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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Saturday, November 15, 2008

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Congratulations to Theo Colborn. She shepherds the The Endocrine Disruptor Exchange or TEDX and this week received the Gotteborg Award for Sustainable Development, reports Dennis Webb, writing for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

A Paonia scientist who has raised concerns about possible chemical-related health effects of natural gas development received an international award this week...

In 2002, Colborn began living full-time in a home she owns in Paonia. When an energy company began talking about drilling on the nearby Grand Mesa, she became concerned about the possible impacts of drilling-related fluids on groundwater quality. In particular, she worried about chemicals in fluids injected underground to fracture wells and boost gas flow. She became involved in efforts that included creating a spreadsheet of chemicals used in drilling and their potential ill effects.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
9:12:54 AM    

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From the Cortez Journal: "Crew members from the Cortez Public Works Department are working today (Friday) to flush out water lines from a broken main artery in the city's water system. The break occurred Thursday night south of Mesa Elementary School causing some light orange, discolored water for city customers. Discolored water is visible after flushing a toilet or running a residential faucet for an extended amount of time. "(The water's) just a little discolored and not unsafe," said John Holliday, supervisor for the city's public works office."

Category: Colorado Water
8:57:21 AM    

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From (Douglas Crowl): "The Loveland City Council will consider finalizing 2009 water and power rate increases Tuesday, which were outlined earlier this year. If passed, water rates would increase 1 percent. The difference would go into the city's raw-water fund, which saves money for future water projects, said Ralph Mullinix, Loveland's Water and Power director."

Category: Colorado Water
8:53:46 AM    

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Here's a recap of the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable's efforts to document the basin's needs and craft a vision statement to determine where they fit in to Colorado's overall need for water for anticipated population growth, from Matt Hildner writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The response, summed up so far in a two-page working document, maintains the goal of keeping all of the area's water inside the basin, but may also eventually lay out what form of compensation should take place if water leaves the basin. "To the extent that transbasin diversions are a concern, there needs to be a viable long-term economic return based on the loss of water," the document states. The roundtable's document also calls for the basin to work to improve the profitability of agriculture, thereby reducing the possibilities of individuals selling their water rights.

Ray Wright, president of the board for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and a member of the statewide committee, questioned if the state's concept for strategies would extend that far, although he acknowledged a strong ag economy would make it easier for farmers to resist selling. "If agriculture has a future and perhaps it's profitable, they say [OE]no thanks,' but if they're flat on their back the answer might be different," he said...

Despite needs in other parts of the state, roundtable members say there are some hard facts that limit the basin's ability to contribute. For one, the basin is overappropriated, meaning there are more water rights claimed than water is available. The basin also has a compact obligation to Texas and New Mexico that delivers roughly one third of the flow of its two major rivers downstream every year. "That's not something we can change," said Steve Vandiver, manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District. Vandiver also called for some measure of equity among basins, arguing that if a more populated basin wants another's water they should dry up their farm ground first...

The roundtable's document says the statewide committee should consider that Colorado cannot have sustainable agriculture and unlimited population growth. "There needs to be compelling incentives in high population growth areas to change the uses of water, e.g., lawns, gardens, golf courses, to strictly domestic uses," the document states. The statewide committee is expected to resume its discussions on the visioning process at its Dec. 12 meeting.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:48:39 AM    

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From the Dot Earth blog from the New York Times (Andrew C. Revkin):

Environmental groups have sought to force the federal government to restrict carbon dioxide emissions using the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act (because of threats to polar bears from global warming) and other federal laws, and now they are poised to add the Clean Water Act to the list.

The Center for Biological Diversity says it is prepared to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to use the water law to respond to the threat of ocean acidification. This is the drop in seawater pH as the oceans absorb an estimated 22 million tons of carbon dioxide from the 80 million tons emitted each day by human activities. The result is a buildup of carbonic acid, which is lowering the pH of seawater. That trend toward acid conditions could threaten corals and plankton with shells containing calcium, biologists have warned.

The Bush administration has strongly opposed legal maneuvers aimed at limiting greenhouse gases with existing environmental laws. Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, has warned that such efforts constitute a "regulatory train wreck."

Category: Colorado Water
8:38:43 AM    

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Hurry and book your travel arrangements for Scottsdale for the next Colorado River Basin Science and Resource Management Symposium titled Coming Together: Coordination of Science and Restoration Activities for the Colorado River Ecosystem organized by the U.S. Geological Survey. From their press release:

Invasive species, long-term drought, climate change. These are hard challenges to resource managers as they attempt to conserve native species and natural systems while also meeting human needs for water and hydropower in the Colorado River Basin. Leading natural resource scientists and experts in economics, tribal perspectives, conflict resolution and sustainability will examine these subjects in a three-day symposium in Scottsdale, Arizona, November 18-20, 2008. The conference will address a number of critical issues, including the spread and the ecological impacts of the quagga mussel in Lake Mead, endangered native fishes, extreme weather events, and the adaptive management approach to balancing multiple needs in a complex ecosystem.

Who: Research scientists, leading experts, resource managers, decision makers and other stakeholders will give oral and poster presentations. Kameran Onley, Acting Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior, will give a keynote address on DOI management efforts in the Colorado River Basin.

What: A symposium held in Scottsdale, Arizona, November 18[^]20, to exchange information about research and management activities related to the conservation and restoration of the Colorado River Basin. This symposium represents the first formal opportunity for resource managers, stakeholders, and scientists working throughout the Colorado River Basin to come together to share what they have learned and exchange ideas for achieving success.

In partnership with: Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado River Fish and Wildlife Council, Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, National Park Service, San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Water Education Foundation

Where: Doubletree Resort, 5401 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, Ariz.

When: 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, November 18, to noon on Thursday, November 20

For the complete program and list of speakers, see

Category: Colorado Water
8:24:15 AM    

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The U.S. Forest Service is looking at stretches of the Colorado River for Wild and Scenic designation, according to Gary Harmon writing in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. It is surprising to many that the Poudre River above Fort Collins is Colorado's only designated wild and scenic stream. From the article:

The U.S. Forest Service is moving ahead on a proposal to determine whether parts of the Colorado River and Deep Creek are suitable candidates for inclusion in the national Wild and Scenic River System.

The Colorado River Water Conservation District, however, is looking at ways to fend off such a designation. "We're working on coming up with something that protects the values that make them eligible for wild and scenic designation without imposition of all the federal controls," said Chris Treese of the river district. The river district is hoping to preserve flexibility and greater local control on the management of those waters, Treese said. Deciding whether stretches of river are suitable for such designations is the last step before the agency decides whether to ask Congress for the designation. The two segments of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon and two segments of Deep Creek already have been determined to be eligible for inclusion...

Public participation in the process begins Thursday with a meeting in Glenwood Springs.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:15:05 AM    

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The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy said that part of the Fryinpan-Arkansas project will be paid off next year at their budget meeting on Thursday, according to Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The district is close to paying off its obligation for the municipal and industrial side of the ledger 27 years into the repayment period that began in 1982. It would still owe about $68.5 million of the original $132 million loan for its agricultural obligation. The district has not paid off any of the agricultural principal on the federal loan since 2000, after the board made a decision to focus on the repayment of the municipal obligation...

In 1982, with the project substantially complete, the district began a 50-year repayment plan on $73.3 million for agriculture's share of the project and $57.9 million for municipal and industrial. The M&I portion also came with a 3 percent interest charge, while there was no interest on the ag share. Those costs are just a portion of the total cost of the project, $585 million. Colorado Springs, Widefield, Fountain, Security and Stratmoor Hills also are repaying $64.8 million, the total cost of the Fountain Valley Conduit, completed in 1985. The bulk of the repayment, as well as operation and maintenance for the Fry-Ark Project, comes through a tax of less than 1 mill collected throughout the district over parts of nine counties. Fountain Valley Authority landowners pay a separate mill levy for their portion of the project...

The Southeastern board Thursday reviewed its 2009 budget and will act on the final budget at its Dec. 4 meeting. The major portions of the $14.5 million budget will go towards repayment of contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation, while an additional $2.8 million has been budgeted for the enterprise fund. About $6.4 million of the budget will go toward the Fry-Ark contract, which should more than cover the projected balance of less than $2 million for the M&I portion of the project and begin making a dent in the ag share as well. Projections by Reclamation show the ag portion could be paid off by 2023, about eight years ahead of schedule. There is also about $370,000 in pass-through revenue from sales of water and storage of winter water. Fountain Valley communities will pay $5.3 million on their contract in 2009. Of the remaining funds, $2.3 million is set aside for operating revenues. Staff payments total about $1 million, and professional services $632,000. Including the enterprise fund, the district plans to spend more than $1 million for legal and engineering services in 2009. Legal contracts total $655,000, while outside engineering contracts are $378,000.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:03:24 AM    

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The winter storage program starts tonight at Lake Pueblo, according to this article from Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Lake Pueblo will begin filling again today, after demands for water downstream stop drawing it down. The winter water storage program began at midnight, signaling the end of irrigation season in the Arkansas Valley. The winter water storage began in 1975 after Pueblo Dam was built as a way to allow farmers to hold back flows during winter months until March 15 for use the following year. The program was put into a water court decree in 1984. On average, 130,000 acre-feet have been stored annually, most of it in Lake Pueblo, but some in downstream reservoirs as well. "The call on the river will be set to March 1, 1910, and the flow will be 100 cubic feet per second below the dam through the city of Pueblo," Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Thursday. The flow Friday was about 400 cfs through Pueblo, and 595 cfs at Avondale, average for this time of year...

Lake Pueblo was storing more than 175,000 acre-feet at week's end, about 141 percent of normal, and about 68 percent of capacity. John Martin Reservoir, which began storing flows to satisfy the Arkansas River Compact on Nov. 1, was at 36,500 acre-feet, far below its capacity but far better than it has been at this time of year since 2001. Turquoise and Twin Lakes are slightly above average. Lake levels have been buoyed by a heavy runoff from a heavy winter snowpack, despite about 85 percent of average rainfall throughout most of the Arkansas Valley this year...

The Pueblo Board of Water Works had about 37,400 acre-feet in storage at the end of October, 20,000 acre-feet in Lake Pueblo, with the rest in Clear Creek, Turquoise and Twin Lakes. The storage amounts to about a year and one half of annual use, excluding leases of raw water.

7:52:12 AM    

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