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 18, 2008

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From the Windsor Beacon: "Windsor town board members saw the first draft Monday night of a water conservation plan that is being designed by Clear Water Solutions."

More from the article:

During the presentation, consultant Valerie Flory explained to the board the importance of having the water conservation plan in place. "The state requires this plan be created to allow you to apply for low-interest loans from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority," said consultant Valerie Flory. Having the ability to apply for low interest loans will be critical for the town in coming years.

The town is seeking aid to help pay for the Northern Integrated Supply Project, which is a collaborative effort between 15 municipalities and water districts, which began in 2000. The NISP project will cost an estimated $400 million. That cost will be born by participants in the project in proportion to the amount of water they're requesting from NISP. Windsor's share of water is 3,300 acre-feet, which comes to about $33 million or $34 million. Up until now, the town has paid its share from its cash reserves each year. It has set aside $268,000 in the 2009 budget for NISP. However, the cost to help build NISP will escalate, with the biggest single year payment toward the project for Windsor being 2012, at $5.4 million.

The water conservation plan calls for a total reduction of 12 percent water consumption, or about 268 acre-feet over a three-year period.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:10:22 PM    

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Here's a call to arms for action on climate change from Waleed Abdalati writing in the Denver Post. From the article:

Leaders in both major parties have given voice to concerns about climate change. Now is the time to act, and swiftly. Climate change is critical to the U.S. economy, national security, international standing, and environmental and cultural heritage.

Category: Climate Change News
6:54:50 PM    

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"If the seven states of the Colorado River basin can get together and work out a deal, then surely anybody can." -- Dirk Kempthorne December 13, 2007.

From the Associated Press via the San Jose Mercury News: "Outgoing Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne told Colorado River resource managers that he expects no major changes in federal management of the river under President-elect Barack Obama's pick to be his successor. Kempthorne told the Colorado River Water Users Association annual conference Wednesday in Las Vegas that he has worked with U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar over the past 2 1/2 years, and the Democratic senator from Colorado understands Western water issues...

"Kempthorne said Salazar faces challenges overseeing the use of the Colorado River amid drought, climate change and increased pressure from farms, businesses, cities and homes in a region where 30 million people live. 'I don't believe it's a partisan issue,' the Bush appointee said following his keynote remarks."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:40:36 PM    

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The stories just keep popping up about Ken Salazar's nomination. Here's a look at possible changes at the Department of Interior from McClatchy (Erika Bolstad). From the article:

President-elect Barack Obama's selection of Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado as his nominee for interior secretary suggested a 180-degree turn from the way the Interior Department operated under the Bush administration.

"It's time for a new kind of leadership in Washington that's committed to using our lands in a responsible way to benefit all our families," Obama said during his announcement. "That means ensuring that even as we are promoting development where it makes sense, we are also fulfilling our obligation to protect our national treasures."[...]

Elise Jones, the executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, said she hates to lose Salazar as a senator from her state, but believes he has the skills to excel as an Interior secretary.

"If you look at a lot of the progress made on conservation issues the greatest progress has been made by people who have an understanding of the landscapes they want to protect and the people," said Jones, whose organization represents 95 environmental groups in the state.

"It could be that a centralist like Ken Salazar can get more done because he's not a lightning rod and he can work with all sides," Jones said. "He's not going to draw a backlash from traditional commodities industries."

More coverage from the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Steve Tetreault):

With close to 90 percent of Nevada managed by the federal government, the Interior secretary has influence over an array of issues, including public land use, wild horse control, Colorado River allotments, species protection and the administration of national parks and refuges. The department also oversees trust programs for American Indians.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar "is as good as it gets" as an interior secretary nominee. The Colorado senator is an expert on renewable energy and water rights. "I just can't express how fortunate the Western part of the United States is today with Salazar being the new secretary," he said. Reid also said Salazar was giving up a safe seat in the Senate to serve in the Obama administration, calling it "one of the real patriotic acts I have seen since I have been in government."

From the Deseret News (Stephen Speckman):

President-elect Barack Obama's choice for interior secretary is receiving widespread praise from environmentalists and politicos. Senate Energy Committee member Ken Salazar, D-Colo., was picked Wednesday to replace Dirk Kempthorne as head of the Interior Department. Salazar's experience includes leading Colorado's Department of Natural Resources.

"He has a lifelong understanding and involvement in the West's public lands issues, and as senator, has demonstrated time and again that protecting Colorado's natural features is a priority for him," said William Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society.

Meadows and Kempthorne called Salazar an "excellent" pick by Obama."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:23:58 PM    

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent: "Two Garfield County cities received about $1.75 million from state grants for infrastructure projects. New Castle received $1 million and Carbondale garnered $750,000 from state Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grants, Gov. Bill Ritter announced Wednesday. New Castle's grant will help pay for a waste water treatment plant, while Carbondale's grant will help pay for a non-profit center, the governor's office said. Funding for Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Grants are derived from severance tax and federal mineral lease revenues."

Category: Colorado Water
6:35:52 AM    

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Yesterday President-elect Obama named Colorado U.S. Senator Ken Salazar to lead the Department of Interior in the new administration. Here's a report from the Associated Press via From the article:

Obama said Salazar brings "an abiding commitment to this land that we love."

Here is Sen. Salazar's acceptance speech:

"I am humbled and honored to be nominated by President-Elect Barack Obama to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

"My story in America began more than 400 years ago when my ancestors settled the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They named it the City of Holy Faith.

"As my family struggled for survival across twelve generations in Colorado and New Mexico, their faith that humanity could achieve the potential given to each human being by our Creator has been the bedrock that has sustained them over those many years.

"Today as I stand here, I see their faith shining brightly on Barack Obama.

"I know Barack Obama as a champion for change, and I am grateful for his confidence in me.

"I look forward to serving as a strong voice in the Administration for the West and the Nation.

"As the Nominee to be Secretary of the Interior, I will do all I can to help reduce America's dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

"I look forward to working directly with President-Elect Obama as an integral part of his team as we take the moon shot on energy independence.

"That energy imperative will create jobs here in America, protect our national security, and confront the dangers of global warming.

"I look forward to helping build our clean energy economy, modernize our interstate electrical grid, and ensure that we are making wise use of our conventional natural resources, including coal, oil, and natural gas.

"I look forward to protecting our national parks, public lands and open spaces, and America's farm and ranchlands.

"I look forward to restoring our Nation's rivers and working to resolve our water supply challenges.

"I look forward to helping to address the challenges faced by our Native American communities across the Nation.

"And I look forward to investing in America's young people by implementing President-Elect Obama's vision for youth programs across America.

"I want to thank, first and foremost, my entire family; especially my wife, Hope, and daughters Melinda and Andrea. Without their courage and unwavering support, I would not be here today.

"I want to thank my late father, Henry, and my mother, Emma. As a soldier and a public servant in World War II, they instilled in me the values that enabled me and all of my siblings to achieve the American dream.

"I want to thank my seven brothers and sisters and all of my family because they have always inspired me to reach for the stars.

"I want to thank the five million people of the state of Colorado who gave me the privilege of serving as their chief law enforcement officer as Attorney General and as their United States Senator. I look forward to serving Colorado, the West, and the Nation, in this new capacity. I will work hard to make you proud.

"Finally, I want to thank the Members of the United States Senate for their dedication and friendship. I have been honored and blessed to serve with them, Democrats and Republicans alike.

"And to my wonderful staff in the United States Senate: thank you for your loyalty and dedication to excellence.

"I thank President-Elect Obama and I look forward to serving as a member of his team."

More coverage from the Los Angeles Times (Jim Tankersley and Bettina Boxall):

Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles -- Every stream tells a story on the half-day drive from Denver to the Salazar family ranch, every culvert a tale of water and politics. Ken Salazar knows them all, a font of knowledge tapped by President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday when he introduced the Democratic senator from Colorado, whose ancestors farmed and ranched the American Southwest for more than 400 years, as his choice to lead the Interior Department.

Some environmentalists call Salazar too centrist and too friendly to drilling and mining interests to run the department: "His overall record is decidedly mixed, and is especially weak in the arenas most important to the next secretary of the Interior: protecting scientific integrity, combating global warming, reforming energy development and protecting endangered species," said the Center for Biological Diversity in Arizona. A letter opposing his nomination was signed by about 50 wildlife biologists and members of environmental groups...

Among the Interior secretary's duties is to oversee management of the Colorado River, a crucial source of water for irrigation and municipal supplies for seven states, including California. He will have a major say in appointments to key water posts, including the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the biggest water system in the country, California's Central Valley Project. "We're very pleased that we got someone who actually knows water, who is a Westerner and is a centrist -- not a liberal and not a conservative," said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California...

Salazar barnstormed rural Colorado on Obama's behalf in the months before the November election, promising men in work boots and women in cowboy hats that the Illinois senator understood their plight better than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), his Westerner opponent. He drew affirming nods when he criticized McCain for raising the prospect of renegotiating the Colorado River Compact, which apportions water among seven states. In a recent interview on the state's eastern plains, Salazar sipped from a plastic bottle with a "protect Colorado water" label. He acknowledged the challenge he had to overcome pitching a South Side Chicago candidate in agricultural areas, but he said voters responded when he stressed Obama's support for the most recent farm bill and for energy alternatives such as wind, solar and biofuels, which are booming in rural Colorado. "When I explain that to people in rural Colorado," Salazar said, "people come our way."[...]

Salazar has drawn praise as a consensus-builder on water issues. Roger Patterson, who is the MWD's assistant manager and has held water posts in other states, said he was instrumental in working out a settlement in a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the Republican River. Attorney Scott Balcomb, who represented Colorado in Colorado River Basin talks for nearly a decade, said he expected Salazar to encourage the states to work out problems, rather than dumping them in the federal government's lap...

Still, some voiced concerns that as a Coloradan, Salazar can't escape that state's perspective on river issues. Most of the Colorado River's flow originates in the Rocky Mountains, yet Colorado's share of its namesake river is smaller than California's. "I'm sure he will try to be fair," said Bill Swan, an Arizona attorney who represents California's Imperial Irrigation District, the single biggest user of Colorado River water. "But when push comes to shove, it's often upper basin against lower basin, and he's from the upper basin -- particularly that state."

More coverage from the Las Vegas Sun (Lisa Mascaro):

As interior secretary, Sen. Ken Salazar may help execute changes in the mining law that governs Nevada's No. 2 industry, but the Colorado Democrat is not seen as the catalyst for sweeping reforms long sought by critics of gold and other hard-rock mining operations in the West.

Salazar, announced Wednesday as President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for the post, is no stranger to minerals mining. The Alamosa River that runs near his family's San Luis Valley home in Colorado was essentially destroyed by one of the nation's worst modern gold mining disasters when a cyanide leaching operation overflowed in 1996. Five years later, as state attorney general, he reached a landmark settlement in connection with the Summitville Mine incident for cleanup and habitat restoration.

Yet when the House in 2007 passed a long-sought bill to change the 1872 Mining Law by imposing 8 percent royalties and restricting where companies could mine, Salazar championed a "balanced approach" in the Senate. "Responsible development of our mineral resources is critical to our economy and our environment," Salazar testified in January. "We must find a balanced approach to reform that will ensure mineral development occurs in a manner consistent with the needs of mining communities and the protection of the environment and public lands, particularly our water resources."

The mining industry is pleased with the choice.

More coverage from Todd Hartman writing in the Rocky Mountain News:

Colorado's Ken Salazar, should he be confirmed as Interior secretary, likely will find himself under pressure from environmental activists to pull back on two controversial projects involving federal land in the state. If Salazar chose to do so, could he backpedal on Bush administration efforts to push ahead with oil shale development, as well as gas drilling atop the popular Roan Plateau north of Rifle? The answer isn't clear.

Activists with the Wilderness Society, a group with major focus on federal lands, said they hope Salazar could blunt the current administration's moves in both areas. And Salazar has been critical of Bush's approach in both cases. On oil shale, the group suggested the Obama administration could quickly suspend commercial oil shale leasing regulations recently approved by the Bush administration. Environmentalists fear oil shale development because of the impact it could have on the landscape, disruption to water supplies and creation of the need for new electricity sources to process the shale.

The Obama administration could follow the pattern of the Bush administration, which suspended mining rules enacted by the outgoing Clinton administration, said Dave Albersworth of the Wilderness Society. "The Bush administration created a model," Albersworth said. "In 2001, the Clinton administration instituted mining rules that the mining industry didn't like. (Interior Secretary Gale) Norton suspended those rules. BLM gutted those rules." And a new rule was put in place, Albersworth said. "We didn't like what they did on the mining rule, but hey, whatever works here," he said.

Obama hinted that oil shale could get his attention while he introduced Salazar to reporters Wednesday. "If there's going to be a debate about oil shale, I want Ken at the table," Obama told reporters...

A group representing energy developers declined to talk about whether Salazar could undo the oil shale and Roan work. "As far as speculating what Sen. Salazar will do or won't do if confirmed as the secretary of Interior, that's a guessing game we're not interested in playing," said Jon Haubert of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, adding that the group was happy with Salazar's nomination. "We're very pleased a Westerner who understands the industry's issues was selected."

More coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

Obama called Salazar highly qualified for the Cabinet post, noting he had been Colorado attorney general and the former head of the Department of Natural Resources before being elected to the Senate in 2004.

"Few are better equipped to meet the energy and natural resource challenges we face in the 21st century," Obama said. Salazar, 53, made a point of telling the national press that his family roots in Southern Colorado and New Mexico go back 400 years. Then he quickly listed a policy agenda that started with a favorite theme - developing alternative energy sources with a goal of making the nation energy independent within a decade.

"I look forward to helping build our clean energy economy, modernize our interstate electrical grid and ensure that we are making wise use of our conventional natural resources, including coal, oil and natural gas," Salazar said in his brief acceptance speech. Those alone could be considered fighting words in Colorado where Salazar, along with Gov. Bill Ritter, has led the opposition to the Bush administration's decision last month to issue new oil and gas regulations for developing Western Slope oil shale.

As secretary of Interior, Salazar will oversee those regulations and how quickly oil shale is developed.

More coverage from the Greeley Tribune (Colin Lindenmayer):

Though Ken Salazar is leaving his post as Colorado senator to become interior secretary in President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet, his work in Washington is expected by some to have positive impacts on Weld County. Salazar's former Weld County regional representative, Pres Montoya, said Salazar's resume is peppered with outdoor projects. "His love is the land. The land and water," Montoya said. "He's always looking out for Colorado."[...]

Montoya added that Salazar wants Colorado to be a national leader in alternative energy, and with Weld County in a prime position to boost the state in that direction, Salazar will use northern Colorado as an example for the rest of the country. "He will be in the middle of that discussion, and that's pretty exciting," Montoya said. "Exciting for Colorado, exciting for Weld County."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:13:18 AM    

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