Republican compact agreement gives full credit for Nebraska’s river augmentation projects — The Kearney Hub

October 25, 2014

Republican River Basin by District

Republican River Basin by District


From The Kearney Hub:

An agreement approved Wednesday by the Republican River Compact Administration gives Nebraska 100 percent credit for groundwater that natural resources districts are using to augment river flows for compact compliance. It also ensures that water stored in Harlan County Reservoir for compliance won’t go to waste, according to a press release from Upper Republican NRD officials in Imperial.

They said it is hoped the agreement will lead to a similar deal for 2015 and to a new, positive working relationship between Kansas and Nebraska that benefits water users in both states.

“The resolution approved by the RRCA allows water now being held in Harlan County Reservoir to be released to Kansas during the 2015 irrigation season when it can be beneficially used, without compromising Nebraska’s ability to maintain compact compliance,” Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Jim Schneider said. He chaired the meeting in Denver. “The ability of the states to work together in resolving these issues is a significant step forward.”

There are two augmentation projects: Rock Creek Augmentation Project in Dundy County operated by the URNRD and Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement project in Lincoln County operated by the Upper, Middle and Lower Republican NRDs, along with the Twin Platte NRD.

Combined, the projects will add about 63,500 acre-feet of water to the Republican River system for 2014. Without the agreement, Nebraska’s credit would have been 37,000 a-f.

Nebraska officials have said that without the augmentation projects to ensure adequate flows into Kansas for compact compliance an alternative could be shutting down irrigation on more than 300,000 crop acres in Nebraska.

URNRD General Manager Jasper Fanning said Wednesday’s agreement “should provide Nebraskans assurance that water being added to streams in 2014 effectively prevented a shutdown of more than 300,000 irrigated acres in the basin this year and that we aren’t being required to do more than what we should under the agreement.”

He said it benefits water users in both Kansas and Nebraska…

The agreement approved by representatives of the compact states, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas, means Kansas water users could get 20,000-25,000 a-f next year and the balance could be used by Nebraska Bostwick Irrigation District irrigators downstream from Harlan County Dam.

The agreement follows last week’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on a special master’s recommendation on penalties for Nebraska’s overuse of compact water in 2005 and 2006…

A final decision by the court is expected by the end of June.

More Republican River Basin coverage here.


Drought news: Below normal precipitation predicted for the southwest US through November 1

October 24, 2014

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

Summary

The major weather system that affected much of the nation’s midsection last week left abundant precipitation this week from the mid-Atlantic up into New England. Hurricane Ana lost strength as it approached Hawaii and Tropical Storm Ana passed south of the Hawaiian Island dumping up to 10 inches of rain in its path…

The Plains

Heavy rain moved through the Plains last week and improvements in drought conditions were reflected then. This week was a relatively dry week in the region. There was some slight improvement in Abnormal Dryness (D0) in Kansas to line up more precisely with the beneficial precipitation of last week. Conversely, there was a slight expansion of Extreme Drought (D3) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) in Texas during this Drought Monitor week as areas of the Texas panhandle and central Texas have missed the beneficial rains…

The West

Moisture fell in areas of the extreme Southwest and in the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest this Drought Monitor week. As a result, areas of Moderate (D1) and Severe Drought (D2) were reduced in southwest New Mexico around Hidalgo County. Likewise the area of Extreme Drought (D3) was reduced in the northeast part of the state near San Juan County. There are numerous reports of improvement in pasture and grassland conditions but longer-term deficits remain over much of the state, resulting in conservative improvements. The same is true in the Pacific Northwest. Despite recent rains along the coast, long-term deficits are still being felt so improvement was held in check for another week. The rain has reduced the fire danger. As of October 17, only two large fires are burning in the country and they are both in California. To date, there have been 41,790 wildfires in 2014 that burned 3,070,737 acres. This is well below the 62,864 fire and 6,796,329 acre average of the last ten years (source: National Interagency Fire Center)…

Looking Ahead

During the October 22- 27, 2014 time period, precipitation is expected in the Pacific Northwest, southern Florida, and New England. Warmer than normal temperatures are expected throughout most of the interior of the nation.

For the ensuing 5 days (October 28- November 1, 2014), the odds favor normal to above-normal temperatures across country with the exception of southeast Alaska. Above-normal precipitation is likely from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest, as well as in southern Florida and northwest Alaska. Below-normal precipitation is expected in a wide area from the Southwest through the Southern Plains and Southeast and up through the Lower Midwest and into the Mid-Atlantic and New England, as well as southeast Alaska.


Water Resources interim committee update #COleg

October 24, 2014

Taylor Reservoir location map via The Durango Herald

Taylor Reservoir location map via The Durango Herald


From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Ellen Roberts):

Traveling around my district for meetings and events is always a scenic journey and the fall colors have been spectacular. Seeing more of the mountaintops with snow is also beautiful.

That snow making an appearance at higher elevations gives me hope that winter in the southern half of Colorado will bring more moisture than we had last year. Rains in the late summer and early fall have helped, but they also bring the rapid growth of the forest understory that dries out, becoming a wildfire’s kindling.

Water and wildfire issues continued to dominate my work over the last month as the interim committees on these topics wrapped up our Denver meetings. New bill ideas came out of those committees and I’ll be carrying a few of those as the Senate sponsor.

The water resources interim committee also completed its task of holding public hearings in each of the state’s water basins on the idea and contents of a state water plan. We held these hearings in Gunnison, Glenwood Springs, Durango, Alamosa, Pueblo, Steamboat Springs, Walden, Fort Collins and Denver.

While the conversations were spirited and strong concerns raised on different points, we legislators were welcomed in each area by the basin roundtables and general public. Much appreciation was expressed for our outreach to hear the viewpoints.

The many miles on the road in attending all of the water hearings was valuable time spent for me and reinforced how different the water basins are across our state. Accessing water supplies, whether from the ground’s surface or from underground aquifers, is a challenge nearly everywhere, but the dynamics are different in each region. For example, some aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate while, in the upper northeast corner of the state, basements and farmers’ fields are being flooded by groundwater.

That Colorado can do more on water conservation on the individual and municipal levels was raised by the public at each hearing. Some spoke to this having moved here from other dry, western states and suggestions for improvements were abundant. During the roundtable discussions and in the public comment period of each hearing, attendees mentioned that sufficient water availability in their homes, but also in the environment, directly impacts the quality of life values they hold dear as Coloradans.

Not surprisingly, there’s much concern from Western Slope residents that their communities will be dewatered for the benefit of Front Range urban populations. Another theme raised, statewide, was the importance of keeping food production nearby, recognizing that would only be possible if farming and ranching remain viable pursuits, with sufficient water needed for that food production.

More storage was also repeatedly mentioned at these hearings as a way for Colorado to address the water supply gap. It was recognized that this could mean expansion of existing reservoirs, but also likely would require the construction of new storage projects.

The recent dedication of the new Taylor reservoir in La Plata County is encouraging to many as this storage will help Colorado meet its water delivery requirements to New Mexico and make available more water to that area’s agricultural community. This project was completed with the participation and financial assistance of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, support from the Southern Ute tribe and the state of Colorado, which is also encouraging.

More 2015 Colorado legislation coverage here.


Denver Water is close to 100 years old! Take a look at our very first employees, from 1918

October 24, 2014


Colorado Water Toolkit: Live Like You Love It! — Colorado WaterWise

October 23, 2014

ColoW LLYLI Release final

Tomorrow at the Colorado WaterWise Water Conservation Summit, Colorado WaterWise will launch an educational water toolkit to raise awareness about the value of water in Colorado. Colorado Water: Live Like You Love It, provides communication tools and resources for water stakeholders to help communicate the importance of water, focusing on conserving water, caring about water quality and committing to learn about this critical resource.

Six water and environmental organizations sponsored the development of the toolkit including Loveland Water and Power, The City of Greeley Water Conservation Program, Colorado Springs Utilities, Northern Water, One World One Water and Western Resource Advocates. Colorado WaterWise initiated the toolkit when research revealed the need to educate the public, particularly young adults about how we get our water, the scarcity of the resource and the importance to care for water quality.

As a headwaters state, Colorado water is the topic of great discussion as 18 states plus Colorado depend on it. With the Colorado population alone expected to double by 2050, the need to Live Like You Love It is more important than ever. By utilizing the professionally created tools available in the toolkit, water organizations and other interested stakeholders can easily spread the word about protecting this finite resource, doing our part to conserve and committing to learning about water issues. The toolkit includes tips, videos, fact sheets and a communications plan to help Colorado to Live Like You Love It. An organization must be a member of Colorado WaterWise at the $300 level and agree to terms of use to use the materials.

“With the state of Colorado embarking upon creating its first water plan, we believe on of the findings will undoubtedly be that there is a need for more education in our state about the value of our water,” said Alyssa Quinn, the Colorado WaterWise committee chair. “This toolkit provides stakeholders with materials and messaging to educate the public, particularly the millennial age group, about the value of water. Customers in that age group are going to be the generation making key and sometimes tough decisions about our water. They need to be informed.”

To join the movement and Live Like You Love It, Like Love Colorado Water on Facebook or follow it on Twitter at @LoveCOWater. To find out more about the toolkit, visit Colorado WaterWise at http://coloradowaterwise.org.


AG Suthers opposes EPA “Waters of the US” clarification

October 23, 2014

beaverbrook

From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):

“Contrary to their claims, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed revisions to the definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ poses a significant threat to state sovereignty and an economic threat to businesses and local governments in Colorado,” Suthers said. “I join with the multitudes of other interested parties in asking the federal government to abandon this proposed rule.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule that would clarify regulatory authority over streams and wetlands. Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions have clouded the agency’s regulatory powers, and so environmental officials are seeking to secure their authority.

The joint rule-making with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comes as polluters have escaped fines for violations because the EPA has been uncertain that its authority would hold up in court.

But some see the rule as an overreach by the federal government. They worry that the proposal would give federal regulators broad authority over small bodies of water on private property, including puddles, despite EPA assurances that would not be the case.

Suthers worries that an expansion of EPA jurisdiction over waters in Colorado could have economic impacts for farmers, water providers, small businesses and local governments because of the expense of complying with the increased regulation.

He also suggested that the proposed rule infringes on the states’ authority to protect and manage water resources.

“The extension of Clean Water Act jurisdiction to include water with a significant nexus to navigable waters will certainly result in added regulation over actions that have not previously been subjected to regulation,” Suthers wrote in his letter to the EPA. “The economic impacts of such a jurisdictional expansion will be very significant for those impacted.

“Under the Clean Water Act, Congress preserves the states’ traditional authority to regulate and manage the development and use of land and water resources,” he said.

Not all farmers, however, agree with the attorney general’s position. Smaller family farmers have been supportive of the proposal, including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

The organization launched a “They Don’t Speak for Me” campaign to demonstrate its support for the recommendation, suggesting that clean water is key to a farmer’s success.

With an abundance of farms and ranches in Southwest Colorado, the issue hits close to home.

“It sounds to me like it’s the same rhetoric as everybody else that opposes the rule,” Bill Midcap, director of external affairs for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said of Suthers’ statement. “We really think this rule is vital for the success of our nation’s farmers, energy development and the health of our communities.”

Midcap disagreed with Suthers’ position on water rights and sovereignty, adding, “the Clean Water Act had nothing to do with water rights. It’s all about the quality of our water.”

But U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said the rule is a direct assault on water rights. He has been at odds with the EPA over the proposed rule for months.

“It is an expansion of the EPA’s regulatory scope without any authority to do so, that disregards state law and privately held water rights,” Tipton said. “This proposed rule could have devastating impacts on water users across Colorado and the nation and restrict their ability to access or put to use their privately held water rights.”

More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.


Half a million abandoned mines in the US?

October 23, 2014

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