Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

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Broomfield is planning a new water supply reservoir, according to From the article:

Broomfield is pursuing the second option: building a reservoir that will store water supplied from the existing pipeline to meet peak water usage needs for the growing city and county...

The reservoir plans could include everything from fisheries, boat recreation and natural open space amenities, and Bartleson says all of those options are still on the table. But, he says, officials are waiting to see what the engineering firm Broomfield has contracted recommends as optimal use for the new facility. At their February 27 meeting, the Broomfield city council awarded the $1.844 million contract for design and permitting of the project to Broomfield-based engineering firm MWH. Thirty percent of the project plan is due on July 1, 90 percent is due in March of 2008 and the full plan will go before city council after it has cleared the state engineer's office for inspection. Bartleson expects Broomfield to see complete plans for the reservoir will by summer of next year. Broomfield purchased a total of 521 acres for the project at a cost of $21 million from the Hoopes family. The land, which is bordered by the new Wildgrass development, Lowell Boulevard and Northwest Parkway, was purchased with money from a bond that passed in 2005. The proposed reservoir will encompass 165 surface acres and will hold between 5,000 and 6,000 acre-feet of water, with ajoining land covering 356 acres. Standley Lake in Westminster has 1,000 surface acres, with adjoining land covering an additional 2,000 acres and holds a total of 42,000 acre-feet of water...

The projected cost for construction of the new reservoir is $41.2 million and Broomfield plans to fund the project with another bond initiative. Bartleson says an additional pipeline would have cost the city between $40 and $60 million. The city has tentative plans to open the reservoir sometime in 2010.

Category: Colorado Water

6:17:16 AM    

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Here's a short recap of the Arkansas River Basin Roundtable meeting from the Mountain Mail. They write:

Determining environmental and recreational needs of the Arkansas River is more subjective than identifying its consumptive use needs, Colorado Water Conservation Board member Rick Brown said Thursday. But the Arkansas Basin Roundtable - a group of municipal, county and water leaders from up and down the basin - is charged by the state Legislature with doing both. Brown and a group of experts on the river's environment and recreation economy addressed the roundtable during Thursday's meeting at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds. They explained the reasons for creating a needs assessment based on non-consumptive river uses and the difficulties of creating such an assessment.

Category: Colorado Water

6:10:31 AM    

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Colorado Springs officials were in Pueblo yesterday pitching their efforts to control sewage spills and flooding on Fountain Creek, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

An hourlong explanation of how Colorado Springs Utilities is spending millions of dollars to prevent sewage spills into Fountain Creek was warmly received Monday in Pueblo. The Pueblo City Council expressed appreciation, even astonishment, at the Springs' efforts to block spills and better regulate the flow of stormwater. "You all coming here shows you're committed to do the right fix for Fountain Creek," said Pueblo Councilman Larry Atencio, noting all nine Springs council members attended, along with several high-ranking city staffers. Council member Randy Thurston called the Springs' achievements "unbelievable" and said he hopes Pueblo residents understand what Colorado Springs has done...

Opposition to the pipeline [Southern Delivery System] focuses on putting more water in Fountain Creek, which has become eroded and polluted as Colorado Springs has grown. Springs officials fear that issue may lead Pueblo County commissioners to impose stringent requirements to build the pipeline that are almost impossible to meet.

Meanwhile, The Pueblo Chieftain has this take on the meeting. They write:

Colorado Springs Officials assured the Pueblo City Council Monday that significant progress has been made to address some of the wastewater and stormwater issues that have led to myriad problems along Fountain Creek. That's not to say that the Pueblo's northern neighbors is finished, but Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera and Colorado Springs Utilities' Chief Executive Officer Jerry Forte gave an hour-long presentation to council outlining the various projects and the tens of millions of dollars the city has spent to correct problems with stormwater runoff and improve the integrity of the city's wastewater system in the wake of several spills of raw sewage into the creek over the past few years.

The most dramatic of the projects was an update on a $10 million wastewater recovery system on the creek that was completed this spring. Forte said the system can handle most major sewage spills under normal creek flows. The system is comprised of two basins that can trap the spills and return the water to the city's treatment facility for processing before it gets downstream. Both Rivera and Forte said the system was perhaps the only one of its kind in the country and said it was an example of the city's commitment to keeping the creek clean...

The city's utility company has spent about $15 million this year identifying places where sewers cross creeks to see if they could be removed or improved, he said. The city said it invested about $10 million last year. It also said that by the end of 2007 it will have invested up to $80 million in the last seven years to repair and upgrade wastewater pipelines of various sizes throughout the community. Finally, the city has examined more than 2,500 manholes throughout the city and replaced many of them with new covers that lock to prevent vandalism. Those steps are more important than the recovery system because they go toward preventing the spills in the first place, Forte said...

The Springs contingent also made another pitch for the Southern Delivery System, saying that their preferred alternative - to pump Arkansas River water from the Pueblo Reservoir north to Colorado Springs - was the cheapest and best solution for everybody involved. Randy Thurston, who supported the SDS, said it was important to let people know that the so-called "no alternative" would have the Springs pumping water from the river upstream of Lake Pueblo, raising questions about water levels in the reservoir and minimum flows along the Arkansas through the city...

In addition to wastewater improvements, Forte and Rivera said the city has identified more than $300 million worth of stormwater projects. The top 24 priorities are worth about $66 million, and six are currently under way, said Colorado Springs Assistant City Manager Greg Nyhoff. Nyhoff said the city's new stormwater utility fee will generate $14.3 million this year and $15.6 million next year to help pay for improvements to the system.

Category: Colorado Water

6:04:52 AM    

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Flood planning and funding for facilities is the subject of this article from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

A group charged with controlling flooding in the Grand Valley appears divided over whether to pay for projects through local government contributions or a new utility fee. The 5-2-1 Drainage Authority, which is made up of representatives from Mesa County, Grand Junction, Fruita, Palisade and the Grand Junction Drainage District, is expected to vote sometime this summer whether to accept general fund contributions from those five government groups or charge a monthly utility rate to virtually every property owner in the valley. Grand Junction Mayor Jim Doody told City Council members during a workshop Monday it appears Palisade and the Drainage District favor the utility fee, Fruita prefers general fund contributions and the county wants to ask voters whether they want to be billed a utility fee, even though the fee can legally be charged without an election. The Grand Junction City Council, meanwhile, could not reach a consensus or recommendation Monday on how it would like to see the projects subsidized.

The federal government has instructed local governments to come up with a program to manage stormwater by March 2008 or face fines of up to $25,000 a day. Agencies in the valley must address the quantity of water washing through the valley and the quality of water draining into the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. The Drainage Authority, which formed in 2003, recommended to all five local governments earlier this year forming a utility and charging a monthly fee -- similar to water and sewer rates -- to residents, business owners and property owners. The fee would be assessed with the Drainage Authority boundaries, which extend to Grand Mesa on the east, the Bookcliffs on the north, West Salt Creek on the west and Colorado National Monument on the south. Whitewater and Kannah Creek also are included within the boundaries. The Drainage Authority drew up a financial plan calling for charging a monthly fee ranging from as low as 80 cents per single-family residence to address water quality issues to one as high as $8 to fund the construction of $80 million in projects in 20 years. But the authority recently backed away from that recommendation when some local governments appeared hesitant to create another bureaucracy and charge a fee. It is now recommending that the four governments and the Drainage District contribute a total of $1.4 million that would cover water quality issues and pay for studies of drainage basins to ensure new development does not encroach into areas at risk of flooding.

Category: Colorado Water

5:51:49 AM    

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Here's a short look at yesterday's Colorado River Basin Roundtables Caucus. Legislators and officials are saying that they will need more than the $500,000 approved in SB-122 to study water requirements in the Colorado River Basin, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

The Colorado Legislature may be willing to spend more money than it originally planned on a water availability study for the Western Slope, Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, said at a rendezvous of Western Slope water planners Monday in Montrose. Senate Bill 122, sponsored by Curry and Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, authorized $500,000 for the study, which requires the Colorado Water Conservation Board to work with local water basin roundtables to analyze how much water is available in the Colorado River Basin, what the region's water needs are and how the state can meet those needs. The bill set no deadline for when the study must be completed. But some involved in developing it feel constrained by the study's budget...

If the water availability study is conducted under its current budget, the detail, thoroughness and credibility of the study may suffer, and the basin roundtables may not approve it, Curry said. The study needs to be done right, she said, even if doing it right will cost more money. That's a possibility the Legislature may be willing to entertain, she said. Curry said another $500,000 may be adequate for the study to be conducted properly, but its funding should total no more than $1 million...

[Colorado Water Board staffer Rick Brown] said that in order for all the state's roundtables to have input into the study, the board may use the Interbasin Compact Committee to communicate to the roundtables. The committee, composed of water users from all over Colorado, provides a statewide forum for the roundtables. On some region-specific water issues the study may address, however, the board may need to work directly with the roundtables themselves, he said.

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

People participating in Colorado's river basin roundtable water planning process are part of a "bold experiment" that is both risky and unique and has a "real chance" of succeeding in helping Colorado provide enough water for its residents, Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director Harris Sherman said Monday. Speaking at a rendezvous of the four Western Slope river basin roundtables at the Montrose Pavilion, Sherman said it's a "terrific thing" for people in each river basin to roll up their sleeves and figure out what their water needs are...

The roundtables broke up into small groups to discuss the possibility of an intrastate Colorado River compact that could divvy up all the Colorado River water within the state, defining how much water is to be pumped to the Front Range and what consumptive and non-consumptive water uses should be preserved on the Western Slope. The prospect of such a compact received mixed feelings from the groups, whose suggestions included, among others, maintaining the roundtable process as an essential part of a new compact, preventing the need for a compact through water allocation negotiations and defining who speaks for an entire river basin before a basin agrees to sign a water compact. "Do we need a compact?" Colorado River District Chief Engineer Dave Merritt said of his group's discussions. "It was felt that if we don't do it ourselves, somebody else will do it." He said water allocation could come down to setting priorities over land use planning statewide. "Is my subdivision more important than your agriculture?" he said...

Water discussions in Montrose will continue today with the meeting of the Interbasin Compact Committee at 8:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Express on Townsend Avenue.

Category: Colorado Water

5:39:22 AM    

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