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

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

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From the La Junta Tribune Democrat (Alicia Gossman-Steeves): "As of January, 1, 2009, the City of La Junta will raise its rates on water usage. The new rate will cost the average customer with a three-quarter inch line $7.50 per month. Customers with more than one unit listed on their meter will pay $1.80 per each 1,000 gallons over that amount. The resolution to raise rates was passed in the monthly meeting of the La Junta Utility Board of Commissioners on Monday, Nov. 10."

Category: Colorado Water
5:10:59 PM    

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From email from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education:

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education is currently accepting nominations for recipients of our 2009 President's Award. The Award honors individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the field of water resources and education in the State of Colorado. Details on the award and the selection criteria are attached.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, December 1, 2008. Please submit nominations to before this date. The location of the awards ceremony is dependent upon the recipient.

Category: Colorado Water
5:07:56 PM    

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From the Fort Morgan Times (Jesse Chaney): "It's not too late for Brush residents to suggest revisions to the proposed Brush source water plan, but all edits must be received by Friday for consideration...The 49-page document is available at Brush City Hall this week in paper and electronic form for the public to review and edit. For more information, contact Assistant Brush Administrator Karen Schminke at 970-842-5001. The first meeting of the source water protection plan steering committee is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Old Fire Hall in Brush. During the meeting, the committee will receive copies of the final document and develop an action plan to implement in 2009."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

6:39:29 AM    

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): "The results of two major efforts to improve Fountain Creek will be shared tonight at an open house and meeting in Pueblo. The Fountain Creek Vision Task Force and the Army Corps of Engineers Fountain Creek Watershed Plan will be on display beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Pueblo Convention Center, 320 Central Main St. An identical presentation will be Thursday in Colorado Springs.

"In one room there will be an open forum and the opportunity to comment on the plans. Another room will feature an open house with displays on both efforts, as well as the Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan and its planned demonstration projects, the Fountain Creek Foundation, the Highway 24 Project, Streamside Systems and Trout Unlimited's Upper Fountain Creek Project. People familiar with each project will be on hand to explain them. The task force began meeting two years ago to develop strategic plans for dealing with disputed issues on Fountain Creek between Pueblo and El Paso counties. It included all major governmental entities in the watershed, as well as private landowners, military installations and land preservation interests."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:35:04 AM    

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Here's a look at the problems faced by landowners that sold conservation easements for their land in southeastern Colorado, from Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The most difficult task for a commission looking at conservation easements will be to build trust among landowners who already feel abandoned by the state. The first step came Monday at Otero Junior College, when more than 100 people showed up to provide details of easements deemed faulty by the Internal Revenue Service or the Colorado Department of Revenue. "We're here to help," Erin Toll, director of the state Division of Real Estate told the group...

Their plight was summed up by Bart Mendenhall, a Rocky Ford lawyer and farmer who briefly addressed the commission: "The people you are about to hear don't have your knowledge of conservation easements. You are judging these people, but you are not their peers. These folks are in agriculture and their way they make their living may be destroyed." Speaker after speaker at the three-hour meeting described a pattern of following state laws and procedures that allow conservation easements, using appraisers recommended by conservation groups and licensed by the state. They were then thwarted in attempting to sell the tax credits. Colorado law allows up to $375,000 in tax credits based on 50 percent of the development value a landowner gives up. Although problems with some easements were already cropping up, the state Legislature in 2007 actually increased the amount of tax credits to its current level from $260,000. Now, many landowners are facing IRS audits, state penalties and even lawsuits from those who bought the credits...

Most of the landowners, however, just asked the commission what it could do to help. "It's an advisory commission, we don't make the rules," said Dan Pike, chairman of the commission. "But we can make recommendations to the Legislature." Pike said it is difficult to determine the full scope of the problem, since up until Monday's meeting much of the information has been secondhand. The state just last year set up a public reporting procedure, and the IRS looks at each case separately. Several lawmakers - including U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., state Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, and state Reps. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, and Wes McKinley, D-Walsh - attended the commission meeting Monday...

The commission needs to form a focus group that would look at solutions, said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and a member of the state commission. "I don't think we can come up with an umbrella regulation, because one size does not fit all," Winner said. "Grandfathering everything is an option, but we have to look at all the solutions."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:30:31 AM    

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Here's an update about the invasive mussel situation in the Colorado-Big Thompson project, written by Mike Oatley in the Estes Park Trail Gazette. From the article:

The larvae of the mussels, which have wreaked havoc in the eastern U.S., were discovered in Lake Granby in July, with further discoveries in Grand Lake, and Shadow Mountain and Willow Creek Reservoirs in September. "These are well-known as the worst invasive species in North America. This is about as scary as it gets," Elizabeth Brown, invasive species coordinator for the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW), said this week. Scary, because the four bodies of water are effectively in the headwaters of drainages on both sides of the Continental Divide -- the Alva B. Adams Tunnel transports West Slope water into the Big Thompson drainage for distribution on the Front Range -- and also because the high elevation, coldwater lakes were not thought to be suitable habitat for either of the closely related bivalves. "We were not surprised to find them in Lake Pueblo," Brown said of the reservoir where they were first discovered in the state in January. But even though waters in the Granby area were identified as high-risk locations for infection due to the volume of recreational boat traffic, elevation and water temperatures were believed to provide some measure of protection from invasion...

So far, none of the waters in the Big Thompson watershed, from Marys Lake, where West Slope water hits the East Slope, downstream have tested positive, but intensive sampling is underway. Brown said it is not certain how the situation will develop. No adults have been found on the West Slope yet, but since they inhabit deep water, they are harder to locate, and Brown said adults are almost certainly present. "They had never been found in a high altitude, coldwater lake," she said, "so we don't know what's going to happen. But they are highly adaptable, and it's very possible they can survive outside their normal habitat range."[...]

As highly efficient filter feeders, the mussels remove plankton, the basis of the aquatic food chain, from the water, triggering large-scale disruptions of fisheries. They can also attach themselves to native organisms, smothering them. "We are very concerned about native clam populations, and other benzic (living in sediments) organisms," Brown said...

Even though the mussels might be considered to effectively be in the Big Thompson drainage already, given its connection to the West Slope via the Adams Tunnel, signs at the Lake Estes Marina's boat ramps implore boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats between outings. As will happen statewide early next year, the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District (EVRPD) will soon huddle with representatives from federal agencies to begin formulating a management plan for the federal properties on which it manages recreation, including Lake Estes, said EVRPD executive director Stan Gengler. "We're meeting in December and January with the DOW and the Bureau of Reclamation, but what we do from there, we don't know," said Gengler, who attended the NCWCD meeting on Nov. 5. "It affects everyone. The real question is, it's not known how they'll survive at this elevation. There are a lot of unknowns. But we want to be proactive, rather than just wait and see." Part of the plan, such as it is this point, involves hoping the mussels simply cannot thrive up here. "We don't know how well they are going to survive," Brown said. "The habitat suitability is marginal at best, so we're hoping they do not have a good survival rate."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:22:24 AM    

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