Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

Urban Drainage and Flood Control District

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

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Our blog friend Ed Cone is living through the drought back east in North Carolina.

He writes: "Tar Heel Tavern is soliciting posts on the great NC drought."

Category: Colorado Water
8:24:52 PM    

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Here's a report about the proposed upgrade to Colorado's mining laws spurred on by Powertech's proposed uranium mining operation in Weld County, from The Greeley Tribune (free registration required). From the article:

State Representatives Randy Fischer (D- Fort Collins) and John Kefalas (D-Ft. Collins) announced they are co-sponsoring a bill to be introduced into legislation in January that will protect groundwater, unveil secrecy around prospecting activities and protect landowners rights, Fischer said. While the legislation is not aimed to shut down the proposed mining project, it will raise mining safety standards that are out of date and could prove harmful to residents of Colorado, Fischer said. "The legislation we're proposing will meet new challenges and concerns posed by industrial mining technologies that were not anticipated by past legislatures," Fischer said. One of those, the In-situ mining technique used by Powertech, would be the first of its kind in Colorado. It employs high-pressured chemicals and water to remove uranium from the ground. The widest criticism of this mining technique has been the contamination of the surrounding groundwater and soil...

Senator Steve Johnson (R-Fort Collins) said the 30 other places where this technique has been used were damaged by the procedure. "In almost all of those areas, if not all of those areas, there has been serious contamination of the aquifer, of the water supply and of the environment," Johnson said. Cory Carroll, president of the Larimer County Medical Society, said the proposed mine would be a major hazard to residents of Colorado. The society has already passed a resolution opposing uranium mining. "Powertech, the company that is filing for permission to mine uranium, states candidly they will do no harm," Carroll said. "This is a fantasy. They will do harm. How much and the extent is the only unknown."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Andrew Sullivan: "We're counting on it to tackle climate change and keep our energy supplies intact. The politicians hype it. But the industry itself is not as confident - and deeply reliant on foreign supplies. Category: 2008 Presidential Election
6:13:45 AM    

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Palmer Lake finally found some water for their namesake lake, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article: "The town plans to funnel about 6 acre-feet from a town reservoir into the lake over the next week, Palmer Lake council member Richard Allen said Monday. Officials opened the pipe last week."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:58:38 AM    

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The Pueblo Board of Water Works is hoping to buy shares of the Bessemer Canal to keep Arkansas River water in the basin and to line up a 100 year sustainable supply, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A plan by the Pueblo Board of Water Works to obtain a controlling interest in the Bessemer Ditch to meet future water needs in the area could be launched today. The water board is scheduled to vote for approval of a plan to buy Bessemer Ditch shares and convert them to municipal use to help meet Pueblo water needs for the next century. The board is also scheduled to vote on an agreement with Pueblo West to jointly pursue the water rights. The Pueblo West Metropolitan District board is still discussing the agreement and is not scheduled to vote on it until Nov. 13 at the earliest, said manager Don Saling.

"The Bessemer is a good water right, and it meets our criteria. One of the benefits is that this would keep it in the Arkansas basin," said Alan Hamel, executive director of the water board. "Some are not going to sell, but we think we can be better partners than someone outside Pueblo County." The water would help meet projected water needs up to 100 years in the future, as well as reduce the share of imported water used in Pueblo's system. At buildout, Pueblo will get 60 percent of its water supply from the Colorado River basin, and climate change or downstream river calls could reduce the yield of those rights. The water board would not initially dry up farms. "For at least the next 20 years, we would lease the water back to farmers and improve their chances to succeed," Hamel said...

[Nick Gradisar, water board president] said legal and engineering fees are expected to be more than $500 per share, and the water board may also use money from the fund for its proposed enlargement of Clear Creek Reservoir or other projects. There may also be infrastructure needs, revegetation and other costs associated with the Bessemer purchase. The water board's plan calls for purchasing a controlling interest in the Bessemer Ditch, or slightly more than 10,000 of the almost 20,000 shares on the ditch, because of the high priority of water rights on the ditch. The ditch also diverts directly from Pueblo Dam, meaning no exchanges would be required to move the water into Pueblo's supply system...

The Bessemer Ditch flows about 30 miles from Pueblo Dam to the Huerfano River, and mostly provides irrigation water to farmers on the St. Charles Mesa southeast of Pueblo, traditionally irrigating 20,000 acres. The St. Charles Mesa Water District already owns about 10 percent of the ditch, and has filed a water court application to convert its shares to domestic use. Like the St. Charles district, the water board and Pueblo West would have to file a water court application for change of use. They will also have to convince shareholders to change bylaws to allow the water to be used outside the ditch area. Hamel said the St. Charles district could later become a partner, but negotiations are not complete. The Bessemer Ditch board of directors has already told the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District it is not interested in participating in a proposed Super Ditch land fallowing, water lease management program. The ditch is one of seven the district has been studying. Hamel said the water board would not stand in the way of the Super Ditch, but does not want to participate...

The water board will push for bylaw changes that would keep the water in Pueblo County. "None of the Bessemer Ditch water could be sent out of the basin and it would be used only in Pueblo County," Hamel said. The water board also is working with City Council to avoid a showdown similar to 2001, when council rejected the water board's plan to sell water to Pueblo West. Hamel said the situation is different, because no water would be sold to Pueblo West under the proposed intergovernmental agreement. "Pueblo West would acquire their own shares and they'll vote with us," Hamel said. In addition to what Hamel predicted would be a contested water court case, the water board also would be subject to Pueblo County's recently revised 1041 land-use regulations. "When we approach the county, we will point out that this will enhance the economy over time, moving water from one use to another, but in the same area," Hamel said.

Category: Colorado Water
5:51:51 AM    

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