Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

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Say hello to the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. Here's the link to past issues of Headwaters Magazine.

Category: Colorado Water

9:44:03 PM    

Congratulations to The Denver Post for making this list of the ten best newspaper websites. From the BivingsReport, "As a follow-up to our research on newspaper websites that we published recently, we decided to break out a list of the best examples of 'good' newspaper websites. Steve, Todd and I collaborated on the following list, judging sites not only on their web features but also on the design, aesthetics and general usability of the site."

Thanks to Ed Cone for the link.

5:59:18 PM    

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From The Cortez Journal, "The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe hopes to garner a $1 million grant for water and wastewater improvements on the reservation. The grant would be part of a proposed federal package of more than $130 million for water-related projects across Colorado, said Eric Wortman, spokesman for Colorado U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa. The Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which includes the grant monies, passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week. Tom Rice, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's environment director, said the tribe would use the bulk of the $1 million to repair and replace sewer lines more than 20 years old. The Utes plan to undertake about two miles of pipe repair, Rice said. The tribe needs another $2 million for wastewater projects to meet the demands of economic growth on the reservation, Rice said."

Category: Colorado Water

7:12:33 AM    

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Silverthorne's proposed Recreation In-Channel Diversion (RICD) looks good to go, according to The Summit Daily News (free registration required). From the article:

The Town of Silverthorne is one step away from securing the necessary water rights to support a new kayak park in the Blue River, nearly three years after the town first filed an application for the rights. The last of 11 objectors to the town's application has stipulated to a consent decree meaning a five-day trial in water court scheduled to start Monday in Glenwood Springs will likely be canceled. The only remaining step is for a water court judge to sign-off on the consent decree, which is expected to occur any day. "The general rule is that the court will sign a proposed decree that's been agreed to by all the parties," said Silverthorne's water attorney Mark Wagner...

Silverthorne filed for a recreation in-channel diversion (RICD) in December 2004 that would allow 600 cubic feet per second of water to be released from the Dillon Dam during the Labor Day, Fourth of July and Memorial Day holidays, and 100 cubic feet per second to flow from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May through September.Those flows would facilitate commercial rafting trips on the Blue during busy holiday weekends and the new kayak park during the summer months. Denver Water owns the Dillon Reservoir and controls the annual release of water to Green Mountain Reservoir via the Lower Blue River. At least 90 percent of the water has to be available for Silverthorne to make a call on its recreational water right, town manager Kevin Batchelder said.

After Silverthorne filed its application, 11 entities objected. Wagner was able to work out stipulations with three or four of those groups, including the Town of Dillon and the City of Colorado Springs, before a July 2005 Colorado Water Conservation Board hearing. In the last three months, the final few stipulations were worked out with the Denver Water Board and the state entities, such as the Department of Wildlife and the Office of the State Engineer and, lastly, the Colorado River Conservation District...

The last sticking points with the Colorado River Conservation District included language on how future exchanges and substitutions into Old Dillon Reservoir would be treated, how the use of water or exchanges related to an agreement between the City of Colorado Springs, the River District and Summit County would be treated and making sure that the language in the decree indicated it wouldn't be used as precedent in any other case, Wagner said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:57:11 AM    

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Fort Collins Utilities has received a $500,000 grant to study the potential effects of global warming on water supplies, according to From the article:

The Climate Resilient Communities program will help prepare a growing Fort Collins deal with a future that is predicted to include increasing droughts. Brad Udall, director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado, said at Tuesday's kickoff of the pilot program to examine the effects of global warming on the city, that climate change could pose a major concern for the city. "It is not unlikely that we will see longer, hotter summer days and a reduction in snow runoff," Udall said. "Another part of the problem here is growth. Actively growing areas need more resources and we may not have those." Several representatives from Fort Collins Utilities, which manages water, storm water and waste water, attended the meeting as a major contributor to the upcoming program...

Fort Collins was one of four U.S. cities tapped for the program through a $500,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fort Collins was selected to represent the drought region of the United States...

Margit Hentschel, regional director for the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI, the program that will lead the study said the program will need eight- to 10-member teams composed of a variety of experts to organize and implement plans. Hentschel said the team will need to consist of people from utilities, emergency management, zoning, planning, natural resources and the health departments. He added that having an assortment of expertise will help to better prepare for climate change.

Category: Colorado Water

6:49:22 AM    

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Here's an opinion piece about Powertech's proposed uranium mining operations in Weld County from The Greeley Tribune (free registration required). They write:

The in-situ recovery process raises a number of major concerns, the chief of which is water quality. The Denver Basin groundwater aquifer covers 7,000 square miles from Weld County to Colorado Springs and from the Front Range to Limon. Within the Denver Basin there are four aquifers on top of each other, one of which, the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer, will be used for the in-situ recovery mining.

As geologic and hydrogeologic systems are highly complex, no guarantee can ever be given that the caustic liquid with dissolved uranium and other heavy metals will not leak into the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer and then into the other aquifers, poisoning the groundwater upon which hundreds of thousands of people, agriculture and industry depend. Additionally, leakage from surface equipment, pipes and containment ponds can result in contamination of the groundwater.

At the end of mining operations it is extremely questionable whether groundwater and the site itself can be returned to pre-mining conditions. At the Bruni in-situ recovery mine in Texas there were significant issues. During operation it had continual problems with surface spills and underground excursions contaminating soil and groundwater. Final cleanup efforts were ineffective, and the company requested the lowering of restoration standards to allow higher residual contaminants in the groundwater. After several years of restoration, the company still had significant problems meeting those reduced standards.

Companies are reluctant to invest the money to adequately restore sites as there is no return on investment for cleaning up contamination. Where authorities have required bonds to cover costs, they have often been totally inadequate and the costs of cleanup were borne by the taxpayer after the company vacated the site. The clean-up costs of the Canadian-owned Summitville Mine in Colorado cost the taxpayer $147.5 million, not to mention the sterilizing of 18 miles of the Alamosa River with cyanide run-off.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:37:34 AM    

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Here's an update on the proposed "Super Ditch" for the lower Arkansas River Valley, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Backers of a proposed Super Ditch that would retain agricultural water rights while leasing water to municipalities or other users want to move fast. Meanwhile, key lawmakers had many questions about the concept presented to them at the state legislative Water Resources Review Committee Tuesday. The committee, which looks at potential state legislation dealing with water activities, tackled a wide range of urgent state water projects, giving little time to any one proposal. The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District has invested more than $500,000 in studies for a Super Ditch that would combine the resources of irrigators in seven ditch systems in order to prevent more permanent sales of water to cities, attorney Peter Nichols told the committee. The Super Ditch could be organized either as a cooperative association or corporation by the end of the year and a water rights filing could come as soon as March 2008, Nichols said, in response to a question by Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, who chairs the state House agriculture committee...

Nichols explained the technical details of Super Ditch, saying it would yield water during both dry and wet years for cities, wildlife and even other farmers who find themselves water-short when it's time to finish crops...

Nichols explained cities have "cherry-picked" the most vulnerable or most reliable water rights in the Arkansas Valley and the Super Ditch would be a way to give farmers more bargaining power in future negotiations while keeping water as an asset in the valley. The Super Ditch would also have first right of refusal when water rights are sold in the valley, he said. Lower Ark Chairman John Singletary told lawmakers more than 60,000 acres of farmland in the Arkansas Valley already has been lost to water deals without any economic benefit to communities. Unlike transfers in more urban areas, no corresponding development has filled in the economic gap, he said. "It's left desert, tumbleweeds and grasshoppers," Singletary said. "What we've tried to do is keep ownership of the water in the lower valley and stabilize a reliable supply of water for the municipalities."[...]

Nichols said the delay in filing an application would come from two directions: Getting water rights owners to agree to form the Super Ditch. Five of the seven ditch companies involved have to change by-laws to allow it to happen. Identifying specific end-users, so the application would not be speculative.

The committee also heard about other projects:

In a related matter, the legislative committee heard from Rick Brown of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, who outlined how $1.5 million in state funding will be used to study the transfer of water from agriculture to municipal uses through a competitive grant program with measurable criteria. The panel also heard an update on a $1 million study by Colorado State University, funded by Parker and using demonstration projects on farms Parker owns in the northeast corner of the state. CSU is studying things like alternate crop patterns and reduced irrigation of certain crops as a way of providing additional water for urban needs. There were also presentations on the backlog of water and wastewater treatment projects throughout the state. Changes in water quality standards and aging infrastructure are driving the need, officials said.

The recently formed South Metro Water Authority includes 13 water providers serving 250,000 people. The area historically has pumped from the Denver Basin, where wells are producing less than half of what they once contributed. About 50,000 acre-feet of water - possibly some from the Arkansas River basin - eventually will be needed to address the shortfall, despite water conservation, reuse and numerous pipeline or reservoir projects. "We'll need water resources approaching the size of the city of Aurora," said Rod Kuharich, former CWCB executive director, who now is the South Metro executive director. "We're looking at land-use decisions that were made 10-15 years ago and responding to those needs."

Category: Colorado Water

6:27:12 AM    

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