The “Blue Book” for the November election is hot off the presses from the General Assembly

Click here to go the the website to view the Blue Book and other election materials.

A man votes his ballot in the U.S. midterm elections at a polling place in Westminster, Colorado November 4, 2014.    REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES)
A man votes his ballot in the U.S. midterm elections at a polling place in Westminster, Colorado November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES)

@NOAA: August marks ongoing trend of record-breaking heat for the globe

Here’s the release from NOAA:

Put away your party hats: August marks a not-so-sweet 16 months of record warmth for the globe, the longest such streak in 137 years.

August 2016 was 1.66 degrees F above the 20th-century average, breaking last years’ record for the warmest August on record by 0.09 degrees F, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The June–August seasonal temperature was 1.6 degrees F above average, surpassing the heat record for this period set in 2015 by 0.07 degrees.

For the year to date, the average global temperature was 1.82 degrees F above average, also breaking the heat record set in 2015 by 0.29 degrees.

World map of significant global climate extreme events in August 2016. August 2016 was another record-breaking month for the globe. (NOAA NCEI)
World map of significant global climate extreme events in August 2016. August 2016 was another record-breaking month for the globe. (NOAA NCEI)

More notable findings around the world include:

  • The globally averaged sea surface temperature was second warmest on record for August and warmest on record for both the season (June–August) and the year to date (January–August).
  • The globally averaged land surface temperature was record high for August, the season (June–August) and the year to date (January–August).
  • Record-warm continents: Africa and Asia had their warmest August; South America had its second; North America its sixth; Europe its 10th; and Oceania its 19th.
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent for August was 23.1 percent below the 1981–2010 average. This was the fourth smallest August extent since records began in 1979.
  • The average Antarctic sea ice extent for August was 0.2 percent above the 1981–2010 average, the 19th largest on record for the month.
  • More: Access NOAA’s report and download images by visiting the NCEI website.

    Johnstown water officials cause fish kill with algae treatment — The Greeley Tribune

    Copper Sulfate
    Copper Sulfate

    From The Greeley Tribune (Catharine Sweeney):

    Johnstown water officials are under investigation for inadvertently killing almost 1,000 fish in the town’s reservoir this summer.

    In an effort to treat an algae outbreak, a worker put a chemical compound into the water that ended up suffocating 972 fish, Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said on Thursday.

    On July 29, the employee applied 40 pounds of copper sulfate — often used as a pesticide — to the reservoir.

    “That has been used in the past with no issues,” she said.

    That wasn’t the case this time.

    Several days later, hundreds of dead fish washed ashore. Officials instructed the Johnstown Police Department’s animal control division to clean the mess, and then reported the incident to the division of wildlife, Churchill said.

    The reservoir, which is north of Colo. 60 and east of High Plains Boulevard, is used for the town’s drinking water and recreational fishing. Officials didn’t express any concern about public health as a result of the chemical in the water. Higher concentrations can cause nausea. The compound can cause eye irritation, but swimming isn’t allowed in the reservoir.

    Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials got involved because the agency supplies the fish for the lake, as it does for many fishing ponds across the state.

    “When we have fish killed, it’s not uncommon for there to be reimbursement for the fish,” Churchill said.

    As of today, Churchill said officials aren’t considering criminal charges or fines.

    “We’re hopeful that we can get it resolved without any kind of litigation,” said Johnstown Town Attorney Avi Rocklin.

    Officials didn’t notify residents of the kill on its website or Facebook page.

    “There was talk about putting something out there, but I can’t tell you whether that was done or not,” Rocklin said.

    It also hasn’t been on any town council meeting agendas for public discussion.

    “Obviously, we’re still in the middle of an investigation,” she said. “It may be premature to be having conversations about it.”

    Copper sulfate-caused fish kills aren’t unique, according to a fact sheet from the National Pesticide Information Center.

    However, the chemical doesn’t poison them. Sudden plant death and decomposition depletes the lake’s oxygen, and dead plants can clog gills.

    Neither Greeley’s water department nor the Northern Water Conservancy District use the compound.

    Greeley supplies water to its residents as well as Evans and parts of Windsor. Northern Water administers the Colorado Big-Thompson project supplies water to about 900,000 people in northern Colorado.

    Although Greeley might use the compound in park ponds, it doesn’t go into Greeley’s drinking water, said Water and Sewer Director Burt Knight.

    Instead, Greeley uses a carbon-based compound to eliminate algae, odor, and tastes, he said.

    Northern Water used to use copper sulfate on reservoirs to control algae and aquatic weeds, said Water Quality Engineer Judy Billica,but it stopped in 2008.

    “Copper, (even) at very low concentrations, can impact aquatic life, including fish,” she said.

    #ColoradoRiver: The latest “e-Waternews” is hot off the presses from Northern Water #COriver

    Graph showing historical total active storage for Sept. 1. The green line indicates average storage, which is 492,333 AF via Northern Water.
    Graph showing historical total active storage for Sept. 1. The green line indicates average storage, which is 492,333 AF via Northern Water.

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

    C-BT Project Update
    Going into September, C-BT Project storage continued to be above average. On Sept. 1, 2016, total active storage was 619,418 acre-feet, which is approximately 128,000 AF above average for this time of year.

    For the 2016 water year, 142,579 AF has been delivered with 42 percent of the deliveries 0 from Carter Lake and 49 percent from Horsetooth Reservoir. The remaining nine percent is delivered from the Big Thompson River and the Hansen Feeder Canal.

    Map of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project via Northern Water
    Map of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project via Northern Water

    Questions remain on use of rain barrels — The #Colorado Springs Gazette #coleg

    Photo via the Colorado Independent
    Photo via the Colorado Independent

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jim Flynn):

    At the heart of this [water law] system, and protected by a section of the Colorado Constitution, is a concept called “prior appropriation.” The way this works is that some water users have priority over other water users, with the effect that, in times of scarcity, holders of senior water rights receive their water and holders of junior water rights do not. The seniority of water rights is generally based on a first-to-use-wins concept, meaning the most senior (and therefore the most valuable) water rights go back to the 1800s.

    Any upstream activity even remotely threatening to downstream water rights holders is cause for great alarm. This came to light in the 2016 session of the Colorado Legislature when a bill (House Bill 16-1005) was introduced intended to regulate the collection of rainwater in barrels.

    What finally emerged, after heated debate, is a new law allowing rainwater running off the rooftop of a residential property containing no more than four dwelling units to be collected in no more than two barrels having a combined storage capacity of no more than 110 gallons. These barrels must have a sealable lid; the water from the barrels can only be used at the property where the water is collected; and it can only be used for outdoor purposes “including irrigation of lawns and gardens.” The water “shall not be used for drinking water or indoor household purposes.” (Whether the water could be used for bathing activities if conducted outdoors is not clear.)

    The state engineer, “to the extent practicable within existing resources,” is instructed to provide information on his agency’s website about the permitted and prohibited uses of rain barrels and water collected therein. The state engineer is also given authority to curtail rain barrel usage in situations where it might impair the rights of downstream water users. And the state engineer is required to diligently study whether rain barrel usage is causing injury to holders of downstream water rights and to report back to the Legislature on this issue by no later than March 1, 2019.

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also gets into the act. That agency is instructed, “to the extent practicable within existing resources,” to develop “best practices” intended to address nonpotable usage of collected rainwater and issues relating to disease and pest control. When and if such best practices are developed, they are to be posted on the department’s website and on the state engineer’s website. Alternatively, the state engineer’s website can provide a link back to the department’s website.

    Finally, knowing the penchant of homeowners living in common-interest ownership communities to fight over almost everything, the Legislature added language to the new law addressing rain barrel usage in these communities. An owners association in a common-interest ownership community cannot prohibit rooftop water collection using rain barrels. The association can, however, “impose reasonable aesthetic requirements that govern the placement or external appearance of a rain barrel.” So, for any of you who have the misfortune of serving on your neighborhood architectural control committee, it’s time to develop design guidelines for rain barrels.

    Conservation board grants money to entities — The Pueblo Chieftain

    Arkansas River Basin -- Graphic via the Colorado Geological Survey
    Arkansas River Basin — Graphic via the Colorado Geological Survey

    From The Pueblo Chieftain:

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board Thursday, meeting at Edwards, approved seven grants requested by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable.

    Among them were funding to improve water supply to the Zinno Subdivision and more Fountain Creek flood control studies.

    The St. Charles Mesa Water District received $75,000 from the CWCB toward a $1 million project to connect the Zinno Subdivision to the district.

    The subdivision has experienced water outages several times in the past seven years and residents are unhappy about increasing water rates to maintain the system.

    The current water provider, Joseph Water, claims the system is safe and reliable. The project is contingent on a district court case.

    The state board also approved $93,000 toward a $133,300 study of flood control alternatives on Fountain Creek by the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

    The district already has completed a U.S. Geological Survey study of the effectiveness of flood control measures, and opted to look at either a dam or series of detention ponds between Colorado Springs and Pueblo. It also determined any impact to water rights could be mitigated.

    Other grants included:

  • $60,800 for the Arkansas Basin Roundtable coordinator, a position now filled by Gary Barber.
  • $50,000 toward a $60,000 project by the Fort Lyon Canal to evaluate seepage of the Adobe Creek Dam.
  • $175,000 to the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District toward a $250,000 study of agricultural tailwater return flows.
  • $306,600 to the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District toward a $642,000 project to evaluate the potential for underground water storage in Fremont, Chafee and Custer counties.
  • $30,000 to the Holbrook Mutual Irrigation Co. for a flow measurement upgrade at its reservoir in Otero County.
  • All of the grants were approved by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable at its August meeting.

    Lake Nighthorse to Dryside pipeline construction begins — The Durango Herald

    Lake Nighthorse from the Ridges Basin Dam September 19, 2016.
    Lake Nighthorse from the Ridges Basin Dam September 19, 2016.

    From The Durango Herald (Jessica Pace):

    For decades, water storage and supply infrastructure in Southwestern Colorado have been slow-moving, underfunded dreams. Lake Nighthorse, a critical component of the grandiose Animas-La Plata Project intended to supply water to Native American tribes, was filled in 2011, but it took five years before the very first mechanism to transport water from the storage facility would be realized.

    On Wednesday, water authorities, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribal leaders and La Plata County officials gathered at the lake just west of town to commemorate the watershed moment.

    “We cannot separate water from our way of life,” said Southern Ute Chairman Clement Frost. “We saw how important it is when the Gold King Mine spill happened.”

    The 4.6-mile pipeline will wind west and then northward through La Plata County to Lake Durango, cutting through Bureau of Reclamation land as well as private properties. Some of the private homeowners consented to the infrastructure in exchange for taps.

    Charlie Smith, general manager of the Lake Durango Water Authority, said more than 100 property owners, who either haul water or depend on low-quality wells, are on a waiting list for taps, which come at a price of about $10,000. Lake Durango supplies potable water to households in Durango West I and II, Rafter J, Shenandoah and Trapper’s Crossing.

    The pipeline will add to Lake Durango’s reserves, and will be constructed with $2.8 million from the Lake Durango Water Authority and $1 million each from the two tribes as well as loans and grants from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The sum contributed by the Lake Durango Water Authority includes water purchased from Animas-La Plata.

    Construction is expected to be complete by the end of summer 2017, which will be only the beginning of the Animas-La Plata Project’s long-range vision.

    The Ute Mountain Utes have the ability to extend the pipeline in the future, and the San Juan Water Commission, a New Mexico water authority, is considering a main of its own from Lake Nighthorse to northern New Mexico. The Daily-Times of Farmington reported the commission will meet next month to discuss particulars of the proposal.

    As plans advance to remove water from the Animas River-fed Nighthorse, the water and shore remain free of recreationists. Bureau of Recreation officials said last week that the agency is in consultation with tribes and project partners to find the best recreation plan without compromising cultural resources.

    A draft recreation plan and environmental assessment was released last spring, and a final document is still to come.

    Meanwhile, preparatory infrastructure is underway at the lake, including a decontamination station, where boats will be checked for invasive species when recreation is permitted at the lake.

    Roadwork on a turn lane into Lake Nighthorse from County Road 210 began the first week of September.