#EarthDay 2022

Mammatus clouds, associated with strong convection, grace a sunset over Fort Collins, Colorado, home of the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University. Photo credit: Steve Miller/CIRA

Water Planet

The abundance of water on Earth has shaped nearly every aspect of our lives, even if we are not directly aware of it. Using data sets from a variety of sources, including NOAA and NASA, water is shown to be the primary driver of Earth’s dynamic systems. It is the source of all life on the planet, which is astounding, considering just how rare and precious Earth’s fresh water resources are

#Snowpack study should help make #water predictions more accurate — The #CrestedButte News

Map of the Gunnison River drainage basin in Colorado, USA. Made using public domain USGS data. By Shannon1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69257550

Click the link to read the article on The Crested Butte News website (Mark Reaman). Here’s an excerpt:

Four times this spring, local resident and Desert Research Institute scientist Rosemary Carroll will aid Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) field scientists, Alex Newman and Curtis Beutler. They will perform ground surveys as airplanes use high resolution lasers to measure the depth of the snowpack and snowpack reflectivity, or albedo. They will dig snow pits for detailed measurements of snow depth, hardness and density. In addition, they will look at snow grain size and shape and note any dust layers. The data helps determine the accuracy of the measurements conducted by the air.

“These airborne data collection efforts provide a map of our snowpack at high-spatial resolution from the mountain tops to the valley bottom. When ASO (Airborne Snow Observatory) is combined with ground surveys and snow observations over time at our snow telemetry (SNOTEL) network, we can better track our snowpack and manage our water resources,” Carroll explained. “As climate changes, stream water forecasting models built on historical precedence, are not able to adequately predict stream runoff. The ASO methodology has been shown effective in California for improving stream water forecasting…The state of Colorado has recently allocated nearly $1.9 million to track snow using ASO.

One of the two Twin Otter aircraft used by the Airborne Snow Observatory mission to study snowpack in the Western U.S. Credit: NASA

Carroll explained that ASO flies a fixed-wing aircraft across the basin using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) with no snow, and then again with snow. The difference between the two data sets produces a snapshot in time of snow depth every three meters. ASO also uses a spectrometer to measure snow reflectivity. New snowfall has a very high reflectivity, while older snow or snow with dust has a lower reflectivity. Less reflective snowpack will melt more quickly than high reflective snowpack. The resulting ASO data helps to generate precise readings on the amount of water in the snow and guide estimates on where and when this snow may melt soonest. ASO not only quantifies total snow volume but also indicates where snow has moved across the landscape through things like avalanches and wind. ASO-informed stream water forecasts have been shown to have accuracy rates of close to 98% or almost double traditional forecasts…

Carroll is also managing a local stream discharge network so that there is high spatial and temporal data of streamflow across the smaller-order streams in the East River. She has stream gauges on Quigley, Rustlers, Rock and Copper Creek, to name a few. She currently manages 13 stream gauges. By measuring streamflow across the upper East River and in combination with the stream gauges maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), she can monitor sub-watershed response to different snow conditions…

Carroll emphasized that mountain snowpack is a critical water resource globally and is also extremely sensitive to climate change. “The East River is emblematic of these mountain systems, and it has become the largest field observatory for integrated mountain hydroclimate and biogeochemical response,” she said. “Work between entities like the Department of Energy, NASA, NOAA, the USGS and others, and with help from RMBL, the research in the East River is critical to understanding how mountain systems store and release water and solutes. It is extremely exciting!”

Bring on the #ClimateChange lawsuits in #Colorado — Colorado Newsline

A view of Xcel Energy’s Cherokee Generating Station in Adams County on Feb. 20, 2022. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

Colorado officials are failing to respond to climate change with the urgency the crisis demands. The least they can do is let everyday Coloradans help.

The state already expects residents to do their part. Gov. Jared Polis prefers to nudge individuals to make lifestyle changes such as upgrading to an electric vehicle rather than require that a corporation inconvenience itself with new climate-saving measures.

But the state should give individuals the most muscular climate-action tool there is — the power to sue.


With such authority at citizens’ disposal, Colorado would have all the personnel it could need to help the state enforce its environmental standards.

Texas lawmakers when they adopted the odious anti-abortion Senate Bill 8 last year understood the potential of citizen suits, in which private citizens are empowered to enforce laws through the courts. Texas Republicans adopted an extreme form of citizen-suit authority as an underhanded device to shield the law from legal challenge, but citizen suits themselves are nothing new.

A key component of the nation’s primary environmental laws — such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act — is that they allow “any person” to sue to ensure compliance with the laws and to force federal environmental agencies to do their job.

“The citizen suits provision reflected a deliberate choice by Congress to widen citizen access to the courts, as a supplemental and effective assurance” that federal environmental laws would be implemented and enforced, said the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 1974.

Some research suggests that most federal citizen suits are filed under the Clean Air Act, which sets national emissions standards for a wide range of air pollutants and regulates the toxic substances electric utilities and other large sources can release into the air. It was under the Clean Air Act that in 2017 that environmental advocacy group WildEarth Guardians brought a successful citizen suit against Colorado Springs Utilities, which resulted in air quality improvements at the coal-fired Martin Drake power plant.

Many states grant citizen-suit authority for enforcement of state environmental standards, which can be more protective than federal standards. Colorado is not one of them. But it should be.

A report from 2004 put at 16 the number of states that had granted citizens “general authority to enforce state environmental statutes,” the exemplar being Michigan. Colorado law allows for citizen suits related to a narrow form of oil and gas regulation, notes Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. But to his knowledge the provision has never been invoked, he said. And Newsline confirmed this week that citizen-suit authority remains absent from the Colorado parallels to the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

“The state-level versions of those acts, including the Solid Waste Act, Hazardous Waste, or Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act, do not have citizen suit provisions,” wrote a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Law in an email.

The Legislature should update these sections of state environmental law by inserting citizen-suit authority. A 2022 bill, in fact, that never got beyond draft form would have granted citizen-suit authority in Colorado for “certain clean air regulations,” according to a version shared with Newsline. The draft indicated that Boulder Democratic Rep. Edie Hooton had contemplated sponsoring it. Hooton did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Why not let citizens lend a hand? Give them access to the courts and watch enforcement of the state’s environmental standards achieve a new urgency.

The stakes of the climate change crisis warrant an all-hands-on-deck approach to enforcement of environmental regulations. As a practical matter, Colorado could use all the help it can get. The state’s clean-air regulatory bodies have long faced complaints they lack the resources to properly keep up with enforcement duties, and whistleblowers have alleged regulators are too cozy with polluters even if they did enjoy sufficient staffing levels.

Why not let citizens lend a hand? Give them access to the courts and watch enforcement of the state’s environmental standards achieve a new urgency.

In December, California Gov. Gavin Newsom in response to the U.S. Supreme Court allowing the Texas abortion ban to stand expressed outrage, but he embraced the precedent as an opportunity. He spearheaded state legislation that, modeled on the Texas ban, would allow private citizens in California to sue manufacturers and sellers of assault weapons. This action suggests the availability of even more aggressive forms of environmental citizen suits — the kind that go further than merely allowing citizen enforcement of standards already on the books. Colorado lawmakers should explore such options. 

The deteriorating state of the climate indisputably justifies bold emergency action. Accelerating catastrophic effects of a warming planet are seen throughout the world. The Southwest is more than two decades into a severe drought, and warmer, drier conditions are fueling disastrous wildfires and depleting water resources.

Colorado citizens are suffering in the face of climate change. Citizen suits would give them a powerful way to combat it.


Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

#Colorado replants and reimagines: Following a killing freeze, some family fruit farms are reconsidering their future — Good Fruit Grower

Palisade is just east of Grand Junction and lies in a fertile valley between the Colorado River and Mt. Garfield which is the formation in the picture. They’ve grown wonderful peaches here for many years and have recently added grape vineyards such as the one in the picture. By inkknife_2000 (7.5 million views +) – https://www.flickr.com/photos/23155134@N06/15301560980/, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Click the link to read the article on the Good Fruit Grower website (Kate Prengaman). Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado orchardists are no strangers to frost, but 2020 delivered a one-two punch from which peach and apple growers will need years to recover. First, a spring frost left growers with just 15 to 20 percent of a normal peach crop. Then, in an unseasonably warm October, sudden cold hit before the trees hardened off, killing peach trees across a region where it’s the top crop…Injured trees valiantly leafed out and set scattered fruit, only to wither in the summer heat. Signs of gummosis, from cytospora infecting winter injury wounds, abound…

Agriculture in the U.S. Southwest is at high risk from the impacts of climate change. EcoFlight photo of the North Fork Valley by the Western Slope Conservation Center.

Ela’s farm, located in a high-elevation valley in Delta County, was one of the hardest-hit places, according to Ioannis Minas, a Colorado State University pomologist based in nearby Grand Junction. But across the region, the late October freeze was so devasting because it had been such a warm fall that trees had not begun to acclimate.

Ela, who directly markets fruits and some vegetables, was still picking tomatoes the day before. “The quote is that climate change sucks,” he said. “Colorado is especially hard hit because we already farm in microclimates.”


Like most of the region’s orchardists, the Talbotts’ roots are in apple growing, but by the late 1990s, advances in controlled atmosphere storage meant they could no longer capture a premium from harvesting a week ahead of Washington, Charlie said. Peaches, on the other hand, start with an empty pipeline every season, and with the high sugars that develop from the region’s hot days and cool nights, they soon began to develop a reputation for quality…Their Palisade peaches demand such a premium that a Colorado yogurt producer is willing to pay to haul processing-grade fruit from the Talbotts’ packing shed all the way to Peterson Farms in Michigan to make it into puree that’s hauled back to Noosa’s central-Colorado headquarters for its “Palisade peach yoghurt.” There’s no closer processing anymore, Bruce said…

Water worries top the list of fears for the future for Williams and the Talbotts, too. The Colorado River Basin is in a 22-year drought that some experts predict is the new normal. A compact governs the millions of acre-feet of water from the snowmelt-fed river across seven states and Mexico. The district that serves Delta County has run short in recent years, and while farmers in the Palisade area have water rights that predate the compact, ongoing shortages paired with increasing demand from urban areas puts growers’ future supply in question.

After wildfires, scorched trees could disrupt #water supplies — The Associated Press #wildfire

Watershed Assessment Vulnerability Evaluation (WAVE) volunteers work to install silt fencing immediately above Northern Water’s Willow Creek Reservoir. Photo by Emanuel Deleon, Colorado State University

Click the link to read the article on the Associated Press website (Brittany Peterson). Here’s an excerpt:

In a California forest torched by wildfire last summer, researcher Anne Nolin examines a handful of the season’s remaining snow, now darkened by black specks from the burned trees above. Spring heat waves had already melted much of the year’s limited snowfall across California and parts of the West when Nolin visited in early April. But she and her colleague are studying another factor that might’ve made the snow vanish faster in the central Sierra Nevada — the scorched trees, which no longer provide much shade and are shedding flecks of carbon.

Albedo effect

The darkened snow is “primed to absorb all that sunlight” and melt faster, said Nolin, who researches snow at the University of Nevada, Reno. As climate change fuels the spread of wildfires across the West, researchers want to know how the dual effect might disrupt water supplies. Communities often rely on melting snow in the spring to replenish reservoirs during dryer months. If snow melts earlier than normal, that would likely leave less water flowing in the summer when it’s most needed, Nolin said.

Multiple studies indicate that snow in a burned forest disappears up to several weeks sooner than snow in a healthy forest because of the lack of a shade canopy and carbon shedding from trees that intensifies the absorption of sunlight. Water forecasting factors in variables including snow density, soil moisture and air temperature. Although dark accumulation on snow isn’t widely measured, Tim Bardsley, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said it is a contributing factor to the timing of snowmelt and is worth considering incorporating into supply forecasting. Dust, ash and soot similarly affect snow by causing it to absorb more light in what’s known as the “albedo effect.” But California officials are increasingly worried about carbon, which absorbs even more.

Home court for #Colorado #climate lawsuits — @BigPivots #ActOnClimate

Suncor refinery Commerce City. Photo credit: Allen Best/Big Pivots

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

San Miguel County and Boulder lawsuits against two oil companies will be heard in Colorado. That helps. But these cases will still have an uphill struggle to prove damages that might seem obvious.

Colorado has abundant evidence of destruction caused by the warming, and more volatile, climate. Wildfires, ever larger and more destructive, now happen year-round, including the ghastly Marshall Fire of late December and the much smaller fires of recent weeks. Rising temperatures have robbed flows from the Colorado River, from which Boulder and Boulder County get substantial amounts of water. Air conditioning has become more necessity than luxury.

But can Boulder and other jurisdictions show harm from burning of fossil fuels — the primary cause of warming — in their climate liability lawsuits against oil companies?

Marshall Fire December 30, 2021. Photo credit: Boulder County

In 2018, Boulder (both the city and the county) as well as San Miguel County sued two oil giants, ExxonMobil and Suncor. These Colorado cases are among more than 20 climate lawsuits now in courts from Hawaii to Massachusetts. They’re the only cases from an inland state claiming actual damages from climate change — and after a recent legal victory, they could be among the first where substantive arguments are heard in court. (Only Honolulu’s case is on a faster track.)

Despite all the evidence of climate destruction, the legal case will be challenging, according to Pat Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School.

“In a court of law, you have to prove by the preponderance of evidence and you have to convince the jury, all 12 of them,” says Parenteau, who has advised some parties who filed similar lawsuits, but is not currently involved directly in the litigation.

He points to the difficulty of pinning health impacts on tobacco companies in the 1990s. “Cigarettes kill people. Global warming, per se, kills people: Heat waves kill people. High tides kill people.”

Proving responsibility in a courtroom will be the tricky part. “There are multiple links in the causal change that you have to prove with climate change,” Parenteau says. “It was difficult enough to prove with tobacco. It never was proven [in court]. It was just settled. Just imagine how difficult it is for climate change.”

Suncor operates a refinery in Commerce City northeast of downtown Denver that processes 98,000 barrels of oil daily. “We purchase crude oil from the Denver-Julesburg Basin, process it in Commerce City, and sell nearly 95% of our products within the state,” Suncor’s website says.

Exxon’s private prediction of the future growth of carbon dioxide levels (left axis) and global temperature relative to 1982 (right axis). Elsewhere in its report, Exxon noted that the most widely accepted science at the time indicated that doubling carbon dioxide levels would cause a global warming of 3°C. Illustration: 1982 Exxon internal briefing document

Exxon has no refinery in Colorado, but it does sell fuel in the state.

“They are the two most consequential oil companies in Colorado, given their local operations,” says Marco Simons, the lead attorney with EarthRights International, the organization representing the three jurisdictions in Colorado.

So far, the arguments in the Colorado cases (and others) have been about process, namely where the cases should be tried.

In legal cases, as in basketball, home court matters. This is likely why Exxon and Suncor wanted lawsuits filed against them by Boulder and San Miguel heard in federal courts instead of Colorado district courts.
“Basically, their argument was that you can’t let state law allow these people to seek remedy before climate change injury when federal law doesn’t provide that remedy,” Simons explains.

The oil companies lost that round. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled on Feb. 8 that the two lawsuits should be heard in Colorado. The court then ordered, on March 2, for that mandate to take effect.

“The court is basically saying there’s nothing wrong with using ordinary state law to hold oil companies accountable to their contribution to climate change,’” says Simons. “That does not in any way violate federal law. It’s not something inappropriate for states to do.”

arenteau agrees there is value to the climate cases being heard in state courts. The empirical evidence is clear: “Where do the states and cities find the best success? It’s in their own courts. The faster these cases get back to state courts from federal courts, the better.”

Colorado’s cases, originally filed as one, have been separated. San Miguel County’s case is to be heard in Denver District Court, and the Boulder and Boulder County case in Boulder County District Court.

Telluride. San Miguel County alleges damages to its skiing economy at Telluride. The case will be heard in Denver District Court.

Home-court advantage goes only so far. Attorneys for EarthRights International must now prove that the fossil fuels sold by Suncor and ExxonMobil in Colorado have produced damages from a changing climate to the local jurisdictions.

While many legal analysts say that will be difficult to prove, some observers think the Colorado lawsuits could be successful, even short of total courtroom victories.

One of those making that case is Cara Horowitz, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment, a program embedded in the law school at the University of California Los Angeles. She has coordinated with counsel for several jurisdictions in California that filed climate change lawsuits in 2017, but is no longer involved in those other climate liability cases.

“On an even more deep level, one goal that the plaintiffs have across the set of cases is undermining the social license of the corporations to do what they have been doing for decades,” says Horowitz. “They just need one good victory to hang their hats on.”

That could help supporters of these suits win verdicts in the court of public opinion.

Neither Suncor nor Exxon responded to requests for comment, but the premise of the fossil fuel companies is that they have been doing nothing wrong by peddling gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuel products.

Climate change-related lawsuits have been filed since the mid-1980s. Early lawsuits generally sought to force actions by state governments and federal agencies. The most notable such case is Massachusetts v. EPA, which resulted in the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 decision that gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. Other lawsuits, such as Connecticut vs. American Electric Power in 2011, targeted energy companies. For complex legal reasons, these cases using federal courts have struggled to go forward.

Investigative reports in 2015 by Inside Climate News and independent work by the Los Angeles Times about ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company, were important in triggering the wave of lawsuits of the last five years. The journalists showed that the oil giant misled the public about what it knew about climate change and the risks posed by fossil fuel emissions decades ago. The investigative series were based largely on the company’s internal records.

Since then have come a wave of lawsuits by state and local governments.

California jurisdictions — first Marin and San Mateo counties along with the city of Imperial Beach in July 2017, followed by Oakland and San Francisco that September — were at the forefront of suits by state and local governments. Currently pending are lawsuits filed by seven states and the District of Columbia and 19 by cities and counties, according to the Center for Climate Integrity.

These lawsuits fall into primarily two overlapping buckets. The two cases in Colorado fall into both.

In one bucket of lawsuits are claims of fraud and deception by oil companies, primarily by Exxon. The second bucket consists of suits alleging the oil companies have created “nuisances” that have caused damages. In the Colorado cases, local governments have suffered harm as a result, the lawsuits say.

“It’s about fundamental principles of tort law that basically boil down to, ‘If you harm someone, you have to pay for it,’” explains Simons, the EarthRights attorney.

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 @GreatLakesPeck.

The 2018 lawsuits for the Colorado jurisdictions cite many climate impacts from fossil fuels. Rising temperatures will affect water supplies. Emergency management services will have to be ramped up because of increased wildfires, heavy rainfall and other extreme weather events. Warmer temperatures will worsen the already problematic ground-level ozone in Boulder County.

This car in Superior was among the victims of the Marshall Fire in late December 2021 that burned 1,084 homes and caused 30,000 residents of Superior and Louisville to flee. Photo/Allen Best

Some increased costs have already occurred, the lawsuit filed by the three Colorado jurisdictions in 2018 says. It points to the West Nile virus spread by mosquitoes amid rising temperatures. Prior to 2002, Boulder had no mosquito control program. That was the year the virus first appeared in Colorado. After that, costs of mosquito abatement grew steadily. By 2018 mosquito management nicked the city budget roughly $250,000. In Boulder County, the cost approached $400,000.

Buildings will have to be modified, the lawsuit says. “Due to the expected continued heat rise in Boulder County, a place that historically rarely saw days above 95 degrees, Boulder County and the City of Boulder are expected to see increased public health heat risks, such as heat stroke, and their associated costs,” the lawsuit filed in 2018 says.

This increasing heat, the lawsuit continues, will drive up costs, such as that of cooling infrastructure for buildings. “Cooling centers that are available during heat waves, and/or assisting with home air-conditioning installation, could cost Boulder County and the City of Boulder millions of dollars by mid-century.”

The lawsuit cites the $37.7 million of a $575.5 school construction bond for the Boulder Valley School District used for air-conditioning and better ventilation.

How the Colorado cases are different

Colorado’s lawsuits were the first filed in an interior state. Even now, the only other states without coastlines to have filed climate change lawsuits against oil companies are Minnesota and Vermont. They claim fraud. That makes the Colorado cases the only ones claiming damages.

This duality, an inland state claiming actual damages from climate change, sets Colorado’s cases apart from all others.

“It’s easy to imagine a city like Miami or other coastal cities being imperiled by climate change,” says Horowitz, the UCLA law professor. “The Boulder case is helping to illustrate that even inland cities, cities in the middle of America, are being harmed by climate change.”

One long-sought goal of the litigation is getting to what in courts is called the discovery phase. That’s the stage where documents, emails, other correspondence and information related to the suits could reach the public and prove devastating to the company. (That is essentially what happened to the tobacco industry, with the release of memos and documents in discovery.)

Horowitz, the law professor in Los Angeles, expects the filings and rulings to accelerate. “You will start to get state court decisions sooner rather than later, by which I mean probably in the next year,” she says. Appeals will follow, but these Colorado cases — and those similarly proceeding in other states — will move along.

“I wouldn’t think it will take five to 10 years,” she says.
And the fact that Colorado has no beach-front property could spur other similar cases. Sea level rise is not imminently threatening Boulder the way it is in Imperial Beach, a city of 26,000 people near San Diego that has also filed a climate change lawsuit.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if more jurisdictions realize they will need help in funding climate change adaptation,” Horowitz says, “and the fossil fuel companies are logical places to look as sources for that funding.”

This story was prepared in collaboration with the Boulder Reporting Lab, whose editing and suggestions enormously improved the story.

#Colorado, #Utah tribe worries nation’s last uranium mill is contaminating water, causing uptick in illness — The #Denver Post #nuclear

Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill from inside Bears Ears National Monument. Photo credit: Jonathan Thompson

Click the link to read the article on The Denver Post website (Conrad Swanson). Here’s an excerpt:

The White Mesa Mill produces refined uranium, vanadium and rare earth compounds used for nuclear fuels, the creation of steel, batteries and electric cars. Toxic compounds left over from the process, called tailings, are poured into massive ponds on site. White Mesa residents take note when smoke rises from the mill and keep close watch over the tailing ponds, Badback said. They cough painfully when the wind blows. Children suffer from respiratory problems and adults worry about cancer. Little information is shared with those in White Mesa, part of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s territory that extends into Colorado and New Mexico, Badback said. Residents are mostly on their own.

Documents obtained and analyzed by The Denver Post show that Utah regulators have cited the mill at least 40 times since 1999 for violations ranging from administrative issues and failures to adequately collect and report data to “discharging pollutants” into the state’s waterways. For all those violations the mill has paid a total of $176,874.91 in penalties. For context, in the third quarter of 2021, Energy Fuels, the company that owns and operates the mill, reported that it had more than $100 million in cash. Monitoring wells at the site show concentrations of uranium, nitrates, cadmium, nickel and more regularly testing above state limits. Uranium levels at one well spiked over 600% higher than acceptable federal limits for drinking water, data collected by the mill shows.

Tribal officials say recent protests and official appeals against contamination in the ground water only resulted in state regulators raising the thresholds for acceptable limits. Experts hired by the tribe caught leaks at the tailing ponds and say other leaks are likely. Ultimately tribal officials and residents in the area say they’re concerned the toxins will seep deeper into the ground and contaminate the Burro Canyon Aquifer — which is already showing signs of contamination — and then into the Navajo Aquifer underneath, on which some 50,000 Native Americans depend.

Annual Operating Plan for #ColoradoRiver Reservoirs 2022 is hot off the presses from Reclamation #COriver #aridification

Click the link to read the letter on the Reclamation website (Noe Santos and Heather Patno). Click through to view the operating plans for all of the Colorado River Basin reservoirs. Here’s an excerpt:

The operation of Lake Powell and Lake Mead in this April 2022 24-Month Study is pursuant to the December 2007 Record of Decision on Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead (Interim Guidelines), and reflects the 2022 Annual Operating Plan (AOP). Pursuant to the Interim Guidelines, the August 2021 24-Month Study projections of the January 1, 2022, system storage and reservoir water surface elevations set the operational tier for the coordinated operation of Lake Powell and Lake Mead during 2022.

The August 2021 24-Month study projected the January 1, 2022, Lake Powell elevation to be less than 3,575 feet and at or above 3,525 feet and the Lake Mead elevation to be at or above 1,025 feet. Consistent with Section 6.C.1 of the Interim Guidelines the operational tier for Lake Powell in water year 2022 is the Mid- Elevation Release Tier and the water year release volume from Lake Powell will be 7.48 million acre-feet (maf).

The August 2021 24-Month Study projected the January 1, 2022 Lake Mead elevation to be at or below 1,075 feet and at or above 1,050 feet. Consistent with Section 2.D.1 of the Interim Guidelines, a Shortage Condition consistent with Section 2.D.1.a will govern the operation of Lake Mead for calendar year 2022. In addition, Section III.B of Exhibit 1 to the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) Agreement will also govern the operation of Lake Mead for calendar year 2022. Efforts to conserve additional water in Lake Mead under a 2021 Lower Basin Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate near-term actions to maintain the water surface elevation of Lake Mead will also take place in calendar year 2022.

The Upper Basin Drought Response Operations Agreement (DROA) provisions to protect a target elevation at Lake Powell of 3,525 feet have been incorporated into the April 2022 24-Month Study and includes an adjusted monthly release volume pattern for Glen Canyon Dam that will hold back a total of 0.350 maf in Lake Powell from January through April. There are continued discussions when and how that same amount of water (0.350 maf) will be released later in the water year. The annual release volume from Lake Powell for water year 2022 will continue to be 7.48 maf. If future projections indicate the monthly adjustments are insufficient to protect Powell’s elevation, Reclamation will again consider additional water releases from the upstream initial units of the Colorado River Storage Project later this year.

Current runoff projections into Lake Powell are provided by the National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center and are as follows. The observed unregulated inflow into Lake Powell for the month of March was 0.329 maf or 55 percent of the 30-year average from 1991 to 2020. The April unregulated inflow forecast for Lake Powell is 0.600 maf or 66 percent of the 30-year average. The 2022 April through July unregulated inflow forecast is 4.100 maf or 64 percent of average.

In this study, the calendar year 2022 diversion for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) is projected to be 1.110 maf. The calendar year 2022 diversion for the Central Arizona Project (CAP) is projected to be 0.989 maf. Consumptive use for Nevada above Hoover (SNWP Use) is projected to be 0.251 maf for calendar year 2022.

Due to changing Lake Mead elevations, Hoover’s generator capacity is adjusted based on estimated effective capacity and plant availability. The estimated effective capacity is based on projected Lake Mead elevations. Unit capacity tests will be performed as the lake elevation changes. This study reflects these changes in the projections.

Hoover, Davis, and Parker Dam historical gross energy figures come from PO&M reports provided by the Lower Colorado Region’s Power Office, Bureau of Reclamation, Boulder City, Nevada. Questions regarding these historical energy numbers can be directed to Colleen Dwyer at (702) 293-8420.

Runoff and inflow projections into upper basin reservoirs are provided by the Colorado River Forecasting Service through the National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center and are as follows in thousand acre-feet (kaf):

The 2022 AOP is available online at: https://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/aop/AOP22.pdf.

The Interim Guidelines are available online at: https://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/strategies/RecordofDecision.pdf.

The Colorado River DCPs are available online at: https://www.usbr.gov/dcp/finaldocs.html.

The 2021 Lower Basin MOU is available online at: https://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/2021_MOU.pdf.

The Upper Basin Hydrology Summary is available online at: https://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/crsp/studies/24Month_04_ucb.pdf.

#Colorado attorney general vows: ‘We are going to protect our #water’ — The #Sterling Journal Advocate #SouthPlatteRiver

People work on the Perkins County Canal in the 1890s. The project eventually was abandoned due to financial troubles. But remnants are still visible near Julesburg.
Perkins County Historical Society

Click the link to read the article on The Sterling Journal-Advocate website (Jeff Rice). Here’s an excerpt:

[Phil] Weiser was on a tour of northeast Colorado and met in Sterling with representatives of local government, law enforcement, education, mental health providers and others.

During the meeting, Weiser said he doubts the recently resurrected Perkins County Canal plan will ever see fruition. He said Nebraskans are as puzzled about Gov. Pete Rickett’s idea to complete the abandoned canal as Coloradans are.

“The Nebraska idea is not born of reasonable dialogue,” Weiser said. “We don’t know where it’s coming from, but it appears to be more (politically motivated) than any real need for water. We are going to work to protect our water.”

The AG said Coloradans shouldn’t be overly concerned about the Perkins project, calling it a “product of one moment in time.”

While water storage, conservation and creative allocation ideas are laudable, Weiser said, those ideas have to be good for everyone involved. He pointed to the plan to drill into the aquifer under the San Luis Valley and pipe water to Douglas County as the kind of “buy and dry” scheme that should be avoided.