Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

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Here's an update on the Upper Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District's augmentation plan from The Mountain Mail. They write, "As its global augmentation plan awaits decision in water court, Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District officials hope to implement a piece of the plan in Cottonwood Creek drainage. The water district applied in May to change its augmentation plan allowing it to augment wells in one basin with water from other basins, increasing its flexibility and use of its water portfolio. Four months later, the district applied with the Colorado Division of Water Resources for a substitute supply plan initiating changes in the global plan limited to the Cottonwood Creek drainage without water court review...

"Objectors to the water court case include the City of Salida, Chaffee County, the Town of Poncha Springs and a group of ranchers in Cottonwood Creek drainage. 'It looks like there are a lot of questions pending,' said Division of Water Resources supervising engineer Heidi Frey. 'I'm not sure when we will get to the application.' Most of the objectors request more detailed information. 'My biggest objection is while protections for senior water rights users are mentioned, they are never spelled out,' Lee Rooks, leader of the objecting group of Cottonwood Creek ranchers, said...

"The plan requests the ability to augment wells in Cottonwood Creek drainage with shares of water from Twin Lakes. Currently the district can use only Thompson Ditch and Fryingpan-Arkansas project water for Cottonwood Creek. Rooks believes the change would allow the water district to deplete the Cottonwood system as long as the Arkansas River remains satisfied...

"The proposed Meadows subdivision, a 277-acre residential and agricultural community northwest of Buena Vista, will continue to pressure the system, Rooks added. Alderton said filing the substitute plan is a way to get a sense of what objections will be to the larger plan pending in water court. Simpson, head of the Colorado Division of Water Resources, said the substitute supply plan is likely to be approved. He said there has never been a case where the Division of Water Resources approved a substitute plan followed by rejection in water court of the main plan."

Category: Colorado Water

5:43:36 AM    

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The Bureau of Reclamation insists that they have the legal right to use the Fryingpan-Arkansas project to move water out of the Arkansas Basin, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "Questions of Reclamation's authority have surfaced again in recent months as talks progress on a proposed storage and exchange contract with Aurora. 'Aurora is not being provided project water. This proposed contract will provide storage and exchange of Aurora's non-project water when there is excess capacity available,' said Fred Ore, Eastern Colorado area manager for Reclamation. Ore said the authority of Reclamation to deal with Aurora comes from the Reclamation Act of 1902; the Reclamation Projects Act of 1939, which broadened its authority to include hydroelectric, municipal and other projects as well as agriculture; and the 1962 Fryingpan Arkansas Act. Ore cited one-year contracts dating back to 1986 that allow Aurora to store water in Lake Pueblo and a contract with the Southeastern District that spells out how Aurora's water would be the first to spill if Lake Pueblo is full. But the issue of Reclamation's authority for entering contracts with entities outside project boundaries has continued to vex officials in the Arkansas Valley over the 20-year course of those contracts...

"Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District attorney Lee Miller wrote a brief outlining legal objections to an Aurora contract in 2001. At the time, the district's position was Reclamation's only authority was derived from the 1920 Miscellaneous Purposes Act and required Southeastern's approval for any contract. That act was again cited by water attorney Bill Paddock at a recent Pueblo Board of Water Works meeting, but Reclamation officials said they are not relying on that act in the Aurora contract...

"Aurora submitted its own letter to Reclamation in 2001, asserting that past contracts related to the Homestake Project and ongoing storage agreements were sufficient justification for continuing arrangements. Singletary and Salazar have both cited testimony in Congress dating back to 1953 that shows the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project never envisioned using the Fry-Ark Project for anything except providing drinking water to cities in the valley and supplemental water for agriculture. Salazar also wants to remove Aurora from a proposed Preferred Storage Options Plan bill that has stalled in Congress for five years. In previous drafts, the PSOP bill has contained specific sections that would formalize Reclamation Authority to contract with Aurora."

Meanwhile the Bureau of Reclamation and Aurora have settled on the costs of their latest contract, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "Aurora and the Bureau of Reclamation reached agreement on the base price for a proposed storage and exchange contract Monday, following lengthy negotiations over details. Meanwhile, negotiators heard comments for and against the contract. The contract won[base ']t be finalized until after an environmental assessment is completed. Aurora is asking for a 40-year contract to store 10,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Pueblo and exchange up to 10,000 acre-feet in a paper trade from Lake Pueblo to Turquoise Lake or Twin Lakes. Aurora, a city of 300,000 east of Denver, wants to continue to use the storage and exchange to move water from Otero and Crowley counties to the South Platte basin through the Otero Pumping Station, which draws from Twin Lakes. Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District President John Singletary said the exchange portion of the contract apparently sidesteps Colorado water law on exchanges by allowing Aurora to make exchanges outside water court...

Category: Colorado Water

5:28:57 AM    

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Here's an update on the construction of the Animas-La Plata dam and lake Nighthorse from International Water Power and Construction. From the article, "The US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) announced that it has awarded a contract of approximately US$17.6M to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's Weeminuche Construction Authority (WCA) of Towaoc, Colorado, for completion of construction of the Ridges Basin inlet conduit. When completed, the inlet conduit, a core feature of the Animas-La Plata hydro project, will carry Animas river water from the Durango pumping plant to lake Nighthorse.

"The primary features to be constructed under the inlet conduit contract award include construction of a 72-inch (183cm) buried steel pipeline that will convey project water 3.4km from the pumping plant to the reservoir, as well as construction of the vents and stilling structures that will regulate the flow of the water being pumped from the Animas River to the reservoir. The inlet conduit will be buried in a trench at a normal depth of around 2m below the ground and backfilled so that upon completion of the construction, the terrain can be re-vegetated. When completed, the conduit will terminate on the reservoir side of the ridge with a stilling structure from which the flow will continue to the reservoir...

"USBR anticipates that work on this inlet conduit contract to be completed in 2009, with Commissioner Robert W. Johnson saying that construction of the Animas-La Plata project now stands at approximately 44% complete."

Category: Colorado Water

5:17:29 AM    

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