How low can the #ColoradoRiver go? #Drought forces states to face tough choices about #water — The #Arizona Republic #COriver #aridification

Click the link to read the article on the Arizona Republic website (Brandon Loomis). Here’s an excerpt:

Water managers from across the Colorado River Basin are preparing to negotiate new rules for allocating the river’s dwindling flow and sharing the pain of a deepening shortage. They’re adapting the 100-year-old Colorado River Compact to a river that little resembles the bountiful gusher that negotiators from seven states and the federal government in 1922 thought — or hoped — would bless the Southwest forever. The stakes rise with every foot that Lake Mead and Lake Powell fall, as the states and the water users within them recognize they’re due for a tighter squeeze.

Las Vegas Lake Mead intake schematic, courtesy SNWA.

Arizona gets more than a third of its water from the river, growing abundant crops around Yuma and homes around Phoenix and Tucson. The Las Vegas area gets most of its water from the river and has built a deeper pipe in Lake Mead to assure its continued access. Late-developing states like Wyoming use water for ranching and energy development, and are hoping to continue growing on it…

Re-thinking the river’s flow

Before the states, Indigenous communities and water districts can agree on a new plan to more conservatively divvy the water, they’ll need to agree on how low the river might go…

The 2022 negotiators are debating whether they should plan for just 11 million acre-feet, as Entsminger’s Nevada agency already has penciled into its water security plans…

Brad Udall: Here’s the latest version of my 4-Panel plot thru Water Year (Oct-Sep) of 2021 of the Colorado River big reservoirs, natural flows, precipitation, and temperature. Data (PRISM) goes back or 1906 (or 1935 for reservoirs.) This updates previous work with

Since 2000, the river has delivered on average 12.3 million acre-feet a year, which is generally a couple of million less than the region has used. Consequently, the giant reservoirs that were full back then have tanked, Lake Mead to about a third of capacity, Lake Powell to a quarter…Planning for a regular supply of just 11 million acre-feet would obliterate long-held assumptions about how much water some or all of the users thought they were entitled for future growth. Contingencies for that level could severely limit growth potential in the Upper Basin, where Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah are far from fully developing their collective 7.5 million acre-foot share outlined by the compact…

Climate scientists who study and project the Colorado’s flows as the region warms believe even 11 million acre-feet could be wishful thinking. Some studies suggest heat’s toll on the water supply will drop the river to just 9 million acre-feet in coming decades, said Brad Udall, a Colorado State University researcher who has focused on the river for 20 years. “I could live with 11” as a planning guideline, even if it’s optimistic, Udall said. That projection is stark enough to require bold action that water managers could later build upon. It would follow the trajectory that scientists like Udall say represents the region’s heat-induced aridification, as opposed to temporary drought.

Community Agriculture Alliance: Five principles to boost soil health in Routt County — Steamboat Pilot & Today

Yampa River. Photo credit: Yampa River
Integrated Water Management Plan website

Click the link to read the article on the Steamboat Pilot & Today website (Clinton Whitten and Lyn Halliday). Here’s an excerpt:

The Routt County Conservation District (RCCD) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are looking at the basin from a watershed health perspective and developing programs to improve and protect the private lands that catch the precipitation in much of the basin.

The foundation of a healthy watershed is healthy soils. Not only do soils allow vegetation to grow, but they can act as a sponge that absorbs and stores precipitation. They provide the nutrients that allow life to flourish. At its base, soil is a combination of sand, silt and clay, but it’s much more than that. A single teaspoon of soil can contain billions of living organisms that make up an entire ecosystem. When this ecosystem is thriving, it provides the glues that hold the soil particles in place as water rushes through them, it cycles nutrients that would otherwise be unavailable for plant growth and it helps to build organic matter in the soil. Keeping a healthy soil ecosystem can help increase plant productivity, increase drought resilience and decrease the need for additional inputs.

NRCS has developed five principles that can be followed to maintain and develop healthy soils.

The first is to minimize soil disturbance. Plowing the soil not only destroys the habitat that these microorganisms have created, but it negates all of the benefits that they provide.

Crop residue November 4, 2021. Photo credit: Joel Schneekloth

The second is to keep the soil covered with plant residue. Residue increases infiltration and decreases erosion.

The third is to maximize plant diversity. Just like any ecosystem, soil ecosystems benefit from diversity, and diversity above ground means diversity below ground.

The fourth principle is to maintain a continuous growing root in the soil. We are limited by a short growing season, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep a live root in the soil year-round.

The fifth and final principle is to integrate livestock into the growing system. Livestock play a critical role in nutrient distribution and residue cycling.

A good first step to improving soil health on your property is to get a soil test that will give you a baseline to better understand where nutrients are limited or in abundance. The Routt County Conservation District has a grant program available that can pay for a soil test on fields that have the ability and intention of implementing management changes that could improve soil health.

For more information, visit For more information on practices that can help improve the health of your soil contact NRCS at

Lyn Halliday is the Board President of the Routt County Conservation District, and the Upper Yampa River Watershed coordinator. Clinton Whitten is the resource team lead with the National Resource Conservation Service. For more about the Community Agriculture Alliance, go to

Wright’s Mesa awarded $110k for #water: Water engineering analysis is on the way — The #Norwood Post

Lone Cone from Norwood

Click the link to read the article on the Telluride Planet website. Here’s an excerpt:

Local leaders are celebrating a win this week, after learning last Friday that the Norwood area was awarded a $110,000 grant for water. The Wright’s Mesa Water Planning and Prioritization Project (WMWPPP) partners are the recipients, and they were supported in the application process by the West End Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC)…

WMWPPP is a group that includes the Town of Norwood, San Miguel County, WEEDC, Norwood Water Commission, Farmers Water Development, the Lone Cone Ditch Company, the Norwood Fire Protection District, and the San Miguel Watershed Coalition.

The idea to go for funding came together in the summer of 2021, when Norwood Town Trustee Candy Meehan and District 3 Commissioner Holstrom were both students in Water Education Colorado’s program “Water Fluency.” One session in Water Fluency was focused on funding, and learning about the availability of funds for just the type of infrastructure needed in the local region “lit a fire” for Meehan and Holstrom. Meehan spearheaded the grant application effort, and she and Holstrom worked with Deanna Sheriff, of WEEDC, and April Montgomery, of the Telluride Foundation, to flesh out their idea of looking for ways to get some of the $80 million in monies available for known water projects identified by the Southwest Basin Roundtable…

With funding secured, an engineering firm will be chosen to conduct a collaborative water infrastructure planning and prioritization analysis for all of Wright’s Mesa…

Though this winter appears to be looking good regarding snowpack, the local region is still classified in drought — with a changing climate, the need for housing and development, and the critical need for repairing and updating the town’s current water infrastructure…

The Colorado Water Conservation Board made its decision to fund Norwood during its March 15 meeting and announced the decision on March 18.