#Colorado-Big Thompson Project operations update: @USBR expects releases to the Big Thompson River to increase significantly

Olympus Dam releases June 2011.

Here’s the release from Reclamation (James Bishop):

The Bureau of Reclamation is forecasting a notable increase in releases from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson River beginning on September 20, 2018.

As of today, September 18, releases from Olympus Dam into the Big Thompson River are at 26 cubic feet per second (cfs). Between September 20th and October 12, releases are expected to rise to approximately 225 cfs.

This forecast assumes native inflows into Lake Estes as well as irrigation demands will not change significantly from our current projections, but both are subject to unexpected fluctuations.

@USBR: Decreased Releases from Green Mountain Reservoir

Green Mountain Reservoir. Photo credit: Panoramio

From email from Reclamation (James Bishop):

This evening, 17 September, 2018, we at Reclamation adjusted releases from Green Mountain Reservoir to the Blue River from 525 to 475 cubic feet per second (cfs). Releases will remain at 475 cfs until further notice.

Feel free to contact me with any questions at jbishop@usbr.gov or by phone at 970-962-4326.

@USBR: Reclamation Awards $1.375 Million Contract for Cultural Resources Program Management Support of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Installing pipe along the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Photo credit: USBR

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Justyn Liff, Ernie Rheaume):

The Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $1.375 million contract to Logan Simpson of Tempe, Arizona, for five years of management support of the cultural resources program associated with the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project

This contract will ensure Tribal organizations claiming affiliation of lands and traditional cultural properties in the project area will have the opportunity to comment and consult on the effect of the project. Implementation of the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Programmatic Agreement for the project requires Reclamation to utilize independent project management to provide objective and non-partisan communication and coordination with signatories, concurring parties, and other consulting Indian Tribes.

Reclamation is currently constructing the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, located in northwest New Mexico. When completed, it will provide a reliable potable water supply for communities in the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation, the southwest portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the City of Gallup, New Mexico.

@USBR launches prize competition seeking ideas to continuously power instruments on power generator rotating shafts

A hydropower generator in a powerplant.

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

The Bureau of Reclamation has launched a new prize competition seeking solutions to provide direct current power of up to 20 watts for electronic instruments on hydropower generating units’ rotating shafts. Power sources for electronics on rotating shafts presently available include batteries and contact solutions. However, existing technologies for these types of power sources are limited with respect to operation, installation, maintenance or other factors. Thus, new solutions are needed to power these instruments, which will be installed permanently on the rotating shaft to collect continuous data of generator operation and performance.

Reclamation is making a total award pool of $250,000 available for this competition. After the competition deadline, Reclamation will select solutions for experimental validation in a laboratory or field-scale demonstration. The solvers selected for this validation will share up to $50,000, with no award smaller than $5,000. Final awards will be granted from the remaining award pool through critical analysis of the demonstration results by Reclamation and its panel of judges.

Solutions for this prize competition can be novel approaches or can build upon existing methods and technologies. The solver should submit a white paper that describes a device for providing direct current power to instruments on rotating shafts as defined in the solution requirements. It should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by literature and/or patent precedents.

Reclamation is the second largest producer of hydropower in the country, operating 53 power plants. The generating units at these plants are expected to safely and reliably produce the power that is delivered to the western electric grid. Monitoring the generating units is a critical advancement toward keeping these units operational.

Submissions for this competition must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 8, 2018.

Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration on this prize competition.

To learn more about this prize competition and other competitions Reclamation has hosted, please visit https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/index.html.

Budget change threatens future of #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Glen Canyon Dam

From The Arizona Daily Sun (Scott Buffon):

The Bureau of Reclamation’s $23 million budget will be transferred to the United States Treasury next fiscal year, impacting the continued health of the Colorado River and the many entities that depend on it.

The funds originally come from the power revenue created by the Glen Canyon Dam, which was then retooled by the bureau to ensure the safety of the water downstream. Without funding, the water, aquatic life and archaeological sites in the Colorado River area will be left unprotected and unmonitored. This change could affect Native American tribes including Havasupai, Hualapai, Hopi and Navajo, seven states of the Colorado River Basin and two states in Mexico — all places that the river runs through.

The Office of Management and Budget initiated the movement of funds from the bureau to the treasury.

In the meantime, the bureau is examining options to support their projects until a permanent solution is found.

“Reclamation is not going to walk away from these programs,” said Marlon Duke, spokesperson for the Bureau’s Upper Basin Region. “We’re working with our stakeholders and our partners to find ways to continue to do the work to find a more permanent solution.”

According to the Bureau, the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 originally diverted the $23 million from the treasury to the Glen Canyon Dam. In diverting the money, the dam was intended to “protect, mitigate adverse impacts to and improve the values for which Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were established.”

@USBR: Releases from #Ruedi Reservoir Increasing September 4, 2018 #ColoradoRiver #COriver #drought #aridification

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

From email from Reclamation (Peter Soeth)

The release from Ruedi will be increased Tuesday morning by approximately 45 cfs. After this change, the flow at the Fryingpan River gage below Ruedi Reservoir will increase from 178 cfs to approximately 223 cfs.

This flow increase was requested by the USFWS to support fish recovery efforts in the 15-Mile reach of the Colorado River.

This release rate will continue until further notice.

@USBR: #RioGrande Basin Reservoirs Provide Water Through Dry Summer #drought #aridification

New Mexico water projects map via Reclamation

Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Mary Carlson):

Several Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs in New Mexico will end this summer with minimal pools of water, after having done exactly what they are intended to do – provide water stored during wet times for use in dry periods. Through most of this summer, the reservoirs have released water for farmers, municipalities, industrial use, and recreation.

Due to water stored in previous years, farmers along the Rio Grande received irrigation water, municipalities received water and hundreds of thousands of people enjoyed recreational benefits in New Mexico in spite of a hot, dry summer that followed one of the driest winters on record.

Heron Reservoir in northern New Mexico stores water as part of the San Juan-Chama Project for various municipal and agricultural uses including the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority and Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. Heron is currently holding approximately 101,000 acre-feet of water, which is 25 percent of its capacity. That quantity will decrease steadily through the end of the year as San Juan-Chama Project contractors use their supplies or move them downstream.

El Vado Reservoir reached a low point of about 5 percent of capacity at 9,344 acre-feet earlier this summer before the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District ran out of storage in the reservoir. El Vado is currently holding only San Juan-Chama Project water, and should remain relatively steady until next spring.

Elephant Butte Reservoir is expected to reach a low of about 49,000 acre-feet at the end of September when irrigation releases for the Rio Grande Project and deliveries to the Republic of Mexico conclude. That content would be the lowest in Elephant Butte since 1971. This would be less than 3 percent of the reservoir’s capacity. The reservoir is then expected to start gaining storage through the winter. Caballo Reservoir is expected to end the season with about 25,600 acre-feet of water, which is 11 percent of its capacity.

Water levels at these reservoirs are on track with Reclamation forecasts presented this spring, when Reclamation shared expectations for a year with one of the lowest snowpacks and spring runoffs on record.

“It’s important that we recognize that these reservoirs stored water in 2017 and earlier years, when we had better supplies, and released it in 2018 when there was very little natural flow in the Rio Grande,” said Albuquerque Area Manager Jennifer Faler. “We know that our reservoirs are low as we head into September, but they have provided water throughout the summer, and there are still great recreation opportunities such as fishing, boating and camping to be had at all of our reservoirs. Rafting flows on the Rio Chama are also expected to remain good into mid-September.”