This week’s Topsoil Moisture Short/Very Short by @USDA_OCE

A 1% rise means for the second week in a row we’ve reached a 6-year high in Topsoil S/VS at 65%. For individual states, Oklahoma (96% VS/S) continues to lead (in a bad way). KS is next at 88%.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $210 million for Drought Resilience Projects in the West: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments will fund additional water storage to provide increased #water security to Western communities

Click the link to read the release on the Reclamation website:

The Department of the Interior today announced $210 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will bring clean, reliable drinking water to communities across the West through water storage and conveyance projects.  

The projects are expected to develop over 1.7 million acre-feet of additional water storage capacity, enough water to support 6.8 million people for a year. The funding will also invest in two feasibility studies that could advance water storage capacity further once completed.  

“In the wake of severe drought across the West, the Department is putting funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to work to expand access to clean, reliable water and mitigate the impacts of this crisis,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Water is essential to every community – for feeding families, growing crops, powering agricultural businesses, and sustaining wildlife and our environment. Through the investments we are announcing today, we will advance water storage and conveyance supporting local water management agencies, farmers, families and wildlife.” 

“Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris administration is dramatically advancing our mission at the Bureau of Reclamation to deliver water and power in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner for the American West,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Our investment in these projects will increase water storage capacity and lay conveyance pipeline to deliver reliable and safe drinking water and build resiliency for communities most impacted by drought.” 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $8.3 billion for Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure projects  over the next five years to advance drought resilience and expand access to clean water for families, farmers, and wildlife. The investment will repair aging water delivery systems, secure dams, and complete rural water projects, and protect aquatic ecosystems. The funding announced today is part of the $1.05 billion in Water Storage, Groundwater Storage and Conveyance Projects provided by the Law.   

The selected projects are:  

Arizona: 

Verde River near Clarkdale along Sycamore Canyon Road. Photo credit: Wikimedia

– Verde River Sediment Mitigation Study: $5 million to provide the federal cost share for conducting the Verde River Sedimentation feasibility study, which would identify alternatives to restore at least 46,000 acre-feet of water storage lost due to accumulation of sediment at Horseshoe Reservoir. It would also determine a plan for future management of sediment at Horseshoe and Bartlett Reservoirs and investigate potential operational flexibilities created with increased storage capacity to assist in mitigating impacts of drought and climate change on water availability. An appraisal study was completed in 2021. 

B.F. Sisk Dam is a 380-foot-high zoned compacted earthfill embankment located on the west side of California’s Central Valley 12 miles west of Los Banos, California. The dam is more than 3.5 miles long and impounds San Luis Reservoir which has a total capacity of more than 2 million acre-feet. The dam was built between 1963 and 1967 to provide supplemental irrigation water storage for the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and municipal and industrial water for the California State Water Project (SWP). Water is lifted into the reservoir for storage by the Gianelli Pumping – Generating Plant from the California Aqueduct and from the Delta-Mendota Canal via O’Neill Forebay. B.F. Sisk Dam, also known as San Luis Dam, is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and operated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Reservoir storage space is allotted 55% state and 45% federal. Photo credit: Reclamation

California:  

– B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project: $25 million to the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Authority, to pursue the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project. The project is associated with the B.F. Sisk Safety of Dams Modification Project. Once complete, the project will develop approximately 130,000 acre-feet of additional storage. 

– North of Delta Off Stream Storage (Sites Reservoir Project): $30 million to pursue off stream storage capable for up to 1.5 million acre-feet of water in the Sacramento River system located in the Coast range mountains west of Maxwell, California. The reservoir would utilize new and existing facilities to move water into and out of the reservoir, with ultimate release to the Sacramento River system via existing canals, a new pipeline near Dunnigan, and the Colusa Basin Drain. 

– Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Phase II: $82 million to efficiently integrate approximately 115,000 acre-feet of additional storage through new conveyance facilities with existing facilities to allow Delta water supplies to be safely diverted, stored and delivered to beneficiaries. 

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

Colorado 

– Arkansas Valley Conduit: $60 million to continue the facilitation of supplying a safe, long-term water supply to an estimated 50,000 people in 40 rural communities along the Arkansas River. Once complete the project will replace current groundwater sources contaminated with radionuclides and help communities comply with Environmental Protection Act drinking water regulations through more than 230 miles of pipelines designed to deliver up to about 7,500 acre-feet per year from Pueblo Reservoir. 

Montana 

– Dry Redwater Regional Water System Feasibility Study: $3 million to provide the authorized federal cost-share for finishing the Dry Redwater Regional Water System Feasibility Study. 

Aerial view of Cle Elum Lake (2009). The view is roughly from the north. By Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6261603

Washington 

– Cle Elum Pool Raise: $5 million to increase the reservoir’s capacity an additional 14,600 acre-feet to be managed for instream flows for fish. Additional efforts include shoreline protection that will provide mitigation for the pool raise. 

The Department also recently announced new steps for drought mitigation in the Colorado River Basin supported by the Inflation Reduction Act, releasing a request for proposals for water system conservation measures as part of the newly created Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program. The Act provides $4 billion in funding for water management and conservation in the Colorado River Basin, including at least $500 million for projects in the Upper Basin states that will result in water conservation throughout the system. 

Reclamation lowers Lake Mohave water level to aid with annual razorback sucker harvest

Lake Mohave and Davis Dam seen from Spirit Mountain, Newberry Mountains, southern Nevada. By Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5599033

Click the link to read the release on the Reclamation website (Doug Hendrix):

The Bureau of Reclamation is lowering water levels in Lake Mohave to aid in harvesting razorback suckers (Xyrauchen texanus) from lakeside rearing ponds. The fish is an endangered species native to the Colorado River, and the drawdown is part of annual river operations which are timed to coincide with conservation activities for the fish. Lake Mohave will steadily lower from its current elevation of 637 feet above mean sea level (msl) to an elevation of about 633 feet msl by the week of Oct. 24 and will remain at approximately the same elevation for about one week. The lake level will begin to rise at the end of October and is estimated to reach an elevation of 639 feet msl by the end of November. Boaters should use caution when navigating the lake, as areas, especially downstream of Hoover Dam, will be shallower than normal.

Endangered Razorback sucker. Photo credit: Reclamation

Each year, Reclamation’s Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR MSCP) gathers tens of thousands of newly hatched razorback sucker larvae from Lake Mohave and transfers the larvae to state and federal hatcheries throughout the Southwest. After an initial growth period in these hatcheries, many of the fish are placed in lakeside rearing ponds around Lake Mohave, where they continue to grow and learn how to forage for food. In the fall, these fish are harvested from the lakeside ponds, tagged with microchips, and released back into Lake Mohave.

The project is part of Reclamation’s continuing collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with the National Park Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and other interested parties. The LCR MSCP is a multi-agency effort to accommodate water and power needs while conserving species and their habitats along the river. More information about conservation efforts for razorback suckers is available at https://www.lcrmscp.gov/fish/razorback_sucker.html.

Lake Mohave is located above Davis Dam on the Colorado River near Laughlin, Nevada. Updated information on water levels at Lake Mohave and other Lower Colorado River reservoirs is located at https://www.usbr.gov/lc/riverops.html under Current Conditions. For current recreational information, visit the National Park Service website at https://www.nps.gov/lake/learn/news/lakeconditions.html.

‘The future will not look like the past’: Local water leaders emphasize outreach, education about the #BlueRiver — The Summit Daily News #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification #stationarity

Map of the Blue River drainage basin in Colorado, USA. Made using USGS data. By Shannon1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69327693

Click the link to read the article on the Summit Daily News website (Eliza Noe). Here’s an excerpt:

As the first installment of the Summit County government’s new County 101 series, community members gathered to hear from local water leaders about the state of the Colorado River drought and how it affects local headwaters.  Representatives from the Colorado District, Colorado Division of Water Resources, Blue River Watershed Group and High Country Conservation Center gave presentations about local waters and how community members can understand recent reporting about drought across the river basin…

On Oct. 12, the Biden administration designated at least $500 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to go toward the Upper Colorado River Basin, which includes Colorado, for “investments in conservation and long-term system efficiency,” according to a release from the White House.

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. Credit: Brad Udall via Twitter

“(Drought and climate change are) something here in the headwaters we live with — our hydrology. We see it happening. We see less snow. We see the dry soils that are absorbing what runoff we do have,” said Marielle Cowdin, director of public relations at the Colorado River District. “For every 1 degree Fahrenheit rise in average temperature, stream flow is reduced between 3% to 9%, with most studies actually leaning toward that 9%.”

Like other parts of the Upper Colorado River Basin, the Blue River has faced changes in the past decade as a result of climate. This includes less snowpack for spring runoff, drier soils and warmer summer temperatures. 

“It’s my belief that these bigger-picture issues that are brought up and that we’re all facing, they’re coming down the pike,” ​​Troy Wineland, water commissioner for Summit County, said. “And believe me, they’re coming. We’ve got two of the largest reservoirs in the country sitting about 24% capacity. If that’s not the kind of writing on the walls, I don’t know what it is. So outreach and education to me is critical.”

Click the link to read “Stationarity is dead: Wither water management” on the University of California at Berkeley website.

Aspinall Unit operations update (October 20, 2022): Bumping down releases to 950 cfs #GunnisonRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Part of the memorial to Wayne Aspinall in Palisade. Aspinall, a Democrat, is a legend in the water sector, and is the namesake of the annual award given by the Colorado Water Congress. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from the Aspinall Unit will be decreased from 1050 cfs to 950 cfs on Thursday, October 20th. Releases are being decreased due to reduced demand at the Gunnison Tunnel.  

Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 790 cfs. River flows are expected to remain above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future. 

Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 790 cfs for October and November. 

Currently, Gunnison Tunnel diversions are 700 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 340 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will be around 600 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will still be near 340 cfs.  Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review. 

The #RioGrande #Water #Conservation District. The board gets these latest charts on the unconfined aquifer of the Upper Rio Grande Basin — @AlamosaCitizen

Click through to Twitter to view the docs from Chris Lopez.

#GreatSaltLake to get water infusion; entity planned to promote #conservation — The Orem Standard-Examiner

Satellite photo of the Great Salt Lake from August 2018 after years of drought, reaching near-record lows. The difference in colors between the northern and southern portions of the lake is the result of a railroad causeway. The image was acquired by the MSI sensor on the Sentinel-2B satellite. By Copernicus Sentinel-2, ESA – https://scihub.copernicus.eu/dhus/#/home, CC BY-SA 3.0 igo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77990895

Click the link to read the article on the Orem Standard-Examiner website (Tim Vandenack ). Here’s an excerpt:

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson on Thursday announced that the Weber Basin and Jordan Valley water conservancy districts will send an additional 30,000 acre feet of water to the lake, above and beyond what they’re otherwise expected to let loose. The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, one of several water providers around the state, serves Weber County and taps into the Pineview Reservoir, among others…Moreover, Wilson unveiled plans to seek creation of a new public-private venture called Utah Water Ways, which would be overseen by a coalition of Utah business leaders who would spearhead grant programming and a publicity campaign to save water. It’s modeled after the Utah Clean Air Partnership, or UCAIR, focused on fighting air pollution by involving the broader public…

The 30,000 acre feet in extra water coming from the two water conservancy districts, to be released over the coming winter, is just a fraction of what the lake needs to get back to normal. But Wilson, a Kaysville Republican, hopes for more such allocations and said fixing the problem will require numerous incremental measures…Meantime, the Utah Water Ways initiative, which sprang from Wilson’s office, will require passage of enabling legislation when lawmakers meet in the 2023 session early next year. But he’s already organized a coalition of partners to aid in the process and provide funding. They are Rio Tinto, the mining group; Intermountain Healthcare, the nonprofit health care provider; Zion’s Bank; Ivory Homes; and the Larry H. Miller Co., a consortium of companies.

October 2022 #LaNiña update: snack size — NOAA #ENSO

Click the link to read the article on the NOAA website (Emily Becker):

For what seems like the 247th month in a row, La Niña is still in charge in the tropical Pacific. It’s really only been about a year with continuous La Niña, as it took a break summer 2021 and re-developed October 2021, but it seems like longer! There’s a 75% chance La Niña will be present this winter (December–February); forecasters favor a transition to neutral during February–April 2023.

3 Musketeers

Call it what you like—triple-dip, three-peat, three-bean salad—we are facing the third La Niña winter in a row. This is the third time in our historical record of ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the whole El Niño and La Niña system), which dates back to 1950, that we have had three La Niña winters in a row. That’s a lot of threes! The other stretches were 1973–1976 and 1998–2001.

Three-year history of sea surface temperatures in the Niño-3.4 region of the tropical Pacific for 8 previous double-dip La Niña events. The color of the line shows the ENSO state in the third winter (red: El Niño, darker blue: La Niña, lighter blue: neutral). The black line shows the current event. Monthly Niño-3.4 index is from CPC using ERSSTv5. Time series comparison was created by Michelle L’Heureux, and modified by Climate.gov.

As I mentioned, La Niña conditions took a vacation last summer, but the Niño-3.4 index has been negative since mid-2020. The Niño-3.4 index, our primary measurement for ENSO, measures the difference between current and long-term average sea surface temperature in a specific region in the tropical Pacific, where long-term is currently 1991–2020. According to ERSSTv5, our favorite sea surface temperature dataset, the Niño-3.4 index ticked slightly more negative to -1.1°C in September 2022. This is approximately tied with 1999 for the 6th most negative Niño-3.4 index on record for the month of September.

Kit Kat

Forecasters are very confident that La Niña will continue through the end of the year: the probability of La Niña through October–December is 95%. I got into detail about the sources behind the high level of confidence last month, and they remain the same this month. First, there’s that Niño-3.4 index, substantially exceeding the La Niña threshold of cooler than -0.5°C.

Also, the La Niña atmospheric response is clearly locked in, shown by stronger-than-average near-surface winds along the equatorial Pacific Ocean (the trade winds), less rain than average over the central tropical Pacific, and more rain over Indonesia. All these factors illustrate an enhanced Walker circulation. One of the ways that we measure the Walker circulation is the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), which relates the surface air pressure over Darwin, Australia to the pressure over Tahiti.

Location of the stations used for the Southern Oscillation Index (Tahiti and Darwin, black dots), the Equatorial Southern Oscillation Index (eastern equatorial Pacific and Indonesia regions, outlined in blue-green), and the Niño3.4 region in the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean for sea surface temperature (red dashed line). NOAA Climate.gov image by Fiona Martin.

September 2022 was the 4th strongest September SOI since 1950. Another measurement is the Equatorial Southern Oscillation Index, measuring the surface pressure relationship between the eastern and western equatorial Pacific. By this measure, September 2022 was tied for 10th strongest September since 1949. Not quite as impressive, but still a solid indication of the amped-up Walker circulation.

A third factor providing confidence is that there is still a substantial amount of cooler-than-average water under the surface of the tropical Pacific. Our records for the subsurface ocean temperature go back to 1979, and September 2022 is tied for 8th coolest September subsurface. Not a staggering record or anything, but enough to further bolster the forecast confidence. Yet more confidence comes from the computer model forecasts, nearly all of which predict La Niña will linger through the Northern Hemisphere winter.

Skittles

We spend so much time and energy studying La Niña and El Niño because they affect global atmospheric circulation, changing climate patterns in somewhat predictable ways. Check the second half of last month’s post for a collection of La Niña’s potential effect on North American and global weather and climate.

There are many different things that go into a seasonal forecast, but the two biggies are ENSO and recent trends, meaning the tendency of temperature and rain/snow over the recent 10 or 15 years. Tom described how the recent trends work, so take a look at that post for details.

November–January average temperature (top) and precipitation (bottom) compared to the long-term average for the combination of historical La Niña events and climate trends. Data is based on the CPC ENSO composites and modified by Climate.gov.

Clearly, when you combine the characteristic temperature pattern of La Niña with recent trends, you end up with a warmer-than-average pattern during November–January over nearly the entire contiguous U.S. (You can see maps with La Niña and trends separated here.) Also, the southern plains tend to be drier than average, with more rain and snow falling in the northwest. (Separated maps here.) The Climate Prediction Center’s updated outlook for the November­–January and upcoming winter will be released next Thursday.