Drought news: Lake Loveland — Drought and wildfire leaves the lake showing a lot of bottom

September 7, 2012

Drought news: Driest August on record for Greeley #CODrought

September 7, 2012

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From The Greeley Tribune:

The average month of rainfall that Weld County producers and residents finally got in July was apparently too good to be true. In August, it was back to bone dry. According to numbers provided by Wendy Ryan with the Colorado Climate Center in Fort Collins, Greeley experienced its driest August on record, and — despite the normal precipitation in July — 2012 remains on track to be the driest, as well as the hottest, year on record for the city. While August rainfall in Greeley historically amounts to 1.46 inches, the city received 0.03 inches of rain in August this [year].


Councillor questions asking Colorado Springs Utilities rate payers to foot $25,0000 bill for water facilities tour cost

September 7, 2012

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The invitation-only water tour from Colorado Springs to Leadville, which included an overnight stay Thursday in Salida, needs to be reevaluated along with every other expense at Utilities and the city government, City Councilwoman Angela Dougan said.

“This is just some more of the examples of expenditures that keep eking out and leaking out that we need as the Utilities Board to truly say, ‘Is this something that is a benefit to our ratepayers or is it not?’” Dougan said. “Could we put the information out on a DVD and hand it out to these 74 people instead?”

The tour is designed to inform “key stakeholders” about the city’s large and complex water system, Utilities spokesman Eric Isaacson said in an email.

“It would be difficult to give these stakeholders this level of information and insight in another forum,” he said.

Isaacson also said “most of the other major water providers in the state” host annual water tours, too.

More Colorado Springs Utilities coverage here and here.


The latest ENSO Discussion is hot off the press from the Climate Prediction Center

September 7, 2012

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Here’s the September 6, 2012 discussion:

Synopsis: El Niño conditions are likely to develop during September 2012.

ENSO-neutral conditions continued during August 2012 despite above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) across the eastern Pacific Ocean. Reflecting this warmth, most of the weekly Niño index values remained near +0.5°C. The oceanic heat content (average temperature in the upper 300m of the ocean) anomalies also remained elevated during the month, consistent with a large region of above-average temperatures at depth across the equatorial Pacific. Possible signs of El Niño development in the atmosphere included upper-level easterly wind anomalies and a slightly negative Southern Oscillation Index. Despite these indicators, key aspects of the tropical atmosphere did not support the development of El Niño conditions during the month. In particular, low-level trade winds were near average along the equator, and the pattern of tropical convection from Indonesia to the central equatorial Pacific was inconsistent with El Niño with the typical regions of both enhanced and suppressed convection shifted too far west. Because of the lack of clear atmospheric anomaly patterns, ENSO-neutral conditions persisted during August. However, there are ongoing signs of a possibly imminent transition towards El Niño in the atmosphere as well as the ocean.

Most of the dynamical models, along with roughly one-half of the statistical models, now predict the onset of El Niño beginning in August-October 2012, persisting through the remainder of the year. The consensus of dynamical models indicates a borderline moderate strength event (Niño 3.4 index near +1.0°C), while the statistical model consensus indicates a borderline weak El Niño (+0.4° to +0.5°C). Supported by the model forecasts and the continued warmth across the Pacific Ocean, the official forecast calls for the development of most likely a weak El Niño during September 2012, persisting through December-February 2012-13.


Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: 222 cfs in the river below Ruedi Dam

September 7, 2012

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Just a quick note to let you know we are dropping the release from Ruedi Dam by about 25 cfs this afternoon [September 5]. This will put flows in the ‘Pan by the Ruedi gage around 222 cfs by 5:30 this afternoon.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here and here.


Pagosa Water and Sanitation scores a $2 million loan for wastewater pipeline

September 7, 2012

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From the Pagosa Sun (Ed Fincher):

Phil Starks, of the Pagosa Springs Sanitation General Improvement District, reported to town council the approval of a $2 million loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority for a project that would allow sewage to be pumped from downtown Pagosa Springs to the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District’s Vista treatment plant, enabling the clean-up of the old sewage lagoon site near Yamaguchi Park…

Although Stark reported success in getting a vote of approval from the water authority, he went on to say, “We have to still do a lot of paperwork. One thing is getting the legal opinion of Mr. Cole (town attorney Bob Cole).” Another is getting the approval of town council, but the sewer line project is still moving forward…

Ken Charles, from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which, along with the state water authority, had a say in whether or not to approve the loan, said, “When I took that proposal back and it had changed from a wastewater treatment plant to this pipeline project, everyone said this was a completely different project and we should ask them to re-apply to the program. I just told them this is a prudent decision in all sorts of ways. You’re saving money in the long run, and you’re avoiding another discharge point into the river. It was a win-win situation, and you let your staff work out the details.”

More wastewater coverage here and here.


The Center for Resource Conservation seeks to ‘Slow the Flow’

September 7, 2012

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Here’s a guest commentary about the CRC irrigation audit program from Justin Patrick running in The Denver Post. Here’s and excerpt:

The auditors travel to residences in the Denver area, each averaging four per day, to evaluate participating homeowners’ sprinkler systems. Their job is to identify any technical ailments in the system, optimize its efficiency, and, if the system is sound, to recommend a scientifically calculated irrigation schedule. The result? Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per year are saved from pointless waste, and most homeowners end up saving a few—or a few hundred—dollars on their water bill.

During their employment from June through August, irrigation auditors consulted with 1,700 homeowners and sixty Homeowners Associations (HOAs). Their services come without a fee and implementing their suggestions is optional. Their evaluations represent a chance for homeowners to know more about what their sprinklers are doing and what they can do to reduce their water usage…

The program is one of several conservation initiatives launched by the Center for Resource Conservation, and its success has not gone unnoticed. The Boulder-based non-profit receives some funding from grants and donations, but most of its operating budget is generated by its innovative social services. “We’re not a typical non-profit in the way that we’re funded,” said Kate Gardner, Water Programs Manager. “It’s all about contracting with local governments.” In other words, the CRC must consistently perform to the standards of discriminating public organizations that must justify spending choices.

The auditors’ time, for example, is billed to the water provider that services the home where the audit is performed. The CRC maintains contracts with water providers in nearly all of the populated counties outside Denver (Denver proper is the only exception; it oversees its own conservation efforts). If expectations were not met, contracts would be cancelled. That has not yet happened. In fact, Slow the Flow is expanding by two or three cities per year. The program began in Boulder in 2004 and immediately caught on. Throughout the years counties and municipal water providers eager to better organize and more efficiently utilize available water resources have included funding for the CRC’s assistance in their annual budgets.

More conservation coverage here.


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