Drought, other factors lead to late water release from Caballo, Elephant Butte Reservoirs in southern New Mexico

2 days ago
Water releases from the Caballo and Elephant Butte reservoirs in southern New Mexico will occur around May 31, two months later than in 2018, because water levels were very low in the reservoirs. Drought in 2018 and poor snowpack in the Rocky Mountains the previous winter left the reservoirs at a little more than 10 percent of capacity. KFOX-TV FOX 14 El Paso (Texas), March 21, 2019

Brush fires in western Washington State

3 days 16 hours ago
Dry weather led to an uptick in wildfires in western Washington with the Department of Natural Resources responding to 50 wildfires since March 18. KXLY-TV ABC 4 (Spokane, Wash.), March 21, 2019 Below normal precipitation left western Washington dry with a higher fire danger than normal for March. At least seven brush fires were burning in Whatcom, Mason, Grays Harbor, Cowlitz and Clark counties. KOMO-TV ABC 4 and Radio 1000 (Seattle, Wash.), March 19, 2019

Agreement on Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan

5 days 16 hours ago
The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan to manage the river was finished, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. Federal legislation was all that was needed to implement the plan. The Associated Press, March 19, 2019 The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation asserted that Arizona and California missed the deadline, meaning the Bureau will step in to manage water supplies. If the two states can complete their agreements by March 4, the Bureau will not intervene. In the meantime, the Bureau was asking governors of the seven states in the Colorado River basin for recommendations on cutting water use and preserving water storage in reservoirs. Santa Fe New Mexican (N.M.), Feb. 1, 2019 Seven Southwestern states reached agreements on management of the Colorado River Basin as the region endured drought. California also agreed to water cuts earlier than legally required. The Upper Basin states will try to keep the level of Lake Powell at or above 3,525 feet above sea level, and the Lower Basin states will attempt to conserve more water. If Lake Mead falls below a certain level, Arizona will curb its water use by up to 9 percent, California by as much as 8 percent and Nevada by 3 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation foresees the chances of a shortfall in Lake Mead at 57 percent by 2020. Casper Star-Tribune (Wyo.), Oct. 11, 2018

Diesel surcharge delayed implementation of electric rate increase in Ketchikan, Alaska

1 week 3 days ago
A planned electric rate increase for customers of Ketchikan Public Utilities will be put off until the current diesel surcharge was no longer in effect. The 3.5 percent rate increase was to begin April 1, but the utility was still using diesel to generate electricity and was adding a diesel surcharge to customers’ bills. When rainfall refills reservoirs so cheaper hydropower can be generated again, diesel will not be needed and the diesel surcharge can be dropped. KRBD (Ketchikan, Alaska), March 7, 2019

Lower grazing fees in New Mexico

1 week 4 days ago
The New Mexico State Land Office lowered grazing fees for ranches on State Trust land as drought reduced the amount of available forage land and increased operating costs. The fee was lowered about 1.79 percent from 2018, averaging about $5.60 per animal unit month. The Land Office leases roughly 8.8 million acres of State Trust land for livestock grazing. Carlsbad Current-Argus (N.M.), March 12, 2019

Missouri cattle deaths from nitrate-laden hay, drought-stunted corn

2 weeks 3 days ago
Nearly 300 Missouri cattle deaths have been attributed to high nitrate levels in hay and drought-stunted corn. Most instances were seen in southwest and south central Missouri. Boonville Daily News (Mo.), March 7, 2019 Drought in Missouri during 2017 and through the summer of 2018 reduced available hay and grass supplies, leaving farmers to feed hay of questionable quality to their livestock. Some of the poorer quality hay was high in nitrate and resulted in the deaths of 150 cattle in the past month. In southwest Missouri, one farmer lost 40 of his 70 cattle, while another farmer lost 20 cows. Hay & Forage Grower (Fort Atkinson, Wis.), Feb. 18, 2019

Raw water supply half of normal in Paonia, Colorado

2 weeks 5 days ago
Water leaks and drought have cut into Paonia’s water supply, leading to diminished water production and a temporary loss of water service. The 22 springs at the base of Mount Lamborn, providing raw water for Paonia, were also producing half of the normal amount of water after exceedingly dry conditions in 2018. KUNC-FM 91.5 (Greeley, Colo.), March 4, 2019

Reservoir water too warm for salmon fry in Juneau, Alaska

2 weeks 5 days ago
Low water supplies led the operators of the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery in Juneau to move salmon fry to the cold sea in January, months earlier than usual. Water from the reservoir was too warm for the fry, prompting the earliest ever move to the sea. Juneau KTOO (Alaska), March 2, 2019

Diesel replacing hydropower in several Alaska cities

2 weeks 5 days ago
The Southeast Alaska Power Agency ended power generation at Swan Lake near Ketchikan on Feb. 28. A little hydropower was still being generated at Tyee Lake and Crystal Lake. Tyee Lake has enough water for 25 days of hydropower. Crystal Lake was roughly 35 days away from reaching a record low. “The water levels in both of the reservoirs are at very low and critical level,” said Bob Lynn, Petersburg’s voting member on the board of (SEAPA). “All three communities [Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan] are operating a major part of their electrical loads off generators trying to minimize draw on the remaining water in the reservoirs.” KFSK-FM (Petersburg, Alaska), March 7, 2019 Petersburg, Ketchikan and Wrangell were almost entirely relying on fossil fuel for electricity as reservoirs ran too low for much hydropower production. Juneau KTOO (Alaska), March 2, 2019

Hay prices high in Missouri

2 weeks 5 days ago
The price of hay in Missouri was $80 to $90 per bale on Craigslist, according to Anita Ellis, livestock specialist with the University of Missouri Extension in Callaway County. The price a bale would typically run $45 to $55, but drought during 2018 curbed hay production by about 50 percent, leaving livestock producers struggling to feed their animals in the subsequent winter. Fulton Sun (Mo.), March 3, 2019

Surplus power interrupted in Juneau, Alaska

3 weeks 1 day ago
Juneau’s interruptible power customers remained disconnected because hydropower production was down. Juneau KTOO (Alaska), March 2, 2019 Due to low reservoir levels, Alaska Electric Light & Power interrupted line power to Greens Creek Mine, which is an electric customer that receives surplus power. Power interruptions began in September. Juneau Empire (Alaska), Dec. 17, 2018

Water catchment tanks needing more frequent refills in Hawaii

1 month 1 week ago
Some Hawaii families ordered up to three water shipments in January from a water transport business based in Keaau as dry weather and low humidity allowed their catchment tanks to run dry more quickly than usual. “It’s weird; there’s been like no humidity this time, not like other droughts,” said the water hauler. “That makes their tanks go down a lot faster.” The business’s waiting list was three days for water deliveries. West Hawaii Today (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii), Feb. 10, 2019

Some northern Colorado golf courses closing temporarily

1 month 2 weeks ago
Some golf courses in northern Colorado were closing temporarily as the warm, dry winter drew more golfers out on the courses, increasing the wear, which can lead to higher maintenance costs in the spring. Many municipal courses in the Fort Collins area were open, while some private ones had closed or had restrictions on cart use. Fort Collins Country Club and Ptarmigan Country Club were closed, while Windsor, Highland Meadows and Mountain Vista Golf Course had cart restrictions. The warm, dry conditions also allowed some golf courses to bring in record revenue and rounds in January. Fort Collins Coloradoan (Colo.), Feb. 1, 2019

Texas 2018 drought prompting cattle sales, due to hay shortage

1 month 2 weeks ago
A hay shortage in Central Texas, along with rising hay prices, has caused some ranchers to sell cattle. More cattle have been taken to auction since the beginning of December, according to the West Auction Managing Partner Adele Uptmore. This trend was occurring statewide, stated Tracy Tomascik, associate director of the Commodity and Regulatory Activities with the Texas Farm Bureau. He noted that, “Hay is in short supply and as a result of that, they are starting to liquidate and sell less productive cattle." The hay shortage stemmed from drought during Texas’ 2018 growing season, which reduced hay production. KXXV-TV ABC 25 Waco (Texas), Feb. 1, 2019

Shepherding a challenge in arid New Mexico

1 month 3 weeks ago
Navajo shepherds in New Mexico struggled to keep their sheep fed and have had to sell livestock as the drought left the landscape barren. A shepherdess in San Juan County expected at least 30 new lambs to be born this winter, but the worn, malnourished flock produced no young. Many sheep owners spend much of their money on hay for the herd. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), Jan. 31, 2019
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