Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

Subscribe to "Colorado Water" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A picture named groundwater.jpg

From Water Online, "The Theis Conference is now accepting applications for its 2007 program in Park City, Utah, September 28-October 1 at which participants will explore the topic, 'Conjunctive Management of Ground Water and Surface Water: Application of Science to Policy.' [...] The conference is designed to attract ground water scientists, engineers, attorneys, and other professionals interested in the conjunctive management of ground water and surface water."

Category: Colorado Water

10:05:00 AM    

A picture named laketrout.jpg

Congratulations to Don Walker for landing the new Colorado record Lake Trout from Blue Mesa reservoir. reports, "Walker, 61, now holds the record for the biggest lake trout caught in Colorado: The fish weighed 50 pounds, 5 ounces, and measured 44 1/4 inches long."

Category: Colorado Water

9:10:37 AM    

A picture named fens.jpg

Breckenridge officials are watching the ski area's planned development of Peak 6 and the possible effects on their Cucumber Gulch wetlands, according to the Summit Daily News (free registration required). From the article:

Parts of the Peak 6 area tentatively proposed for lift-served skiing could be critical to the long-term biological health of Cucumber Gulch, providing links between the town-owned wetlands complex and nearby upland habitat for a wide range of species...

Rick Thompson, a wildlife biologist under contract to Vail Resorts, has been studying the Peak 6 area for the last two years to track wildlife use in the area. Thompson's research will help the resort design a proposal that's sensitive to wildlife concerns. The town's existing monitoring data could be integrated with regional information on wildlife movement corridors from the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project (SREP), and with Thompson's data, to provide a big-picture look of the area...

The area between the Peaks trailhead and the Vail Resorts Peak 7 base area development offers a clear path for animal movement, [Dr. Christi Carello] said. "So many species depend on that standing water in Cucumber Gulch," Carello said. Some monitoring of deer, elk and moose populations in Cucumber Gulch is planned for the next few weeks, when researchers and volunteers will do a pellet count in the area. Monitoring of beavers and muskrats in the beaver ponds is also planned. Breckenridge open space planner Heide Andersen said a collaborative study could help the town protect its multi-million dollar investment in the Cucumber Gulch open space. The town has done what it can to protect Cucumber Gulch and adjacent lands, but doesn't have direct influence over land-use decisions on adjacent tracts, she said...

The ski area has some general ideas as to how they'd like to develop Peak 6, but any specific proposal would be subject to detailed environmental scrutiny, including wildlife studies, Forest Service District Ranger Rick Newton said at a recent town council meeting. The area is zoned for resort skiing under the 2002 White River National Forest plan, Newton said. Site-specific studies could help avoid direct impacts to movement corridors, and help the ski area and Forest Service develop mitigation strategies. In other studies for ski area projects, those steps have included off-site habitat improvements, as well as operational restrictions to minimize day-to-day impacts.

Category: Colorado Water

8:54:57 AM    

A picture named haymanburnarea.jpg

The Rocky Mountain News is running a article about the Hayman fire from 2002. From the article:

The Hayman exposed the weak, decomposed granite soils of the region to powerful rainstorms that send the hillsides sliding into reservoirs. Despite the return of grasses, shrubs and other groundcover over more than half the land, the erosion problem continues. For Denver Water, the shedding soil has created a new budgetary black hole. Dirt traps designed to stop the soil from pouring through Goose and Turkey creeks into Cheesman Reservoir, at the heart of the burn area, are catching more - not less - sediment, said Kevin Keefe, who supervises reservoir operations for the utility. "All I can say is sediment coming in is bigger than the previous year, and seems to be getting bigger every day," Keefe said. He said he'll need a boost in his $300,000 annual budget to keep cleaning the traps. In the fall of 2005, the utility cleaned 28,000 cubic yards from the trap at Turkey Creek alone. Last fall, the amount rose to 60,000, and it took Denver Water more than 1,100 truckloads to haul all the sediment away.

There's no end in sight.

The utility continues to fight sediment pouring into Strontia Springs reservoir, 11 years after the nearby Buffalo Creek fire. It plans a dredging project next year expected to cost more than $20 million.

Coyote Gulch would add that the same scenario may occur again if Colorado and the U.S. government do not come to grips with the extensive beetle kill around Grand Lake in a pro-active manner.

Category: Colorado Water

8:24:08 AM    

A picture named fryingpanarkansasproject.jpg

Here's the roundup of yesterday's meeting of the Water and power subcommittee of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee meeting held yesterday in Pueblo, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A congressional hearing Friday began with a film of President John F. Kennedy at Dutch Clark Stadium on a hot August day in 1962, heralding the cooperative spirit of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. The hearing ended in a less cooperative spirit after a morning that proved the testimony of one witness who said Colorado water is a geographic, rather than political concern...

About 150 people attended the 3-hour event. People from Leadville, the Lower Arkansas Valley, Colorado Springs, Aurora and Pueblo came to hear public statements on rating the success of the Fry-Ark Project. The hearing took on shades of partisanship, more from a geographic standpoint than by political parties, as described by Wally Stealey, former president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, who told the committee water is a geographic issue...

Meanwhile, Rep. Doug Lamborn, the lone Republican on the committee, was equally vigorous in promoting the interests of Colorado Springs, which he represents. He is sponsoring competing legislation that adheres to past intergovernmental agreements for the Preferred Storage Options Plan. At one point Lamborn labeled the negotiations over PSOP as being stalled by "a few obstructionists" and promoted the view that the Fry-Ark Project should focus on future growth. "The old adage of build it and they will come no longer applies to Colorado. They'll come anyway," Lamborn said.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Salazar's Democratic colleague, disagreed with Salazar's view that the Fry-Ark Project originally was intended primarily to benefit agriculture. Perlmutter, who represents Aurora and other growing areas in the Denver suburbs, focused on Kennedy's statement that Fry-Ark was an "investment in the growth of the West."[...]

Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district, drew spontaneous applause for his testimony lamenting the decline of agriculture and the increasing burden of small communities in dealing with water quality as the Fry-Ark Project has aged. Colorado Springs has worked for its own benefit, rather than with Fry-Ark partners and Aurora has "bullied its way into the valley," Winner said. The exchanges of the cities have hurt water quality, he said. "When we talk about water quality, here's a good example of what has happened," Winner said, holding up jars of muddy water from the Lower Arkansas Valley and clean water from mountain lakes. "They bought this (the dirty) water and took this (the clean water)...I'm told over and over (by the cities) it's too expensive to clean up the water, so the burden falls on the Lower Arkansas Valley."

Mayors Lionel Rivera of Colorado Springs and Ed Tauer of Aurora urged the congressional delegation to look to the future and needs of growth, rather than dwelling on the past. Both emphasized their significant financial contribution to repayment of the project - Colorado Springs through taxes, Aurora through contracts...

Napolitano took Rivera to task, asking why the city has not dedicated more effort to reusing its supply. Rivera responded that the city reuses 13 percent of its water supply for public landscapes and power plants and touted the city's conservation efforts, sewage and stormwater control. Tauer described the Fry-Ark Project as a "series of pipes, pumps and buckets" that allow people to move water and defended Aurora's right to contract with Reclamation for excess-capacity space. He praised intergovernmental agreements Aurora has made in the valley to attempt to address ill effects of water transfers...

Bill Long, president of the Southeastern District, said the construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit is the most important piece of the Fry-Ark Project that has yet to be developed. The conduit was part of the 1962 legislation, but never built because communities could never afford it. "If we don't get the conduit, the project will ultimately be used to move water out of the valley," Long said.

Terry Scanga, executive director of the Upper Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, said the project has changed over the years, providing water for the growth of a recreation industry and new growth in the upper end of the river...

Sandy White, a lawyer representing The Pueblo Chieftain and other valley water interests, challenged Reclamation's authority to enter contracts with Aurora, saying Aurora circumvents state law with federal contracts. "The Bureau essentially is on an adventure of its own," White said. Mike Ryan, Great Plains regional director for the Bureau of Reclamation, defended contract policies, saying the Fry-Ark Project is not harmed by the bureau's actions. Stealey, however, disagreed. "The biggest danger we've got is diminishing the taxpayers' role in the Fry-Ark Project by diluting the stock," Stealey said. "When does it quit becoming the Bureau of Urban Development? Some of us are very angry."

More coverage from the Colorado Springs Gazette. They write:

In August 1962, President John Kennedy put a shovel in the ground to begin the transmountain Fryingpan-Arkansas River project. In doing so, he said it was his hope future generations would be as farsighted as those who conceived the project decades earlier. He also warned against pitting urban interests against agriculture and labeled the project a boon to "new cities and industries which this project helps make possible." Forty-five years later, the House Natural Resources Committee's water and power subcommittee is wrestling with what direction the project should take now...

For Jay Winner, who represents irrigators and towns in the Arkansas Valley, it's time to analyze the impact of cities drying up farms and ranches by buying up water rights. In 1976, the year after the project was completed, Rocky Ford High School graduated 129 seniors. Last year, the number was 40, he said. At stake is whether nonproject participants, namely Aurora, will be allowed to store water in Pueblo Reservoir, and how cities exchange water rights with rural users...

[Jay Winner] and other advocates of further study, however, said the cities' thirst is draining the life from southeast Colorado. "It's a disaster east of Pueblo," said Winner, manager of the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District. Said Salazar, "The project is turning into an instrument to move water to growing metropolises and sometimes out of the basin. Water taken off the farm will never return. Water taken from the basin will never return."[...]

Bill Long, president of the Southeastern Colorado Conservancy District, which helped build the project with property tax money from nine counties, said the project's allocation principles call for 51 percent to go to cities and 49 percent to agriculture. "Historically, that has not been the case," he said. Instead, he added, 74.5 percent has been used by agriculture and 25.5 percent by cities.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

8:08:12 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2007 John Orr.
Last update: 7/1/07; 7:54:47 AM.
June 2007
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
May   Jul

e-mail John: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.