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.

    Arkansas River Basin Water Forum recap

    Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth
    Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth

    Pressures on Colorado’s water supply are leading to innovative approaches that reduce the risk to cities, farms and the environment, and good examples can be found in the Arkansas River basin.

    The Arkansas River basin has felt the pinch from growth along the Front Range for decades, and like a sponge being squeezed, new ideas are emerging.

    There’s no better illustration than the way Pueblo Water is approaching its newest purchase on the Bessemer Ditch. In the past, the Board of Water Works practiced buy-and-dry, where water-rich farms were dried up permanently to supply the city, said Alan Ward, water resources manager. The attitude has changed.

    “Pueblo Water would like to see agriculture continue,” Ward told the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum this week. “It’s an important part of our heritage.”

    The water board bought about 28 percent of the shares on Bessemer Ditch from 2009-11, and agreed to allow irrigation to continue for at least 20 years under all of its contracts.

    The purchase and lease-back method is not new. Other cities, and Pueblo itself, have used it before. The farmers get large upfront payments, which in the short-term increase local economic benefits. But eventually, past sales of water have led to dry-ups.

    Pueblo Water now is looking at ways to ensure water would still be available to irrigate the farms on the Bessemer Ditch, with the city using the water when it’s needed.

    “Pueblo Water wants to add a municipal use to the agricultural use,” Ward said of the current court process, which will take years to complete. “But we want to move it back and forth and continue leases to farmers.”

    The same dynamics are at work with the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch, but the difference is that farmers would keep control.

    “This project is trying to incorporate a number of existing components, so we can have a viable lease-fallowing program,” said Leah Martinsson, an attorney for the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Super Ditch.

    She explained that state laws over the past 15 years have not been used much, because the traditional market forces that drive agricultural sellers and municipal buyers are easier for both sides. Some require storage, while others lead to long-term changes in water court that could reduce the amount of water under a water right.

    But that’s changing.

    In 2013, House Bill 1248 created a new process on a trial basis that would allow water to be leased from farms to cities (or other farms) under an administrative process. The water rights themselves would not change, as required under other laws, and farms would not be dried up.

    Water could only be leased for three years in 10 for the same parcel of farmland, or only 30 percent of a farmer’s ground could be included in any given year, assuring availability of water throughout the 10-year period of the pilot program.

    The new law was first used last year when six farms on the Catlin Canal were enrolled in a lease agreement with Fountain, Security and Fowler.

    “It’s voluntary, but all of the farmers wanted to participate again,” Martinsson said. “They said they wished they’d included more land.”

    The forum also looked at the possibility that less water would be available for imports from the Colorado River basin in the future. Under the 1922 Colorado River Compact, there is not enough water in average annual flows to meet all of the appropriations, said Aaron Derwingson of the Nature Conservancy.

    Some initial programs, funded by cities outside the basin that export water, are looking at ways to keep more water in the basin, reducing the risk that supplies would be curtailed, he said.
    Meanwhile, the Colorado Water Trust is working to preserve in-stream flows by brokering deals between high-country irrigators and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said Amy Beatie, executive director.

    Gary Barber, project coordinator for the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, said all of the ideas tie into the Colorado Water Plan and the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, which both work to balance all of the state’s water needs.

    “The idea is to have a cycle where we’re getting projects completed as we’re planning,” Barber said.

    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters
    Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

    AWRA #Colorado Section Annual Symposium recap @AWRACO

    Map of the United States showing routes of principal explorers, from 1501 to 1844. https://www.loc.gov/item/99446132/ [Click to enlarge]
    Map of the United States showing routes of principal explorers, from 1501 to 1844. https://www.loc.gov/item/99446132/ [Click to enlarge]
    What a successful event Friday. Katie Melander and her colleagues managed to engage speakers that covered a wide range of topics, educated, and entertained.

    One of the highlights was Greg Hobbs’ journey through the history of Colorado Water Law. His presentation included maps from the first surveys and expeditions to the West, along with the additions to the inventory of federal lands through purchase and war.

    Confederate Texas’ forces and their intent to capture Colorado’s gold fields led to Colorado’s borders surrounding the headwaters, he told the attendees during his lunch hour keynote. The lines around the gold fields coincided with the headwaters of the Colorado, Platte, Arkansas, and Rio Grande.

    US Westward expansion and the acquisition of federal land, via Library.net.
    US Westward expansion and the acquisition of federal land, via Library.net.

    I always enjoy the presentations by the AWRA Colorado Section scholarship recipients.

    Adrianne Kroepsch’s talk, “Oil & gas Development in the South Platte River Basin: An Evolving Energy-Water Nexus,” highlighted the different ways that information sources “frame” the discussion. For example, while industry and the Colorado Division of Water Resources emphasize the small amount of water consumed by Oil and Gas exploration and production, environmentalists point out that the water is lost forever to the water cycle.

    Cynthia Kanno’s presentation, “Quantifying the Impacts of Spills At Unconventional Oil and Gas Production Sites on Groundwater Quality,” explained her approach, using a groundwater model, to determine what types of spills could be expected to reach groundwater. This could possibly inform the first responders and industry about the type and level of responses.

    By attending the Symposium you can help support the AWRA Colorado Section scholarship effort.

    Nolan Doesken -- Colorado Water Foundation for Water Education President's Award Presentation 2011
    Nolan Doesken — Colorado Water Foundation for Water Education President’s Award Presentation 2011

    The information firehose didn’t stop with Hobbs’ luncheon presentation. Colorado State Climatologist, Nolan Doesken’s presentation, “Stepping Through Time: Colorado’s Climate, Water Resources, and Technology,” demanded your attention. Nolan went through some Colorado climate history, the origins of his position, and the data collection systems used over time. He also issued several predictions for Colorado climate: Summers will continue to be warmer than winters; Precipitation in Colorado will still vary greatly from place to place with changing seasons; We will still get some precipitation as snow; There will be future drought; and, “I guarantee that whatever comes next will be interesting.”

    Doesken also made a pitch for the very successful citizen science effort CoCoRAHS.

    Esther Vincent (Northern Water) talked about the loss of clarity in Grand Lake since the completion of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. In sum, the shallowness of Shadow Mountain Reservoir encourages weeds, sediment mobilizaiton, and algae growth which is then transported to Grand Lake in order to send transmountain water through the Adams Tunnel to the Front Range. She and the Clarity Working Group were recently successful in getting a sliding-scale clarity standard from the State of Colorado.

    Other presentations included: Aurora and Colorado Springs’ planning and adaptive strategy facing climate change and increasing population; A method that utilizes GIS to integrate aerial photography and SNOTEL data for improved estimates of snowpack; How conservation is included in the Colorado Water Plan; The Arkansas Basin Roundtable Watershed Health Toolkit and it’s genesis (Need determined during the West Fork Fire); An introduction to the One World One Water Center at Metropolitan State University in Denver (My alma mater!); and, finally, a panel discussion, “Changes in Water Administration — A Conversation with the Boots that Run the Water,” with DWR water commissioners and the lead from the Division 1 accounting group.

    All of my notes (Tweets) from the event can be accessed here. If you don’t have a Twitter account you can still view them. Enter http://twitter.com into your browser or click on the link above, click on the Live button at the top of the page, scroll down to the bottom and read backward since Tweets are in reverse chronological order.

    I also want to plug the venue, the Mount Vernon Country Club. Near and dear to Coyote Gulch, fast Wi-Fi and a great luncheon buffet.


    “…we’re all tied to the #ColoradoRiver” — John Stulp

    Hayfield message to President Obama 2011 via Protect the Flows
    Hayfield message to President Obama 2011 via Protect the Flows

    From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

    Would you be willing to pay an extra penny or two on every beverage container you purchase for the next 30 years or so, if it could assure Colorado will meet its future water needs?

    John Stulp, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s special advisor on water policy and director of the state’s Interbasin Compact Committee, put that question to an audience of more than 50 people in Steamboat Springs on Monday, and he was surprised at how many hands shot up.

    Now that Colorado has its new statewide water plan in place, Stulp said it’s time to begin thinking about where the state will get the billions of dollars needed to close the water supply gap the state faces to support another estimated 5 million residents.

    “The governor believes every conversation about water should start with conservation,” Stulp said. “I’ve always said, ‘You can have as much fun as you can afford.’ The state’s role might be something to the tune of $3 billion,” suggesting the residents of the state need to plan to raise about $100 million annually.

    And that’s a lot of beverage containers…

    Stulp, who comes from a cattle ranching/wheat growing background in southeastern Colorado, thinks our futures are bound together by the urgent need for more water supply.

    “I say it pulls us and ties us together,” he said, “and we’re all tied to the Colorado River, because if anything happens there, it happens to all of us.”

    Denver Water, which supplies water to 25 percent of the taps in the state, is doing more than many might realize, Stulp pointed out. The biggest water provider in Colorado is serving many thousands more users than it did 30 years ago but is using the same amount of water, thanks to conservation measures including the re-use of water.

    After all, Denver Waster’s customers want to enjoy the rivers of the Western Slope, too, Stulp said.

    There has been a paradigm shift in the way the Front Range looks at water, Stulp continued. Former Department of Natural Resources Chief Mike King, who is the new director of future water supply for Denver Water, grew up on the Western Slope in Montrose and understands the water outlook from this side of the Continental Divide.

    But the agency also knows if the lower basin states ever made a call on the Colorado, demanding their share of water, it would hurt the Front Range more than the Western Slope, Stulp said. In part, because every acre-foot of water that wasn’t diverted to the eastern side would be felt doubly, because the water is used more than once.

    Asked by Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger, who also serves on the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District board of directors, if Gov. Hickenlooper is putting pressure on governors in the lower basin states such as California, Arizona and Nevada to use their water more wisely, Stulp replied, “Yes.” But he quickly added that diplomacy in the form of the relationships Colorado Water Conservation Board Director James Eklund has built with his counterparts is essential to Colorado’s relations with other Western states.

    Marsha Daughenbaugh, executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance, asked Stulp for his reaction to the fact that 40 percent of food produced in the U.S., much of it with the help of irrigation, is wasted.

    “It goes to show you how cheap food is in this country and how cheap water is,” he concluded.

    MCWC: Glenwood Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour, April 27 #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    From email from the Middle Colorado Watershed Council:

    Have you ever wondered what happens to the dirty water from your shower, laundry and toilet after it goes down the drain? What about the runoff from lawns and gardens, and rainwater and car washing?

    The Middle Colorado Watershed Council invites you to join us and the Roaring Fork Conservancy for a tour of Glenwood Springs’ wastewater treatment plant. Trent Mahaffey from the City of Glenwood Springs will give us an in-depth look at the process of treating wastewater and allow its safe return to our rivers and streams.

    Treatment processes at the facility include extended aeration with aerobic digesters and oxidation ponds, with odor control provided by air ionization and circulation. Before all effluent is returned to the environment it is even disinfected though an ultraviolet process. Come join us for a free tour of this state of the art facility.

    Location: Glenwood Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant, West Glenwood Springs. Find a map to the facility here.
    Date: April 27, 2016
    Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm
    Cost: free
    Registration Deadline: Registration is required by clicking here. The tour will be limited to 15 participants. For additional information, contact Dan at 970-389-8234.

    This workshop is hosted by the City of Glenwood Springs in partnership with the Roaring Fork Conservancy and the Middle Colorado Watershed Council.

    Glenwood Springs via Wikipedia
    Glenwood Springs via Wikipedia

    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