Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

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Colorado Springs reservoirs are in good shape going in to the summer, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. They write, "There will be no shortage of water this summer in Colorado Springs even if the weather is as hot and dry as meteorologists are predicting. That was the assessment Wednesday of Kevin Lusk, principal engineer for Colorado Springs Utilities, during a briefing for the City Council, sitting as the Utilities Board. Lusk said the water outlook for Colorado Springs is rosier than it has been since 1994, despite lower-than-average precipitation locally this winter. That's because snowpack is deeper than normal in the high mountain basins where the city gets most of its water, he said.

"Lusk expects runoff from those basins to yield 130 percent of the water the city normally gets, the best since 1994, when the water yield was 132 percent of normal. The snowpack in the city-owned utilities' three mountain systems - Twin Lakes, Blue River and Homestake - ranges from 99 percent to 154 percent of normal. The snowpack readings from March 20 are about 80 to 85 percent of what can be expected for the season, so spring storms should add to those snow levels before runoff begins in May. The upper Colorado River also is at 119 percent of normal, Lusk said. Lusk said the situation has been different at lower altitudes: Precipitation at the Colorado Springs Airport from Oct. 1 to March 20 was 1.37 inches compared with 3.05 inches normally. Water levels in the Pikes Peak and Rampart Range reservoir systems are 83 percent of normal, and the Arkansas River is flowing at 83 percent of its norm, mostly because of drier conditions on the lower stretches of the river."

For those of you keeping score the big day for snowpack readings in Colorado is a week from Saturday on April 1st.

Category: Colorado Water

6:38:52 AM    

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The Pueblo Chieftain is running an editorial in favor of HB1352 - Concerning an expansion of water judges's jurisdiction to address the effects of a water right adudication on water quaility. They write, "House Bill 1352 is sponsored by Rep. Buffie McFadyen of Pueblo West, and its other House sponsors include Bernie Buescher, Dorothy Butcher, Kathleen Curry, Rafael Gallegos and Tom Massey. It also has gained the backing of an impressive array of water professionals.

"This bill is so balanced that it has gained major support of the Western Slope's biggest water organization, the Colorado River Water Conservation District. District spokesman Chris Treese has called HB1352 'a measured and appropriate step in the integration of water rights and water quality issues.'

Also coming on board this year is the Denver Water Board, which has opposed previous water quality bills in years past. But the legislation as it now stands has gained Denver Water's support, something we hope will persuade Denver legislators to vote in favor of the bill.

"In recent weeks, others have expressed support for HB1352. They include Wally Stealey, president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District; John Singletary, president of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District; Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark District; Loretta Kennedy, a Pueblo County commissioner and member of the Lower Ark District; and Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works.

"Colorado water law currently allows water court judges to consider water quality in exchange, or point-of-diversion, transfer cases. The law does not, however, take into consideration potentially injurious effects on the quality of water when the court hears the original change-of-use case.

"HB1352 simply gives owners of other water rights the opportunity to raise water quality issues in the original change-of-use case. It's a reasonable, fair and equitable extension of current law.

"The bill recognizes Colorado Water Quality Control Commission standards as the reasonable basis of measuring water quality. It also provides an exception for change-of-use applications involving small farm-to-farm or town-to-town water transactions.

"Based on an evaluation of the evidence, the water court judge is allowed to include a term or condition that addresses decreases in water quality caused by the change if the quality would fall below the commission's standards in effect at the time of the decree."

Category: Colorado Water

6:32:03 AM    

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Increased water flows in Fountain Creek, a result of Colorado Springs sending their treated wastewater down the creek, is causing management problems for the City of Pueblo. Here's an article from the Pueblo Chieftain about a recent meeting to discuss management.

From the article, "On the Fountain, sediment continues to build up, making the riverbed more shallow and forcing the necessity to increase the height of the levees in certain areas, Marroney said. The sedimentation is helped by stormwater runoff from Colorado Springs and other cities and towns upstream, illustrating the complexity of the problems facing the creek, [Gilbert] Ortiz said."

Category: Colorado Water

6:24:49 AM    

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The City of Boulder and the USGS have recently completed a study of water quality in Boulder Creek. From the press release, "If recent news about what chemical compounds have been found in streams and lakes today prompts thoughts that water quality was better way back when, think again. A newly released study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), prepared in cooperation with the City of Boulder, Colorado, provides an overview of water quality in the Boulder Creek Watershed today, and how it has changed over 160 years. Gold mining records, typhoid cases, and historical accounts, such as a 1905 newspaper article claiming that drinking Boulder Creek water gave the sensation of swallowing rope,' were used to determine water quality in the Boulder Creek Watershed since 1859. Colorful photographs, maps, and easy-to-read text fill the 30-page report, entitled State of the Watershed: Water Quality of Boulder Creek, Colorado. It addresses the impacts of land use change, water diversions, urban runoff, and wastewater effluent on water quality throughout the watershed. The report also addresses potential water quality issues of the future. 'Never has there been a document which so clearly outlines the history and possible future of water quality in Boulder County,' said Donna Scott of the City of Boulder´s Public Works Department. "It will be very useful in guiding water quality policies.'"

Here's the link to the study.

Category: Colorado Water

6:17:43 AM    

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