Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

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Here's the link to SB 28 (pdf). The bill, "Modifies the representation on a metropolitan sewage disposal district board having 11 or more member municipalities from one representative for every 25,000 people plus any fractional remainder to one representative for a specified number of people plus any fractional remainder. Requires the board to be reapportioned less frequently. Increases the compensation of members of the board of directors of any metropolitan sewage disposal district."

Category: Colorado Water

8:52:04 PM    

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Here's a nice roundup of water rights issues in the news from our friends at DARCA.

Category: Colorado Water

6:46:42 PM    

Forbes: "The Web Celeb 25. The ranks of the world's celebrities used to be dominated by millionaire actors, athletes and musicians, but the Internet has leveled the playing field. A kid with a video camera has access to as large an audience as the biggest Hollywood star. A mom with a blog can attract more readers than a best-selling author. And an opinionated entrepreneur can become a guru to millions."

"The Web Celeb 25 is a list of the biggest, brightest and most influential people on the Internet. From bloggers to podcasters to YouTube stars, these are the people who are creating the digital world from the bottom up."

Thanks to Dave Winer for the link.

6:10:17 PM    

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From Tuesday's Brighton Standard-Blade, "Two pieces of legislation Brighton-area Rep. Mary Hodge plans to sponsor - each confronting water issues in the state - have found their share of criticism. The bills, however, could have enough appeal to weave their way through the lawmaking process. House bill 1124 would alter the method by which water is stored in the state; House bill 1013 would allow some individuals out of the water conservancy subdistrict to which they now belong. As with most water issues in the state, sides are forming and pieces of the legislation are being made target. The bills have yet to be proposed at a committee hearing. Central Colorado Water Conservancy District was behind the formulating of 1124, but would stand to lose tax revenue if 1013 passes."

Category: Colorado Water

7:34:39 AM    

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According to the Greeley Tribune (free registration required), a major study, "the first of its kind in Colorado - on ways to sustain irrigated agriculture while meeting the increasing water demands of the state has been jointly launched by Parker Water and Sanitation District and Colorado State University. The results of the three-year, one million dollar-plus project are expected to provide crucial information that can be used in the development of water policy from both the agricultural and urban perspectives, according to a CSU statement released today.

"The study will develop and investigate cropping system options - techniques in crop production and irrigation - to determine how much water can be saved. The water saved can be made available for possible urban use, while at the same time sustaining viable economic returns to the agricultural and rural communities. Cropping system options include: rotational cropping (fallowing of a portion of the land); deficit and partial season irrigation (applying less water, but gaining maximum yield from the water applied); water conserving practices and drought tolerant crop varieties; adoption of optimal irrigation technology; and alternative farming practices, crops and markets."

Category: Colorado Water

7:29:56 AM    

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The Colorado Water Congress is holding their 49th Annual Convention starting today.

Category: Colorado Water

7:24:27 AM    

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Here's an update on snowpack from (Colorado Springs). They write, "Widespread areas of our mountain snow pack are above normal for the first time in several years. The state snow pack and water supply will be topics of conversation as the Colorado Water Congress meets in Denver over the next two days. Almost every water manager in the state will be there, along with Governor Bill Ritter. According to snow pack figures compiled by the USDA's National Resources Conservation Service, as of January 24, 2006, the three main river basins in Colorado are above normal. The Arkansas River Basin is 129% of normal. The Upper Colorado River Basin is 104% of normal. The South Platte River Basin is 126% of normal. At the Pueblo Reservoir, storage site for water used by people in the Pikes Peak region and Arkansas Valley, water levels are 8-vertical feet higher on the dam than this same time last year, and are expected to gain another 2 to 3 feet by April."

Category: Colorado Water

7:20:43 AM    

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The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel is reporting, "The Colorado Water Conservation Board on Wednesday threw its support behind new wording in a proposed state water projects bill that would demand the board work with basin roundtables while studying whether there[base ']s enough water to send to the Front Range from any Western Slope water basin.

"In so doing, the Water Conservation Board left the door open for a potential study of the availability of Blue Mesa Reservoir water for possible use on the Front Range. The board seemed poised Tuesday to add language to the bill preventing the proposed Blue Mesa Reservoir Pumpback Project from going forward until the state knows if there's enough water there to do so. But the board had a change of heart Wednesday morning. The proposed water projects bill, which Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, is scrambling to complete by the state Senate's Friday deadline for introducing bills, would appropriate $500,000 to the Water Conservation Board to evaluate the state's water needs, including possible transbasin diversion projects such as the Blue Mesa Pumpback."

Category: Colorado Water

7:13:35 AM    

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The seven Colorado River Compact states have agreed on a plan to manage the river during drought, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article, "A new agreement among the seven Colorado River Basin states may help prevent Coloradans from having to curtail their water consumption during times of drought. If the agreement is adopted by Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne later this year, the seven basin states will stop fighting over the river's water and begin using Lake Powell to help absorb the effects of drought on the Lower Colorado River Basin more than it does today. The agreement may encourage the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada to live within their means and force them to take water shortages, Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Rob Kuharich said Wednesday. The board approved a recommendation that the state sign the new Seven States Agreement, which will allow Nevada to use more Colorado River water, change how lakes Powell and Mead are managed and encourage Colorado to use weather modification to help increase the amount of water flowing into the river. The agreement is 'seminal to the history of the Colorado River,' Kuharich said.

"The Lower Basin states are overusing their share of the river by up to 1.5 million acre-feet, said Scott Balcomb, one of Colorado's representatives to negotiations among the seven states. Las Vegas has no future water supply, he said, and the Upper Basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico must ensure they have enough water for new development here while also preventing the Lower Basin from being deprived of water. The answer was the new agreement, which, he said, 'commits the seven states to engage in a consulting process with each other and avoid litigation. We're for the first time ... agreeing to use Glen Canyon and Lake Mead in conjunction with one another to try not to create a shortage in the Lower Basin' when storage is available in the Upper Basin, he said. The Lower Basin, according to the agreement, will take incremental shortages of up to 600,000 acre-feet, depending on reservoir elevations in Lake Powell and Lake Mead...

"The Department of Interior is considering the agreement under the National Environmental Policy Act as one option for dealing with water shortages on the Colorado River. Several others exist, including one put forth by environmental groups that encourages water conservation. If the Department of Interior adopts the agreement, then Colorado agrees to support it until 2025, Lochhead said."

Category: Colorado Water

7:06:36 AM    

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Here's an update on the Pueblo/Sierra Club lawsuit against Colorado Springs over water quality in Fountain Creek, from the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "Colorado Springs says lawsuits against it for pollution of Fountain Creek will not put a stop to all of the city's spills of raw sewage and other pollutants into the creek. A lawyer for the city told the judge presiding over the lawsuits that experts on both sides have testified that stopping all releases from a large wastewater system is not possible 'in the real world.'[...]

"'No wastewater system, including Colorado Springs, can prevent tree roots from growing in a certain direction, can stop every vandal who is intent of creating havoc within the system or guarantee that valves or other parts will not corrode faster than anticipated,' the city told U.S. District Judge Walker Miller. Colorado Springs' assertions are in new court filings supporting its request that the judge throw out the lawsuits. The testimony referred to is in depositions of witnesses who the litigants have questioned for the case. The city's filings also contends two main points: The Sierra Club is saying its lawsuit amounts to no more than having a federal judge order the city to do what it already is doing; The district attorney's job is to prosecute crime, not to file lawsuits. His lawsuit must be thrown out because he has no authority to file it."

Category: Colorado Water

6:56:03 AM    

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HB 1132 (pdf) made it out of the The House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee, according to the Denver Post. From the article, "The House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee approved a bill (House Bill 1132) that would allow a water court judge to consider decreases in water quality for a change in the type of use for irrigation water rights."

More coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "A controversial water quality bill is no longer controversial, at least judging by how Colorado Springs, Aurora and Pueblo lawmakers came together Wednesday in support of it. Though it seemed strange to some, lawmakers and water experts from all three cities - and elsewhere in the state - joined hands in support of the water-quality bill before the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee. The measure, HB1132 introduced by Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, would allow a water court judge to consider water-quality issues before approving transfers of more than 1,000 acre-feet. It passed the 13-member panel with only two lawmakers, Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, voting against it. Beyond them, everyone else backed the measure, including Reps. Ray Rose, R-Montrose, and Cory Gardner, R-Yuma. Both men voted against the bill when McFadyen introduced it last year, but wanted reassurance that the measure doesn't give courts too much power over setting water-quality issues before they would back this year's version...

"The issue has seen several incarnations over the past seven years, from water quality to mitigation for basins of origin to outright bans on interbasin water transfers. All failed, including last year's nearly identical measure, which cleared the House by one vote only to die by a single vote in the Senate...

"Pat Radcliff, a lobbyist for water authorities in Douglas and El Paso counties, said her clients still objected to the measure, saying it holds those who seek a water transfer decree liable for poor water quality that they didn't cause. 'This is a bill about water quality that does nothing to polluters,' Radcliff said. 'It says that people, (whose) water right that they own pursuant to the Constitution of this state that they are putting to appropriate beneficial use according to the Constitution of this state, are somehow polluters. That's just backwards.' Gary Barber, of the El Pao County Water Authority, said his group did not oppose McFadyen's bill. Still, others testified that water quality must be a consideration because it looks at how those left in a depleted river basin would be harmed by a water transfer, and doing no harm to downstream users is a basic tenant of water law. John Singletary, chairman of the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District, said the measure is needed to help all river basins protect themselves from large transfers, particularly those to thirsty Front Range cities."

More coverage from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. They write, "A similar bill from McFadyen died last year after a Western Slope senator allegedly voted incorrectly on the Senate floor, killing it by a one-vote margin. However, with several changes from the previous year, narrowing the bill's focus and possible impacts, the bill passed from the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee with much less controversy in an 11-2 vote. McFadyen's new bill only applies to changes in water use when more than 1,000 acre-feet are concerned, the new use occurs at a new point along a stream, the change in use is permanent and the change in use violates water-quality standards at the point of diversion. Peter Nichols, a water attorney for the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District, said if McFadyen's bill was in effect in 2005, less than 1 percent of the roughly 1,200 water-use applications would have been affected."

Category: Colorado Water

6:41:01 AM    

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Here's a story about green conservatives launching a program to save the Wyoming Range, from the Jackson Hole Star-Tribune. From the article, "A coalition of hunter, angler and sporting organizations -- 13 in all -- launched a statewide effort this week to help preserve the Wyoming Range. The group, Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range, unveiled its new Web site and billboards at a Wednesday afternoon presentation in Casper, at the Rocky Mountain Discount Sports store on CY Avenue. The group hopes to prevent oil and gas development in the Wyoming Range. The coalition[base ']s proposal comes down to no new leases on public lands in those mountains, and a process that would allow for leases to be retired, traded or bought out at fair market value. The Wyoming Range is about 400,000 acres -- 70 miles long and 25 to 30 miles wide, running north to south in far western Wyoming, with its north end about 20 miles south of Jackson. Last year, the Forest Service sold leases for 44,600 acres in the Wyoming Range, adding to the 150,000 acres leased since the 1970s. Oil and gas operators had sought leases on some 175,000 acres in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, but the agency pared that down to 44,600 after protests from Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal and U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo. Tom Reed, backcountry organizer for Trout Unlimited, said the Wyoming Range has world-class hunting and fishing."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:37:54 AM    

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The State Water Quality Control Division has found lakes where large fish have high levels of mercury, according to From the article, "The results are from the latest round of samples in a five-year program that will test fish in a total 120 reservoirs statewide. Tests have been completed on fish from 35 of the 57 sites sampled, and advisories have been issued for nine water bodies.

"In Colorado, the five new water bodies and the fish where elevated mercury levels were found were: Horsetooth Reservoir, walleye and wiper, a hybrid; Horseshoe Reservoir, west of Walsenburg, saugeye, a walleye hybrid; Totten Reservoir near Cortez, walleye; Purdy Reservoir near Grand Junction, large mouth bass; and Trinidad Lake near Trinidad, walleye."

More coverage from the Denver Post. They write, "Pregnant women and children younger than 6 are warned against eating walleye and wiper from Horsetooth Reservoir near Fort Collins; saugeye from Horseshoe Reservoir west of Walsenburg; walleye from Totten Reservoir near Cortez and Trinidad Lake; and largemouth bass from Purdy Reservoir near Grand Junction. Others should not eat the fish more than once or twice a month."

Here's another story from the Rocky Mountain News.

Category: Colorado Water

6:28:06 AM    

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