Northern Integrated Supply Project Achieves Major Milestone from Federal Agency — @Northern_Water #PoudreRiver #SouthPlatteRiver #NISP

A computer rendering shows Glade Reservoir and its forebay northwest of Fort Collins. Credit: Northern Water

From email from Northern Water (Jeff Stahla):

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a federal Clean Water Act Section 404 Record of Decision for the Northern Integrated Supply Project. This is a major milestone for NISP, as it reflects the lead federal regulatory agency’s review and approval of the Project.

The Corps’ approval was based on a lengthy and rigorous scientific analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act and a host of other environmental laws, including the federal Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, State Water Quality compliance certification, and State Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan requirements.

The Corps has concluded that the Project’s 40,000 acre-foot yield will meet a substantial amount of the 15 Northern Front Range participants’ future water need and that NISP is the least environmentally impactful means of satisfying that need. The Corps considered a range of other potential alternative approaches, including the adverse impacts to the region if no federal action was taken.

“This action is the culmination of nearly 20 years of study, project design and refinement to develop water resources well into the 21st century,” said Northern Water General Manager Brad Wind. “This Project will also allow participating communities to serve their customers without targeting water now used on the region’s farms.”

Through the federal permitting process, the Project was refined to further avoid and minimize environmental impacts and provide mitigation and enhancements to river-related resources. NISP’s operations will send more water down the Poudre River and through downtown Fort Collins in most months of the year, providing additional flows through the city in late summer, fall and winter than currently exist. NISP will also offer significant new flatwater recreation opportunities to everyone.

NISP includes Glade Reservoir, Galeton Reservoir, and associated project infrastructure to deliver high-quality water to more than 250,000 Northeastern Colorado residents.

Participants in the Project include the Town of Erie, Town of Windsor, City of Fort Morgan, Town of Frederick, City of Evans, City of Fort Lupton, Town of Eaton, Town of Severance, City of Lafayette, Town of Firestone, and City of Dacono, as well as the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, Left Hand Water District, Central Weld County Water District, and the Morgan County Quality Water District.

Learn more about NISP at

Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

#RoaringForkRiver Basin #snowpack up 38% since last week — @AspenJournalism #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification #CRWUA2022

Click the link to read the article on the Aspen Journalism website (Laurine Lassalle):

Snowpack in the Roaring Fork basin reached 120.5% of average for Dec. 4 with 4.7 inches of snow-water equivalent, according to NOAA.

SNOTEL sites that monitor snowfall throughout the winter measured the snowpack at Independence Pass at 93.6% of average on Dec. 4, with a “snow water equivalent” (SWE) of 4.21 inches, up from 2.91 inches on Nov. 27. Last year on Dec. 4, the SNOTEL station up the pass (located at elevation 10,600 feet) recorded an SWE of 3.19 inches, or 70.9% of average.

The monitoring station at McClure Pass located at elevation 9,500 feet recorded a SWE of 4.29 inches on Dec. 4, or 130% of average. That’s up from a SWE of 3.5 inches on Nov. 27. Last year, on Dec. 4, the station also measured a snowpack holding 0.39 inches of water.

On the northeast side of the Roaring Fork Basin, snowpack at Ivanhoe, which sits at an elevation of 10,400 feet, reached 4.8 inches on Dec. 4, or 126.1% of average.

Snowpack at Schofield Pass reached 8.31 inches on Dec. 4, which represents 109.3% of average. Schofield Pass sits at an elevation of 10,700 feet between Marble and Crested Butte.

Snow water equivalent — the metric used to track snowpack — is the amount of water contained within the snowpack, which will become our future water supply running in local rivers and streams.

Most streams keep running close to the average

The Roaring Fork River below Maroon Creek flowed at 95 cfs on Dec. 4, or 93.3% of average, according to the USGS gauge. That’s down from Nov. 27, when the river was flowing at 101 cfs, or 103.1% of average.

At Stillwater, located upstream of Aspen, the Fork on Dec. 4 ran at 15.2 cfs or 52.4% of average, down from 15.4 cfs but up from 51.3% of average on Nov. 27.

The upper Fork’s flow is impacted by the Independence Pass transbasin diversion system that sends Roaring Fork headwaters to Front Range cities. Water flowing through the tunnel under the Continental Divide between Grizzly Reservoir on Lincoln Creek and the South Fork of Lake Creek measured 12.2 cfs on Dec. 4.

The Roaring Fork at Emma, below the confluence with the dam-controlled Fryingpan, saw on Dec. 4 streamflow of 263 cfs, or about 96% of average. That’s down from 270 cfs, but up from 94.4% of average, on Nov. 27.

Meanwhile, the Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, which is not impacted by dams or transbasin diversions, flowed at 65 cfs, or 110.7% of average, on Dec. 4. Last week, the river ran at 66 cfs, or 104.6% of average.

Adapting to dry periods key for #YampaRiver #water users, regardless of larger #ColoradoRiver crisis: Yampa Integrated Water Management plan offers recommendations to help users better manage water — Steamboat Pilot & Today #GreenRiver #COriver #aridification #CRWUA2022

Yampa River at Phippsburg June 14, 2022. Photo credit: Scott Hummer

Click the link to read the article on the Steamboat Pilot & Today website (Dylan Anderson). Here’s an excerpt:

For users in the Yampa River Basin, which lacks any reservoirs controlled by the Bureau of Reclamation, Rossi said the focus needs to be on how to exist with the water that is there, not what the [Colorado River Compact] theoretically allows…

Lindsey Marlow, executive director of Friends of the Yampa, said many strategies to help with drought issues, erosion and overall river health are outlined in the newly updated Yampa Integrated Water Management Plan. Completed in September, the update involved dozens of volunteers and stakeholder groups working together for nearly four years.

“The recommendations that came out of (the management plan) were to ensure we are managing a river in balance, so that all user groups can use it effectively while keeping it healthy and sustainable,” Marlow said…

Marlow said the plan has 20 recommendations ranging from increased education for users to adding new infrastructure to the system. Recommendations include conducting a return flow study to understand the impact of water used for agriculture, securing funding to upgrade diversion structures in Routt and Moffat counties and creating a centrally located dashboard for a variety of data concerning river health, among other recommendations. Rossi pointed to a number of initiatives the Upper Yampa district is leading in the management plan, such as exploring water diversions on Coal Creek and Morrison Creek that could add water to district-owned reservoirs and installing a network of soil moisture monitors in the basin.

“I’m not too concerned with what the Bureau of Reclamation asks us to do. I’m more concerned about how can our water users survive through drying times because they’re here to stay,” Rossi said. “When it goes dry, we just don’t have anything to use.”

Yampa River Basin via Wikimedia.

The latest #ElNiño/southern oscillation (#ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion is hot off the presses from the #Climate Prediction Center #CRWUA2022

Click the link to read the discussion on the Climate Prediction Center website:

ENSO Alert System Status: La Niña Advisory

Synopsis: La Niña is expected to continue into the winter, with equal chances of La Niña
and ENSO-neutral during January-March 2023. In February-April 2023, there is a 71%
chance of ENSO-neutral.

Below-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) persisted in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean during the past month. All of the latest weekly Niño index values were near -1.0ºC, except for the Niño-1+2 index which was at -0.5ºC. In November 2022, negative subsurface temperature anomalies weakened, reflecting an eastward expansion of the above-average subsurface temperatures in the western and central Pacific and contraction of the below-average temperatures across the eastern Pacific. Low-level easterly wind anomalies and upper-level westerly wind anomalies were evident across most of the equatorial Pacific throughout the month. The convection pattern continued to show suppressed convection over the western and central tropical Pacific and enhanced convection over Indonesia.

Overall, the coupled ocean-atmosphere system continued to reflect La Niña. The most recent IRI plume indicates that La Niña will persist into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2022-23. For the dynamical model averages, ENSO-neutral is favored in January-March 2023, while the statistical model average shows the transition to ENSO-neutral occurs in February-April 2023. The forecaster consensus, which also considers the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME), is split on whether La Niña or ENSO-neutral will prevail during January-March 2023. Regardless, there is higher confidence that ENSO neutral will emerge by the Northern Hemisphere spring. In summary, La Niña is expected to continue into the winter, with equal chances of La Niña and ENSO-neutral during January March 2023. In February-April 2023, there is a 71% chance of ENSO-neutral.


Newly Launched #ColoradoRiver Science Wiki Provides Information Hub for #Water Resource Management — Southwest #Climate Adaptation Center #COriver #aridification #CRWUA2022

Representation of the different models and data, and their underlying science, applied to decision-making in the Colorado River Basin. (Design: J. Lukas, adapted from L. Payton; basin map by Western Water Assessment (L. Woelders); thumbnail images from University of Washington VIC group, NOAA Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, and Reclamation)

Click the link to read the release on the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center website (Erin Thompson):

The newly launched Colorado River Science Wiki, created by SW CASC researchers, is now available for use by managers and other decision-makers, researchers, the media, and the broader public! 

The Wiki is a web-based platform with many goals, including helping to inform discussions about the next Interim Guidelines on the Colorado River. The site summarizes and shares the most recent Colorado River research, increases visibility of the activities of the research community, and makes accessible important datasets and tools. Additionally, it is a space where contributions can be made by the community and ownership is shared, and where advances in science are given context so they have more value to non-specialists (e.g., agency staff, congressional staffers, 1st year grad students, journalists). 

Information on the Wiki is organized into six sections: Science and Applications, Data and Tools, New Research, Water Law and Policy, Who’s Who, and About the River. Users can navigate through the sections with a menu on the left side, read summaries, and follow links to datasets, tools, and additional resources. 

The Wiki was created by SW CASC co-investigator, Brad Udall (Colorado Water Center, Colorado State University), Julie Vano and Tanya Petach (Aspen Global Change Institute), and Jeff Lukas (Lukas Climate Research and Consulting), with funding from the SW CASC. It is still in the early stages of development and the creators welcome feedback from users to improve the site and advance communication of key Colorado River information to stakeholders.

Colorado River “Beginnings”. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Snowfall brings Wolf Creek Pass #snowpack to 99 percent of median — The #PagosaSprings Sun #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification #CRWUA2022

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

An 8 a.m. Dec. 7 report from Wolf Creek Ski Area indicated that Wolf Creek had received 7 inches and 11 inches in the previous 48 hours, bringing the base depth to 39 inches and the season-to-date snowfall to 71 inches. The Wolf Creek summit was a 99 percent of the Dec. 7 snowpack median. The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins were 88 percent of the Dec. 7 median terms of snowpack…

River report
Stream flow for the San Juan River on Dec. 7 at approximately 1 p.m. was 84.5 cubic feet per second (cfs), according to the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) National Water Dashboard. This reading is up from last week’s reading of 59.2 cfs at 1 p.m. on Nov. 30.

Colorado Snowpack basin-filled map December 10, 2022 via the NRCS.