Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Friday, June 1, 2007

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Colorado's U.S. Senators are looking to provide some federal dough to rehabilitate the Mancos Project, according to the Durango Herald. From the article:

U.S. Sens. Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard are seeking more than $6 million to help rehabilitate the nearly 60-year-old Mancos Project, which delivers water to farmers, houses and businesses from Jackson Gulch Reservoir. The project has surpassed its expected life and now is said to be in poor condition. In addition to providing supplemental water for about 8,650 irrigated acres and water for Mesa Verde National Park, the project delivers water to more than 500 members of the Mancos Rural Water Co., the town of Mancos and more than 230 agricultural businesses.

If the Mancos Project experienced catastrophic failure now, Mesa Verde National Park could be left without water during the peak tourist season. The town of Mancos could sustain a severe water shortage and farmers could lose up to $1.48 million worth of crops. The legislation introduced by the state's two senators would authorize $6.4 million to pay for 80 percent of the cost of rehabilitating the Mancos Project. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Category: Colorado Water

6:41:37 AM    

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The Pueblo Chieftain is holding a forum on the issues around Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System, according to the Colorado Springs Independent. From the article:

It seems much of the Springs is unaware of the details surrounding the water controversy, which is why the Pueblo Chieftain is bringing its story north and hosting a public forum on the topic Tuesday, June 5, at Colorado College. Jane Rawlings, assistant publisher of the Chieftain, is expected to discuss the newspaper's interest in area water issues. "We want to engage the general public in the Colorado Springs area in a discussion about the future of the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek," she says. "We want them to be able to hear from Pueblo directly."

Scheduled speakers at the forum include Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut, who filed a lawsuit against Colorado Springs over sewage spills; Denver water attorney Ray Petros, who has suggested a multipurpose dam on Fountain Creek for flood control; and Richard Skorman, former Colorado Springs City Council member and now regional aide to U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:34:51 AM    

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It looks like we're about to see the end of the controversy over Aurora's long term storage (and exchange) contract with the Bureau of Reclamation. According to the Pueblo Chieftain BuRec plans to go ahead with the contract after the end of the comment period passes on Monday. The contract should be in place by mid-July. From the article:

The bureau does not intend to reopen its environmental assessment process, which in March found no significant impact from the contracts, [Fred Ore, Eastern Colorado area manager for the bureau] said. Three of Colorado's congressional delegation, Reps. Mark Udall, John Salazar and Marilyn Musgrave, asked the bureau to perform a full impact statement, but the bureau is sticking by its finding that the study is not needed. "I can answer that: There are no thoughts about requiring an EIS," Ore said. Ore said it would take several days to review the contract before sending it to Aurora, however. Comments from the two-month review period, if applicable, could still be incorporated into the final version of the contract.

The Aurora City Council will need at least two meetings to consider, then approve, the contract, said Gerry Knapp, Arkansas Valley projects manager for Aurora.

Once the contract is offered, the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District intends to file a federal lawsuit, said Jay Winner, Lower Ark general manager. "We still have concerns about the legality of the exchanges," Winner said. The Lower Ark district claims the portion of the contract that approves exchanges circumvents Colorado water law by giving Aurora a priority to exchange without water court mitigation. Exchange capacity will be needed for future projects in the Lower Arkansas Valley, such as the Lower Ark's Super Ditch - a rotational fallowing-lease management concept.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:21:00 AM    

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The Denver Post was on hand yesterday up in Keystone for the Snake River Task Force meeting. From their report:

In the absence of a federal "good Samaritan" law allowing property owners and environmental interests to take over the cleanup without the risk of financial liability, the informal group has struggled with alternatives for restoring the stream. But EPA officials in Washington now are working on a template agreement that would allow organizations to install water-treatment facilities - ranging from simple retention ponds and runoff ditches to major treatment plants - under the umbrella of independent foundations. "It's our hope that we can use that model agreement here," Kellen said. "We would really like it to be the first time we can use this agreement nationally and show the way." The generic model would allow potential critics to have a seat at the table - in hopes of avoiding future lawsuits - and is considered a vital tool in cleaning up tainted waters throughout the West, where an estimated 15,000 abandoned mines drain hazardous levels of metals.

Peru Creek, which ultimately flows into Dillon Reservoir - Denver's drinking-water supply - is so contaminated by the flooded tunnels of the 128-year-old Pennsylvania mine that it supports no fish and has held a spot on the state's list of "most impaired" streams since 1998. Each year, the mine sends an estimated 38,896 pounds of zinc, 4,496 pounds of copper and 186 pounds of cadmium into the river, said Rebecca Anthony of the state health department's Water- Quality Control Division. "This particular site has always been called the 'poster child' for a good Samaritan law," said Elizabeth Russell, the Snake River watershed coordinator for Trout Unlimited. Lane Wyatt, a water-quality expert with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, suggested that a realistic goal may be to return the river to the "ambient" levels of metals contamination that would have existed without open mines in the area.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:12:27 AM    

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Here's a short report on the kayaking competition up in Vail this week, from the Denver Post. From the article, "While [Katie Hilleke's] two-run combined time of 4 minutes, 41.6 seconds remained a good distance behind four-time women's champion Nikki Kelly of New Zealand (3:43.7) and runner-up Lizzy English (4:17.9), this week marked the first time Hilleke had laid eyes on the cascading creek outside of Red Cliff. And Thursday's river flow of 120 cubic feet per second - courtesy of water rights donated by nearby Vail Resorts just for the event - was more than twice as high as Homestake had run all season and the most water competitors have ever seen in the six-year history of the Teva Games."

Category: Colorado Water

6:02:31 AM    

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