Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

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From the Fairplay Flume: "Will-O-Wisp Metropolitan District's hearing to obtain a Special Development Project permit (known as a water development 1041 permit) was continued after six hours of testimony on Dec. 6 by Park County's Board of County Commissioners. The hearing will continue at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 24. The reason for the continuance was that one of three attorneys representing the county and the applicant's attorney both needed to leave due to prior commitments. The permit is needed before Will-O-Wisp Metro District, located west of Pine Junction, can begin expansion of its water supply to serve the recently permitted Tanglewood Reserve Planned Unit Development. Tanglewood lies within the metro district's service area. The project will provide water and wastewater for 570 new water tap equivalents for residential and commercial development. The metro district currently serves 119 homes from a groundwater well field. At the hearing, Will-O-Wisp President Rick Angelica said the district currently serves 400 residents and anticipates 2,000 residents when Tanglewood is built out. The project would divert water from Elk Creek using the Glassman Ditch 2, and install water infiltration facilities, a pipeline, a pumping station and a maintenance road. Most would be located on Lot 134 in Woodside Park, Unit 5. Water would then be pumped to the northeast corner of the development using the utility easements along Mt. Evans Blvd. in Pine Junction. Raw water storage tanks, drinking water treatment tanks and wastewater treatment facilities would be located within the district's boundaries. The wastewater would be treated and discharged into Wisp Creek."

Category: Colorado Water

7:52:17 AM    

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Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne is hoping that the Colorado River Compact states can reach an agreement on sharing the over-allocated river during droughts, next year, according to the Arizona Daily Star. From the article, " Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne told water officials from seven Western states Friday that he expects an agreement on sharing Colorado River water during periods of drought 'signed, sealed and delivered' next year. Kempthorne used his first appearance before the annual Colorado River Water Users Association conference to emphasize philosophy over policy and consensus over conflict. 'I view my role less as a water master of the Colorado River than as a mayor of the river,' he told several hundred officials from states that draw water from the river. The two-day conference ended Friday...

"Two years ago the upper-basin states asked the Bureau of Reclamation to cut releases of water from the Glen Canyon Dam to help refill Lake Powell, which had dropped to about 49 percent capacity due to drought. The level has since increased to about 51 percent, officials said. Lower basin states said reducing water releases would hurt downstream users and jeopardize Lake Mead, which is at 55 percent capacity. Kempthorne noted Friday that he signed a 2007 annual operating plan calling for the release of 8.23 million acre-feet next year from Lake Powell - the same as in recent years."

eMediaWire: "Calling it a critical time for the Colorado River Basin States, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today said the region and the nation have a sacred obligation to care for the Colorado River through more effective management actions, as the states continue to benefit from its water and power. 'You and I are entrusted with a national treasure -- the Colorado River -- and the decisions we make about this river affect the lives and future of millions of people -- of an entire region of our country,' Kempthorne told Basin State officials at the annual meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association. 'If we are wise, future generations will benefit. If we are unwise, future generations will suffer. It is incumbent upon us to be wise.' Kempthorne, whose department manages dams and storage systems on the Colorado River, lauded 'the incredible ingenuity' that harnessed the power of the river. He cited Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams and the other engineering triumphs in the Colorado River Basin. These projects make it possible for river water to flow over mountains to people and farms hundreds of miles away. 'We have turned vast areas of uninhabitable land into places where people live, work, and have full lives,' he said...

"Among the principles that should continue to guide these efforts, the first is that cooperation is better than litigation, he said. 'Where there is conflict or potential conflict, there are no true winners unless everyone gets something and everyone gives up something,' he noted. 'If we stubbornly force courts and judges to make the decisions that we ourselves should be making in cooperation and partnership, then courts will certainly declare a winner and a loser. But I am convinced the winner will enjoy only a pyrrhic victory -- in which the cost of the battle exceeds the fruits of success. A second principle is continuing to seek creative solutions to the challenges we face,' Kempthorne said, citing the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, the Lower Colorado Basin Multi-species Conservation Program, and the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program as examples of recent creative problem-solving. 'Faced with the need to manage the river for threatened and endangered fish and other wildlife, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation and many other state and local partners developed these initiatives as reasonable and prudent alternatives under the Endangered Species Act. This allows critical water projects to continue to operate while ensuring the conservation of the fish.'"

Here is the link to the Secretary's comments.

Category: Colorado Water

7:33:28 AM    

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There's nothing like high prices for oil to stimulate interest in developing oil shale. The BLM granted leases in Colorado's Piceance Basin yesterday, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article, "The Bureau of Land Management on Friday issued leases for five oil shale research and development projects in the Piceance Basin. The leases will allow the first oil shale projects on public lands in northwest Colorado in more than three decades. The BLM issued three of the leases to Shell Frontier, and one each to Chevron and EGL Resources. The three companies plan to conduct research projects on in-situ oil shale extraction processes on 160-acre parcels on BLM land in Rio Blanco County. The initial term of the leases is 10 years, and the companies have the option of extending the leases another five years if they prove they are diligently pursuing 'commercial production levels,' according to the BLM. The leases contain a right to convert the research and development leases and nearly 5,000 acres of surrounding land on each parcel into 20-year commercial leases if oil shale production there proves to be commercially viable."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

7:21:11 AM    

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Despite sewage spills polluting the creek plans are moving forward to complete a system of trails along with developing other recreation opportunities in it's corridor, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "A group trying to develop a vision for improving Fountain Creek took the first step Friday by agreeing to a structure to talk about the future. The Vision Task Force, which was formed following a meeting of area officials and landowners in September, has set up a series of meetings over the next six weeks to begin addressing problems and possibilities for Fountain Creek. The first meeting will be independent of the task force. Colorado State Parks, Colorado Open Lands and the Nature Conservancy are scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Pueblo City Council meeting room to discuss a Great Outdoors Colorado grant application. The state is looking at creating trails, campgrounds and heritage parks along Fountain Creek, while Open Lands and the Nature Conservancy want to establish a conservation belt running from Pikes Peak to the Chico Creek basin, called Peak to Prairie. The groups want to use GOCo funds to help the project."

Category: Colorado Water

7:13:34 AM    

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It looks like the lawsuit against Colorado Springs over Fountain Creek pollution by Pueblo and the Sierra Club will go to trial, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "Efforts to agree on a plan to stop Colorado Springs' polluting of Fountain Creek seem at an impasse, attorneys said Friday in U.S. District Court. The attorneys, representing the Pueblo County district attorney and the Sierra Club, told a magistrate judge that their lawsuits against the city probably can't be settled without a court order. A court order would specify what Colorado Springs must do to stop spills of sewage, excessive chlorine and nonpotable water into the creek, and what penalties the city must pay. The attorneys said they are far apart with Colorado Springs in trying to reach agreement of what would be in a court order. The attorneys, however, also said they are willing to consider using a private mediator to try to agree with Colorado Springs on terms of a proposed court order. A proposed court order could be presented to a judge for approval. Attorney John Barth, representing District Attorney Bill Thiebaut, and attorney Eric Huber, representing Sierra, gave their bleak assessment to Magistrate Judge Boyd Boland. He called the court proceeding to see if his efforts to help the litigants try to reach a settlement would be productive...

"Attorneys for the three litigants demonstrated at Friday's status conference little indication of compromising. Boland ordered officials of Colorado Springs, the environmental group and the district attorneys office to attend a confidential settlement conference with Boland on March 5. All of the officials must have authority to reach a settlement. The closed-door settlement negotiations are to start soon after a pretrial conference between the litigants and Boland that already was set for the same day. It is possible that presiding judge Miller could rule before then on whether to throw out the lawsuits, or to rule, as Thiebaut and Sierra want, that the city has violated the Clean Water Act because of the spills."

Category: Colorado Water

7:03:45 AM    

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