#ColoradoRiver: Bonytails reproducing in the wild — #Utah DWR #COriver

Wild bonytail chub
Wild bonytail chub

From the Utah Division of Wildlife via The Deseret News:

For the first time since work to recover bonytail started in the 1980s, they’re raising their own young in the wild, officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources say.

Bonytail are the rarest of the endangered fish that live in the upper Colorado River system.

“This finding represents a major step forward in recovering the species and ultimately getting it removed from the federal endangered species list,” Krissy Wilson, native aquatic species coordinator for the DWR, said in a statement.

In spring 2015, researchers with the DWR found adult bonytail in Stewart Lake near Jensen. The lake is a managed floodplain that’s connected to the Green River. When the floodplain was later drained in the fall, the researchers found 19 young-of-the-year native chub.

As the researchers analyzed their data, they expected the young-of-the-year chubs to be roundtail chubs. But they realized the size of the chubs did not fit with the timing of when the roundtail chubs would have spawned.

“That’s when the researchers got excited,” Wilson said. “Were the specimens they were examining the first documented evidence of bonytail reproducing in the wild?”

The researchers sent the preserved specimens to the Larval Fish Laboratory at Colorado State University. There, scale and body measurement analysis was done. Next, the specimens were sent for genetic testing. Both analyses confirmed what the UDWR researchers were hoping: the specimens were bonytail.

Wilson says the last wild adult bonytail were collected in the late 1990s. Since then, bonytail have been reared at the DWR’s Wahweap State Fish Hatchery at Lake Powell. The bonytail are reared to 12 inches long before being stocked in the upper Colorado River system.

Wilson says for the past four years, the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and its partner, the Bureau of Reclamation, have coordinated spring releases from Flaming Gorge Dam to connect floodplain habitats along the Green River near Jensen. Connecting the floodplains provides important nursery habitat for the endangered Colorado River fish.

“So far,” Wilson says, “razorback sucker is the species that’s benefitted most from the releases. It’s exciting to see that the releases are also benefitting bonytail.”

Along with bonytail and razorback sucker, humpback chub and Colorado pikeminnow are the four fish the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program is working to recover. More information about the program and its work is available at coloradoriverrecovery.org.

Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program
Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program

#ColoradoRiver: As Lake Mead sinks, states agree to more drastic water cuts — The High Country News

Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam December 2015 via Greg Hobbs.
Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam December 2015 via Greg Hobbs.

From The High Country News (Sarah Tory):

For decades, the West’s big reservoirs were like a security blanket, says Anne Castle, the former assistant secretary for water and science at the Interior Department. But the blanket is wearing thin. Under normal conditions, Lake Mead loses 1.2 million acre-feet of water every year to evaporation and deliveries to the Lower Basin states plus Mexico, which amounts to a 12-foot drop. Previously, extra deliveries of water from Lake Powell offset that deficit, but after 16 years of drought and increased water use in the Upper Basin, those extra deliveries are no longer a safe bet.

“There’s a growing recognition that even these huge reservoirs aren’t sufficient to keep the water supply sustainable anymore,” says Castle.

For the three Lower Basin states — California, Arizona and Nevada — that rely heavily on Lake Mead, the situation is particularly urgent. For the last several years, Mead has hovered around 1,075 feet above sea level, the point at which harsh water rationing measures kicks in. And if conditions in the reservoir continue to worsen, the Interior Department could even take control of water allocation from Lake Mead.

So, with the threat of a federal takeover looming, last summer, water policy leaders in the Lower Basin states, along with the Bureau of Reclamation, the reservoir’s operator, began meeting to discuss ways they can jointly boost water levels in Lake Mead. Some of the details are now available and indicate that all three states are now willing to accept additional water cuts from the reservoir on top of the cuts that they previously agreed to make in 2007.

Those measures follow a set of federal guidelines adopted nine years ago to manage water deliveries from Lake Mead given the likelihood of future shortages. The guidelines established a series of thresholds for the reservoir’s water levels that would trigger increasingly severe cutbacks for the Lower Basin states. At the time they were negotiated, few people anticipated that the drought would last as long as it has, but as Lake Mead inched closer to the critical 1,075 mark, water managers in the Lower Basin realized that the existing guidelines were not enough to prevent an eventual shortage.

While the terms of the new agreement between California, Arizona, and Nevada are still being negotiated, a few details have emerged. For starters, the Bureau of Reclamation has pledged to cut 100,000 acre-feet annually through efficiency measures such as lining irrigation canals to prevent seepage, or possibly by re-opening the long-shuttered Yuma Desalination Plant.

The three states’ willingness to collectively ration their water use would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago when states fought each other in court to win as much water from the Colorado River. The cooperation is a nod to how new climate realities are re-shaping old water politics in the West. Take California, for instance. Legally, the state could hold onto every drop until Lake Mead is nearly down to mud, since the 1968 law that authorized the Central Arizona Project’s construction gave California highest priority water rights to the Colorado River. But at that point, says Castle, they’re just as impacted as everyone else.

Other collaborative agreements to reduce the strain on the Colorado River include a 2014 Memorandum of Understanding between the big water providers in the Lower Basin states, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Central Arizona Project, pledging “best efforts” to conserve 40,000 acre feet in Lake Mead. In 2014, major municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado also agreed to fund new water conservation projects through a pilot initiative called the Colorado River System Conservation program.

For the Lower Basin especially, the negotiations are necessary to avoid the potential federal takeover, says Tom Buschatzke, the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Although the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, has not voiced any immediate plans to that effect, in the past, she has made public statements on the matter.

For Buschatzke, the threat is clear: “She’ll take action if we don’t collaborate,” he says.

Here are the cuts states could face:

Arizona would lose 512,000 acre-feet of its total 2.8 million acre-feet per year allotment if Lake Mead dips below the 1,075 feet threshold. That’s 192,000 acre-feet more than the 320,000 acre-feet it had previously agreed to cut under the 2007 guidelines. Further cuts occur if the reservoir continues to drop. In another unprecedented move, Arizona water officials are talking of trying to spread cuts across all sectors of the state’s economy that rely on CAP water for drinking and irrigation — cities, farms, industries, Indian tribes and others — instead of letting only farmers take the brunt of the cuts, as dictated by their junior water rights.

California

Thanks to the 1968 law that authorized CAP’s construction, California’s 4.4 million acre feet allotment is shielded from most of the cuts should a shortage on Lake Mead be declared. But as part of the new negotiations, the state has volunteered to cut its water use from Lake Mead by 200,000 acre feet if the reservoir’s levels fall below 1,045 feet and up to 350,000 acre-feet if levels sink to 1,030 feet.

Nevada

The state with the smallest allotment of Colorado River water, Nevada would take a much smaller share of the cuts — 8,000 acre-feet if Mead drops below 1,045 feet and 10,000 acre-feet after that — because it has the right to only 300,000 acre-feet.

@DenverWater supports allowing graywater use

graywatersystem

Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney/Travis Thompson):

Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead’s statement in response to Denver City Council’s ordinance to allow graywater use:

“Water conservation has been key to ensuring we meet the needs of future generations, and it’s time that as a city and state we take additional steps to embrace an integrated, sustainable approach to urban water management. Using the right quality water for the right use is a critical step in a sustainable water future for Colorado, and this step by the Denver City Council shows the kind of progressive action we need to be taking to make sure we have enough water to meet our future needs. We applaud the leadership of the city of Denver in taking this important step.”

2016 #coleg: HB16-1337 (Appellate Process For Decisions About Groundwater) dies in State Senate

Map of the South Platte River alluvial aquifer subregions -- Colorado Water Conservation Board via the Colorado Water Institute
Map of the South Platte River alluvial aquifer subregions — Colorado Water Conservation Board via the Colorado Water Institute

From The Greeley Tribune (Nikki Work):

[Scott Tietmeyer], who has been involved in a water dispute since the early 2000s, said the future of farming in northern and eastern Colorado is water, but with farmers going bankrupt to defend it, that future is getting drier. For more than a decade, Tietmeyer and other farmers in his area have fought to protect their water rights. But protecting groundwater can be a pricey endeavor.

This year, Colorado Reps. Edward Vigil, D-Fort Garland, and Don Coram, R-Montrose, introduced House Bill 1337 to address this issue. The bill would make it so no new evidence could be introduced at appeals.

The way the system is set up, at each level of appeals in a water hearing, new evidence can be presented. This makes it so farmers, ranchers and other water rights holders have to pay for new engineering, research and legal defense of new evidence at every step of the process, because either party in the lawsuit can withhold key pieces of their argument to improve the likelihood of a win after an appeal.

Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, planned to vote for the bill on the Senate floor because in every other kind of trial, the same evidence has to be used at an appeal that is used at an initial hearing.

The bill passed the Colorado House of Representatives 60-5, but it was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. A similar bill was killed last year as well.

The bill would have helped farmers and ranchers in situations similar to Tietmeyer’s.

Fourteen years ago, Tietmeyer and several other famers in the Upper Crow Creek River Basin were told their groundwater pumps caused or could cause surface water loss for a senior water rights holder. This complaint started a legal process that’s still going today.

Despite the first hearing ruling going in favor of Tietmeyer and the other farmers, the senior water rights holder appealed the case all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court, which ruled that Tietmeyer and the others would have to yield to the senior water rights holders if they could prove their use of the water would suffer.

That ruling was in 2006. The decade since has been filled with research and legal battles between the surface and groundwater users. Tietmeyer said the newest round of trials have escalated to the Supreme Court again.

Not every case is as draining on time or funds as Tietmeyer’s. Some take place between two farmers, or between a municipal water user and a rancher or in the most worrisome cases, a big water buyer and a farmer.

Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, said HB 1337 would have blocked a lot of the illegal water speculation that takes the water off of ag lands. Becker, who supported the bill in the House, said the bill was really “common sense,” and he guaranteed he is willing to carry the bill next year.

In the years since the lawsuit in the Upper Crow Creek Basin started, Tietmeyer said his family has spent close to $100,000 on the litigation. Others in the area who own more wells than he does have spent even more, he said. Tietmeyer has seen some farmers forced to choose between their water rights and bankruptcy. At least seven wells in the area have been sitting out of use for more than a decade because their owners couldn’t afford to go to trial.

Tietmeyer said defending his wells was never a question, despite the financial burden, because he needs the water to irrigate his wheat, corn and alfalfa, and to guarantee his farm has a future.

“As a farmer, we’re putting everything upfront, because we can’t afford to lose these rights,” Tietmeyer said. “When you’ve gone 11 years and no one will ever benefit from that court case, there’s something wrong.”

#Colorado’s battle over regulating fracking shifts to ballot — the Fort Collins Coloradoan

Directional drilling from one well site via the National Science Foundation
Directional drilling from one well site via the National Science Foundation

From the Associated Press (Dan Elliott) via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

Colorado’s battle over who should regulate fracking — and how much — now shifts to the November election after the state Supreme Court overturned attempts by local governments to impose their own rules.

The court ruled Monday that a ban on fracking in Longmont and a five-year moratorium in Fort Collins are invalid because they conflict with state law. State officials and the industry argued the state has the primary authority to regulate energy, not local governments.

It wasn’t the end of the debate, however. Coloradans face a loud and fierce campaign over fracking this fall if activists succeed in getting any constitutional amendments on the ballot to restrict oil and gas drilling or give local governments the authority to do so.

“We’re taking them as a serious threat to responsible oil and gas development in the state of Colorado,” said Karen Crummy, a spokeswoman for an industry-backed group called Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence.

“We consider all of these measures to be a ban on fracking,” Crummy said. “We’re going to fight.”

Backers of the proposed constitutional amendments also vow a fight, saying Monday’s ruling injects a sense of urgency into their cause.

“It can only help us because it shows that communities don’t have many rights right now when industry wants to drill,” said Tricia Olson of Yes for Health and Safety over Fracking, which hopes to get two measures on the ballot.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has long been a contentious issue in Colorado, the nation’s No. 7 energy-producing state. Fracking injects a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals underground to crack open formations and make it easier to recover oil and gas.

Combined with other drilling techniques, it opened up previously inaccessible oil and gas reserves and boosted the economy, although low oil prices have led to widespread layoffs and a steep decline in drilling.

Critics worry about danger to the environment and public health from fracking spills and leaks. Others say around-the-clock noise, lights and fumes from drilling rigs make their homes unlivable as oilfields overlap with growing communities.

The industry says fracking is safe and that drilling companies take steps to minimize the disturbances.

Restrictions on fracking were proposed for Colorado’s 2014 ballot, but they were withdrawn because of fears they would lead to a huge Republican turnout and hand several close statewide races to the GOP.

Gov. John Hickenlooper promised to convene a task force to address the conflicts caused by drilling, but fracking critics were disappointed by its recommendations, and the industry said regulators went too far in implementing them.

This year, the presidential election will have a bigger impact on turnout than the fracking proposals, said Floyd Ciruli, a nonpartisan Denver pollster. But fracking could influence races in the Legislature, where Democrats have a narrow majority in the House and Republicans have a narrow edge in the Senate, he said.

“I do think that at the legislative level where relatively small shifts in turnout could be a big thing, it could be very important,” Ciruli said.

Some of the proposed constitutional amendments would clamp specific restrictions on the oil and gas industry, such as minimum distances between wells and homes. Others would grant local governments more regulatory power. Because they’re constitutional amendments, they would supersede Monday’s Supreme Court ruling.

Olson’s group and others are still gathering petitions to get their amendments on the ballot. If they succeed, they will face a well-financed campaign to defeat them.

By the end of last year, the pro-industry group, Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, had $746,000 on hand, according to state records.

Two groups supporting the constitutional amendments to restrict fracking reported they had less than $15,000 combined on hand this spring. Their reports covered a different period than the industry group’s.

“What we know is that industry has already been advertising nonstop,” Olson said. “What we know is they will put everything against it. But what we also know is that we have very few options left to protect Colorado’s health, safety and welfare.”

From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):

The issue does not directly impact La Plata County, where there is no ban or moratorium on oil and gas drilling activities. But it stands to guide future actions.

“The Supreme Court’s decision does not mean that the local control issue is going away,” said La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt, a Democrat. “Local governments need the ability to plan and ensure that oil and gas development occurs away from schools and neighborhoods.”

Some observers say the ruling reaffirmed local governments’ land-use authority, since it stated only that bans and moratoriums interfere with the state’s rule-making.

La Plata County in 1992 had a stake in determining that authority, when the Supreme Court upheld the county’s authority to regulate land-use impacts of oil and gas development.

In separate unanimous written rulings Monday, the Supreme Court declared a fracking ban in Longmont and a moratorium in Fort Collins illegal, stating that the voter-approved actions conflict with state law.

“This ruling sends a strong message that bans are not the way we do business in Colorado,” said Christi Zeller, executive director of the La Plata County Energy Council.

She underscored that La Plata and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission have “robust” rules that have been re-written dozens of times over several decades.

“The reality is political decisions take away private property rights, they restrict and hinder business, and they disrupt the economy, here in La Plata County, and in other counties and cities in the state,” Zeller said.

Bruce Baizel, a Durango-based energy program director for Earthworks, called the Supreme Court’s ruling disappointing, but not surprising.

“It kind of pushes things back into the political realm in terms of initiatives,” Baizel said. “They (the Supreme Court) explicitly said it doesn’t matter if drilling or fracking negatively impacts residents, and the state has decided it’s not going to address that.”

Justice Richard L. Gabriel, who wrote the court’s opinion, said justices were not charged with weighing the economic advantages or health risks associated with fracking.

“This case … does not require us to weigh in on these differences of opinion, much less to try to resolve them,” Gabriel wrote.

Groups are readying ballot initiatives for November that run the gamut, including allowing local governments to ban fracking and increasing the distance of well setbacks.

“It makes absolute sense that it would strengthen those folks’ resolve to get a measure on the ballot,” Lachelt said of the ruling.

She co-chaired a task force that convened in 2014 to address the local control issue.

“I’ve expressed my disappointment that the task force didn’t adequately deal with the issues,” Lachelt said. “But just because we have a Supreme Court ruling doesn’t make this issue go away.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who convened the task force as part of a compromise to avoid ballot initiatives at the time, defended the work of the panel.

“The work of the task force amplified the role of local governments in siting large oil and gas facilities and built a stronger connection between state and local regulators,” the governor said in a statement.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican, doubts the high court’s ruling will quell controversy.

“I fear today’s ruling will not end this divisive debate and instead some activists will continue to push anti-development initiatives undermining the state’s record of local cooperation on these policy issues,” Coffman said.

Lauren Petrie, regional director of Food and Water Watch – which helped with several initiatives across the state – said much of the opposition is just beginning.

“Today’s decision deals a devastating blow not just to Longmont residents, but to all Coloradans who have been stripped of a democratic process that should allow us the right to protect our health, safety and property from the impacts of this dangerous industrial activity.”

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacey Maramaduke):

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday struck down Fort Collins’ five-year fracking moratorium, a long-awaited decision that could have statewide implications for the controversial oil and gas recovery method.

The court also ruled against Longmont’s voter-supported ban on hydraulic fracturing, the widespread practice of injecting a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals underground to break open formations and recover oil and gas.

In its first judgment on local fracking bans and moratoriums, the court called both laws “invalid and unenforceable” because they’re preempted by state law.

Fort Collins voters supported the moratorium in 2013, and Longmont’s ban was voted into place in 2012. But the Colorado Oil and Gas Association sued both cities in separate cases and won in the lower courts, resulting in the bans being thrown out.

Both cities appealed the lower court’s decisions, and the state appeals court in August asked the Supreme Court to take the cases. The high court heard oral arguments for the cases in December.

ANALYSIS: What’s in Larimer County’s fracking fluid?

The Fort Collins and Longmont cases represent an ongoing debate in Colorado and beyond about whether the ultimate right to regulate the oil and gas industry should belong to states or municipalities. The city of Fort Collins spent about $191,000 on outside counsel defending the citizen-initiated moratorium in court. COGA spent about $1 million fighting the Fort Collins and Longmont laws, along with a fracking ban in Lafayette and moratorium in Broomfield.

There are currently no active wells or permit-pending wells in Fort Collins. One oilfield extends into the northern edge of Fort Collins, but it’s been at least three and a half years since a well was fracked there.

What’s next?

Fort Collins and Longmont can’t appeal the decisions to the U.S. Supreme Court because they aren’t a matter of federal law. The city of Fort Collins hasn’t yet announced its next steps, if any.

In a statement, Fort Collins city attorney Carrie Daggett said it’s “premature” to comment until the city has carefully reviewed the high court’s decision.

“These issues are complex, and we’ll thoroughly examine the decisions relative to Fort Collins and Longmont,” she said.

Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, which campaigned for the ballot measure that installed the moratorium, wrote in a Facebook post that the group will meet in two weeks to discuss next steps. The group had not replied to the Coloradoan’s request for more information by mid-afternoon Monday.

COGA leaders said they were pleased that the court sided with them in their view that local fracking bans and moratoriums are illegal in Colorado.

“This is not just a win for the energy industry, but for the people of Colorado who rely on affordable and dependable energy and a strong economy,” COGA President and CEO Dan Haley said in a press release. “It sends a strong message to anyone trying to drive this vital industry out of the state that those efforts will not be tolerated.”

Longmont’s City Attorney’s Office will meet in executive session with the Longmont City Council on Tuesday night to review the court ruling, according to a city press release.

Broomfield, which faced a COGA lawsuit similar to Fort Collins’ for its voter-initiated, five-year fracking moratorium, stalled the lawsuit in anticipation of the Colorado Supreme Court decision. Monday’s rulings will likely lead to the invalidation of that moratorium, along with a five-year moratorium in place in Boulder and unincorporated Boulder County.

The city of Lafayette didn’t appeal after a district court judge struck down its fracking ban in 2014.

Mixed reactions

City of Longmont

“The case did not end as the city hoped, but we respect the Supreme Court’s decision,” Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs said in a press release. Coombs noted that Longmont’s other oil and gas regulations, including no drilling in neighborhoods, mandatory groundwater monitoring and setbacks from riparian areas remain in place.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat whose district includes Fort Collins

Polis called the decision “a blow to democracy and local control” in a statement.

“Now that the law has been interpreted, it’s up to the state legislature or the people of Colorado to act to protect our neighborhoods and homes,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to help advocates in these efforts to protect our communities.”

The representative also submitted an amicus curiae brief to the court siding with Fort Collins. Through his attorney, Courtney Krause, Polis argued that Fort Collins’ moratorium was a valid land use regulation.

Colorado Rep. Mike Foote, a Democrat whose district includes Longmont

In a press release, Foote said he was disappointed about the decisions but noted that they reaffirmed local governments’ land use authority.

“Cities and counties may need to modify their approach somewhat,” Foote said, “but it’s clear that the Court has reaffirmed that local governments do have a seat at the table when it comes to oil and gas development.”

“And “in cases where local control isn’t recognized, we as legislators have the ability to step in,” he added.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

In a press release, Coffman said that local fracking bans “undermine the interests of the state as a whole.” But despite the court decisions, the fight might not be over yet, she said.

“Sadly, I fear today’s ruling will not end this divisive debate and instead some activists will continue to push anti-development initiatives undermining the state’s record of local cooperation on these policy issues,” she said.

Boulder County Board of Commissioners, which passed a moratorium on fracking in unincorporated areas of the county until July 2018

The high court decisions are specific to the communities named in the lawsuits, an unidentified board representative wrote in a press release, so the impact of the decisions on Boulder County will need further analysis.

“Like all other Colorado communities that regulate oil and gas development, we need to take a close look at our existing regulations before we take any action to change our stance on fracking in unincorporated Boulder County,” the release said.

Conservation Colorado

In a press release, Conservation Colorado executive director Pete Maysmith called the decisions “disappointing” and said that local governments should be able to call a timeout on drilling while they examine its impacts.

“These decisions … show that the oil and gas industry’s threats of litigation are a hammer that the industry has no qualms about wielding against local governments if they decide to engage in land use planning,” he said in the release. “In order to combat this hammer, local governments must be empowered with better tools to protect their citizens from heavy industrial drilling.”

Colorado Petroleum Council

The Colorado Petroleum Council welcomed the decisions for upholding the state’s primacy in overseeing oil and natural gas permitting and curtailing “arbitrary bans” on fracking that could cost local jobs, deprive state and local governments of tax revenue and limit access to energy resources, according to a CPC press release.

“Today’s decision protects private property rights, which are a main driver for the energy renaissance in this country,” executive director Tracee Bentley said in the release. “The U.S. was counted out as an oil and natural gas superpower, but with states like Colorado leading the way, the U.S. defied the odds to become the world’s largest producer of natural gas and a world leader in crude production.”

Advancing Colorado, a political advocacy group that supports fracking and the production of coal and natural gas, among other things

“Today’s ruling protects Colorado’s robust energy portfolio and energy independence, and sends a strong message to the deceptive anti-energy extremists,” executive director Jonathan Lockwood said in a statement. “The Colorado Supreme Court is protecting our democratic process and their ruling will help protect our health, safety and property from the attacks of dangerous special interest groups.”

The May 2016 “WaterNews” is hot off the presses from @DenverWater

This view of Moffat Treatment Plant's corridor was taken in 1939. Photo via <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%40denverwater&src=typd">@DenverWater</a>.
This view of Moffat Treatment Plant’s corridor was taken in 1939. Photo via @DenverWater.

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

Tour a water treatment plant

Learn how water is treated by taking a FREE tour at one of Denver Water’s treatment plants:

  • Denver Water’s Recycling Plant treats effluent from Metro Wastewater to a nonpotable standard for industrial and irrigation uses. The facility, which opened in 2004, is the largest of its kind in Colorado. Tours are available from 1 to 3 p.m. on May 6 and Oct. 7.
  • Moffat Treatment Plant treats West Slope water brought through the Moffat Tunnel and Gross Reservoir for delivery into Denver Water’s distribution system. Tours are available from 1 to 3 p.m. on June 3 and Sept. 9.
  • Marston Treatment Plant treats South Platte River and Roberts Tunnel water for distribution throughout the metro service area. Tours are available from 1 to 3 p.m. on July 8 and Aug. 5.

Tours are limited to 25 people. Participants must be 18 or older and request a spot at least two weeks in advance.

Reserve your spot online or call 303-628-6160.

@NWSPueblo: April 2016 Climate Review and May Preview

April of 2016 started out relatively warm and dry across south central and southeast Colorado. However, a cool and unsettled weather pattern then developed across the region, with slow moving weather systems moving across the state April 10th and 11th, April 14th through the 20th and April 27th through the 30th. These slow moving weather systems brought abundant widespread rain and snow to much of south central and southeast Colorado. This very benefical precipitation has helped to suppress much of the moderate to locally severe drought conditions, which had developed across the far southeastern Colorado Plains over the past several months.

For the month as a whole, near to slightly below normal normal temperatures and above to well above normal precipitation were experienced across the south central and southeast Colorado over the past month of April. The following graphics depict monthly temperature and precipitation departures from normal across the state for April of 2016.

The preliminary average temperature in Alamosa for the month of April was 41.9 degrees, which is 0.1 degrees above normal. Alamosa recorded 1.75 inches of precipitation through out the month of April. This is 1.16 inches above normal and makes April of 2016 the 3rd wettest April on record in Alamosa. This is still well behind the 3.06 inches of precipitation recorded through out April of 1942. Alamosa recorded 15.2 inches of snow through out the month of April. This is 11.6 inches above normal and makes April of 2016 the 2nd snowiest April on record in Alamosa, behind the 17 inches of snow recorded through out April of 1938.

The preliminary average temperature in Colorado Springs for the month of April was 46.7F, which is 0.2 degrees above normal. Colorado Springs recorded 2.28 inches of precipitation and 13.6 inches of snow through out the month of April, which is 0.86 inches and 8.7 inches above normal, respectively. Of note, the 2.28 inches of precipitation and 13.6 inches of snow recorded in Colorado Springs only makes April of 2016 the 20th wettest and 13th snowiest April on record.

The preliminary average temperature in Pueblo for the of month April was 52.5 degrees, which is 1.9 degrees above normal. Pueblo recorded 2.97 inches of precipitation through out the month of April. This is 1.57 inches above normal and makes April of 2016 the 10th wettest April on record in Pueblo. This, however, remains well below the 8.13 inches of precpitation recorded through out April of 1900. Pueblo also recorded 3.3 inches of snow through out the month of April, which is 0.5 inches below normal.

Looking ahead into May, in Alamosa, the average high and low temperature of 64 degrees and 29 degrees on May 1st, warm to 74 degrees and 37 degrees by the end of the month, with an average montthly temperature of 51.2 degrees. Alamosa averages 0.58 inches of precipitation and 0.9 inches of snow through out the month of May.

In Colorado Springs, the average high and low temperature of 65 degrees and 38 degrees on May 1st, warm to 74 degrees and 47 degrees by the end of the month, with an average monthly temperature of 55.9 degrees. Colorado Springs averages 2.03 inches of precipitation and 0.7 inches of snow through out the month of May.

In Pueblo, the average high and low temperature of 72 degrees and 39 degrees on May 1st, warm to 81 degrees and 49 degrees by the end of the month, with an average monthly temperature of 60.4 degrees. Pueblo averages 1.51 inches of precipitation and 0.5 inches of snow through out the month of May.

Below is the Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) temperature and precipitation outlook for the month of May, which gives better chances of below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation, across all of south central and southeast Colorado.