BRC's Fill Lake Powell Project

Interesting stuff:

2 to 6 acre-feet
Amount of water needed annually to irrigate an acre of alfalfa, depending on location and climate. In Colorado’s San Luis Valley alfalfa consumes about 2 acre-feet per year, while in California’s Imperial Valley it can be a bit more than 6 acre-feet annually. Most other places fall somewhere in between.
4.1 million Acres of irrigated agricultural land in Utah, Arizona and Colorado in 2017.
2.7 million Acres of irrigated agricultural land in those three states planted with alfalfa and other hay crops.
3 million Acres of irrigated agricultural land in Western states (including the Colorado River Basin) planted with alfalfa grown for forage (hay), grazing or seed in 2022.
18,000 acres Amount of land planted with alfalfa in in San Juan County, New Mexico, in 2022, all of which relies on water from Colorado River tributaries for irrigation.
76,070 acres Amount of land planted with alfalfa in the San Luis Valley in Colorado in 2022. Fields here are irrigated with water from the Rio Grande, which dried out in Albuquerque this year.
85,795 acres Amount of land planted with alfalfa in Imperial County, California, this year, consuming as much as 510,000 acre feet of Colorado River water—more than twice as much as the entire Las Vegas metro area’s yearly consumptive use. Imperial County has come to be known as the hottest county in the nation.
139 Number of Imperial County farms on which more than 500 acres of alfalfa was grown in 2017.
88,252 acres Amount of land planted with alfalfa this year in Maricopa County, Arizona, home of Phoenix.
90,000 acres Amount of photovoltaic solar panels needed to equal the generating capacity of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, according to a 2021 MIT/Stanford study.

1.73 million metric tons Amount of hay shipped overseas via San Francisco and Los Angeles ports in 2021. This amounts to 50 million gallons of water, according to rough calculations based on 240 lbs of water/ton of hay.
$880 million Value of last year’s hay exports from Colorado River Basin states.
$450 million Value of that hay that went to China.
$73 million Value shipped to Saudi Arabia.
75% Portion of Utah’s Colorado River use consumed by agriculture in 2018.
446,000 acre-feet Estimated amount of water that evaporates annually from major Upper Basin reservoirs, including about 359,000 acre-feet from Lake Powell.

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What is the source of this information?

The first thing I noticed was the statement "$880 million Value of last year’s hay exports from Colorado River Basin states."

From the "Fill Lake Powell" document it stated in 2019, recreation at Lake Powell was a "420 million economic engine". So unless I'm missing something, recreation at Lake Powell generates less than half the value of just hay exports? Wow.
 
What is the source of this information?

The first thing I noticed was the statement "$880 million Value of last year’s hay exports from Colorado River Basin states."

From the "Fill Lake Powell" document it stated in 2019, recreation at Lake Powell was a "420 million economic engine". So unless I'm missing something, recreation at Lake Powell generates less than half the value of just hay exports? Wow.
The source of this information was an article by Jonathan Thompson of Land Desk. This is a paid subscription website but my aggregator Coyote Gulch Blog routinely picks up their stuff. The articles appear to be hard-core environmentalism, and, in my view, not in the general public's best interests but they put out reasonable arguments and interesting documents. I have not verified any of the data in these graphs, I just plucked them out of Thompson's most recent article.

I presented them here for your perusal, they are what they are.

Yes, you are right. Our movement "Fill Lake Powell" does report the $420 million number and that is huge. But let's all remember that the Colorado River supplies major, bigley, huuuuge agricultural enterprises. Those numbers and the creation of those values is stunningly large. Therefore, the importance of the Colorado River to growers and their tendencies to guard their water allocations as strongly as they can. It's bigley, mucho dinero we are talking about. Long-term development potential is even bigger.

Some of us here with the Fill Lake Powell movement think that if the NPS and BOR would quit diddling around, cut allocations (as everyone knows they eventually will have to) and fill Lakes Mead and Powell adequately their revenues would probably double. Not quite up with agriculture but pretty snazzy economic generators.
 
Yep!! Hard to imagine.
Jared Polis is lightyears smarter than our two senators combined. That's a low bar but its true.
Being on the ground in the SLV, this is not going to happen. I have been told point blank that if Doug Co ever approves this (pipeline with yet to be acquired right of way) it will be met with the mother of all class action lawsuits with the state of CO filing an amicus brief.
Bad idea, Doug Co should give it a rest.
 
Bart, Paladin, Blue Ribbon Ben, what stance is Aramark taking on Lake Powell. I have heard nothing, not that I have been closely looking, about any involvement from them. Are they involved with BRC Fill Lake Powell program?
 
Curiously, NO!!

Older and wiser and more experienced members of our group have recommended we stay after the actual decision makers: BOR. We are now shifting our approach to directly appealing to politicians.
The strategy is that BOR talks a good game and has followed protocol yadayadayada, but when meaningful cuts to water allocations actually arrive it will be a dogfight pitting each state against the other. The economics around water concerning both agriculture and municipal development are so important that the decisions will actually have to come from a negotiated settlement from our lawmakers.

We are currently talking to those lawmakers and providing policy and recommendations for future BOR guidance. JFRCa has been magnificent in his efforts to develop long term strategies that are reasonable and fair.

As far as Aramark specifically, I have very little experience with them but have been told their contract is with NPS and they have NO sway with BOR. I have also been told they are extremely conflict-avoidant and not at all interested in lobbying efforts such as ours. Personally, I find that to be insane but I am supporting the members of our team who have a lot more experience with them than I do. Most of the sentiment is about not "wasting time."
 
Paladin, are you or anyone in your group planning on attending the Colorado River Water Users conference? That is the place the decisions on the future allocation of the lake will be made, likely behind closed doors. It consists of all the state stakeholders, water districts, tribes, etc. BOR sends people as well. Just have people at Caesar's Palace Dec. 14-16. You must be a member to attend the conference.

While resolutions made at the conference are not legally binding, they somehow wind up getting implemented, probably because you have every water big whig in the basin in attendance and they certainly have a lot of sway and a lot of lobbyist money to help move mountains.
 
YES. Ben is arraigning that as we speak. I think JFRCa may attend as well.
I actually think this is more of a "show and tell" event so that BOR can claim its transparency and, frankly, cover its ***.
I don't think any resolutions will be forthcoming...could be wrong.

My feeling is this will become contentious and the decisions will be taken over by politicians. i don't think Touton/Trujillo/Haaland will be making this decision without direct, and powerful input from politicians.

BTW, I sent you a PM.
 
YES. Ben is arraigning that as we speak. I think JFRCa may attend as well.
I actually think this is more of a "show and tell" event so that BOR can claim its transparency and, frankly, cover its ***.
I don't think any resolutions will be forthcoming...could be wrong.

My feeling is this will become contentious and the decisions will be taken over by politicians. i don't think Touton/Trujillo/Haaland will be making this decision without direct, and powerful input from politicians.

BTW, I sent you a PM.
CRWUA is a long standing forum and my understanding is that it is rarely contentious. The big players there are the heads of the biggest water districts, including the four Utah water buffaloes. They issue resolutions every year and I expect that this year will be no different. Much of the groundwork for how they will respond is being discussed behind closed doors and when it comes into the meeting it receives its first public unveiling. BoR and Interior are really there to meet the demands of the districts and the associated politicians within those districts, so I really don't see that they have much of a role other than to respond to those who own the water rights. That's why the resolutions get followed so well, since the ones who own the water rights are the ones who make the deals within the framework of existing law. The current shortage plans were developed at CRWUA and I expect nothing different this time around. They will have a free hand to do major reductions since the elections will be over, but each of the water districts is led by an unelected manager, so they are a step removed from direct politics anyway.
 
You could be right. But I don't think so.

Sure, everyone understands water rights and the power of the major districts, but this time around CRUWA will face 2 issues: 1) unprecedented lack of storage and 2) the public's demand to save Lake Powell and its infrastructure.
It is widely recognized the the Imperial Water District is the largest and most powerful water district in the system but I do not see how they or any other district or cabal of districts can dictate the usage/cuts to other districts.

I simply disagree that any state or district is going to acquiesce to Comm. Touton's recommendations of UP TO 25% cuts in allocations. And when they don't and Comm. Touton is tasked with pulling the trigger...she will not. She and Deb Haaland will defer to the respective politicians for help.

This all MY theory, like you, I could be wrong.
 
I had the opportunity to tour my local water district (Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District) yesterday, got to see both the fresh water side and how they recycle the water as well. Super interesting but a couple things stood out to me that relate to this thread:

  • They stated that the average water loss for a Municipality water district is near 10%, meaning the loss between the time they purchase and what gets delivered to homes. Theirs is 6-7%, but they are going to add large meters somewhere in the system so they can determine where exactly water loss happens. I would imagine this loss is even higher for AG?
  • They import roughly 65% of the water for this district, most coming from Northern California, goal for 2040 45% imported water.
  • One of the goals is to recycle more water, many other countries (Singapore) are recycling water so good that it gets reused as drinking water. 5,500,000 gallons of recycled water a day gets sent into Lake Elsinore to help keep the lake levels higher. This also seems to be the way of the future in some capacity, our golf course is 100% recycled water. We talked a lot about replenishing the ground water with recycled water. They mentioned Orange Country does it is a pretty large scale.
It was super interesting, and fun to geek out on water.
 
I had the opportunity to tour my local water district (Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District) yesterday, got to see both the fresh water side and how they recycle the water as well. Super interesting but a couple things stood out to me that relate to this thread:

  • They stated that the average water loss for a Municipality water district is near 10%, meaning the loss between the time they purchase and what gets delivered to homes. Theirs is 6-7%, but they are going to add large meters somewhere in the system so they can determine where exactly water loss happens. I would imagine this loss is even higher for AG?
  • They import roughly 65% of the water for this district, most coming from Northern California, goal for 2040 45% imported water.
  • One of the goals is to recycle more water, many other countries (Singapore) are recycling water so good that it gets reused as drinking water. 5,500,000 gallons of recycled water a day gets sent into Lake Elsinore to help keep the lake levels higher. This also seems to be the way of the future in some capacity, our golf course is 100% recycled water. We talked a lot about replenishing the ground water with recycled water. They mentioned Orange Country does it is a pretty large scale.
It was super interesting, and fun to geek out on water.
10% is a municipality that is doing well with system related losses. Some of the distribution systems that are aged can see losses of 30%, which is really a disaster. However, it doesn't account for losses related to the water treatment process itself, which can be up to 5%.

Singapore's recycle program is really quite advanced, since they are up against a deadline for becoming self sustaining with respect to water. When I visited in 2016, 10% of the municipal drinking water was recycled. There are currently pilot systems in Colorado, Arizona, and Utah for direct potable reuse, making drinking water out of wastewater. It will certainly help defray the withdrawal of water from the system, but upstream users should be able to discharge to downstream users without that issue. Most wastewater discharges in the west have their water spoken for and it shows up in many irrigation canals anyway. Coastal recycle and desalination is a must though to prevent these big trans-basin transfers.
 
... Coastal recycle and desalination is a must though to prevent these big trans-basin transfers.

the less distance you have to move it the savings can really add up. imagine if no open canals were losing all that water to evaporation. every pipe in place is infrastructure that has to be maintained, pumps, water treatment plants, wells, etc. all will cost something to keep running. the fewer you can have the better over the long run.

in water systems now they can send cameras through the system to find leaks and problems and repair them to avoid losses. out west that may be a cost but as the price of water increases that cost becomes less of an issue.

the other side of things is that some of those water leaks end up recharging the area around them so that people have some ground water they'd not ordinarily get. it would be a bummer to have your well go dry just because someone finally fixed a leak but that has happened all along the All American Canal where they lined it so it was no longer providing ground water to people around there. i'm not sure anyone ever addressed getting water to those people again.

there have been more than one lining project of the AAC and i'm not sure if it is completely lined now or not - i can't find any references which state it clearly.

"It is estimated that the
lining projects will conserve between 62,000 and
78,000 af/yr in the All-American Canal and between
24,000 to 45,000 af/yr on the Coachella Canal, for a
total savings of 86,000 to 123,000 af/yr."
 
I live S of Montrose just N of Ridgway Reservoir (Uncompahgre River). I can see about 40 to 50 miles of the San Juans off my deck.
It rained most of last week and is raining now. Yesterday, we had a real frog strangler and when the clouds lifted we could see the San Juans were white.
I don't know about you but I'm already drinking and dancing.
 
The really great news is that these rains are resulting in improved river flows. :) This is the trend that LP fans love to see. :)

Here's another one that is funny, but great to see (for the 2nd day of the water year which just started :) ): "Inflows for WY 2023 are 341.3% of WY 2022"
 
Still raining hard here in Montrose. National weather Service just announced an indefinite sever weather alert for Grand Junction (Mesa Co) with flash flood warnings.
The rains wonderful but it is the ground charging that is the real benefit. I haven't seen the soil more moist in 5 years.

Keep dancing.
 
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