The latest ENSO discussion is hot off the presses

August 8, 2014

Mid-July 2014 plume of model ENSO predictions via the Climate Prediction Center

Mid-July 2014 plume of model ENSO predictions via the Climate Prediction Center

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

Synopsis: The chance of El Niño has decreased to about 65% during the Northern Hemisphere fall and early winter.

During July 2014, above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) continued in the far eastern equatorial Pacific, but near average SSTs prevailed in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. Most of the Niño indices decreased toward the end of the month with values of +0.3°C in Niño-4, – 0.1°C in Niño-3.4, +0.2°C in Niño-3, and +0.6°C in Niño-1+2. Subsurface heat content anomalies (averaged between 180o-100oW) continued to decrease and are slightly below average. The above-average subsurface temperatures that were observed near the surface during June (down to 100m depth) are now limited to a thin layer in the top 50m, underlain by mainly below-average temperatures. The low-level winds over the tropical Pacific remained near average during July, but westerly wind anomalies appeared in the central and eastern part of the basin toward the end of the month. Upper- level winds remained generally near average and convection was enhanced mainly just north of the equator in the western Pacific. The lack of a coherent atmospheric El Niño pattern, and a return to near-average SSTs in the central Pacific, indicate ENSO-neutral.

Over the last month, model forecasts have slightly delayed the El Niño onset, with most models now indicating the onset during July-September, with the event continuing into early 2015 . A strong El Niño is not favored in any of the ensemble averages, and slightly more models call for a weak event rather than a moderate event. At this time, the consensus of forecasters expects El Niño to emerge during August-October and to peak at weak strength during the late fall and early winter (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index between 0.5°C and 0.9°C). The chance of El Niño has decreased to about 65% during the Northern Hemisphere fall and early winter (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome).

Travel: Scouting Colorado’s San Juans

August 3, 2014

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

Adventurer Kim Fenske is back on the road, exploring the San Juans

Grand Mesa Colorado sunset

Sunset from Grand Mesa.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Among the rugged southwestern mountains of Colorado lie three Fourteeners: El Diente, 14,159 feet; Mount Wilson, 14,246 feet; and Wilson Peak, 14,017 feet.Since I had never visited this section of Colorado, I prepared a trip into the area with a plan to hike to Navajo Lake at the base of these three magnificent peaks.The three peaks are situated near Telluride in the Lizard Head Wilderness Area of the San Juan Mountains.

The drive from Copper Mountain is about three hundred miles, so I decided to break up the trip by heading west toward Grand Junction, then turning south to camp on the Grand Mesa.  Several campgrounds lie among the small lakes trapped in the highlands of Grand Mesa National Forest on State Highway 65 north…

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Oil and gas firms dig deep for new water — BizWest

July 28, 2014

Denver Basin aquifer system

Denver Basin aquifer system

From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

Applications to the state of Colorado to use deep underground aquifers for oil and gas development in Northern Colorado have surged, reflecting the new lengths that oil and gas companies have gone to obtain the scarce resource in the South Platte River Basin.

More than a dozen distinct parcels of land have applied to withdraw a total of 35,600 acre feet of non-tributary groundwater for potential use in oil and gas development since 2011, according to the state Division of Water Resources. The total nearly triples the 12,700-acre-foot capacity in Lake Loveland…

Non-tributary means groundwater that is not believed to significantly connect to tributary water that feeds surface water systems such as rivers. The ancient water typically is located hundreds of feet below the surface and derived from glacial melt or prehistoric seawater. Drilling wells to reach it can be costly.

Unlike rivers and streams where people own water rights in various places, non-tributary water can be diverted by property owners if they can show it would not affect stream and river flows. Applicants must demonstrate through scientific evidence and modeling that the aquifers are in fact non-tributary before they can receive state permits to use the water.

Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL), among the top oil and natural-gas producers in the region, alone has applied for nearly 4,700 acre feet on the Wells and Ball ranches in Weld County. The company last year said about 80 percent of its water came from wells and ponds, 18 percent came from cities and 2 percent is recycled. A Noble Energy representative did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

The practice of tapping the prehistoric aquifers underscores the increasing need for water for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Northern Colorado. Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals into a drilled hole deep underground to extract oil and natural gas from dense shale formations.

The non-tributary use also reflects the challenges posed by competing interests for water in Northern Colorado, said Tom Cech, director of One World One Water Center at Metropolitan State University of Denver. The use of non-tributary water for energy development relieves competition between energy development and agriculture, but tapping it now means it may not be available for future commercial and residential development.

“This is a public policy issue in the sense of, ‘Should water east of Greeley, this deep groundwater, be saved for future generations for some other purposes, or does it make sense to use it for energy development today?’ ” he said.

Property owners may choose to benefit today from the resource by selling the water because they may not have an economic incentive to keep the water intact for future generations, he added.

More oil and gas coverage here.

Policy implications of Castle and colleagues on #ColoradoRiver Basin groundwater depletions — John Fleck

July 25, 2014
Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands -- Graphic/USBR

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

From Inkstain (John Fleck):

I’ve been arguing that one of the things we see in the Colorado River Basin is an institutional maturity that has thus far had the ability to absorb the changes we’ve seen to date – the 2001 Interim Surplus Guidelines that jiggered Colorado Basin allocations to rein in California’s overuse (pdf), the 2007 shortage sharing agreement, the remarkable Minute 319 deal with Mexico. Those institutions are now wrestling with the fact that none of this has been enough, which is why maybe this week we’ll see the announcement of a system conservation program deal that will be one more brick in that wall.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

The One World One Water Center June 2014 newsletter is hot off the presses

July 14, 2014

Denver City Park sunrise

Denver City Park sunrise

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

Denver Metro Water Festival
On May 21, 2014 in partnership with Denver Water and Suburban Providers of Denver Water, the One World One Water Center hosted over 800 sixth graders from the Denver Metro area on Auraria Campus for the very first Denver Metro Water Festival.

Colorado Ski Area Water Rights and USFS

July 14, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

Copper Mountain, photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Colorado ski areas got some “fresh powder” in late June in the form of a proposed US Forest Service water rights rule that backs away from an earlier and much criticized approach that would have required ski areas to transfer water rights to the agency.

The new rule, proposed June 23 and open for comment through August 22, would amend internal USFS directives for some 122 ski area concessions across the country by instead conditioning their 40-year special use permits on a commitment that sufficient water stay dedicated to ski area operations even if the area is sold. Under the proposal, permits would be updated as they are renewed to include the water rights commitment language. Currently, USFS policy requires the public hold the rights to such water, but the proposed change would allow water rights to be in the name of the permit holder.

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Water wisely during Smart Irrigation Month

July 14, 2014

Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

Smart_Irrigation_Month_logoThe hot month of July typically is when people use the most water. In honor of this busy lawn-watering month, the Irrigation Association created Smart Irrigation Month to remind people about the importance of appropriate irrigation technology and wise watering habits to reduce water use, create healthy lawns and achieve greater agricultural yields.

You can take part in Smart Irrigation Month with these simple tips:

Abide by the watering rules

To help eliminate outdoor water waste, Denver Water implements annual summer water use rules, which help facilitate smart irrigation. The rules include:

  • Water during cooler times of the day — lawn watering is NOT allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Water no more than three days per week.
  • Do not allow water to pool in gutters, streets and alleys.
  • Do not waste water by letting it spray on concrete or asphalt.
  • Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
  • Do not…

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