Water Lines: Water Forum at Colorado Mesa University Nov. 5-6; workshops Nov. 4

October 30, 2014

Colorado Mesa University

Colorado Mesa University


From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

Declining water supplies and increasing demands have been in the news frequently over the past several years, and discussions both within Colorado and across state lines have centered on how to get supply and demand back in balance with as little trauma as possible.

That central challenge forms the backdrop of the fourth annual Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum in CMU’s University Center on November 5-6. The theme of the forum is “Seeking a Resilient Future.”

Dozens of top water researchers, policy makers and managers from around Colorado and the other states that share the Colorado River will gather on campus to discuss scientific, management and policy elements of that challenge. Keynote addresses will be given by former Las Vegas water agency head Pat Mulroy and William Hasencamp, manager of Colorado River Resources for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Pat Mulroy’s dinner address will be Nov. 5 at 6:15 p.m.

The forum will be preceded on Nov. 4 by half-day workshops on how to do augmentation plans under Colorado Water Law and the Colorado Data Sharing Network. Attorney Aaron Clay will offer the augmentation plan workshop. Lynn Padgett, coordinator of the Colorado Data Sharing Network, will provide training in how to use the network to store, manage and share water quality data.

The forum, workshops, and dinner with Pat Mulroy can all be registered for individually or together. Full details can be found at http://www.coloradomesa.edu/watercenter/UpperColoradoRiverBasinWaterForum.html.

NOV. 5 FORUM SESSIONS

On Nov. 5, the forum will feature a panel of top water policy makers from Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado on state water planning efforts, as well as sessions on tribal water claims, potential impacts of climate change, agricultural irrigation efficiency, and technical and policy tools for adapting to water scarcity. Sessions will also take a look back at water history and discuss lessons learned in the first year since new nutrient monitoring regulations were adopted in Colorado.

NOV. 6 FORUM SESSIONS

On Nov. 6, panels will provide scientific and policy perspectives on a trio of cooperative efforts relating to water management in the Colorado River Basin; the Grand County enhancement and mitigation plan to address impacts from trans-mountain diversions; returning water to the Colorado River delta in Mexico; and managing Lakes Mead and Powell. The lunch keynote address will be provided by William Hasencamp, manager of Colorado River Resources for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum and related events are being organized by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


@aguanomics argues federal hydro revenue at $300m per year higher if Hoover Dam electricity was auctioned #ColoradoRiver

October 29, 2014

More hydroelectric/hydropower coverage here.


CDPHE extends Durango’s wastewater treatment compliance deadline by 6 years

October 29, 2014
Durango

Durango

From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):

While all the estimated $55 million upgrades will have to be made, the state health department agreed to extend the city’s deadline until 2023, City Manager Ron LeBlanc announced Tuesday night.

As a result, the city will be able to rethink its steep 2015 sewer-rate increases. City Council had been told the plant would need 80 percent more revenue in 2015 to fund all the needed projects and to finance a bond issue.

“The pressure to rush to an 80 percent increase has now been alleviated,” LeBlanc said.

Under the law, if the wastewater-treatment plant did not meet all the new regulations by December 2017, the plant would face consent order. Under this order, the city would not be allowed to issue more sewer taps and could face hefty fines.

Under the extension, the city will have to adhere to a schedule to come into compliance and limit the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen in the water. These two chemicals need to be reduced to curb imbalances in the environment.

Also, the city now will have more time to consider potentially relocating the plant further south away from town or another location. Councilor Christina Rinderle has been encouraging her peers to consider this alternative.

“It’s an opportunity to really think through these major investments,” LeBlanc said.

More wastewater coverage here.


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

October 29, 2014

wyutcowateryearfederal2014precipitationasapercentofnormal
Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


“We need rivers like the Yampa – to remind us how rivers are supposed to function” — Matt Rice #YampaRiver

October 28, 2014

Here’s a post about the Yampa River from Matt Rice writing for The River Blog. Click through for the photos and video. Here’s an excerpt:

There are simply not that many wild rivers in the Colorado River Basin. By wild I mean rivers that are not controlled or diverted to other basins – rivers that fill with torrents of raging muddy brown water during spring floods providing nourishment to valleys below – rivers that provide a varied, unique and unparalleled recreational experience.

In the Colorado River Basin, there is one river that stands above them all. It is a river that sustains a vibrant agricultural community while providing for world class whitewater boating and trophy trout fishing. Downstream its turbid waters provide life for endangered fish, wildlife, and plants. It is a natural model – a living classroom – a poster child for balance, community heritage, and livability. Despite being the second largest watershed in Colorado, very few people outside of the state know about this river and its importance to the Colorado River Basin, all the way down to Lake Powell.

The wild Yampa River rises in the Flat Top Mountains above Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While it would certainly not be accurate to characterize the Yampa as “undammed” because there are two relatively small storage reservoirs that capture its water in the headwaters, it functions as a wild, free-flowing river. The reservoirs are high in the basin and do not have the storage capacity to capture its powerful spring flows. From Steamboat it meanders through rangeland, past the rural agricultural towns of Hayden, Milner, Craig, and Maybell. Below Maybell, the river flows through the Class V whitewater of Cross Mountain Canyon and into Dinosaur National Monument.

We recently teamed up with our partners at Friends of the Yampa, American Whitewater, and OARS to support a film created by the talented group of artists at Rig to Flip. The film documents the history of Warm Springs rapid, the unique role the Yampa River played in creating the modern river conservation movement, and the importance of keeping the Yampa wild and free.

Click here to view the trailer.

Click here to view the full film.

We need rivers like the Yampa – to remind us how rivers are supposed to function, to demonstrate that it is possible to sustain vibrant agriculture while conserving endangered fish and recreation, and to help us improve the management of other rivers in the Colorado Basin. Unfortunately, because of its abundant water, increased demand, and diminishing supplies in the Colorado River basin due to climate change, the Yampa River will continue to be a target for diversion. This is why American Rivers is actively working with partners across the basin to find solutions that will safeguard the Yampa for generations to come. We will always stand up for the wild Yampa River.

More Yampa River Basin coverage here.


Aspinall Unit update: Uncompahgre Water Users scheduled to turn off Friday

October 28, 2014
Gunnison Tunnel via the National Park Service

Gunnison Tunnel via the National Park Service

From email from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Erik Knight):

“Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 950 cfs to 450 cfs on Friday, October 31st between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association will be shutting down diversions at the Gunnison Tunnel on Friday. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future.

Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1050 cfs for September through December.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 550 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 350 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will be zero and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be around 450 cfs.


[#COWaterPlan] “is either silent or pays short shrift to the issues of paramount importance to the West Slope” — Dan Birch #ColoradoRiver

October 28, 2014
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

A Western Slope water official wants to make sure that even if a draft state water plan doesn’t solve conflicts over Colorado River basin issues, it at least fully acknowledges their existence.

Dan Birch, deputy general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, made the request in an Oct. 10 letter to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. He contended in the letter that in large part the draft plan language “is either silent or pays short shrift to the issues of paramount importance to the West Slope” as articulated in plans prepared by groups representing each river basin. The two largest of these are the related issues of a potential new transmountain diversion of Colorado River water to the Front Range, and the possible implications of such a diversion for complying with the Colorado River Compact, Birch wrote.

That compact governs allocation of the river’s water between its upper- and lower-basin states.

The CWCB is scheduled to act on the draft plan in November before passing the draft on to the governor’s office. Birch said about 80 percent of the draft language is complete and has been posted on the CWCB’s website.

In his letter, he wrote that the plan, “if it is to be true to the stated goal of being a ‘bottoms-up’ plan, needs to be true to the spirit and substance” of all the basin plans.

“The draft plan falls short of this goal, at least with respect to the West Slope basins,” he wrote.

In his letter, Birch wrote that at this stage, while all the draft basin plans around the state “share many common goals, there are vital components that simply cannot be reconciled. The issue of a new transmountain diversion is of course paramount among those differences. We believe that the plan must plainly and accurately recognize these conflicts.”

In an interview, Birch didn’t rule out the possibility that such conflicts might eventually be resolved, but said he just didn’t want them being “papered over.” “We might get there,” he said of a resolution, “but we’re not there now.”

Birch told the river district board at its meeting Tuesday that he thinks that his concerns have been well-received by the state and that some changes in the draft will be made by the time the CWCB takes action.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.


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