CFWE: Transbasin Diversion Webinar Series November 12, December 10, January 14

October 22, 2014

Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer's office

Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer’s office

From email from the CFWE:

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education and Colorado Water Congress are working together to bring you a series of webinars focusing on Transbasin Diversions in Colorado. The webinars will include a diverse range of panelists and presenters to expand upon CFWE’s newest Citizen’s Guide to Colorado’s Transbasin Diversions and coming blog series. Stay tuned for speaker information and details.

Click here to register.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

#ColoradoRiver District 2014 Water Seminar videos available

October 22, 2014

Colorado Springs Utilities named “WaterSense Partner of Year” — Monica Mendoza

October 22, 2014

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Monica Mendoza):

Colorado Springs Utilities is the winner of the 2014 “WaterSense Partner of the Year” award. The team celebrated Wednesday at the Colorado Springs Utilities Board meeting.

The award comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which publicly recognized Utilities was honored in Las Vegas at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference.

Utilities was presented the award for its “commitment to water efficiency and efforts to educate Americans about WaterSense during 2013.”

By producing and promoting WaterSense labeled products, new homes and programs, WaterSense partners helped Americans save 271 billion gallons of water in 2013 alone —enough water to supply all U.S. homes for 26 days, Utilities officials said. More than 1,500 utility, manufacturer, retail, builder and organizational partners participated.

Colorado Springs Utilities was honored as a 2014 WaterSense Partner of the Year for helping low-income and non-profit housing providers improve efficiency with WaterSense retrofits, supporting apartment owners and managers in property upgrades, helping builders incorporate WaterSense Home certification and educating customers through events, classes, and its WaterSense product demonstration at its Conservation and Environmental Center.

“WaterSense is a crucial venue to discuss conservation and performance,” said Ann Seymour, Utilities water conservation manager. “By leveraging the WaterSense program, we can reach our conservation goals, as well as help customers save water, energy, and money. It’s a true example of win-win.”

EPA Region 8 calls for comments from water managers in West’s arid climate on “Waters of the US”

October 22, 2014

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin

October 22, 2014


Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

Water Lines: Water year review & outlook — the Grand Junction Free Press

October 22, 2014

Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands -- Graphic/USBR

Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands — Graphic/USBR

From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

Golden cottonwood trees and shorter days signal not just the changing of the seasons, but also the transition from one water year to the next, as irrigation demands taper off and snow starts to accumulate in the high country. Oct. 1 is the official turning point, so 2015 has already arrived in water time.

The 2014 water year brought relief to most of Colorado and the Upper Colorado River Basin after two very dry years. Above-average precipitation eased drought conditions and allowed reservoir levels to creep upwards.

Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest, is now 71-percent full, in much better shape than at this time last year, when it was just 42-percent full. Near average inflows brought Lake Powell, the “savings account” for the Upper Colorado River Basin to meet downstream obligations, up to 51-percent full. It was just 45-percent full at this time last year. Inflows to Lake Powell in both 2012 and 2013 were less than half of average.

Soil moisture is also looking pretty good, with levels in most of the Upper Colorado Basin above average, although there are some dry spots in the four-corners area of New Mexico and Arizona and in southwestern Wyoming. Soil moisture in the fall is a factor in how much snowmelt reaches streams and reservoirs the following year, as opposed to being sucked into dry ground.

What will the [2015] water year bring? That remains a largely open question, although it does appear that the Southwest will get some relief from persistent drought. The three-month outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in September indicates that conditions are likely to be wetter than average in Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Utah and Southern Colorado. Farther north in Colorado and Utah and in Wyoming, the three-month forecast shows “equal chances” of drier and wetter conditions.
The Bureau of Reclamation forecasts that the “most probable” inflows into Lake Powell in the 2015 water year will be 98 percent of average, while acknowledging that water supply forecasts at this time of year are highly uncertain. Conditions do appear favorable for another high-flow experimental release in November to benefit the Grand Canyon ecosystem by flushing sediment downstream. Total releases from Powell in 2015 are expected to 8.23 million acre feet, up from 7.480 million acre feet in 2014, which was the lowest release since Lake Powell filled in the 1960s.

This is also the time of year when we can start to look at snowpack numbers to get clues about what the coming water year (and ski season!) will bring. However, it’s also impossible to draw any reasonable conclusions from snowpack numbers now, since the total amounts are so small and “percent of normal” can swing wildly overnight.

So, keeping in mind that this is largely a recreational exercise, we do have some early data: Most Colorado river basins have less than half of the average water content in their snowpack for this time of year, except that the Gunnison has 65 percent and the Arkansas Basin has 93 percent. In Utah, the snowpack in the river basins that drain the Wasatch Mountains into the Great Basin have between 400-900 percent of their average water content for this time of year, while levels in Utah’s portion of the Colorado Basin range from 41-83 percent of average. Snowpack numbers for Wyoming are also way below average, and no data is available yet for New Mexico.

Here are two websites that are very useful for keeping track of climate, water supply and streamflow information:

• The Colorado Climate Center and National Integrated Drought Information System page on Upper Colorado River Basin water conditions, at

• The University of Colorado-based Western Water Assessment’s “Intermountain West Climate Dashboard,” at

You can also get information on current conditions and operations at Lake Powell from the US Bureau of Reclamation at

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

The latest Climate Briefing from the Western Water Assessment is hot off the presses

October 22, 2014

West Drought Monitor October 14, 2014

West Drought Monitor October 14, 2014

Click here to go the Western Water Assessment website (scroll down for the latest assessment). Here’s an excerpt:


  • Water year 2014 closed with a wetter-than-average September for most of the region, but October has been much drier than average so far, except in southeastern Colorado.
  • At the end of September, nearly all of the region’s reservoirs were in better shape than at the same time last year, but most reservoirs in Utah and southern Colorado were still lagging the long-term average.
  • The NOAA CPC monthly and seasonal outlooks show mostly equal chances for above-average or below-average precipitation for late fall and early winter, while the ‘SWcast’ shows more of a wet tilt for Utah and Colorado.
  • ENSO indicators are more consistently pointing towards El Niño onset, which is likely to officially occur by spring, according to the latest forecasts.
  • [...]

    September and early October Precipitation and Temperatures, and Current Drought

    Water year 2014 concluded with a wet September Western US Seasonal Precipitation for most of the region, with nearly all of Utah and most of Wyoming and Colorado seeing above-average precipitation for the month. Through October 19, water year 2015 has gotten off to a dry start across the region Western US Seasonal Precipitation, with the exception of southeastern Colorado.

    For the 12 months of water year 2014, most of the region saw above-average precipitation Western US Seasonal Precipitation, with nearly all of Wyoming, northern and central Colorado, and eastern, northern, and southeastern Utah ending up on the wet side of the ledger. Southeastern and southwestern Colorado, southeastern Utah, and central Utah were on the dry side. Very few areas saw less than 70% of average water year precipitation. Because the best months for precipitation across Utah were July, August, and September—a time of year that produces less efficient runoff—water-year streamflows were generally lower than would be expected given the water-year precipitation.

    Despite the generally above-average precipitation in September, the temperatures were 0-4°F warmer than average over nearly the entire region Western US Seasonal Precipitation. Thus far, October has also been running warmer than average.

    With the ample precipitation in September, the latest US Drought Monitor US Drought Monitor, based on conditions as of October 14, shows overall less drought in the region compared to early September. Drought conditions improved in southeastern and southwestern Colorado, southern Wyoming, and multiple areas in Utah. For the first time since June 2012, there are no areas of D3 or D4 drought in the region. The proportion of the region in D2 or worse drought is likewise on the decline: Utah down to 13% from 19%, Colorado down to 12% from 16%, and Wyoming unchanged at zero.


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