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

Project Healing Waters

Subscribe to "Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A picture named coloradoriverbasincgs.jpg

Here's the link [pdf] to the Colorado River District's Board of Director's meeting summary for the October 21st and 22nd meeting. Click through and read the whole thing. Here's an excerpt:

Applications for the Colorado River District Large Grant Program will be accepted from Dec. 1, 2008 to Jan. 31, 2009. The grants are intended to provide financial assistance for projects that will develop new water supplies within the Colorado River District boundaries. Recipients can be awarded up to 50 percent of the first $100,000 toward the project cost and 20 percent of the subsequent $500,000, up to a maximum of $150,000. The applications, guidelines and supporting documents will be posted on Dec. 1, 2008, at with applications due by Jan. 31, 2009.

Grants will be awarded by the Board of Directors at its April 2009 quarterly board meeting. Inquiries may be made by calling 970-945-8522 or emailing:
12:57:48 PM    

A picture named stormwateroutlet.jpg

From (Jeff Francis): "'The storm drainage system in Wheat Ridge, depending on where you are in the city, may or may not be adequate,' said Tim Paranto, director of public works. 'In most areas, it's not adequate.' The topic came up Monday, Oct. 27, when the Wheat Ridge City Council voted 5-0 to allot $100,000 for three drainage problems in the city. One is replacing a collapsed irrigation pipe under West 38th Avenue. Another is installing a new manhole at West 40th Avenue and Youngfield Street that leads into a storm sewer that drains into the creek. The pipe also has likely never been cleaned. The third project will install pavement near West 44th Avenue and Van Gordon Street to allow for better drainage."

Category: Colorado Water
8:39:02 AM    

A picture named waterfromtap.jpg

From the Wet Mountain Tribune (Nora Drenner): "Kudos to lifelong Valley resident Jerry Livengood for being named the 2008 Water Commissioner of the Year for Division Two. Livengood received the award earlier this month during the Division Two Water Resources annual fall meeting in Pueblo. Upon presenting Livengood with a letter and plaque at the conference, Division Two water resources engineer Steve Witte said there were numerous reasons Livengood was selected. He said Livengood has earned the respect of water users and others who deal with water issues in the district. Also noted were Livengood's enthusiasm to do the job correctly, and his willingness to learn new skills and to share that knowledge with others. Livengood has been a Division Two water commissioner since 2004."

From the Carbon Valley Farmer and Miner: "This year the town of Firestone was awarded a water rate study grant by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The town retained Clear Water Solutions services to conduct a comprehensive water rate study. The rate study was authorized to determine the adequacy of existing water rates and provide projections for future rate adjustments. Water rates must be adequate to fund all anticipated costs for operation and maintenance, administration, capital improvements, renewal and replacement of water infrastructure, debt service, engineering design. The needs identified for rate adjustments are: water treatment cost increase, operations and maintenance cost increase, future water supply (Northern Integrated Supply Project), water conservation. The Firestone Board of Trustees would like to receive public comment, input and questions on its rate study. Two public forums will be in November for this purpose. This rate study indicated the need to phase in any rate adjustment to spread the cost increase over several years, reduce the current base rate charge, eliminate the practice of providing water with a base rate to prevent overcharging customers that use less than the minimum amount provided with the base rate."

Category: Colorado Water
8:32:55 AM    

A picture named slvdischargerecharge.jpg

Here's an update on the trial over the Rio Grande Water Conservation District's groundwater management sub-district #1 management plan, from Ruth Heide writing in the Valley Courier. From the article:

Newly appointed Deputy State Engineer Michael Sullivan, who is also still serving as the division engineer for the Rio Grande Basin, took the stand on Monday...

Following the state's witnesses, those objecting to the management plan will call their witnesses. District/Water Judge O. John Kuenhold, who is presiding over the trial, has allotted up to three weeks if necessary.

The trial revolves around the first sub-district's management plan in an area of the Valley known as the closed basin area. The stated goals of the sub-district are to reduce or eliminate injuries to senior surface water rights; restore the aquifer; and support the Rio Grande Compact. Sullivan testified that the sub-district's plan is an economic engine to generate funds to purchase water rights or take land out of production in order to recover/sustain the aquifer at a higher level than it is today and purchase water rights to compensate depletions to the river. The plan seeks to fallow up to 40,000 acres of land "to stop the bleeding so to speak," Sullivan said...

He said he agreed with Knox's approval of the sub-district plan while Knox served as acting state engineer. "I do see the plan and procedures as workable," Sullivan said. Sullivan discussed the impact of well pumping on surface rights and said the groundwater model only shows 9,000 acre feet of actual river depletions that would have to be replenished after other factors are considered such as well pumping that is offset by Closed Basin Project contributions. He said the sub-district has about 3,000 wells in it, some close to the river and others 25-30 miles away. Sullivan testified that even with decreased well pumping resulting from the sub-district operation, surface water users have no guarantee they will receive their full decreed amounts of water because other factors are in play. Sullivan said well pumping could not be blamed for all of the curtailments on surface water rights. For example, this year the forecasts predicted a large snowpack and big runoff so irrigators were curtailed as much as 36 percent on the Rio Grande to make sure the state made its anticipated Rio Grande Compact obligation. Attorney Tim Buchanan pointed out that the surface water rights bear the brunt of that Compact curtailment because wells are not curtailed to meet the Compact. Sullivan responded, "I don't have the rules and regulations to allow me to do that." Referring to an earlier comparison Sullivan had made to his involvement in the sub-district management plan development as an 800-pound gorilla sitting in the corner, Buchanan said, "So the 800-pound gorilla has been asleep?" Sullivan said, "not necessarily." Sullivan said that the state has no rules and regulations regarding wells other than to administer them according to their decrees and permits. However, he said well regulations/rules would be necessary to effectively make the sub-district plan work because they would provide the power to back up the requirement to replace water depletions. "We need to promulgate rules which set the standard for the sub-district to meet," Sullivan said.

Sullivan testified that well owners within a sub-district essentially get a "pass" from subsequent rules and regulations but added if the sub-district did not perform properly the state engineer's office could take the sub-district to task even to the point of seeking to void it out. He said if the sub-district was unable to fulfill its intentions to protect senior water rights, "I would return jurisdiction into the court to either get them to get their act in gear and get some water to replace those injurious depletions or void the sub-district plan and make it subject to rules and regulations."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:26:18 AM    

A picture named ohbejoyfulslatecreek.jpg

From the Crested Butte News (Evan Dawson): "For a third year in a row, the state water board has made a call on a stretch of the Slate River to protect stream flows. But those junior water users along the stretch who have augmentation plans through the local water conservancy district have already met their obligation to provide the missing water.

More from the article:

On October 3 the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) stream and lake protection deputy section chief Jeff Baessler authorized a call on the state's in-stream flow (ISF) rights on the Slate River. The state obtained the ISF rights in 1980, as part of the creation of the CWCB's Stream and Lake Protection Division. The rights are designed to ensure adequate stream flows to protect the fish and the riparian environment of the river. And if a call is made, that means upstream users need to shut off their water supplies or provide a source of "augmentation" water.

In 2002 the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD) purchased the rights to use 75 acre-feet of water Meridian Lake Reservoir to provide such a source. Although the Slate River runs past the town of Crested Butte, the town's water supply comes from Coal Creek, and is outside the boundary of the state's water call. Mt. Crested Butte's water supply comes from the East River. The call affects more than 50 property owners with water rights junior to 1980, primarily in the Riverbend subdivision.

In-stream flow calls on the Slate River have also been made in 2004, 2006 and 2007. The UGRWCD discussed the latest water call on October 27. District manager Frank Kugel said the summer season has been "extremely dry." Despite the heavy snows of winter, in the past seven months the basin has received 75 percent of its average precipitation. During the month of September alone the Gunnison Basin received only 65 percent of its average precipitation. On October 27 Blue Mesa Reservoir was down to 74 percent of capacity.

Meridian Lake Reservoir, sometimes called Long Lake, is formed from a natural glacial lake near the Washington Gulch trailhead. The dam is only about eight feet high. The Meridian Lake Park homeowners also own Meridian Lake Park Reservoir, which is an artificial reservoir downstream and closer to Crested Butte. Both water sources feed Woods Creek, which joins with the Slate River near the town of Crested Butte.

Category: Colorado Water
8:15:19 AM    

A picture named geothermalenergy.jpg

Here's a update on Pagosa Springs' debate over their geothermal resources, written by Bill Hudson for the Pagosa Daily Post.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

From the Eagle Valley Enterprise (Katie Drucker): "Experts from around the state and from Germany attended a geothermal energy conference at Buckhorn Valley development, McHatten Creek Ranch, in Gypsum, Oct. 31. Geothermal experts, engineers, town of Gypsum representatives and financiers exchanged ideas to jump start a potential geothermal project. The project would use underground water sources within the area for heating, cooling and water heating for homes and possibly surrounding commercial properties. The exact methodology and the cost is not yet known, however, it would reduce greenhouse gas and air emissions and address utility market volatility. Currently there are 1 million geoexchange installations in the USA. If McHatten Ranch uses geothermal energy, it would be the first development to do so in Eagle County."

Category: Colorado Water
7:56:25 AM    

A picture named perucreekbasin.jpg

Here's an update on the efforts to clean up Peru Creek, written by Bob Berwyn in the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Several weeks of intensive late-summer research at the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine in Summit County, Colorado could help set the stage for state and federal cleanup funds. About a dozen researchers sampled soils, water and wetlands in September and October, looking for the best ways to treat polluted water at the site. When completed, the results of the studies should help determine the best cleanup options. "We spent a week ... trying to figure out whether the tailings and wetlands contribute pollution to Peru Creek," said Jean Mackenzie of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "We also did another round of toxicity tests in the lab. We pulled water out of the creek, took it back to the lab and exposed young trout," Mackenzie said, explaining that the testing was to determine exactly how poisonous the water is to fish.

Peru Creek has been identified as a priority stream in the state's cleanup program this year. That means EPA grant funding is within reach, according to Brian Lorch, who directs the Summit County's open-space program and has led local cleanup efforts at other remediation sites.

The recent testing focused on how the old piles of mine rocks affect water quality, said Mackenzie, who has taken on a lead role in the fieldwork. Among other tools, the scientists used high-tech radar technology to map the plumes of metals spreading from the mine through the soil and groundwater toward the creek. Other efforts were aimed at understanding how ground and surface water moves through the mine. Shunting clean water around contaminated areas could reduce the amount of treatment needed, Mackenzie said. That's where the EPA funding could be useful. Treating water flowing out of the mine is legally challenging because of liability issues associated with the federal Clean Water Act. Taking more simple steps first could be quicker and more cost-effective, she said...

Another option recently placed on the table is a Superfund designation for the Pennsylvania Mine. Although there is an environmental stigma attached to the designation, it could help bring significant resources into play, according to Mackenzie...

The old mine, high in the Snake River Basin, yielded prodigious amounts of gold, copper, lead, zinc and especially silver in the late 1800s and continued to operate until 1940, even after a big avalanche wiped out several structures in 1898. In 1893, the mine shipped 7,000 tons of silver. Between 1893 and 1898, production at the mine exceeded $3 million. More recently, the mine has posed a vexing problem for engineers and biologists seeking to clean up toxic heavy metal pollution in the Snake River. When mining ceased, a toxic brew of metals continued oozing from old mine openings, tainting Peru Creek and the Snake River, far downstream. To this day, levels of some metals, especially zinc, remain well above state-set limits. The concentrations are high enough to kill trout several miles downstream in the Snake River, nearly all the way to Dillon Reservoir.

State experts explored a cleanup plan in the late 1980s, even building artificial wetlands and a passive treatment system designed to neutralize the acidic water draining from old mine tunnels. But they underestimated the amount of treatment needed, eventually abandoning the project. Those wetlands, built upon huge piles of tainted rocks chiseled out of the mountain, were the focal point for the recent tests...

Ten years later, the U.S. Forest Service helped cobble together the Snake River task force, a collaborative group including private, local, state and federal stakeholders. The overall goal remains the same: improving water quality in the Snake River to the point that trout can re-establish self-sustaining populations. Part of the reason for the renewed effort is related to the recreational and biological values associated with the Snake River. While the water doesn't pose any serious threat to human health, it's used for snowmaking at Keystone. At one point, a federal study showed elevated levels of metals in the man-made snowpack at the ski area...

Ten years later, the U.S. Forest Service helped cobble together the Snake River task force, a collaborative group including private, local, state and federal stakeholders. The overall goal remains the same: improving water quality in the Snake River to the point that trout can re-establish self-sustaining populations. Part of the reason for the renewed effort is related to the recreational and biological values associated with the Snake River. While the water doesn't pose any serious threat to human health, it's used for snowmaking at Keystone. At one point, a federal study showed elevated levels of metals in the man-made snowpack at the ski area.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:35:26 AM    

A picture named upperarkansasvalley.jpg

The project designed to deepen three ponds near the headwaters of the South Arkansas River is in limbo until the evaporative loss is determined and an augmentation plan is worked out for the manmade ponds, according to a report from Ron Sering in yesterday's Mountain Mail. From the article:

Three ponds in the Monarch Lake area west of Salida may need to be drained because recent investigation determined they are impounded by man-made dams. Chaffee County Water Commissioner Bruce Smith conducted the investigation after it was ordered by Colorado Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte. Responding to complaints, the Colorado Department of Water Resources requested the investigation. Questions from the public about possible evaporative loss triggered the investigation because Colorado water law requires that evaporative loss be replaced using an augmentation plan. "They are pretty obviously earthen dams," Smith said. "(They) contain a total surface area of about 2.1 acres."

The dispute arose from a recent cooperative project involving the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Division of Wildlife to remove sediment from the ponds near Monarch Park...

"They may have been beaver dams at one time," Smith said. He speculated the man-made structures may have originally been constructed on top of naturally occurring beaver dams. "We are engaged in dialogue with CDOT and the Department of Wildlife," Bill Schukert of the U.S. Forest Service, said. "At this point we don't know what actual evaporative loss is." One possible resolution may be a lease arrangement with Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District to cover evaporative loss. Another possibility is removal of the structures, eliminating evaporative loss. Lowering water levels or draining the ponds entirely Officials expect a decision within the next week to 10 days.

Category: Colorado Water
7:22:14 AM    

A picture named eagleriver.jpg

From the Vail Daily (Dustin Racioppi): "For the first time in a long time, Minturn, Colorado residents won't see an increase in their water fees this year. The council decided Wednesday night that the annual 5 percent hike its imposed on residents the last few years didn't seem fair for the upcoming year, and a reprieve on future increases seemed feasible. "It's 5 percent every year. That is very frustrating," Councilwoman Shelley Bellm said. "It's an arbitrary number. It's the same number and same answer every year. We need to find other ways to get money into this fund.'"

Category: Colorado Water
7:09:34 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2008 John Orr.
Last update: 12/1/08; 7:19:31 AM.
November 2008
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Oct   Dec