Metropolitan #Water District of Southern #California Board Calls for Banning Non-Functional Turf on Commercial, Industrial, Public Properties

Non-functional turf. Photo credit: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Click the link to read the release on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California website:

Board supports permanent ban of grass that is not regularly used for recreation,
other purposes

With drought and climate change stressing water availability, the Metropolitan Water District is taking steps to eliminate an all-too-common sight in Southern California that uses up valuable water resources – ornamental grass that serves no recreational or community purpose – grass known as non-functional turf.

Metropolitan’s Board of Directors last Tuesday (Oct. 11) adopted a resolution that strongly recommends cities and water agencies across Southern California pass ordinances permanently prohibiting the installation and irrigation of non-functional turf. The board’s call is largely directed at both existing and new commercial, industrial and public properties, as well as HOAs, rather than residential properties. It does, however, call for local regulations that don’t allow installation of non-functional turf in new home construction.  

“More than half of all water used in Southern California is used outdoors for irrigation, much of it for grass that is not walked or played on or used in any meaningful way. Sustaining ornamental grass is not a good use of our precious water resources,” Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said.

Metropolitan has for more than a decade incentivized residents and businesses to replace their grass lawns with more water-efficient landscaping. That  turf replacement program, which today offers a base rebate of $2 per square foot of grass replaced, has directly resulted in the removal of more than 200 million square feet of grass, saving enough water to serve 62,000 homes annually. In addition, a recent study found that for every 100 homes that converted their yards using a Metropolitan rebate, an additional 132 nearby homes were inspired to convert their own grass without receiving a rebate to help fund the projects. This “multiplier effect” more than doubled the value of Metropolitan’s $351 million investment in making Southern California more sustainable.

“Through our turf rebate and California Friendly® and native plant gardening education programs, we’ve jumpstarted the movement to change the landscape of Southern California. But we must do more,” Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said.

“We are experiencing unprecedented drought conditions in California and on the Colorado River – straining both of our imported water supplies. And the reality of climate change means that these alarming conditions are likely to become more common and more severe. We need to find ways to permanently live with less water,” she added.

California is in the midst of the driest three years on record, resulting in the lowest-ever deliveries from the State Water Project, which on average supplies 30 percent of the water used in Southern California. The constraints on that supply have left 6 million people in the region without enough water to meet normal demands, requiring unprecedented mandatory conservation.

On the Colorado River – Southern California’s other principal imported water supply – a decades-long drought has left the system’s reservoirs at their lowest-ever levels. The federal government has responded with a call for immediate and dramatic cutbacks in water use.  

Elimination of non-functional turf is becoming an increasingly valuable tool to quickly and permanently decrease water use. In response to California’s drought, the State Water Resources Control Board issued an emergency regulation temporarily banning the irrigation of non-functional turf with potable water from June 2022 to June 2023. And in August, Metropolitan joined urban water agencies across the Colorado River Basin to sign a Memorandum of Understanding committing to reducing non-functional turf.

“We need to permanently reduce the amount of water used on non-functional turf. That is why we are calling on cities and agencies to adopt relevant ordinances that will work with the particular circumstances of their communities,” Hagekhalil said. “At the same time, Metropolitan will continue providing cash incentives so that grass is not simply paved over, rather it is replaced with water-efficient landscaping to ensure our trees continue thriving and our communities remain beautiful and ecologically diverse.”

The resolution approved Tuesday specifically calls for cities and agencies to pass ordinances that permanently: prohibit the use of potable water to irrigate non-functional turf in existing and new non-residential properties; prohibit the installation of non-functional turf in non-residential and new residential properties; and require the removal of all non-functional turf in non-residential properties by a certain date. Non-functional turf is defined as specific kinds of grasses irrigated by potable water that are not regularly used for human recreational purposes or for civic or community events.

@Northern_Water Board Sets Initial #Colorado-Big Thompson Quota at 40 Percent 

Cache la Poudre River drop structure. Photo credit: Northern Water

From email from Northern Water (Jeff Stahla):

Northern Water’s Board of Directors has set the initial 2023 quota for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project at 40 percent. 

At its meeting on Thursday, Oct. 13, the Board voted to set the quota at 40 percent in light of uncertainty regarding Colorado River Basin hydrology and Northern Water’s commitment to system resiliency. In recent years, the initial quota had been set at 50 percent. 

“This is what we need to do to protect the system for the long term,” said President Mike Applegate.  

Quotas are expressed as a percentage of 310,000 acre-feet, the amount of water the C-BT Project was initially envisioned to deliver to allottees each year. A 40 percent initial quota means that the Board is making 0.4 acre-feet of water available at the beginning of the water year (Nov. 1) for each of the 310,000 C-BT Project units. In April, the Board will assess conditions such as available local water storage levels, soil moisture, mountain snowpack and more to adjust the quota for the 2023 peak water-use season. 

Water from the C-BT Project supplements other sources for 33 cities and towns, 120 agricultural irrigation companies, various industries and other water users within Northern Water’s 1.6 million-acre service area. According to recent census figures, more than 1 million residents now live inside Northern Water’s boundaries. To learn more about Northern Water and the C-BT quota, visit

Screenshot of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project boundaries via Northern Water’s interactive mapping tool , June 5, 2019.

#ColoradoRiver Basin to receive $4B from feds for #drought mitigation — The Center Square #COriver #aridification

Map credit: AGU

Click the link to read the article on The Center Square website (Katelynn Richardson):

The federal government plans to pay farmers that draw water from the Colorado River to take less, one piece of a multi-pronged plan to reduce usage.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced a new program that will draw on $4 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funding approved for water management and drought mitigation in the Colorado River Basin. Called the Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program, it will be run by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Through the program’s three components, it will select conservation proposals from Colorado River water delivery contracts and entitlement holders, typically farmers using the water to grow crops.

The first component emphasizes drought mitigation, water and power reliability, and natural resource conservation efforts that improve Lake Mead’s water level. It will allow applicants to request payback terms of $330 per acre-foot for one year, $365 per acre-foot for two years, or $400 per acre-foot for three years.

Proposals must also include amounts of water expected to be conserved, methods of verification, and an economic justification, the Bureau of Reclamation told potential applicants.

The second component will seek applicant proposals for other water conservation projects at different pricing amounts, and the third component, which will open in early 2023, will deal with long-term efficiency improvement projects.

Applications are open for the first two components now through Nov. 21, 2022.

While this announcement focuses on “near-term actions,” the Interior Department says it is still looking to invest in long-term systems that will improve efficiency. Similar programs in Upper Basin states are also under consideration and will include at least $500 million in investments in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico.

“The prolonged drought afflicting the West is one of the most significant challenges facing our country,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “I have seen firsthand how climate change is exacerbating the drought crisis and putting pressure on the communities who live across Western landscapes.”

“Thanks to historic funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Interior Department is committed to using every resource available to conserve water and ensure that irrigators, Tribes and adjoining communities receive adequate assistance and support to build resilient communities and protect our water supplies,” she continued.

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton said in July that Colorado River Basin states should figure out how to conserve between 2 and 4 million more acre-feet of water by 2023

U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., advocated for the $4 billion in drought funding during the passage of the IRA. 

“The Western United States is experiencing an unprecedented drought, and it is essential that we have the resources we need to support our states’ efforts to combat climate change, conserve water resources, and protect the Colorado River Basin,” they wrote in an August 5 statement. “This funding in the Inflation Reduction Act will serve as an important resource for Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado, and the work we’ve done to include it will help secure the West’s water future.”

Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper Deliver $60 Million from Bipartisan #Infrastructure Law for Arkansas Valley Conduit: Funding Will Provide Safe Drinking #Water for S.E. #Colorado #ArkansasRiver

President John F. Kennedy at dedication of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.

Click the link to read the release on Senator Bennet’s website:

Today [October 17, 2022], Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed an announcement from the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) of the distribution of $60 million in funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the completion of the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC), providing Coloradans with a secure and safe supply of water. In July, the senators and U.S. Colorado Representative Ken Buck urged the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and BOR to allocate funds from the infrastructure law for the AVC. The Weeminuche Construction Authority, an enterprise of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, has been awarded the contract for this phase of construction of the AVC.

“Sixty years ago, President Kennedy came to Pueblo and promised to build the Arkansas Valley Conduit to deliver clean drinking water to families in Southeastern Colorado. Since I’ve been in  the Senate, I’ve fought to ensure the federal government keeps its word to Colorado and finishes this vital infrastructure project,” said Bennet. “One of the first bills I passed helped to jumpstart and fund construction on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, and with this announcement, we’ve delivered more than $140 million to help complete construction and deliver on this decades-old promise.”

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, long-stalled projects like the Ark Valley Conduit are moving forward. Today, we’re bringing this 60 year project over the finish line,” said Hickenlooper. 

Arkansas Valley Conduit map via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Chris Woodka) June 2021.

The AVC is a planned 130-mile water-delivery system from the Pueblo Dam to communities throughout the Arkansas River Valley in Southeast Colorado. This funding will expedite the construction timeline for the Conduit and allow for federal drinking water standards to be met more quickly. The Conduit is the final phase of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which Congress authorized in 1962.

Bennet and Hickenlooper have consistently advocated for increased funding for the AVC. In May, the senators sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee to include funding for the AVC in the FY23 spending bill. In March, Bennet and Hickenlooper helped secure $12 million for the Conduit from the FY22 omnibus bill. Bennet and Hickenlooper will continue working in Washington to ensure communities have the resources needed to complete this vital project for the region.

“We have been working hard to move this project from planning to construction. This announcement follows the first construction contract award, and is a clear indication that the District and Reclamation will continue to partner in this long-time effort to bring clean drinking water to the Lower Arkansas Valley. Our Senators were key to obtaining more than $8 billion for the Bureau in the IIJA, and our delegation’s long-standing bipartisan support along with support from the State of Colorado have put the conduit on Reclamation’s front line for construction,” said Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board president Bill Long.

“The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and its construction enterprise are honored to be a partner in delivering safe drinking water to the Lower Arkansas Valley. Like other projects Weeminuche Construction Authority has been a part of, the Arkansas Valley Conduit has been a long time coming, but will provide enormous benefit. The infrastructure dollars for the Bureau of Reclamation, making this possible, are a credit to Senator Bennet’s efforts to build support for Western water infrastructure,” said Michael Preston, Board President, Weenuch-u’ Development Corporation of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

“As a regional leader in water issues in southern Colorado, Pueblo Water is proud to help push the Arkansas Valley Conduit forward. Our strong relationship with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other partners helped make it possible for this project to come to fruition. Through this partnership, communities in Southeastern Colorado will have access to clean water faster than thought possible,” said Seth Clayton, Executive Director of Pueblo Water.


Prior to this announcement, Bennet has helped secure over $80 million for the AVC.

In 2009, Congress passed legislation written by Bennet and former U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to authorize a federal cost share and the construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit. Bennet then worked to secure $5 million in federal funding for the project. 

In 2013, Bennet and his colleagues sent a letter to the BOR to quickly approve the Conduit’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) in order to expedite the project’s completion. In 2014, following Bennet and Udall’s efforts to urge the BOR to quickly approve the Conduit’s EIS, the Record of Decision was signed in February. After President  Obama’s budget included an insufficient level of funding for the project, Bennet led a bipartisan letter urging the administration and the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to allow the Conduit’s construction to move ahead as planned. Bennet successfully urged the Department of Interior to designate $2 million in reprogrammed funding from FY14 for the Conduit. Bennet secured language in the FY15 Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act that sent a clear signal to the BOR that the Conduit should be a priority project. 

In 2016, Bennet secured $2 million from the BOR’s reprogrammed funding for FY16, after the project had initially received only $500,000. Bennet then secured $3 million for the AVC as part of the FY17 spending bill. Bennet secured $3 million for the Conduit for FY18.

In April 2019, Bennet and former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) wrote to then-Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Feinstein, urging them to provide funding for the Conduit. Bennet, Gardner, former U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), and Buck wrote to the Department of the Interior urging the Department to support the project. Bennet secured approximately $10 million each year for the Conduit in the FY19 and FY20 spending bills. In 2020, Bennet welcomed $28 million from the BOR to begin construction on the AVC to help bring clean drinking water to Colorado communities. He secured $11 million for the AVC in FY21. He joined the ground breaking in October 2020.

Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth

#Westminster, #Thornton, #Northglenn sites on ‘forever chemicals’ list — The Northglenn/Thornton Sentinel #PFAS

PFAS contamination in the U.S. via

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

Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, Thornton’s Ascent Solar and Westminster’s Ambassador Printing are all sites called out in a new interactive map that identifies places across the country contaminated by “forever chemicals.” […] The map calls out places that have tested positive for having PFAS onsite as well as “presumption contamination” from things such as firefighting foam and industrial chemicals. The sites in Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster are all listed among the sites with presumed contamination…[Alissa Cordner] said the tool’s purpose is to provide regulators, decision-makers and public health officials more information regarding potential risks to their communities.  Places with contamination or presumptive contamination do not imply direct exposure or ingestion…

In 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment tested 400 Colorado water systems, 15 firefighting districts and 43 streams and found 34% of drinking water systems tested had some level of PFAS in the water.  A 2020 survey from the Colorado Health Department found 71 surface water samples had concentrations as high as 257 parts per trillion for 18 different kinds of PFAS.  The state health department released a report in April indicating that bodies of water in El Paso, Adams and Jefferson counties were contaminated with PFAS. CDPHE collected 49 fish representing 10 different species from Willow Springs Pond in El Paso County, Tabor Lake in Jefferson County and Mann-Nyholt Lake at Adams County’s Riverdale Regional Park. They found PFAS in 100% of the fish they collected.