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, December 4, 2008

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From email from the Colorado Division of Water Resources


New legislation on the requirement of notice of a change of owner of a well permit

To: Real estate professionals and potential home buyers:

As you may be aware, new legislation was recently enacted which affects residential water wells. First, while owners of well permits are currently required by law (§37-90-143 C.R.S.) to file an update with the State Engineer regarding any change of owner name and/or mailing address, HB08-1014 [pdf] now gives specificity to that requirement. Second, HB08-1014 also requires that an application to register a well be submitted to the State Engineer's Office prior to or within 60 days of the closing of the sale of residential real property, to register a residential well "not of record" with the State Engineer. The legislation affects residential wells only and does not apply to other wells such as wells used for fire fighting purposes, commercial/industrial use, crop irrigation, and agricultural livestock watering, among others.

Changes made by the legislation:

On or after January 1, 2009, the BUYER in a residential real estate transaction that includes the transfer of a registered/permitted residential well, must, prior to or at closing, complete a Change in Owner Name/Address form (GWS-11). If the subject well is not of record (that is, does not have a well permit) with the Division of Water Resources, an application to register an existing well must be completed by the BUYER in lieu of a Change in Owner Name/Address form (GWS-11).

Within 60 days of closing, all applicable form(s) and supporting documentation necessary for evaluation must be submitted to the Division of Water Resources. Note: As required by this legislation, if a closing service is provided, the person providing such service must submit the applicable material. If no such service is provided, the BUYER must submit the appropriate paperwork.

The attached notice from the Division of Water Resources explains this change in greater detail. The notice also provides information to guide well owners in determining the status of their well permit. This notice will also be available on the home page of our website. The bill itself is also attached for easy reference.

Kevin G. Rein, P.E.
Assistant State Engineer
Colorado Division of Water Resources
1313 Sherman Street Suite 818
Denver, CO 80203
303-866-3581 ext. 8239 (voice)
303-866-3589 (fax)

Category: Colorado Water
7:02:29 PM    

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb): "Even though it is difficult to notice today because of all this snow, we have started moving water again on the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

"Last week, we began wrapping up our annual fall maintenance and inspection schedule. Water began coming through the Adams Tunnel and into Marys and Estes lakes again. Today at noon, we began moving water from Estes on down through the southern power section of the project, including Pinewood Reservoir.

"Currently, Pinewood is still at elevation of 6555--where it has been for the past few weeks. We have concluded our inspection of the Rattlesnake Tunnel, which feeds Pinewood, and our other maintenance work. Water elevations should begin creeping up again later today.

"Carter Lake is currently at an elevation of 5695. We are anticipating we will begin pumping to Carter as early as tomorrow.

"Meanwhile, we have been sending between 80-100 cfs to Horsetooth Reservoir for the past few weeks. That flow rate should continue. The elevation at Horsetooth has been gaining steadily, but very slowly. We are currently at an elevation of 5381."

Category: Colorado Water
6:53:49 PM    

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Here's a report on preciptation down in Montezuma County from Kristen Plank writing in the Cortez Journal. From the article:

2008 precipitation levels through November were at 9.99 inches for the Cortez area, according to Jim Andrus, the National Weather Service's cooperative weather observer in Cortez. That's 81 percent of normal, which is 12.31 inches. Five weather sites the Dolores Water Conservancy District checks are at approximately 54 percent of average for this time of year, according to Mike Preston, general manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District.

Lizard Head Pass between Rico and Telluride received 3.8 inches of snow-water equivalent, and Sharkstooth Peak northeast of Mancos received roughly 3.6 inches last week, Preston said. That puts Lizard Head Pass at a 93 percent average due to the snowfall last week; the Sharkstooth station is too new to accurately predict an average. The other three sites, which include Lone Cone south of Norwood, Scotch Creek near Rico, and El Diente southwest of Telluride, are in the high 30s to low 40s in percent average for this time of year...

McPhee Reservoir is approximately 100,000 acre-feet below full, sitting at 57 percent active capacity, Preston said. "That's enough to meet next year's obligations, but you have to manage McPhee on a two- to three-year horizon," he said. "If we don't get a lot of snowpack this winter, that (water) elevation starts to drop and you start to feel a pinch a year out."[...]

Like McPhee, Groundhog and Narraguinnep reservoirs are equally in good shape, according to Jim Siscoe, general manager of Montezuma Valley Irrigation Co. "Right now, the way this year has set up, it's been an awfully dry year overall," Siscoe said. "Because of that, you want to make sure reservoirs are at or above the levels for this year. "With ours, as long as we have normal snowpack, we don't anticipate any problems for the water supply for next year."

Category: Colorado Water
6:46:49 PM    

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Here's Part Three and Part Four of Bill Hudson's series "Funny Smelling Water Facts" from the Pagosa Daily Post.

Category: Colorado Water
6:35:23 PM    

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From the Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh): "The town of Bayfield, under an agreement with state health authorities, is working to correct sewage-disposal violations of its own as well as weaknesses in the sewage system of unincorporated Gem Village for which it has taken responsibility. But Town Manager Justin Clifton would like a little more understanding on the part of the state. He said Tuesday in a telephone interview that the town is paying the piper for the sins of others. He said that in January, the town acquired the two waste-disposal systems from the independent Bayfield Sanitation District, which was disbanded. 'We stepped in to fix the problems,' Clifton said. 'We didn't have anything to do with the old system, but fines are hindering our ability to fix things.'"

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:30:40 PM    

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From the Crested Butte News (Seth Mensing): "Gunnison County, the town of Crested Butte and High Country Citizens' Alliance will have the chance in April to argue for greater financial and environmental controls over companies permitted to operate a wastewater treatment facility on Mt. Emmons. The facility is currently being run by U.S. Energy Corp, one of the companies proposing a molybdenum mine on the mountain located just west of Crested Butte. On Friday, November 28, an administrative judge with the division agreed to the hearing between the three proponents of the changes and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Water Quality Control Division."

Category: Colorado Water
6:24:57 PM    

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From the Rocky Mountain News (Karl Licis): "Long a favorite of Front Range anglers, the South Platte River below Cheesman Dam a decade ago might have been the most productive trout stream on the state's Eastern Slope, if not all of Colorado. That changed dramatically after the Schoonover and Hayman wildfires in 2002 and the after effects that have impacted the river in succeeding years. Rain in the burned areas led to a series of flash floods, causing extensive erosion and carrying tons upon tons of sediment into the river. Gravel settled out along the river bottom, filling in many of the pools, holes, riffles and deep runs vital to the fishery. Massive deposits of bright, unstable gravel became evident up and down the channel, and its productivity and fishing appeal plummeted. Though a number of anglers wrote it off, at least in the short term, the river is showing signs of recovery."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:15:28 PM    

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From the Associated Press (Dina Cappiello) via the Denver Post: "The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to let the nation's older power plants draw in billions of gallons of water for cooling without installing technology that would best protect fish and aquatic organisms. Lawyers for the government and electricity producers urged the justices to overturn a lower court ruling that says the Clean Water Act does not let the government pit the cost of upgrading an estimated 554 power plants against the benefits of protecting fish and aquatic organisms when limiting water use."

Category: Colorado Water
5:50:41 PM    

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The Southern Rockies Nature Blog makes the case that Americans living east of the 100th meridian can't empathize with westerners over water and that the disconnect is at the heart of the debate over the development of oil shale. They have a great graphic showing, "This what a High Plains river looks like: the Huerfano River in southern Pueblo County, flowing northeast towards the Arkansas River."

Oil shale has been the "Next Big Thing" here in Colorado for over 100 years now. The technology is unproven. The prospect of a mining operation like the Alberta tar sands boggles the mind.

Much of the water will be needed for power generation. We think that the power should come from solar. Large scale build out of solar from the southwestern U.S.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.
5:35:19 PM    

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas River Compact Administration will meet Monday and Tuesday at the Lamar Community Building, 610 S. Sixth St. Committee meetings begin at 1 p.m. Monday, with the business meeting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The two states this week presented oral arguments in U.S. Supreme Court on the last remaining issue of a 23-year-old lawsuit: whether Colorado should pay Kansas $9.2 million in expert witness fees instead of the $1.1 million Colorado already paid for that purpose. Colorado also paid $34.6 million in damages in 2005 for depletions caused by well-pumping - the issue on which Kansas prevailed in the case.

One of the most controversial issues - at least east of the state line - has been proposed rules limiting consumptive use from irrigation efficiencies. Under the compact, Colorado cannot increase water use because of "works." The two states agreed in 1999 on the levels of consumptive use based on systems in place at the time. But improvements - particularly sprinklers fed by ponds and ditch lining - have raised concerns that increased efficiency could deplete return flows. State Engineer Dick Wolfe has been meeting with farmers, lawyers and valley officials for several months in an attempt to develop new rules for surface irrigation improvements, but does not expect them to be ready for water court until next year. Several farmers are still concerned that the rules will be too restrictive, saying they are making efficiency improvements for economic reasons, not to use more water. On Tuesday, however, the state provided updated copies of the draft rules and they are expected to be discussed during committee meetings on Monday.

The two states also will discuss a request for John Martin Reservoir storage space by Lamar, a proposal by the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association and Colorado Division of Wildlife to add to the permanent pool at John Martin and the state of gauging efforts by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Army Corps of Engineers will update the group on John Martin dredging operations and a channel capacity study of the Purgatoire River below Trinidad Reservoir. The possibility of a joint effort by the two states to control tamarisk infestations also will be discussed.

Category: Colorado Water
6:43:18 AM    

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Here's an update on Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System, from Chris Woodka and the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Colorado Springs Utilities will have to wait until early next year to learn if Fremont County will support a water pipeline plan from the Arkansas River. During a three-hour hearing Tuesday night in front of the Fremont County Planning Commission, Utilities officials presented the pipeline plan, a backup in case Pueblo County, where there is opposition to the proposed Southern Delivery System, denies the utility a permit to build a pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir. "This alternative remains our second best alternative, if we are unable to get a permit with acceptable conditions from Pueblo County," said CSU spokeswoman Janet Rummel...

There are two alternatives that look at a river intake in Fremont County in the draft EIS, but Colorado Springs made it clear Tuesday that it is only looking at the Highway 115 alternative, not a "no-action" alternative, which would mean no involvement by the Bureau of Reclamation. "We would still use Bureau of Reclamation contracts for storage and exchange at Pueblo Reservoir," McCormick explained. The difference in yield of water is about 10 percent annually, or 5,000 acre-feet, according to the draft EIS. The dam alternative was projected to cost $1.1 billion, while the Highway 115 alternative would cost more than $1.2 billion. Operation and maintenance costs for the Fremont County route would be an estimated $677 million from 2012 to 2046, about $14 million more than the Pueblo Dam route. The Highway 115 alternative still includes terminal storage at the Jimmy Camp Creek site east of Colorado Springs, which was removed in favor of the less environmentally damaging Upper Williams Creek site in a supplemental report by Reclamation in October.

The Fremont County river intake would be located at the headgate of the Lester-Atteberry diversion, located across the Arkansas River from the Florence River Park, and Colorado Springs would make improvements to both the ditch and the park, adding a boat chute along the river, said Bruce Spiller, of CH2MHill, SDS project manager. He said there would be some sediment removal that would "drop back into the river," but later said that would not affect the concentration in the river. Colorado Springs would abide by minimum flows of 190 cubic feet per second in the river, as measured at Portland, to provide adequate flows for the Eastern Fremont County Sanitation District plant near Florence. While the pipeline would be buried in Fremont County, as it would in Pueblo County, there would be overhead power lines along most of the 17-mile route, Spiller said. In Pueblo County, the power lines are overhead for a short ways inside Lake Pueblo State Park, then underground to the first pump station, also inside the state park. The two other pump stations on the line are in El Paso County. There would be three pump stations in the Fremont County alignment, and one contingency of the special use permit for SDS would be a separate special use permit for Black Hills Energy to provide a power line. The planning commission would consider that permit at a separate meeting. An existing power substation across the Arkansas River would be used at the river intake, but new substations would be needed for pump stations near Brush Hollow Reservoir and the El Paso County line. While Spiller told Pueblo West residents Colorado Springs would begin work as soon as next fall if Pueblo County issued a permit early in 2009, he told the Fremont County Planning Commission Colorado Springs might need 6-12 months to line up easements or buy property along the Highway 115 route...

Doxey asked if Colorado Springs was considering alternatives like Aaron Million's proposal to bring a pipeline from Flaming Gorge Reservoir into Colorado to meet Front Range needs. At that point, Chairman Tom Piltingsrud said the commission was getting beyond its purpose, which was to see if Colorado Springs' applications fit the county's master plan and zoning regulations. "Water rights aren't in our purview," Piltingsrud said. He said the state Division of Water Resources regulates water rights and would prevent injury of others' rights. Doxey disagreed, saying water rights are an important factor in county land use...

Keith Riley, a Colorado Springs Utilities engineer working on SDS, attempted to answer the concerns, saying Colorado Springs would use its own water rights in the SDS plan, and would have no certainty of when or if Million's project would deliver water. He said the Bureau of Reclamation would ensure land had been properly vegetated as a condition of the permit...

Fremont County signed an agreement with Colorado Springs in April to "cooperate in an orderly fashion" in selecting and developing sites if SDS is built in Fremont County. Colorado Springs also agreed to pay costs for the review. At the end of the meeting, the planning commission was unsure about how much the county should or could require, however, and put off a decision until the next planning commission meeting on Jan. 6. The vote was 6-1, with Piltingsrud voting against the delay.

More coverage from the Colorado Springs Gazette:

During a three-hour hearing Tuesday night in front of the Fremont County Planning Commission, Utilities officials presented the pipeline plan, a backup in case Pueblo County, where there is opposition to the proposed Southern Delivery System, denies the utility a permit to build a pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir...

In Pueblo County, meanwhile, a hearing will begin Tuesday on Utilities' 1041 land-use permit application, so called for the legislation that gives counties authority over multijurisdictional projects. The hearing is expected to carry over into Thursday night.

Update: More coverage from the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

Almost three hours of discussion Tuesday evening was not enough to convince the Fremont County Planning Commission to take action on the Southern Delivery System proposed to run north from the Arkansas River into El Paso County. The panel tabled Colorado Springs Utilities' request for a Special Review Use permit that would allow the construction of a water intake, three pump stations and 17 miles of 66-inch diameter pipeline in Fremont County. Once completed, the utility would transmit up to 78 million of gallons of water a day from the Arkansas River to Colorado Springs, Security and Fountain.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:38:02 AM    

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Congratulations to Liz Schnackenberg for winning the Routt National Forest Regional Forester Award, as reported by Tom Ross in the Steamboat Pilot & Today. From the article:

Schnackenberg is a hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Steamboat Springs. She recently received the Regional Forester's Award in recognition of her contributions to the watershed program in the Routt National Forest.

At first glance, it might seem Schnackenberg's colleagues in the forestry field would be more concerned than she is with the impacts of the mountain pine beetle. But the insects that have killed many thousands of lodgepole pine trees also are altering watersheds in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. By killing trees, the beetles are adding moisture to local watersheds. "Trees are water pumps," Schackenberg said. Every tree killed by the beetles means more moisture finds its way into groundwater and stream supplies. The dead pines, when they were healthy, reduced the water that finds its way into mountain streams through their roots and needles, a process called evapo-transporation. Pine needles also trap snow. "Some of that moisture never made it to the ground before it evaporated," Schnackenberg said.

Increased water supplies are a good thing on many levels. But the dying "water pumps" are part of a complex system. For example, all that newfound water must flow down narrow stream channels that aren't sufficient, in some cases, to contain it, Schnackenberg pointed out...

"Despite her heavy and complex workload, Liz has consistently shown an unwavering commitment to ecosystem stewardship, providing a balanced hydrology program representative of multiple-use management and on-the-ground accomplishments," Forest Supervisor Mary Peterson said. Schackenberg describes herself as being averse to conflict but adds that collaboration with colleagues is the most rewarding aspect of her job. Those traits may have helped her win the award. Forest Service spokeswoman Diann Ritschard said Schnackenberg is able to step outside her role as a hydrologist, whose primary mission is protecting water resources, to understand the competing goals of other specialists. The experts she works with come from within the Forest Service and from outside agencies.

Category: Colorado Water
6:23:32 AM    

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