exactly what answers this study would have delivered that couldn’t be found elsewhere. The bill seemed more intent on making a political statement than delivering useful information. But then Democratic legislative leaders had made a statement themselves by not assigning the bill to the energy committee.

    Had the bill advanced, we would have heard from State Sen. Chris Hansen, a Democrat and a key architect of Colorado’s energy transition. Growing up in a Kansas farm town, Hansen became enamored of nuclear energy. Even as he earned a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering, though, he pivoted his studies to economics, capping it with a Ph.D. The economics of nuclear energy, he told me last June, is why he believes the technology won’t be a major answer to the climate emergency.

    Until we get to 100% renewables, though, it’s likely to be on the table.

    Snow falls around Pagosa Country, multiple feet in the mountains — The #PagosaSpringsSun #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    Click the link to read the article on The Pagosa Springs Sun website (Clayton Chaney). Here’s an excerpt:

    Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 17 inches of fresh snowfall on Tuesday afternoon and 25 inches from the storm as of 6 a.m. Wednesday…According to the U.S. Depart- ment of Agriculture (USDA) National Water and Climate Center’s snow pack report, the Wolf Creek summit, at 11,000 feet of eleva- tion, had 25.9 inches of snow water equivalent as of 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22. The Wolf Creek summit was at 113 percent of the Feb. 22 snow- pack median. The San Miguel, Dolores, Ani- mas and San Juan river basins were at 88 percent of the Feb. 22 median in terms of snow pack.

    Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map February 26, 2022 via the NRCS.

    Future water supplies…discussed by San Juan Water Conservancy District — The #PagosaSprings Sun #SanJuanRiver

    Pagosa Springs. Photo credit: Colorado.com

    Click the link to read the article on The Pagosa Springs Sun (Josh Pike):

    The San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) Board of Directors discussed future water supplies and housing in Archuleta County at its February 21, 2022 meeting. During a discussion on hiring a consultant for water demand analysis, the board considered the broader question of the future water needs of Archuleta County. This discussion focused on the construction and design of SJWCD’s Dry Gulch Reservoir project, a proposed reservoir to provide additional water to the area.

    Questions emerged, however, about what size of reservoir would be needed to satisfy Archuleta County’s demands for water and when such a reservoir might be needed. The directors agreed that COVID has caused a large spike in population growth over the last two years. However, there were differing opinions on whether this growth would continue and how rapidly it would occur. According to the directors, the statistics on growth, in turn, would impact the water demands of the county. If these water demands were sufficiently large, they would necessitate the construction of the Dry Gulch Reservoir, which the board agreed is currently unnec- essary to meet Archuleta County’s present water needs.