Colorado Water Congress Annual Meeting
The Colorado Water Congress' 51st Annual Meeting is titled, "Water Buffaloes in the Mist: On Solid Ground in an Uncertain Time." The breakout sessions run from environmental issues through water law to the economy and infrastructure.
Here are some highlights from our day at the meeting:
Transition to Green
Panel members for this session were: Drew Peternell, Colorado Trout Unlimited; Becky Long, Colorado Environmental Coalition; Amy Beatie, Colorado Water Trust; and Tom Iseman, The Nature Conservancy.
During the Q&A the panelists were asked about the effects of climate change on their relationship with water providers, industry and consumptive use in general. Long said, "We don't have matching tattoos but we're hanging out a lot more now."
When asked about storage projects Peternell told attendees that TU is not against all storage projects but each has to stand on its own and weigh environmental requirements fairly.
A recent example was the filing by the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District for their proposed Dry Gulch Reservoir. Colorado Trout Unlimited filed an objection in water court claiming that the size of the reservoir was not in line with projected growth and that the planning horizon of 100 years was too long.
PAWSD got their decree but the Colorado Supreme Court said no, agreeing with TU.
The BLM and Forest Service are currently reviewing several Colorado stream segments for Wild and Scenic designation. The Colorado River District and others are trying to get support for a program that would manage those river segments as Wild and Scenic without pursuing actual designation.
Peternell said that that type of arrangement is acceptable to TU.
The Alluvial Wellfield and River Bank Filtration for the Prairie Waters Project
Richard Tocher brought everyone up to date on the Prairie Waters project. They're building a nearly 40 mile pipeline in two counties -- along a river corridor that is mostly agricultural -- to meet up at new treatment facilities near Aurora Reservoir.
After construction there will be an access road along the South Platte River with access to electrical facilities and wellheads. The rest of the land will be reclaimed as a native prairie grassland environment.
Tests show that together the wells will produce 8,500 gallons per minute (12 cubic feet per second). The project is moving along just fine. The wellfield should be online in February and the pipeline completed late in the summer.
Lost Creek Designated Groundwater basin aquifer study
Before this morning's general session we caught up with Ralf Topper from the Colorado Geological Survey. He was in a good mood after getting funding this week from the Colorado Water Conservation Board for a study of the Lost Creek Designated Groundwater basin's suitability for groundwater recharge and storage.
It's a cool project since it would be storage near the Denver metro area. Underground storage has two distinct advantages over surface reservoirs, no evaporative loss and little surface disturbance.
The CWCB dough along with funding from some other sources will help identify the characteristics of the aquifer including capacity and water movement.
Topper hopes to collect and analyze enough data to be able to offer assurance to water providers that they'll be able to recover most of the water they store in the aquifer. The project needs to provide a, "clear impetus to the water provider to put water in the ground," he said.