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 19, 2008

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Today is World Toilet Day, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council "Six groups came together to draw attention to the global water sanitation crisis. Around the world, 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation facilities. They do not have a clean and safe place to relieve themselves. At any one time almost half of the developing world's people are suffering from diseases associated with lack of water, sanitation and hygiene. However, solutions are available now and are a good investment. According to the World Health Organization, every dollar spent on proper sanitation by governments generates on average $9 in economic benefit."

Category: Colorado Water
7:13:06 PM    

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Has everyone written off the mighty Colorado River too soon? Here's a report from the U.S.G.S. shindig in Scottsdale this week, from the AP via the Examiner. From the article:

There's a less than 5 percent chance that Lake Mead -- one of the nation's largest reservoirs -- could dry up by 2021, contradicting a study earlier this year predicting a more dire possibility, according to research presented Tuesday in Scottsdale. The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado, was presented at a Colorado River symposium at a Scottsdale resort. The findings are expected to be published sometime next year.

Category: Colorado Water
6:28:27 PM    

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From the Loveland Reporter Herald (Kathryn Dailey): "[Larimer County] commissioners...approved the [Owl Canyon Corridor Project], 2-0...[they] and the county staff believe the traffic along some of the gravel roads in the area exceeds the paving threshold and is creating safety issues and high maintenance costs."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:19:17 PM    

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From the Loveland Reporter Herald (Kathryn Dailey): "Campers at Horsetooth Reservoir will have a place to clean up next summer. In the coming months, Larimer County will begin construction on two new camper-services buildings at Inlet Bay and South Bay with showers and flush restrooms as part of the new Parks Master Plan, Gary Buffington, Natural Resources director, told the county commissioners Tuesday morning...The showers will be on timers and will cost $2 for five minutes. The camper-services buildings are estimated to cost about $400,000, Buffington said."

Category: Colorado Water
6:13:54 PM    

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Here's a recap of yesterday's board meeting at the Pueblo Board of Water Works, from Chris Woodka and the Pueblo Chieftain. He writes:

The Pueblo Board of Water Works wants to sell the Columbine Ditch, beef up its lease program and issue bonds to pay for $72.8 million in new Arkansas Valley Water rights next year. The board approved the potential sale Tuesday, but stopped short of saying it still is solely trying to acquire a significant portion of the Bessemer Ditch, although it is still high on the list of options...

The sale of the Columbine Ditch would mark the first time the water board has sold a major transmountain water right. The board purchased the ditch, located at 11,500 feet above sea level 13 miles north of Leadville, in 1953. The ditch was built in 1931 and brings the water of three small streams tributary to the Eagle River into the Arkansas Basin. The board is asking for at least $30.5 million for the ditch, which yields an average of 1,700 acre-feet. Under a court decree, the water board is limited to an average of 1,300 acre-feet a year over a 60-year period, said Alan Ward, water resources administrator. The water usually is stored in Clear Creek Reservoir or Turquoise Lake for future use, since it comes over during spring runoff when direct flows are not needed. This year, the water board used almost no water from the ditch. Hamel said the sale of the Columbine would be contingent upon contracts to purchase water rights in the Arkansas River basin...

Aurora, under a 1997 agreement with the water board, has first right of refusal on any sale of transmountain water rights. Aurora would have to make an offer within 60 days of a sale and accept the same terms and conditions of any potential bid on the Columbine Ditch. In addition to the $30.5 million from the sale of the Columbine, the water board intends to issue $40 million in bonds. The board received good news in that department Monday, learning that its bond rating has been upgraded...

The water board also adopted a new policy on long-term water leases designed to keep water rates low while generating some revenue for water rights purchases. The policy gives preference to leasing water to irrigators who have sold rights to the water board. The policy also established new conditions for long-term leases, including the ability to cancel leases in drought years when Pueblo needs the water...

Today, the board is issuing a request for proposals to lease up to 5,000 acre-feet of water. Bids would have to be for at least 200 acre-feet at a minimum of $350 per acre-foot for up to 40 years. The leases also require a $5,000 fee up front for administration...

The water board has set a deadline of Jan. 7, 2009, for the long-term leases and potential sale of the Columbine Ditch. At that time, the board will determine where its efforts to purchase water rights in the Arkansas Valley are and decide how to proceed, Hamel said.

Also from the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): "A budget that is kinder and gentler to new development than first proposed was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Pueblo Board of Water Works.

"The budget will include a 4.75 percent rate increase, which will cost the average residential user about $1.41 per month. It also includes a 4.75 percent plant water investment fee increase, which is lower than a 19 percent increase initially recommended after a study. Both rates remain among the lowest on the Front Range. The plant water investment fee is a one-time payment to connect new development to the existing water system, or a service fee.

"A Black & Veatch study earlier this year recommended the service fee be increased as a way for growth to pay for itself, but at a workshop in early November, the board asked staff to roll back the rate. The water board increased the fee 30 percent this year, and commissioned the study to see how much the rate should be raised."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:07:23 PM    

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From the Rocky Mountain News (Jerd Smith): "Georgetown and Black Hawk, in a quest for new water, will take down a small hydroelectric power plant to free up space and assure flows in Georgetown Lake. The agreement comes as much larger water projects along the Front Range hit delays because of environmental and political concerns. But high in the mountains, where small towns have little cash and even less water, sometimes deals can be struck.

More from the article:

Before the drought of 2002, most years the town could rely on water flowing from Clear Creek to meet its needs. But the stream no longer can deliver flows as reliably as it once did because of drought and growth in the area, forcing Georgetown and Black Hawk to rethink their water supplies. This year Black Hawk stepped forward and agreed to spend $232,000 to purchase and decommission a small hydropower plant that relied on Georgetown Lake for water, allowing the lake to work better as a storage vessel. Still, because storage space and water are in high demand, Georgetown still must win final approval of its water plan from downstream cities, such as Westminster and Northglenn, which also rely on Clear Creek.

Category: Colorado Water
5:46:30 PM    

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From the Mountain Mail (Ron Sering): "Jord Gertson with SourceWater Consulting, announced Thursday the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District is receiving telemetry data from the recently installed data collection platform at North Fork Reservoir."

More from the article:

The station is the first in a monitoring program to use the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system which will eventually provide data about weather and streamflow throughout the district. Data about the area transmitted from the platform includes weather conditions, outflow and reservoir level. It is transmitted via satellite to district computer systems and posted on the UAWCD Web site. So far, data is available only to UAWCD personnel...

In other business, progress was reported on negotiations regarding revised consumptive rules for the Upper Arkansas River basin. Draft rules are intended to regulate water efficiency measures along the river. The 1948 Arkansas River Compact stipulates downstream water supply to Kansas will not fall below 1948 levels. The two states have a history of water-related conflicts. State engineer Dick Wolf of the Department of Water Resources has expressed concern that improved efficiency measures, such as sprinkler systems or lined ditches, might affect downstream flow to Kansas. A task force was convened during the summer to draft a set of rules. The UAWCD seeks separate rules for the different hydrology and topology of the upper basin.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:29:04 PM    

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From The Hub:

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership is beginning a series of six workshops on water quality in the Uncompahgre River by examining the impact of mining in the upper watershed. "Land Uses in the Watershed: Mining and Reclamation," is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Ridgway Community Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. for discussion. According to Camille Price, workshop organizer from the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, the session will give participants a look at the natural geology of the area, a brief history of mining, the status of mine reclamation in the area, and an analysis of the current status of the water quality in the Uncompahgre's upper basin.

Subsequent workshops, to be held at various locations throughout the watershed, will focus on other uses of the River: recreation, agriculture, growth and urban development, water resources, public lands, and wildlife. The initiatives of the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership are funded by an EPA 319 grant coordinated by Jeff Crane, executive director of the Colorado Watershed Assembly in cooperation with Shavano Conservation District as fiscal agent.

[The] Uncompahgre River Stakeholders Group (URSG) is a growing and diverse group of individuals and organizations from ranchers to river runners, all of whom have a stake in the health of the river. "This project is a collaboration of many stakeholders representing many interests and is designed to create understanding and build consensus among the diverse interests in the basin," Crane noted.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:41:59 AM    

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Here's a look at the EPA's comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project which includes Glade and Galeton reservoirs, from Jerd Smith writing in the Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is raising red flags over the proposed construction of Glade and Galeton reservoirs northwest of Fort Collins, saying they are likely to have serious effects on water quality and wetlands. The agency, in comments provided to the U.S. Corps of Engineers this fall, gave the project a ranking of 3, the second-lowest possible...

Deborah Lebow Aal, an EPA project manager who analyzed the corps' draft environmental impact statement, said more study needs to occur to understand how the projects, which draw from the Poudre and South Platte rivers, will affect streams and what is needed to protect the waterways. "In the draft they say the temperature is going to increase, but they don't give you any information on how or why or what's going to happen," she said. "They're going to take 71 percent of high flows in the spring. That's a pretty significant impact that was not well addressed."[...]

Larry Svoboda, director of the EPA's National Environmental Policy Act program in Denver, said the EPA ultimately could have the authority to stop the project. "Right now we're not on a path to exercise that authority," Svoboda said. "But we want to convey to them the gravity of this situation."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:34:59 AM    

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