Vigilant inspections keep destructive mussels from causing millions in damage to Denver’s water infrastructure. The post Saving our reservoirs from invading ‘cling-ons’ appeared first on News on TAP.
From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):
The hot, dry weather during July has resulted in high fire danger and low stream levels, and forecasters say little relief is in sight.
Aspen could only coax 1.17 inches of precipitation out of the clouds last month even though it rained 14 days, according to record keepers at the Aspen Treatment Water Plant. Normal rainfall for July is 1.74 inches…
For May, June and July, the water plant was down about three-quarters of an inch, or 16%, from the average of 4.85 inches. This year, 4.08 inches of precipitation fell.
Three wildfires have materialized in the region over the last week — a small one north of Ruedi Reservoir popped up over the weekend and was snuffed by Monday. Another fire erupted in steep hillsides west of Glenwood Springs on Wednesday and continued to hamper traffic on Interstate 70 on Thursday. The biggest regional wildfire is 18 miles north of Grand Junction. The Pine Gulch Fire had grown to nearly 12,000 acres as of Wednesday night…
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map released by the federal government on Thursday showed Pitkin County divided nearly evenly between severe drought on the lower elevation terrain in the western half, and moderate drought on the higher elevation lands on the eastern half.
Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs are all in the severe drought category…
Basalt-based nonprofit Roaring Fork Conservancy said the weather is taking a toll on local rivers and streams. The Roaring Fork River near Aspen is running at 53.4 cubic feet per second. The mean for Thursday was 84 cfs. The Crystal River at Redstone was running at 101 cfs compared to a mean of 251.
Conditions are better on the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir. The holders of senior water rights on the Colorado River placed a “call” on water, which is requiring releases from the reservoir. That’s creating increased flows on the Fryingpan River and on the Roaring Fork River below the confluence.
The Fryingpan River was running at 208 cfs on Thursday, above the mean of 191.
Nope. It’s a Denver Water canal built in the 1930s and called upon to shuttle water this summer. The post Is that a new waterslide? appeared first on News on TAP.
Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program replaces more than 1,000 lead lines, distributes 80,000 pitchers/filters out of the gate. The post Tackling lead at its source, the first six months appeared first on News on TAP.
As millions of people are recovering from COVID-19, an unanswered question is the extent to which the virus can “hide out” in seemingly recovered individuals. If it does, could this explain some of the lingering symptoms of COVID-19 or pose a risk for transmission of infection to others even after recovery?
I am a physician-scientist of infectious diseases at the University of Virginia, where I care for patients with infections and conduct research on COVID-19. Here I will briefly review what is known today about chronic or persistent COVID-19.
What is a chronic or persistent viral infection?
A chronic or persistent infection continues for months or even years, during which time virus is being continually produced, albeit in many cases at low levels. Frequently these infections occur in a so-called immune privileged site.
What is an immune privileged site?
There are a few places in the body that are less accessible to the immune system and where it is difficult to eradicate all viral infections. These include the central nervous system, the testes and the eye. It is thought that the evolutionary advantage to having an immune privileged region is that it protects a site like the brain, for example, from being damaged by the inflammation that results when the immune system battles an infection.
An immune privileged site not only is difficult for the immune system to enter, it also limits proteins that increase inflammation. The reason is that while inflammation helps kill a pathogen, it can also damage an organ such as the eye, brain or testes. The result is an uneasy truce where inflammation is limited but infection continues to fester.
A latent infection versus a persistent viral infection
But there is another way that a virus can hide in the body and reemerge later.
A latent viral infection occurs when the virus is present within an infected cell but dormant and not multiplying. In a latent virus, the entire viral genome is present, and infectious virus can be produced if latency ends and the infections becomes active. The latent virus may integrate into the human genome – as does HIV, for example – or exist in the nucleus as a self-replicating piece of DNA called an episome.
A latent virus can reactivate and produce infectious viruses, and this can occur months to decades after the initial infection. Perhaps the best example of this is chickenpox, which although seemingly eradicated by the immune system can reactivate and cause herpes zoster decades later. Fortunately, chickenpox and zoster are now prevented by vaccination. To be infected with a virus capable of producing a latent infection is to be infected for the rest of your life.
How does a virus become a latent infection?
Herpes viruses are by far the most common viral infections that establish latency.
This is a large family of viruses whose genetic material, or genome, is encoded by DNA (and not RNA such as the new coronavirus). Herpes viruses include not only herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 – which cause oral and genital herpes – but also chickenpox. Other herpes viruses, such as Epstein Barr virus, the cause of mononucleosis, and cytomegalovirus, which is a particular problem in immunodeficient individuals, can also emerge after latency.
Retroviruses are another common family of viruses that establish latency but by a different mechanism than the herpes viruses. Retroviruses such as HIV, which causes AIDS, can insert a copy of their genome into the human DNA that is part of the human genome. There the virus can exist in a latent state indefinitely in the infected human since the virus genome is copied every time DNA is replicated and a cell divides.
Viruses that establish latency in humans are difficult or impossible for the immune system to eradicate. That is because during latency there can be little or no viral protein production in the infected cell, making the infection invisible to the immune system. Fortunately coronaviruses do not establish a latent infection.
Could you catch SARS-CoV-2 from a male sexual partner who has recovered from COVID-19?
In one small study, the new coronavirus has been detected in semen in a quarter of patients during active infection and in a bit less than 10% of patients who apparently recovered. In this study, viral RNA was what was detected, and it is not yet known if this RNA was from still infectious or dead virus in the semen; and if alive whether the virus can be sexually transmitted. So many important questions remain unanswered.
Ebola is a very different virus from SARS-C0V-2 yet serves as an example of viral persistence in immune privileged sites. In some individuals, Ebola virus survives in immune privileged sites for months after resolution of the acute illness. Survivors of Ebola have been documented with persistent infections in the testes, eyes, placenta and central nervous system.
The WHO recommends for male Ebola survivors that semen be tested for virus every three months. They also suggest that couples abstain from sex for 12 months after recovery or until their semen tests negative for Ebola twice. As noted above, we need to learn more about persistent new coronavirus infections before similar recommendations can be considered.
Could persistent symptoms after COVID-19 be due to viral persistence?
Recovery from COVID-19 is delayed or incomplete in many individuals, with symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. It seems unlikely that these constitutional symptoms are due to viral persistence as the symptoms are not coming from immune privileged sites.
Where else could the new coronavirus persist after recovery from COVID-19?
Other sites where coronavirus has been detected include the placenta, intestines, blood and of course the respiratory tract. In women who catch COVID-19 while pregnant, the placenta develops defects in the mother’s blood vessels supplying the placenta. However, the significance of this on fetal health is yet to be determined.
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The mounting evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can infect immune privileged sites and, from there, result in chronic persistent – but not latent – infections. It is too early to know the extent to which these persistent infections affect the health of an individual like the pregnant mother, for example, nor the extent to which they contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
Like many things in the pandemic, what is unknown today is known tomorrow, so stay tuned and be cautious so as not to catch the infection or, worse yet, spread it to someone else.
Here’s the release from the NASA Earth Observatory:
Since the start of Asia’s summer monsoon season on June 1, 2020, excessive rainfall has pushed lakes and rivers to record high levels in China. Flooding within the Yangtze River Basin, in particular, has displaced millions of people.
The Yangtze River is Asia’s longest, winding 6300 kilometers (3,900 miles) through China. Together with its network of tributaries and lakes, the river system has undergone significant development as a means to generate power, store water for drinking and irrigation, and control flooding. Today the watershed is dotted with tens of thousands of reservoirs, and its rivers are spanned by numerous dams.
During the 2020 summer monsoon, floodwater was being held, or “absorbed,” by 2,297 reservoirs in the region, including the one behind Three Gorges Dam. In an attempt to regulate the flow of floodwater, dam operators can discharge water through spillway gates.
Those gates were open when these images were acquired on June 30, 2020, with the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. The images are composites of natural color and shortwave infrared to better distinguish the water. Note how the torrent flowing through the spillways changes how the water downstream reflects light, making it appear whiter.
The image at the top of this page shows water moving through the gates of Three Gorges Dam. Spanning a segment of the Yangtze River in central China’s Hubei Province, the dam is 2300 meters long and stands 185 meters high. The second image shows the smaller Gezhouba Dam, located about 26 kilometers (16 miles) southeast from Three Gorges. This dam also appeared to have its spillway gates open.
When these images were acquired in June, the waterways were trying to handle the first major flooding of the monsoon season. A second wave of severe flooding, referred to by local media as the “No. 2 flood,” hit the region in July. Between and during these flood events, continuous adjustments are made to the amount of reservoir outflow flowing through the gates.
According to the Three Gorges Corporation, the water level in the reservoir reached a record high flood season level of 164.18 meters on July 19. The previous high level reached during the flood season since the dam became fully operational in 2012 was 163.11 meters. The reservoir is designed to hold a maximum water level of 175 meters.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Kathryn Hansen.
From The Durango Herald (Emily Hayes):
Megan Holcomb, senior climate specialist for the Colorado Conservation Board, said “everyone has been wringing their hands and waiting” for the monsoon to come. It is always hard to predict when the rains will start, but last fall they were absent, she said.
La Plata County and Montezuma County have not seen a lot of moisture either, said Cortez agriculture expert Bob Bragg. The Mancos area is running out of water, as well as La Plata County, he said. Lemon Reservoir never reached 100% capacity in the spring, with a high point of 81% capacity in early June…
The Dolores Water Conservancy District allocates a certain amount of water per year to producers in the county, who grow mostly alfalfa – a high-quality hay, hard red spring wheat and pinto beans. Last year, the water budget for farmers was 22 inches. But the conservancy cut it back to 19 or 20 inches this year because of the dry spring.
Mark Williams, a hay farmer along the Pine River, said the last rainstorm brought close to an inch of water, which helps because it puts nitrogen in the soil and increases how long farmers can run irrigation. And grass in the pastures jumped an inch, Williams said…
During dry years like this, it can be more difficult to parse out water rights between different users upstream and downstream because there is less of it, Rein said.
And even though reservoirs were 100% full across the state in the spring, “we rely on these reservoirs through the summer months,” Holcomb said.
From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Chris Mannara):
As of Wednesday, the San Juan River had a flow of 39.4 cfs. This is well below the average for July 22 of 233 cfs.
The lowest reported flow total for July 22 came in 2002 when the San Juan River had a flow of 16.8 cfs, while the highest reported flow came in 1941 when the San Juan River had a reported flow of 1,160 cfs.
From Colorado Public Radio (Dan Boyce):
In cities like Denver and Pueblo, urban waterways have become recreation resources. But in the Springs, Fountain Creek is still struggling to shake its reputation as a contaminated dumping ground…
The city is mired in a years-long ongoing lawsuit concerning pollution and creek sediment brought by a group of plaintiffs that includes the EPA and multiple downstream counties…
The trash-strewn banks of today don’t help the image either; nor does the looming silhouette of the Martin Drake power plant near at hand. But in spite of all that, [Richard] Mulledy said Fountain Creek is turning a corner in the public’s mind…
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on addressing water quality concerns and miles of creekside trails have been constructed in recent years. These are just the latest indications that the state’s second largest city is serious about catching up to the amenity-focused approach other Colorado cities have taken to their once-industrial waterways.
And surprising glimmers of hope are already swimming in the creek itself: normal, non-radioactive, two-eyed trout — and hefty ones at that.
“I’ve caught rainbow trout up to 18 inches down by Walmart and brown trout bigger than that,” said local fly fisherman Alan Peak…
On the city’s south side, Dorchester Park provides one of the more secluded camping options for those experiencing homelessness. It also holds some of Fountain Creek’s best trout habitat. Alan Peak stops by every so often to tidy up the area, filling up large black garbage bags with trash.
He said he would never eat the fish he catches from Fountain Creek; he releases them all. Outside of that, he’s not really worried about water pollution. He just washes up after his visits…
Certain stretches of the creek do still test above the state’s minimum standard for e-coli contamination at times — an unhappy distinction it shares with about 100 other Colorado waterways. But the city argues that, broadly speaking, the stream is now safe.
Denver’s water snakes and tumbles through stunning country to reach your tap. The post The journey of water — a snapshot appeared first on News on TAP.
Denver metro area continues to use water efficiently as drought looms during hot, dry summer resulting in increased watering. The post One eye on the weather, the other on water use appeared first on News on TAP.
Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:
General Manager Andy Mueller recommends financial security for West Slope water security
The Colorado River is under tremendous strain. In seven states and two countries over 40 million people rely upon the river for their drinking water and millions more throughout the United States are fed by the more than three million acres of irrigated agriculture that the river supports. The number of people served by the river is expected to hit at least 70 million by 2060.
Long term drought and rising temperatures mean that we have less water flowing in the river. Over 60% of the river’s natural flow originates within the boundaries of the Colorado River District. As the population grows, and the river flows continue to diminish, we are experiencing greater pressure on this limited resource.
There is widespread recognition that the river is out of balance and there are many suggestions as to how the river should be brought back into balance. Many of the suggestions being promoted by Lower Basin states and major metropolitan areas focus on reducing water use in places like our District; people such as former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt are calling for a redistribution of water from our agricultural communities to the urbanized Lower Basin. Never has it been so clear that the people of Western Colorado need a strong advocate at the water policy table who can speak for the West Slope with a unified voice, leading in the protection, conservation, use and development of the waters of the Colorado River for the residents and environment within our District. That voice is your Colorado River District.
Unfortunately, even before the current pandemic-inspired economic upheaval, the Colorado River District was facing a declining revenue stream. Declining tax revenues from the fossil fuel industry, losses caused by the Gallagher Amendment and the effects of the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR) Amendment are conspiring to drive the District’s income into significantly negative territory. The most recent state predictions for 2021 indicate that the Gallagher Amendment alone will likely cause the District to lose approximately $425,000 in the District’s General Fund budget.
Our flat and decreasing revenue led District management in the last 18 months to reduce the District work force by 4 positions or 15%, suspend our grant program, reduce the District vehicle fleet and implement across-the-board reductions in expenses. Even with these cost-saving measures, our financial projections indicate that the District will have to reduce its work force again as soon as 2022. While the District to date has been able to tighten its belt and successfully accomplish our core mission, our ability to protect the West Slope’s water security in the future will be significantly compromised through the loss of additional staff positions and proper resources.
Additionally, as our communities face the dual challenges of increasing demand on the Colorado River and reduction in the flow of the river, important West Slope priorities are not being accomplished because they are unfunded. West Slope communities through the three Basin Roundtables in our District have identified priority projects that are essential for water security. The unfunded water priorities span the full range of needs in all categories, including productive agriculture, infrastructure, healthy rivers, watershed health and water quality, conservation and efficiency.
In the recent past, advocacy and creative problem-solving by the District staff have enabled the District to serve as a catalyst for important projects. However, without the ability to bring money to the table we often find ourselves negotiating with our hands out and very little ability to influence the selection and direction of projects. As the District and our water users are forced to turn empty handed to the federal or state government for funding, we find the priorities of the state and federal governments, not those of the West Slope, are dictating the type, location and scope of projects.
The District was founded to lead in the protection, conservation, use and development of the water resources of the Colorado River basin for the welfare of the District. In 1937, at the request of West Slope leaders, the District was authorized to collect up to 2.5 mills in property tax. Today, due to a variety of reasons, the District’s mill levy is capped at 0.252 and its current, effective mill levy is set at .235 mills…less than one-tenth of its original authorization. The District’s ability to fulfill its mission and protect the West Slope is significantly hampered by declining revenue.
In January I recommended to the Colorado River District Board that it consider placing a question on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot asking voters to approve an increase of the District’s taxing authority to up to 0.5 mills. The recommended increase is predicted on generating approximately $4.9 million in additional revenue per year at a cost of approximately $1.90 per $100,000 in residential value, which is equivalent to a tax increase of $6.34 annually for the median-priced home in the District.
The Board is still contemplating my recommendation. In January, Board members asked the staff to conduct additional outreach and public opinion research. We commenced that outreach through public forums and started discussions with Boards of County Commissioners. We arranged for public opinion polling to take place in the second half of March before the April Board meeting.
Unfortunately, by mid-March the coronavirus pandemic swept through Colorado and shut down our communities, wreaking economic havoc and interfering with our ability to conduct significant portions of our planned public outreach through districtwide events known as our State of the River meetings.
Our polling conducted in late March, after the closure of the ski areas and during the shut-down of the rest of the state, came back showing strong public support for the recommended tax increase. Specifically, the poll indicated that 65% of the likely voters polled were in favor of the measure. The poll showed widespread support across the political spectrum and throughout the District. The poll also showed incredibly strong support for the mission of the District indicating that projects that focus on water security in Western Colorado are funding priorities for residents throughout the District.
In April, society was coming to terms with the long-term economic effects of the pandemic and the Board and staff expressed concern about moving ahead with any tax increase, no matter how small. The Board requested that staff continue to engage in outreach to the public and county leadership and requested that polling be conducted closer to the July quarterly meeting so that we would have a better, more current understanding of public support for this potential ballot measure.
The additional polling was conducted at the beginning of July, and the report is still being finalized at the time of this writing. Preliminary reports from our research firm indicate that support in early July for the District and the potential tax increase remain high. 63% of likely voters polled support the tax increase. When informed that the increase would be modest, i.e. $1.90 per $100,000 in residential value, support for the measure climbed to 67%, identical to the informed support in March. Based upon our outreach to political and civic leaders in the District, there is generally widespread, but not unanimous support for the proposed ballot measure.
We have heard from the public, water-user entities and elected officials that it is incredibly important that the District Board and staff publicly commit to how the funds will be spent by the District. Our Board is contemplating the draft Fiscal Implementation Plan, which if adopted, will outline the District’s commitment as to how it would spend the additional revenue.
In summary, the plan calls for the District to allocate approximately 86% or $4.2 million of the anticipated annual revenue to partnership projects in the District, prioritizing multi-purpose projects that meet needs in one or more of the following five categories: productive agriculture, infrastructure, healthy rivers, watershed health and water quality, conservation and efficiency. The plan commits the District to expending funds in an equitable manner which, over time, disperses the benefits of the program geographically within the District boundaries and among the identified categories. The plan also commits the District to utilizing these funds to drive the initiation and completion of projects that are priorities for residents of the District by utilizing District funds as a catalyst for matching funds from state, federal and private foundation sources.
The Fiscal Implementation Plan itself has greater detail. The remaining approximately 14% of the funds will be utilized by the District to fix the District’s internal financial structural deficit caused by the cumulative impact of the Gallagher Amendment, the decline of tax revenue from the fossil fuel industry and TABOR revenue limitations. The District will not utilize the new revenue to create additional staff positions but will allocate the money to fund existing staff positions and business-related expenses. This allocation will help to ensure the financial integrity of the important work of the River District’s Enterprise Fund by preserving enterprise reserves for anticipated capital expenses and critical maintenance and repair work on water-supply assets owned by the District.
At our July meeting, the Board will be considering my recommendation and of course, the thoughts and concerns of the public. The Board may decide that the time is right to ask the voters for approval for a tax increase. The staff and Board welcome the public to attend, listen and comment on this important decision.
The public can listen to the meeting by visiting http://ColoradoRiverDistrict.com and navigating to the District’s YouTube channel.
Expansion project will help increase Denver Water’s renewable energy production. The post Gross dam’s powerful benefit appeared first on News on TAP.
Project to raise dam will improve water reliability for more than 1.5 million people while benefiting the environment. The post FERC gives final federal nod of approval for Gross Reservoir expansion appeared first on News on TAP.
Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir Expansion team doesn’t let COVID-19 keep them from staying in touch. The post Always engaging, even in a pandemic appeared first on News on TAP.
From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):
The return of afternoon monsoons to the Roaring Fork Valley cannot come quick enough for outdoor enthusiasts hitting dusty trails, gardeners coaxing plants along or especially fire chiefs fearing wildfires.
The monsoons typically appear in late June and continue into September, bringing frequent afternoon showers. They have been slow to appear this summer, but that might be about to change.
The National Weather Service expects a 20% to 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms starting later this week and continuing each day for at least the next week in the Colorado mountains, according to Jeff Colton, a warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS office in Grand Junction. He cautioned against expecting copious amounts of moisture…
Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties as well as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in the region are currently in stage one restrictions. That prohibits campfires outside of developed recreation areas. All fireworks are banned…
Colton said the rain that is forecast isn’t likely to break the grip of a drought affecting all of Colorado. The U.S. Drought Monitor issued by federal weather agencies July 9 shows all of Pitkin County in moderate drought and the extreme western side of the county in severe drought.
The Drought Monitor stressed that the classification is based on broad-scale conditions and that local conditions may vary.
Aspen has managed to stay close to the annual average for precipitation through June, according to records kept at the Aspen Water Department’s plant in Maroon Creek Valley. May was below average but June was slightly above average, thanks in large part to nearly 5 inches of snow June 9 (see related fact box)…
Meteorologist Colton said the snowpack last winter was close to normal, but a lack of snowfall in late winter and an extended period of dry winds starting in May quickly ate up the snowpack. The same low pressure in the Pacific Northwest that has prevented monsoonal moisture to form for Colorado also is responsible for the drying winds, he said.
The dry winds, quickly disappearing snowpack and spotty rainfall have sapped the moisture from the ground. Richmond Ridge Road, which typically harbors massive mud puddles at this time of year, was bone dry Saturday. Trails throughout the valley have been pulverized to dust.
Aspen Global Change Institute has installed 10 field stations around the Roaring Fork Valley that measure ground moisture at various depths as well as precipitation and air temperature.
Sky Mountain Park in the hills above the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Highway 82 is showing soil moisture at the 8-inch depth at about 17% compared to about 14% at this time in 2018.
However, farther downvalley, the soil moisture is drier in some spots than in 2018. The soil moisture at Spring Valley near the Colorado Mountain College campus is at about 12% compared to 17% in 2018.
At Glenwood Springs, the average daily soil moisture at eight-inch depth is about 14 percent, the same as in 2018.
The number of people who rely on Denver Water every day grows. The post Now serving 1.5 million daily appeared first on News on TAP.
Denver Water crews marvel at water lines from the 1880s as they are replaced to handle new demands. The post Pipelines into the past appeared first on News on TAP.
New public art piece follows the journey of Denver’s water. The post Celebrating the value of water with art appeared first on News on TAP.
As one adventure ends, a Denver Water employee embarks on a new one under the stars of the Milky Way. The post Completing the bucket list, one reservoir at a time appeared first on News on TAP.
The increase of COVID-19 cases across the country calls for quick action. Sure, you and your family are exhausted from distancing, you miss your loved ones and you want to get back to your support groups or church.
But the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, does not stop just because we are tired. In the absence of clear, consistent directions from the federal government, it is more important than ever that people pay attention to the medical and public health facts.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges that we are seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and other states,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Congress June 23. Fauci and other public health experts testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Fauci told Congress that he sees a “disturbing surge” in many parts of the country.
As an infectious disease epidemiologist from Arizona, one of the current U.S. hotspots, here are five things I urge you to do right now:
Wear a mask. The World Health Organization recommends medical-grade masks for those people age 60 and over, or those with health issues, and triple-layer cloth masks for everyone else over the age of two. If you can’t find those triple-layer masks, you can use a simple cotton or silk cloth face covering to reduce the number of viral particles you emit or are exposed to. Make sure it covers your mouth and your nose. I have seen too many people wearing masks on their chins. And watch your hand-face contact – you can infect yourself by adjusting the mask too much and repeatedly touching your face.
Physically distance. Avoid crowded spaces. If you want to visit friends or family, you must still wear a mask – and keep six feet apart. If at all possible, have these visits outdoors. Indoor activities are most commonly associated with SARS-CoV-2 transmission clusters. Transmission outdoors is less likely, and if you are in places other than Arizona (where the temperature is 106F as I type this), it is probably ideal summer weather to be outdoors.
Wash your filthy hands. And, yes, they can be really dirty, even if they do not appear so. Bacteria and viruses can lurk on them, spreading infection from surface to surface and person to person. And then wash them again. Hand-washing is critically important. I wash every time I walk into the house. Immediately. The benefits of hand-washing regularly may seem obvious, but many forget them. According to studies, washing for about 15 seconds reduces bacterial counts by about 90% of the germs on your hands. Washing for an additional 15 lowers the count to about 99% percent. And yes, hand-washing is better than sanitizer because the soap and water mechanically rid your hands of germs. That said, I keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my car and wipes for after shopping.
Plan ahead in case you or someone in your household gets sick. The reality is that many more of us are going to get sick before this pandemic is over. Planning ahead can give you some peace of mind that you are prepared. This includes doing such things as identifying people or services to transport essential items to your home and developing an emergency contact list. Also, keep cleaning high-touch surfaces, such as light fixtures, faucets and countertops, regularly. Know the symptoms and emergency warning signs for COVID-19. Also, if you live alone, find a buddy who will check in on you regularly in case you get sick. Prepare a kit for yourself that you can keep by your bed.
Maintain awareness of the situation in your community. I know, the data is hard to sort out right now, but one thing to look for in your community is a decline in local cases. Local and state health departments are still providing updated numbers on cases. You can also follow an independent source that is assessing local situations.
This is a time of uncertainty and anxiety for all of us. We desperately want to get back to normal, but it just isn’t possible yet. So find time each day to take care of your mental health. Take a walk, talk to a friend, read a book, snuggle with a pet, meditate, reach out to others who may need your help, while still social distancing, and advocate for our most vulnerable populations. Your life and those of your loved ones depend upon following public health guidelines.
From The New Mexico Political Report (Kendra Chamberlain):
“I wish I had better news,” said Dave DuBois, New Mexico’s State Climatologist and director of the NM Climate Center at the New Mexico State University, during a weather outlook webinar hosted by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) held in May. DuBois was looking at a three-month weather outlook map forecasting rain during New Mexico’s summer months and monsoon season.
“I really didn’t want to see this,” he said, swirling his mouse over a patch of brown in the Four Corners area. “Not a lot of good news there. This is showing some probability for below-average precipitation for northwest New Mexico.”
Experts agree 2020 is shaping up to be a challenging year for water in New Mexico. Despite a near-normal snowpack last winter, dry soil conditions and a very warm spring — with hardly any precipitation since January — has thrust much of the state into drought conditions, again…
The northern portion of the state, along the Colorado border, is experiencing the worst of the drought. The Four Corners area in particular has been an epicenter of drought conditions for a few years now.
The latest modeling, visualized in the brown splotches on the weather outlook map, indicates the area may not see much water this summer, either.
“This is where we’re having problems,” DuBois said. “The further you get north, the drier it is.”
The mountains of New Mexico accumulated an almost normal amount of snow during the 2019-2020 “water year,” the time of year when the area receives the bulk of its precipitation. For New Mexico, the water year roughly runs from the first snows in October to a peak in April, when snowpack is at its highest, though the peaks in snowpack vary across elevation and latitude.
“We use that as our starting point for the start of the cold season, when we start to build our hydrologic storage areas,” DuBois said. “Usually, the peak snow is right around the beginning of April.”
Under normal conditions, the peak snowpack in April begins to melt in the early summer, leading to the runoff season, as the mountain streams carry the melted snowpack down from the higher elevations to the rivers.
In 2019, the state saw several big snow storms in the earlier part of the water year, dumping precipitation onto the mountain tops throughout the month of November. But the spring snowstorms, which would typically add to the snowpack to April, never materialized in many of the state’s water basins. Instead, the area saw unusually warm temperatures, which in turn led to an earlier runoff…
“They’ve had a really tough two years. The center of drought in the whole country was the Four Corners area,” DuBois said. “They’ve gone through a lot, and we’ve seen the impacts on native vegetation. It’s pretty bad. In some of those areas, they still haven’t really recovered. We’re seeing a longer term dry in the north, but indicators that the drought is pushing south.”
Here’s the release from Colorado Parks & Wildlife (Randy Hampton):
With warmer weather and decreasing restrictions, more people are recreating in the outdoors, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeing an increase in the number of sightings of potential wolves in the state.
“Public reporting vastly increases our ability to know what’s happening across the state,” says Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “While not all reports end up being verified as wolves, we make every effort to investigate credible sightings through on-the-ground investigations, biological sampling, and deploying a variety of survey techniques.”
There are several known and some additional credible reports of potential wolves in the state at this time.
Wolf “1084M” North Park Update
The lone wolf that was first confirmed in North Park one year ago continues to persist in that area. The male wolf, designated by Wyoming Game and Fish as 1084-M, was collared in the Wyoming Snake River pack and dispersed into Colorado where he was first photographed in July, 2019. CPW pilots regularly fly the area and assist in keeping track of 1084’s movements. On the ground, wildlife managers conduct ground surveillance and communicate regularly with private landowners in Jackson County.
New report in Laramie River Valley
Wildlife managers are attempting to confirm a credible wolf sighting in the Laramie River Valley in Larimer County. An animal sighted in the area was wearing a wildlife tracking collar, which indicates it is likely a dispersal wolf from monitored packs in Montana or Wyoming, however flights and ground crews have been unable to detect a signal or visually confirm the wolf. It has been determined that the animal in Larimer County is not wolf 1084-M from neighboring Jackson County. If a wolf or wolves are confirmed in Larimer County, they would be the furthest east in Colorado in nearly a century.
New report in Grand County
Two groups of campers in Grand County over the weekend of June 6-7 were surprised to see a large wolf-like animal in the area in very close proximity to their camps. The incidents were reported to CPW. Wildlife officers and biologists responded to the area to gather biological evidence that could be used to confirm the presence of a wolf versus a coyote, lost or escaped domestic dog or domestic wolf-hybrid. Additional searches and monitoring of the area are continuing. Contacts with local animal control officials confirm no missing hybrids in the area. Biological samples were limited. The animal approaching humans so blatantly is atypical wolf behavior so additional work will be needed to fully confirm the animal’s identity. More information will be provided when available.
NW Pack Update
In the very northwest corner of Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff continue to monitor the state’s first known pack of wolves since the 1930s. As many as six wolves have been confirmed in several previous sightings by staff, hunters, and landowners. The pack, originally reported to CPW late last year, has been relatively quiet of late.
Wildlife managers were able to recently capture an image of a lone wolf feeding on an elk carcass in the area. Only one wolf was seen over several different nights so it is unknown if the wolf is a member of the known pack or the animal is a new lone disperser into the area.
CPW biologists and veterinarians have analyzed scat (feces) samples and determined that several members of the pack in northwest Colorado are positive for eggs of the tapeworm Echinococcus canadensis. This parasite can lead to hydatid disease in wild and domestic ungulates. These tapeworms have been found in wolves in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Hydatid disease has not been widely seen in Colorado but testing has been limited. CPW is increasing monitoring for hydatid disease including collecting and analyzing coyote scat to establish baseline data.
While Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working to monitor wolves, follow up on wolf sighting reports, and track disease, it is important to note that wolves in Colorado remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wolves are a federally endangered species in Colorado and until that designation changes, all wolf management is under direction of the federal government. Killing a wolf in Colorado is a federal crime and can be punishable with up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Colorado Parks and wildlife has assembled a Frequently Asked Questions document addressing many issues people are curious about. This can be accessed here.
Campers, landowners, and outdoor recreationists that see or hear wolves in Colorado are encouraged to complete the computer-based wolf sighting form which is available online at https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/Wolf-Sighting-Form.aspx. If unable to use the online form, sightings can be reported to the nearest CPW office.
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PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Doug MacEachern or Shauna Evans June 10, 2020 PHONE: 602.771. 8507 or 602.771.8079 A Statement on the 40th Anniversary of Arizona Groundwater Management Act […]
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From The Washington Post (Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin):
The Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to limit perchlorate, a chemical that has long been detected in the drinking water of many Americans and linked to potential brain damage in fetuses and newborns and thyroid problems in adults, according to two agency officials briefed on the matter.
They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision hasn’t been announced.
The move, which comes despite the fact that the EPA faces a court order to establish a national standard for the chemical compound by the end of June, marks the latest shift in a long-running fight over whether to curb the chemical used in rocket fuel.
Under President Barack Obama, the EPA had announced in 2011 that it planned to set the first enforceable limits on perchlorate because of its potential health impacts. Both the Defense Department and military manufacturers have long resisted any restrictions on the chemical, which is also used in fireworks, munitions and other ignition devices. It naturally occurs in some areas, such as parts of the Southwest.
In an email Thursday, EPA spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer said the agency “has not yet made a final decision” on whether to limit perchlorate in drinking water. “The next step in the process is to send the final action to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review,” she said. “The agency expects to complete this step shortly.”
The New York Times first reported the agency’s decision.
The EPA also issued a news release Thursday in which Administrator Andrew Wheeler hailed the fact that levels of perchlorate exposure have declined since 2011. Though no federal standards regulating perchlorate levels in drinking water exist, some states have already acted to reduce the amounts in their drinking water systems. California and Massachusetts, for example, have set limits for perchlorate at levels far lower than what the EPA had previously proposed.
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Near-average April across the contiguous U.S. for temperature and precipitation
The most notable event during the month was an outbreak of at least 140 tornadoes from Texas to Maryland mid-month — the deadliest such event since 2014.
During April, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 50.9°F, 0.2°F below the 20th-century average. This ranked in the middle third of the 126-year period of record. The year-to-date (January-April) average contiguous U.S. temperature was 42.2°F, 3.0°F above average, ranking 10th warmest on record. The April precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.47 inches, 0.05 inch below average, and ranked in the middle third of the 126-year period of record. The year-to-date precipitation total was 10.53 inches, 1.06 inch above average and ranked in the wettest third of the January-April record.
This monthly summary from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.
- Above-average temperatures were observed across much of the West Coast and Southwest as well as portions of the Gulf Coast and Florida. Florida ranked sixth warmest on record for April.
- Miami experienced its warmest April on record with an average temperature of 81.9°F. The previous record was 80.4°F set in 2015. In fact, April 2020 was warm enough to rank fifth warmest among all average temperature values on record for May.
- A large portion of the contiguous U.S., from the northern Rockies to the Great Lakes and from the southern Plains to the Northeast, experienced below-average temperatures.
- The Alaska April temperature was 27.5°F, 4.2°F above the long-term average. This ranked in the warmest third of the 96-year period of record for the state. On average, the North Slope, West Coast, Bristol Bay and Aleutian divisions had temperatures that were much-above average, while the southeast mainland and Panhandle regions were near to below average for the month.
- Utqiaġvik reported a record low temperature of −20°F on April 29. This is the first record low temperature reported at this station since December 21, 2007, and is the latest in the season with a low temperature of −20°F or colder.
- Bering Sea ice cover for April was greater than the extent observed in both 2018 and 2019, but was still fourth lowest on record.
- Above-average precipitation was observed across parts of the West, lower Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and New England. West Virginia ranked fifth wettest while Virginia and Georgia ranked sixth wettest April on record.
- With 16.9 inches of snowfall reported on April 16, Boulder broke the record for its snowiest season. For the season and through the end of April, Boulder received 152 inches of snow, surpassing the record of 143.2 inches set in 1909.
- Rapid City, South Dakota, had its second snowiest season on record in 2019-2020 with 86.9 inches of snow. The record of 90.2 inches occurred during the snow season of 2008-2009. The third snowiest season occurred a year ago during 2018-2019.
- Below-average precipitation was observed from the Pacific Northwest to the western Great Lakes and from the Southwest through central Texas to the Canadian border. Nebraska and Colorado ranked sixth driest for April while Washington state ranked 13th driest.
- Salt Lake City had its driest April on record with 0.26 inch for the month, breaking the previous record of 0.45 inch set back in 1981 and 1934.
- April is climatologically either the driest or second driest month of the year across Alaska. Precipitation received during April 2020 was three to five times the average value in many locations and ranked in the wettest one-third of the historical record for the state. For some interior locations, this exacerbated an already above-average snow pack season.
- Nome received a record 2.47 inches of precipitation for the month of April, breaking the previous record of 2.15 inches set in 1961.
- Nome had its wettest March-April on record and Fairbanks its second wettest.
- Snowpack was at or near record levels at some locations from the upper Kuskokwim River to the Alaska Range. This helped raise water levels on some of the largest Alaskan rivers.
- According to the April 28 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 14.8 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up slightly from 14.5 percent at the end of March. Drought conditions intensified and expanded across much of the West Coast, Great Basin and parts of the Plains and Gulf Coast. Drought improved across portions of south Texas, Hawaii, and other parts of the Gulf Coast.
- A notable ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska mid-month contributed to the large trough of low pressure over the Central U.S. This was accompanied by a big cold-air outbreak across the central Plains.
- On the leading edge of the trough was a strong cold front, which brought significant precipitation across much of the Southeast and was accompanied by severe weather, including the Easter Sunday/Monday tornado outbreak on April 12–13.
- Based on preliminary surveys and analysis, 140 tornadoes have been confirmed from Texas to Maryland: 3 EF4s, 12 EF3s, 20 EF2s, 77 EF1s and 28 EF0s.
- More than a million homes and businesses lost power. With 32 tornado-related fatalities reported, this was the deadliest tornado outbreak since April 27–30, 2014.
Year-to-date (January-April) Temperature
- Above-average to record-warm temperatures blanketed most of the Lower 48. Florida ranked warmest on record for the first four months of the year with 12 additional states from the Deep South to New England experiencing a top-five warmest January-April period.
- The Alaska January-April temperature was 8.7°F, 1.6°F below the long-term average and ranked in the coldest one-third of the record. Below-average temperatures blanketed an area from the Central Interior to the Northeast Gulf and westward into the Bristol Bay division. A small portion of the Aleutians ranked above average during this time.
Year-to-date (January-April) Precipitation
- Above-average precipitation stretched from parts of the Southwest to the Southeast and from the Tennessee Valley to the Great Lakes and into portions of the Northeast. Tennessee ranked wettest for this four-month period while West Virginia and Alabama ranked second and third wettest on record, respectively.
- Below-average precipitation was observed from the West Coast, across the central Rockies and into the northern Plains as well as across portions of the Gulf Coast and Florida. North Dakota ranked fourth driest for the first four months of the year, while South Dakota ranked 10th driest.
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, reported its lowest seasonal snowfall total on record — second lowest for Philadelphia and Allentown, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
- San Juan, Puerto Rico, received above-average precipitation again in April. The airport received a total of 26.53 inches of precipitation for the period January-April — the wettest such period on record and 5.35 inches greater than the previous record set in 2005.
- The (March-April) snowfall total for Fairbanks, Alaska, through April 30, is 35.4 inches. This is more than four times the average amount and ties with 1963 as the third highest spring total on record. The current March-April record is held by 1918 with 40 inches of snow.
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PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Doug MacEachern or Shauna Evans April 16, 2020 PHONE: 602.771. 8507 or 602.771.8079 Statement on the Bureau of Reclamation’s April 24-Month Study PHOENIX – The […]
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