Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

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Here's a hiking guide to several waterfalls in the Vail Valley from the Vail Daily News. They write:

"It's still hard to go high on some of the trails because there's snow, and the meadows haven't woken up yet," says Mary Ellen Gilliland, author of "The Vail Hiker." "But this time of year is absolutely fabulous for waterfalls. Now is the time to see them really pouring down."

There's something mystical about a watefall: Torrents of water pouring over a cliffside, sparkling like jewels in the sun, spark a primal connection to the fantastical - it's hard not to feel young and in awe of their power. In the pantheon of hiking end-goals, waterfalls must surely land in the top five, somewhere behind summit views but perhaps before lakes.

Category: Colorado Water

6:28:55 AM    

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Greeley is celebrating its water systems 100th anniversary, according to the Greeley Tribune (free registration required). From the article:

Greeley water tours are scheduled for city of Greeley water users, including all day trips to the Poudre Canyon and Milton Seaman Reservoir. The first tour is scheduled June 21; a second will be offered Sept. 13. Buses will leave Greeley at 7:30 a.m. and return around 4 p.m. Tickets are now available at the Union Colony Civic Center Ticket Office, 701 10th Ave., and must be picked up in person. The bus and walking tours are at higher elevations, so that should be considered when making reservations. Lunch, drinks and snacks are provided.

This year marks is the 100th anniversary of Greeley's water system, which began operation in 1907, when the Bellvue Water Treatment plant and the 35-mile pipeline that delivers water from the mountains to the city was completed. Greeley's Water & Sewer Department and Greeley Museums are celebrating this milestone with special events, including the tours. Other upcoming events include the Greeley Garden Tour, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday; Colorado Water, Liquid Gold Exhibit, 5-7 p.m. July 6, Greeley History Museum; and the Water Legacy Festival, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Aug. 18, Centennial Village. Call (970) 350-9204 or e-mail for additional information on all of the 2007 Greeley Water Legacy events. Details are available at

Category: Colorado Water

6:19:22 AM    

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According to the Pueblo Chieftain the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District's Preferred Storage Options Plan committee has shelved studying the enlargement of Pueblo Reservoir until next year. From the article:

"By putting it on the shelf for some time, it will give us a chance to reflect on what we want to provide for our basin," Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works, told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District's Preferred Storage Options Plan committee. As former president of the Southeastern board, Hamel was virtually the architect of PSOP, a measure Southeastern has failed to push through Congress since 2001. Along with other valley water users, a range of possibilities was narrowed to a handful of cost-effective projects. Part of the plan was to look at the feasibility of enlarging Lake Pueblo and Turquoise Lake, as well as looking at how to use Fryingpan-Arkansas Project reservoirs to store non-project water...

The Fry-Ark Project brings water from the Fryingpan River basin on the Western Slope to the Arkansas River basin, and PSOP participants were looking for ways to store water from other sources in project reservoirs. Since the plan was finalized in 2000, excess capacity storage contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation have increased. Pueblo obtained a 25-year storage contract with Reclamation, and Aurora recently completed contract negotiations for a 40-year contract. Colorado Springs also is applying for a 40-year contract...

Realizing the divisiveness surrounding the question of enlargement, Hamel suggested taking a step back. "We seem to be driving wedges between us. Politically, we have two pieces of legislation, and maybe a third - maybe even a fourth," Hamel said. "By stepping back, we can concentrate on other needed things." Hamel said other important water issues in the Arkansas Valley - the Southern Delivery System, Arkansas Valley Conduit and Fountain Creek Vision Task Force, for example - are putting more demand on water providers' resources.

Category: Colorado Water

6:12:00 AM    

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The Colorado Supreme Court ruled yesterday that counties can impose regulations on oil and gas development as long as the rules don't interfere with those set by the State Oil and Gas Commission, according to the Denver Post. From the article:

In declining to hear an appeal of a Gunnison County case, the court left standing a December appellate-court decision enabling counties to impose regulations that supplement those set by the state Oil and Gas Commission. Gunnison County has enacted rules on drainage and erosion, constructing access roads, traffic, wildlife, livestock grazing, recreation, surface water, wildfire and geologic hazards and emergency response, county officials said. "We can't usurp any of the state's authority, but there are areas that our local citizens have expressed concerns about that the state either doesn't regulate or doesn't regulate to folks' satisfaction," said Gunnison County Manager Matthew Birnie.

Industry officials, though, say oil and gas exploration already is regulated sufficiently, and they fear the ruling could result in a county-by-county "patchwork quilt" of rules that could hinder energy development. "It could very well discourage exploration in particular areas," said Greg Schnake, spokesman for the state oil and gas commission."[...]

"We want to get this mineral out of the ground, so these are not anti-oil-and-gas-operation regulations," said county attorney David Baumgarten. "They are really regulations to ameliorate the consequences." The decision probably won't discourage energy-exploration companies, but it could increase costs and approval time, said Andrew Bremner of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States.

More coverage from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. They write:

"In practical terms, it means industry and the state are completely mistaken in thinking that local governments cannot regulate the impact of oil and gas development," said Barbara Green, a Boulder attorney who assisted Gunnison County in the case, which began when the county sought to regulate drilling. The ruling doesn't mean that counties or other local governments can prohibit drilling, but it could allow them to deny certain drilling applications, Green said. The decision will drive some of the most vexing issues about oil and gas drilling into local hands, "the ones best equipped to deal with them," Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert said...

The appellate court ruling left standing recognizes eight areas in which local regulations might not be pre-empted by state or federal law: water quality, soil erosion, wildlife and vegetation, livestock, geologic hazards and cultural and historic resources, wildfire protection, recreation and permit duration. In each of those areas, the local government contemplating regulations would be required to seek court hearings to determine whether the regulations would conflict with state or federal goals by impeding or destroying them. Taking up those regulations could mean significant litigation," said Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca. "All it does is allow us to go to court and prove we have authority in one of" the eight areas in which counties can regulate, said Craig Meis, chairman of the Mesa County Commission. "Certainly if there is a piece maybe we need to adopt code in an area where we are not getting compliance, but it has got to be in one" of those areas.

District Judge Steven Patrick found that Gunnison County was preempted from requiring mitigation of the effects of drilling, financial guarantees and record-keeping exceeding state requirements. Patrick's ruling was upheld by the appellate court, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

5:52:25 AM    

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