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

Central Colorado Water Conservancy District

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: "Elected officials from Mesa County and the city of Grand Junction agreed Wednesday night to expand sewer service to two large areas northwest of Grand Junction and on Orchard Mesa. County commissioners and city council members voted unanimously to extend the boundary for the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant north from H Road to I Road and, in one section, up to J Road, between 21 and 24 roads. They also agreed, with the exception of Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, to offer service north from A 1/2 Road to the Colorado River and 30 Road east to 31 Road. In all, roughly five square miles of land will be added to the 59 square miles already within the Persigo sewer service area."

Category: Colorado Water
10:46:39 AM    

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Here's some runoff news from The Delta County Independent. From the article:

Water managers for the Aspinall Unit are currently estimating peak flows on the Gunnison River at North Delta will take place around May 23, according to a report delivered to the Board of County Commissioners Monday...

"The concern I have right now is the Uncompahgre River. They are not spilling at Ridgway Dam, but they are close and the river isn't far from coming over its banks now," [Rob Fiedler, county emergency preparedness coordinator] said. "I was on the Mesa Saturday and the snow is still at eve height at the Visitor's Center. But there isn't much snow at all left below about 8,500 feet elevation."[...]

Generally, peak flows on the Gunnison River are estimated to occur anywhere between May 15 and the first week of June. Last year the peak flow at North Delta occurred on May 14, Fiedler said. Surface Creek peak flows are currently being estimated to occur sometime between May 3 and June 8. That estimate can change depending on weather and a revised estimate will be issued later this week, Fiedler said. Historically, peak flows on Surface Creek have averaged 640 cfs with flood stage at 1,320 cfs. "The managers at the Aspinall Unit are currently predicting a 50-percent chance of a 350 cfs peak on Surface Creek, so nobody is looking for a serious flooding problem there at this time," Fiedler said.

Category: Colorado Water
10:43:16 AM    

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From The Delta County Indenpendent: "District court judge Charles Greenacre has named two Orchard City men to four-year terms on the board of the Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District. Jim Durr of Eckert, representing subdivision 3, and Mike Thomas of Austin, representing subdivision 4, were named by Greenacre on April 21."

Category: Colorado Water
10:34:50 AM    

Here's an update on efforts to establish water policy through the Yampa-White Basin Roundtable, from The Craig Daily Press. From the article:

The local roundtable is in the process of following recreational and energy industry water needs assessments, said Eric Hecox, Interbasin Compact Committee manager out of Denver. The Commission passed a motion Tuesday to accept a $201,377 grant from the Colo rado Department of Natural Resources to conduct an agriculture needs assessment th rough the local roundtable, as well. The Commission will accept the money and hire a contractor to conduct the assessment, Hecox said. Agriculture water needs are important to Moffat County, Gray said. "As water becomes more and more vital and we look at energy issues, agriculture certainly needs to be at the table to find what our needs are, too," Gray said. The Interbasin Compact is studying the plan's scope of work to determine if it meets the state's assessment plan criteria before submitting the check to Moffat County, Hecox said. One criteria is that the plan must include studies on possible solutions to water shortages, not just study the need, Hecox said. The state does not want each assessment study to only stake claim to water rights...

Among the plan's seven tasks are to study existing and future agriculture water shortages, the impacts of climate change on agriculture water shortages, the energy industry's future water needs and ways the agriculture and industrial sectors can share water with recreational users. At the Commission meeting, Gray equated this last task to rerouting canyon water used for rafting or other recreational purposes after it leaves the canyon. "The same water can be used to satisfy various needs," he said. Sharing water resources in universally beneficial ways is expected to be key in allowing Colorado to support its various future water needs, Hecox said.

Category: Colorado Water
10:21:16 AM    

Here's an article about a prospecting for uranium in Weld County around Keota from The Greeley Tribune. They write:

A ghost town in northern Colorado could prove to be the battleground for another fight over uranium mining as a Grand Junction-based company prepares to launch its own campaign to extract the resource. According to Weld County records, Geovic Mining Corp. has signed mining leases with nearly 130 landowners near Keota in the past year in preparation to mine uranium...

Former Unocal employees who are now employed by Geovic first established there was uranium in the area in the 1970s, according to a 2007 earnings report released in early April. Exploratory drilling will be done to affirm the presence of the uranium before other studies are done, according to the earnings report...

In the report, officials indicated that the uranium deposits are in roll-front formations of sandstone 120-600 feet below the surface. That is similar to the Canadian-firm Powertech Uranium Corporation's uranium mine proposal for a mine near Nunn. Lilias Jarding, an outspoken opponent of that mine said Geovic's plan to mine is one of six proposed uranium mining operations in northern Colorado. It's been difficult for the public to find out anything about the projects, however, because Colorado law keeps nearly every aspect of a proposed mining operation secret, Jarding said. "Nobody knows about these exploration permits until they decide to tell somebody," Jarding said...

House Bill 1161 would require companies such as Powertech and Geovic to clean groundwater at their sites to pre-mining quality after a company finishes mining the radioactive material.

A second bill -- Senate Bill 228 [Concerning Increase Public Disclosure of the Contents of a Notice of Intent to Conduct Mining Operations (pdf)] -- would make prospecting for minerals a matter of public record while protecting the proprietary rights of mineral owners. That bill passed the state Senate on Monday and now heads to the House for consideration before the legislature adjourns next week.

More coverage of SB 08-228 from The Crested Butte News. They write:

A state bill designed to shed more light on the mining industry's prospecting activities in Colorado has passed the State Senate and is now before the Colorado House of Representatives. Senate Bill 228 would give the public access to information that's provided by mining companies to the State Department of Natural Resources when the companies file notices about prospecting, which is among the first steps in developing a mine.

Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass Village), who represents Gunnison County, is sponsoring the bill, along with Representative Kathleen Curry (D-Gunnison). Schwartz says the bill "came directly out of the concerns we heard from the Crested Butte community...I really want to compliment the community on how active they've been on this issue." Currently in Colorado, companies' prospecting information submitted to the state is held secret -- to the point that even an application that had been filed could not be released to the public. Senate Bill 228 would allow the public access to some information while still protecting items considered proprietary, such as the mineral deposit's location, size and nature and other information. Schwartz says it's a positive step forward. "This bill provides a level of transparency for the public where it is often not found," Schwartz says. "People deserve to know what's happening in their communities."[...]

Local environmental group High Country Citizens' Alliance (HCCA) is also supportive of the bill. In a press release, HCCA mineral resource director Bob Salter said, "If passed SB 228 would allow for public comment and specific environmental impact evaluation of exploratory and prospecting activities that sometimes result in adverse effects to land and water resources."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election
10:12:00 AM    

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Here's the lowdown on the Nestlé's plans for the Hagen Springs, from The Mountain Mail. From the article:

The two springs produce an estimated 2,100 gallons a minute during peak flow. Nestlé officials intend to remove about 20 truck loads - about 150 gallons of water a minute - from the springs for transport to a bottling factory in Denver. The operation would remove about .3 cubic foot per second of water before it reached the Arkansas River.

Officials said the project is moving forward with the goal of starting up in the first quarter of 2009. Company officials recently approached the City of Salida with an idea to lease 200 acre feet of excess water credits for augmentation to replace spring water that would have reached the river. Salida could lease excess water credits to Nestlé for 10-20 years...

Bruce Lauerman is natural resources manager for Nestlé Waters North America. He lives in Helena, Mont., and works from his home. Throughout his 10-year career with Nestlé, Lauerman has visited all the company springs and is charged with finding new sources. He's Nestlé's guy on the ground in Chaffee County and Colorado and is seeking similar spring development deals at two or three other locations in the state. In his opinion, buying the Hagen and McMurry property is the best possible option for wildlife, the land and the springs when compared with the idea of possible development. "Why would we want to dry up the springs or damage the resource?" Lauerman asked. "It's not in our best interest."[...]

At the base of Sugarloaf Mountain on the east side of the Arkansas River at the hatchery, water gushes from a hillside. The spring is about 30-40 feet from the river. A smaller spring is hidden on 112 acres off CR 300. Access is across a pasture and into a draw where the flowing water has created a small oasis. Other springs in Chaffee County flow near the Adobe Park area, Turret, Cochetopa Creek, Garfield and Methodist Mountain, county officials have said, but they aren't as prolific. As a hydrogeologist, Lauerman said he was comfortable with the quality of water Hagen springs produce. The water meets the Federal Drug Administration standard of identity for spring water and would be bottled under the Arrowhead brand. He said company studies determined the source of the spring is a relatively shallow alluvial aquifer. Water from hills near Arnold Gulch, Trout Creek Pass and the Mosquito Range recharge the aquifer, Lauerman said. Nearby irrigation and Trout Creek dam may also contribute. Low flow periods are April and May with higher flow in June and July, Hagen said. Lauerman said the company recently drilled 10 bore holes above the springs about 60 feet deep. Several were pumped at 150-300 gallons a minute during 48 hours. During the pumping, the springs were measuring and showed a decrease in flow, leading Lauerman to believe the bore holes hit the aquifer feeding the springs. Other monitoring equipment installed at the bore holes, springs and hatchery take daily measurements of water level, temperature, turbidity and conductivity, among others.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
9:54:00 AM    

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Here's an update on funding for draining the Leadville mine pool from The Leadville Chronicle. From the article:

With two federal and one state agency, one county government, one city government, and countless state and federal legislators (and their staffers) involved in determining responsibility for fixing the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel (LMDT), the issue can sometimes begin to look like a game of governmental hot potato, with everybody hoping the music doesn't stop with them holding the spud. However, two bills working their way through state and federal Congress aim to change the finger-pointing, by providing clear authority, responsibility and financing to the Bureau of Reclamation and the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment (CDPHE)...

The legislation referenced above was introduced into the Colorado House of Representatives by State Rep. Christine Scanlon; it would authorize $325,000 to study whether or not water from a second mine drainage tunnel, the Canterbury Tunnel, is contributing to the pool rising behind the blockage in the LMDT. Specifically, according to Martha Rudolph, the bill would authorize $25,000 for the Colorado Attorney General's office to investigate legal issues and $300,000 for the United States Geological Survey to investigate technical issues. The CDPHE supports this bill, says Rudolph. The bill passed the House on April 23, with Rep. Bruce--who has made a name for himself in this year's Congress by voting against otherwise popular bills and resolutions--registering the only 'no' vote. In the Senate, two amendments were added in the Health and Human Services committee by Sen. Wiens. One authorized CDPHE to truncate the study as soon as it finds conclusive evidence of a hydrogeologic connection between the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel and the Canterbury Tunnel--and to spend the remaining funds on implementing a solution. A second amendment assures Lake County and Parkville Water District that the entitites may separately pursue solutions to issues raised by the Canterbury Tunnel. In the Colorado Senate, the bill is being sponsored by Sen. Wiens and Sen. Gibbs...

Meanwhile, Senator Ken Salazar introduced legislation that would grant Reclamation the authority, which it has claimed it does not have, to treat water backed up behind the LMDT blockage. Reclamation, which owns the LMDT, has insisted for years that it only has the authority to treat "historic flows"--and so water that does not actually flow through the tunnel (because of the blockage) is not under its purview. Salazar's bill would also direct Reclamation to participate in the long-term remedy for the LMDT approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CDPHE and to perform a study to decide whether or not blockages in the LMDT have affected, or are affecting, water quality in the Arkansas River. It provides $40 million to Reclamation to complete these tasks.

But the Bureau of Reclamation wants no part of the bill: in an April 24 hearing in front of the Sub-committee on Water and Power, Robert Johnson, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, testified in opposition to the bill, claiming that the agency needs to finish its risk analysis before it can determine whether the backed-up water poses an elevated public safety risk. The study is expected to be completed at the end of June, according to Donald Moomaw, one of Reclamation's assistant regional directors. Johnson further promised that Reclamation itself would submit proposed legislation if its study indicated that it needed more authority to resolve a public safety risk at the LMDT.

Martha Rudolph testified in support of the bill, arguing that Reclamation's long-standing position on the matter of its authority has stymied Colorado's and the EPA's efforts to ensure that contaminated water from the Leadville mining district does not end up in the Arkansas River. The EPA did not testify, though they did send a representative to the hearing to answer questions. According to acting assistant regional administrator Carol Campbell, the EPA was not invited to testify, verbally or in writing...

Several people, including congressional staffers and Sen. Wiens, have pointed out that there are other funding options that could be used to pump the Canterbury Tunnel, in the event that the Colorado Senate decides not to pass this bill. However, on the federal level, it appears that any long-term solution requires that authority and responsibility be assigned--and money be found--through Sen. Salazar's bill. While the EPA and Reclamation have both committed to working at the LMDT in the short run, they have made no long-term promises. Moreover, the two agencies have already spent three years arguing about who is responsible for the water trapped in the LMDT--and could go on to spend many more...

Following the conference call, Commissioner Ken Olsen suggested that one more amendment needed to be added to the Salazar bill: one that would mandate the Environmental Protection Agency to stop sending additional contaminated water from the mining district to the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel. According to Campbell, at the time the EPA started sending the contaminated water to the LMDT, it was responding to a group of Leadville citizens and officials who had the opposite concern: they didn't want the tailings piles altered or removed and asked the EPA to capture the water instead. But Olsen says current citizens and officials want the contaminated runoff eliminated. "It appears that this [solution] isn't working so well," he said. "Maybe we ought to think about treating the bad surface water on the surface." EPA remedial manager Stan Christensen has already said that the EPA would be willing to revisit the possibility of capping the piles.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
9:34:32 AM    

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Lake Baikal, the earth's largest fresh water lake, is warming due to human induced climate change and the ecology is changing, according to The Environmental News Services. From the article:

The rising temperature of the world's largest lake - Lake Baikal in Siberia - shows that this icy region of Russia is changing due to global warming, Russian and American scientists have discovered. This lake was expected to be among those most resistant to climate change, due to its huge volume and unique water circulation, but long-term data collection reveals that warming is taking place. In their paper, the scientists detail the effects of climate change on Lake Baikal - from warming of its vast waters to reorganization of its microscopic food web - drawing on 60 years of research...

The data on Lake Baikal reveal "significant warming of surface waters and long-term changes in the food web of the world's largest, most ancient lake," write the researchers in their paper. "The conclusions shown here for this enormous body of freshwater result from careful and repeated sampling over six decades," said Henry Gholz, program director for the National Science Foundation's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis based at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He said, "Thanks to the dedication of local scientists, who were also keen observers, coupled with modern synthetic approaches, we can now visualize and appreciate the far-reaching changes occurring in this lake...Warming of this isolated but enormous lake is a clear signal that climate change has affected even the most remote corners of our planet," said study co-author ecologist Stephanie Hampton, who serves as deputy director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

Lake Baikal contains 20 percent of the world's fresh water, and it is large enough to hold all the water in North America's Great Lakes. It is the world's deepest lake as well as its oldest. At 25 million years old, it predates the emergence of humans. In 1996, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, declared Lake Baikal a World Heritage site because of its biological diversity. At least 2,500 plant and animal species inhabit the lake. Most of these species, including the freshwater seal, are found nowhere else in the world.

Category: Climate Change News
9:13:13 AM    

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From The Denver Post: "Conservationists are shifting the debate over oil and gas development across the West from the preservation of a single species here or there to the potential impacts that development could have on entire landscapes due to climate change...The climate change argument has spread from Montana and the Dakotas down to Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, and BLM officials acknowledged Thursday it's likely here to stay...The region sold every one of the parcels it offered during the April lease sale, but Herrell said the leases haven't been signed since the agency is still reviewing a protest filed by conservation group WildEarth Guardians. The group targeted all of the parcels, saying they should not have been offered since the agency's management plans don't address climate change as a potential result of greenhouse gas emissions from more oil and gas development. The protest also claims the agency skirted federal environmental laws by not considering new information about climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the New Mexico Climate Change Advisory Group or other federal scientists."

Category: Climate Change News
9:01:26 AM    

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Here's a report on stream flow in the Arkansas River from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Bureau of Reclamation is ramping down releases from Twin Lakes Reservoir in order to perform a routine inspection on the Twin Lakes Dam Monday, said Linda Hopkins, Reclamation's hydrologic technician at Pueblo. Earlier this week, Reclamation was releasing 375 cubic feet per second from Twin Lakes, in order to make space for water to be imported through the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. By Thursday, releases dropped to 250 cfs, and on Friday they were cut to 100 cfs. The drop cut the total flows in the river, as measured at Wellsville east of Salida, from about 815 cfs to about 675 cfs by Friday. Reclamation intends to further cut flows to 75 cfs by Monday and will stop all releases from Twin Lakes for about four hours before resuming releases next week. Releases will increase to 150 cfs on Tuesday, 250 cfs on Wednesday and 375 cfs by Thursday, according to the plan. Reclamation is releasing water to clear space in Turquoise and Twin Lakes, so that when snow begins melting in the Fryingpan River basin, the flows can be stored in the mountain reservoirs. The water is recaptured and stored downstream in Lake Pueblo. Reclamation expects about 100,000 acre-feet of space to be available in the upper lakes, which is roughly the amount it is expecting to bring into the basin, Hopkins said.

Meanwhile, Arkansas River flows through Pueblo decreased this week, as irrigators moved the last of winter water or Fry-Ark water held over from 2007 out of Lake Pueblo by the deadline on Thursday. Flows fell from nearly 889 cfs on Monday to 566 cfs on Friday, according to reports by the Colorado Division of Water Resources. About 300 cfs of that drop was water being moved to four downstream canals. By Friday, the flow at the Avondale gauge east of Pueblo was at 756 cfs, which is average for this time of year, after three weeks of running well above average with flows as high as 1,250 cfs. The gauge is used to measure relative volume of water flowing from the upper Arkansas River and its tributaries into the lower portion of the basin.

Category: Colorado Water
8:54:30 AM    

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Here's an update on the proposed Arkansas Valley Conduit from The Pueblo Chieftian. From the article:

A new bill to authorize funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit was introduced in the U.S. Senate Friday. The bill would provide a 65 percent federal cost-share for the $300 million conduit, which is envisioned to serve 50,000 people in 42 cities, towns and water districts east of Pueblo. Part of the 1962 Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, the conduit was never built because of the cost. U.S. Sens. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Wayne Allard, R-Colo., jointly introduced the bill. The bill uses a concept developed by Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, to use revenue from future excess-capacity leases to pay off underfunded parts of the Fry-Ark Project.

Construction of the Fry-Ark Project, including four reservoirs, a forebay, a power plant, West Slope collection systems and the Boustead Tunnel, totalled $585 million. Of that $134.7 million was to be reimbursed by the Southeastern District through taxes, $147.5 million through hydroelectric power sales and $64.8 million through taxes for the Fountain Valley Pipeline. Broderick's idea was to fund the conduit, the south outlet works at Pueblo Dam and Ruedi Reservoir, compensatory storage on the West Slope, through excess-capacity lease payments, which Reclamation has collected since 1986 for storage, transmission and exchange of non-project water through its facilities.

The new Senate bill also includes the Fountain Valley Pipeline as a project which could be funded using excess-capacity revenue. The pipeline serves Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security, Stratmoor Hills and Widefield. Excess-capacity contracts have increased in recent years. The Pueblo Board of Water Works and Aurora have obtained long-term contracts from Reclamation, while Colorado Springs is seeking one as part of Southern Delivery System. Southeastern is also planning request a long-term master contract as well. In addition, there are numerous one-year "if-and-when" storage contracts. The Senate bill would fund the other portions of the project until repayment for the Arkansas Valley Conduit begins.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:46:56 AM    

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Here's some snowpack news from "The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service said Friday the statewide snowpack has fallen to 115% of average, from 123% on April 1 and 135% in March...The Gunnison River Basin in southwest Colorado had the highest snowpack compared with average, at 136%. The Arkansas Basin was at 131% and the Colorado was at 120%."

More snowpack news from The Summit Daily News:

The season-long pattern of surplus snow in the mountains continued in April, as weather watcher Rick Bly measured 29.7 inches at his backyard gauge in Breckenridge. That's five inches more than the historic average for the month. But for the October-April snowfall season, Bly said 207 inches fell, 55 inches more than the historic average of 152 inches, based on records going back more than a century, making it the seventh-snowiest winter on record. All that snow melted down to 15.25 inches of water, about 32 percent more than the historic average of 11.5 inches for the six-month period. Bly said there were 108 days with measurable precipitation this winter, well above the average 63 days. April snowfall at the Dillon station totaled 18 inches, just slightly more than the average 17.3 inches. More notable were the weather readings, with both the average daily highs and lows remaining well below normal for the month. The average April maximum temperature was 43.2 degrees, compared to the historic average 47.7 degrees. The average monthly low was only 11.6 degrees, about six degrees lower than the historic average (17.3 degrees), based on records going back to 1909. Temperatures at the Dillon weather site only climbed into the 50s nine times during April, with the highest reading, 60 degrees, on April 24...

The local stats reflect a regional picture of colder-than-average temperatures. "It was the coldest winter since the late 1970s," said Wolter. The biggest change was in the average daily highs, Wolter said. The cooler temperatures this winter marked a leveling off of a 30-year trend of warmer-than-average regional readings.

Category: Colorado Water
8:34:22 AM    

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Here's a detailed look at SB 08-247 from The Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article:

The bill yesterday faced an 11th hour Legislative effort that was quickly shot down by a coalition of Western Slope interests and Front Range cities. Just six hours after Sen. Isgar and Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, introduced their late bill, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 4-3 to dispatch it to the legislative graveyard. Isgar, Brophy and Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, were the only affirmative votes. "We are in a unique time with the convergence of two events that could really help farmers ... do a few more acres and be profitable at a level that hasn't happened in two generations," Brophy said, referring to the heavy mountain snowpack and high commodity prices.

But opponents, including the influential Colorado River Water Conservation District, argued there was no time to thoroughly vet a major water bill with less than a week left in the current general assembly session, which ends Wednesday. "Folks were lobbying on this (Wednesday) even before we knew there was going to be a bill," said Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne. "What's the rush? Why now? Is this how we do water policy in Colorado?" Senate Bill 247 would have allowed the irrigators with decreed augmentation plans to use leased water in new substitute water supply plans, which could then be used to pay back pumping depletions from before 2003...

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District said there was enough water in the Colorado-Big Thompson system to lease the extra water to the irrigators this year without injuring senior water rights on either side of the Continental Divide. Northern's general manager, Eric Wilkinson, said the biggest challenge the well users face is "paying their debt to the river," which carried forward into their augmentation plans. "They have to overcome their post-pumping depletions," Wilkinson said. "A change in statute is required for substitute water supply plans to be used in conjunction with augmentation plans." Most of the groundwater irrigators who could have taken advantage of the proposal are in two subdistricts of the Greeley-based Central Colorado Water Conservancy District. "More than 1,000 family farms were hit by the change in groundwater administration," said Central's executive director. "They are pumping only 18 percent of what they did five years ago. They only can hang economically for so long before they have to sell the place as dry land."

Opponents, however, lined up to protest the hurried nature of Thursday's hearing, which lasted less than one hour because of a conflict with full Senate debate. "What is the crisis that would cause anyone to bring a bill like this forward at the 11th hour?" questioned John Hendrick, general manager of the Centennial Water and Sanitation District. "The timeliness of this is totally inappropriate." Jason Turner, who said he was representing the city of Sterling, agreed. Sterling was one of the objectors to a similar non-legislative plan to keep the South Platte wells pumping in 2006. "We felt forced to oppose it because there's really been no time to evaluate it," Turner said. Water attorneys for most of the northeastern Colorado ditch companies chimed in with opposition. "Fort Morgan is concerned it could affect its own senior water rights," said Denver attorney Cynthia Covell, whose clients include the Fort Morgan Reservoir and Irrigation Company. "This isn't just about CBT water, but any kind of water could be used."[...]

However, Isgar said the bill was hurt by strong Western Slope opposition. He said the Colorado River District's board of directors voted 9-3 earlier Thursday to oppose the bill. Joining Gibbs in killing the bill were Sens. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:25:04 AM    

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette: "A popular fishing lake in Park County is closed to boats, the first body of water in Colorado to be declared off-limits to boats because of the recent discovery of invasive zebra mussels in Pueblo Reservoir. The boat ban is in effect for Antero Reservoir, west of Hartsel on U.S. Highway 24, until an inspection system can be set up, reservoir owner Denver Water Board announced Friday...Denver water officials decided to ban boats now because the boating season is almost here. The other reservoir the utility owns where boats are allowed remains iced over."

More coverage from The Rocky Mountain News:

Antero Reservoir has been temporarily closed to boating to give officials time to develop a boat-inspection program to prevent zebra mussels from invading the popular recreation spot. The lake is open to beach fishing, but boats and trailers are key carriers of the mussel and must be inspected before they can enter state waters. Neil Sperandeo, manager of recreation for Denver Water, owner of Antero Reservoir, said Antero is the first of its reservoirs to open this year. The invasive mussels, already present in Lake Pueblo, have not been found in Denver's reservoirs yet. "We know that it's in Pueblo and it's in Kansas and Oklahoma and Lakes Powell and Mead. It's around us," Sperandeo said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:12:02 AM    

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Here's an update on Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System from The Colorado Springs Gazette. They write:

The city of Colorado Springs, which has spent $74 million on its pipeline project, has stopped buying land for an east-side reservoir that has cost $6.4 million. Colorado Springs Utilities' hesitation to buy more land for Jimmy Camp Creek Reservoir reflects the uncertainty around which route the pipeline will take. One calls for running the pipeline from the Arkansas River in Fremont County to the Upper Williams Creek Reservoir near Drennan Road. The other is the preferred alternative - to pipe water from Pueblo Reservoir to Jimmy Camp Creek on the city's northeast side. The preferred option is cheaper, with residential rates predicted to rise by 126 percent by 2015, compared with 155 percent if the pipeline goes through Fremont County...

The city has been working on the Southern Delivery System for years. As of March 31, it had paid consultant CH2M Hill $37.6 million for engineering, environmental permitting support, project management, legal work, water treatment testing and mapping and surveying. The city has spent $6.9 million on land, most of it on 400 acres bought from 14 landowners in the Jimmy Camp Creek area. It needs 1,474 more acres owned by the Banning Lewis Ranch Management Co., which is developing most of the 23,000-acre ranch, a chief reason the additional water and pipeline is needed.

Now, the city is eyeing Upper Williams Creek. Appraisals on both reservoir sites were done this year that the city has refused to release because Utilities may rely on them in future negotiations. "We're not ready to engage Banning Lewis Ranch at this time in negotiations until we know more" from the federal environmental review and the city's analysis, Utilities project manager John Fredell said. Jimmy Camp could pose problems because of cultural resources, natural springs and fossils, and its potential cost, Fredell said...

Utilities chief water officer Bruce McCormick said the city will decide on a reservoir site by the end of the year...

Southern Delivery System proposed for Pueblo County would occupy 238 acres, with an additional 92 acres needed temporarily for construction, Springs Utilities said in a March 26 letter to Pueblo County. Other aspects of the project:

- 2,200 feet of buried 78-inch diameter pipe and 1,100 feet of buried 72-inch pipe.

- 160 feet of buried 36-inch pipe to carry Pueblo West's share of water from Pueblo Reservoir.

- 18.4 miles of buried 66-inch pipe to convey water to Colorado Springs.

- Pump station equipped with seven 3,000-horsepower turbine pump units.

- 21.4 miles of fiber-optic cable that parallels the water line.

Most of the pipeline would align with existing utility easements.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:05:57 AM    

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Fort Collins release a series of 3 reports about the Northern Integrated Supply Project on Friday, according to The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

Reducing the Poudre River's flow through Fort Collins would harm the river's ecology and hurt the city's economy, according to a set of three reports released Friday. The city-sponsored reports examine the potential impact on the river through town from the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District...

Cutting the river's peak flows in half, as predicted in some models of NISP's impacts, would make the river less attractive and reduce visitations, according to an analysis by John Loomis, an economist at Colorado State University. The analysis of the economic impact of river flows through town was based on a survey of Fort Collins residents that included questions about how often they visit the river and how much they spend per visit. About a third of those surveyed said they would visit the river less if its flows were cut in half, with 5 percent saying they would stop visiting. Reduced visitation would translate to fewer dollars spent in the downtown area, according to the report. The median economic value of a visit to the river is $15, according to Loomis' report. The survey also found Fort Collins residents would be willing to pay an average of $342 per household to ensure flows are maintained. "Eighty-three percent of those surveyed indicated that a 50 percent reduction in peak spring and summer flows in the Poudre River through town would be a 'bad change,' with nearly two-thirds saying it would be a 'very bad change,' " the report states.

An analysis by the Poudre Technical Advisory Group made up of experts from CSU and local offices of federal agencies found reduced flows would likely harm riparian areas along the river. Water quality and habitat for wildlife and fish would be degraded by the lack of high flows, according to the report. Over time the river would look and behave like a "long, narrow lake" bordered by non-native plants...

The reports mirror what opponents of NISP have been saying all along, especially concerning the river's economic value to the city, said Gary Wockner, spokesman for the Save the Poudre Coalition. More time is need to review the findings of the reports and the draft EIS, he said. "The coalition is happy to see the city is intently studying the issue," Wockner said.

Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner said the reports had not been reviewed by district staff members as of Friday afternoon. But issues raised by the reports are likely covered in detail by the draft EIS, which took four years and $6 million to produce. "We've always said there would be impacts," he said. "But there are ways to address those impacts through mitigation."

More coverage from The Northern Colorado Business Report:

The city of Fort Collins has developed three preliminary reports on potential effects of the Northern Integrated Water Supply project that includes the controversial Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort Collins. Three background technical reports were prepared by city staff based on a Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District presentation made to the Fort Collins City Council on May 22, 2007. The water district is the project developer. The reports were created before the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on April 30. The reports examine current and future conditions on the Poudre River, potential impacts of Glade Reservoir on the river from Overland Trail to Interstate 25 and the potential economic benefits of maintaining peak in-stream flows in the river as it flows through Fort Collins. The reports are available for public review at

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:54:02 AM    

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