Make Water Provocative: The Key to Connecting Resources, Audiences, and Meanings

April 19, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

If the goal of interpretation is to reveal meanings, this is because we believe that resources possess inherent meanings. Water, one might argue, is only two hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom. But most of us would argue that it is more than that. Water is power, art, community, energy, renewal, opportunity – ultimately, it is life itself.

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Water has many different meanings, and means many different things to different people. The goal of water interpretation is to reveal these meanings, to facilitate connections between people and water – perhaps even to illuminate new ones.  But for this to happen, the interpreter must relate the resource to the audience’s own experience – and one of the most effective ways to do this is to use universal concepts.

Linking What We Experience With Bigger Concepts

Interpretation is not just based on facts, but on associated meanings. A program might present…

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HB14-1026: “In theory, it sounds good [flexible markets], but there are still not enough sideboards on it” — Jay Winner #COleg

April 19, 2014
Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Local officials still are skeptical of pending legislation that would establish a flex marketing water right. The bill, HB1026, as introduced would have allowed agricultural water to be used anywhere, any time and for any purpose, apparently in contradiction of the state’s anti-speculation doctrine.

[...]

It breezed through the state House, but has been snagged for weeks in the Senate agriculture committee.

“In theory, it sounds good, but there are still not enough sideboards on it,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

Winner has been trying to get a provision added to the bill that would limit fallowing of farmland to three years in 10 — a staple of current law regarding temporary transfers. Backers of the bill have pushed for allowing transfers to occur five years in 10, with nearly unlimited dry-up of farm ground during that time.

The bill was supposed to be heard in the Senate ag committee Thursday, but was again delayed. Winner thinks it should be referred to the interim water resources committee to work out differences.

Meanwhile, the Pueblo Board of Water Works also is backing off from supporting the bill. Even though provisions were added that prevent moving water from the water district where it originally was used, farms might be permanently dried up, said Terry Book, executive director of the water board.

“Our question is does it do what it’s intended to do?” Book said. “We would support something that allows farmers to market water, but not this bill.”

More 2014 Colorado legislation coverage here.


Arkansas River Basin: St. Charles Mesa Water District board election May 6

April 19, 2014

Green Mountain Reservoir operations update: Scaling back to 550 cfs by Monday #ColoradoRiver

April 18, 2014

greenmountainreservoir

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

We’ll be scaling back releases from Green Mountain over the weekend and then plan to maintain the lower release rate through next week. By Monday, April 21, we should be releasing about 550 cfs to the Lower Blue. The reduction in releases is due to some regularly scheduled maintenance. Property owners downstream of the dam have planned some channel work to correspond with the maintenance.

Releases will begin stepping back tomorrow, Saturday. We will go from 750 to 700 cfs around 8 p.m tomorrow evening. On Sunday, we will do two changes: the first at 4 p.m. from 700 to 650 cfs. The second around 10 p.m. from 650 to 600 cfs. On Monday, we will drop down one more time around 6 a.m. from 600 to 550 cfs.

Releases will go back up the following weekend of April 26.

More Green Mountain Reservoir coverage here.


South Platte Basin: High snowpack feeds speculation on runoff pattern #COflood #COdrought

April 18, 2014

St. Vrain River floodplain November 2013 via the Longmont Times-Call

St. Vrain River floodplain November 2013 via the Longmont Times-Call


From Rocky Mountain PBS (Jim Trotter):

During the weekly climate webinar Tuesday hosted by the Colorado Climate Center, snowpack in the South Platte basin was reported at 138 percent of normal for this time of year.

What’s more, the South Platte’s tributary rivers – including the Big Thompson, the St. Vrain and the Cache la Poudre – have been reporting base flows of as much as 300 percent above normal. Base flows this time of year are measured before snowmelt. Those high flows are still attributable to the September floods.

“The groundwater contribution from the flooding is still working its way to the river,” assistant State Climatologist Wendy Ryan told I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS. “It’s a rule of thumb that there’s quite a lag time before all the water makes its way to the stream.”

Many irrigation districts along the South Platte sustained heavy damage in September to headgates and other infrastructure. In some places, the river changed course sufficiently for intake structures to be left high and dry.

“There are places where headgates were scoured away,” Ryan said. “Longmont is still trying to figure out what they need to do on the St. Vrain – leave it where it is or restore it to where it was.”

Many irrigation companies have made essential repairs with FEMA money and other resources, Ryan said, and they can play a valuable role in removing water from the river if flooding occurs. Some of the smaller ditch companies have not made repairs.

Meanwhile, she said, everyone is hoping that the spring warmup in the Rockies will be mellow enough to produce “a nice, well-behaved runoff.”

There are parts of the state, of course, that would like to have those kinds of worries. As of now, drought conditions are persisting into the fourth year in the southeast quadrant of the state, with the driest areas for March centered over the already drought devastated areas in Lincoln, Cheyenne and Kiowa counties, according to the climate center.

Las Animas and Baca counties are reporting less than 50 percent of average precipitation for the water year, which began last October.


Reclamation now expects Lake Powell to fill to 3,620 feet this season #ColoradoRiver

April 18, 2014
Glen Canyon Dam -- Photo / Brad Udall

Glen Canyon Dam — Photo / Brad Udall

From KSL (Ray Grass):

The current level of Lake Powell is 3,574 feet above sea level. When full the level is 3,700 feet. Because of an above normal snowpack in Colorado this winter, which feeds the lake, the level is expected to reach 3,620 this summer. Which is, forecasters admitted, much better than was expected earlier in the winter.

The current level is not the lowest on record. Back in 2005 the lake’s level dropped to 3,555 feet. In 2011, the lake rose to within 40 feet of “full pool’’ and likely would have hit the full mark had not water releases not been increased into the Colorado River from the Glen Canyon Dam…

As far as the invasive quagga mussel, adult mussels have been found in Lake Powell. Officials knew that once the mussels established a foothold in Lake Mead, 300 miles downstream fron Lake Powell, it would be only a matter of time before they made their way into Lake Powell.

A report in February said “thousands’’ of the tiny bivalves were located in Lake Powell. The mussels cause damage, are a nuisance to lake visitors and are a serious danger to fishing. Each mussel can produce millions of offspring and biologists have been unable to find a way to control the mussels, which fall in the same family as clams, oysters and scallops.

The first quagga mussel was found in Lake Powell in 2007. They were not discovered again until this year.

From the Casa Grande Dispatch (Kayla S. Samoy):

he overall snowpack stands at 115 percent of average for this time of the year in the Rockies. But, is it time to break out the red cups and toast an imminent reprieve in the drought and the dire predictions of cutbacks in regional allotments for water supplies from the 1,450-mile-long Colorado? Not so fast.

“It may be a better-than-average snowpack, but depending on what the weather does it could not snow any more or get hot very quickly and evaporate the water instead of having it flow into the Colorado River basin,” said Mitch Basefsky, a spokesman for the Central Arizona Project, the agency that manages Colorado River flow into Pinal, Maricopa and Pima counties.

There are other factors that will contribute to this winter’s snowpack impact on the Colorado River, said Bob Barrett, another CAP spokesman.

“The concern is that it’s been pretty mild the last month. We’ve had pretty good precipitation, but it was warm,” said Greg Smith, the senior hydrologist at the Colorado River Basin forecast center.
Smith said much of the debate about snowpack is rooted in the differences in the snowpack at different heights. According to Smith, lower elevations have seen very little snow this year…

The Green River Basin area in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado has a significant snowpack, the third-highest on record for this time of the year, said Smith. While that may be advantageous for some places, Arizona is a different story.

“Arizona is kind of a disaster,” Smith said.

Many winter storms skirted northern Arizona and the snow sites in the Verde and Salt River basins are nearly bereft of snow. The snow that did fall in that area disappeared quickly. Since the area doesn’t see many storms after mid-March, there isn’t much chance for a rebound, Smith said.

Since 2000, the Colorado River Basin has been experiencing the worst drought of the century. So far, Colorado River water users have not faced decreases in the amount of water they receiving because of reservoirs like Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which were full when the drought began. Today they are about half full.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which manages water projects in the 17 western states, makes predictions about the state of water every two years. It currently projects that less water will be released from Lake Powell and Lake Mead this year and perhaps next year if the levels in the lake are still low.

“Right now they’re looking at the potential for shortage in either 2015 or 2016,” said Basefsky. “A shortage is pretty significant for CAP because we have the junior priority for the Colorado River Basin. We would forego importing about 20 percent of our water supply.”

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.


Snowpack news: Statewide graph shows some melting over the past two weeks #COdrought

April 18, 2014

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