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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Saturday, September 8, 2007

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This month's article for Colorado Central Magazine is up now at their website. The magazine concentrates on central Colorado issues and events. Here are the links to the Coyote Gulch posts we used as background.

Category: Colorado Water

12:32:31 PM    

We ran across this George In Denver post about the fall tax increases and bond issues via the Wash Park Prophet. George writes:

Undoubtedly, you've heard by now that the General Government Committee of the Denver City Council decided the order-first to last-for the tax and bond questions (explication provided here) that will appear on this November's ballot. Two points: 1) Carol Boigon is the Chairperson of the General Government Committee; 2) It is generally believed that the ballot questions listed first will have a better chance of garnering a majority of votes than those listed toward the bottom.

Category: Denver November 2007 Election
10:55:02 AM    

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Say hello to the shiny new Interbasin Compact Committee website. They have the lowdown on past meetings and the schedule for all the roundtable meetings. It looks like most of the agendas are up this morning. We wonder how far in advance of the meetings they plan to post agenda items?

This is their "Soft launch." Let them know ( IBC [AT] state [DOT] co [DOT] us ) if you find problems, let them know what you like and let them know what you'd like to see.

Category: Colorado Water

10:18:07 AM    

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Don't forget to register for the Colorado River District's Water: Fueling the Future workshop next week.

Category: Colorado Water

9:48:06 AM    

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Here's an update on Durango's application for a Recreational In Channel Diversion for their whitewater park, from The Durango Herald. From the article:

The city of Durango and organizations that oppose the amount of Animas River flows the city wants for white-water recreation said Thursday they hope negotiations will make a two-week trial scheduled in January unnecessary. The two sides have been negotiating since two mediation sessions - one in July, the other in August - failed to bring them together. "There's still a heartbeat in settlement," Durango attorney Barry Spear said before adjourning behind closed doors to brief board members of the Southwestern Water Conservation District on the city's latest offer. "But we're preparing for trial in January." Jack Rogers, the city's director of public works and interim city manager, expressed the same sentiment. "I can't say too much because we're in litigation," Rogers said. "But we're still hopeful that we can reach a settlement with the Southwestern Water Conservation District and other objectors to our application for a recreational in-channel diversion."

An RICD, as the water allotment is known, would allow the city to create a structured 850-foot kayak run at Smelter Rapid on the Animas at Santa Rita Park. The city wants flows of as much as 1,400 cubic-feet of water per second. Durango's application is opposed by about 50 organizations or agencies, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board, ditch companies, La Plata County and Southwestern, which represents water interests in six counties and parts of three others in Southwestern Colorado. Opponents say an RICD could allow Durango to use water at the expense of other users. Supporters say recreation provides more economic support than agriculture.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:36:31 AM    

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The Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup kicks off today. Remember to sign up. From the Colorado Trout Unlimited website:

The Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup is a joint project of CTU and its chapters throughout Colorado, where volunteers help pick up trash along local rivers. Volunteers meet in the morning, get their instructions and trash bags, and spread out along their local river to help pick up a summer's worth of trash that has accumulated streamside. This is a great one-day project for volunteers and families. The 2006 event included cleanups on rivers from the Animas by Durango to the Cache la Poudre above Fort Collins. The 2007 Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup will take place on rivers statewide in September and October, with most scheduled on September 15.

Thanks to for the link.

Category: Colorado Water

9:28:11 AM    

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Here's a report about Governor Ritter's South Platte River Basin Task Force from The Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article:

The task force appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter to look into the curtailment of wells along the South Platte River concluded its work Thursday with unanimous agreement that there is no one answer to the century-old conflict between surface and groundwater users. "The reality is that we don't have enough water," said Harris Sherman, the director of the Department of Natural Resources, who co-chaired the 23-member panel with Agriculture Commissioner John Stulp...

"If we can better manage the water, maybe it will make more water available for augmentation plans," Stulp said. "The big obstacle out there is the price of water and what ag can pay for it." Greeley Water Department manager Harold Evans said the price for an acre foot of South Platte water has increased from $180 in 1974 to between $5,000 and $6,000 in today's market. Of 17 proposals voted on Thursday, only eight mustered the two-thirds majority required for a formal recommendation to the governor and the next General Assembly, which convenes in January. The Legislature's Interim Water Resources Review Committee is expected to begin reviewing the recommendations at its meeting in Denver next Wednesday...

Soundly rejected were proposals for another two-year grace period for well users who have augmentation plans pending in water court, allowing the State Engineer to aggregate winter depletion replacements, and allowing prepayment of depletions during the winter storage season...

Sherman said he is counting on the completion of the South Platte Decision Support System in the next 12-18 months to resolve some of the ongoing disputes over how much impact the wells have on the river. "This is a modeling tool that is extremely important, because it is going to take into the future with better answers as to how we conjunctively use surface water and ground water." Sherman said. "The endorsement of the funds needed to do this effort was an important step."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:20:11 AM    

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U.S. District Judge Walker Miller has postponed the Fountain Creek trial, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The 10-day trial had been set to begin Sept. 17. The judge rescheduled it for Jan. 28. Miller said he reluctantly granted the request of the Sierra Club in its lawsuit against Colorado Springs, which opposed the delay...

Miller said he granted the continuance because he wants both sides to be prepared so they can have the best opportunity to make their cases to him at the trial. There will be no jury...

The judge invited Colorado Springs to "keep track of its expenses" involved in the trial delay. The city contends Sierra should bear the additional costs incurred by the city as a result of the delay...

Also on Monday, Thiebaut, in a court filing, asked the judge to reverse his decision throwing the district attorney out of the case. The judge concluded district attorneys do not have legal authority to sue for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. Thiebaut alleged Miller "erred by focusing (his) analysis ... on the question of whether the Colorado General Assembly granted ... the right to bring a suit ... Instead, (the district attorney) believes the correct analysis should focus on whether Congress" granted the right for Thiebaut's lawsuit. The district attorney explained that he is suing under federal law, not state law. "Congress clearly grants 'any citizen' the right" to bring a lawsuit of the type Thiebaut did, his filing said. Thiebaut also asked Miller to correct "an important factual error" in the Aug. 29 decision. The district attorney said the error was the judge's statement that it "is undisputed that the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, the state administrative agency authorized to enforce both the state and federal clean waters laws, has issued a series of final compliance orders in response to all of the violations alleged by the Sierra Club." Thiebaut said he believes the judge "overlooked the claims for violations of the (city's) permit limits on chlorine and the three spills in December 2006-February 2007 that are not covered by any CDPHE order."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:01:31 AM    

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Here's a background piece about Wild and Scenic designation for several rivers in Colorado, from The Rocky Mountain News. The BLM and river lovers usually end up squaring off with municipal providers and others that want to develop the water resource. From the article:

Hundreds of Colorado streams are being analyzed for possible protection under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the largest such review in more than 30 years. The study comes as cities and water districts race to develop water in many of those same streams, efforts that will be much more difficult - and, in some cases, impossible - once the federal protective process is under way. In the decades since Congress passed the law, Colorado water utilities and the Colorado Water Conservation Board have often fought use of the scenic rivers act because they fear it will limit their ability to deliver much-needed water to cities and farms.

Since its passage in 1968, just one stream segment in the state - on the Poudre River north of Fort Collins - has been formally protected under the act. Several other streams have been recommended for wild- and-scenic status but have never been formally listed by Congress in part because of Colorado's opposition. But the state's position may be shifting, said Mike King, deputy director of Colorado's Department of Natural Resources...

Water utilities, though, are deeply worried about the reviews by the Bureau of Land Management - particularly about a provision that says stream segments initially identified as eligible have to be managed to protect stream flows and shorelines until Congress makes a decision on whether or not to include them under the act. And Congress can delay action for decades, creating what water providers view as a hellish, legal limbo. River advocates, however, believe the reviews will provide much-needed stream protection, as Colorado seeks water projects to offset the effects of chronic droughts, global warming and population growth...

Last year, Russell George, then director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, urged the BLM not to do reviews in the Yampa River Basin until the state had finished its own water planning, a process that may result in a new water project on the Yampa. But the BLM is required by law to do the studies. As a result, a segment of the Little Snake River, a tributary of the Yampa, is now close to being listed as suitable by the BLM, a move that water utilities, including the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, adamantly oppose because it could hamper any new project there. Roy Smith, who is spearheading the BLM reviews, said the wild-and-scenic analyses don't automatically mean rivers can't be tapped for additional water supplies...

Colorado's water utilities are on edge, though, because the reviews are under way in critical Western Slope hot spots such as the Blue and Colorado rivers, as well as segments of the Eagle and Yampa rivers. All have potential water projects that will require federal permits if they move forward. "We share a concern that a lot of water users share about what a designation means for the future management of that stream," said Eric Wilkinson, manager of the water conservancy district [Northern], which serves Greeley, Fort Collins and Boulder, among other cities. "What we need for the future is as much flexibility as we can get. Our chief concern on the Yampa is the development of water supplies that are available right now. This really could bind our hands." Last week, water utilities from the Front Range met with the BLM to urge a slower approach to the reviews and looking at other ways to protect the streams rather than designating them as wild and scenic...

In the meantime, river advocates say they're willing to consider alternatives to wild-and- scenic designations if strong protections for stream flows and shorelines can be negotiated with the water utilities. "I think the notion of trying to get people to sit down and come to an agreement about a vision for the future of a river is a good thing to do," said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. "It gets people out of the mode of drawing battle lines."

This month, more talks are planned among the state, water utilities and the BLM to look at, among other things, how to preserve what's left of the Colorado River as it flows through Grand County, Gore Canyon and down into Glenwood Springs. Few expect solutions that satisfy the federal law and Colorado's water utilities to emerge quickly. "This process is always controversial in the West," said Steve Glazer, president of the High Country Citizens Alliance, an environmental group active on the Western Slope. "The only place it ever goes smoothly is east of the Mississippi."

Category: Colorado Water

8:51:14 AM    

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