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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Saturday, November 10, 2007

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Here's the text of the Annual State of the San Miguel River Report from The Telluride Watch. From the report:

The 2006-07 winter ended with below average precipitation in March. Increased precipitation in above average amounts in April and May resulted in an average amount of moisture, with cumulative precipitation for the water year (October 2006-October 2007) at the end of May at 101 percent. As a result, the 2007 field season started with average available moisture for runoff season.

The river reached a peak near 900 cfs at the Specie Creek gauge on May 16, June 3 and June 19. The river running season lasted into mid-August, fed by heavy rains in late July and early August. Both July and August were quite wet, with near average amounts of monsoon moisture, making for mudslides in Royer Gulch, Coronet Creek and on Keystone Hill. River outfitters were able to run the river into August due to the rains. September had less moisture than in 06, but storms Sept. 16-17 and 23 brought the river back up to 800 plus cfs.

Click through and read the whole thing. They go into a lot of detail about the watershed.

Category: Colorado Water

10:01:46 AM    

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The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District is signing on to study the effects of dust on snowmelt, according to The Crested Butte News. From the article:

A recent study into the melting patterns of dust-laden snowfields has gained support from the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD). Researchers conducting the study say with the right data collection they could more accurately predict the melting and runoff patterns of the basin-wide snowpack. Chris Landry and his fellow researchers at the Center for Snow and Avalanche Study have spent the past three winters studying the snowpack in the Senator Beck Basin near Silverton, Colo. Landry spoke to the UGRWCD board of directors on October 22 and introduced his study, explaining the Center has been studying the effect of dust layers in snow. Landry calls it "snow albedo," which is the reflectivity of snow...

Landry's study estimates that over the past three years the snowpack near Silverton has usually melted a month earlier, because of dust, than it would from heat and sunlight alone. Researchers have also been able to match layers of dust in the snowpack with specific dust storms blowing in from the Canyonlands area of Utah. All that's really needed, Landry says, is the raw data to create the model and funding to support its collection. Once funded by the National Academy of Sciences, Landry is now seeking new funding to continue his research and develop computer models and infrastructure for new basins. UGRWCD board member Ralph Grover asked what the district could get in return for funding the study. Landry said the district would receive a regular bulletin of current trends at the study site, weather phenomena throughout Colorado and a forecast for the local basin. The funds would also be used to further refine the study and the computer models. "The payoff in investment is not going to be immediate," Landry said...

Landry said their research indicated that most of the dust was blowing in from the Colorado Plateau, rather than the Mojave desert or other deserts in Mexico. UGRWCD board member Steve Glazer asked if the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used any of Landry's models in their weather predictions. Landry said he had presented his work to NOAA officials, who were interested and will likely support the project...

Colorado River Water Conservation District board president Bill Trampe was at the meeting and gave his support of the study, too. "The River District has been working with Chris for a couple years. We think it's important and we're up for another conversation about funding," he said. During a budget work session later that evening the UGRWCD board unanimously agreed to make a contribution to Landry's study, though a final sum will be determined during the board's budget public hearing on November 20.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:52:16 AM    

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Here's an update on efforts to build a fish friendly structure around the Price-Stubbs dam on the Colorado River, from The Aspen Times (free registration required). From the article:

Endangered fish that, for nearly a century, have been kept from swimming up the Colorado River by an 8-foot high irrigation dam will soon get relief in the form of a $10 million fish passage. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said the Price-Stubb Dam, which was built in 1911, will have a notch cut into it by year's end to allow construction of a 600-foot-long channel. Doing so would allow the Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker to navigate several miles of river. The fishes' critical habitat stretches from Lake Powell in Utah to Rifle.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:38:49 AM    

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From The Sterling Journal Advocate: "Sterling's precipitation for the year totals just over 16 inches. Compared to the 30-year average of 14.44 inches, we are still on the plus side. But these figures are now misleading. The past few months, when soil moisture needed to be replenished before the coming winter, are now averaging drier than normal."

Category: Colorado Water

9:31:23 AM    

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Irrigators in the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District augmentation district may get to pump next spring if all goes well. Here's a look at what lies ahead for them from The Brighton Standard Blade. From the article:

South Platte River farmers and ranchers received some good news this month when Water Court Judge Roger Klein issued a 101-page order declaring water and well users were due a decree that would spell out a plan of action for using water for agricultural needs. Last week, Central Water Conservancy District attorney Andy Jones explained the results of the Oct. 18 decision, saying the agri-water users had successfully built the vehicle that will drive the decree. But understand, the farmers were advised, there will be no well pumping without the decree. The judge only ruled the farmers were entitled to the decree; one has yet to be issued.

A Water Court trial last from Feb. 5 to May 3 with the intent of Weld Augmentation Subdistrict of the CCWCD to receive conditional water rights to use well pumping to augment water use along the South Platte. The augmentation plan would allow water users to pump from the alluvial water table below the South Platte drainage area. During the trial, Jones argued for WAS on five major issues: Sufficiency of supply, a new projection calculator, winter administration of unused supplies, depletion levels, a new accounting tool and available of replacement sources owned by members of WAS. "We had to convince the court that we had enough water to replace our depletions and we needed reasonable projections and the ability to use well augmentation to replace river flows," Jones said. Klein's order says the farmers successfully argued they had made reasonably accurate projections for use and supply and well augmentation could be used to act as a buffer to replace river flow depletions. "The judge determined we were right. The courts said augmentation constitutes a substantial step toward making sure the appropriation of water is available and that this water is legally available. Our application for augmentation rights was granted," Jones said.

...legislative changes will be a tough sell. The governor-appointed water task force finished up its assigned tasks last week with only two proposals for change sent to the governor's desk. Local state representative and member of the task force Mary Hodge said she didn't think the task force successfully answered any of the concerns. To put it simply, Hodge told the farmers "we didn't accomplish much." The Well Augmentation Subdistrict managed to accomplish more through the court system, Hodge admitted. Jones agreed. "We've created the vehicle, the structure that will allow your wells to pump. You can be assured that this structure we built is the best under current law. We tested the limit and this is what trial court will allow."

WAS and Central Colorado hope to have a decree in hand by April to allow the planning and planting of next year's crops.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:11:56 AM    

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Congratulations to Bob Senderhauf who was recently re-appointed an at-large board member representing Custer County on the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board, as reported by The Wet Mountain Tribune. From the article, "That appointment was made by 11th judicial district judge Charles Barton...Most recently, Senderhauf and other UAWCD board members have been working to bring a blanket water augmentation plan for the Wet Mountain Valley to address sources of water and water storage, as well as to augment wells in the county. Progress regarding that blanket water augmentation plan will likely be addressed during a water information-gathering meeting being held here tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 9, beginning at 6 p.m. in the county courthouse."

Category: Colorado Water

8:47:54 AM    

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Here's an article about Colorado River cutthroat recovery efforts on Hermosa Creek from The Durango Telegraph. From the article:

The push is on to go native in the headwaters of Hermosa Creek. The Colorado Division of Wildlife and San Juan National Forest are currently working to reverse the local decline of the native Colorado River cutthroat trout. However, the reintroduction effort, which focuses on the drainage's headwaters, has also drawn mixed reviews...

The DOW is doing something in the upper Hermosa watershed, however. Faced with the threat of an "endangered" designation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency is continuing its efforts to bring the native fish back to the San Juan Mountains. "This project is certainly one that is a high priority," Japhet said. "The Forest Service and DOW have agreed that preventing the listing of this species as 'endangered' is a good thing to do. It's a situation where an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure." This ounce of prevention actually got under way in 1992 on the East Fork of Hermosa Creek. At that time, a hold-out population of pure Colorado River cutthroat trout was discovered in a remote stream within the Weminuche Wilderness. The DOW then identified that East Fork of Hermosa Creek, located near Purgatory, as an ideal stream to reintroduce the natives. More than a decade later, that population is now flourishing. "The project on East Hermosa Creek is doing very well," Japhet said. "It's a very stable, very robust population of cutthroats up there."

That 1992 discovery also led to the creation of a Weminuche strain of Colorado River cutthroat trout. Spawn taken from that original discovery has been used to establish a brood stock at the Durango fish hatchery. Since 2005, fingerlings from that stock have been seeded into remote streams and high-mountain lakes throughout the region. Now the DOW plans to stock the native fingerlings into another stretch of Hermosa Creek [^] 4 miles of the stream's upper reaches above Hotel Draw. Japhet explained that the upper Hermosa Creek drainage offers the DOW a unique opportunity to restore the natives in close proximity to the East Fork population. With the current project, the agency will reintroduce the fish into 4 miles of upper Hermosa Creek and 1 mile of Corral Creek. To accomplish this, the Forest Service recently built a five-foot waterfall barrier on the stream to isolate the new fish from other trout and potential predation. Next summer, the stretches will be treated with rotenone, a short-lived botanical pesticide, to kill the existing, healthy population of mixed trout species. Widely used for the last 80 years, rotenone does not harm other species and breaks down completely within 48 hours. Thirty days after the application, the fingerlings will be introduced and special regulations will be implemented to protect the fledgling population.

Though the introduction is intended to be beneficial, it has drawn criticism and split the local flyfishing community. Some have criticized the DOW for destroying one population of fish to create another. Another group of anglers has said that the project will harm their ability to fish on a favorite stretch of water. On the whole, Durango's angling community is "divided" on the issue, according to Ty Churchwell, vice-president of the local Five Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited. "We can't even come up with a uniform opinion about the project amongst our board," he said. "We took a straw poll at our last meeting, and we don't have strong consensus in one direction or another and can't make a formal statement about the reintroduction."

Category: Colorado Water

8:25:25 AM    

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Here's an update on wilderness protection for Rocky Mountain National Park from The Sky-Hi Daily News. They write:

The Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Act is still in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Cody Wertz of Sen. Ken Salazar's staff. "Our hope is that it is on the Senate floor later this year," he said. If passed, the act would designate 249,339 acres in Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness, guaranteeing that the backcountry of the Park will continue to be managed as it has been since the 1970s.

After a rocky go when the bill was last proposed, due to concerns about the Grand Ditch water delivery system that snakes through Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado legislators reconvened to find language on which both sides of the political aisle could agree. "It's the first major wilderness bill for Rocky Mountain National Park that has bi-partisan delegation support," Wertz said. "Things look very positive to get (RMNP wilderness) done this time ... We are hopeful."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

8:12:25 AM    

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Instream residents in Colorado are watching closely as the state debates new instream flow regulations. From The Sky-Hi Daily News:

During a meeting about instream flow recommendations Tuesday, philosophical differences over water bubbled to the surface, but Colorado Water Conservation Board and Bureau of Land Management staff were prepared. With various firming projects and water-clarity issues weighing on the West Slope's shoulders, Grand County Commissioners told the agencies earlier that day, "We are a little uncomfortable when it comes to water." The instream flow meeting, held at the County Road and Bridge building, was hosted by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and the BLM. The BLM, as it does each year, has recommended segments of Grand County streams for further protection...

The Conservation Board was formed in 1973, when the Colorado Legislature recognized "the need to correlate the activities of mankind with some reasonable preservation of the natural environment." It is considered one of only two entities in Colorado that allows water rights for non-consumptive use. Before it, Colorado water law written in the mid-1800s had been based solely on beneficial use. The law did not recognize water rights for the purpose of merely of keeping water flowing in rivers.

The CWCB, made up of a member from each of Colorado's seven water divisions and three more from the North Platte drainage, the city and county of Denver and the Department of Natural Resources, makes the final decision on those state water rights through a public process. In all, the state holds appropriations on 1,463 individual stream segments. That represents, 8,636 miles, which is about 29 percent of the rivers in all of Colorado. According to the Division of Wildlife, Colorado has 29,289 miles of continuously flowing rivers and streams...

In this year's round of appropriations by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the BLM has recommended expanded instream flows on seven segments of streams in Grand County. The Division of Wildlife has recommended another. The streams on the list are: Arapaho Creek, Mule Creek, Rabbit Ears Creek, Troublesome Creek, Corral Creek, Beaver Creek, Willow Creek and Upper and Lower Troublesome Creek. Tuesday's meeting started the public process of gathering more data. It also served to provide information to other water rights holders. Ranchers, county officials and river-protection advocates took the opportunity to talk about the streams they know. Several who attended the meeting hold water rights on those streams and worried about the repercussions of the state holding rights to more streamflows. Baessler explained that any rights appropriated this year would be junior to the rights of others, and unless others' use of the water changes in some way, present-day water users will not be affected...

Many river users agree that irrigation, which is said to return about 80 percent of the water back to rivers, is a better scenario for local rivers than trans-basin diversions. But instream flows with zero consumptive loss is even better for overall river health, Klancke said. Irrigation water returned to the rivers can have a higher salinity...

According to state law, the CWCB is required to seek streamflow recommendations from the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. Such recommendations are considered part of federal agencies' land stewardship. The BLM cycles its recommendations through each district of the state about every five years. From Tuesday's meeting, Baessler said staff members gained valuable information from citizens about various streams, such as the amount of water and the senior rights on Corral Creek, as well as the amount of late-season flows on Beaver Creek. "My concern is that what you have now is sufficient. I seen no reason that you should have more just because you want more," said Duane Scholl of Kremmling about Corral Creek. Because land is sold and people move on, Baessler said, the intent of the program is to keep streams healthy regardless of change to protect river life and water quality for the future. The analyses of the streams are being done prior to the holidays, followed by a contested hearing process in Denver in January, at which the public is encouraged to attend and express any concerns about streamflow recommendations. People then have until March 31 to file any notice of contest. In November, staff presents its final recommendation on the appropriations, with notice to all those who had contested. The CWCB then takes final action in May. Public comment is being accepted now. Toward the end of the public meeting, Baessler said the CWCB staff's goal is to strike a balance between the different philosophies that naturally collide when it comes to water in Colorado's rivers and streams. "We think we're doing our job when Trout Unlimited and water users are both throwing rocks at us," he said.

More coverage of CWCB instream efforts from The Pueblo Chieftain. They write:

A small stream in western Fremont County is causing a big ruckus as the state ponders expansion of a water right to protect its flows. Expanding the water right on Badger Creek, a 30-mile-long stream near Howard, to include higher flows is supported by the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Department of Wildlife, Trout Unlimited and other environmental groups. The move is opposed by the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, which says increasing protected flows for Badger Creek could impede augmentation plans for future wells in unspecified locations. The Colorado Water Conservation Board, the agency which approves in-stream flows, will consider the Badger Creek issue again at its meeting next week. A three-hour block for a hearing is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 14, at the Golden Hotel, 800 11th St., Golden.

The Upper Ark district protested the expansion of the Badger Creek water right at a March meeting of the CWCB in Canon City. In the months since, Assistant Attorney General Amy Stengel and Trout Unlimited attorney Drew Peternell have argued that no augmentation water rights are at risk by increasing the in-stream flow rate to 5.5 cubic feet per second (about 3.5 million gallons a day) from the current 3 cfs (about 1.9 million gallons a day). "We don't think there is that much water there every year," said Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Ark district. "All we're asking for is that they provide a number that won't take the whole flow." Upper Ark said its augmentation plan incorporates a flow of 0.25 cfs (about 160,000 gallons a day) and suggested a "variable decree" that would account for that amount, Scanga said...

Stengel, in her brief to the CWCB, says the state's calculations of the flow of the creek show that the flow of Badger Creek exceeds the Upper Ark's potential domestic water supply requirements more than half of the time, with roughly enough water to sustain 117-900 homes, depending on lawn irrigation. Beyond the simple water availability, however, the state said the water would preserve a natural environment in a 17-mile reach of the stream below a perennial spring. The Upper Ark also has not demonstrated how the proposed state water right would injure its right, Stengel said. "The subject reach of Badger Creek is an exceptionally pristine section of stream supporting a thriving brown trout population," Stengel wrote, adding that 90 percent of the stream is on public land. In its statement, Trout Unlimited pointed out the expansion of the in-stream flow would be junior to existing rights held by the Upper Ark. "It's speculative. What they're really doing is protecting future growth in the upper reaches of Badger Creek," Peternell said. "The Upper Ark is protecting hypothetical future users, but this does nothing to injure their water right." The Upper Ark is arguing the stream is intermittent in stretches, even below the spring, which is disputed by the Division of Wildlife and Trout Unlimited. Reed Dils of the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited said there are occasions when flash floods move debris to some sections of the stream and temporarily "bury" them, but the flows of Badger Creek soon cut the channel again. A big flood in 2004 disrupted part of the stream, but Dils was able to find fish above and below the point before and after it reopened.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

8:03:52 AM    

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Having a sustainable water supply for future developments is an issue that local officials are increasingly having to deal with. Here's a look at development up in Winter Park along with the ensuing discussion of water for future growth, from The Sky-Hi Daily News. From the article:

Winter Park Town Council approved the release of 138 additional units to Lakota Tuesday night, after a long debate about future water availability for Winter Park Water and Sanitation District. Town Planner Drew Nelson and District Manager Mike Wageck told the council they conducted a basic study in the past couple of weeks that incorporated all existing and future entitled developments in the district. Based on their findings, they concluded the district could have roughly 3,996 ESFUs -- Equivalent Single-Family Units -- in the near future. (The average for a new development in the district is about 1.4 ESFUs per unit.) That number -- 3,996 -- is based on the assumption that every potential development in the district builds out, Nelson stressed, and should be considered a worst possible scenario since some of the developments probably will not happen at all. However, the number does indicate that the district may not have enough water in the future, since at full buildout it has already been determined the district can only serve 3,350 ESFUs. And that's if certain system enhancements are constructed, including a pumpback between the Moffat Tunnel and the district's treatment facility. Wageck's and Nelson's findings highlighted the fact that council members must plan strategically to ensure future development has enough water.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

In other water planning news Fort Lupton has released their 5 year water plan, according to the Fort Lupton Press. From the article:

[Cort Nickel of Clearwater Solutions] praised the [Fort Lupton] council for their efforts...citing storm drainage improvements, the expansion of the water treatment plant, and capacity improvements over the last several years. He then detailed a three-tiered system for water infrastructure development, with tier one encompassing growth over the next five years.

According to Nickel, tier one's focus is mainly centered on the south side of the city, along WCR 27, an area where many feel growth is imminent. Tier two further expands on the radius of tier one, and tier three is west of the Platte River, and the northern reaches of the city. Most pressing of Nickel's concerns is compliance with the federal Clean Water Act of 1977 concerning disinfection byproduct removal and further expansion of the water treatment plant based on historical usage patterns and projected future needs. To effectively meet EPA standards, a process utilizing 'coagulant aids' is employed at the water treatment facility, in order to trap the DPB's within the treatment filtration system. "What you are trying to do is basically make these really small particles bigger through polymers and coagulant aids," Nickel said. "It kind of acts like glue, these small particles stick together so they can be removed by the microfilters." Nickel explained that as filter technology has improved, filters have evolved to the point of flowing similar or greater amounts of water at lower pressures, resulting in a lower overall operating cost while increasing efficiency, a critical factor as the city wastewater treatment plant nears capacity. Instituting the current plan of installing two additional filters at the plant should boost capacity by 50 percent according to Nickel allowing the plant to service 12,000 residents, a jump above the approximately 8,000 under the current system.

Under water transportation, distribution and storage, Nickel indicated that some of the necessary replacement of aging pipeline infrastructure and valving may receive funding via energy impact grants. Another goal is to decrease the city's 'unaccounted water,' documented in the water conservation plan, using grant money for water meter replacements and leak detection. "We need to bill the citizens fairly, but totally," Nickel said.

Category: Colorado Water

7:47:07 AM    

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From, "The City of Sterling is warning residents about high levels of a contaminant in the city's drinking water supply - but emphasize there's no immediate danger or emergency. Water and Wastewater Superintendent Bill Wright says recent water tests showed high levels of a contaminant called Trihalomethane. The maximum contaminant level for Trihalomethanes is 80 parts per billion, and Sterling recently registered 89 parts per billion. Trihalomethanes are a byproduct created by the chlorination of drinking water. Over time, ingestion of excess Trihalomethanes can lead to central nervous system and other problems, as well as a higher risk of cancer. The city says people may want to consider drinking bottled water until the problem is fixed."

Category: Colorado Water

7:28:32 AM    

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Here's an update on the 2006 water year up in Park County from The Flume. They write:

In late June and early July of 2006, The Flume ran a three-part series on a drought that was taking its toll on ranchers' elk, and the soil itself. Shortly after that series, it started to rain, and rain, and snow and snow. Data and statements by area experts lead to one conclusion about that drought: It's over. Could another one start soon? Absolutely. But data from 2006 shows that precipitation in three different areas of Park County were not only above normal, but far above normal...

In 2006, measurements at Bailey, in northeast Park County; Lake George, in southeast Park County; and Antero, near the center of Park County, show precipitation that was 25 percent above average in Bailey, 36.5 percent above average in Lake George and a whopping 44.4 percent above average in Antero...

Part of the 2006 precipitation picture was winter snowfall, and the winter of 2006-2007 was a doozy for bringing an anti-drought antidote to Park County. The winter of 2006-2007 was the second snowiest in 68 years in Bailey, according to data from the National Weather Service. The 134.7 inches in Bailey snowfall was 70 percent higher than the 68-year average of 79.1 inches. Lake George, which was suffering from the drought the most of the three areas examined, posted its second-highest snowfall since 1960-1961. It had 96.3 inches in the winter of 2006-2007, which was 63 percent higher than the average snowfall of 59.0 inches since 1960-1961. Antero posted 72.5 inches of snowfall this past winter, which was the fifth-highest on record since 1961-1962, according to the National Weather Service data. It was 54 percent higher than the 47-inch average per winter since 1961-1962. In other words, looking at calendar 2006 and the winter of 2006-2007, Park County data show precipitation not only getting back to average but blasting through it to near-highs.

Category: Colorado Water

7:25:05 AM    

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Colorado Springs Utilities is backing away from their proposed wastewater treatment plant near Fountain Creek in the Jimmy Camp Creek basin, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

Colorado Springs Utilities may abandon plans to build a sewage treatment plant in the Fountain Valley and opt instead to send flows from new development on the city's east side to its Las Vegas Street plant. It would be a major shift from a plan formulated when the city annexed the 23,000-acre Banning Lewis Ranch in 1988 under an agreement that forced the developer to pay for the plant. The developer would have to pay to upgrade the Las Vegas Street plant under the new alternative. Utilities spokesman Dave Grossman said the possible new direction was presented by Utilities to the Colorado Springs City Council in a closed-door session last month. It stems from slowing growth rates, expected cost savings and a controversy over the fact that two sewage plants were planned within 1[product] miles of one another in the Fountain Valley. "We're still in the early phases of what that cost structure will look like," Grossman said Friday of the alternative plan, "but we're confident that will be a pretty good savings for the developer and our customers."

The original cost estimate was $105 million for the plant's first phase, and $171 million over 20 years. Grossman said the city has already spent $4 million on the proposed 30-million-gallon-perday wastewater treatment plant 20 miles south of Colorado Springs near Fountain Creek. The plant was deemed necessary for Banning Lewis Ranch, which is only now starting to develop. While the city had said the plant would be needed by 2012, the developer, the Banning Lewis Ranch Management Co., has said in the last year that sluggish growth delayed the need for the plant. Complicating matters has been the city's inability to consolidate its project with the Lower Fountain Metropolitan Sewage Disposal District, which plans a 2.5-million-gallon-per-day facility within 1[product] miles of the Springs plant site. That standoff led the region to begin amending its Water Quality Management Plan, which allows for one new plant. That process involves a meeting with state regulators next week. Fountain Mayor Jeri Howells, who has expressed dismay about having two plants, was happy to hear the news of the possible new direction for Utilities. "That's what we wanted," she said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:16:08 AM    

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Fairplay's new treatment plant and ongoing costs for operation of water treatment plant is going to trigger the need for sharp increases in rates according to The Flume. From the article:

The author of a rate study for water and sewer services in Fairplay has recommended that water rates quickly increase by as much as 115 percent and that sewer rates triple to $89 per month by 2011. At a joint meeting of the Fairplay Town Board and the Fairplay Sanitation District Board on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Kees Corssmit, of Red Oak Consulting, presented the results of a rate study developed to suggest a schedule of water and sewer fees adequate to cover costs of providing those systems, noting that these are the two utilities that are the most capital intensive.

First discussing water fees, Corssmit explained that, although the consumption of water is low in the Fairplay area compared to national averages, fees required to cover the cost of water and sewer would need to increase to the point of being among the highest in the nation. In fact, they would be in the top 5 percent. Corssmit suggested that promoting growth would be the best mechanism to keep user costs, and therefore rates, down.

Fairplay residents now pay a minimum fee of $29 per month for water, assuming the usage of 5,000 gallons of water a month. The proposed rates would do away with the minimum allowance of 5,000 gallons and charge a base fee of $34.09 plus $5.67 for each 1,000 gallons of water used. The new rate would bring the cost of 5,000 gallons of water for a month to $62.44, an increase of 115.32 percent. The water bill could be minimized by careful conservation of water usage. Corssmit admonished both boards that rates need to be increased immediately as revenues are not covering costs and reserves are quickly disappearing.

Similarly, sewer fees, according to Corssmit, need to be substantially increased. The Fairplay Sanitation District has the added burden of being forced to build a new waste treatment plant by order of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The rate study report suggests that monthly rates for sewer usage increase from the current $29 per month to $49 in 2008, $69 in 2009, $79 in 2010 and $89 by 2011.

But after some discussion it was discovered that some of the figures used in the model were incorrect, as they assumed an annual fee for ongoing maintenance of the collection system, which has recently been totally repaired at a cost in excess of $1 million, using funds provided by the $3.5 million bond issue voted on in 2006. Corrsmit offered to rework his model, assuring the board that the projected rates would be somewhat lower. It was noted that the mill levy for property taxes was not taken into consideration, except to provide for debt service, because, under the TABOR Amendment, no more than 10 percent of funds from property taxes can be used for enterprise (operating) costs. The bulk of these funds must be spent on capital improvements.

Sanitation board president Trevor Messa exclaimed that water and sewer fees at those rates would cost more than property taxes, and that there is no way to conserve on the sewer bill as there is for water usage. Sanitation board member Ric Miller expressed disappointment in the findings, "I thought you were going to find an alternative. I don't want to subsidize the school, the jail or the court house." Miller was referring to the fact that those government entities are exempt from property taxes...

o adequately finance the construction of the new waste treatment plant, more funds will be needed than are currently available. It was suggested that Attorney Robert Tibbals contact sources regarding general obligation bonds. Stanford will look into a low-interest loan from the Water and Power Authority. Marie Chisholm will try to find other sources of grant monies. Chisholm said she had discussed a $500,000 grant with the Department of Local Affairs, but the department indicated that the grant would only be available if the district had not already signed a contract for construction of the wastewater treatment plant. Discussion revealed that a contractor has been selected and the contract signed, but a guaranteed maximum amount has not yet been agreed upon. Chisholm will check with DOLA to see if the grant will still be available under the circumstances.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:03:41 AM    

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Here's a look at Longmont's water use as reported by Western Resource Advocates, from The Longmont Daily Times-Call. From the article:

Longmont has 16 percent more resident than it did in 2000, but those folks are using less water. Though Longmont is now home to more than 84,000 people, the city's residential water use dropped by 4 percent from 2000 to 2006, according to a study by Western Resource Advocates, an environmental law and policy group based in Boulder. One city official attributes that drop in water use to the 2002 drought, increased conservation efforts and the city's switching from one water rate to a three-tiered rate scale. "When we asked our citizens to take extra conservation efforts, they responded really well," said Ken Huson, the city's water resources engineer...

But the "Front Range Water Meter" report, which examined 13 communities along the Front Range, also found room for improvement in Longmont, which ranked eighth in the report. For instance, Longmont has a three-tier price structure: $2.53 per 1,000 gallons up to 10,000, $2.91 per 1,000 gallons up to 20,000, and $3.41 per 1,000 gallons for all use above 20,000 gallons, according to the report. The small price differences from one tier to the next, the report states, "do not effectively communicate the value of conservation." The city is collecting data to update its water-conservation master plan, Huson said. City officials plan to work with the City Council and the public to hammer out details and have a final plan complete by spring. This year, Longmont has a $22,000 budget for conservation, or 0.2 percent of the total 2006 water-utility budget...

Rankings by the environmental group Western Resource Advocates of water-conservation efforts in 13 Front Range communities. Scores are based on a possible 100 points and include such criteria as per-capita water use, rate structure, unaccounted-for water and conservation goals:

Aurora, 72 points
Denver, 68
Boulder, 66
Colorado Springs, 60
Evans, 40
Louisville, 40
Erie, 38
Longmont, 38
Broomfield, 36
Loveland, 25
Berthoud, 20
Fort Lupton, 15
Fort Morgan, 9

Here's a look at how Colorado Springs stacks up according to the report, from The Colorado Springs Gazette. They write:

The report by the environmental group Western Resource Advocates ranked Colorado Springs Utilities fourth out of 13 Front Range cities for its water conservation effort. "I'm thrilled," said Ann Seymour, Colorado Springs Utilities' water conservation manager. "I know our customers over the past six years have really changed their water use habits." The "Front Range Water Meter" report rated conservation efforts since 2000, when Colorado was deep in a drought. Colorado Springs came in behind Denver, Aurora and Boulder, and received an honorable mention award during a ceremony Thursday night in Denver. No other communities in the Pikes Peak region were included. Among all 13 cities, Colorado Springs had the lowest water use rate for single-family homes in 2006, 96 gallons per family member per day, according to the report. Denver residents used an average of 137 gallons. In 2000, the use in Colorado Springs was 127 gallons per person per day. Seymour credited conservation incentive programs put in place since then...

Although praising conservation in Colorado Springs, the report identified some shortcomings. Utilities, the report noted, has many programs to encourage residential cutbacks, but few for commercial or industrial users. Seymour acknowledged the criticism, and said Utilities' next five-year master plan, to be released next week, will include new incentives for businesses to curb their water use. "At first we went after the low-lying fruit with our residential customers," Seymour said. "Now it's time to focus on commercial and industrial (customers) and see if we can help them bring their water use down some." Another criticism was the small amount of money Utilities budgets for conservation programs, $400,000, according to the report. That's 0.22 percent of the water budget -- five times less than Denver, Aurora or Boulder.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:32:23 AM    

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