Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Friday, February 24, 2006

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Congressman John Salazar is trying to assure residents of Grand Junction regarding oil and gas drilling in their watershed, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. "We're from the government and we're here to help," said Salazar. [Just kidding - ed.]

From the article, "U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., said he was satisfied with a federal official's assurances that the Bureau of Land Management would do all it could to protect municipal watersheds on Grand Mesa as industry considers drilling for natural gas there.

"Salazar met with Sally Wisely, Colorado state director for the BLM, after the agency sold leases in the Grand Junction and Palisade watersheds to a Denver landman representing unidentified exploration companies, which offered up partial payments on the leases and rental fees.

"The next step in the process is for a drilling company to study protests on the leases filed by Grand Junction and Palisade, as well as others, before paying in full for the leases and proceeding with applications for drilling permits.

"If the successful bidder elects not to pursue permission to drill on the leases, the bureau will return the money already paid. The leases are complete only when the bidder offers full payment."

Category: Colorado Water

7:35:48 AM    

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Pueblo has filed for a Recreation In Channel Diversion under state water rules. The Pueblo Chieftain is running an update on it's progress to date.

From the article, "The City of Pueblo is close to reaching agreement with two state agencies on its attempt to secure a recreational in-channel diversion.

"In addition, the Colorado Water Conservation Board will consider at its March meeting an in-stream flow right to maintain minimum flows through Pueblo...

"Pueblo filed for the RICD in 2002, seeking to secure flows for a kayak course. Most objectors in the case have settled. An agreement with the CWCB and Division of Water Resources would leave only Pueblo West as an objector in the case, Florczak said.

"Negotiations are continuing with Pueblo West, he said.

"The state agencies will agree to the same flow schedule as parties in the 2004 six-party intergovernmental agreement, Florczak said.

"The flows stair-step from 100 cubic feet per second in winter to 500 cfs under the agreement, with provisions for dry years. Because the RICD is a junior right, with no consumptive use, there is no guarantee that the amount of water claimed will actually be in the river.

"The 2004 IGA does, however, prevent exchanges during certain low-flow periods. It was signed by Pueblo, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Pueblo Board of Water Works, Fountain and the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

"In return, Pueblo will withdraw a claim for RICD nighttime flows between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m...

"Meanwhile, the CWCB has received a request from the Division of Wildlife, supported by Pueblo, to consider an in-stream flow water right of 100 cfs year-round to maintain flows through Pueblo, said Harold Miskel, Arkansas River basin CWCB representative.

"In-stream flow rights preserve aquatic wildlife habitat and may only be claimed by the CWCB. Typically, they are in higher reaches of a river basin, near headwaters. The CWCB will look at three separate Arkansas River reaches through Pueblo, Miskel said: from Pueblo Dam to the levees, the levees and from the levees to the confluence of the Fountain.

"Florczak said Pueblo considers the entire reach eligible for instream flows.

"The kayak course was also constructed as a fish ladder by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, so the instream flow designation is a good fit, Florczak said...

"The instream flow would give the city additional protection during winter months, but the RICD still is needed to ensure higher flows in summer, he added."

Category: Colorado Water

7:26:16 AM    

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SB37 is the subject of this editorial from the Pueblo Chieftain.

They write, "It's a bill that could be used to emasculate recreational in-channel diversions, or RICDs. The City Pueblo has applied in Water Court for an RICD for its kayak course on the Arkansas River, as has Chaffee County for a stretch of the river there. RICDs allow for certain flows in the state's natural streams during specified periods during the year. No water is consumed by these water rights, unlike rights for agriculture and municipal use.

"The bill contains a grandfather clause, ostensibly protecting RICDs already filed for, but Tom Florczak, an assistant Pueblo city attorney, believes there are loopholes elsewhere in the bill that would endanger these water flows. And therein lies the danger.

"The big cities, particularly those in the Denver metro region, don't want anything that would interfere with their ability to take water from anywhere of their choosing out of the Arkansas River, for example, and RICDs could hamper that ability. SB37 shows a definite bias toward water development over recreation even in areas with tourism rather than urban economies."

Category: Colorado Water

7:14:37 AM    

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The Preferred Options Storage Plan committee of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District is struggling with predicting the future, according to the Pueblo Chieftain.

From the article, "Through the struggle, the group moved closer to drafting legislation acceptable to water users up and down the river, and toward the goal of achieving unanimous consensus on water storage legislation that has been stalled for five years.

"The Preferred Storage Options Plan implementation committee of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District discussed how a baseline for water conditions on the river should be determined and how to account for agreements outside federal legislation...

"The committee modified legislation proposed by Southeastern President Wally Stealey to merely take into account water data from 1982 to the present when evaluating the cumulative effect of water storage and supply methods.

"The original baseline year chosen by Stealey, 1986, was removed at the suggestion of Tom Musgrove of the Bureau of Reclamation and Aurora, who argued it was an exceptional wet year. Reclamation now uses the period of 1982-2001 to develop a statistical average for measuring impacts.

"The committee retained a measure of the bill that would require looking at water quality, wildlife habitat, water supply, social, cultural, recreation and economic impacts. However, a provision to evaluate the cumulative impact in those areas was stripped from the bill at the suggestion of Aurora.

Category: Colorado Water

7:09:34 AM    

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