2019 #NMleg: Professor warns legislators: Get serious on climate — The Sante Fe New Mexican #ActOnClimate

Photo via the City of Santa Fe

From The Santa Fe New Mexican (Andrew Oxford):

“The world will be moving away from fossil fuel production,” David Gutzler, a professor at the University of New Mexico and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told members of the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Gutzler went on to paint a stark picture of New Mexico in a changing climate.

The mountains outside Albuquerque will look like the mountains outside El Paso by the end of the century if current trends continue, he said.

There will not be any snowpack in the mountains above Santa Fe by the end of the century, Gutzler added.

We have already seen more land burned by wildfires, partly because of changes in forest management and partly because of climate change, Gutzler said.

Water supply will be negatively affected in what is already an arid state, he said.

“It’s real. It’s happening. We see it in the data. … This is not hypothetical in any way. This is real and we would be foolish to ignore it,” Gutzler said.

The professor warned lawmakers that the state must get serious about greenhouse gas emissions now by expanding clean energy sources and mitigating the societal costs of moving away from fossil fuels.

That cost, though, will be a sticking point for Republicans. Many of them represent southeastern New Mexico and the Four Corners, where oil and mining are big industries.

New septic system rules for Montezuma County

Septic system

From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

New septic system regulations under the Montezuma County Health Department kicked in Jan. 1.

Under the Transfer of Title program, when a residential or commercial property meets certain criteria, an inspection of its on-site wastewater septic system will take place when the property is being sold, and repairs or replacement may be required.

The new rules are intended to prevent pollution from failing septic systems and protect the public and water resources, said Melissa Mathews, environmental health specialist for the health department.

The criteria triggering a septic system inspection when a title is transfered include: Structures older than 1974 that do not have a on-site waste water permit; properties that had a permit issued 20 years ago or longer; properties that have a higher level treatment system; properties that have had a previous septic system failure; properties that have a valid septic permit but no structure.

Employment opportunity: Professional Engineer II – Assistant Division Engineer – Water Resources, Greeley, CO @DWR_CO

The plains around DIA were parched by the scorching 2012 drought, although groundwater pumping along the South Platte River enabled some farms to continue irrigating — photo by Bob Berwyn

From email from DWR (Corey DeAngelis):

We have an opening for our DWR Division 1 Assistant Division Engineer position in Greeley, Colorado…The position is open through 01/11/2019, 5:00 pm

Description of Job

This position assists the Division Engineer in performing functions and duties as specified by state statute and to carry out duties and orders of the State Engineer within the geographical area of Water Division One. The position must direct the day to day management of work unit’s involvement in the water court; must guide and direct the allocation and distribution of water; must enforce compliance with decrees, statutes, permits, rules and regulations, and compacts; must resolve disputes concerning water rights and use; must complete and review technical studies related to water resources engineering and water rights administration; and must inform, disseminate information to, and counsel water users, professionals and staff regarding water use, water rights, water allocation and state statutes pertaining to water use. This position will assist the Division Engineer, as assigned, directing and overseeing administration and compliance of Division 1 Ground Water Measurement and Use Rules.

Click here to apply for the job.

#Snowpack/#Drought news: Cortez moves above average for snowfall for the year

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 2, 2019 via the NRCS.

From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

Ten days and several nights of snowstorms in the past 51 days has put Cortez above normal snowfall for the 2018-19 winter season.

But because of an abnormally dry 2017-18 winter, Southwest Colorado remains in the worst drought category of “exceptional,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“We’re off to a good start, but we are still playing catch-up,” said Jim Andrus, local weather observer for the National Weather Service. “It will take more generous months of precipitation to get us out of the exceptional drought.”

Since the beginning of the winter season on Nov. 1, Cortez has received 23.6 inches of snowfall, Andrus said. The average winter snowfall through January is 21.2 inches of snowfall, so Cortez is already at 111 percent of normal as of Jan. 2.

For all of last winter season, Cortez only recorded a total of 8 inches of snowfall, or 22 percent of average…

December 2018 was a very wet month, with total snow water equivalent measured at 1.8 inches, or 207 percent of the average .88 inches, Andrus said…

Precipitation for 2018 was 10.09 inches, or 80 percent of the average of 12.75 inches…

An El Niño weather pattern, indicated by increasing Equatorial Pacific temperatures, is developing and increasing the probability that winter storms will continue to track more south and hit the Four Corners area.

Recent storms have been dipping more southward, an indication the El Niño effect is kicking in, said Kris Sanders, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction…

In the Dolores Basin of the San Juan Mountains, snowpack is at 84 percent of average as of Jan. 2, according to Snotel devices that measure snowfall at different elevations. A dry November contributed to the below-average tally.

Last year at this time, the Dolores Basin snowpack was just 26 percent of average, and ended the winter season at 50 percent of average, according to Snotel reports. Last year was a drier La Niña weather pattern, indicated by cooling Equatorial Pacific temperatures, which increases probability that winter storms will take a more northerly route that miss the Four Corners area.

In the 2016-17 winter, the Dolores Basin snowpack was 124 percent of average for the season, a banner year that filled all the reservoirs and led to an 85-day whitewater boating release in the Dolores River below McPhee Dam…

The Four Corners and Southwest Colorado remain in the worst category of exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest posting, on Dec. 25. But the area of exceptional drought has been shrinking the past two months.

From The Pagosa Sun (Chris Mannara):

With consistent snowfall on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, local snowpack levels, as of Jan. 2, have shown an 8 percent increase since last week, according to data from the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS).

The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River basins are currently 71 percent of median, up from 63 percent of median last week.

The Upper Rio Grande Basin has also seen an increase in levels, with a current total of 76 percent of median, compared to last week’s total of 67 percent of median.

Snowpack levels remain the same for the Gunnison River Basin, staying at 91 percent of median.

The Yampa and White River basins saw a drop from last week, going from 110 percent of median to 102 percent of median this week.

Another fall in snowpack levels is recorded at the Laramie and North Platte basins, with current levels sitting at 103 percent of median, compared to last week’s total of 108 percent of median.

For the Upper Colorado River Basin, snowpack levels are 104 percent of median, when last week they were 112 percent of median.

The South Platte River Basin saw a drop in its snowpack levels as well, going from 118 percent of median to 112 percent of median.

Rounding out the snowpack totals, the Arkansas River Basin sits at 114 percent of median, when last week that total was 110 percent of median.

We also see an increase in individual snowpack levels for the Wolf Creek summit. This week, the summit is 74 percent of the Jan. 2 median and 31 percent of the median peak. Last week, the Wolf Creek summit was 66 percent of peak and 25 percent of median peak.

However, locally, the National Weather Service (NWS) does not predict a chance of snow until Sunday, with a “slight chance” of snow showers that day.

For Wolf Creek Pass, the NWS indicates a 20 percent chance of snowfall on Saturday night and a 50 percent chance of snow on Sunday.

“I feel better, absolutely. But, we’re still not where we want to be,” NRCS District Conservationist Jerry Archuleta explained.

Pagosa Springs: Public meeting set to address future of water resources in the #SanJuan River watershed, January 10, 2019

Swim class on the San Juan River. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From the The Upper San Juan Watershed Enhancement Partnership (Al Pfister) via The Pagosa Sun:

The Upper San Juan Watershed Enhancement Partnership (WEP) is coordinating an effort to identify opportunities to optimize the use of our water resources in the face of a drier and warmer climate.

Rivers and streams provide a bounty of beneficial uses — agricultural, municipal, industrial, recreational and environmental. The WEP’s goal is to promote cooperative efforts to ensure that all uses are met.

The geographic area of focus includes the Upper San Juan River watershed, to include the San Juan, Piedra, Navajo and Chama rivers and their tributaries.

The WEP wants to work with all water users to identify opportunities for cooperative projects that will enhance our ability to use our water resources in recognition of the “prior appropriation doctrine” of water use in Colorado. This is a locally driven effort supported by funding from the Colorado Water Plan.

Over the past few months, the WEP has formed a steering committee comprised of representatives from the agricultural, municipal and industrial, recreational and environmental communities. The committee has developed a proposed framework for moving forward. Goals and objectives have been drafted and are awaiting stakeholder input, involvement and refinement. More details can be found at http://www.mountainstudies.org/sanjuan/smp.

We want to secure input from the public to make sure our efforts adequately address the concerns of the community. A public meeting will be held with the goal of informing all stakeholders interested in the future of our water resources. The meeting is Jan. 10, 2019, at the CSU Extension Office from 6 to 8 p.m. Light snacks will be provided.

The group is also offering the opportunity to offer input through a survey. You can find it on the website. We hope you can attend and provide your input on this important topic for our community.

The San Juan Water conservancy district approves budget for 2019

San Juan River Basin. Graphic credit Wikipedia.

From The Pagosa Sun (Chris Mannara):

The San Juan Water Conser- vancy District (SJWCD) Board of Directors formally approved its budget for 2019 at a meeting on Dec. 12. The budget shows a beginning balance of $150,659 for 2019 and that revenues will be $78,775, with total available resources being $229,434.

As of Dec. 12, total revenues for 2018 were listed at $77,456, and that amount is expected to remain the same at year-end.

The district is anticipated to have $250,708 on hand at the end of 2018. Within the revenue section, the largest total within the 2019 budget falls under the general property taxes section. That line item totals $70,789, which is a slight increase over 2018’s amount of $68,041.

The majority of line-item ex- penses for SJWCD do not total over $5,000. Those that do include $7,000 for audit expenses, $12,000 for legal and $12,000 for support services.

Anticipated 2018 year-end ex- penses for an audit total $2,656, while year-end expenses for legal fees are $33,375. Year-end expenses for support services total $13,696.

Total expenditures budgeted for 2019 come in at $78,775, while anticipated year-end expenditures for 2018 total $99,739.

There will be a rate hike in 2019.

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District approves 2019 budget

Photo credit: Colorado.com

From The Pagosa Sun (Randi Pierce):

At its meeting on Dec. 13, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) Board of Directors approved the district’s 2019 budget.

The three members of the board present — Jim Smith, Glenn Walsh and Gordon McIver — unanimously approved the document.

“The Final Budget, presented for discussion, meets debt service requirements; projects improved but moderate growth and reflects the increased service charges prescribed by the Stantec Rate Study,” an agenda summary sheet on the budget states.

“It’s a great budget,” Walsh said, adding later, “Great job.”

For the General Fund, the bud- get estimates revenues totaling $1,953,015 and expenditures of $1,117,436.

For the Debt Service Fund, esti- mated revenues are $1,213,490 and expenditures are $1,182,826.

For the Water Enterprise Fund, budgeted revenues are $11,876,559, while budgeted expenditures are $5,922,874.

For the Wastewater Enterprise Fund, estimated revenues total $5,527,668, while estimated expen- ditures total $2,434,229.

Before its approval, Comptroller Aaron Burns outlined the changes in the budget since the draft was presented in the fall:

• The San Juan water treatment plant’s UV project, at a cost of $706,000, is completely funded without debt.
• The budget for line replacement increased to $350,000.
• There was a $7,000 decrease to the budget for large maintenance
• The budget for capital decreased by $14,000.
• Water rate revenues were brought more in line with history since 2018 was a drought year.

Walsh also pointed out that the deficit is down in the General Fund, as well as the fact that there are no cost-of-living adjustments, fewer employees and merit-based in- creases.

According to the agenda summary sheet, the operating budget includes 27 full-time equivalents for 2019.