#Snowpack news: Statewide = 109% of median, central #Colorado snow courses are leading the way

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

#Snowpack news: So far Cortez has received more snowfall this winter than all of last year, SW basins still below average

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map December 9, 2018 via the NRCS.

From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

As of Dec. 6, winter snowfall measured 11.8 inches, compared with eight inches for the entire 2017-18 season…

Cortez was at 103 percent of normal for total seasonal snowfall. The seasonal average through December is 11.4 inches.

The Four Corners and Southwest Colorado remain in the worst category of exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, but the area of exceptional drought is shrinking, Andrus said.

Natural Resource Conservation Service Snotels, a group of monitors that measures snowfall at various elevations in the San Juan Mountains, showed the combined Dolores and San Miguel river basins at 96 percent of normal as of Dec. 7. The Animas River Basin was at 96 percent of normal.

The overall Colorado River Basin above Lake Powell was at 115 percent of normal.

The 30-day forecast shows the Four Corners with above-normal precipitation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ski areas are off to a good start.

Purgatory on Friday reported 26 inches of snow at the base and 32 inches at the summit. It has six of 12 lifts open. Telluride has a 34-inch base, and eight of 17 lifts are open. Wolf Creek has 42 inches at the base, 47 inches at the summit, and eight of 10 lifts open.

@EPA #WOTUS regs expected this week — H2O Radio @H2OTracker

Colorado River headwaters tributary in Rocky Mountain National Park photo via Greg Hobbs.

Here’s a roundup of water news from H2O Radio. Click through to listen to the whole podcast, “This week in water.” Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

WOTUS Roll Back in Offing

And speaking of those strategies, it’s expected that this coming week the Trump administration will propose severe restrictions on which bodies of water are covered under the Clean Water Act and regulated by the EPA. The Intercept reports that the proposed definition of waters of the U.S., also called WOTUS, will eliminate protection for streams and wetlands that are not physically connected to larger waterways. One estimate shows that at least 60—and up to 90 percent of streams and wetlands would no longer be covered.

While the policy has not yet been released, leaked information says that streams which are wet only after rain events would be excluded and only wetlands that are adjacent and physically connected to other larger waters would be protected. Jane Goodman of the Cuyahoga River Restoration organization said that by lifting the protections for certain waterways, the administration was disregarding the science that shows their interconnectedness. She said, “It’s like keeping protections for your kitchen sink and for the sewer in the street but taking them away from all the plumbing in between.”

@USDA invests in rural water in #Colorado, 45 other states

Here’s the release from the USDA:

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is investing $1.2 billion (PDF, 509 KB) to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 936,000 rural Americans living in 46 states.

“Access to water is a key driver for economic opportunity and quality of life in rural communities,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building prosperity through modern water infrastructure.”

USDA is providing financing for 234 water and environmental infrastructure projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. The funding can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Eligible communities and water districts can apply online on the interactive RD Apply tool, or they can apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.

Below are some examples of the investments USDA is making:

  • In Pennsylvania, the Municipal Authority of the Borough of Berlin is receiving a $2.5 million loan to replace the primary water transmission line for the Berlin Municipal Water System. The line was constructed in 1979, is in poor condition, has experienced numerous breaks resulting in boil water notices, and has inadequate water pressure to fight fires. The investment will also help replace water meters. This system serves nearly 1,100 users in Berlin and in Brothers Valley township in Somerset County.
  • The Todd County Water District in Kentucky will receive a $3.2 million loan and a $390,000 grant to construct two miles of water line and a 500,000-gallon water storage tank. The upgrades will provide up to one million gallons per day for a new industrial site just outside of Guthrie. Novelis Industries plans to build an automotive aluminum sheet manufacturing facility that will create approximately 125 jobs. The Todd County Water District serves 3,500 customers.
  • The Bond Water Association Inc. in Winston County, Miss., will use a $1.4 million loan to upgrade its water system. It will build a 300-gallon-per-minute well and replace 28,200 feet of distribution lines. Also, new radio read meters will be installed, and the two water treatment plants will be rehabilitated. These improvements will serve 470 customers.
  • USDA is making investments in rural communities in: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

    In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

    To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

    USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov.

    Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

    Acequia La Vida ByLaws — Greg Hobbs

    Greg is a restless guy. Here’s his report from acequia country.

    Acequia La Vida

    In late fall, the ancestors
    spread blankets

    of leaves over the bones
    of their ditches

    feeding the river down
    terraces they plant.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    CAWCD Clears Path for Arizona Drought Contingency Implementation Plan — @CAPArizona

    Central Arizona Project map via Mountain Town News

    Here’s the release from the Central Arizona Project (DeEtte Person):

    At its Dec. 6 board meeting, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) took action that provides a clear path forward for the interstate (Lower Colorado River Basin) and intrastate (Arizona) drought contingency plans. This action allows Arizona to attend next week’s Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA) meeting with the AZDCP Implementation Plan in hand and sets the stage for the Arizona legislature to consider action when it reconvenes in early 2019.

    The CAWCD board took the following actions:

  • Approved the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan and directed the CAWCD board president to execute the appropriate agreements
  • Supported key elements of the AZDCP Implementation Plan presented at the Nov. 29 AZDCP Steering Committee meeting
  • “After a comprehensive and transparent process, I’m proud to say the board has taken these actions today,” says Lisa Atkins, CAWCD board president. “This plan essentially ‘shares the pain’ amongst those who must bear the brunt of shortage. This reflects how Arizonans typically work together to address water challenges and opportunities – through a collaborative process involving many parties and a tremendous amount of complexity and flexibility. This was no small feat and involved literally hundreds – if not thousands – of hours on the part of many, including the board and our own Central Arizona Project staff, the Arizona Department of Water Resources and countless stakeholder groups. To all those involved, we extend our thanks.”

    Here’s the exact language approved by the CAWCD board:

  • Approve the Lower Basin DCP Agreement and the Companion Agreement and to authorize the Board President or her designee to execute the appropriate agreements, provided those documents protect the board’s capacity to enforce all parties’ obligations under the DCP in court if necessary.
  • Support the key provisions of the AZDCP Implementation Plan presented at the Nov.29th Steering Committee meeting, recognizing the need for additional discussions to address remaining issues, including certainty for the CAP Ag Pool and the Developer Pool, and subject to approval by the Board of agreements necessary to implement CAWCD’s commitments to the AZ DCP Implementation Plan and consistent with the Board’s action taken at the November 15, 2018 special Board meeting.
  • To learn more about Arizona’s Drought Contingency Planning process, visit CAP’s website. Further details will continue to be shared there regarding next steps.

    No longer a ‘boys club’: in the world of water, women are increasingly claiming center stage — @WaterEdFdn

    Brenda Burman photo credit Wikimedia.

    From the Water Education Foundation (Gary Pitzer).:

    Western Water Notebook: since late 2017, women have taken leading roles at Reclamation, DWR, Metropolitan Water District and other key water agencies.

    The 1992 election to the United States Senate was famously coined the “Year of the Woman” for the record number of women elected to the upper chamber.

    In the water world, 2018 has been a similar banner year, with noteworthy appointments of women to top leadership posts in California — Karla Nemeth at the California Department of Water Resources and Gloria Gray at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

    On the national level, Jayne Harkins was appointed in September to lead the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) for the United States and Mexico. And in July, Amy Haas was named executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, the first woman to hold that title in its 70-year history. They followed Brenda Burman’s appointment in late 2017 to become the first female commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in its 116-year history.

    Women have had their hands in water issues for a long time, but their presence has been spotlighted by those key appointments and the understanding that in what’s traditionally been a male-dominated field, women are seizing the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and have their voices heard.

    “Since 2001, when I arrived in California, I’ve met so many great women doing impactful work at the local, state and national levels, both in agencies and in the nonprofit and business sectors,” said Ellen Hanak, director of the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center. “What’s really striking now is how many women are in leadership positions — a trend I hope to see continue.”

    Women engaged in water policy issues say their work is a tribute to those who entered the field previously.

    “There is a trend of more women going into the field of water policy/law because of a sustained effort by women who have pioneered going into this field to reach back and pull more women with them,” said Kim Delfino, California program director with Defenders of Wildlife and former California Water Commission member. “I think that the trajectory has been always pointed toward an increase in women coming into this field. It is now more noticeable because the numbers have finally added up to a more substantial showing. Further, social media makes it easier to communicate and show the numbers of women in the field of water.”

    Click through for the great photo gallery timeline highlighting women in water.