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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Project Healing Waters

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

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Here's an update on political efforts to share in Alamosa's fiscal pain from dealing with the recent salmonella outbreak, from The Valley Courier. From the article:

Things are looking up for Alamosa in the aftermath of its water emergency. The city received word last week of $1 million from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to build a new water tank, and local officials meeting with state and federal officials last weekend learned that more money might be on its way. Alamosa Mayor Farris Bervig said on Tuesday that the exact cost to the city of its water emergency is still being tabulated and additional expenses may still come in. Initial estimates totaled $600,000 not counting all of the cost to flush the city's salmonella-contaminated water system with chlorine. The water tank replacement, something in the city's plans that was expedited as a result of the water emergency, will cost approximately $2.5 million. Bervig said the $1 million grant from the state would go a long way towards that $2.5 million cost. He added that both U.S. Senator Ken Salazar and U.S. Representative John Salazar are also working on funding that could help with such costs in the future. John Salazar and State Senator Gail Schwartz attended a meeting last weekend in Alamosa. Both promised continued efforts to assist Alamosa with the expenses arising from the water crisis.

Congressman Salazar said he is working on legislative language that would make Colorado and communities like Alamosa eligible for funding under the Water Resources Development Act of 1999. He said it would take a couple of years to get through that process. Bervig said when the Salazars met with city officials early on in the water crisis they spoke about trying to find $500,000 for the city and he hoped that would still be the case. He said another half-million-dollar grant would help the city with projects such as the water tower construction. Bervig said all of the funding from other sources helps alleviate the pressure on the city's resources and ultimately the citizens who pay the bills.

Schwartz told city officials she had called both the governor's office and state health department on Thursday and Friday of last week asking for additional emergency funding. The governor provided $300,000 early on in emergency funding for Alamosa. Schwartz commended DOLA Director Susan Kirkpatrick for responding so quickly to Alamosa's need in providing the $1 million grant. "I have been in touch with DOLA and made certain they knew how important it was that we get support for the community," Schwartz said. "This is very exciting."" She said this $1 million from DOLA could be used as a match for federal funding. "I think it is looking very promising," Schwartz said. "I was very pleased."

Thanks to SLV Dweller for the link. More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:45:38 PM    

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From EUMETSAT: "The Jason-2 ocean altimetry satellite has now arrived at its launch site in the United States. The satellite is currently scheduled to be launched on the morning of 15 June 2008 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Jason-2 was transported by road from the Thales Alenia Space plant in Cannes, France, where it was built, to Toulouse, from where it was flown by a Boeing 747 aircraft to Vandenberg, with a refuelling stop in Boston."

More from the article:

Jason-2's Ocean Surface Topography Mission will provide a vital contribution to the monitoring of climate change, ocean circulation and weather. Once in orbit and after it has been calibrated by the partners, the satellite will provide oceanographic products on an operational basis to the large EUMETSAT user community using the European weather satellite organisation's proven dissemination capabilities. The main instrument onboard Jason-2 will be the Poseidon 3 dual frequency altimeter. The final orbit of the satellite will be 1,336 km above the Earth at a 66ª inclination. Ocean altimetry is important for meteorology, with Nowcasting and short range forecasting on one end of the spectrum and monthly and even seasonal forecasting on the other. The assimilation of satellite altimetry measurements (notably the wave height), have considerably reduced the error in two-hourly forecasts. Upper ocean thermal structures are a key factor in the development of storms that can threaten shipping and offshore industries and thus need to be monitored. It is therefore of outmost importance that the mission not only continues but that the resulting data and products are available on an operational basis for all user groups. The mapping and modeling of the upper ocean plays a central role in enabling predictions on the medium-range (10 days), monthly and seasonal timescales. Jason-2 will provide continuity in the monitoring of climate and rising sea levels carried out by Jason-1 and TOPEX/Poseidon over the last 15 years.

Category: Climate Change News
6:30:32 PM    

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Here's a look at the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project from The Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:

Northern Colorado will face harmful effects caused by growth in the coming 50 years with or without a new reservoir northwest of Fort Collins, a federal report issued late Tuesday states.

In it, the federal agency outlines four alternatives for making more water available for municipal and industrial users of the Front Range utilities participating in the project. The city of Loveland is not taking part in the project estimated by the agency at $426 million. However, 12 neighboring cities and water districts, including Windsor and the rural Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, are taking part.

The four options include:

- Doing nothing. In considering the option, agency engineers assumed each of the participating water utilities would go after alternative water sources, such as existing water rights on the Front Range and potential diversions from the Western Slope. "At a projected total capital cost of about $830.5 million, the No Action alternative would cost substantially more than the other alternatives and would have the greatest increase in inflation-adjusted rate increases for the participants' water bills ... relative to the other alternatives," the document stated.
- The preferred alternative of the participants, which includes the construction of Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort Collins and Galeton Reservoir northeast of Greeley. To build Glade Reservoir, a seven-mile stretch of U.S. 287 between Ted's Place and Owl Canyon would be inundated. The road would have to be rerouted on the east side of the hogback.
- A proposal called Cactus Hill reservoir, between Nunn and Wellington, along with Galeton.
- A proposal with either Glade or Cactus Hill reservoirs with a smaller version of Galeton Reservoir.

While the water transfers required to complete the project are complex, the net result is that, if built, Glade Reservoir would reduce the flow of the Cache la Poudre river by 71 percent during the average May, and by lesser amounts throughout the summer. Also telling, however, are the impacts described if Glade Reservoir is not built. Agency planners say 1,384 acres of wetlands would be lost as farmers sell their water rights to municipal users.

Thanks to Colorado Trout Unlimited for the link. More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:28:49 PM    

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From Fort Collins Now: "The U.S. Forest Service will present its draft environmental impact statement on the Long Draw Reservoir, a source of water for Greeley. Greeley, Fort Collins and the Water Storage and Supply Co. of Fort Collins are seeking a land use permit or easement for use of the reservoir, which was built in 1929 and expanded in 1974. The reservoir is currently operating under an extension of a 1980 special use permit. The meeting will take place from 3-5 p.m. Thursday at the Columbine Cafe, 802 West Drake Road, Fort Collins. It will include an overview of the project, a description of alternatives for the reservoir and a Q&A with officials to clarify information in the environmental impact statement."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:26:38 PM    

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Here's an update on Greeley's proposed pipeline between Bellvue to Gold Hill Reservoir, from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

Some LaPorte residents hope a historic railroad line will relocate a modern-day water project. A section of the old Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific Railroad line that once carried trains from Fort Collins to a sandstone quarry at Stout has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation applies to a .8-mile length of railroad bed that runs along the south side of the Poudre River west of Overland Trail. The historic district lies along the proposed route of a 60-inch water pipe the city of Greeley is building from its water treatment plant near Bellvue to Gold Hill Reservoir west of Greeley. While the designation does not legally protect the area from being disturbed, property owners along the pipeline route say it should give Greeley officials a reason to select another path around LaPorte...

But the designation does not make other potential routes "any more attractive," said Jon Monson, director of water and sewer for Greeley. "All of the other routes are pretty awful," Monson said. "They would be very disruptive to a lot more people." The city will work with residents and follow federal law in minimizing the pipeline's impact on the historic area, he said...

The designation alone would not stop the pipeline project, Geddes said, but it adds a layer of review that could affect the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to issue a permit for the project. Part of its review is evaluating impacts the pipe would have on historic and cultural resources, she said. The federal agency could require mitigation to lessen the impacts.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:24:06 PM    

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The Environment News Service: "About 99 percent of the Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia has disappeared since 1940, says World Bank engineer Walter Vergara, in his new report, "The Impacts of Climate Change in Latin America." One of the highest glaciers in South America, Chacaltaya is one of the first glaciers to melt due to climate change. Although the glacier is over 18,000 years old, it is expected to vanish this year. "The greenhouse gases are the main driver," says Vergara. "The scientific community has a consensus - this is manmade."

More from the article:

Since 1970, glaciers in the Andes have lost 20 percent of their volume, according to a report by Peru's National Meteorology and Hydrology Service. Loss of glaciers in the Andes mountain range is threatening the water supply of 30 million people, and scientists say the lower altitude glaciers could disappear in 10 years. With water supplies, agriculture, and power generation at risk, the World Bank and the funding agency Global Environment Facility are working together to develop adaptation strategies for local communities. In addition, the World Bank signed an agreement this month with the Japanese Space Agency that will start providing advance data and high resolution images to better monitor Andes Glacier retreat. Seventy percent of the world's tropical glaciers are in the high Andes Cordillera of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Of the 18 currently existing mountain glaciers in Peru, 22 percent of the surface has been lost over the past 27 to 35 years, scientists warn. Most of the smaller glaciers in the Andes Cordillera are expected to shrink within a generation. Computer modeling indicates that many of the lower-altitude glaciers could disappear during the next 10 to 20 years. The Latin America and Caribbean region, in particular, is very vulnerable to significant climate impacts, says the [t]he latest report of the UN's International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, which involves thousands of scientists from around the world, lists evidence from all continents and most oceans showing that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases. The water supply in the Andes region due to climate change is already taking place, says the IPCC report, and is predicted to worsen with time.
Category: Climate Change News
6:22:54 PM    

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Here's some runoff news from The Aspen Times. From the article:

The Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon...was running at a "low-medium" level of less than 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) Tuesday, but as snowpack melts, the river could run as high as 20,000 cfs, nearly seven times its current size, according to Chris Vogt, owner of Glenwood Canyon Kayak...

Ultra-high river levels also will mean some sections will close, Harris warned. The Shoshone section of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon, for example, is off-limits to commercial rafts when the river level is above 6,000 cfs. And when the Roaring Fork level gets high, Harris said rafting companies allow only experienced rafters older than age 16 (sometimes 18) to join trips down the technical Slaughterhouse section. But in no way will high flows hurt the local rafting industry, as groups will just shift to different sections of river when the flood is on, doing the upper Roaring Fork (from Woody Creek to Wingo Junction), for example, instead of Slaughterhouse.

Category: Colorado Water
6:16:19 AM    

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Here's a hands-on report on Glenwood Springs shiny new whitewater park from The Aspen Times. From the article:

Glenwood Springs has sprouted a hole -- the valley's first man-made whitewater play park -- and on Friday, I had a chance to plunge in. I was psyched to find the group of pickups and well-used cars -- topped with boats, plastered with stickers and hung with colorful paddling gear -- lined up along the Colorado River near the big-box shopping in West Glenwood. I parked and ran to the edge of the river to spot a group of rodeo kids flipping and flopping in a spot where once there was just flat water...

I'm more of a straight-forward front surfer -- facing the boat upstream and riding a standing wave -- but the Glenwood hole gave me an instant lesson in going sideways, backward and spinning. The tail of my boat submerged and the hole swallowed me in one gulp, giving me the gift of my first combat roll of the season. (It took two tries.) I rolled up fully baptized into 2008 among a handful of other smiling paddlers. The new man-made whitewater park also has a boat chute on river right where passing rafts can get by. But as the water is rising, the chute has formed a big, friendly wave in the form of a V.

Category: Colorado Water
6:10:05 AM    

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The Corps of Engineers released the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Northern Integrated supply project yesterday, according to The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

The Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a 90-day public comment period. Residents, governmental entities, including the Larimer County Board of Commissioners, and organized groups will have the opportunity to study this project and weigh in on its merits...

The project includes the construction of two reservoirs, Glade (in Larimer County) and Galeton (in Weld County). The Glade Reservoir would hold up to 170,000 acre feet of water and be slightly larger than neighboring Horsetooth Reservoir. Its construction would require the relocation of seven miles of U.S. Highway 287 northwest of Fort Collins. Galeton will have 40,000 acre feet of water and serve local farmers. Those farmers would exchange the Poudre River water they are currently using for new water from the South Platte River. The Poudre River from the farmers as well as planned diversions would be used to help fill the Glade Reservoir...

While the Draft EIS will be as complicated as the proposed project, there are some key topics residents might want to consider in this comprehensive and objective document, including how this project addresses aesthetics and riparian areas, impacts of river flows on habitat and its economic benefits/drawbacks. The Draft EIS also requires the inclusion of the consequences if the project is not built...

Copies of the Draft EIS are available for review at the following locations, and the public has 90 days to respond:

> Colorado State University Morgan Library, 501 University Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80523.

> Fort Collins Regional Library District, 201 Peterson St., Fort Collins, CO 80524.

> Fort Collins Regional Library District[^]Front Range Community College-Larimer Campus, 4616 S. Shields St., Fort Collins, CO 80526.

> University of Northern Colorado James A. Michener Library, Greeley, CO 80639.

> Greeley City Manager's Office, 1000 10th St., Greeley, CO 80631.

> Windsor Recreation Center, 250 11th St., Windsor, CO 80550.

> Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, 220 Water Avenue, Berthoud, CO 80513.

> U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Denver Regulatory Office, 9307 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, CO 80128.

Electronic copies of the Draft EIS may be obtained from the Denver Regulatory Office or its Web site at

Oral and/or written comments may also be presented at public hearings to be held 6 p.m. June 17 at the Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Drive, Fort Collins, and 7 p.m. June 19 at the University of Northern Colorado University Center, 2045 10th Ave., Greeley.

An open house will be held at the Fort Collins public hearing at 4 p.m., and the hearing will be called to order at 6 p.m. An open house will be held at the Greeley public hearing at 6 p.m., and the hearing will be called to order at 7 p.m. Individuals intending to provide oral comments must fill out a registration card. Speakers will be limited to 5 minutes. If comments cannot be completed in the 5-minute period, speakers will be encouraged to provide them in writing. All written comments on the Draft EIS and replies to the public notice for the permit application should be sent to: Chandler J. Peter, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Denver Regulatory Office, 9307 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, CO 80128-6901; fax: (303) 979-0602; e-mail:

Here's a opinion piece in favor of the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project from Eric Wilkinson, general manager of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. He writes:

Planning for adequate future water supplies is a daunting challenge. The 15 participants in the Northern Integrated Supply Project are responsibly meeting this challenge. They have utilized a rigorous process to evaluate well over 200 available alternatives, including all the alternatives now being proposed by others, and have chosen to pursue the best alternative, NISP. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, NISP has been subjected to comprehensive, independent analyses by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The results are contained in the draft Environmental Impact Statement, released Tuesday. The findings of the DEIS must be, and are, based on fact and sound science...

The DEIS evaluates NISP's impacts on Poudre flows. With NISP in place, I believe there will be more opportunities to favorably manage flows both within the scenic stretches above the canyon mouth and those areas below. NISP will not cause growth. Growth will continue as long as the Front Range of Colorado remains a great place to live, communities seek economic development and businesses locate here because of the amenities that attract prospective employees. It is difficult, if not impossible, to "close the gate" to others after we have walked through. Growth will come whether or not NISP is built. The participants' need for the project and their ability to pay for it do not rely on rampant growth, but rather on growth rates less than those being experienced in the past 15 years. The participants' planners and community leaders are responsible for their communities' destiny. They are best suited to make decisions concerning their own future. Currently, the supply of choice for municipal and domestic water supplies is Colorado-Big Thompson Project water. Only 15 percent of that available water supply remains available for conversion from agricultural use. The window for this available supply is closing. The cost of C-BT water is now $20,000 per firm acre foot. NISP costs approximately $10,000 per firm acre foot. This indicates a favorable economic basis for the project. There are no easy answers to the water supply challenges of today. NISP is the most environmentally sensitive and most practical alternative to meet the needs of the 15 participants. I sincerely believe that NISP offers a balanced solution to a portion of this region's water supply needs. Please evaluate it objectively.

Here's a look at the potential effects on recreation activities if the Northern Integrated Supply Project is built as planned, from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

The proposed Glade Reservoir would create more than $17 million worth of boating, fishing, camping and other recreation options annually, even as the project would significantly reduce flows of the Poudre River through Fort Collins, according to a federal analysis. The project could also extend the rafting season on the Poudre but make the city's proposed kayak park unusable some years, according to draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, on the project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The kayak park is a key part of the city's plan to link Old Town and North College Avenue. The city has already spent millions of dollars to build bike trails along the Poudre...

In addition to drawing water from the Poudre during years of high water, the project would change where water currently taken from the river is withdrawn. The project would reduce the Poudre's May flows in Fort Collins by 71 percent in an average year and 26 percent in August of dry years, according to the report. "Diversions from the Poudre River would shorten the seasonal use of the proposed (kayak) course in May and July of average years," the Corps stated. "The course would not be functional in dry years with the proposed minimum design flows."[...]

Northern Water could mitigate impacts of Glade by switching where water is taken out of the Poudre, according to the draft EIS. Take it out lower and the rafting season could be extended, according to the analysis. Further, persuading other water users to take their water out lower than they do now could also improve flows through the city, the Corps said. "Relocating this diversion point would allow for higher flows in the Poudre River through the city of Fort Collins, which would reduce some of the recreational impacts expected to otherwise result from the action alternatives," the Corps stated. More than 34,500 people a year see the region through the eyes of guides who lead them down the scenic Poudre River during the approximately 100-day rafting season. Well-educated and affluent, the rafters bring about $3.7 million to the region in direct expenditures, such as the cost of the rafting trip itself, and $9.4 million in overall impact, including overnight stays, meals and shopping, according to a 2006 survey for the Colorado River Outfitters Association.

Here's a look at the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project's impacts on stream flow in the Poudre River, from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. They write:

The proposed Glade Reservoir would reduce the Poudre River's flow through Fort Collins by 71 percent in May and more than half as runoff peaks in June, according to an in-depth federal environmental analysis of the project. The Northern Integrated Supply Project, which includes Glade, would reduce flow through the city "in most months in most years," but steps also could be taken to improve the river's flow in certain times of the year, improving fish habitat, stabilizing the river channel and increasing recreational opportunities, according to the report...

The long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the reservoir and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District's proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project will be formally released today. The document by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was posted Tuesday on the Corps' Web site. The 702-page document, which took four years and about $6 million to produce, looks at four alternatives for the project known as NISP, including not building its proposed water storage facilities...

Highlights from the document include:

> Building Glade and Galeton as proposed would cost about $426 million and would be the least-costly alternative.

> Taking no action could result in NISP communities developing separate water supplies, primarily buying water from agriculture, at an estimated cost of $830 million.

> Glade would cause the loss of 44 acres of wetlands, the fewest among the alternatives.

> The reservoir would cause the loss of about 2,700 acres of native plant communities, or 20 percent more than other options.

> The reservoir would cause the loss of 50 acres of habitat for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, which is a designated as a threatened species.

> Most of Glade's water would be taken during times of high flows. Reductions in the river's monthly average flow through Fort Collins would range from 71 percent in May in average years to 26 percent in August in dry years.

> NISP participants currently have access to about 50,000 acre feet of water and are expected to exceed that amount by 2010. With continued population growth, the annual demand for water will reach 90,700 acre feet by 2025.

> The region's population growth will continue whether or not Glade is built.

> Building Glade would require the relocation of about seven miles of U.S. Highway 287 north of LaPorte.

> Flows on the Poudre and South Platte are likely to be reduced by other proposed water projects, including the expansion of Halligan and Seaman reservoirs, if NISP is built and if it is not...

The release begins a 90-day comment period during which the Corps will review input from residents and government agencies about the project. The agency then will begin discussions with Northern Water on the mitigation needed for a permit to be issued to build the project, said Brian Werner, spokesman for Northern Water. "We believe we have a good project that should and can be built," Werner said. "We anticipate having a final decision by the end of the year."

Opponents of the project are preparing to dig in to the massive document and its stack of supporting technical reports, said Gary Wockner, spokesman for Save the Poudre Coalition. Opponents plan to lobby for an extension of the comment period. A quick look at the draft EIS did not produce any surprises, he said. "There's nothing in there that changes our mind that this project will be very bad for the Poudre River," Wockner said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:40:49 AM    

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