Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

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Dirk Kempthorne finally had some time to sit down with representatives of the Colorado River Compact states on Tuesday, according to PR Newswire. From the article, "Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne met yesterday (Oct. 30) with representatives from the seven states that share the Colorado River's flows to discuss water management issues related to the drought-plagued river. 'The key issue for this river system, as it is for many other river systems around the West, is the competition and demand for a limited resource, and the need to find solutions to this demand that will meet both current and future needs,' Kempthorne told the representatives. 'This is a tough job, and I look forward to working with you to find consensus solutions to these issues.' Among the items discussed were shortage sharing arrangements associated with persistent Colorado River drought conditions and potential options for augmenting the river system's flows. The Colorado River Basin States are currently collaborating on a system-wide study examining augmentation options, such as desalination, weather modification and other emerging technologies. The results of the study are scheduled for release next summer. An Environmental Impact Statement related to managing the river system is also being developed. Representatives from the Colorado River Basin States expressed that Kempthorne's visit underscored his commitment to working proactively and collaboratively on difficult Colorado River issues such as shortage management. The meeting was productive and set a positive tone for the critical times ahead."

Category: Colorado Water

7:15:59 AM    

Here's an article about the possible effects of Amendment 40 on water policy, from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article, "Amendment 40 on the Tuesday ballot would wrongly divert the course of Colorado water law, representatives of agricultural and water interests said Tuesday. The measure would force the retirements in 2007 of five of the seven present justices on the Colorado Supreme Court and seven of the 19 members of the Colorado Court of Appeals because they would have served longer than the 10-year term limit the measure would establish...

"Opponents, however, said that Colorado water law is complex and sophisticated. Judges need plenty of time to master it, often being tutored by other judges, the opponents said. Amendment 40 'would erode the valuable institutional memory' needed to grapple with the state's water issues, said Reeves Brown, executive director of Club 20. Voters already can be heard at the ballot box on retention elections, Brown said, but the courts should be 'stable, impartial and free from partisan politics.' Alan Foutz, president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said that as the state grows, the courts will have to contend more and more with conflicts between agricultural and municipal uses."

Category: Denver November 2006 Election

7:09:59 AM    

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Congratulations to our brothers and sisters in wastewater up in Adams County. From the Denver Post, "The South Adams County Water and Sanitation District's wastewater-treatment plant has received the Water Environment Federation's George W. Burke Jr. Award in recognition of superior safety efforts."

More coverage from

Category: Colorado Water

7:06:21 AM    

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The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District has issued a call to action over Tamarisk, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "There's no argument that tamarisk is becoming a bigger problem in the Arkansas Valley, but developing a plan of attack has been an issue. The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District is trying to unite counties in the entire valley to develop a plan to control tamarisks, as well as other invasive species like Russian olive and Siberian elm. Officials from seven of the 22 counties in the basin attended an organizational meeting Tuesday, but others were represented through soil conservation, water conservancy or weed management organizations. Southeastern is trying to put together a $150,000 package to develop a plan of attack, causing some to question whether the money would be better spent on actual projects...

"One aim of the study would be to help leverage federal funds for control of tamarisk, recently authorized for $39 million over four years in a bill signed by President Bush. Walker pointed out, however, that federal funds are hard to come by. He said a noxious weed control bill signed in 2003 still hasn't been funded...

"Some in the room suggested the study would provide scientific basis for improving water quantity and quality. J.R. Phillips of Fremont County said the Upper Arkansas Weed Management District has confirmed the benefits of projects as they progressed...

"The Colorado Tamarisk Coalition, a nonprofit group dedicated to restoring riparian land, completed a mapping project earlier this year and found the Arkansas Valley to be the most heavily infested area in the state. Nate Ament, who coordinated the mapping, said everything from NASA satellite imagery to on-the-ground observation was used to determine the level of infestation. Most of all, he noticed the widespread concern and willingness to cooperate - both from government agencies and private citizens...

"About 29,000 acres along the Arkansas River itself are infested with tamarisk, with an average width of nearly one-quarter mile; The figure does not include significant infestations along major tributaries such as Fountain Creek and the Huerfano, Apishapa and Purgatoire rivers; Average density is estimated at 54 percent; Tamarisk typically chokes out all other vegetation and is expected to take over all of the infested areas, as well as taking over adjacent ground; Tamarisk has heavily infested areas where native vegetation would not grow as heavily, about 80 percent of the area surveyed; The tamarisk in those areas use an estimated 58,600 acre-feet a year - enough for two years of Pueblo's current demand for potable water; If nothing is done, they will use 130,000 acre-feet a year when all areas are taken over by tamarisk; The cost of controlling tamarisk and revegetation on the main stem of the river is estimated at $45 million and $12 million for the tributaries; Cost per mile: $220,000; cost per acre: $1,550; cost per acre-foot: $950; Statewide, an estimated 170,000 acre-feet of water is lost each year to tamarisks."

Category: Colorado Water

6:53:54 AM    

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Nebraska's governor, after weeks of deliberations, has signed the Platte River Cooperative Agreement (Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska) to protect wildlife habitat along the Platte River, according to the Lakeland Florida Ledger. From the article, "Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has signed a three-state plan to protect the habitats of endangered species along the Platte River while at the same time sheltering growers from federal action. Heineman signed the Platte River Cooperative Agreement on Tuesday after Colorado Gov. Bill Owens signed the agreement last week. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal has not signed the agreement...

"The plan is designed to help guide Platte River Basin entities including farmers and ranchers to comply with the Endangered Species Act while retaining their access to federal water, land and funding. The plan would protect the habitats along the river for the whooping crane, piping plover, interior least tern and pallid sturgeon but also give farmers some protection from federal action. The river recovery plan called for in the agreement includes acquiring land for wildlife habitat in Nebraska and increasing river flows at key times.

"Some groundwater irrigators see the plan as a government attack on their livelihoods and on rural communities because it could take thousands of irrigated acres out of production. However, the Central Platte Natural Resources District, a public body that manages the irrigation-heavy area and strongly opposes the deal, does not plan on challenging the agreement, said manager Ron Bishop. The plan will cost about $317 million, with $157 million coming from the Interior Department and the rest from the three states in cash, land and water. Federal dollars have not yet received final approval. Colorado plans to pitch in $24 million in cash, and Wyoming $6 million in cash. Nebraska doesn't have to pay any cash. The remaining $130 million for the plan is being contributed with water and land credits: The three states must together contribute 80,000 acre-feet of water, an estimated $120 million value, and Wyoming and Nebraska will contribute about 26,500 acres of land, a $10 million value."

Here's the coverage from the Rocky Mountain News. They write, "Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has signed the three-state Platte River Cooperative Agreement, leaving only Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal's signature to finalize the landmark deal. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens signed the deal last week. A spokeswoman for Freudenthal said he is reviewing the agreement and has not yet made a decision. 'There's probably no overwhelming reason for him not to sign it,' said spokeswoman Lara Azar."

Category: Colorado Water

6:41:19 AM    

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