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

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

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According to Water Week members of the U.S. House of Representatives are forming a water caucus. From the article:

Members of a newly organized bipartisan Congressional Water Caucus are inviting additional members as they prepare an educational agenda. A "Dear Colleague" letter, sent out in mid-August and signed by five co-chairs and 29 original members in the House of Representatives, says the goal of the Water Caucus is to "provide timely, scientific information and dialogue about water resources and water use." A spokesman in the office of Caucus co-chair Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said that while nothing had been officially scheduled as yet, the Caucus was "working to prepare informational briefings on water issues."

Other co-chairs are Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., Rep. George Radanovich, R-Calif., and Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif. The other original members include 17 Democrats and 12 Republicans, with California having the largest representation (12), followed by Texas (4), Maryland (2) and one each from Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

Category: Colorado Water

7:12:42 AM    

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From The Vail Daily News (free registration required), "Saturday, the Adventure Xstream racing series returns to the county for both a 12-hour race and a sprint race. The event, which starts and finishes at the Rancho del Rio area close to State Bridge, features a paddling section in both Class I and II water, a mountain bike, a trek and a navigation portion. For the sprint race, participants will complete the same legs, but in shorter distances."

Category: Colorado Water

7:04:37 AM    

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The Sierra Club is looking to delay the trial over Fountain Creek, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Eric Huber, attorney for the environmental group, told U.S. District Judge Walker Miller the club needs more time to prepare for the trial. The 10-day trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 17. Huber said part of the reason he needs more time is because the judge on Aug. 29 dismissed Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut as one of two plaintiffs in the case. Huber said Thiebaut's attorney was the lead counsel in what had been the consolidated lawsuits of the district attorney and Sierra against Colorado Springs. Now, the number of remaining counsel against the city is cut in at least half, on short notice, Huber said in his five-page request to Miller. Miller may take up the Sierra Club's request on Friday at a previously scheduled trial preparation conference between the judge and attorneys for the club and Colorado Springs...

Huber told the judge Wednesday that Colorado Springs has 450 exhibits it may use as evidence and Sierra has 350 exhibits. Thiebaut's attorney, John Barth, had been handling the trial preparation work involving all the exhibits, Huber said. He told Miller that "given the enormity" of the documents, "it is infeasible" for him to recreate the work Thiebaut's attorney had done and to prepare adequately for trial by Sept. 17. Similarly, Barth was planning to have the key role in cross-examining the 30 witnesses the city may call to testify, Huber said, explaining that he now needs time to prepare for handling the cross-examinations. In addition to those issues, Huber said he has several other pre-trial deadlines to meet that interfere with the extra work that he will have to handle that Barth would have handled.

On Monday, Huber and Colorado Springs' attorney John Walsh held a confidential conference with a magistrate judge to see if the case could be settled without a trial. "Currently, settlement appears at an impasse," Huber told Miller.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here

Category: Colorado Water

6:58:40 AM    

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Here's a look at disbursements from a water supply reserve account made up of allocations of funds from mineral severance taxes, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

While most of the funds from a state water supply reserve account so far have gone to the Western Slope, the Arkansas River basin is not in danger of losing out on its "fair share" of funding, a top water official says. It just may take longer for a grass-roots approach to take hold in Front Range basins - where competition for water resources is greater, said Rick Brown, administrator for the fund with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. "We're willing to be patient," Brown said. "It's a bottom-up approach, and we want to give them a chance to find consensus. The Arkansas basin won't be left behind."[...]

This year, a five-year, $42 million water supply reserve account began making allocations of funds from mineral severance taxes. Only about $5 million was allocated. While the fund is supposed to finance studies that will help statewide water supply, a portion has been set aside for each of the nine basin roundtables within the state. Most of the allocations, about $4.2 million, have come from the statewide account, while basins have tapped their dedicated accounts for $800,000. Another $6 million has been added to the $5 million left over from the first year, bringing the total to be awarded in the next fiscal year to $11 million.

The trouble is, relatively few projects have emerged from the Arkansas basin or other Front Range areas. Combined, the South Platte, Metro and Arkansas basin roundtables - representing areas of the state where water needs are most critical - have received about $700,000 in grants from the water reserve supply fund. The Arkansas has received $515,000, with equal amounts coming from the statewide and dedicated funds. Later this month, the CWCB will consider another round of grants - 18 totaling about $4.3 million. The largest grant request is a $1.5 million conservation trust plan to preserve 26,000 acres of river corridor in the Rio Grande basin. In its lone request, the Arkansas basin is seeking a mere $50,000 in continuing funding for a weighing lysimeter project by Colorado State University at the Arkansas Valley Research Center at Rocky Ford. The problem isn't that there aren't projects waiting in the Arkansas Valley, Brown said. It's getting a roundtable that has 50 or so members to develop consensus about which projects to move forward...

Brown said the balance of funding has gone to the Western Slope partly because major projects identified in an earlier Statewide Water Supply Initiative [pdf] by the CWCB were among the first to receive funds. On the Front Range, where it's less certain which projects will eventually be developed, the process has been slower. SWSI's first phase identified a 20 percent gap between municipal needs and known supply of water by the year 2030. The second phase of SWSI has identified a range of projects - some extremely unpopular - to meet the gap...

The roundtables emerged because SWSI was a top-down approach, but one that Brown still favors. At the outset, SWSI called for an organized way to "score" identified projects to provide more water, weighing the pluses and minuses of ideas like Aaron Million's Flaming Gorge plan, a theoretical Blue Mesa pump-back, the "Big Straw" pump-back from the Colorado River or the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District's Yampa pump-back. The impact of each project on agriculture, water quality and meeting urban needs could be weighed under the original SWSI plan, he said. Brown said the roundtables are trying to find the same answers through a more inclusive, yet slower, process.

Category: Colorado Water

6:52:23 AM    

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Here's a call to action about planning for climate change and it's effects on water supply from State Representative Randy Fischer from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. He writes:

The allocation of scarce water resources in the arid West has been a zero-sum game set forth in law and overseen by the courts. Western water law has pitted agriculture against urban growth, east slope against west slope, winners against losers. However, after recently participating in a legislative panel discussion at the Colorado Water Congress annual meeting, I am reassured that new forward-thinking attitudes about water appear to be taking hold in Colorado and other western states. This shift in attitudes comes none too soon and needs to be nurtured in the face of new threats to our water resources from climate change...

The need for change and adaptability is so clear that experts have coined a new concept called "no-regrets planning." No-regrets planning recognizes that, for better or worse, our history of water development in the West is just that, history. We have to learn from the past and move forward with new, smarter, better-informed ways. No-regrets planning incorporates the lessons from past management but recognizes climate change will demand greater efficiency, flexibility and adaptability...

The following are just a few of the predicted effects [of climate change]: More precipitation falling in the form of rainfall rather than snowfall resulting in a smaller snowpacks; Earlier spring snow melt and runoff out of sync with traditional irrigation seasons; Greater water demands needed to grow agricultural crops; Possible degradation in water quality; Greater evaporation losses from surface reservoirs; Decreases in net runoff that could affect our ability to meet our interstate compact obligations.

Although these predictions have dire consequences, there are tools with which to adapt to these changes, such as a greater reliance on conservation, efficiency initiatives, water reuse and aquifer storage. We have only to be willing to adapt, challenge the current assumptions, and be flexible.

Category: Colorado Water

6:27:53 AM    

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