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 13, 2007

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Denver Business Journal: "Demands for water by cities and industry may be triple the amount of water currently delivered by Denver Water, the state's largest utility with 1.1 million customers in Denver and surrounding suburbs, according to a 24-member panel assessing the state's future water needs.

The panel, called the DU Water Futures Panel, recently finished its six-month review and said cooperation and collaboration on all sides will be needed. The panel was composed of Colorado civic, business and agricultural leaders."

DU Today:

Members say what distinguishes the panel and its work is the spirit of cooperation among all shareholders, from urban corridors to farmers, Front Range to Western Slope, tourism interests to industrial consumers.

"Colorado continues to be an attractive place for families to live and the demand for water will continue to grow," said panel co-chair and DU Chancellor Emeritus Daniel Ritchie. "We see a future that protects our water resources, promotes our economy, preserves our natural environment and ensures that Colorado's rural heritage remains a legacy for generations to come."

Denver Mayor and panelist John Hickenlooper said the collaborative nature of the finished product creates a new benchmark for water-issues studies. Water has been a precious resource worth fighting over for a century, Hickenlooper said. Now, finally, it's proving to be a resource worth working together for.

"Whether we like it or not, we are all connected at the hip, especially on this issue," Hickenlooper said. "This will be looked back on 25 or 50 years from now as one of the pivotal points."

After considering the looming pressures of urban growth, climate change and complex water compacts, the panel is emerging from six months of study optimistic about the state's ability to meet water demands. The report includes nine key proposals aimed at protecting the state's water resources:

- Embracing fairness, trust, respect and openness in water supply planning

- Encouraging water conservation

- Encouraging partnerships between urban and agricultural water users

- Eradicating non-native phreatophytes (high water consuming plants, such as tamarisk and Russian Olive)

- Streamlining the Water Court

- Encouraging statewide perspective on water storage and infrastructure projects

- Facilitating cooperation between river basins

- Planning for potential climate change and drought

- Maintaining healthy rivers and instream flows

The panel was co-chaired by Ralph Peterson, chairman and CEO of Colorado-based CH2M HILL, a global leader in engineering, consulting, construction and operations.

Here's the link to the executive summary for the Water Futures Report [pdf].

Category: Colorado Water

7:06:34 PM    

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Here's a look at the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and their efforts to mitigate the problems their members have from their dependance on the Denver Basin Aquifers, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Water users in northern El Paso County are finalizing a plan to increase the efficiency of current water delivery systems, but down the road could be looking toward the Lower Arkansas Valley to meet growing water needs. One source could be a Super Ditch - or a land fallowing, water lease management program - proposed by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District. Before taking that step, however, the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority is working at getting its own house in order, said Gary Barber, who represents the Pikes Peak group...

Today, Barber is making a pitch to be at the head of the table, as a candidate for chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable...Barber sees the unpaid position as "service" to the 50-member basinwide panel charged with resolving issues. Barber volunteered to be the roundtable's recorder when it formed in 2005, and he is also associated with the El Paso County Water Authority. He is also one of the most active members of the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force. His service goes beyond merely being helpful...

Barber said there are six elements toward building a future water supply for the Pikes Peak communities - water rights, storage at the source of supply, a pipeline to the service area, terminal storage, treatment and distribution. In October, the Pikes Peak group will complete a water planning study that looks at the last three elements. "We need those three pieces no matter what happens," Barber said. The most likely source to satisfy the first three elements is the Lower Arkansas Valley, Barber said. Pikes Peak has talked to the Lower Ark about leasing water through the Super Ditch, and has identified Stonewall Springs, a reservoir site near Pueblo Chemical Depot, owned by Colorado Springs developers Mark and Jim Morley, as the most likely source storage. The group could build its own pipeline north. Alluvial aquifer recharge, rather than Denver Basin recharge, is the most likely form of terminal storage, Barber said. Barber also organized a study of the Upper Black Squirrel Creek designated groundwater basin as a way to measure the effectiveness of alluvial storage. Another source of conveying the water could be through the Southern Delivery System, a proposal by Colorado Springs to pump water north from Pueblo Dam. Discussions on that front have been unproductive so far, however. Colorado Springs water officials are committed to satisfying their own water needs, although they've talked about moving others' water through pipelines...

Meanwhile, the Pikes Peak group has not identified the costs of its pipeline, where it might run or how water would be treated. Barber said the group is committed to taking water below the Fountain Creek confluence - where poor water quality means higher treatment costs to reduce salinity. The water would be returned to the Arkansas River, keeping it in the basin, Barber added...

Barber said the Denver Basin resources ought to be protected by Colorado for times when they are needed, rather than depleted on a daily basis. Expensive pumping should be a last resort after other sources are exhausted, he said. "All of the reservoirs are full and they're spilling, and we're out here pumping groundwater," Barber said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:57:02 AM    

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The Arkansas Basin Roundtable has voted to support the proposed "Super Ditch" for southeastern Colorado, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Despite numerous concerns, the Arkansas Basin Roundtable gave its blessing to a $150,000 state grant request to study a proposed Super Ditch that would allow farmers to lease water to cities. The vote was 28-3, with opposition coming from interests from the Upper Arkansas. The proposal for the Super Ditch - actually a land fallowing, water lease management program - came from the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, which has spent $500,000 so far to study the concept. The district plans to put up another $68,000 in the next phase of the study, which will primarily look at how other water rights could be injured...

...several roundtable members expressed concern about the potential impacts of the Super Ditch, but said the need to answer questions outweighed the need to study potential impacts of leasing agricultural water on a rotational basis. Some weren't satisfied the Super Ditch as envisioned - a for-profit corporation or cooperative that would be run by shareholders - could offer adequate protection for the river. "I'm suggesting we move the water from where the water rights occur, and not move it by exchange," said Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. Leases to either Colorado Springs or Aurora could mean moving more water through the Otero Pipeline and Pumping Station, diminishing flows in the Upper Arkansas River. Up to 45,000 acre-feet could be affected in some years. "We're talking about the mother of all change cases," Scanga said. "The potential for injury is enormous."[...]

High Line has leased to Aurora in the past, and the two entities have filed a court application for an exchange right that would allow future leases. The first step toward approval of the lease, however was an agreement by all shareholders to change by-laws to allow a transfer. Super Ditch envisions combining the resources of irrigators on seven ditches, although only two ditches - Fort Lyon and High Line - currently allow transfers. "It's foolish to spend $150,000 before the ditch companies have decided whether they want to participate," [High Line Canal Superintendent Dan Henrichs] said...

Tom Florczak, assistant city attorney for Pueblo, dropped his earlier opposition to the grant after obtaining verbal and written support for the city's request for minimum flows below Pueblo Dam. "It's something important on which to build trust," Florczak said. Tom Brubaker, an Otero County gravel operation owner, said ditch companies should be aware if there are restrictions on moving water out of the basin - thus cutting their market - going into Super Ditch. Ricky Kidd, representing the Pueblo Conservancy District, asked how a for-profit corporation made up of water-rights shareholders could be limited from changing its by-laws to allow removing water from the valley. Tim Glenn, Chaffee County commissioner, said he could not support studying a Super Ditch without knowing where it would lead...

Roundtable Chairman Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works, said the water board has a fundamental disagreement over issues of ownership of water rights, but said the grant application as revised by the Lower Ark answered previous roundtable objections. "I plan to support the application so we can answer some of these questions," Hamel said. Under the roundtable process, the application will go to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, along with minority opinions since the group failed to reach consensus at an earlier meeting, Hamel said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:21:36 AM    

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Here's an update on the two wastewater treatment plants proposed for the Jimmy Camp Creek Basin from The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

Local government leaders have endorsed a plan to build two sewage plants about a mile apart in the Fountain Valley. The plan, which drew words of caution from the Pueblo City Council, now goes to a state panel for consideration. At issue is Colorado Springs Utilities' intent to build a plant to process 30 million gallons a day for Banning Lewis Ranch, a planned 23,000-acre housing development on the city's east and northeast sides. Needed by about 2012, the plant would be built near Clear Springs Ranch about 20 miles south of Colorado Springs. The Lower Fountain Metropolitan Sewage Disposal District also plans a sewer plant to process 6 million gallons a day. It will be needed by 2010 to serve part of the Jimmy Camp Creek watershed. It's to be built on Birdsall Road east of Old Pueblo Road about 1[pi] miles from the Springs Utilities site. The two agencies couldn't agree on a consolidated project largely because of timing.

Because the regional Water Quality Management Plan allows for only one plant, the board of directors for the planning agency, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, had to alter the plan to allow both. The board approved the policy change Wednesday, with a dissenting vote from Manitou Springs Mayor Mark Morland, who favored consolidation. Others concurred a joint plant would be best but said there was no choice...

Both plants will discharge treated effluent into Fountain Creek, which already has the most dischargers of the five watersheds in the region...If the Water Quality Control Commission approves the plan, it would be considered by the governor and the Environmental Protection Agency.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:09:38 AM    

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