The latest briefing is hot off the presses from Western Water Assessment

Click the link to read the briefing on the Western Water Assessment website:

October 5, 2022 – CO, UT, WY

Precipitation during September was near-to-above average in Utah and Wyoming, but below average in much of Colorado. September temperatures were the hottest on record in much of Utah, western Colorado and western Wyoming. Consistent monsoonal precipitation throughout the summer left most regional rivers flowing at near-average levels but below average reservoir storage remains throughout most of the region, especially in Colorado and Utah. Coverage of drought decreased slightly during September, but still covers 64% of the region. La Niña conditions are expected to persist through most of winter and conditions during fall are likely to be warm and dry. 

September precipitation was near-to-above average in much of Utah and Wyoming and below average for most of Colorado. Southwestern Utah, central Utah and central Wyoming and northeastern Wyoming received greater than 150% of normal September precipitation. The majority of Colorado and southeastern Wyoming received less than 75% of normal September precipitation. The remnants of Hurricane Kay, at one point a category 2 storm, impacted Utah, Wyoming and Colorado on September 13-16 and monsoonal flow brought rain to the region during the last ten days of the month.

September temperatures were at least 2-4 degrees above normal throughout the entire region. Much of Utah and Wyoming experienced temperatures that were 4-6 degrees above normal in September. The regional hot spot during September was the Great Salt Lake Basin where temperatures were 6-8 degrees above normal. An early September heat wave was a major contributor to regional high temperatures. Above average monthly temperatures were driven by a significant regional heat wave from September 1-8 and much of Utah, western Colorado and western Wyoming experienced the hottest September on record.

September streamflow in most regional rivers was near-normal. Below-to-much-below streamflow was observed in northwestern and central Utah and a few other isolated reaches of rivers in Colorado and Wyoming. Reservoir storage is below average for the entire region. Reservoirs in Utah, excluding Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge, are just over 40% full which is about 75% of median October 1st water storage. In Colorado, reservoirs are 54% full which is 76% of median October 1st water storage. Wyoming reservoirs in the Bighorn, Green, Lower North Platte, Shoshone and Wind River basins are relatively full (85-100% of median storage). Reservoir storage in the Upper North Platte is at 63% of median and Jackson Lake on the Snake River is nearly empty. The large reservoirs on the Colorado River system are relatively lower than statewide storage; Flaming Gorge is 71% full (84% of median storage), Blue Mesa Reservoir is 35% full (46% median) and Lake Powell is 24% full (40% median).

Drought conditions cover 64% of the Intermountain West, a slight decrease from last month. Approximately half of Colorado and Wyoming and all of Utah are currently in drought. Drought conditions improved by one category in the Four Corners region and central Wyoming; D3 drought was removed from southeastern Utah. In southeastern Wyoming, D3 drought expanded during September.

West Drought Monitor map October 4, 2022.

La Niña conditions continue in the eastern Pacific Ocean as sea surface temperatures were 1-2 degrees Celsius below normal during September. There is a 60-90% probability of La Niña continuing through mid-winter 2023. NOAA seasonal forecasts suggest an increased probability of above average temperatures from October to December for the entire region. There is an increased probability of above average precipitation during October for Colorado, Utah and southern Wyoming. In Colorado, much of Utah and southeastern Wyoming, there is an increased probability for below average October-December precipitation.

Significant September weather event. Extreme September heat. A major heat wave impacted the region from September 1-8. Utah was most strongly impacted by the heat wave, but Colorado and Wyoming also saw significant impacts. The early September heat wave was perhaps the hottest September heat wave in recorded in the Intermountain West. In Salt Lake City, the all-time high temperature of 107º was tied on 9/9 for the second time this year. The first 7 days of September exceeded 100ºF in Salt Lake City and along with the last two days of August, the 9 consecutive days of 100ºF temperatures was the second-longest streak on record. Salt Lake City set the record for number of days with 100ºF temperatures in 2022 at 35 days, smashing the old record of 23 days. Elsewhere in Utah, temperatures were still extremely hot. Daily records were set at 30-60% of sites with at least 50 years of data on each day from September 1-8. Temperatures reached 112ºF in St. George on September 7. All-time September maximum temperatures were set at 55% of sites in Utah with at least 50 years of data.

The heat wave also impacted Wyoming from September 1-8. On each day from September 4-8, 30-50% weather monitoring sites in set daily record high temperatures. Similar to Utah, 53% of sites in Wyoming with at least 50 years of data set all-time record high temperatures for September. Northwest Wyoming was a hot spot with sites in Yellowstone and Teton National Park setting all-time monthly high temperatures and 100ºF was exceeded in many locations, including Casper, Cody, Sheridan, Thermopolis, Weston and Worland. Temperatures reached 106ºF in Weston, 105ºF in Worland and 104ºF in Sheridan and Thermopolis, nearly reaching all-time record high temperatures. Colorado was less severely impacted by the heat wave, but all-time September high temperatures were set at 26% of sites in Colorado with at least 50 years of data. Temperatures exceeded 100ºF in Grand Junction, Akron and Yuma and reached 99ºF in Denver and Cortez during the heat wave.

#Gunnison armed with ‘strong and resilient’ #water rights — The Gunnison Country Times

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,

Click the link to read the article on The Gunnison Country Times website (Bella Biondini). Here’s an excerpt:

The risk of water curtailments throughout the state is growing as the Upper and Lower basin states continue to negotiate a way to deal with extensive drought conditions along the Colorado River — a system under significant stress as the West dries up.  On Sept. 27, the City of Gunnison’s water attorney, Jennifer DiLalla, provided council with an update on the standings of its water rights. She focused on the city’s preparedness to maintain water security as Colorado discusses how it will handle a potential “compact call,” which could reduce the water supply of more junior users throughout the state. The Colorado River Compact is a 1922 agreement allocating water use rights between basin states. While the Lower Basin states of Nevada, Arizona and California are already dealing with compact-related reductions to their water use to boost the levels of Lake Powell, the Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, have not yet been faced with a compact call. A call would result from the Upper Basin’s inability to meet its delivery obligations to the Lower Basin, requiring water cuts upstream to make up for the deficit. Water planners in Colorado evaluate their portfolios based on whether the water rights that make up their water supply are junior or senior to the compact…

According to DiLalla, the city is well positioned based on the pre-compact priorities of its “workhorse” water rights. The town ditch, which is one of the city’s primary water sources, is decreed for 64 cubic feet per second (cfs) out of the Gunnison River — which accounts for almost 42 million gallons per day — with an 1880 priority date. For the 10-year period between 2012 and 2022, the ditch was never out of priority. While it can only be utilized between May and September, the water can be stored and is critical for long-term planning, she said. The town pipeline, another significant diversion, has an 1883 appropriation and priority date with no seasonal limits — making it available for municipal use when the ditch isn’t running…Despite what DiLalla called a “strong and resilient” portfolio, she still recommended that city staff draft risk mitigation strategies to protect against severe and long-term drought, events that could ultimately trigger a compact call along the Colorado. Storage will be critical, she said.

Summer rains boost soil moisture to 8-year high, but #Colorado water forecast “tenuous” — @WaterEdCO


Click the link to read the article on the Water Education Colorado website (Jerd Smith):

This year’s return of summer rains provided much relief to ultra-dry soils across Colorado and helped break the heat, but the state’s streams and reservoirs remain quite low, causing concern about the upcoming water year.

Western states that rely on mountain snows monitor supplies based on a calendar that begins Oct. 1 and runs through the critical snow and spring runoff seasons. The 12-month period is known as a water year.

Soil moisture levels are the highest they’ve been since 2014, and that could improve next year’s spring runoff season, water officials said last week at a meeting of the state’s Water Availability Task Force.

Since May, the summer rainy season increased precipitation dramatically, with river basins across the state measuring precipitation that ranged from 110% to 160% of normal, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Credit: NRCS

“The big thing is how much better the summer precipitation has been and even coming into fall. That is going to make a huge difference in the soil moisture statewide,” said Karl Wetlaufer, assistant snow survey supervisor for the NRCS. “The last two to three years we’ve started winter with such dry soil moisture. But we got a really strong monsoon season and it should really, really help boost soil moisture values and that will boost runoff next spring.”

Generally, when soil moisture levels are low, more precipitation soaks into the ground, decreasing runoff. But though the wetter soils mean Colorado could derive more water when the mountain snows melt, it is unlikely to improve the water supply situation in the new water year by much.

“It’s still a very tenuous situation,” said Becky Bolinger, assistant state climatologist. “It’s not a great start to the water year.”

Credit: NRCS

Despite the rains, reservoir storage is low, sitting at 78% of normal statewide. Some regions, such as the South Platte River Basin, still have near normal amounts of water in storage — the South Platte Basin sits at 97% of normal — but other regions of the state, including the southwest corner have reservoir storage that is just 65% of normal.

Streamflows too remain low. A look at the state’s eight major river basins shows that most are well below where they should be at this time of year, with the San Juan and San Miguel basins registering at just 65% of average. Streamflows in the Arkansas Basin were the healthiest, registering 102% of average.

Credit: NRCS

Colorado’s situation is mirrored across the parched, seven-state Colorado River Basin.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the drought-strapped river system is likely to generate only 86% of its supplies, or 8.3 million acre-feet, as compared to the 30-year average, in the new water year. But the minimum probable forecast is just 49% of average, with the river system generating just 4.7 million acre-feet of water.

That is due in part to weather forecasts indicating that the fall is likely to be warm and dry again, according to Bolinger.

“The seasonal forecasts are showing that for the October, November, December time period we are likely to have a warmer than average pattern and leaning toward a drier than average pattern. It’s a big hurdle to overcome … we could quickly and easily get back into a really bad drought and low water supply situation.”

Jerd Smith is editor of Fresh Water News. She can be reached at 720-398-6474, via email at or @jerd_smith.

Interior Secretary Haaland, Partners Celebrate #GreatSandDunes National Park Land  Acquisition During #Colorado Visit

Zapata Ranch. Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy

Click the link to read the release on the U.S. Department of Interior website:

 Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and National Park Service (NPS) Director Chuck Sams today celebrated the transfer of approximately 9,362 acres of the Medano Ranch from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The acquisition was made possible through funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This enhancement of the national park will allow for more holistic management as a connected landscape and provides long-term protection areas that contribute to the formation of the dune field. 

“Great Sand Dunes and The Nature Conservancy have built a model for collaboration that will help guarantee that future generations have access to this special place,” said Secretary Haaland. “This acquisition underscores the central role that locally led conservation efforts play in the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative and our ongoing efforts to conserve, connect and restore public lands and waters.”

Great Sand Dunes National Park was established as a national monument in 1932 and redesignated as a national park and preserve in 2000 to protect the tallest dunes in North America for current and future generations. The dunes are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes and tundra. Last year, more than 603,000 visitors came to experience the singular dunes and starry skies,and learn about the cultural history. In 2021, park visitors spent an estimated $41.3 million in local gateway regions while visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, supporting more than 530 jobs.

“The lands being transferred to the Park contain important springs and wetlands that support a rich diversity of life,” said Great Sand Dunes National Park Superintendent Pamela Rice. “This acquisition marks an important step toward completing the plan for Great Sand Dunes National Park that was established in 2004.”

“We are excited to complete this project and add to the spectacular Great Sand Dunes National Park,” said Nancy Fishbein, director of resilient lands for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado. “Protecting the Medano-Zapata Ranch and contributing to the creation of the national park are among the most significant successes in the history of TNC in Colorado.”

Currently, TNC operates a bison herd on the ranch property through a permit from NPS. This operation will continue for up to seven years following the current acquisition while TNC determines future plans for their conservation herd. TNC will continue to own and manage the 20,000-acre Zapata property that is adjacent to the national park.

This acquisition continues a long-standing partnership between NPS and TNC to expand Great Sand Dunes. TNC purchased the Medano-Zapata Ranch in 1999 and soon after developed the plan to transfer some of the acquired land for the creation of Great Sand Dunes National Park. In November 2000, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act passed, which more than quadrupled the size of Great Sand Dunes. Since that time, TNC has worked collaboratively with NPS to manage the inholdings with the hope that the additional parcels would eventually be transferred to the Park. Approximately 12,498 acres of the Medano Ranch lie within the boundaries of Great Sand Dunes National Park; TNC plans to transfer the remaining 3,192 acres in the future. 

The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. The Great American Outdoors Act authorized permanent funding of LWCF at $900 million annually to improve recreational opportunities on public lands, protect watersheds and wildlife, and preserve ecosystem benefits for local communities. The LWCF has funded $4 billion worth of projects in every county in the country for over 50 years.

Secretary Haaland also visited Browns Canyon National Monument in Chaffee County, Colorado. The Secretary met with local leaders as well as Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff to discuss how the 2015 national monument designation has helped strengthen the local economy and elevated the area as a magnet for outdoor recreation. They also highlighted recent fire management strategies that have led to reduced wildland fuels in Chaffee County and surrounding areas in the Arkansas River Valley region.

Sandhill Cranes West of Dunes by NPS/Patrick Myers

#Colorado #water: You get what you pay for — Colorado Water Trust

Yampa River below Oakton Ditch June 14, 2021. Photo credit: Scott Hummer

Click the link to read the article on the Colorado Water Trust website (Kate Ryan):

Water in Colorado is owned by the people of Colorado. But the right to use that water is property, which can be bought and sold on the market by all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. So why aren’t we – the people of Colorado – buying those rights when they are on the market?

Nineteenth century miners, farmers and ranchers built our initial ditch and reservoir systems. Since then, cities and suburbs on the Front Range have claimed much of the water leftover, and over time the water in our streams and rivers has, for the most part, been fully claimed. So whereas homesteaders were able to claim water rights by constructing diversions to their fields and homes more than a century ago, these days if you are part of a growing municipality or a new business without water service, you need go out and buy existing water rights—if you can afford them.

But where does that leave rivers and streams?

There were few people interested in using water to directly sustain wildlife and aquatic ecosystems prior to the environmental movement in the 1970s. There was also little focus on the longevity of rural communities, just the beginnings of widespread agricultural dry-up, and minimal fear that our state might be cut short of water for purposes of compliance with the Colorado River Compact. In order for reliable, significant volume water rights to be put to use for these purposes, those of us who care about the issues described above will have to buy them.

The state does have a small coffer for water right purchases, housed in the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Instream Flow section. But that amount taps out at $1 million annually, which has to be stretched not only for permanent water right acquisitions, but also temporary leases and programmatic support.  A million dollars does not go far towards the purchase of water rights placed on the market in the range of $5 to $10 million, of which there have been several lately.

How would we find the money to acquire strategic, senior water rights on rivers like the Colorado, the Yampa, the Gunnison, and their tributaries?

One solution might be a special district—let’s call this one the Colorado Water Security Partnership for now, because its purpose would be to provide water security for rural communities and Front Range municipal water users and aquatic ecosystems.

A special district is voter-approved governmental unit that performs a specific function— in this instance, collecting a modest property tax to buy water rights, and relying on a board of representatives from each region in the district to decide what water to buy and allocate that water where it is needed most. The mill levy would truly be modest. Back of crumpled-envelope math tells me that if property owners from the Colorado River Basin (west slope) and those portions of the state served by Denver Water, Colorado Springs and Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the other utilities that use water diverted from the Colorado River Basin were to join together, households could contribute a few dollars per year to afford those water rights in the $5 or $10 million range.

If the Colorado Water Security Partnership could buy water rights to support the environment and rural communities, and offset Colorado River Compact delivery requirements, east and west slope would gain a host of side benefits.

Colorado has seen an influx of outside investment in water rights that leaves us feeling uncertain at best—why not beat the outside competition and buy water ourselves, give selling water right owners opportunity to direct water rights they want to sell towards a good end, and know that this water won’t be a tool of financial speculation? West slope agricultural producers are being asked to conserve and even fallow—why not take some pressure off and operate water rights on behalf of all Colorado River basin water users? And finally, why not support the environment and recreational opportunities on the West Slope that our entire state is so fortunate to enjoy?

Rural communities are struggling as agriculture dries up and coal moves out; rivers flow so low that we can’t fish in them without killing the sport; and junior diversions to urban and suburban Colorado, which have grown to rely on the supply, are threatened by increased pressures and decreasing flows on the Colorado River. Front Range Colorado may not fully realize how closely its fate is tied to the success of Western Colorado. But not only do those of us on the east side of the Continental Divide love the mountain playgrounds and incredible produce of the west slope, our economies and environments are literally intertwined.

The beauty of a special district is that we are all in this together – we pay together, and we prosper together.

We’re going to get what we pay for when it comes to Colorado water, and if we pool our resources together to be managed collaboratively, we can help to secure a future that we all want.

What do you think about the idea of a Special District for Colorado Water Security? [ed. Click through to comment on this idea on the Colorado Water Trust website.]

In a summer for the record books, the U.S. hits 106 weeks straight with more than 40% of the Lower 48 in #drought — National Drought Mitigation Center

As of the latest Drought Monitor on Oct. 4, 44% of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and almost 53% of the contiguous U.S., is in moderate drought or worse. It’s been 106 straight weeks with more than 40% of the Lower 48 in drought.

Click the link to read the article on the National Drought Mitigation website (Leah Campbell):

This summer has been one for the books with heat and rainfall records toppling around the U.S. The country experienced several “1-in-1,000” storm events in the span of just a few months, leading to devastating flooding from Kentucky to Montana. Mississippi had its wettest August on record. Nebraska had its second driest. Nineteen states had Julys that were amongst their 10 hottest in terms of average temperature, including Texas, which had its warmest July going back more than 100 years.

Drought records have also been made and broken in the last few months. In mid-September, Puerto Rico broke a streak of 91 consecutive weeks of drought when Hurricane Fiona dumped over 30 inches of rain in some places. At the end of August, over 90% of Hawaii was in drought for the first time, which continued for four weeks.

The country as a whole recently hit another sobering record: more than two years with over 40% of the contiguous U.S. in moderate drought or worse, what the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies as D1 or above. As of the latest USDM map on Oct. 4, it’s been 106 straight weeks. The last time the extent of drought in the Lower 48 dipped below 40% was on Sept. 29, 2020 (when it was a close 39.7%).

The current streak of widespread drought marks the longest such streak since the USDM began in 2000. The second longest streak, from June 2012 to October 2013, was only 68 weeks. After that is a 65-week stretch from March 2002 to June 2003. Both of those earlier periods are recognized as some of the most severe droughts on record in the U.S.

According to Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the percentile ranking methodology of the USDM — where moderate drought is classified as a once per 5- to 10-year occurrence — would suggest that, statistically, drought coverage should be closer to 20% this time of year. Instead, as of the Oct. 4 map, nearly 53% of the contiguous U.S. and over 44% of the entire country and its territories, was in D1 or worse condition.

“I’ve been involved with the Drought Monitor since the beginning and have seen a lot of U.S. droughts come and go,” said Rippey. “The drought of 2020-2022 really stands out for its longevity. In 2012-2013, we were done with the worst of it in a little over a year.”

Rippey ascribes the longevity and extent of the current drought in part to back-to-back-to-back La Niña events. That “triple dip,” as Rippey calls it, has happened only two other times in the modern record, first in the mid-1970s and then the late 1990s.

La Niña and its counterpart El Niño are periodic global phenomena related to sea surface temperatures. During La Niña, the Pacific Ocean along the South American coast is cooler than normal near the equator. Meanwhile, warmer surface water is driven across the Pacific toward Asia. The movement of all that heat has significant and complex impacts on weather across the planet.

“In a general sense, when it comes to the U.S., La Niña is a drought-maker, while El Niño is a drought-breaker,” said Rippey. The current and ongoing La Niña, he explains, developed during the second half of 2020 and has generally persisted since then. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that La Niña is likely to continue in the Northern Hemisphere through the end of the year at least.

Long-lasting, Extensive and Extreme

The current drought, though, isn’t just noteworthy for how long it’s lasted. It’s also been particularly widespread, fast-emerging and intense. Coverage peaked for the summer on July 12 with just shy of 45% of the entire U.S. and Puerto Rico in drought. For the contiguous U.S., it peaked closer to 52% a few weeks later. For three weeks through mid-August, in fact, 44 states across the country were at least partially in drought. Only Ohio hasn’t recorded any drought thus far this year.

(Looking at the year as a whole, drought coverage peaked back in early March at 51% and 61% for the entire U.S. and the contiguous U.S., respectively. In both cases, that’s just a few percentage points shy of the USDM record set during the 2012-2013 drought.)

In terms of speed, several states in the Southern Plains this summer had to confront what’s called “flash drought.” Through July, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma all experienced a one-category-per-week degradation in drought conditions, what Brian Fuchs, a Drought Monitor author and climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center, says is “lightning speed by the standards of drought.” While drought tends to be a slow-onset crisis, intense heat can contribute to faster-emerging dry conditions. Indeed, Oklahoma experienced its fifth hottest July on record this year, in terms of average temperature, and Arkansas its seventh.

In Arkansas, drought coverage was not even 2% at the end of June. Just four weeks later, 89% of the state was in drought, and over a fifth was in extreme drought or D3 according to the USDM. Though conditions then began to improve, back to less than half the state in drought less than two months later, conditions degraded again in the second half of September.

These kinds of rapid changes can create significant hardship for communities and for livestock and agricultural producers. That concern is evident in the number of observations submitted to CMOR, the NDMC’s database of crowdsourced, geo-located conditions reports. As of the end of September, over 3,300 observations have been submitted to CMOR this year. Over 1,300 were from July alone, from just the three states most affected by the flash drought. In comparison, only 1,200 observations were submitted to CMOR for all of 2019 from across the whole country.

Rapid changes can also cause headaches for Drought Monitor authors trying to make sense of different environmental datasets.   

“One of the most challenging things this summer from a drought monitoring perspective has been keeping up with the different time scales drought has been occurring in different places,” said Curtis Riganti, a climatologist with the NDMC and a Drought Monitor author.

Riganti explains that they’ve been getting a lot of “mixed signals” this summer. “In the Southern Plains, there’s been flash drought over relatively wet conditions earlier in the year,” said Riganti. “In the Southwest, we’ve had the opposite problem, and it’s been a challenge to balance long-term groundwater, precipitation and reservoir deficits with the fact that it’s been a wet summer.”

With an active North American Monsoon season, drought signals in the Southwest have been particularly complex. Nevada had its third wettest August on record, and Aug. 5 was the wettest day ever in Death Valley, California, which received about three quarters of its annual rainfall in a matter of hours. Yet, years of severe drought across the region mean that water supplies are still concerningly low. On the Utah-Arizona border, for example, Lake Powell is only 25% full as of the end of September, with water levels down 16 feet from last year.

Unrelenting Heat and Hardship

Part of why drought was so intense and extensive this summer, and so difficult to deal with, was that temperatures have been sweltering in many places these last few months. Nationally, this summer was the third hottest June-August period on record, and, at the state level, several heat records were broken.

This June was the tenth hottest June on record. July was even worse. It was the third hottest July on record nationally, and almost every Western state hit top-10 records for heat for the month. The Southeast and the Midwest got some relief in August, but it was unrelenting elsewhere. Eight states in the Northeast and the Northwest all recorded their hottest August on record. In California, which had its second-hottest August, an extreme heat wave gripped the state at the end of the month, with several cities breaking records (on Sept. 5, Livermore, California hit 116 degrees, setting an all-time record for the Bay Area).

This kind of extreme heat not only drives drought, but also exacerbates its various impacts, making dry conditions more challenging. As of the latest USDM map on Oct. 4, over 126 million people across the U.S. were affected by drought. For just the contiguous U.S., the number affected was over 125 million, almost 40% of the entire population of the Lower 48. 

From the start of the year, through the end of September, the NDMC added more than 3,300 records to the Drought Impact Reporter, the center’s database of drought impacts. Each record represents a county, city or state confronting a specific challenge related to drought and dry conditions, from water restrictions and burn bans to low water levels, losses of recreation and algae blooms. Combined with the summer’s soaring inflation and rising costs for irrigation water, fuel and livestock feed, it’s been a particularly hard year for agricultural producers who have had to confront crop losses, reduced yields and insect infestations.

“Clearly something is happening to U.S. and global weather and climate patterns before our very eyes,” said Rippey. “It’s a very exciting time, but also a scary time to be a meteorologist. We may not know exactly what will happen, but all evidence says we can expect more extremes, including drought, going forward.”

#Thornton won’t appeal Court of Appeals ruling on #water project — #Northglenn/Thornton Sentinel #PoudreRiver #SouthPlatteRiver

Click the link to read the article on the Northglenn/Thornton Sentinel website (Luke Zarzecki). Here’s an excerpt:

The City of Thornton will not appeal Colorado’s Court of Appeals’ decision denying their permit to construct a water pipeline in Weld County, the city said on Oct. 6.

“After thorough consideration of its options, the City of Thornton has decided against filing a petition with the Colorado Supreme Court in its lawsuit against Larimer County,” the city announced in a statement. 

The statement said the decision is about time. The time waiting for a potential Supreme Court decision is better spent working with Larimer County and its community…

Weld County landowners were influential opponents of Thornton when the city went through the permit application process. In 2019, the Weld County Planning Commission recommended approval of the project, but protests from landowners caused the planning commission to reverse its recommendation in 2020. Residents’ complaints were also cited by commissioners as a reason for denying the permit at a hearing on May 5, 2021.

Thornton Water Project route map via

Click the link to read “Thornton will not appeal its case against Larimer County over pipeline to Colorado Supreme Court” on the Fort Collins Coloradoan website (Bethany Osborn). Here’s an excerpt:

The announcement comes over a month after the state Court of Appeals upheld a decision from 8th Judicial District Judge Stephen Jouard, who ruled that Larimer County was within its right to deny the permit, though there were some exceptions. Larimer County commissioners originally denied Thornton a 1041 permit to construct 12 miles of a pipeline through unincorporated parts of the county in 2018 and again in 2019. Larimer County commissioners said both times that Thornton’s proposed project failed to meet several criteria required under 1041 permit and would significantly impact residents who lived along the proposed construction route. Commissioners said the city of Thornton failed to explore other options like running the water through the Poudre River, but both the district and appeals court said commissioners did not have the right to deny the permit for that reason alone…

Larimer County has been a major roadblock for the city’s plans to transport water from several farms in Larimer and Weld counties the city purchased over 30 years ago. Thornton hopes to be able to use the water to accommodate its growing population by 2025. The denial from county commissioners doesn’t appear to be halting progress on the project. According to the project website, 7 miles of the pipeline have already been installed.

Thornton officials said in the press release their preferred outcome is “an agreed upon solution between Thornton and Larimer County.” And “finding solutions to the benefit of the Coloradans living in both communities.”