Aspinall Unit forecast for spring operations

March 24, 2015
Aspinall Unit

Aspinall Unit

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

The March 15th forecast for the April – July unregulated inflow volume to Blue Mesa Reservoir is 590,000 acre-feet. This is 87% of the 30 year average. Snowpack in the Gunnison Basin is currently at 78% of average. Blue Mesa Reservoir current content is 551,800 acre-feet which is 67% of full. Current elevation is 7486.2 ft. Maximum content at Blue Mesa Reservoir is 829,500 acre-feet at an elevation of 7519.4 ft.

Black Canyon Water Right
The peak flow and shoulder flow components of the Black Canyon Water Right will be determined by the May 1 forecast of the April – July unregulated inflow volume to Blue Mesa Reservoir. If the May 1 forecast is equal to the current forecast of 590,000 acre-feet of runoff volume, the peak flow target will be equal to 4,340 cfs for a duration of 24 hours. The shoulder flow target will be 381 cfs, for the period between May 1 and July 25. The point of measurement of flows to satisfy the Black Canyon Water Right is the Gunnison River below Gunnison Tunnel streamgage at the upstream boundary of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Aspinall Unit Operations ROD
Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the peak flow and duration flow targets in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, will be determined by the forecast of the April – July unregulated inflow volume to Blue Mesa Reservoir and the hydrologic year type. At the time of the spring operation, if the forecast is equal to the current forecast of 590,000 acre-feet of runoff volume, the hydrologic year type will be set as Average Dry. Under an Average Dry year the peak flow target will be 8,070 cfs and the duration target at this flow will be 10 days.

Projected Spring Operations
During spring operations, releases from the Aspinall Unit will be made in an attempt to match the peak flow of the North Fork of the Gunnison River to maximize the potential of meeting the desired peak at the Whitewater gage, while simultaneously meeting the Black Canyon Water Right peak flow amount. The magnitude of release necessary to meet the desired peak at the Whitewater gage will be dependent on the flow contribution from the North Fork of the Gunnison River and other tributaries downstream from the Aspinall Unit. Current projections for spring peak operations show that flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon could be in the 5,000 to 5,500 cfs range for 10 days in order to achieve the desired peak flow and duration at Whitewater. If actual flows on the North Fork of the Gunnison River are less than currently projected, flows through the Black Canyon could be even higher. With this runoff forecast and corresponding downstream targets, Blue Mesa Reservoir is currently projected to fill to an elevation of around 7508.2 feet with an approximate peak content of 730,000 acre-feet.

Downstream flow targets and the projected spring operations to meet them will change with revisions to the forecast and are highly dependent on tributary flows throughout the Gunnison Basin.

More Aspinall Unite coverage here.


The Aspinall Unit operations meeting minutes are hot off the presses #ColoradoRiver

February 25, 2015

Aspinall Unit dams

Aspinall Unit dams


Click here to read the minutes from the recent Aspinall Unit Operations meeting.


Pueblo Reservoir winter operations update

February 23, 2015
Pueblo dam releases

Pueblo dam releases

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Water users are playing the annual guessing game of how much water will be in Lake Pueblo when it comes time to ensure enough space is left for flood protection.

While there could be a slight chance for a spill, the Bureau of Reclamation is working with other water interests to reduce the odds.

“The long-term forecast for this spring is for cooler temps and increased precipitation,” said Roy Vaughan, Reclamation’s local manager for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.

Right now the reservoir holds about 247,000 acre-feet, and at the current pace of filling would be at 267,000 acre-feet by April 15 — about 10,000 acre-feet above the limit for flood control.

Of the total, nearly 49,000 acre-feet is in “if-and-when,” or excess capacity, accounts subject to spill if there is too much water in Lake Pueblo. Fry-Ark Project water would be the last to spill.

However, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District is again seeking a waiver to hold a little more water until May 1, the deadline for releasing about 14,500 acre-feet of holdover water.

At the same time, flows below Pueblo Dam are increasing to balance the winter water program, Division Engineer Steve Witte said.

“That’s not good news for the work that’s going on along the levee,” Witte said.

Some winter water also is stored in John Martin Reservoir, which is very low, or in reservoirs owned by ditch companies. Winter water storage ends March 15 and is running close to the 20-year average for the first time in years.


Arkansas Valley Conduit update: Only $500,000 so far in federal budget, Southeastern Water was hoping for $5.5 million this year

February 20, 2015
Preferred route for the Arkansas Valley Conduit via Reclamation

Preferred route for the Arkansas Valley Conduit via Reclamation

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit has flatlined in the federal budget. Striking a somber tone, Executive Director Jim Broderick broke the news Thursday to the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. The district sought $5.5 million for the conduit in fiscal year 2016, but so far only $500,000 is included in a constricted federal budget.

“It’s hard to pinpoint the reason for flatlining,” Broderick said. “But I think this is a short-term problem. … The issue isn’t that we’re dead in the water, we’re just going slow.”

He speculated that the federal Office of Management and Budget frowned on the project because it has not yet begun moving dirt and a general policy that water-quality projects should involve the Environmental Protection Agency.

The conduit progress has been overseen by the Bureau of Reclamation, which shifted funds this year to boost conduit funding to about $3 million. However, there may not be much money available.

Reclamation had a $96 million budget for projects nationwide this year, but allocated $50 million to deal with California drought issues and $30 million to settle claims with American Indian tribes.

District officials are continuing with attempts to encourage reprogramming federal money for the project. In the interim, the district will work closely with state officials to find money and analyze the workflow toward building the conduit.

On a positive note, Broderick said the conduit could move up in the federal pipeline by 2019.

The $400 million conduit would reach 132 miles from Pueblo Dam to Lamar and Eads, and would serve 50,000 people in 40 communities. It was first authorized by Congress as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project in 1962.

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.


USBR: Additional FY 2015 Funding of $96.9 Million Available

February 9, 2015


From the US Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López today released the spending plan for $96.9 million provided to Reclamation in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015. The funds will go toward Western drought response and rural water projects, among other important activities.
“Reclamation and its partners are confronting a growing gap between supply and demand in river basins throughout the West,” López said. “The funding released today will help us meet immediate needs and support long-term infrastructure and environmental needs of key water projects.”

The funding is divided among six areas:

  • Western drought response ($50 million),
  • rural water projects ($31 million),
  • water conservation and delivery ($8 million),
  • fish passage and fish screens ($4 million),
  • facility operation, maintenance and rehabilitation ($2.9 million),
  • environmental restoration and compliance ($1 million).

Extreme and prolonged drought has gripped major river basins across the West. In many areas, mountain snowpack is far below average for this time of year. The $50 million provided for Western drought response will address seven projects:

  • Central Valley Project, which includes funding for the Delta Division, Friant Division, Shasta Division and water and power operations, California ($19.9 million);
  • WaterSMART Grants, Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program, and Drought Response and Comprehensive Drought Planning ($14 million);
  • Lower Colorado River Basin Drought Response Action Plan, California, Arizona and Nevada ($8.6 million);
    Native American Programs ($4 million);
  • Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project, Washington ($2 million);
  • Lewiston Orchards Project, Idaho ($1 million);
  • Carlsbad Project, New Mexico ($500,000).

Reclamation based its Western drought funding on a thorough review at national, regional and program levels, to ensure a balanced approach. In some cases the funding allows Reclamation to accelerate selected projects to meet high-priority needs sooner than it would in absence of the new funding. In other cases it allows Reclamation to respond immediately to many of the West’s most critical drought-related needs.

Reclamation is also advancing the completion of its authorized rural water projects with the goal of delivering potable water to tribal and non-tribal residents within the rural water project areas. A total of $31 million will go toward five projects:

  • Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program – Garrison Diversion Unit, North Dakota ($10.3 million);
  • Rocky Boy’s/North Central Montana Rural Water System, Montana ($6.8 million);
  • Fort Peck Reservation/Dry Prairie Rural Water System, Montana ($6.6 million);
  • Lewis and Clark Rural Water System, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota ($6.6 million);
  • Eastern New Mexico Water Supply, New Mexico ($700,000).

The remaining $15.9 million will go toward nine projects:

  • fish screen and restoration projects in the Central Valley Project, California ($2.5 million);
  • Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project at Cle Elum Dam, Washington ($1.5 million);
  • agricultural water use efficiency projects within the Central Valley Project, California ($5 million);
  • Endangered Species Recovery Implementation Program on the Platte River, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming ($2 million);
  • water conservation projects on Rogue River Basin Project, Oregon ($1 million);
  • water leasing for supplemental water on the Middle Rio Grande ($1 million);
  • rehabilitation work at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery and Keswick Dam Powerplant in the Central Valley Project, California ($1.3 million);
  • renovation of the Olmsted Powerplant, Utah ($1 million);
  • repairs on the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Project, ($650,000).

Visit http://www.usbr.gov/budget/ to view a summary of all the projects in this spending plan.


Climate change will increase irrigation requirements and evaporation in the #ColoradoRiver Basin

February 7, 2015

Lake Mead water levels via NOAA

Lake Mead water levels via NOAA


From the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Henry Brean):

The Colorado River faces a dual threat from climate change as rising temperatures increase the demand for irrigation water and accelerate evaporation at the river’s two largest reservoirs.

So says a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which predicts an 8 percent increase in irrigation demand on the lower half of the Colorado River Basin and a 10 percent increase in evaporation from Lake Mead by 2080.

The upper half of the basin, above Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, is expected to see demand for agricultural water jump by almost 23 percent, while Lake Powell loses 7 percent more water to evaporation than it did during the last half of the 20th century.

The estimates are based on a projected temperature increase of about 5 degrees across the region.

In a statement announcing the report Friday, Reclamation Commissioner Estevan Lopez said the findings will help regulators and stakeholders address the challenges that lie ahead.

“Understanding how climate change will impact crop irrigation demand and reservoir evaporation provides vital information for the development of alternatives and solutions to meet those challenges and support the nation’s economy,” Lopez said.

Agriculture accounts for roughly 80 percent of all the water diverted from the Colorado River, so even a small increase in demand can have a significant impact on the system.

The new report is the latest in a series of region-wide risk assessments looking at the impacts of climate change on water resources in the West.

A previous bureau study predicted a 9 percent decline in the Colorado’s flow by 2050 as a result of climate change…

In all, the Bureau of Reclamation’s new report looks at 12 reservoirs on seven river systems west of the Mississippi. Its outlook is also bleak for the Truckee and Carson Rivers, which supply water to farms and communities in northwestern Nevada, Reno among them.

According to the report, rising temperatures will drive up agricultural demand on the Truckee and the Carson by more than 14 percent over the next 65 years, while evaporation will increase by 14 percent at Lake Tahoe and by 7 percent at Lahontan Reservoir.

The bureau’s projections of future irrigation demand do not account for changing crop patterns or efficiency improvements at farms.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


USBR: Study Reveals Climate Change Impacts on Irrigation Demand and Reservoir Evaporation in the West

February 6, 2015

Hockey Stick based on Mann & Jones 2003

Hockey Stick based on Mann & Jones 2003


Click here for the release:

Reflecting current climate projections for the western United States, a new report issued by the Bureau of Reclamation reveals a projected shift in demand for crop irrigation across eight major river basins. The study evaluated irrigation water requirements for the second half of the 20th century and, as compared to projected demand for the second half of the 21st century, found that net irrigation water requirements in the West may be six percent higher. Another area of study revealed in the report – based on a projected temperature increase of approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit in the region – estimates that annual evaporation at most of the 12 reservoirs modeled by the study could increase 2 to 6 inches by 2080.

The report on irrigation demand and reservoir evaporation projections is the latest in a series of West-Wide Climate Risk Assessments – analyses of overall impacts from climate change on water resources in the West through the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART Program.

In announcing the report, Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López said the study was an important piece of information about climate change imposing stresses on water resources and will ultimately help inform water planners and stakeholders in confronting future climate-related supply and demand challenges.

“Reclamation and its partners are engaged in critical work to confront a future with increasing disparity between water supply and demand in basins throughout the West,” Commissioner López said. “Understanding how climate change will impact crop irrigation demand and reservoir evaporation provides vital information for the development of alternatives and solutions to meet those challenges and support the nation’s economy.”

Projected future irrigation demands are only estimates and provide a starting point for further analyses and discussions with customers and stakeholders. The results do not account for changing crop patterns and other socioeconomic considerations that are best addressed with stakeholder input within a basin study or other process.

Using climate projections for temperature and precipitation, scientists considered projected irrigation demand in eight major river basins: Colorado, Rio Grande, Sacramento-San Joaquin, Truckee, Columbia, Missouri and Klamath. The water evaporation model was applied to 12 reservoirs in many of those major Reclamation river basins: Lake Powell, Lake Mead, American Falls Reservoir, Lake Roosevelt, Upper Klamath Lake, Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Boysen Reservoir, Elephant Butte Reservoir, Lake Shasta, Millerton Lake, Lake Tahoe and Lahontan Reservoir. This table provides one set of projections of irrigation demand by basin and potential changes in evaporation for the twelve reservoirs when compared to actual figures from 1950 to 1999:

evaportationinwestunderclimatechangeusbr

Scientists utilized climate change data to project alterations in precipitation and temperature and to assess evaporation for 12 reservoirs within those river basins, when considering observed and projected climate change impacts. Precipitation projections are highly variable and basin dependent, and they can vary significantly within individual basins as well.

“Through these studies, Reclamation is highlighting climate change impacts and encouraging a collaborative dialogue on the effective management of our water and power resources,” López said. “Facing the challenge in meeting future irrigation demands is one way we are working to underscore our commitment to a strong agricultural economy and national food security.”

Reclamation’s West-Wide Climate Risk Assessment is part of the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART Program, which focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability, while helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. The report may be found at http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/wcra.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,147 other followers

%d bloggers like this: