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

July 1, 2015
Upper Colorado River Basin  June 22 thru June 28, 2015 7-day precipitation

Upper Colorado River Basin June 22 thru June 28, 2015 7-day precipitation

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


USGS: Water Used for Hydraulic Fracturing Varies Widely Across United States

June 30, 2015
2011-2014 Hydraulic Fracturing Water Use (Meters Cubed per Well) via the USGS

2011-2014 Hydraulic Fracturing Water Use (Meters Cubed per Well) via the USGS

Here’s the release from the United States Geological Survey (Anne Berry Wade/Leigh Cooper/Tanya Gallegos). (Multiply meters cubed used by 264.172052 to get gallons used). Here’s an excerpt:

The amount of water required to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national-scale analysis and map of hydraulic fracturing water usage detailed in a new USGS study accepted for publication in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The research found that water volumes for hydraulic fracturing averaged within watersheds across the United States range from as little as 2,600 gallons to as much as 9.7 million gallons per well.

More oil and gas coverage here.


It’s been wet but how do we fare statewide and by basin for the federal water year?

June 30, 2015

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Remember, the data is from SNOTEL sites so the mega-rainfall on the plains is not in the numbers.


John Fleck: Lake Powell has risen 20 feet since the middle of May #ColoradoRiverBasin #drought

June 30, 2015

(If the Tweet above does not display correctly use your browser refresh button. There are timing problems with content between WordPress and Twitter at times.)


I’m back!

June 30, 2015
Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) Macroscale Hydrologic Model

Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC)
Macroscale Hydrologic Model

Yesterday I finished up my work for the CVEN 5363 Hydrologic Modeling class at CU Boulder so now I’ll have some of my time back for blogging. I managed to get a few posts up during June and the WordPress reblog capability enabled my posting of articles from the Summit County Citizens Voice, Your Colorado Water Blog, Mile High Water Talk, and Parting the Waters. I hope that you readers will come back by now and again, now that the Ol’ Coyote is back in the publishing business.

For those of you wondering whether or not it is worth your time (and money) to take Dr. Livneh’s course I say, “Sign up for the course as soon as you can.” Its worth it as an introduction to hydrologic modeling and doubly worth it if you believe you’ll need experience with the VIC model.


Water Lines: Colorado water leaders set ambitious conservation goals #COWaterPlan

June 26, 2015

Basin roundtable boundaries

Basin roundtable boundaries


From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

Discussions and disputes over how to meet the water needs of Colorado’s growing population typically revolve around the proper balance between taking additional water from agriculture, taking additional water from the West Slope to the Front Range, and conservation.

Conservation would seem to be the low-hanging fruit, but the nuts and bolts of how to conserve enough to avoid more transfers from agriculture or the West Slope is not as easy as it may at first appear. That scale of conservation is more than can easily be achieved simply through newer, more efficient appliances and tactics like Denver Water’s highly effective “use only what you need” campaign.

Cutting deeper into household water demands would likely require some kind of mandate, on either personal behavior or land development patterns (smaller lots equal less outdoor watering), and that flies in the face of deeply held values on private property rights and local control. From a planning perspective, it’s also harder to calculate how much water you can save from possible future changes in people’s behavior than how much water you can get from a new pipeline or water rights purchase.

These reasons played into the modest approach to conservation in the part of the first draft of Colorado’s water plan that set out “no and low regrets actions,” which are those actions that should be helpful no matter what the future brings in terms of population growth, climate change and public attitudes. This portion of the plan calls for establishing a “medium” level of conservation that would achieve 340,000 acre feet per year of water savings. An acre foot is enough water to cover an acre of land one foot deep, and it is enough to serve two to three households for a year at current use rates. Following a number of public comments and statements calling for higher conservation goals from the West Slope “basin roundtables” of stakeholders and water managers tasked with planning for their own river basins, state leaders are moving towards setting the bar higher.

On June 22, Taylor Hawes of the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), which includes representatives from basin roundtables across the state, told the Colorado Basin Roundtable that the IBCC’s subcommittee on conservation was developing a “stretch goal” to achieve an additional 60,000 acre feet per year of savings for a total of 400,000 acre feet per year. Hawes reported that the committee is proposing that this goal be pursued in a way that respects local control and involves additional monitoring to determine what really works and whether the goal needs to be adjusted up or down.

Depending on how this work is received by the full IBCC and the basin roundtables, this is one of the changes that may make its way into the next draft of the Colorado Water Plan, which is due to be released in the middle of July, with a public comment period lasting until Sept. 17.

To learn more about the Colorado Water Plan and find out how to submit your own comments, go to http://coloradowaterplan.com. You can also plan to attend one of the public hearings the legislatures Water Resource Review Committee is holding on the plan. West Slope hearings will be held July 20 in Durango, July 21 in Montrose, July 22 in Craig, and Aug. 12 in Grandby.

For details, visit http://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cga-legislativecouncil/2015-water-resources-review-committee.

This is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning, and to let the roundtables know what you think, go to http://www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter. You can also find the Water Center at http://www.Facebook.com/WaterCenter.CMU or http://www.Twitter.com/WaterCenterCMU.

More conservation coverage here.


CWCB: The June 2015 #Drought Update is hot off the presses

June 25, 2015

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of US Drought Monitor maps for late-June for the past 5 years.

Here’s the release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Taryn Finnessey/Tracy Kosloff):

A cool and wet May has eliminated drought conditions across much of Colorado. With 31 weather stations recording the wettest month ever, statewide May 2015 was the wettest May since record keeping began in 1895. In total much of the state experienced 300% of normal May precipitation. June temperatures to-date have been slightly warmer than average and the short term forecast shows decreased likelihood of precipitation. Water providers are reporting full systems and below average demand compared to this time last year.

  • Water year-to-date precipitation at mountain SNOTEL sites, as of June 16, is at 97% of normal, an 11% improvement compared to the last drought update, due to record breaking May precipitation.
  • In the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins June precipitation to-date is 350% of normal, and has already exceeded average total June precipitation. Coupled with abundant May accumulation this region has received roughly 10 inches of precipitation since the beginning of May, leading to drought elimination in this area of the state.
  • Below tree-line, most basins have very little snow remaining at this time of year, although the cool and wet conditions over the last month have helped to slow melt off.
  • Cooler than average temperatures in May also contributed to greatly improved drought conditions, with most sites reporting below average evapotranspiration and some reporting record low evapotranspiration.
  • Reservoir Storage statewide is at 107% of average as of May 1st. Storage in the northern half of the state is above average with multiple basins near 110% of average. The Colorado River basin is experiencing its highest storage levels since the turn of the century. The Upper Rio Grande and the basins of Southwestern Colorado currently have the lowest storage at 66% and 89% of average, respectively. Both have seen below average storage levels for multiple years.
  • The Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) is abundant in all of the South Platte, and near normal is the Colorado River, Gunnison, and Arkansas, but showing spots of moderate to severe drought in the Upper Yampa, Conejos and the Piedra. The vast majority of the state has seen improvements in the SWSI since last month.
  • El Niño has continued to gain strength over the last few months and is poised to become a strong event, if not a “Super El Niño.” The last “Super El Niño” was in 1997 when Colorado experienced above average precipitation.
  • All long term forecasting tools indicate normal to above normal precipitation in the coming months, with some indication that the monsoon season may come early.

  • Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 1,246 other followers

    %d bloggers like this: