#Drought news (November 3, 2022): W. #Colorado had improvements to moderate and severe drought as the ongoing wet pattern and early snows have allowed for improvements

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of drought data from the US Drought Monitor website.

Click the link to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

This Week’s Drought Summary

An active weather pattern over the Midwest to southern Plains brought the most precipitation to those areas this week. Warm and dry conditions dominated the northern Plains and the upper Midwest where some areas are experiencing “flash drought” conditions that are not as common this time of year. Dryness over the Southeast is starting to impact more of the region while an active pattern has started over portions of the Pacific Northwest, bringing some moisture over the western portions of the region. Temperatures were coolest over the West and southern Plains and warmest over the northern Plains and into New England…

High Plains

Temperatures were well above normal over the northern and eastern portion of the High Plains and below normal in the west. Temperatures were 8-10 degrees above normal in the Dakotas and 2-4 degrees above normal in Nebraska and northern Kansas. Portions of Wyoming, Colorado and western Nebraska were cooler than normal with temperatures 2-4 degrees below normal. It was quite the dry week in the region as there were only a few pockets of rain in southeast South Dakota, northeast Nebraska and into north-central Kansas. Flash drought conditions are impacting the region, especially in the Dakotas where warm, dry and windy conditions have provide ideal harvest conditions but have started taking a toll on the region. In the Dakotas, a broad expansion of severe drought conditions took place this week. Moderate drought also expanded in eastern South Dakota and into southern portions of the state. Continued dryness over Kansas, where portions of southwest Kansas had their driest October on record, allowed for the expansion of extreme and exceptional drought this week. On the plains of Colorado, moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions continue to expand…

Colorado Drought Monitor one week change map ending November 1, 2022.


Temperatures for the week were cooler than normal over most of the region, with departures of 4-6 degrees below normal over the southwest. Warmer than normal conditions were recorded in the Pacific Northwest as well as across the northern portion of the region where temperatures were 4-6 degrees above normal with some even greater departures in Montana. Wetter than normal conditions were recorded in the Pacific Northwest as well as in western Colorado, northern Oregon, and into northern Idaho. The continued wet pattern allowed for some improvements in northeast New Mexico to the moderate, severe, and extreme drought conditions even as long-term issues remain. Western Colorado had improvements to moderate and severe drought as the ongoing wet pattern and early snows have allowed for improvements. Washington received enough rain to start showing improvements to the moderate and severe drought in the west while northern portions of the state had moderate drought expand…


Welcome rains over north and south Texas, Arkansas, northern Louisiana and into southern Oklahoma helped to build on recent precipitation events in some of these areas. Portions of north Texas and into southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana recorded 200-400% of normal precipitation for the week. Southern Louisiana as well as west Texas and the Oklahoma panhandle remained dry. Cooler than normal temperatures through much of Texas and Oklahoma as well as western Arkansas and Louisiana helped to slow down further drought development for this week and even allowed for some improvements. A full category improvement to drought levels was made over northern Texas and into southeast Oklahoma. In Arkansas, extreme and severe drought were improved. Extreme drought was removed from Tennessee this week with improvements in the western portion of the state while abnormally dry conditions expanded in the central and northeast portion of the state. Louisiana had some adjustments to the severe drought in the south as the western portion improved but the area expanded to the east. Additional improvements were made to moderate and severe drought in east Texas and to abnormally dry conditions in south Texas…

Looking Ahead

Over the next 5-7 days, it is anticipated that the Pacific Northwest will remain in an active pattern, with greatest precipitation anticipated along the coast. The Rocky Mountains also look to stay in an active pattern, with up to an inch of precipitation anticipated over much of western Colorado and Wyoming as well as into Utah. A large frontal system is anticipated over much of the Midwest, with areas of the upper Midwest expected to receive over 1.50 inches of rain. The wet pattern over the South will continue as well with much of the lower Mississippi basin anticipating rainfall of over 1 inch. Temperatures during this period show much of the eastern U.S. having above-normal temperatures, with the greatest anomalies over the Great Lakes where high temperatures could be 15-18 degrees above normal. Cooler than normal temperatures are anticipated over the West with departures of 6-9 degrees below normal over California to Arizona.

The 6-10 day outlooks show that temperatures are anticipated to be warmer than normal over the eastern half of the U.S. with the greatest chances over the East coast and into the Mid-Atlantic. Cooler than normal temperatures are anticipated over much of the West with the best chances of below normal temperatures over the northern Rocky Mountains and into the Great Basin. The likelihood of drier than normal conditions are greatest over the Midwest into the lower Mississippi valley. The best chances for wetter than normal conditions are over the southeast coastal areas, the northern Plains, upper Midwest and into the Great Basin and California.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending November 1, 2022.

Just for grins here’s a gallery of US Drought Monitor maps for early November for the past few years.

#Colorado #water users, environmentalists brace for changes as EPA, Supreme Court weigh wetland rules — @WaterEdCO

Sunrise Over Wetland by NPS/Patrick Myers

Click the link to read the article on the Water Education Colorado website (Caitlin Coleman):

A race is on to determine which wetlands and other waters will be protected under the Clean Water Act, the law that regulates the discharge of pollutants into the nation’s water. At issue is not only the protection of water bodies but also clarity for farmers, ranchers, developers, and others who question whether the actions they take on their lands require a federal permit.

Last month, on October 3, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Sackett v. EPA, a case that asks whether certain wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act and how that should be determined. The Supreme Court offers no specific timeline as to when it will release an opinion, aside from by the end of this term in June 2023, or sooner, but likely not before January 2023.

“The magnitude of this Supreme Court case can’t be overstated,” said Ashley House, director of public policy national affairs for the Colorado Farm Bureau. “It’s a matter of food security.” But it’s also a matter of protecting the state and nation’s water resources.

In Colorado there is no state program to protect certain wetlands and waterways from dredging, filling and other damage if they’re not covered by the Clean Water Act. The state has always relied on the federal government’s program for dredge and fill permits, though it could develop its own protections if needed.

Over the past seven years, the test for which water bodies are protected under the Clean Water Act has changed three times – with each new presidential administration – as certain categories of wetlands and ephemeral streams have been revised in and out of the definition for “waters of the United States,” also known as WOTUS, a federal status that extends them protections under the Clean Water Act.

Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are developing another new rule that would also clarify which waters are protected from pollutants under the act. The agencies’ final rule was submitted in September 2022 and, according to EPA, the agencies plan to issue the rule by the end of the year.

Recent changes to the definition of WOTUS occurred in 2015, 2020 and 2021, with another likely coming in 2022. Those recent definitions for what qualifies have bounced between broader and narrower.

“A narrow definition of waters of the U.S. leaves an incredibly important water resource value unprotected by federal law — which is basically uniform across the nation — and then it’s up to the states to decide what to do, and some states won’t decide to protect those areas at all,” said Joro Walker, general counsel with Western Resource Advocates.

Ephemeral streams are streams that do not always flow. They are above the groundwater reservoir and appear after precipitation in the area. Via Socratic.org

The 2020 definition, for example, excluded all ephemeral waterways and some wetlands. Ephemeral streams represent more than 25% of Colorado’s stream miles, according to Colorado Trout Unlimited.

But farmers and ranchers, developers, and other business owners worry the broader definition would mean federal involvement in day-to-day decisions around their properties, or the need to consult a lawyer on something like driving across an ephemeral stream or running water through an irrigation ditch every few years. The 2015 rule included a broad definition and has been referred to as a federal “overreach.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in 2019 that the rule would have put “backyard ponds, puddles, and prairie potholes under Washington’s control.”

Now though, the Colorado Farm Bureau and others who are regulated are calling for clarity and security, something they hope the Supreme Court will provide.

“It’s hard to know what is covered,” said Travis Vincent, general counsel and director of public policy state affairs for the Colorado Farm Bureau. “We want a more bright-lined test so our members have a better understanding of when their property or something on their property would be regulated under WOTUS.”

The organization is also looking for more stability.

“On the existential level it creates a lot of anxiety when you have changes to the definition with every changing administration. There’s a sense of anxiety with all producers,” said House. “Producers need accountability and also regulatory consistency.”

Currently, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are relying on the definition that was in place through 2015, which they call a “familiar approach” that will “support a stable implementation of ‘waters of the United States’” while EPA and the Army Corps continue their rulemaking.

According to a statement issued by EPA, the new rule will include “amendments to reflect the agencies’ determination of the statutory limits on the scope of the ‘waters of the United States’ informed by Supreme Court precedent, the best available science, and the agencies’ experience and technical expertise.”

But the Supreme Court’s decision could change that. If the Supreme Court issues a decision before EPA finalizes its rule, the agency would likely need to adjust its rule before issuing it. If EPA’s call comes first, it could render the court’s decision moot, or mean that the agencies need to go back to the drawing board after the court’s decision is released. Both the court’s opinion and the rulemaking could affect EPA’s regulatory process and the level of protection that water bodies receive.

“We are in a very dynamic situation with the rule and have been for a number of years,” says Trisha Oeth, director of environmental health and protection at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “I think all interests would benefit from certainty and stability in this area, so we continue to watch it very closely and have been having conversations with stakeholders here in Colorado to figure out, long term, what is the right path for us.”

Colorado Rivers. Credit: Geology.com

In Colorado, not all changes to the rule have been implemented. A month after the 2020 revision took effect, which rolled back protections, Colorado filed a legal challenge. According to Colorado’s Water Quality Control Division, some 25% to 50% of Colorado streams, lakes and wetlands could have been impacted by the 2020 rule. Colorado’s attorneys initially secured a stay on enacting the new rule and absorbing more enforcement responsibilities, but that ruling was vacated by the Tenth Circuit Court in March 2021.

In 2021, the nation reverted back to the pre-2015 rule but just after that, in January 2022 the Supreme Court agreed to review Sackett v. EPA, which questions whether certain wetlands are waters of the United States. The Sacketts own land in Idaho which lies across from wetlands and drains into a tributary that feeds Priest Lake. They had long been trying to build there but EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers found that the dredging and filling of construction would affect the tributary and lake.

When the case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals, the court upheld EPA’s conclusion, based on a test established through a 2006 Supreme Court case, Rapanos v. United States, in which Justice Kennedy argued that the Army Corps of Engineers should determine whether the water at issue possesses a “significant nexus” to waters that are navigable when determining whether a water body meets the definition of WOTUS.

But in the Rapanos case, justices failed to achieve a majority opinion on the WOTUS test. This has left, as the Sacketts have said, a landscape of “fruitless confusion, conflict, and litigation.”

The Sacketts appealed the Court of Appeals’ decision to the Supreme Court. The Sacketts aren’t alone in standing up to EPA on its decision. In April 2022, the Colorado Farm Bureau joined 19 other state Farm Bureaus in filing a brief with the court in support of the Sacketts.

More than 40 additional briefs in support of either EPA or the Sacketts have been filed by many other parties, including the State of Colorado, which filed a brief in June arguing for broad protection of waters and for the use of the “significant nexus” test in determining which waters to protect.

Although the court has heard oral arguments, it remains unclear where the justices will side and whether they will come together to provide a new, definitive test for WOTUS jurisdiction.

“It’s hard to speculate on what the [U.S. Supreme Court decision] is going to look like,” said Oeth. “If the outcome were to change the definition of WOTUS or add a new test for what WOTUS includes, that could have an impact here in Colorado.” If a new definition were to apply to fewer water bodies than it does now, that would mean that Colorado waters would have less protection than they do today, she said.

Elizabeth Miller contributed to this report.

Caitlin Coleman is a contributor to Fresh Water News and is editor of Water Education Colorado’s Headwaters Magazine. She can be reached at caitlin@wateredco.org.

#Wellington residents remain frustrated over high #water bills as town plays catch-up — The #FortCollins Coloradoan

Looking west on Cleveland Avenue in Wellington. By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47841975

Click the link to read the article on The Fort Collins Coloradoan website (Bethany Osborn). Here’s an excerpt:

Wellington’s Board of Trustees is now playing catch-up. During its regular meeting on Oct. 25, Wellington’s board heard several options on how the town plans to decrease water rates for residents and distribute the cost of the new treatment plants more equitably across all classes of users. While residents could see some decrease in their monthly water costs, the town still has some of the highest water bills in the region. Some residents say they don’t think the problem will go away until the town stops prioritizing growth over updating the existing infrastructure…

Currently, Wellington residents pay a base rate of $66 and anywhere between $4.56 to $7.72 per 1,000 gallons used, depending on how many thousands of gallons of water they use per month. The average household in Wellington uses about 4,000 gallons of water during winter months and 10,000 gallons of water in the summer, said Meagan Smith, Wellington’s deputy director of public works. Under current water rates, the average resident is paying anywhere from $85 to $112 per month for just their water usage depending on the time of year. For Fort Collins Utilities customers, similar bills would be about $30 to $47. In January 2021, Wellington raised the base rate from about $31 to $66, leaving residents to make significant changes in order to cover their bills…

While nothing is official until the board votes, which will likely happen later this month, members indicated during the Oct. 25 meeting they would support an option for residents that would have a tiered base rate, dependent on the size of the residential tap, that includes a capital charge — the fee to cover new infrastructure and what made base rates so high in the first place — and a minimum of 3,000 gallons of “essential use.” Previous base rates didn’t include any sort of essential use. According to a rate study the town conducted, roughly half or water bills in Wellington use 3,000 gallons or less per month.

A biggest ever in #Colorado for battery storage — @BigPivots #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Tiny now, like a pebble, lithium-ion battery storage in Colorado will soon be like a boulder. What else is needed to complete this emissions-free jigsaw puzzle? Photo credit: Allen Best

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

The 13,500 solar modules sandwiched by hillsides of sagebrush, piñon and juniper near Glenwood Springs capture the eyes. It’s the four shipping containers of lithium-ion batteries, capable of five megawatts of storage, that will briefly set a new high mark for Colorado.

Battery storage is coming on in Colorado. This project narrowly eclipses the previous record in Colorado set four years ago. Late next spring, the 275 megawatts of battery capacity planned by Xcel Energy at Pueblo and in Adams County will dwarf this record of 5 megawatts. More yet will be coming after that.

We need storage to complement the intermittency of the renewables but also because this makes economic sense. This transition to an energy system with fewer emissions has so far slowed or stopped increased costs in prices of electricity. If only we could be so lucky with organic food.

Storage capacity within Colorado will rise significantly in the next five years. Imagine driving on Interstate 70 across the Great Plains into Denver. In the city’s western suburbs, the highway rises slightly. In this analogy with battery storage, we’re still in the suburbs. Lying immediately ahead is the sharp rise to Floyd Hill with plenty of uphill beyond.

Mike Kruger, the chief executive of Colorado Solar and Storage Association, a trade organization, rejects this analogy. Instead of uphill struggle, he describes downhill glide. Lithium-ion storage will expand, he explained, because of rapidly declining costs that parallel those of solar panels a decade before.

In his view, we’re about to descend from Loveland Pass.

“Imagine the tiniest thing you can think of,” Kruger said at a Colorado Renewable Energy Society webinar. “That’s storage in Colorado today. Now think of the biggest thing you can think of. That will be energy storage in the future.”

All of Colorado’s larger utilities plan significant storage but in somewhat different ways. Platte River Power Authority recently received 31 bids for various non-carbon generation and storage proposals in and near the four communities it serves in northern Colorado. For example, Estes Park, whose frightened residents had to flee in 2020 as two megafires approached, might need both storage and solar panels if power deliveries get interrupted.

Wildfire threat also figures into the solar and storage at the college campus near Glenwood Springs. Should outside power be cut off, students could shelter in place.

Colorado Springs Utilities, the state’s fourth largest utility, is soliciting bids for batteries with 400 megawatt-hours of storage to become operational in 2024. Utilities spokesman Steve Berry predicts growing importance of battery storage as long as the technology becomes increasingly cost-effective, efficient and reliable.

“Battery storage will help us better manage the intermittent characteristics of renewable energy, but it will also provide greater grid resiliency, help insulate customers from market volatility, and help us modernize our grid for emerging technologies,” he says.

We are also beginning – just beginning – to see batteries in homes and businesses. In a program called Power+, Holy Cross has assisted in placing batteries at 68 homes and businesses. Supply chain issues have 122 still on the waiting list. It is doing this partly to learn how to draw on these batteries to meet peak demands, such as when the snowmaking guns at Aspen and Vail power up as temperatures dive during November evenings.

Now come state and federal programs that Kruger describes as a “really amazing confluence of incentives” via tax rebates. A new Colorado law will award an income tax credit equal to 10% of the purchase price for storage systems purchased in 2023 and 2024. The systems are also exempt from sales tax. The federal Inflation Reduction Act provides an even bigger tax incentive of 30%.

Xcel customers will be eligible for additional incentives next year: $500 per kilowatt of storage up to 50% of the cost of the battery and $800 per kilowatt for Income-qualified (up to 75% of the cost of the battery)

Supplies of batteries remain tight, but manufacturing capacity has been ramping up and prices should fall. Globally, capacity grew by a third last year to reach 600 gigawatt-hour in manufacturing capacity. Wood Mackenzie, a consultant, reports 3,000 gigawatt-hours being planned or under construction.

In “The Big Fix,” Aspen-reared Hal Harvey and co-author Justin Gillis describe how scaling up of industrial process has caused prices of everything from Model T’s to computer chips to tumble. They call it “the learning curve.” The most recent examples were wind and then solar.

Cheaper lithium-ion batteries alone will not alone allow Holy Cross and other utilities to realize their goals of 100% emissions-free electricity by 2030. We also need longer-term storage. Options include molten salt, hydrogen and pumped storage-hydro, the latter a technology use in Colorado since the 1950s that remains the state’s largest “battery.” Nuclear and geothermal are other options. All will take time to deploy. Likely a decade.

For now, it’s time to charge the batteries.

Nearly a third of southern Sierra forests killed by drought and wildfire in last decade — The Los Angeles Times #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Map of groves showing fire severity for KNP Complex Fire. Credit: NPS

Click the link to read the article on The Los Angeles Times website (Haley Smith). Here’s an excerpt:

As climate change continues to transform California’s landscape in staggering and often irreversible ways, researchers have zeroed in on yet another casualty of the shift: the forests of the southern Sierra Nevada. Between 2011 and 2020, wildfires, drought and bark beetle infestations contributed to the loss of nearly a third of all conifer forests in the lower half of the mountain range, according to a recent study published in the journal Ecological Applications. Eighty-five percent of the southern Sierra’s high-density mature forests either lost density or became non-forest vegetation. The losses could have grave consequences for California wildlife, including protected species such as spotted owls and Pacific fishers that rely on mature tree canopies for their habitats. Researchers said the findings not only are another indication of the state’s shifting climate regime, but also offer new insights that could help guide forest management and conservation strategies.

“Thirty percent of conifer forests in the southern Sierra Nevada are no longer considered forests,” said Zachary Steel, a research scientist with the United States Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station and the lead author of the study. “They’re either sparsely treed landscapes or, more often, are transitioning either in the short term or long term to more of a shrubland-type system.”

The Sierra covers about a quarter of California’s land area, with the southern portion of the range running from Lake Tahoe to Tehachapi. Hundreds of plants and animals call the region home, and the forest helps sequester carbon and store water for the state’s residents.

Steel, who conducted the study as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley, said the numbers were alarming.

“What’s most concerning is the pace at which this is happening,” he said. “Fire always occurred in these landscapes, drought always occurred in these landscapes … but the declines are going so rapidly that the succession, or the regrowth, of these forests is not going to be able to keep up.”

Coyote Gulch attempting to hug a Sequoia near the General Sherman tree August 1, 2022. Photo credit: Mrs. Gulch

For Native Americans, the Supreme Court Lost Legitimacy Long Ago — Indianz.com

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier at awards ceremony in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. By Apnewcombwei – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=106523575

Click the link to read the gust column on the Indianz.com website (Harold Frazier). Here’s an excerpt:

Today, we do not doubt that the Supreme Court will lose further legitimacy by striking down college admissions that take account of the racial animus that so many students and families have suffered in the Harvard and North Carolina cases. No person shall be denied by any state the equal protection of the laws under the 14th Amendment and Congress has the authority to implement this directive by legislation. Clearly, where the Federal, state, local and societal institutions have infringed on minority rights for generations, Congress can act to allow redress and to promote diversity in education to provide a more meaningful environment for education for all. In Dobbs in June 2022, the Supreme Court lost legitimacy with women by undermining reproductive rights and women’s right to life. Apparently, the Supreme Court does not know that child birth can be fraught with life and death challenges. We know because, confined to Indian health care, our Native women have had high maternal health challenges for decades. Before Dobbs, the Supreme Court lost legitimacy in Bush v. Gore when it ruled that America has more legitimacy when states do not count votes. Later, the Supreme Court struck down voting rights because, in its view, racism in America is over. The Supreme Court has lost its connection to America’s truth.For Native Americans, the Supreme Court lost legitimacy long ago…

In 1903, the Supreme Court overruled the 1867 Kiowa Treaty provision that required three-quarter consent of the Kiowa People for any cession of Indian treaty lands. The Supreme Court said that under the Federal trust responsibility — read White Man’s Burden — America had the power to change Native lands into cash without Native Nation consent.Treaties are made by mutual consent between nations. The Supreme Court’s rulings concerning Native Sovereign Nations are genocidal, contrary to the Constitution, and in violation of our natural law rights for centuries…The Constitution, framed by “We the People … excludes “Indians not Taxed” from U.S. citizenship, because Lakota had our own Native Sovereign Nation, our own democracy, laws and traditions. When America asked for safe passage across our lands for settlers on the Oregon Trail, we agreed and America recognized our homeland in the 1851 Treaty. In the 1854 Kansas—Nebraska Territory Act, the United States pledged to honor native rights of person and property and to rigidly follow our treaties. The 1861 Dakota Territory Act repeated these legal assurances.When America found gold in Montana, miners sought to overrun our homelands and the Government sent the Army. Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, One Horn, and Sitting Bull fought for our lands. In the 1868 Treaty, America pledged “war shall forever cease,” recognized our self-government, and pledged to respect our permanent home, including the Black Hills…For one hundred years, the Supreme Court sat idle raising procedural barriers to justice. In 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nation, the Supreme Court held that America’s taking of our Black Hills treaty lands was unconstitutional, yet for the past 40 years there has been no justice.In June, in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, the Supreme Court held that the 10th Amendment gives states governing power on Indian reservations. Not true. Native Sovereign Nations are prior sovereigns and states agreed not to encroach on Indian lands as part of the bargain of their statehood. Our treaties are the Supreme Law of the Land, nothing in the state constitutions withstanding…

Natural justice, the Constitution and our treaties establish an enduring nation-to-nation relationship between America and Native Sovereign Nations based upon mutual consent. It’s time for America to honor its word.

Native land loss 1776 to 1930. Credit: Alvin Chang/Ranjani Chakraborty

Community Agriculture Alliance: What is the Yampa Integrated #Water Management Plan? — Steamboat Pilot & Today #YampaRiver #GreenRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Boaters float the Yampa River. According to the updated state Water Plan, summer recreation flow needs may not be met in the future due to lower peak flows, fueled by climate change. CREDIT: HEATHER SACKETT/ASPEN JOURNALISM

Click the link to read the guest column on the Steamboat Pilot & Today website (Michelle Meyer and Lindsey Marlow). Here’s an excerpt:

The Yampa White Green Basin Roundtable led the development of an Integrated Water Management Plan for the Yampa River in 2019. The process combined community input with science and engineering assessments to identify actions to protect existing and future water uses and support healthy river ecosystems in the face of growing populations, changing land uses and climate uncertainty. While that sounds technical and even slightly boring … keep reading! Working to sustain, protect and care for the Yampa River impacts us all.  The IWMP is a community effort, led by people who live and work in the Yampa Valley, and care about the river and its future. This is not a political issue, but a stakeholder-driven plan with a shared passion for the river as common ground. The IWMP seeks to identify and spur projects and strategies that benefit water users, the environment and recreational users. These multi-benefit efforts cannot be accomplished by one entity alone but require collaboration among water users and landowners, nonprofit organizations and local governments. The project’s work included stakeholder input via surveys and interviews conducted in 2020. Our team collected ideas from a variety of stakeholders to identify priority reaches for improved river health and recreation, as well as ideas to better meet water users’ needs. A technical team worked to assess current river conditions. Inventories of water use, river flows, riverside land condition, fishery health and water quality have helped to characterize current conditions and identify knowledge gaps. 

The final piece of the IWMP has been to prioritize issues and develop consensus on action plans. The true success is in the collaborative partnerships and relationships developed through countless hours of meetings. The Yampa IWMP final report can be found at YampaWhiteGreen.com/iwmp.  Multi-benefit projects include a focus that recognizes agriculture, recreation, environment, municipal and industrial water needs as equally important. Some recommendations to highlight include a basin wide temperature monitoring program that will help inform and identify opportunities for improved river health.

Coordinated efforts in developing a Yampa River Data Dashboard and River Scorecard will not only bring scientific work and data together for informed management decisions but will allow the community to understand the state of the Yampa River over time. Several IWMP recommendations specifically call out support and coordination for agriculture water users to address common challenges and opportunities to sustain a balanced river.