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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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb): "Just a reminder that we will be holding our annual Ruedi operations public meeting this coming Monday, May 12, at the Basalt Town Hall starting at 7 p.m. The text of the press release announcing the meeting is at the bottom of this message.

"Also, it was brought to my attention today that the Forest Service boat ramp is currently out of service up at Ruedi Reservoir. I know some of you might be concerned about this so I wanted to add some more explanation on our operations: As you know, we've been moving water out of the reservoir to make room for what we anticipate will be a large run-off. The snowpack up the Fryingpan basin is impressive. Today, though, we're starting to see some changes. It looks like that upper elevation snow is starting to melt. The flow into Ruedi has started to come up a bit and the reservoir has essentially stopped dropping, even though we haven't changed our release. That means, if this trend continues, we'll be decreasing our releases pretty soon and start filling the reservoir again."

Category: Colorado Water
6:11:52 PM    

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NASA: "The first cyclone of the 2008 season in the northern Indian Ocean was a devastating one for Burma. According to reports from, Cyclone Nargis made landfall with sustained winds of 130 mph and gusts of 150-160 mph, which is the equivalent of a strong Category 3 or minimal Category 4 hurricane. News reports stated that several thousand people have been killed, and thousands more were missing as of May 5."

Click through to see their photos of the destruction.

Category: Climate Change News
6:10:09 PM    

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From The Fort Morgan Times: "Water rates are likely to increase for many Morgan County residents as both the city of Fort Morgan and the Morgan County Quality Water District plan for the financial toll of new water supplies. The city and Quality Water are both participants in the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), which involves the creation of two reservoirs, one northwest of Fort Collins and a smaller one east of Ault. Fort Morgan plans to invest an estimated $36 million in the project over the next 12 years, and members of the city's Water Advisory Board on Thursday discussed the critical need to secure the future water supply as well as the importance of planning to handle the cost."

More from the article:

Odor and other members of the water board also stressed the importance of securing a reliable water supply for the city's future, and Odor said NISP has several advantages over other potential water supplies. Unlike other water projects like the Colorado-Big Thompson (CBT) project, which the city also uses, Odor explained that NISP will allow the participants to carry over their unused water from a given year for future use. "If you don't use it, you don't lose it,[per thou] he said. "That's unlike any other water supplies out there." The city could keep its excess water from NISP in the reservoir in the city's name, he said, and that has the potential to give the city a four-year backup supply. Fort Morgan could also lease its excess water until growth and accompanying water demand catches up. Another advantage is that water from NISP can be used "to extinction,"" meaning that unlike most water supplies, the city can recapture its treated effluent and use it again for irrigation or other purposes. "That doubles or triples the value of the investment," Odor said...

Noting that some city residents were against the city's involvement in CBT when it was first proposed, one water board member said the city projected at the time that it might need that water by about 2020 or 2025. "We're halfway there and we're already using it," he said. Dreessen is currently speaking to community groups and "anyone who will listen" about the advantages of NISP, he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:07:03 PM    

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Here's some snowpack news from The Mountain Mail. They write:

Latest snow surveys conducted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service indicate the Colorado snowpack reached its maximum season accumulation during April. As a whole, the second half of April was considerably drier than normal, which halted significant additional accumulations. Sunday, snowpack in the Arkansas River basin was at 131 percent of average - highest in the state. A measuring site near Independence Pass showed 166 percent of average snowpack. At Fremont Pass it was 123 percent of average with 47 inches of snow remaining and a water content of about 21 inches. At Porphyry Creek on the west side of Monarch Pass, snowpack was 126 percent of average with a depth of 56 inches. In Monarch Park, snow measured 54 inches with a water content of 22 inches. At the St. Elmo measuring site, snow was 49 inches deep containing about 17 inches of water. "Snow levels are similar, but we have almost twice as much water on the ground this year compared to last depending on the survey site," Bill Gardiner, district conservationist with the conservation service Salida office, said.

More snowpack news from The Grand Junction Free Press. From the article:

Despite the runoff to date, the amount of snowpack has remained above the average of the past 30 years, according to figures released Monday by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. As of Monday, the snow water equivalent, or the amount of water in the snow, in the Upper Colorado River Basin measured 128 percent of average, while the Gunnison River Basin's total snow water equivalent was at 130 percent of average, according to the NRCS. The snow water equivalent of the Upper Rio Grande Basin registered at 110 percent of average. The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins totaled 109 percent of average, and the Arkansas River Basin was at 129 percent of average Monday. The driest basin in the state measured slightly less than average snow water equivalent. The South Platte River Basin held 106 percent of average. The Laramie and North Platte river basins had 113 percent of average.

Category: Colorado Water
6:03:56 PM    

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Here's the second part of The Mountain Mail series on Nestlé's plans for the Hagen Springs. From the article:

When Bruce Lauerman, the natural resources manager for Nestlé Waters North America, became aware of the springs, conversations were underway regarding the best way to protect them. The development deal subsequently fell through and Nestlé bought the property as a buffer protecting the springs from future harm. Hagen said he recognizes why some people would be fearful of a large corporation buying the springs. However, he said Lauerman and the company have been honest and straight forward.

If the 16 acre deal between Nestlé and Hagen goes through, company officials want to drill several wells near the two springs. Collected water would be piped to a 7 acre loading area west of the Arkansas River between U.S 285 and the railroad tracks, Lauerman said. Nestlé seeks to construct a secure site with paved access to two storage tanks and a building of less than 1,000 square feet, Lauerman said. He said specific site design can be flexible, but will be determined by county regulations and would take precautions protecting views. Crossing the Arkansas River could be done in either of two ways - boring under the river or suspending pipe from an existing Union Pacific Railroad trestle, Lauerman said. The 7-acre loading site is a portion of 112 acres purchased from the McMurry Land and Cattle Co. There is no frontage to U.S. 285 and Lauerman said the company is seeking options or an easement agreement for access. A Colorado Department of Transportation study would be required for access to the site to determine if acceleration and deceleration lanes are necessary. If access to the 7-acre site isn't granted or developed and Nestlé uses CRs 300 and 301 to reach a loading site, county officials said they would require upgrades to those roads and intersections...

Nestlé will be required to go through two separate Chaffee County approval processes. Because the property is zoned rural and the company plans an industrial operation, a special use permit must be issued, Don Reimer, county planning director, said. In addition, the project will trigger an application under 1041 regulations. Those regulations were established by the state in 1974 and later adopted by the county in 1991. The 1041 regulations allow the county to adopt special rules for projects, allows for public input and may require mitigation for any impacts of the project. Any water project in the county involving more than 30 acre feet triggers the 1041 review, Reimer said. The special use permit and the 1041 review will be heard by the nine-member Chaffee County Planning Commission. To issue the special use permit, planners will use a list of 15 criteria reviewing potential negative impact to neighbors. Reimer said he didn't know if Nestlé would combine the two applications or seek separate approval. Public hearings will be held, Reimer said, but until an application is filed, the specific process is unknown. Lauerman said the applications are currently being prepared and he expected a pre-application meeting with county officials sometime this month.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:02:46 PM    

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Here's some background on Colorado Springs' Stormwater Utility from The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

Overstuffed chairs, refrigerators and even a hot tub have found their final resting place in the city's 20 creeks and drainage channels. The junk not only contaminates waterways, it also can get swept away during heavy rains, catch on bridges and cause flooding. For years, the city occasionally plucked out the biggest items but didn't have staffing to clear debris on a regular basis. But since the city started collecting Stormwater Enterprise fees last year from property owners based on impervious surface, crews have scoured channels almost monthly. "Once the Stormwater Enterprise went into effect, we got right on it," said Mike Gigg, stormwater maintenance supervisor...

"The only way we're going to change it is to educate people," Gigg said, noting more stormwater money could go toward flood-control projects if less is spent on cleaning creeks and tributaries. McCausland said few people have been cited for illegal dumping, an offense that carries a penalty of 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $500. But she urged anyone who sees illegal dumping in city creeks and channels to note the license plate number and call police at 444-7000.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:01:57 PM    

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Here's a has recap of water efforts by the Colorado legislature this year from to The Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article:

State lawmakers, who end their 2008 legislative session this week, approved a $60.6 million loan to eastern Colorado farmers to build a compact-compliance pipeline that will deliver Republican River water to the state line. They also endorsed spending upwards of $15 million to meet the three-state agreement on protecting endangered species along the South Platte River and preventing the spread of zebra mussels from Pueblo Reservoir to other Colorado lakes and ponds. And anyone who wants to donate a water right to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to improve in-stream flow for recreation and fish habitat can now do so under the Healthy Rivers Act that Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law last month.

But northeastern Colorado's lawmakers couldn't overcome long-held grievances over past well depletions from the South Platte River to help Front Range farmers take advantage of this winter's heavy snowpack. A late bill that would have allowed the well users to irrigate and augment at the same time never made it out of committee.

Category: Colorado Water
7:00:34 AM    

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Here's some snowpack news from The Steamboat Pilot & Today. They write:

Measurements made by the Natural Resources Conservation Service create a picture of just how much water is contained in snow that has yet to melt. The west summit of Rabbit Ears Pass still holds 34.6 inches of water in 72 inches of snow, or 120 percent of the average for May 6. Similarly, the Elk River measuring site holds 18.4 inches of water -- 155 percent of average. In contrast, the Tower measurement site near the summit of Buffalo Pass holds just 95 percent of the average snowpack, or 49.6 inches of water. Vale is concerned about Butcherknife Creek, which flows through Old Town Steamboat. At the foot of Buffalo Pass, the Dry Lake area holds 21.1 inches of water -- 140 percent of average. Snow at Dry Lake will feed Soda Creek, but nearby hillsides will feed water into Butcherknife Creek. As the valley goes deeper into spring, Vale's greatest concern is that a sustained, warm rain would bring the unmelted snow down streams in a rush.

Category: Colorado Water
6:54:39 AM    

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Here's an update on Loveland's water plans for the future including the proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir, from The Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:

The city of Loveland may increase its participation in the Windy Gap/ Chimney Hollow Reservoir project. The move could increase the city's future water supplies, and the project specifically targets the city's needs during drought years. "We think that this is a good opportunity for us to do something for the future today," said Ralph Mullinix, Loveland's director of Water and Power.

The Chimney Hollow Reservoir, to be built west of Carter Lake beginning in 2011, will hold water pumped during high-water seasons, for use in low-water years. The city estimates that, at build-out, it will need 30,000 acre-feet of water available to it from myriad sources. Just more than 22,000 acre-feet is now available, and the city has a current demand of 15,000 acre-feet...

Loveland has invested in 6,000 acre-feet of storage in the Windy Gap/Chimney Hollow project. The city staff recommended increasing the share to 8,000 acre-feet of storage, because that increase would not bankrupt the raw water fund or disrupt the Environmental Impact Statement for the project. At the 8,000 acre-foot level, the raw water fund would have $8.3 million available at its lowest point.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:51:38 AM    

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From The Pueblo Chieftain:

Fourth- and fifth-graders from around Pueblo will be celebrating water Thursday at the 10th annual Discovering Water in Pueblo, a water festival.

The event will be at Colorado State University-Pueblo from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. More than 1,700 students from the Pueblo City Schools, District 70, private and charter schools will attend.

The festival, a popular medium for interactive education in water conservation, educates students about the water cycle, groundwater, non-point-source pollution, irrigation, water sources and uses and other important water-related topics. Water professionals from up and down the Front Range will teach children why water is important and what it means to Colorado.

Category: Colorado Water
6:39:29 AM    

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Here's a recap of a recent meeting of the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Two blueprints painting the future of Fountain Creek in broad strokes were reviewed Tuesday by a committee of the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force. One is a collection of maps showing potential opportunities and constraints being designed by the task force's land use and environmental committee. It rates the threats to Fountain Creek and possible recreational, environmental or stream improvements that could be made in all of the sub-basins throughout the 930-square-mile watershed. The second map is a product of the alliance between Colorado Springs and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, who are preparing a Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan. It looks at the potential for projects like wetlands, off-channel diversions and other physical improvements along the stretch of Fountain Creek from Colorado Springs to the confluence with the Arkansas River at Pueblo...

The task force's plan is being developed by Thomas & Thomas and is being developed by building on a watershed matrix compiled by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, and using information from the $3 million Army Corps of Engineers and the $600,000 Corridor Master Plan studies. Most of the possible threats and opportunities are located in the center of the watershed - basically the Colorado Springs-Fountain Creek area, said consultant Jim Houk. One of the greatest threats to the watershed would be the large areas of impervious surfaces from developing areas in Colorado Springs and El Paso County to the northeast of Colorado Springs, Houk said...

The Corridor Master Plan maps were more detailed documents, combining aerial photographs with possible land-use options, but were not intended to be a plan for Fountain Creek, said consultant Merle Grimes, a biologist and landscape architect. "A lot more important, over time, is the philosophy of how you approach an engineering project," Grimes said. "If we can get everybody to agree on just how a process to heal Fountain Creek looks, then we've made a lot of progress." The guiding principle, in the eyes of the Corridor planners, is to incorporate the concept of "sinuosity," said Graham Thompson, a consultant who also did extensive work on the Corps' Watershed Plan. Water flows in a pattern that reduces energy - which destroys banks and deposits sediments - for the least amount of work, Thompson said. Thompson likened the concept to a skier going down a mountain. Pointing the tips of skis straight down a slope would lead to too much speed, while moving in wide curves could be exhausting. The skier naturally finds a compromise course to get down the mountain...

Those flows are interrupted by man-made structures like railroad tracks or bridges, or by encroachment from buildings or farms. The maps presented Tuesday showed numerous points along Fountain Creek where the creek is healthy and where improvements could be made to restore a more natural course on the river. Detention ponds along the way, formed by simple blocks of earth at strategic points, could detain as much as 2,400 acre-feet of water without major alterations to current land-use, Thompson said. That would be about the amount of increase expected from urban runoff that will make future floods more intense. The ponds would not be enough to contain all of the flows from a 100-year storm, however. Grimes added that detention ponds double as golf courses, ball fields or farms. "You don't know you're looking at one until it floods," he said...

Grimes also addressed the problem of invasive species like tamarisk, elms and Russian olives, and said clearing the vegetation could increase channel capacity. Just as important, however, is to replace the invaders with native species, which act as "nature's rip-rap" to stabilize banks. Maroney said diversion ponds on the mainstem of Fountain Creek are only part of the solution, saying flows on tributaries also need to be controlled. Carol Baker, of Colorado Springs Utilities, said solutions on tributaries are also being studied, for example the reservoirs on Jimmy Camp Creek and Williams Creek that are part of Southern Delivery System planning. The Corridor Project, however, is a two-year project that is looking only at the creek south of Colorado Springs.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:34:45 AM    

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