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

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

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From email from the Colorado River District:

Colorado River District Board cautions the State about prematurely adopting Colorado River Compact curtailment rules

The Colorado River District Board of Directors believes it is important for the State of Colorado to understand the risks and limits regarding how much water can be developed in the Colorado River system. The Colorado River District is particularly concerned about the risk of future curtailment of water use under the 1922 and 1948 Colorado River Compacts that could be created through the development of new, substantial junior water rights. The Colorado River District believes these limits and these risks must be better defined and better understood before the State Engineer adopts rules on how to administer a compact curtailment order.

These issues loom large as proposals for additional transmountain diversions, energy development, population growth, climate change, and other demands strain existing water supplies.

At its October 16-17, 2007, quarterly board meeting, the Colorado River District Board of Directors passed a motion that cautions the State about proceeding with rules without first studying how much water can be safely developed under the 1922 and 1948 Colorado River Compacts without an unreasonable risk of tripping a compact curtailment order. This study is just beginning under the direction of the Colorado Water Conservation Board pursuant to Senate Bill 2007-122 passed by the 2007 General Assembly.

Colorado's compact agreements with other Colorado River Basin states require specific deliveries of water to downstream states. The Colorado River has never been under compact administration. However, compact administration and litigation elsewhere in the state, notably in the Rio Grande, Republican, and Arkansas River Basins, have caused substantial hardship and resulted in the dry-up of agricultural lands.

The Colorado River District asserts that the most important role for the State is to work proactively to avoid a compact curtailment and to work with water users to develop a plan to mitigate the adverse impacts of an unavoidable curtailment. Only then should rules and regulations be developed. This sequence ensures a more orderly and less contentious rulemaking process.

The text of the motion is as follows:

"It is premature and distracting for the State Engineer's Office to promulgate rules and regulations to administer water rights in the event curtailment is necessary under the 1922 and 1948 Colorado River compacts. It is first necessary to complete the Senate Bill 07-122 Colorado River water availability study and to evaluate the available supply and associated risks of a compact curtailment. More importantly, the state's policy priorities should be to avoid a compact curtailment and to work with water users to develop a plan to mitigate the adverse impacts of a curtailment. Rules and regulations for an unavoidable curtailment can then be developed in a more orderly and equitable manner without tremendous controversy."

For more information, contact:

Jim Pokrandt
Communications and Education
Colorado River District
(970) 945-8522 x 236
Cell: (970) 319-1807

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:06:29 PM    

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From The Gallup Independent, "U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman has introduced the 'SECURE Water Act' to address some of the serious water-related challenges facing New Mexico and the United States ... The legislation is designed to facilitate the improvement of water management by the Bureau of Reclamation and takes into account the impacts of global climate change on water resources - something not considered in BOR's 2007 Hydrologic Determination which found sufficient water to support the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Bingaman also is sponsoring that legislation."

More from the article:

Bingaman's bill requires an expansion of the National Streamflow Information Program and the development of a systematic groundwater monitoring program, and directs the USGS to formally establish a water use and availability assessment program consistent with recommendations made by the National Research Council. It also would require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Energy to increase the acquisition and analysis of water-related data to assess the long-term availability of water resources for irrigation, hydroelectric power, municipal, environmental uses, and other purposes...

For Navajo families living in the New Mexico portion of the reservation, who still must haul water for personal use and for livestock, the availability of water is a big question, especially in light of a revival of the uranium mining industry. While Cold War-era mining left them with a legacy of abandoned mines and contaminated lands, many fear that the new wave of in-situ recovery of uranium - which depends on water - will leave them and their grandchildren without a safe supply to meet their personal needs. There are a number of pending applications on file with the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer requesting water for proposed uranium mining operations in McKinley County, where Gallup is facing a critical water shortage and is depending on the Navajo-Gallup and the G-22 well projects to meet future needs.

Category: Colorado Water

7:44:37 AM    

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The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District is going ahead with their lawsuit challenging Reclamation's authority to enter into contracts for storage in Fryingpan-Arkansas Project facilities with out of basin entities (Aurora), according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A federal lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Reclamation's recent long-term contract for Aurora to lease space and exchange water at Pueblo Reservoir should be filed within a week. The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District voted unanimously Wednesday to instruct its water lawyer, Peter Nichols, to file the suit in federal court...

The suit will be based on three broad points, said Lower Ark Chairman John Singletary:

Reclamation violated its own policies in issuing the Aurora contract.
A full environmental impact statement should have been conducted.
Reclamation does not have the authority to use Fryingpan-Arkansas facilities to move water out of the Arkansas River basin.

Nichols declined to discuss any details of the suit in open session with the board, despite prompting from Singletary. "The board doesn't like executive sessions, and lawyers don't like to talk about lawsuits before they're filed," Nichols said.

Pueblo County Director Melissa Esquibel, who chairs the legal committee, assured other board members the lawsuit will be along the lines the board has been discussing since it became apparent in June that Reclamation would sign the contract...

The primary mission of the Lower Ark district - formed in 2002 by voters in Bent, Crowley, Otero, Prowers and Pueblo counties - is to protect water in the Lower Arkansas Valley.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:37:19 AM    

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Here's a report on the Boxelder Sanitation District treatment plant near Fort Collins, from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. They write:

Boxelder Sanitation District, 3201 E. Mulberry St., which serves Larimer County, including part of northeast Fort Collins, narrowly missed meeting a monthly average minimum standard for pollutant removal in 2005, according to a report released this month by Environment Colorado in light of the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a federal act created to regulate discharges of pollutants into American waters. But while Boxelder failed to meet the standard 85 percent or more removal of waste in its outgoing water, the plant did not receive a citation because it did not exceed its monthly limit for toxins released back to the water, said Ravi Srivastava, former general manager for the Boxelder Sanitation District, who called it a "minor offense" because the district is "still within the limits of our permits."

Category: Colorado Water

7:25:50 AM    

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