7 states and federal government lack direction on cutbacks from the #ColoradoRiver — National Public Radio #COriver #aridification

Lake Granby and the Front Range Mountains. The snowpack is Colorado’s largest reservoir and total water can only be estimated. Photo credit: The Water Desk

Click the link to read the article on the National Public Radio website (Luke Runyon). Here’s an excerpt:

…a recent deadline for a plan to conserve an unprecedented amount of water came and went without many specifics from either the states or the federal government on how to achieve the cutbacks…With the deadline now passed, and lingering uncertainty about where those cutbacks will come, some of the region’s leaders are calling for the federal government to take charge. Even though the federal government has yet to deliver on its threat to intervene, it could still happen, [Andy] Mueller said. The call for cuts was clear and came with specifics – 2 to 4 million acre-feet in cuts across the watershed. But the threat of what happens if the states can’t get there remains unclear.

“If you don’t know what that threat is, it’s really hard to be motivated to take action,” Mueller said.

Aversion to federal intervention runs deep along the Colorado River. Some state leaders say the federal government should simply run the dams, and not wade into policy-making. Others doubt the forcefulness of federal authorities to mandate cutbacks, most of which are entirely untested. As the river’s scarcity crisis has deepened in recent years, others in the basin are beginning to crave federal leadership.

“There was a deadline that came. It passed. Nothing happened,” said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which serves the Las Vegas metro area. “I think it would be much more effective if the federal government actually, in writing, articulates a plan.”

When it became clear the states were not going to reach an agreement ahead of the deadline, he pleaded with federal officials to take the reins and make hard decisions about where some of the cuts need to come from. This tension between the states and the federal government only works as a motivator when state leaders believe a federal crackdown might really happen, he said.

“The states have never accomplished anything meaningful without a credible federal threat,” Entsminger said.

Replacing Your Lawn — CSU Extension #Pueblo County

Photo credit: CSU Extension Pueblo County

Click the link to read the article on the CSU Extension Pueblo County website (Sherie Shaffer):

We have been getting a lot of questions lately from homeowners wanting to replace their lawns with more water wise, and beneficial plants. This is a fantastic trend, seeing as how water is a very limited resource, and that lawns do not have much to offer to our native pollinators.

If lawn replacement has been on your mind, here are some things to think about. The first thing to consider is, how much of your lawn are you actually using? Looking into lawn replacement does not have to mean getting rid of all lawn but reducing your lawn to the areas that are being used. Children use lawns to run and play, as do pets. Keeping lawn areas that are being used is great, but if you have lawn areas that are not being used, you may want to consider replacing them with something else.

Once you identify areas of lawn that you would like to replace, the next step is getting rid of the lawn. There are a few options. One option is to cover the areas of undesired lawn with a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard for about 2 months. This will suffocate the lawn and kill it leaving you with a blank slate. You can also till the area several times over a period. A quicker, albeit less environmentally friendly way of getting rid of the lawn would be to use a nonselective herbicide. If you go this route, be sure to read the label and follow all instructions. Never apply herbicides to flowering plants being visited by pollinators (such as dandelions) and avoid spraying when it is windy or over 80° F to avoid drift, which could harm desirable plants.

Once the lawn is gone, I would suggest looking into getting a soil test. If you are going to put in the effort to plant something new and beautiful, you may as well see what is going on in your soil and what you can do to make it optimal for your new plants. If you don’t want to get your soil tested, you can simply add some plant-based compost and mix it in with the native soil. This will help with soil texture, which will improve drainage and moisture retention.

Now for the exciting part, what should you plant?? If you want to keep the same type of look as your lawn, you can go for a groundcover plant. Creeping thyme, Veronica, creeping jenny, sedum, or oregano are some low growing options that you can investigate. A whole list of water wise groundcovers can be found here: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/xeriscaping-ground-cover-plants-7-230/.

You can also plot out some garden beds that have annual and perennial flowers. CSU Extension has many plant lists if you need some inspiration on what to plant. You can start browsing here: https://cmg.extension.colostate.edu/gardening-resources/online-garden-publications/flowering-herbaceous-plants-flowers-ground-covers-and-ornamental-grasses/.

The Master Gardener help line is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 am to 11 am and 2 pm to 4 pm if you would like to seek further advice on replacing your lawn from a trained volunteer.

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation PAWSD board meeting recap — The #PagosaSprings Sun

The springs for which Pagosa Springs was named, photographed in 1874. By Timothy H. O. Sullivan – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17428006

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

Water demand study

In other news, the board discussed the water demand study recently conducted by Wilson Water Group on behalf of the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) and raised concerns about its accuracy. In particular, board members questioned its emphasis on recreational water needs; its findings concerning potential population growth in the area, which several board members suggested were too high; and its methods for estimating water demand, which board members suggested exaggerate potential water demand in the area by projecting that relatively fixed sources of water use, such as the golf course or water leaks in the PAWSD system, would increase with population growth. Hudson, who brought the matter to the board’s attention, suggested that he could create a summary of the concerns raised about the study and submit it to the SJWCD, which is currently requesting public comment on the water study.

However, after discussion of how this would be accomplished before the SJWCD public comment period ends on Aug. 30, the board instead decided to individually submit concerns and comments about the study to the SJWCD.

Vague and voluntary proposals may do little to help #ColoradoRiver — @AspenJournalism #COriver #aridification

John McClow, left, moderates a panel on the Colorado River at the Colorado Water Congress summer conference in Steamboat Springs Thursday. From left: Becky Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and commissioner of the Upper Colorado River Commission; Gene Shawcroft, Colorado River Commission of Utah; Tom Buschatzke, director, Arizona Department of Water Resources. CREDIT: HEATHER SACKETT/ASPEN JOURNALISM

No strong action from feds and no agreement among states

Water managers in recent weeks have put forth plans for conservation aimed at addressing the water-scarcity crisis on the Colorado River. But the proposals, which are vague and voluntary and lack goals with numbers, will probably do little to get additional water into the nation’s two largest reservoirs with the urgency officials say is needed.

In June, federal officials said the seven Colorado River basin states had to conserve an additional 2 million to 4 million acre-feet and threatened to take unilateral action if the states didn’t come up with a plan within 60 days.

But the deadline came and went without a basinwide deal or drastic action by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, except to implement the next round of cuts already agreed to by the states in the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan. As of Friday, there was still no plan from the lower basin states — California, Nevada and Arizona — on which upper basin water managers say the bulk of the responsibility to conserve rests.

Golfers take shots on the green lawns of the City Park Golf Course in central Denver on Sept. 28 2020. Denver Water has signed an MOU to the Bureau of Reclamation committing to reducing water use.CREDIT: LINDSAY FENDT / ASPEN JOURNALISM

Cities say they will reduce

On Wednesday, a group of seven municipal water providers — Aurora Water, Denver Water, Pueblo Water, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Colorado Springs Utilities, Southern Nevada Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — sent a letter and memorandum of understanding to the Bureau of Reclamation pledging to be part of the solution by reducing their water consumption. They committed to expand water-efficiency programs and reduce nonfunctional turf grass by 30%.

The move was praised by environmental conservation group Western Resource Advocates as a good first step.

But the MOU does not include a specific amount of water savings from the municipalities. And although some urban water providers in the basin have been using less water in recent years even as their populations grow, it’s unclear if the new commitments will result in them diverting less from the Colorado River.

“They weren’t able to put numbers, they weren’t able to put dates, we don’t know how much they can actually save, but I’m glad they are saying we want to be part of the solution,” said John Berggren, a water policy analyst with WRA.

Berggren said any success of the measures will depend on the scale.

“If all these providers really scaled up their programs … with millions of dollars and dozens of staff, in a year or two, we could see fairly decent savings,” he said.

Even if the municipalities do conserve water, the amount of water they command is relatively small. Agriculture uses about 80% of the Colorado River’s allocation; in the state of Colorado, it’s roughly 86%.