Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

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From email from the Bureau of Reclamation (Dan Crabtree): "It looks as if we've been blessed with a slightly larger-than-expected runoff this year. Because of this, we anticipate increasing releases from Crystal Reservoir sometime during the week of July 1st. Flows in the Canyon and Gorge may increase by 100 to 200 cubic feet per second after next week's change. This note is for your planning purposes only. Further details regarding specific amounts and dates will be provided as they become available. Please call Dan Crabtree at 970-248-0652 with any questions."

Category: Colorado Water

9:33:01 PM    

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Colorado Confidential: "Democratic Congressman Mark Udall's Amendment 2 to the Interior Department budget that would delay the Bureau of Land Management's oil shale development plan was voted on twice in Congress today. The first two minute vote on the amendment led by only four votes in Congress. Udall's amendment passed 219 by 215 in a tally that bounced back and forth until the end."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:34:36 PM    

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From the Brighton Standand Blade, "The first meeting of the special South Platte River Basin Task Force, appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter to seek possible solutions for water users in the South Platte River basin in northeastern Colorado, will be his Friday at the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley. The public and the media are encouraged to attend. The task force will hear public testimony and comment between 1 and 5 p.m.

"To sign up to speak either as a representative or an individual prior to June 29, contact Russ Zigler at 303-866-3556 or e-mail Russ at Contact him before noon June 28. Sign-up sheets will also be available at the meeting. Written comments can be mailed to Executive Director's Office, 1313 Sherman, seventh floor, Denver CO 80203 or e-mailed to"

Category: Colorado Water

6:44:54 AM    

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U.S. Senator Wayne Allard has been busy getting dough for water projects in Colorado, according to the Greeley Tribune (free registration required). From the article:

U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., has secured almost $79 million in funding for Colorado as part of the 2008 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. Part of the funding will be used on Chatfield Reservoir, just below the headwaters of the South Platte River, and for the Poudre River as it moves through Greeley. Allard is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and said the funding was approved today. The full committee is expected to approve the funding bill on Thursday...

Projects included in the measure are $1.679 million for oeprations and maintenance at Chatfield Reservoir, including a direction that the Army Corps of Engineers continue work on the Chatfield Reallocation Study, and $340,000 to complete the Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study on the Poudre River. The Chatfield reallocation has to do with making more storage for water rather than keeping the reservoir partially empty during certain parts of a year to take any flood waters that may come down the South Platte from the mountains. The Poudre study has to do with its flood plain and channeling as it moves through Greeley.

Category: Colorado Water

6:40:05 AM    

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Coyote Gulch had a hunch that someone down towards Colorado Springs might have some excess water for sale this year if the Cherokee Metropolitan District needed it. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette CSU is going to start delivering two million gallons a day to Cherokee. From the article:

After restricting its customers from watering lawns and washing cars, the Cherokee Metropolitan District says it may be able to lift the ban as early as Friday afternoon. The Colorado Springs City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to provide the hard-pressed district with nearly 2 million gallons of water a day. "Once I have this water actually flowing into the pipelines, I intend lifting the restrictions and going back to Stage 2," District general manager Kip Petersen said. Stage 2 restrictions allow customers to water on designated days twice a week for a maximum two hours. Hot weather and a refusal by customers to stay within Stage 2 confines in past weeks reduced supplies to dangerous levels, coming at what Petersen called the "worst possible time." Had the shortage occurred two weeks later and the water was flowing from Colorado Spring Utilities, he would have opted to stay at Stage 2...

District water supplies have been limited since the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that Cherokee could not continue to take water from the Upper Black Squirrel District's sources. Colorado Springs Utilities will treat and deliver water from the Pueblo Board of Waterworks through the Fountain Valley pipeline...

The deal will come at no extra charge to the district's approximately 7,400 customers this year, but it may show up on monthly bills next year, Petersen said. It depends on the weather and water from various new wells and acquisitions, which should begin flowing within the next four to five weeks. Plans call for water to flow between Colorado Springs and Cherokee until the end of 2009, when construction of a line to a wastewater treatment plant will be completed. That will double well capacity, Petersen said, and should lift the district out of any water shortage problems.

Category: Colorado Water

6:31:50 AM    

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The Colorado Springs Gazette is running an background article about wastewater treatment in Colorado Springs. From the article:

Some people may not want to think about what happens after they flush. Others may find it comforting to know where Colorado Springs' wastewater goes. About 13 percent of it, once treated, irrigates golf courses, medians and parks. The rest is spilled into Fountain Creek. But before that, it flows beneath the streets of the city in a labyrinth of pipes connecting homes and businesses to the wastewater treatment plant at 703 E. Las Vegas St...

If everything goes well, the wastewater makes it to the treatment plant, which treats an average of 42 million gallons a day. The plant can treat up to 75 million gallons per day most of the year or up to 15.4 billion gallons a year. The plant sees a daily decrease in its intake about 4 a.m., when most people are sleeping, and its largest increases on Thanksgiving, Christmas and late Saturday mornings...

Once wastewater arrives at the treatment plant, screens are used to separate sand, grit and other solids from the liquid before it goes through a series of treatments. The sludge from the plant is transported through a pipeline 18 miles to the Solids Handling and Disposal Facilities south of the city at Hanna Ranch and is injected into the ground...

Sewer Facts: Six hours is the longest time it takes sewage to flows from its source to the treatment plant when the system is functioning properly - this wastewater originates in northeast Colorado Springs, the most distant point from the sewage plant; About 87 percent of Colorado Springs' treated wastewater flows into Fountain Creek; the other 13 percent is sprinkled onto parks, golf courses and medians; The wastewater is propelled by gravity and by 14 pumps throughout the system; Up to 15.4 billion gallons of wastewater a year go through the current plant; 98 percent of sewage system backups are caused by grease or tree roots; The system includes about 1,500 miles of pipes beneath the city, with 30 to 35 miles added each year.

Category: Colorado Water

6:23:40 AM    

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Here's an update on Colorado Springs proposed Jimmy Camp Creek Reservoir from the Colorado Springs Gazette. They write:

The site for the proposed Jimmy Camp Creek Reservoir contains "regionally and globally significant" plant and animal fossils and a large but unstudied fossil forest with trees 4 feet in diameter, according to Kirk Johnson, chief curator and vice president of research and collections at Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The site also is among the top 20 in the world for preservation of mammals from the first million years of their emergence, Johnson believes. "I would strongly encourage decision makers to consider alternate sites for the proposed reservoir," he said in a fivepage June 15 letter sent to the Bureau of Reclamation.

The bureau is assessing environmental impacts of seven methods the city could use to provide water through 2043, commonly called the Southern Delivery System. The city wants to pipe water from Pueblo Reservoir to Jimmy Camp Creek Reservoir for storage and treatment at a plant to be built north of Colorado Highway 94 in northeast Colorado Springs.

Johnson has studied the Jimmy Camp Creek area since 1996 as part of his investigation of ground, water and fossil formations in the Denver Basin, which stretches from Colorado Springs to Greeley. The reservoir site is in the southwest corner of the basin and includes one of the world's best examples of the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary, Johnson's letter said. The boundary is the moment in time separating the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, about 65.5 million years ago, which coincides with the extinction of the dinosaurs. But the boundary is where either the dam or the reservoir would bury it.

Johnson notes rock layers range from 70 million to 64 million years old. The most common fossils are of leaves, petrified wood and bones and teeth of mammals and dinosaurs and other reptiles. He said the chance of finding a whole dinosaur skeleton is "high." He also said the area contains dozens of large petrified logs up to 50 feet long. "At one location in the proposed reservoir area, there is a buried forest of carbonized and ... fossil palm trunks," he wrote. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Kara Lamb said Johnson's concerns are precisely the type the National Environmental Policy Act review is designed to consider. Lamb said findings such as Johnson's could lead to specific requirements during the reservoir's construction or its rejection entirely as a viable site.

Gary Bostrom, Springs Utilities' general manager of water supply, said the city has known since the 1990s the area may contain items of historical value. But officials moved ahead, buying land because, "At the time, the cultural resources were determined not to be a fatal flaw, nothing that would keep us from considering that as a viable reservoir site. It (archaeological value) may affect the viability of Jimmy Camp Creek, it may not," he said, referring to the Bureau's review. "If it does affect viability, there are alternatives to Jimmy Camp Creek, namely the Upper Williams Creek Reservoir." That site is east of Marksheffel Road near Bradley Road. The city doesn't own the site but has hired a consultant to appraise it and other land needed for the pipeline project. Bostrom also noted the reservoir won't be needed until roughly 2017. But the treatment plant, which would occupy the area Johnson contends is rich in fossil treasures, is part of the first phase due for completion in 2012.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:15:57 AM    

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Here's a report about the recovering Rio Grande fishery from the Denver Post. From the article:

The Rio Grande is on the rise because of its wealth of trout food and a recent regulation change. Division of Wildlife biologist John Alves believes a 2002 rule switch that now allows two fish under 12 inches as opposed to two fish longer than 16 inches has caused more of the larger fish to survive. "Before that, if a fish reached 16 inches, it was out of there. Now we're seeing a lot more fish above that length," Alves said. Alves' 2005 survey at the Coller station between South Fork and Creede documented 67 pounds of fish per acre, with 24 fish larger than 14 inches. Both figures were more than double the count taken in 1997. A test site above Creede at Marshall Park recorded 55 pounds per acre, which translates to 1,600 trout longer than six inches per mile. A third site at State Bridge, toward Del Norte, showed fewer but larger trout, with a higher percentage of rainbows. Brown trout rule the Rio Grande, representing 92 percent of the biomass. If there is any negative to this plenitude, it is that much of the catch ranges from 12 to 14 inches - a testament both to the sagacious nature of older brown trout and the rigors of higher elevation.

Category: Colorado Water

6:04:03 AM    

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Here's an article about The Bureau of Reclamation and excess storage contracts in Lake Pueblo from the Pueblo Chieftain. They write:

Although only one long-term contract has been issued to store water in Fryingpan-Arkansas Project space at Lake Pueblo, other water users are eligible for long-term excess capacity contracts, Bureau of Reclamation officials said Tuesday. Reclamation has contracted for excess capacity space - which is not needed by the Fry-Ark Project - with about 30 different water users on a year-to-year basis over the past 20 years. Although 131,000 acre-feet of space is available on average, Reclamation on average issues 20,000 acre-feet of contracts. The requests have grown in the past five years since the drought of 2002. This year, 54,270 acre-feet of contracts were issued to 20 users, who are currently storing 46,197 acre-feet of water, said Tom Musgrove, manager of the Pueblo office. The number is the highest amount of temporary contracts ever issued for Lake Pueblo and represent about one-quarter of the water currently stored in Lake Pueblo...

Any water user may apply directly to the Bureau of Reclamation for the contracts, [Reclamation spokeswoman Kara Lamb explained Tuesday] said. Criteria for the long-term contracts are the same as for short-term contracts: There must be a beneficial end use, and the contract holder must own the water rights, Lamb said. The same rules apply to exchange contracts, she said...

Under a 2006 environmental assessment, Reclamation determined there would be no significant impact to the Arkansas River for the next five years from storing up to 80,000 acre-feet under temporary contracts. Most users within the basin would meet the criteria of that study, [Tom Musgrove, manager of the Pueblo office] said. A long-term contract would require its own environmental assessment, he added. The Pueblo Board of Water Works is the only water user in the valley with a long-term contract. It obtained a 25-year contract for up to 15,000 acre-feet in 2000. Its contract now calls for 6,000 acre-feet.

Aurora is seeking a 40-year contract for up to 10,000 acre-feet from Reclamation. There is also a provision for up to 10,000 acre-feet of exchange, a paper trade, in the pending contract. Reclamation has not offered the contract, but is reviewing public comments. An offer is expected later this summer and would still have to be approved by Aurora City Council. Colorado Springs plans to apply for a 40-year contract of up to 28,000 acre-feet, and Pueblo West is considering applying for a long-term contract for as much as 9,000 acre-feet.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

5:57:31 AM    

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