#Snowpack news: *Very* early water year 2018 graphics

Westwide SNOTEL October 23, 2017 via the NRCS.
Colorado snowpack point map October 23, 2017 via the NRCS.
Water Year to Date precipitation high/low graph October 23, 2017 via the NRCS.
South Platte River Basin High/Low graph October 23, 2017 via the NRCS.

Introducing Water Education Colorado

Your Water Colorado Blog

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education, first founded in 2002 by an act of the state legislature, is introducing a new outlook that comes with a new name: Water Education Colorado.

Tasked with the mission to help Coloradans understand that water is a limited resource and to help them make informed decisions, the organization’s next chapter aims to engage and inform more Colorado residents by building on the programs and trust it has developed among the water community over the last 15 years.

WEC_logo_standard_color_rgb The new logo for Water Education Colorado is  a creative interpretation of the eight major river basins in Colorado. In addition, the river basins look like speech bubbles. That’s because Water Education Colorado seeks to empower people to join in the conversations that will shape Colorado’s sustainable water future.

The reason Water Education Colorado is investing in growing its audience is simple, says executive director Jayla Poppleton. “Water is…

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Binational agreement includes joint desalination proposals

Arizona Water News

sonoramx

The cooperative measures on Colorado River water that the United States and Mexico agreed to in September – an agreement described, collectively, as “Minute 323” – have garnered a lot of media attention in the weeks since the documents were signed.

Most of the attention has been directed at Minute 323’s complex shortfall-sharing agreements, including the establishment of ground rules for how the two countries will share both shortfalls and excess of water deliveries on the river. The terms of that agreement run through 2026.

The public reaction has been positive. The Arizona Republic observed in a September 27 editorial that Minute 323 agreement extension between the two countries “provides a powerful incentive for Arizona, California and Nevada to finish a much-needed Drought Contingency Plan for the region.”

The Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, is the agreement among the three Lower Basin Colorado River states to share in…

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The latest “e-WaterNews” is hot off the presses from @NorthernWater

Eric Wilkinson Northern Water General Manager. Photo credit: Northern Water

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

Northern Water General Manager to Retire

Northern Water General Manager Eric Wilkinson has announced he will be retiring in the early part of 2018. He made the announcement to the Northern Water Board of Directors during its September 14 meeting.

Wilkinson has spent 30 years at Northern Water, the past 24 as general manager. He is recognized as one of Colorado’s leading water statesmen and is a past recipient of the Colorado Water Congress’ Aspinall Award given to Colorado’s water leader of the year.

In October, the Board will be deciding its course of action to replace Wilkinson.

Northern Water Board President Mike Applegate said, “Eric Wilkinson is one of those rare people that comes along once in a lifetime and Northern Water was blessed to have him as our manager. He built an organization with a culture based on excellence and continual improvement. The Board of Directors are confident that the next general manager will continue to lead Northern Water with that same vision of service to Northern Colorado.”

Nebraska: Proposal would divert high flows in the South Platte to Republican River irrigators, birds lose out

From NET (Fred Knapp):

John Thorburn, general manager of the Tri-Basin Natural Resources District, explains the idea.

“What we’re hoping to do is take advantage of times when flows in the Platte River are high — high enough to satisfy all existing water rights and to satisfy requirements of endangered species– take some of that excess water, which potentially is floodwater and certainly provides no necessary benefit in the Platte basin — and divert some of that through the canal system of Central Public Power and Irrigation District to a point where it could be diverted into a tributary of the Republican River,” Thorburn said.

That could help Republican River farmers avoid more restrictions on their ability to irrigate crops. Two years ago, a U.S. Supreme Court decision forced Nebraska to pay Kansas $5.5 million for using too much water a decade earlier. The overuse was calculated at about 35,000 acre feet a year — an “acre-foot” being the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land with a foot of water. A consultant estimates the proposed project could divert anywhere between 2,000 and 20,000 acre feet from the Platte to the Republican in years when there’s enough water, which might be twice a decade. (To see the consultant’s feasibility study on the project, click here)…

Not everyone thinks that’s a good idea. Bill Taddicken is with Audubon Nebraska, which has been working since the 1970s to ensure there’s enough water in the Platte to protect endangered bird species, including the whooping crane, piping plover, and least tern.

“For the good of the river, for wildlife, for people, for everybody it’s important that that water stays in this basin and not goes out of the basin,” Taddicken said.

Thorburn says the project would take water only after everybody in the Platte basin, including wildlife advocates, get what they are legally entitled to.

“Those are the only times when we would be taking water is when all the irrigation rights are met, all the target flow needs are met. This is water that is truly excess to the system in our opinion,” Thorburn said.

“Target flows” are the daily goals of water in the river to protect fish and wildlife on the Platte, part of an agreement between Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and the federal government. Taddicken says in an average year, actual flows fall far short of the target– by about 413,000 acre feet – even though they do exceed the target on some days.

“Just because on say, a particular day, there is what they consider excess water in the river it doesn’t mean that it’s not doing good for wildlife, it doesn’t mean that it’s not soaking into ground for use later on. We have big cities like Lincoln, Nebraska that are reliant on wellfields that are associated with the Platte River. Any water that gets transferred out of the basin is just water that can’t go to them,” Taddicken said.

Taddiken says flows above the targets are useful for clearing excess vegetation and restoring habitat. He says the proposed project would be a move in the wrong direction.

“About 90 percent of the original habitat that these birds use along the river is gone already. Seventy percent of the water is already gone before it gets to us. And they want to take more water out. So it’s a reduction in habitat even more. So we’re going backwards instead of forwards,” he said.

But Thorburn doesn’t buy the argument that high flows are needed to preserve habitat.

“It’s just not an efficient use of water. It’s potentially harmful for those who live near the river because the amounts of water required are virtually at flood levels. And unfortunately the system is not in the native state that it was 150 years ago. And so, we have to accommodate the people that have settled here,” Thorburn said.

All these issues are likely to be hashed out after Central, Tri-Basin and the Lower Republican ask the Department of Natural Resources for permission to build the project, later this year. But even if they get approval, that may not be the final word. When a big proposal to transfer water from the Platte was made in the late 1970s, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled on different aspects of the project three times over the next decade before it was finally rejected.

The latest “Headwaters Pulse” is hot off the presses from @CFWEwater

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

Webinar: Aquatic Nuisance Species, the Threat and Solutions Oct. 24

From 12-1 p.m. on Oct. 24, the Colorado Water Congress and Colorado Foundation for Water Education are partnering to host a webinar on the threat of aquatic nuisance species, specifically zebra and quagga mussels, to our waterways and delivery systems in Colorado. Join us for this free offering to hear about the threats these invasive mussels pose and how Colorado is working to educate the public and our policy makers so we can maintain healthy waterways and infrastructure.

Speakers:
Mike Preston, Dolores Water Conservancy District
Ken Curtis, Dolores Water Conservancy District
Doug Vilsack, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Doug Krieger, Colorado Department of Natural Resources
Registration is FREE! Register here.