32nd Annual High Plains No-Till Conference Feb. 4 – 5, 2020 — The High Plains Journal

Click here to register.

From the Colorado Conservation Tillage Association via The High Plains Journal:

Twenty-six sessions at the High Plains No-Till Conference in Burlington, Colorado, have been approved for certified crop adviser credits. Eight of those sessions will also offer continuing education credits for licensed qualified supervisors, certified operators, and private applicators.

Scheduled for Feb. 4 to 5, the event will take place at the Burlington Community and Education Center. In addition to a trade show and outdoor equipment display, breakout sessions will be presented on an assortment of subjects, including soil health, regenerative grazing, farm profitability, specialty crops and technology. Farmers will also share their firsthand experience with composting, no-till and other conservation methods on producer panels dedicated to grazing cover crops and finding niche and direct markets.

The crop adviser credits approved for the event include four in Nutrient Management, four in Soil and Water Management, one in Integrated Pest Management, 10 in Crop Management, six in Professional Development, and one in Precision Ag.

In addition, continuing education credits will be available in the categories of Environmental Protection, Use of Pesticides, Agriculture Insect Control, Agriculture Weed Control and Stored Commodities Treatment

A full schedule and more information about the High Plains No-Till Conference can be found at http://www.HighPlainsNoTill.com. Online registration is available through Jan. 31, and walk-ins are welcome for the event. The $180 registration fee includes lunches, snacks, and access to all sessions, the trade show, and the Beer and Bull Social on Day 1.

Additional questions may be directed to Joni Mitchek at 833-466-8455 or coordinator@highplainsnotill.com.

Western Water Plans: Uncertain about uncertainty? — @WaterEdCO

Standley Lake in Westminster. May 14, 2019. As Colorado emerges from drought last year, its reservoirs are struggling to refill. Credit: Jerd Smith

From Water Education Colorado (Bianca Valdez):

This four-part series contrasts the processes behind the Colorado Water Plan with four other recent Western Water Plans: California, Texas, Montana and Oregon.

The future holds infinite numerous possibilities and, with it, the imperfect understanding of future natural hazard impacts and society’s adaptations to those changes. An increasingly arid climate and rapid population growth in the Western U.S. underlies and exacerbates challenges in water policy and future planning.

Why is uncertainty important to consider in planning?

Considering uncertainty in planning allows for the development of stronger (e.g. more “resilient”) strategies that can accommodate the inevitability of future change. From varying perspectives, the term “uncertainty” could imply doubt, a lack of sufficient data to draw precise conclusions, or a lack of understanding. In the specific context of planning, uncertainty is defined as an unknown future full of varying future conditions. The unknown is a hard thing to plan for! But when a multitude of possibilities is accepted by planners as reality, it simply makes sense to prepare for a reasonable range of solutions.

No one holds a crystal ball. Despite sometimes causing decision paralysis, the presence of uncertainty should not prompt inaction. A discussion or quantification of uncertainty can help support evidence-based adaptation and planning. Science, technology and research are used to mitigate and adapt to conditions such as climate change and allow for the opportunity to quantify variables, reduce issues, and communicate data.

Communicating uncertainty

One benefit of communicating uncertainty, is the opportunity to engage with, and potentially learn from, stakeholders’ concerns and fears. Selecting an appropriate vehicle for uncertainty communication and strategically developing content is required to minimize misunderstandings. Data and uncertainty can be communicated through text, charts, maps and graphs.

Policymakers, scientists and public stakeholders may frame uncertainty in water management in different ways. For example, effectively communicating climate data to a stakeholder that accepts climate change and is invested in adaptive practices may look different than effective communication tailored to stakeholders less familiar or receptive to adaptive measures.

Engaging with stakeholders and audiences on uncertainty is an opportunity to change the conversation—uncertainty will always be a part of science, modeling and future planning efforts. If people are frequently reminded of the many possibilities the future holds, they may be able to improve their engagement with and comprehension of planning under uncertainty.

How is it being incorporated into Western water planning?

Stakeholders and the public must be engaged to successfully incorporate uncertainty into water policy. The public can help planners understand how uncertainty should be considered in planning documents and their involvement can help establish expectations around how and why policy may require updates or changes as natural systems shift. Many Western states are beginning to utilize adaptive management into future water planning.

Adaptive Management: an approach to uncertainty

For planning purposes, strategies must be dynamic as conditions change or lessons are learned. The most widespread water management regime is a ‘prediction and control’ regime where the water system’s behavior and response to events may be predicted and optimal control strategies can be subsequently designed. Decisions made from this mechanistic approach tend to be shaped by a regulatory framework that involves technical norms or legal prescriptions. To address the challenge of uncertainty and climate change, there must be a shift from this common method to a more adaptive and flexible approach in water management.

Adaptive management refers to a systematic process for continually improving management practices and policies by learning from the outcomes of implemented management strategies. This form of management has been proven to be effective as it allows for management regimes to experiment by comparing selected practices and policies and then evaluating the alternative hypothesis for the system being managed. Here is an example of Texas utilizing adaptive management in their water planning process:

  • The Texas Water Plan 2017 explicitly addresses uncertainty around project implementation (Chapter 8). The plan articulates sources of uncertainty, including permitting timelines and financial processes. Regarding ecological and climate uncertainty, the Texas Water Plan recommends implementing a combination of water management strategies that could provide more water supplies than are required to meet projected needs. The Texas Water Plan encourages an adaptive process and cites the five-year update cycle as a response to changes and uncertainties.
  • Given the uncertainties of future hydrology and climate, water planning efforts can be strengthened by incorporating risk and uncertainty into water resource management planning. Advancing adaptive practices can occur through learning by doing, stakeholder engagement, and sharing best practices and data. Effectively communicating risk and uncertainty improves the likelihood that adaptive practices will be successfully implemented.

    Water agencies can drive innovation in policy with scenario planning. Although scenario planning will reveal unfavorable future scenarios, the ability to prepare for likely futures and to adapt to uncertainty will provide a foundation for better planning. Managing uncertainty is far from a new challenge, however, in these modern times, tools exist to ensure water leaders can help illuminate the best paths forward. See how uncertainty was incorporated into water planning for the Colorado Water Plan on next week’s post!

    Our next post, to be published January 21, will explore how different state water plans in the Western U.S. incorporate uncertainty through the development of scenarios. Read the first post in our Western Water Plans series, “How does the Colorado Water Plan compare to our neighbors,” and the second post, “How do Western states incorporate regional engagement into water resource planning.”

    Bianca Valdez is a graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder pursuing a Masters in Environmental Policy. Bianca has a passion for water resources and intends to continue to immerse herself in the water policy space. Bianca holds a B.S. in Hydrogeology from the University of Texas at Austin.

    The winter newsletter is hot off the presses from the One World One Water Center

    Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

    Auraria Campus Water Competition

    This fall semester, six MSU Denver classes participated in the first Auraria Campus Water Competition. The students were asked to create innovative projects to increase water conservation and education on campus. This project was part of a grant awarded to the One World One Water Center by the Colorado Water Conservation Board to increase awareness of the Colorado Water Plan and to lead in university water conservation projects. Of the participating classes, the winning projects were a new and improved Public Relations plan for the OWOW Center, implementing a centrifuge machine at the Tivoli Brewery to reuse water efficiently, and a landscape plan from campus that incorporated xeriscaping and other water saving methods.

    Each class was paired with a water industry expert to help create projects and increase understanding of water in Colorado. The experts then served as the judges for the competition and scored projects based on their connection to the Colorado Water Plan, ability to engage the public about a water issue, raise awareness of water issues, provide resources and tools for action, and a level of feasibility for real-world integration.

    The event was very successful in bringing industry experts, students, and community members together to engage and learn from one another during the final judging session and the tabling event that immediate followed. The OWOW Center is excited to host another round of the competition in the fall of 2020.

    #GrandJunction: “It’s Water Course time.” Three Evening Seminar Series on #Hydrology, #COWater Law, #Snow Science, #CloudSeeding, #ForestHealth & #WaterQuality Feb 11, 18 & 25 — Hutchins Water Center

    Click here for all the inside skinny.

    The Year of the Flood — Platte Basin Timelapse

    Screenshot of the Platte Basin Timelapse “Year of the Flood” story map January 17, 2020.

    Click here to view the story map from Platte Basin Timelapse. Here’s the preface:

    The flood event of 2019 was historic and devastating for parts of Nebraska and the Midwest.

    Platte Basin Timelapse team members Grant Reiner, Carlee Koehler, Ethan Freese, and Mariah Lundgren traveled to parts of the state to explore questions they had about this historic weather event. What happens to wildlife during these big weather events? How were people affected by the floodwaters? What does this mean for the birds that nest on the river? How many PBT cameras survived? These are our stories.

    Durango: “Securing Our Water Future,” from 6 – 8 p.m., Thurs., Jan. 23, 2020 — @ConservationCO #COWaterPlan

    From The Durango Telegraph (Miss Votel):

    Conservation Colorado, which has offices across the state to help organize citizen activism and engagement, will be hosting “Securing Our Water Future,” from 6 – 8 p.m., Thurs., Jan. 23, at 4Corners Riversports. The goal of the event is to discuss what local residents and businesses can do to help curb water usage, build drought resilience and support the goals of the [Colorado Water Plan]. The meeting will be held in partnership with local members of the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance, which has 40 members in Southwest Colorado. In addition to free food and drinks, the evening will include an expert panel: Celene Hawkins, of the Nature Conservancy and Colorado Water Conservation Board; Marcie Bidwell, from the Mountain Studies Institute; and a representative from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

    “The point is not to shame people for their water use,” Goodman said. “Instead, we will present more efficient irrigation strategies and programs.” Goodman said the biggest hurdle to implementing the state’s water plan right now is money. It’s estimated that putting the plan into action will require $100 million a year – which might seem like a lot but is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the state’s other budget items, he said. State legislators are currently looking at adding $10 million to next year’s budget toward the plan, and the recently passed Proposition DD, which legalized sports betting, will add about another $10 million a year (that number will be significantly less in its first year of implementation).

    Goodman said he hopes next week’s meeting, in addition to providing a dialogue, will spur local citizens to get active and encourage their representatives to fund the water plan.

    “This is a good starting point, our legislators need to know this matters to us and to make it a reality,” he said. “As great as the water plan is, if we don’t have money behind it, we won’t see results.”

    Lake Nighthorse and Durango March 2016 photo via Greg Hobbs.

    Central Plains Irrigation Conference February 18-19, 2020, Burlington, #Colorado, Burlington Community Center

    The High Plains Aquifer provides 30 percent of the water used in the nation’s irrigated agriculture. The aquifer runs under South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

    Click here for all the inside skinny from Kansas State University.