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

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

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Here's an article about a new solar powered irrigation project in the San Luis Valley, from The Alamosa News. They write:

Farmers Paul and Ernie New are harvesting more than crops from the San Luis Valley's 360 days of sun. As of yesterday, they are harvesting power from the sun to run a center pivot sprinkler on their farm near Mosca. "We're going to have to start finding energy somewhere," said Ernie New before flipping the switch on a new photovoltaic solar power system that will produce about 10,000 watts of electrical power. According to Kevin Goodreau of Direct Power and Water, the company that installed the system, that's about four times the power needed to run the average household. The News and five other farms in the San Luis Valley are part of a project spearheaded by the San Luis Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council with funding from a $75,000 Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture...

Jim Mietz, coordinator for the RC&D Council, worked with council members to develop the program and obtain the grant funding. The project fit within the grant guidelines because it used farmland not in production - the corners of fields irrigated by pivot sprinklers - and used innovative conservation technology...

The solar system on the New's farm cost just under $90,000, according to Daniel Duffield, an electrical engineer with Direct Power and Water. But through rebates from Xcel Energy, which will cover about half the cost of the system, and tax credits from the government, the cost to the landowner is estimated between $8,000 and $10,000. While the solar power system could provide electricity directly to the sprinkler, it works in an indirect manner. Through a process called net metering, the system puts power into Xcel power lines, even when the sprinkler isn't running, building power credits for the farmer. When the sprinkler is on, the power is drawn from the lines and deducted from the built up credits. The solar power system generates one-sixth to one-fifth of the power needed to operate the sprinkler. That is estimated to be about $2,500 worth of power annually. Duffield said the system "provides independent, autonomous power that no one can turn off."

Thanks to SLV Dweller for the link.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

7:11:46 AM    

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, "High water has delayed construction on an irrigation diversion for the Gunnison River on the outskirts of Gunnison. The project is designed to replace an existing cross-wing dam that during low water blocks passage of migrating kokanee salmon with a more fish-friendly series of small steps. Work initially was scheduled to begin Aug. 22, but recent rains have raised the Gunnison River to a level where the project contractor decided to wait, said Joe Lewandowski of the Colorado Division of Wildlife...The majority of the project's $50,000 cost will be borne by the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District and area irrigators. The DOW will fund the remaining $15,000 of the project's cost."

Category: Colorado Water

6:29:20 AM    

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Here's a another look at Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System from The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

In October, lawyers for Colorado Springs Utilities will be in District Court in Pueblo to challenge land-use regulations imposed by Pueblo County they say are designed specifically to derail the long-planned pipeline system. The utility has spent about $60 million planning a project that would pump water it owns in Pueblo Reservoir 40-plus miles through Pueblo and El Paso counties to Colorado Springs. Utility officials expect a judge's decision in the civil suit by the end of the year.

After that, possibly in December 2008, the Bureau of Reclamation is scheduled to release its decision on which of seven pipeline alternatives it will permit. Utility officials publicly remain optimistic they can overturn Pueblo County's land-use regulations, called 1041, and win the bureau's support for a pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir. However, if they lose in court -- either in Pueblo or perhaps on appeal -- or the bureau nixes their preferred plan, officials said recently that one pipeline alternative would work best. That alternative, first suggested by Springs developer Mark Morley but altered by the bureau, would bypass Pueblo County altogether. Instead, the utility would take the water directly out of the Arkansas River in Fremont County and move it northward through a pipeline built along Highway 115. The utility would need the permission of Colorado water courts to take the water out of the river instead of the reservoir, and engineers would have to solve some technical problems such as sedimentation peculiar to diverting water from a river. Still, senior utility employees Gary Bostrom and Bruce McCormick said the alternative could deliver the same amount of water to Colorado Springs as a pipeline through Pueblo County, about 74,000 acre-feet a year. The pipeline, though, would cost utility customers about 10 percent more...

Even the most influential foe of the Southern Delivery System, the Chieftain's Rawlings, thinks the Highway 115 pipeline would be the "worst of all worlds." That's because the alternative being studied by the bureau would allow Colorado Springs to release the 74,000 acre-feet of treated effluent down Fountain Creek, which Rawlings believes is already overloaded with Colorado Springs' treated wastewater. Rawlings said he has no problems with Colorado Springs taking water out of the Pueblo Reservoir and sending it back down Fountain Creek. But before that happens, he said, he wants Colorado Springs to solve flooding, sedimentation and water quality issues he believes are largely the result of unchecked growth in the Pikes Peak region. "It's only fair that Colorado Springs return the quality and quantity of water they take out," he said. He believes the only sure way to to do that is to construct a dam on Fountain Creek to slow return flows and capture sewage spills. Colorado Springs council members and utility officials have flatly rejected that suggestion, saying it wouldn't work and would be horribly expensive. They have said Rawlings, despite what he may say, would never support a viable pipeline project no matter what Colorado Springs did...

There's another potential obstacle: Fremont County. Commissioner Larry Lasha said it would be a mistake to believe the county is giddy over the prospect of hosting Colorado Springs' pipeline project. He said county commissioners have been briefed by Colorado Springs Utilities on the possible diversion from the Arkansas River. But he said it's too early to say how likely that option is, or what the county's reaction might be...

[Colorado Springs Councilwoman Margaret Radford] and utility officials are confident the utility eventually will have a pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir, if only out of fair play: Colorado Springs has long owned the water it stores in Pueblo Reservoir, and taxpayers here have paid 70 percent of the cost of building and maintaining the Fryingpan-Arkansas federal water project, of which the reservoir is a part.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:24:18 AM    

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