Webinar — Managing #Drought: Learning from Australia — Alliance for Water Efficiency

Click graphic to go to the Alliance for Water Efficiency website to download the report (Scroll down to the bottom).
Click graphic to go to the Alliance for Water Efficiency website to download the report (Scroll down to the bottom).

From the Alliance for Water Efficiency:

AWE President and CEO Mary Ann Dickinson, Dr. Stuart White, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, and Heather Cooley, Water Program Director of the Pacific Institute will present on their recent report, “Managing Drought: Learning from Australia.” The report provides an overview of the key initiatives implemented by Australia’s four largest cities during an extended period of extreme drought, and outlines how those measures could help California through its current water crisis. On top of successes in urban water efficiency, other key findings in the report include:

  • Broad community involvement across sectors – households, business, industry and government – fosters a sense of fairness and collaboration in saving water.
  • Clear, credible communication about the drought situation and response is needed to maximize public participation and support.
  • Innovative water-pricing mechanisms, not employed during Australia’s millennium drought, could be used to incentivize water savings in California.
  • Click here to download the full report.

    Day/Date: Monday, May 2, 2016
    Start Time: 11 a.m. PDT | 12 p.m. MDT | 1 p.m. CDT | 2 p.m. EDT
    Duration: 1 hour
    Presenters: Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO, Alliance for Water Efficiency; Dr. Stuart White, Director, the Institute for Sustainable Futures; Heather Cooley, Water Program Director, Pacific Institute.

    Cost: Free.

    Click here to register.

    Proposal creates ‘monumental’ friction — the Valley Courier

    Rio Grande del Norte National Monument via the Bureau of Land Management
    Rio Grande del Norte National Monument via the Bureau of Land Management

    From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

    Proponents of an expanded national monument met with water leaders and some resistance on Tuesday in Alamosa.

    Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD) Board Member Dwight Martin , who lives in the southern part of the San Luis Valley where the proposed expansion would occur, was clear in his opposition to expanding the existing Rio Grande del Norte National Monument northward from New Mexico into the San Luis Valley.

    “I am adamantly opposed to this monument designation ,” Martin said. “We really don’t need this monument in Conejos County. I really don’t see what it serves.”

    He added that the Conejos County commissioners are also opposed to the monument expansion. Martin said about 90 percent of Conejos County residents at a meeting he attended on the monument were opposed to the expansion, and he questioned why the expansion was needed.

    Anna Vargas, project coordinator for Conejos Clean Water, the organization promoting the monument expansion, responded that the meeting Martin attended was a meeting hosted by opponents .

    “There has been interest in supporting the national monument, and there has been opposition that has been raised,” Vargas said. “We have tried to address all the concerns.”

    Vargas told water board members on Tuesday that Conejos Clean Water had accepted language recommended by the water district to safeguard water rights within the monument, if it is expanded into the Valley. The language also recognizes the existing Rio Grande Natural Area, which lies in the proposed monument expansion.

    “We are not trying to trump any of the work that’s been done on the natural area,” Vargas said.

    Vargas recently completed the intensive water leadership course sponsored by several water groups including the Rio Grande Water Conservation District. She said the course gave her a better understanding of water issues and rights, such as the Rio Grande Compact. She said she had not viewed the monument expansion as affecting water rights but as more of a land protection issue . She said she now understood the potential problem implied water rights could generate.

    “We don’t want national monument designation to have any implied water rights,” she said. The goal of the monument expansion, she said, is to preserve the land for traditional uses.

    The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, encompassing 242,500 acres, was designated by presidential proclamation in 2013. The expansion proposal would bring the monument north of the New Mexico state line into the southern part of the Valley and would encompass about 64,000 additional acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, Vargas explained.

    She said the goal would be to preserve traditional uses such as piñon and wood gathering, hunting, fishing and other recreational uses. The monument would also prevent the land from being sold or leased for mining extraction. The turquoise mine would be “grandfathered in,” she said.

    Vargas said proponents of the monument expansion want to be proactive in protecting the land from oil and gas activity.

    “To us, that is a threat,” she said.

    In 2007 that threat was real, she said, with four oil/gas sales involving 14,500 acres in the San Luis Hills and Flat Tops. The reason drilling did not occur, she added, was “basically because of a loophole” created because private landholders had not been notified of the sales.

    “What we don’t want is a repeat of that,” she said. There might not be a loophole to prevent it in the future, she added.

    Martin said, “This is really about oil and gas and not about protecting the land. All the monument will do is make it more restrictive for landowners.”

    Vargas said that is why Conejos Clean Water is trying to get more community input and address these issues. She said there are rumors that the group is trying to prevent such uses as cattle grazing, but that is not the case. Such traditional uses are what the monument would protect, she said.

    The land would continue to be BLM property, public lands, she said.

    “We want it to stay publicly accessible.”

    “Thank you for recognizing the concerns the district expressed,” RGWCD Attorney David Robbins told Vargas.

    The district also sent a letter to the Department of the Interior and Colorado’s congressional delegation expressing the district’s concerns about the monument expansion without terms and conditions that would ensure water resources and the Rio Grande Natural Area are not adversely affected. The Rio Grande Natural Area, created through a federal, state and local partnership, integrates the management of federal and private properties along the Rio Grande between Alamosa and the state line to protect the riparian corridor for several purposes including Rio Grande Compact deliveries.

    The district’s letter to congressmen regarding the monument expansion stated: “Every federal withdrawal or designation carries with it an implication that sufficient water will be made available to support the purposes of the designation unless specifically disavowed. The flows of the Rio Grande and the Conejos rivers in this area of the San Luis Valley are intimately tied to the economic and social health of the entire region, and reflect 150 years of water use practices that support the entirety of the San Luis Valley’s population as well as a water management structure designated to allow Colorado to freely utilize its share of the Rio Grande and its tributaries pursuant to the Rio Grande Compact. Any new federal land use designation that could impact or interfere with the water use practices in the San Luis Valley or Colorado’s ability to utilize the water resources to which it is entitled must be strenuously resisted by our elected federal representatives , as well as all of our state officials . This matter is of enormous importance.”

    Representatives of the district also personally met with congressmen and Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor.

    The district presented language protecting the Rio Grande Natural Area that it requested be included in the monument designation, were that to occur, and Conejos Clean Water has agreed to that language.

    Robbins said the Valley’s congressmen and Department of Interior also assured the district they would not move forward with a monument expansion unless the district’s concerns were properly addressed.

    Happy(?) #EarthDay 2016 #ClimateChange


    Click here to go to EarthDay.org to learn about opportunities and celebrations.

    Map: Land and ocean temperature departure from average for March 2016. (NOAA NCEI)
    Map: Land and ocean temperature departure from average for March 2016.

    Greeley Water closing in on new rate structure to encourage conservation

    Greeley in 1870 via the Greeley Historical Society and the Denver Public Library
    Greeley in 1870 via the Greeley Historical Society and the Denver Public Library

    From The Greeley Tribune (Catharine Sweeney):

    Greeley water officials are continuing to push a new water rate system that would provide residents with incentives to cut their consumption, and local leaders are warming up to the idea.

    The Water and Sewer Board went over the plan again during its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

    Today, Greeley residents pay a flat rate for water that doesn’t take into account how much they use, and regionally, that’s rare.

    “Really, Greeley and Loveland are the only cities left in northern Colorado that have uniform rates,” said Eric Reckentine, the department’s deputy director of water resources.

    A few cities, such as Aurora and Colorado Springs, charge their residents in uniform blocks for usage.

    Greeley officials find the blocks arbitrary. Someone who irrigates a lawn that’s 1,000 square feet obviously will use more water to do so than someone who owns a 500-square-foot lawn.

    Greeley is opting for a tiered water rate based on a water budget, or calculated allowance, water planners give residents. Planners use the number of people in a household and the amount of land the resident could irrigate to decide how many gallons a month each home should use. They allot 55 gallons per person per day. They give a little more than two gallons per square foot of irrigable land.

    A four-person family on an average lot would get 21,000 gallons per month.

    Under the new plan, the family would pay $3.88 per 1,000 gallons within the budget, and the rate would increase incrementally as the water usage exceeded the budget.

    There are four tiers. If residents are within budget, using 100 percent or less of the allotment, they get the reduced rate. If use falls between 100 and 130 percent of the allotment, it’s considered inefficient use, and it will cost $4.74 for each 1,000 gallons in that range. If residents keep overusing and get into the 130-150 percent of their allotment range, they’ll pay $6.04 for that segment. If they get past 150 percent of their allotment, that will cost $8.62 for every 1,000 gallons.

    The extra cost didn’t come in increments when city officials first heard the plan in February. Anything outside the budgeted water was charged at the highest tier a resident hit.

    “You paid that amount for all of it,” Mayor Tom Norton said during an interview. “It was kind of more of a punishment.”

    Greeley and water department officials said the goal was to recover costs for overuse, which is about 300 acre-feet every year. An acre-foot of water is how much an average family uses in a year.

    “That’s several million dollars worth of water,” Water Board Chairman Harold Evans said.

    Water Values podcast: Water #Conservation and Its Impact on Water Utilities


    From The Water Values (David McGimpsey):

    Recently, I was fortunate enough to moderate a panel at the American Bar Association’s 34th annual Water Law Conference, which took place in Austin, Texas. The panelists were fantastic: Pat Mulroy, the former General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority who now holds a number of positions, including Senior Fellow with the UNLV Boyd School of Law and Brookings Institution; Robert Puente, the President and CEO of the San Antonio Water System; and Vail Thorne, Senior Environmental Health & Safety Counsel with Coca-Cola. This week’s podcast is the Q&A session from that conference – a big thanks to the ABA and to each panelist for allowing the session to be recorded and released as a podcast. Listen in for terrific insights from these tremendous panelists.

    In this session, you’ll learn about:

  • The importance of non-revenue water as a conservation measure
  • Water conservation and its use as a tool for system growth
  • Challenges faced by utilities as a result of conservation
  • How companies use conservation to further their social license to operate
  • How technology affects water conservation
  • Governance and a common problem often faced by utilities in sustaining their business model
  • Challenges utilities face when implementing green infrastructure
  • The importance of education when implementing a water conservation program
  • RRWCD joins Colorado NRCS in funding 2016 OAI

    From the Republican River Water Conservation District (Deb Daniel):

    The Republican River Water Conservation District (RRWCD) acting through its Water Activity Enterprise will again partner with NRCS to encourage water conservation through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI). The RRWCD will provide incentives to producers that voluntarily implement certain water conservation measures. Last year the RRWCD teamed up with NRCS on this program and provided $510,000 to convert approximately five hundred ten acres (510 acres) from irrigated to dryland agriculture or grassland.

    This year the District has expanded their participation in the program and will also provide funding along with the NRCS incentives on short-term irrigation rotations, and certain water management improvements such as soil moisture monitoring systems, weather stations, and conversion from sprinkler irrigation to an underground drip irrigation system.

    In addition to the NRCS incentives, the RRWCD will provide between six hundred ($600.00) and one thousand two hundred dollars ($1,200.00) depending on the location of the well. In addition to the permanent well retirement practice, the District will be providing incentives to eligible producers that enter into short –term (1 -3 years) rotations from irrigated cropland to dryland cropping practices. Priorities have been established to focus RRWCD funding in areas that provides the highest level of credit for Colorado in the Republican River Compact.

    Recent research has suggested that high capacity wells can reduce water consumption by as much as twenty percent (20%) in some cases, with little or no effect on the overall profitability of that particular well. To supplement NRCS incentives the RRWCD has earmarked fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) to producers who wish to continue to irrigate, but agree to reduce pumping by at least ten percent (10%) using water conservation measures such as weather stations, soil moisture monitoring and conversion from sprinkler irrigation to an underground drip system. More efficient irrigation systems can contribute substantially to prolonging the life of the aquifer, while maintaining a strong irrigated agricultural economy.

    The RRWCD has consulted with groundwater management districts, the Water Preservation Partnership, and others to develop strategies to assist producers through financial incentives to voluntarily reduce water consumption. Several surveys distributed throughout the District to producers have indicated that voluntary, incentive based practices were preferred over regulatory water restrictions. The OAI provides yet another voluntary incentive based tool that all producers can use to help prolong the life of this aquifer. It is important that each and every irrigated agriculture producer evaluate their individual irrigation practices and determine if they can help reduce their impact on the aquifer by implementing one or more of these water conservation practices.

    Republican River Basin
    Republican River Basin

    Deficit irrigation workshop offered in Morgan County — The Sterling Journal Advocate


    From the CSU Extension Office (Wilma Trujillo) via The Sterling Journal Advocate:

    Colorado State University Extension is offering a continuing education program on “Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods: Deficit irrigation monitoring.”

    This hands-on experience workshop is aimed to educate and train crop producers, crop consultants, water managers, users and regulators on the principles, advantages and disadvantages (including limitations) of selected water management techniques to quantify water balance components and consumptive use under different deficit irrigation levels. Colorado State University Extension specialist, Dr. José Chávez, Dr. Allan Andales, Joel Schneeklot, and Dr. Aymm Elhaddad, will provide information on the methods to estimate and measure crop water use or evapotranspiration and how to use the techniques for managing deficit irrigation regimes and documenting water balance components.

    This one-day water management technical program will be held at the Country Steak Out Restaurant in Fort Morgan on April 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The workshop offers 5 CEUs for certified crop advisor at no cost.

    For registration, please contact the Morgan County Extension Office at 970 542-3540 or coopex_morgan@mail.colostate.edu or Wilma Trujillo at wilma.trujillo@ colostate.edu. Registration is free and lunch will be provided at no cost. Please RSVP by April 15; space and hand-outs are limited.

    This program is sponsored by Colorado State University Extension, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Northern Water Conservancy District, West Greeley Conservation District and Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.