@CWCB_DNR Proposed Acquisition of Contractual Interest in Ruedi Reservoir Water for ISF Use

The dam that forms Ruedi Reservoir, above Basalt on the Fryingpan River. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Rob Viehl):

DATE: May 16, 2018

RE: Proposed Acquisition of Contractual Interest in Ruedi Reservoir Water for ISF Use on Fryingpan River, Eagle & Pitkin Counties

The Colorado Water Conservation Board will be considering a proposal from the Colorado River Water Conservation District, acting through its Colorado River Water Projects Enterprise (“CRWCD”) to enter into a one-year renewable short-term lease of a portion of water that CRWCD holds in Ruedi Reservoir for instream flow (“ISF”) use to boost winter flows in the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir. The Board will consider this proposal at its May 23-24, 2018 meeting in Salida. The agenda for this Board meeting can be found at:
http://cwcb.state.co.us/public-information/board-meetings-agendas/Pages/May2018NoticeAgenda.aspx

Consideration of this proposal initiates the 120-day period for Board review pursuant to Rule 6b. of the Board’s Rules Concerning the Colorado Instream Flow and Natural Lake Level Program (“ISF Rules”), which became effective on March 2, 2009. No formal Board action will be taken at this time.

Information concerning the ISF Rules and water acquisitions can be found at:
http://cwcb.state.co.us/legal/Documents/Rules/Final%20Adopted%20ISF%20Rules%201-27-2009.pdf

The following information concerning the proposed lease of water is provided pursuant to ISF Rule 6m.(1):
Subject Water Right:

RUEDI RESERVOIR
Source: Fryingpan River
Decree: CA4613
Priority No.: 718
Appropriation Date: 7/29/1957
Adjudication Date: 6/20/1958
Decreed Amount: 140,697.3 Acre Feet

Decree: 81CW0034(Second Filling)
Appropriation Date: 1/22/1981
Adjudication Date: 12/31/1981
Decreed Amount: 101,280 Acre Feet

Bureau of Reclamation Contract: 079D6C0106
Contract Use: Supplement winter instream flows in the Fryingpan River
Contract Amount: 5,000 Acre Feet
Amount Offered for Consideration: 3,500 Acre Feet

Proposed Reaches of Stream:

Fryingpan River: From the confluence with Rocky Ford Creek, adjacent to the outlet of Ruedi Reservoir, downstream to its confluence with the Roaring Fork River, a distance of approximately 14.4 miles.

Purpose of the Acquisition:

The leased water would be used to supplement the existing 39 cfs ISF water right in the Fryingpan River to preserve the natural environment, and used at rates up to 70 cfs to meet the Roaring Fork Conservancy and Colorado Parks and Wildlife flow recommendations to improve the natural environment to a reasonable degree.

Proposed Season of Use:

Water stored in Ruedi Reservoir will be released to the Fryingpan River during the winter time period. The existing instream flow water right is decreed for 39 cfs from November 1 – April 30. The objective of the lease would be to maintain Fryingpan River flows at a rate of 70 cfs to prevent the formation of anchor ice at times when temperatures and low flows could otherwise combine to create anchor ice, which adversely impacts aquatic macroinvertebrates and trout fry.

Supporting Data:

Available information concerning the purpose of the acquisition and the degree of preservation of the natural environment, and available scientific data can be found on CWCB water acquisitions web page at: http://cwcb.state.co.us/environment/instream-flow-program/Pages/RuediReservoirFryingpanRiver.aspx

Linda Bassi
Stream and Lake Protection Section
Colorado Water Conservation Board
1313 Sherman Street, Room 721
Denver, CO 80203
linda.bassi@state.co.us
303-866-3441 x3204

Kaylea White
Stream and Lake Protection Section
Colorado Water Conservation Board
1313 Sherman Street, Room 721
Denver, CO 80203
kaylea.white@state.co.us
303-866-3441 x3240

“We need action” — Brenda Burman #ColoradoRiver #COriver #drought #aridification

From The Las Vegas Review-Journal (Henry Brean):

In a pointed message Wednesday, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said drought and low flows continue on the Colorado with no end in sight, so it’s up to those who rely on the river to stave off a coming crisis.

“We need action and we need it now. We can’t afford to wait for a crisis before we implement drought contingency plans,” Burman in a written statement. “I’m calling on the Colorado River basin states to put real — and effective — drought contingency plans in place before the end of this year.”

The bureau’s latest projections call for the river to see just 42 percent of its average flow between now and July due to record-low snowpack that has already melted away in parts of the basin.

Federal forecasters now say there is a 52 percent chance that Lake Mead will decline into shortage conditions by 2020. That would force Nevada and Arizona to cut their river use for the first time under shortage rules adopted in 2007.

Nevada, Arizona and California have been working on a plan since 2015 to keep Lake Mead out of shortage by voluntarily leaving more water in the reservoir, but the talks have stalled in Arizona and California, where water users are arguing over how to share the necessary cuts.

Then last month, a war of words broke out among the seven states that share the Colorado after Arizona’s largest water utility revealed a controversial strategy to keep water levels in Lake Mead high enough to avoid any reduction in its share but low enough to require upper-river users to send more water downstream to the lake.

The Central Arizona Project, which supplies water to about 5 million people in Phoenix and Tucson, has since issued a statement saying it “regrets using language and representations that were insensitive” to other river users.
Officials for the utility promised “a more respectful and transparent dialogue in the future” and said they would do their part to finish the drought contingency plan.

The surface of Lake Mead has dropped by more than 130 feet since 2000, when the current drought descended on the mountains that feed the Colorado. According to the bureau, the river basin is in the midst of the driest 19-year period on record and one of the worst drought cycles of the past 1,200 years.

“This ongoing drought is a serious situation, and Mother Nature does not care about our politics or our schedules,” said John Entsminger, the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s general manager and one of several top water officials who signed on to Burman’s call to action. “We have a duty to get back to the table and finish the drought contingency plan to protect the people and the environment that rely upon the Colorado River.”

@USBR: Another dry year in the Colorado River Basin increases the need for additional state and federal actions

Out of the Grand, and into Lake Mead. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Here’s the release from Reclamation (Patti Aaron/Marlon Duke):

2018 has brought record-low snowpack levels to many locations in the Colorado River Basin, making this the driest 19-year period on record. With the depressed snowpack and warming conditions, experts indicate that runoff from the Rocky Mountains into Lake Powell this spring will yield only 42 percent of the long-term average.

With drought and low runoff conditions dating back to 2000, this current period is one of the worst drought cycles over the past 1,200 plus years.

While many water users in the Colorado River Basin have already experienced significant hardships, three factors have avoided a crisis – so far – in the Basin:

  • Water stored in Colorado River reservoirs during prior years of plentiful snowpack and runoff has helped ensure continued and reliable water and power from Reclamation infrastructure.
  • Reclamation reservoirs were nearly full when drought conditions began in 2000 providing ample water supplies that have carried the Basin through this period of historic drought.
  • Voluntary water conservation efforts taken by Reclamation, the seven Colorado River Basin states, water districts and Mexico have stabilized the decline of Lake Mead – delaying the onset of reductions to water users in Arizona, Nevada, Mexico, and ultimately California. But these efforts by themselves would not protect Lake Mead and Lake Powell if drought conditions persist.
  • The infrastructure built by prior generations is working, but the best information available shows a high likelihood of significant water reductions in the Colorado River Basin in the years ahead. Concerns are increasing as forecast models predict a 52 percent chance of shortage conditions at Lake Mead beginning in 2020, with a greater than 60 percent likelihood of shortage thereafter. Over the past decade, the risk of declining to critical reservoir levels has approximately tripled.

    Following strong calls for action in 2017, Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman is focused on the increased risk from another dry year in the Colorado River Basin. She noted that there is no indication that the current low runoff and drought conditions will end anytime soon. She emphasized that the extended drought and increased risk of crisis in the Colorado River Basin requires prompt action.

    “We need action and we need it now. We can’t afford to wait for a crisis before we implement drought contingency plans,” said Reclamation Commissioner Burman. “We all—states, tribes, water districts, non-governmental organizations—have an obligation and responsibility to work together to meet the needs of over 40 million people who depend on reliable water and power from the Colorado River. I’m calling on the Colorado River basin states to put real – and effective – drought contingency plans in place before the end of this year.”

    In 2017, the United States and Mexico agreed to a new strategy that would lead to increased savings of water by Mexico, but that agreement will only go into effect if the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada finalize their drought contingency plan.

    “Adoption of additional water conservation measures now is the best approach to protect Lake Mead as we continue to work on long-term solutions,” said Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp.

    Upper Colorado Regional Director Brent Rhees added, “We’ve weathered the past two decades of drought thanks to our water storage infrastructure. Completing drought contingency plans will provide better certainty for continued reliable water and power.”

    The following individual statements were provided by the Governors’ Representatives of the Colorado River Basin States:

  • Pat Tyrrell, Wyoming’s State Engineer stated: “This is a critical juncture and we must complete drought contingency plans in both the Upper Basin and the Lower Basin prior to crisis. Further delay is not an option, and I have to believe we can get to ‘yes.’ Full implementation of Minute 323 with Mexico is only possible when the drought contingency plans are complete, and with Lower Basin shortages likely by 2020, we have no other palatable solution.”
  • “Colorado is heartened by Commissioner Burman’s call to action, stands at the ready to move drought contingency planning forward, and agrees that the situation is urgent. Paraphrasing Ben Franklin, the states must hang together or we’ll hang separately,” said Colorado’s James Eklund.
  • “With the threat of this unprecedented drought continuing, the Colorado River Basin States and Mexico need to complete drought contingency planning efforts in the near future. We need the participation of all these parties in order to ensure this goal’s accomplishment. It has never been more important to work together,” said Eric Millis, Director of the Utah Division of Water Resources.
  • “New Mexico believes that drought contingency plans are a key step to surviving this exceptional drought. Now is the time for us to come together and establish a path for the future of the Colorado River Basin,” said Tom Blaine, New Mexico State Engineer.
  • “This ongoing drought is a serious situation and Mother Nature does not care about our politics or our schedules,” said John Entsminger, Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager. “We have a duty to get back to the table and finish the Drought Contingency Plan to protect the people and the environment that rely upon the Colorado River.”
  • California’s Colorado River Commissioner, Bart Fisher, stated that, “California’s Colorado River agencies recognize the continuing poor hydrologic conditions within both California and the Colorado River Basin, and remain fully committed to collaborate with our partner states in completing the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan and ensuring activation of the Mexican Binational Water Scarcity Contingency Plan contained within Minute No. 323.”
  • “The completion of the lower basin states’ Drought Contingency Plan is vitally important to Arizonans. The plan reduces the likelihood of Lake Mead declining to critically low levels and incentivizes the use of tools to conserve water in the Lake so that reductions in delivery of Arizona’s Colorado River supplies are avoided or lessened,” said Thomas Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
  • In addition to Reclamation’s ongoing work with the Colorado River Basin states, it also coordinates with the Upper Colorado River Commission. Felicity Hannay, Chair of the Upper Colorado River Commission, said that “The Commission takes the position that implementation of drought contingency plans in both basins is critical to get us through this dry spell.”

    Projections of Lake Powell and Lake Mead operations for the next five years can be found at https://go.usa.gov/xQNM7.

    Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservation District board meeting recap

    Pueblo dam releases

    From The Bent County Democrat (Bette McFarren):

    The water supply is greater than normal, with Turquoise at 121 percent of normal, Twin Lakes at 98 percent of normal and Pueblo Reservoir at 135 percent of normal. The Pueblo Reservoir must be down to a certain level by April 15, making a spill possible to avoid flooding. Farmers are taking water they can use as requested to ease the situation. Reservoirs in the area are full or nearly full.

    Since the rainfall has been less than usual in winter 2017-2018, the abundant water supply is good news for area farmers. The snowpack in the Arkansas River Basin is 59 percent of normal and 54 percent of last year. The normal peak date is April 11 and these figures are as of March 19. All the water in the flood pool must be out by May 1, so that an upriver rainstorm will not cause flooding on the lower river. Therefore, the reservoir will start spilling excess water on April 15. A spill benefits whatever entity has the call on the river; for example, it could be the Rocky Ford Highline, or Holbrook or Fort Lyon by priority dates (original priority date).

    The hydroelectric plant being constructed at Pueblo Reservoir is progressing as planned. The Lease of Power Privilege has been finalized with the South East Colorado Water Conservancy District. Reclamation has approved the design, specifications, and submittals for phase 1 and 2 and is currently reviewing the final phase. Construction on the plant began in September 2017. The anticipated start-up for the first turbine is early June 2018.

    The hydro produced will be purchased by Fountain and Colorado Springs, said Chris Woodka of the SECWCD on Thursday. “The reason is that Black Hills declined to incorporate the power into its portfolio.” SECWCD has a carriage agreement with Black Hills when the plant starts producing. Woodka continued, “The annual average for production is around 28 million kWh per year, which is basically enough for 4,500 homes.” Revenue from the plant will benefit the Southeastern District, but a 30-year contract with Fountain and a 10-year contract with Springs accounts for all power generated.

    @USBR awards $6.6 million contract for photogrammetry to improve operations

    The principal is exactly similar to plan table surveying, it may be stated as “The position of the object with ref to the base line is given by the intersection of the rays drawn to it form each end of the base line” In plane tabling most of the work is executed in the field while in this method it is done in the office. Credit: AboutCivil.com

    Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Marlon Duke):

    The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $6.6 million contract to Geomatics Data Solutions, Inc. of Hillsboro, Oregon, for a 5-year agreement to provide agency-wide professional photogrammetry services, April 16, 2018.

    Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. Input is collected from photographs, such as aerial photographs, and used to create tools such as maps, drawings, measurements, or a 3-D models of real-world objects or scenes.

    Geomatics Data Solutions, Inc. will provide high-resolution photogrammetry in support of technical evaluations conducted in all five Reclamation regions. These evaluations include historical analysis of aerial photography data, the creation of digital surface models and digital elevation models, thematic mapping of river planforms, bathymetric surveys, vegetation mapping, evaluations of land-use change, and the documentation of as-built site conditions for the monitoring of construction activities.

    Initial photogrammetry work will be in support of Reclamation activities in the Upper Colorado Region, including sections of Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Geomatics Data Solutions, Inc. may also perform work in Reclamation areas of responsibility throughout all 17 contiguous states west of the Mississippi River, during the contracted dates, as additional photogrammetry services are needed outside of the Upper Colorado Region. However, emergency response support will be limited to the Upper Colorado Region.

    This contract will help enable Reclamation to carry out its mission to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.

    Long bar with multiplex projectors. Photogrammetry, Topographic Division, U.S. Geological Survey. Denver, Colorado. 1955. Photo credit: USGS

    @USBR announces fiscal year 2018 WaterSMART Program funding opportunities for water and energy efficiency, small-scale water efficiency, and water marketing strategy projects

    Here’s the announcement from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

    Through WaterSMART, Reclamation leverages federal and non-federal funding to work cooperatively with states, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply reliability through investments

    The Bureau of Reclamation has released three funding opportunities for fiscal year 2018, Water and Energy Efficiency Grants, Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects and Water Marketing Strategy Grants, all of which are part of the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART program initiative.

    Through WaterSMART, Reclamation provides three types of grants. The Water and Energy Efficiency Grants will be awarded to projects that result in quantifiable water savings and those which support broader water reliability benefits. Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects will be awarded to small-scale water management projects that have been identified through previous planning efforts. Water Marketing Strategy Grants will be awarded to entities exploring actions that can be taken to develop or facilitate water marketing.

    States, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, and other organizations with water or power delivery authority located in the Western United States or United States Territories are eligible to apply for these funding opportunities.

    • Applicants for Water and Energy Efficiency Grants must submit their proposals by 4:00 p.m. MDT on Thursday, May 10, 2018. To view this funding opportunity, please visit http://www.grants.gov and search for funding opportunity number BOR-DO-18-F006.
    • Applicants for Water Marketing Strategy Grants must submit their proposals by 4:00 p.m. MDT, on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. To view this funding opportunity, please visit http://www.grants.gov and search for funding opportunity number BOR-DO-18-F010.
    • Applicants for Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects must submit their proposals by 4:00pm MDT on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. To view this funding opportunity, please visit http://www.grants.gov and search for funding opportunity number BOR-DO-18-F009.

    The aforementioned project funding opportunities include financial assistance provided by Reclamation under its WaterSMART Grants program, on a 50/50 cost-share basis. To learn more about the WaterSMART Grants program, please visit: https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/.

    #ColoradoRiver: Many eyes are focused on the #CO, #UT and #WY #snowpack and the SW #US #drought #COriver

    Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map February 8, 2018 via the NRCS.

    From the Associated Press (Dan Elliott):

    Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona, is expected to get 47 percent of its average inflow because of scant snow in the mountains that feed the Colorado River, said Greg Smith, a hydrologist with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    Smith said there is only a 10 percent chance that enough mountain snow will fall during the rest of the winter and spring to bring inflows back to average. It was the seventh-worst forecast for Lake Powell in 54 years…

    Lackluster runoff into Lake Powell this spring is not likely to have an immediate impact on water users because most reservoirs upriver from Powell filled up after last winter’s healthy snowfall, said Marlon Duke, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Powell, Mead and other reservoirs…

    This winter’s snowfall in the mountains that feed the Colorado has been far short of average overall but varies widely. Along the Green River, a Colorado River tributary in Wyoming, the snowpack is 110 percent of average. Along the San Juan River in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico, it’s 32 percent of average.

    One reason is a strong winter weather pattern steering big storms away from the Southwestern United States and sending them north, said Russ Schumacher, Colorado’s state climatologist and an associate professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.

    Another reason is exceptionally warm temperatures across much of the Southwest, he said.

    About 90 percent of the Colorado River’s water comes from snowmelt in the region known as the Upper Colorado River Basin, a large swath of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and smaller sections of Arizona and New Mexico.

    The river system has been stretched thin for years because of a prolonged drought interrupted by occasional snowy years. Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, has dropped to 41 percent of capacity. Lake Powell, the second-largest, is at 56 percent.

    Some climate scientists say global warming is already shrinking the river. A study published last year by researchers from the University of Arizona and Colorado State University said climate change could cut the Colorado’s flow by one-third by the end of the century.