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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Project Healing Waters

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Friday, December 5, 2008

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): "The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Thursday approve a $14.5 million budget. The major portion of the budget will go toward repayment of contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation, while an additional $2.8 million has been budgeted for the district's enterprise fund. Money is generated by a 0.943 mill levy on parts of the nine counties that are within district boundaries. Fountain Valley communities pay an additional mill levy. About $6.4 million of the budget will go toward the Fryingpan-Arkansas contract with the Bureau of Reclamation, which should pay off the municipal and industrial portion of the 50-year contract and begin making a dent in the agricultural share as well."

Category: Colorado Water
6:46:27 AM    

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Chris Woodka reports -- in the Pueblo Chieftain -- that Pueblo County is looking to add mitigation efforts to their 1041 permit for Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System. From the article:

Colorado Springs and its partners must provide mitigation for impacts within the county before they gain approval for a pipeline project from Pueblo County staff. "Staff cannot recommend approval at this time due to the lack of concrete, enforceable mitigation proposals by the applicant in several key areas of concern," consultant Paul Banks wrote in a memo to commissioners. Banks was hired by the Pueblo County planning department to help evaluate Colorado Springs' application for a 1041 permit.

Pueblo County staff recommendations on the scope of impacts and proposed mitigation for the Southern Delivery System were released Thursday, covering changes at Pueblo Dam, the Arkansas River through Pueblo, Fountain Creek and impacts on property or roads in the county. "The recommendations are fairly general," said Planning Director Kim Headley. "As we go through the hearings, we know they will have to be refined."[...]

Pueblo County commissioners will begin hearings on SDS at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center. SDS is a proposed $1.1 billion pipeline project from Pueblo Dam that would provide water to Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West. The county is evaluating it under regulations adopted under 1974's HB1041, which allows counties or cities to regulate statewide activities...

Colorado Springs relied on information prepared by Reclamation under the National Environmental Policy Act in preparing its 1041 application, although a record of decision is not expected until early next year. Regardless, the county may choose to look at the data produced under NEPA may not be sufficient for county review, Banks said. "Staff would like to point out that Pueblo County's 1041 regulations and the NEPA regulations the Bureau of Reclamation must comply with are two completely different regulatory requirements which are not linked," Banks said. "The approval criteria, scope and area of interest of the 1041 regulations can be broader than the federal requirements." The 69-page report acknowledges that Colorado Springs and its partners have spent millions of dollars in upgrading sewage, stormwater and flood systems, and that the city is working with regional partners toward solutions.

However, it identified 11 categories of impacts that must be addressed, including:

Water level fluctuations at Lake Pueblo.
Structural integrity of Pueblo Dam.
Inclusion of the north outlet works on Pueblo Dam.
Reduced flows in the Arkansas River.
Fountain Creek, including more return flows and flows from new development.
Pipeline construction on Pueblo West property and Walker Ranches.
County roads crossed as a result of construction.
Environmental, cultural impacts and possible nuisances.
Property tax consequences.
Easement acquisition and condemnation.
Precluding parallel construction of future utilities on the proposed route.

The memo goes on to make recommended conditions about each of the areas of concern for commissioners to consider. The county should also require proof of permits from other agencies including Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, other state agencies, railroads and local governments.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:43:31 AM    

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Here's a look at the state of the Roaring Fork River -- according to the State of Roaring Fork Watershed report -- released yesterday by the Roaring Fork Conservancy and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, from Brent Gardner-Smith writing for the Aspen Daily News. From the article:

...more than three-quarters of the lower Roaring Fork's riparian and in-stream habitat is now "severely degraded" or "heavily modified," according to the State of Roaring Fork Watershed, a comprehensive report released online Thursday by the Ruedi Water and Power Authority and the Roaring Fork Conservancy. "There seems to be more bad news than good news," said Sharon Clarke of the Roaring Fork Conservancy, who was the principal author of the report. "Riparian habitat degradation is pretty pervasive throughout the watershed." The report finds that more humans will probably live near the river in the future and that we'll likely place more demands on the water and stream banks...

"The Roaring Fork Watershed is witnessing a significant increase in population. Such a trend influences the watershed's environmental resources through increases in impervious surfaces, decreases in native vegetation as it is replaced by developed landscapes, a decline in open space, a shift in water use patterns, and impacts on water quality."

The report's water quality section adds that more impervious surfaces create chemical runoff, increase stream temperatures, and decrease infiltration when it rains or snows, or when the snow melts. In addition, low streamflows "intensify the concentration of chemicals and can adversely affect water quality."

The report suggests we should develop a plan to manage ourselves in better harmony with the rivers and streams in the watershed, especially given the potential of more transmountain diversions, which would leave less water in the river, more development near waterways, which could destroy more riparian habitat, and the worldwide burning of fossil fuels, which could mean more rain and less snow to replenish rivers and streams.

The new report suggests that in the second phase of the watershed management effort, people should agree to use less water, prepare for a drought, stop building so close the rivers, and be careful when digging up the earth to erect buildings. It also suggests improving how run-off from paved streets is managed, buying more water rights and restoring the sections of river we've degraded. Specifically, the report found that the section of the Roaring Fork just above and through Aspen is degraded, and about 60 percent of the riparian habitat along the river between Basalt and Carbondale is now severely degraded. One-quarter of the habitat in the Crystal and Fryingpan rivers is degraded, over half of the habitat in and along Brush Creek is degraded, and three-quarters of Cattle Creek is degraded...

Most of the riparian and in-stream habitat in the high upper Fork and in Castle and Maroon creeks is still "high quality" or only "slightly modified." The report, which includes many detailed and informative maps and an extensive appendix, took two years to prepare. Its principal authors include Sharon Clarke, Kristine Crandall, John Emerick, Mark Fuller, John Katzenberger, Delia Malone, Michelle Masone, Albert Slap and Judith Thomas. Another 17 people reviewed the report.

A 32-page executive summary of the report has been printed and includes color maps of each of the nine sub-watersheds within the larger watershed, which encompasses 1,453 square miles. Printed versions of the full report are not yet available and are likely to cost $100, according to Mark Fuller of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority. The complete report can be found on the Roaring Fork Conservancy's Web site.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:32:44 AM    

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