@USBR Launches Prize Competition Seeking Ways to Improve Data Visualization for #ColoradoRiver Basin #COriver

Graphic credit Consider.biz

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

The Bureau of Reclamation is launching a new prize competition seeking innovative, interactive, and user-driven ways to display data that supports management of the Colorado River Basin. Visualizations improve data exploration, analysis, interpretation, and communication.

Reclamation’s Hydraulic Engineer Jon Rocha works on methods of presenting complex data in a user-friendly way. “Think about your daily weather forecast. Most people see a colorful map with temperatures,” Rocha said. “But, underneath that map is really lots and lots of data.”

Reclamation is making a total prize purse of $60,000 available, to be divided among the winners. A maximum single award for this competition is $20,000 with no prizes below $5,000 being provided for fully successful solutions. No cash prizes are guaranteed unless they meet or exceed the Solution Requirements. Partial cash prizes will be considered for solutions that meet some, but not all, of the requirements.

Successful solutions will include one or more of the following elements:

  • Integrated visualization of multiple relevant CRB data types and/or ancillary information. This may include mashups of data from Reclamation and other sources, combination of multiple data types, and/or integration of data with ancillary information.
  • User-customizable visualization of data and/or ancillary information. This may include user-driven selection of data parameters, time periods, or geographical range, or configuration of visualization layout or content to meet user needs and preferences.
  • Interactive visualization of data and/or ancillary information. This may include zooming or panning around a visualization, drilling down into data, clicking through animations, inputting information, and/or responding to queries or requests from the visualization.
  • Reclamation is collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission.

    Learn more by visiting https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/datavis.html.

    @USBR: Nine Projects $2.1 Million for Planning Activities in the Development of WaterSMART Water Marketing Strategies

    A canal moving water. Canals like this one may be used to move water in a water market.

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

    Projects in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington were selected to help establish or expand water markets or water marketing transactions

    Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen announced that nine projects will receive $2.1 million for planning activities to help establish or expand water markets or water marketing transactions. The nine projects are located in California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

    “Through water markets, willing buyers and sellers come together to share the water within their delivery area,” Mikkelsen said. “Water managers need a variety of tools to manage water to assure a sustainable supply into the future. Water markets are just one of those tools.”

    The full description of the selected projects is available at https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/weeg/watermarketing.html. The selected projects are:

    Central Oregon Irrigation District (Oregon)
    Reclamation Funding: $400,000 Total Project Cost: $800,000

    East Bay Municipal Utility District (California)
    Reclamation Funding: $400,000 Total Project Cost: $1,062,127

    El Dorado County Water Agency (California)
    Reclamation Funding: $400,000 Total Project Cost: $842,218

    Grand Valley Water Users Association (Colorado)
    Reclamation Funding: $128,000 Total Project Cost: $265,900

    Kittitas Reclamation District (Washington)
    Reclamation Funding: $198,990 Total Project Cost: $433,154

    Lower South Platte Water Conservancy (Colorado)
    Reclamation Funding: $236,245 Total Project Cost: $708,961

    Shoshone-Bannock Tribes (Idaho)
    Reclamation Funding: $42,887 Total Project Cost: $85,775

    The New Cache La Poudre Irrigating Company, Inc. (Colorado)
    Reclamation Funding: $192,950 Total Project Cost: $397,705

    Warm Springs Water and Power Enterprises (Oregon)
    Reclamation Funding: $172,062 Total Project Cost: $344,124

    Water marketing strategy grants are used to conduct planning activities in developing a water marketing strategy. Water marketing refers to water rights transactions and includes the lease, sale or exchange of water rights undertaken in accordance with state and federal laws between willing buyers and sellers.

    @USBR Begins Animas-La Plata Project Repayment Negotiations with Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe

    Lake Nighthorse August 2017 via the US Bureau of Reclamation.

    Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Marc Miller):

    The Bureau of Reclamation is initiating negotiations on a proposed repayment contract for the Animas-La Plata Project with the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe for the Tribe’s statutory allocation of project water. The first negotiation meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. at the Dolores Water Conservancy District office, 60 Cactus Street, Cortez, CO 81321.

    The contract to be negotiated will provide for storage and delivery of project water and provisions for payment of operation and maintenance costs of the project.

    All negotiations are open to the public as observers, and the public will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer comments pertaining to the contract during a thirty minute comment period following the negotiation session. The proposed contract and other pertinent documents will be available at the negotiation meeting, or can be obtained on our website at: http://www.usbr.gov/uc/wcao/index.html, under Current Focus or by contacting Marc Miller with Reclamation at 185 Suttle Street, Suite 2, Durango, Colorado, 81303, telephone (970) 385-6541 or e-mail mbmiller@usbr.gov.

    @USBR Begins Animas-La Plata Project Repayment Negotiations with Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe

    Lake Nighthorse and Durango March 2016 photo via Greg Hobbs.

    Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Marc Miller, Justyn Liff):

    The Bureau of Reclamation is initiating negotiations on a proposed repayment contract for the Animas-La Plata Project with the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe for the Tribe’s statutory allocation of project water. The first negotiation meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. at the Dolores Water Conservancy District office, 60 Cactus Street, Cortez, CO 81321.

    The contract to be negotiated will provide for storage and delivery of project water and provisions for payment of operation and maintenance costs of the project.

    All negotiations are open to the public as observers, and the public will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer comments pertaining to the contract during a thirty minute comment period following the negotiation session. The proposed contract and other pertinent documents will be available at the negotiation meeting, or can be obtained on our website at: http://www.usbr.gov/uc/wcao/index.html, under Current Focus or by contacting Marc Miller with Reclamation at 185 Suttle Street, Suite 2, Durango, Colorado, 81303, telephone (970) 385-6541 or e-mail mbmiller@usbr.gov.

    @USBR Launches New Basin Studies in #NewMexico and #Arizona

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

    Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen announced that Reclamation is launching two new basin studies. The Rio Grande Basin Study in New Mexico and Eloy and Maricopa-Stanfield Basin Study in Arizona will help inform water managers within their respective basins.

    “Growing imbalances between supply and demand are impacting many basins throughout the West,” Mikkelsen said. “Through collaboration and using the latest science and data we can develop solutions that will help ensure a sustainable water supply.”

    The Rio Grande Basin Study in New Mexico is focused on the Middle Rio Grande from the Colorado-New Mexico border to Elephant Butte Reservoir. The basin has been fully allocated since 1907 and future potential conditions in the basin could result in decreased water supply and quality. Reclamation is partnering with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District on this study.

    The basin study will enhance existing models and data to evaluate infrastructure and operations. It will also develop strategies to improve water supply reliability and improve stakeholder collaboration and water management in an area of competing needs. Reclamation is providing $498,000 and the non-federal partners are contributing $517,000 for a total study cost of $1.12 million.

    The Eloy and Maricopa-Stanfield groundwater basins in Southern Arizona encompass most of the corridor between Phoenix and Tucson. The area receives about 340,000 acre-feet of water annually through the Central Arizona Project, which is used in conjunction with more than 435,000 acre-feet of groundwater for agricultural, municipal and industrial uses. The basins also provide aquifer storage of CAP water to increase regional supply reliability. The groundwater is being overdrafted by about 230,000 acre-feet per year and is causing severe subsidence in the basins, putting critical infrastructure at risk.

    The study will help water managers in the basins update existing models, bring together diverse stakeholders and the public, and develop adaptation strategies to better manage groundwater supplies with future uncertainties in Colorado River supplies. Reclamation and the non-federal partners will each contribute $680,000 for a total study cost of $1.36 million.

    Reclamation is partnering with the Central Arizona Project, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Pinal County, Pinal County Water Augmentation Authority, Global Water Resources, Arizona Water Company, City of Casa Grande, City of Eloy, Maricopa Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District on this basin study.

    The Basin Study Program is part of WaterSMART. WaterSMART is the Department of the Interior’s sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART. To learn more about the Basin Study Program or the projects announced today, please visit http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/bsp.

    A controversial bill would weaken states’ control over water — @HighCountryNews

    Here’s a report from Josh Zaffos writing in the The High Country News. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

    The bill, H.R. 23, would basically block or override several state water laws — contrary to conservatives’ often-stated goal of reducing the federal government’s role and giving states greater power to manage resources. “They are trying to pre-empt the state from managing its rivers to balance the benefits to the economy with the need to protect the environment,” says Doug Obegi, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    The bill would override environmental rules set by California’s laboriously negotiated San Francisco Bay Delta Accord, an agreement meant to protect water quality in the Delta while guaranteeing reliable supplies for farms and cities. Instead, managers delivering water to the Central Valley would follow a less restrictive, temporary order from 1994 and do so “without regard to the Endangered Species Act.” That would prohibit the state from keeping water in the Sacramento or San Joaquin rivers solely to benefit chinook salmon, green sturgeon and delta smelt, all protected under the Endangered Species Act.

    It would also repeal and replace the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement — a state-federal partnership to recover salmon — with a new farmer-friendly arrangement that allows irrigators to dry up a 60-mile stretch of the river, harming fish habitat. Overall, such measures to pre-empt state water laws are “huge and unprecedented,” says Brian Gray, an emeritus law professor now with the Public Policy Institute of California.

    Outside California, the GROW Act would also fast-track permitting for new dams across the West. It would make the Bureau of Reclamation the lead agency for permitting all new water-storage projects on federal lands, and accelerate environmental review, even for complex projects with expansive effects on rivers, fish and wildlife. Environmental impact statements, which agencies complete to weigh project costs and impacts, often take years to finish, particularly if conservation groups or local governments file appeals or lawsuits. The act would require the review process to be completed within 13 months, effectively limiting critics’ ability to raise concerns.

    Such expedited permitting would help water agencies like the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, whose plans for two large new reservoir projects have been under review since 2004. Chimney Hollow Reservoir, to be built on the eastern side of the Rockies, will store water diverted from the Colorado River to supply booming northern Colorado. It received federal approval this May — after 13 years of federal review that required numerous plan revisions to address potential environmental impacts. The district’s Northern Integrated Supply Project still awaits a final decision.

    Northern Water hasn’t endorsed the GROW Act, but spokesman Brian Werner says that better agency coordination — between federal authorities and state fish and wildlife managers, for instance — and swifter decisions would help water suppliers address criticism in a more timely, less piecemeal way. Delays are also costly, particularly if construction costs rise, and leave water-needy towns in limbo.

    @USBR needs to draw down Blue Mesa to meet winter target, water for Lake Powell

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

    Blue Mesa this week was brimming at 99 percent full and it was far from alone among Colorado River Basin reservoirs.

    Morrow Point and Crystal reservoirs below Blue Mesa on the Gunnison River were 96 percent and 90 percent full, respectively.

    “It’s going to take a lot of work” to reduce Blue Mesa’s level to 70 percent of full, or 580,000 acre-feet of water, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation hydrologist Eric Knight said Thursday.

    Typically, all three reservoirs are well depleted by this time of year to meet irrigation demand, as well as feeding more water into Lake Powell, the largest storage unit in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

    This year, however, river managers learned late that there was more snow in the high Colorado mountains than they had believed when deciding how much water to release early on this spring, officials said during a regular update on management of the Aspinall unit.

    Several factors contributed to the underestimation of snowpack, not least of them the warm March in the Colorado Rockies and the fact that some snow-monitoring gauges were covered with snow, incapable of providing accurate information, officials said.

    Recent storms in the high country also have pumped more water into the reservoirs.

    River managers have to balance the need to release more water out of the Aspinall unit with making sure that the Gunnison doesn’t overflow its banks in Delta.

    At the same time, managers also have to get as much water as possible into Lake Powell, which can hold some 24 million acre-feet of water but which now holds about 15.2 million acre-feet.

    The Bureau of Reclamation this year is to release 9 million acre-feet of water into Lake Mead.