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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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

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Here's a report about the recent Club 20 shindig from Colorado Confidential. From the article:

The fall meeting of Club 20, an organization that claims to be "The Voice of the Western Slope" on political issues facing the region, provided attendees with many opportunities to chat with elected officials, corporate VIPS, environmental groups, lobbyists, media and other state movers and shakers in Grand Junction last Saturday.

Follow the trail of political gossip and opinion with Hush, Hush, who had a camera in hand...

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Category: Denver November 2008 Election
6:22:48 PM    

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Here's a look at new wilderness legislation, from Colorado Confidential. From the article:

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette's (D-Colo.) proposed Colorado Wilderness Act of 2007 will if passed follow some lightly legal trails by forcing the federal government to knuckle under to state water law in the areas covered by the legislation. DeGette is introducing a bill in Congress to designate 1.65 [million] new acres of mostly Bureau of Land Management land in Colorado as federally protected wilderness.

Previous federal wilderness legislation came armed with what are known as federal reserved water rights. This meant that if the federal government wanted to claim a water right from streams emerging in or flowing through a wilderness area, it dated those rights from the time of the creation of the federal land on which it was located. This was usually well before there were even states in the West to set aside water rights. Since state water law calls for "first-in-time, first-in-right," wilderness designation would give the federal government held a big hammer in the water-challenged region.

But, DeGette says: "The legislation features new water rights legislation adopting language similar to water language included in the establishment of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The language states that the federal government must file all water rights claims within the state of Colorado water rights system and abide by all Colorado water laws and regulations."

More from Colorado Confidential: "U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) will introduce her omnibus Colorado Wilderness Bill next week to designate 62 areas of the state covering 1.65 million acres of public land as congressionally protected wilderness. The proposal would protect about 40,500 acres on the top and walls of the Roan Plateau, which is currently the focus of controversial oil and gas development. DeGette has been promoting a version of this proposal, which includes mostly lower elevation canyon lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management since 1999. But while the bill has languished, DeGette says that with the increased support within Colorado, along with the Democratic control of Congress, chances for passage are better now."

Category: Colorado Water

6:06:30 PM    

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Here's a look at the town of Eaton's plans for a sustainable water supply from The Greeley Tribune (free registration required). From the article:

Eaton officials are planning now to ensure the town has water for its future. Eaton is one of 16 communities in northern Colorado looking to shore up water resources in anticipation of growing demand and growing populations...

Eaton has been a part of the Northern Integrated Supply Project since 2004. The project aims to build two new reservoirs that would provide more than 40,000 acre-feet of water each year to northern Colorado cities and towns...

The Glade Reservoir is slated to be built northwest of Fort Collins and the Galeton Reservoir will be constructed east of Ault. Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said an environmental impact statement is still being prepared for the project, but that it should be completed by the end of the year. The statement must be completed before permits can be issued to start construction on the reservoirs. Werner said the reservoirs could be completed by 2014...

Eaton demands about 790 acre-feet of water per year. By 2050, officials estimate the town will need 2,600 acre-feet of water per year. Eaton Town Administrator Gary Carsten said there's only so much water left and Eaton is taking steps now so the town will not to be left without resources.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

6:51:24 AM    

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The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is suing Reclamation over payments for the movement of non-Colorado-Big Thompson water through their system, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A water district in Northern Colorado has filed a complaint in federal court against the Bureau of Reclamation over payments associated with water contracts. The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District filed suit last week in Denver federal court claiming it has not been receiving payments for municipal contracts with Loveland and Berthoud under terms of the 1938 Colorado-Big Thompson Project...

Under the 1938 contract, the Northern district was to begin receiving half of the payments for any non-project water carried through C-BT pipelines and reservoirs when its original repayment contract was fulfilled. Northern paid off the contract in 2002. In 1990, a contract among 13 municipal water users, the Northern district and Reclamation was signed allowing water in the Windy Gap project to be carried through the C-BT project along the guidelines established by the 1938 contract. However, in negotiations over a 2001 contract with Loveland and a 2007 contract with Berthoud, Reclamation refused to honor the provisions in the 1938 contract, Northern's complaint stated. Northern is not disputing that Loveland and Berthoud made the required payments, only that it is not receiving its share of payments. Northern is asking for its share of revenues, estimated to be more than $100,000, but unable to be calculated since records are under Reclamation's control, according to court documents. Northern also wants a future contract to recognize its share of revenues.

Category: Colorado Water

6:45:01 AM    

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Here's an update on the Center for Biological Diversity's lawsuit against the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over 55 endangered species, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

An Arizona-based environmental group intends to sue the federal government over alleged mismanagement of endangered species, including a small bird that makes its home in the San Luis Valley. At the end of last month, the Center for Biological Diversity filed notice stating the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have violated the listing and critical habitat provisions of the Endangered Species Act for 55 species. The southwestern willow flycatcher, one of the species in the notice, makes its home alongside rivers in Colorado and six other southwestern states. It was listed as an endangered species in 1995. The center claims that when the Fish and Wildlife Service issued its final ruling on critical habitat protection for the bird, Interior and White House officials ignored wildlife scientists and reduced the amount of territory necessary to protect the bird.

That 2005 ruling designated 737 miles of floodplain, or 120,000 acres, in five southwestern states as critical habitat for the bird. Critical habitat is designated by the Secretary of the Interior as habitat that is essential to the conservation of a species and may require special management considerations or protection. The 2005 ruling excluded the San Luis Valley from any such designation. The decision narrowed the habitat to be protected from a 2004 proposal that called for protecting 376,000 acres, including more than 68,000 acres in Colorado. The 2004 proposal would have designated critical habitat along an 87-mile segment of the Rio Grande and another 29 miles along the Conejos River. Kieran Suckling, the center's policy director, said he hoped a judge would have agency scientists reexamine the 2005 ruling. He said he expected the center to file in federal court in either Arizona, California or New Mexico.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:33:22 AM    

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Installation of a diversion structure on the Gunnison River upstream of the town of Gunnision was completed in four days with budget, according to The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

An irrigation diversion on the Gunnison River that promises to be fish-, boater- and irrigator-friendly was completed last week after a decade of wrangling among concerned parties. The new structure, actually three separate smaller dams, was designed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife to replace an earth-and-rock diversion that effectively blocked upstream fish passage during low water and also posed some hazards to boaters...

"I'm very happy with the way it turned out," [DOW aquatic biologist Dan Brauch] said. "From our initial design we put something together that would meet all the purposes of what we are trying to achieve in the project, which included easing kokanee passage upstream and improved boating safety downsteam." Also vital was maintaining water availability for irrigators and Brauch said the new structure, built largely from large boulders donated by the Colorado Division of Highways from one of its projects near Gunnison, will not only provide water to ditches but also not need the annual maintenance the older dam required. "The design met all those objectives and then Dale came in and did some slight modifications on-site to make it better," Brauch said. "We ended up with a much more natural-looking structure." Hockett has worked extensively with stream-rehabilitation guru Dave Rosgen and does most of Rosgen's projects, Brauch said. Hockett "is great at placing rocks and knows how they need to be built for stability," Brauch said. That talent is critical, since the new diversion is built to be inundated during spring runoff without washing away, as the old structure did each year. "Most of the structure will disappear during high water, the only part you'll see is right off the bank," Brauch said. "It's going to be more efficient than the old structure.'

Another partner in the project was the Gunnison Angling Society, a chapter of Trout Unlimited. Spokesman Mern Judson said the chapter has worked for 10 years to get the old dam replaced and even though the work was scheduled during the chapter's annual Superfly fundraiser, there was no question the work had to be done...

Also helping in the project was Ray Trucking of Gunnison and a grant from the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District paid $25,000 toward the work. "Without their help this would not have happened," Brauch said. The DOW paid another $20,000 with the remainder coming from water users.

Category: Colorado Water

6:03:09 AM    

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