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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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

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Here's a look back at 2008 from Jonathan Batuelo writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Mother Nature was kind to Summit County and the rest of the state, blessing the mountains with near-record snowfall in places like Copper Mountain and Keystone. In all, eight of Colorado Ski Country USA's 26 member resorts received record snowfall accumulations and many more recorded above average snowfall.

We loved the big snow last year ... until the potential for flooding came into view.

Category: Colorado Water
8:49:50 PM    

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From Alternative and Saving Energy: "America's search for cleaner electricity has developers studying dozens of government flood-control dams from North Carolina to Oregon to see if it makes financial sense to retrofit them with hydroelectric turbines. The studies are part of a broader trend that has developers looking at everything from millpond dams in New England to locks and dams on navigable waterways such as the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Factors ranging from the difficulty in obtaining permits for new coal-fired power plants to government renewable energy mandates and tax credits have created a potential market for new hydroelectric projects."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:44:04 PM    

From Water Tech Online: "A booklet about pharmaceuticals in drinking water, designed to be read by consumers as well as water industry professionals who have contact with the public, has now been published by the American Water Works Association.

"The Truth About Pharmaceuticals & Personal Care Products in Your Water is written by former AWWA executive director Jack Hoffbuhr. Hoffbuhr is a registered professional engineer in Colorado and a board-certified professional engineer (diplomate) in water/wastewater, a designation from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. He was AWWA executive director from 1996 to 2007 and previously worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Public Health Service [and available from their online bookstore].

"Among topics covered in the booklet are: how chemicals get into water and how they are regulated; how chemicals from pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) get into water; the quantities of PPCPs in drinking water and the risks they pose; and water treatment and other options."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:22:19 PM    

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La Jara and irrigators in the San Luis Valley are watching things closely down their way. They fear that La Jara Creek may be included in Colorado's obligation under the Rio Grande Compact. Here's a report by Larry Winget writing for the Valley Courier. From the article:

The Alamosa River, La Jara Creek Water Conservancy District wants to know if the state is planning to expand the Rio Grande River Compact between Colorado, Texas and New Mexico...

Now, the Alamosa and La Jara Conservancy District is concerned that Colorado is trying to include their streams as part of the compact. John Shawcroft, of the district, called a meeting of the organization in La Jara right before Christmas to discuss the situation. Shawcroft and Conservancy District attorney Steve Atencio explained their concerns during the meeting. According to the two, a water lawsuit brought against the state in the names of Reed, Reynolds, and the Martin Cattle Company may be a chance for the state to include La Jara Creek and Alamosa River waters in the Rio Grande Compact. The compact is something of a sore spot for Valley irrigation users as it requires Colorado to send water down the Rio Grande to Texas and New Mexico. It is the La Jara Water Conservancy District's position that its waters are not a part of the compact and never have been. Shawcroft asked the district's members to take part in the Reed, Reynolds, Martin suit to make sure it stays that way...

A spokesman close to the lawsuit, who did not want to go on record, said it started in 2006 when the district called for La Jara Creek water it has traditionally used. That water was not delivered and it was found that the state had closed a headgate to stop the flow. The lawsuit was then filed against the state. The problems arose from language used by the state in reply to the suit. Colorado said allowing the diversion of La Jara Creek water would adversely affect its ability to administer the Rio Grande Compact.

If the district does join the suit, Atencio suggested it should only participate until the question of whether the case is one of administering water or administering the compact is settled. It was stated in the meeting that the suit involves more than one aspect and the district should be aware of "underlying issues" before it commits to joining the suit. Atencio said the district should make it clear they were joining the suit only to resolve the water or compact administration question.

Category: Colorado Water
7:42:46 PM    

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Here's a look at Pueblo County's public meeting for their permit for Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System, from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

Pueblo County officials harbor many concerns about Colorado Springs Utilities' Southern Delivery System, and county commissioners to the south are in no rush to make a decision on the water pipeline project. Monday, on the third night of hearings on a 1041 land-use permit to build the $1.1 billion pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir, Utilities officials faced a deluge of questions. It was clear Pueblo County officials and their attorneys and consultants disagree with Utilities' assurances the environmental impact will be minor and are suspicious of Utilities' motives for building the pipeline, suggesting the pipeline could be used to sell Arkansas River water outside the river's basin.

The consultants have recommended Pueblo County attach conditions to any approval, including requiring Utilities to seek approval to sell or transfer water to any agencies beyond its current partners, which are Pueblo West, Fountain and the Security Water District. Utilities opposes such a restriction, which could become a sticking point when commissioners announce their recommended permit conditions Jan. 21. "We have indicated that we remain committed that the water from this project should stay in the basin," said Bruce McCormick, Utilities chief water services officer...

Another major concern is making sure Pueblo County contractors get a share of the $750 million in construction work, $600 million in El Paso County and $150 million in Pueblo County. "The reality of the situation is it may be difficult for Pueblo County residents to understand why their property is being transferred, why people are being removed from their homes, why we are paying the burden down here for the project but can't participate in the prosperity for the Pueblo work force," Chostner said. "That is something all three commissioners feel quite strongly about. We like to see the benefits from the construction aspects of the SDS project, if indeed it does get approved," Commissioner John Cordova said. Utilities officials said they plan workshops to help Pueblo County contractors bid for jobs, but they did not commit to ensuring them a portion of the pipeline work. "I don't know how that would work. I'm pretty sure it would be fairly unique for us," Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said. As a city-owned utility, the agency must award contracts impartially, based on the best prices, he said...

Other conditions Utilities officials agree to include drawing up a plan for regular water quality monitoring on Fountain Creek, supporting a new watershed district for the creek, regular permit reviews to ensure Utilities is living up to its promises and adopting measures to minimize the impact on property owners affected by the pipeline.

More coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Pueblo County Commissioners and staff Monday asked tough questions about the impacts of the Southern Delivery System on the county's environment, economy, property and roads. A phalanx of Colorado Springs officials responded that they are willing to cooperate, but were unable to come up with specifics on many points because they said they are still negotiating with Pueblo County staff. The commissioners also announced a timetable that would continue their public hearing on SDS to Jan. 21, followed by a meeting on Feb. 4 to air comments on mitigation...

"We understand that there are issues of capacity (on the joint use manifold)," said John Fredell, SDS project director. "We are in discussions with the Pueblo Board of Water Works and working out these issues."

Commissioners fired a barrage of questions at the Colorado Springs team for the first 90 minutes of the meeting, which was attended by about 70 people. Colorado Springs filed a written rebuttal to earlier staff and public comments, but commissioners were still concerned about everything from Fountain Creek to making sure landowners got a fair deal if the pipeline crossed their land. They wanted assurances that the pipeline would not be used to send water to thirsty Denver-area cities or even to northern El Paso County. Commissioners also wanted some guarantee that contractors and laborers in Pueblo County would get some work out of the project...

Bruce McCormick, Colorado Springs chief water officer, said the city is committed to following through on its commitments to improve Fountain Creek, contain future spills and control stormwater. Mark Glidden, an engineer for CH2MHill, explained his technical interpretation of how the project would affect Fountain Creek. Commissioners wanted a little more, including support for a new district on Fountain Creek and a commitment to fund some of the work envisioned by recent studies of the creek. "You say the increased flows don't add that much, but there are people here tonight who suffer on a daily basis," Chostner said. "If we do approve this permit, there will be significant emphasis on Fountain Creek."

Pueblo County consultant Paul Banks asked Colorado Springs why they balked at recommendations that would limit the use of additional water in the pipeline, enlargement of Pueblo Reservoir and the ability to sell water from the pipeline to other users. McCormick and Colorado Springs attorney David Robbins argued that the permit sought from Pueblo County is for a 78 million gallon per day pipeline and the source of water used to fill it is immaterial. McCormick said restricting it too much could limit land-fallowing lease programs like the Super Ditch in the Lower Arkansas Valley.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:28:15 PM    

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From the Johnstown Breeze (Matt Lubich): "It took two days of methodical, around-the-clock efforts on the part of Public Works crews, and eventually some late-night fence climbing skills, but officials now know why it was the weekend when the water went out in Milliken. Mayor Janie Lichtfuss said crews discovered a break in an 8-inch fire suppression line behind the All-American Homes factory along Colorado Highway 60 at about 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. "The factory has been closed for the holidays. They're not supposed to be back until Jan. 5," Lichtfuss said. "Crews found a hole about 10 feet in circumference and about 6 feet deep with a mini geyser coming out of it. You couldn't see it from the road.'"

Category: Colorado Water
7:18:21 PM    

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Here's an update on the Platte River Recovery Program from Robert Pore writing for the Grand Island Independent. From the article:

It could be a landmark year for the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program's ongoing efforts to help protect threatened and endangered wildlife species, said Mark Czaplewski, biologist for the Central Platte Natural Resources District. Czaplewski is a member of the recovery program's governance committee. With the program entering it third year, Czaplewski said it will begin the process of acquiring land along the Platte River. In May, President Bush signed legislation to implement the federal share of the recovery implementation plan. The plan is part of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, which was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Ben Nelson and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska...

The bill authorizes the secretary of the interior to proceed with the program and includes $157 million to carry it out. The cost will be shared 50/50 by the states and federal government. Through the program, the states will provide benefits for the endangered and threatened species as well as land, water and scientific monitoring and research to evaluate benefits of the program. Nebraska's share is about 40 percent, which has either already been contributed or will be an in-kind contribution once the project gets rolling.

Two of the big goals of the recovery plan are to increase flows in the Platte River and create new habitat to benefit the four endangered and threatened species the program is designed to protect. The species are the endangered interior least tern, whooping crane and pallid sturgeon and the threatened piping plover. The plan proposes to acquire 10,000 acres of new habitat between Lexington and Chapman...

Czaplewski said 3,000 of the 10,000 acres have already been acquired, including 2,600 acres of land midway between Elm Creek and Overton and 400 acres that are owned by the state of Wyoming and located near Kearney...

"We have already evaluated 50 tracks of land," he said. "Some of the land will go by the wayside, but on others, we are actively negotiating with landowners to see if we can work out a deal." The governance committee has also developed a "land interest holding entity," which Czaplewski said is a foundation started to hold titles of properties acquired by the program...

Czaplewski said the program's water advisory committee and program consultants have completed a "phase one study" of the various water projects that have been listed. "There are a lot of possible projects that the program is looking at with increasing detail," he said. "The program is focusing on the best of these water projects." One of those projects impacting the Central Platte NRD is the recovery implementation program partnering with the NRD on the proposed Elm Creek Reservoir, which is a flood control project northwest of Elm Creek...

Another area, Czaplewski said, is the recovery implementation program working with the Central Platte NRD and the state of Nebraska in ridding the Platte River of noxious weeds that use a lot of water, such as phragmites. Legislation will be introduced in the Legislature next year to continue the state's weed-fighting efforts on the Republican and Platte rivers.

Another area will be the ongoing management by the program of the environmental account at Lake McConaughy...

Also, Czaplewski said the program will continue to study and develop tools to better understand all the natural and manmade occurrences impacting water flows in the Platte River. "Nobody involved in this thing has all the answers by any stretch," he said. "The program is off and running here now, but there are still lots and lots of studies to do because we don't understand everything that is going on."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:10:18 PM    

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Here's a look back at 2008 in Grand County from Autumn Phillips and Tonya Bina writing for the Sky-Hi Daily News. From the article:

Kremmling saw a busy year of changes and improvements. At the beginning of 2008, Kremmling's water lines were in such bad shape the town was losing 60 percent of its water through leaks in the corroded steel pipes. At the end of 2008, Kremmling has nearly completed $957,000 in water pipeline replacement projects. Crews replaced about 11,000 feet of the 12,000-foot water transmission line...

In addition to Lake Granby, invasive mussel larvae have been detected in natural Grand Lake, in Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Willow Creek Reservoir in Grand County. Results from an independent laboratory confirm that both zebra and quagga mussels are present in Grand Lake...

The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission deferred setting a numerical clarity standard for Grand Lake until January 2014, choosing instead to grant a "narrative standard" for the interim. A clarity of 13.12 feet, or 4 meters, from July through September, a standard sought by West Slope water advocates, would have been the first lake clarity standard in the state of Colorado...

Due to a failing water treatment system, Hot Sulphur Springs residents were under orders from the state for at least six weeks to boil their water before consuming it. That was considered a long time in the state's view. Comparatively, the highly publicized March salmonella-contamination to the water supply in Alamosa prevented residents from using their water for three weeks.

Hot Sulphur Springs residents rejected three questions the town placed on the ballot to help fix its water system -- Measures 2A, 2B and 2C. The first ballot issue, 2A, asked if the town's taxes should double. The town gets around $80,000 a year from property taxes. About $30,000 would have gone toward town operations and ongoing expenses. And $50,000 would have been used to borrow up to $650,000 for water or road improvements.

Proposal 2B asked if the town would eliminate a 5.5 percent limit on the amount property tax revenues can grow from year to year, without changing the tax levy. Property taxes are only allowed to increase 5.5 percent, but in 2008 the town exceeded its allowed revenue by about $21,000 and must refund this money in 2009 by reducing the town's mill levy.

Issue 2C asked if the town debt should be increased by $2.15 million. The town had spent $300,000 fixing the water system and plant, and planned to spend another $200,000...

Years after a drought set into motion the desire by Front Range water providers to "firm up" their water rights on the Western Slope, Grand County became aware in 2008 of the need to educate itself and defend its water supply to preserve the quality of life of this area.

The newfound knowledge and community awareness led to many things in 2008. Threats to the region's water occupied the minds of dozens of Grand County citizens Oct. 9 as they defended why East Slope users should not be allowed to siphon more under the Continental Divide. Representatives from some of the East Slope cities that seek more Fraser/Colorado River water to satisfy impending growth also gave testimony at the SilverCreek Inn in Granby.

The Windy Gap Firming Project, about which a draft Environmental Impact Statement is circulating among the public, proposes to divert up to triple the amount of water that travels the Windy Gap system in an average year.

Grand County's unused water pumped to Lake Granby last summer may not go to waste. Grand County learned in October that it may still cash in the remaining 501 acre-feet of "free" water from the 1,500 acre feet it set aside in Lake Granby last summer after pumping cycles were completed. Last summer's deal, struck with Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District's Municipal Subdistrict, which controls the Windy Gap pumping facility, allowed Grand County to release water back in the river at any time during 2008 at any rate of flow it deemed necessary.

Grand County paid $57,500 for the energy needed to pump 1,500 acre feet of 2008 river overages back to the Granby reservoir for storage.

The Moffat Firming Project is the next major water project coming down the pipe in Grand County. Denver Water proposes to divert additional water through the Moffat Tunnel from the Fraser and Williams Fork rivers.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Moffat Collection System Project has been in Grand County's hands since Nov. 7.

Shortly after its receipt, Grand County sought an extension on the preliminary review period due the coinciding review period for the Draft EIS of the Windy Gap Firming Project.

In light of this and the complexity of the document, the Army Corps of Engineers regulatory office in Omaha agreed to extend the Moffat stakeholder comment period by 45 days. The original deadline was Dec. 10, extended to Jan. 24, to be followed by a public comment period.

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

Category: Colorado Water
6:50:47 PM    

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Here's some background on the Loveland and Berthoud water supplies and future requirements from Kathryn Dailey writing for the Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:

In 25 years, Loveland Water and Power Director Ralph Mullinix estimates the city will use twice as much water as it does now...

The city will maintain its policy requiring developers to bring in a water supply for new developments or the cash equivalent, Mullinix said...

Loveland currently gets most of its water from the Windy Gap and Colorado-Big Thompson projects. To store additional water, the city will likely need two more reservoir sites, which is why Mullinix and other officials are hoping for the approval of Chimney Hollow Reservoir near Carter Lake, he said.

City engineers also are scouting for sites between Loveland and Estes Park for a second reservoir. Construction on the second reservoir probably would have to start in about 2030, Mullinix said. "If the reservoir ever goes into planning, the city will have a fair amount of cash, but will then have to take a big bond issue, which would probably be paid off in 2070," he said, adding that the city puts money away for it each year...

Loveland currently uses about 14,000 acre-feet a year, but owns a little more than 20,000, he said...

Most of that water is stored at Green Ridge Glade Reservoir, which was expanded a couple years ago, he said. Loveland's current water treatment facility can handle about 30 million gallons per day, and during its peak day in 2007, it ran at about 97 percent capacity. Over the next 10 to 15 years, city staff will probably expand the facility in 4 million to 6 million gallon-per-day processing increments, he said...

[Treatment] capacity will likely be able to be expanded by another 10 million to 15 million gallons before city officials begin looking at an additional facility, Mullinix said...

The city's wastewater treatment facility is further from capacity. It can process 10 million gallons per day and is below 80 percent of capacity...

As the city's needs for water and infrastructure increase, so will the need of additional storage with the proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir...The proposed 90,000 acre-foot reservoir is part of the proposed Windy Gap Firming Project, which Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District officials hope the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will make a decision on in 2009, said water district spokeswoman Jill Boyd...

The project would benefit 14 entities, including the city of Loveland, and cost an estimated $270 million to build. It would sit on Larimer County-owned land and would offer recreation opportunities such as hiking and biking trails, Boyd said. The reservoir would store Windy Gap water, which originates west of the Continental Divide in the form of rain and snow, would be delivered through the existing Colorado-Big Thompson Project facilities -- including Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir. "The area would be getting the water its entitled to," Boyd said. Boyd likened the reservoir to the second phase of the Windy Gap Project, because officials have always known more storage would be needed, she said...

While Loveland will be able to accommodate its future water needs, other cities and towns in the region are looking to the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project to be a potential solution...

The project would serve 15 communities, and does not include Loveland or Berthoud. Public comment on the project closed in October, and Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District officials, who are spearheading the project, are waiting to hear from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about whether it will be permitted...

[Berthoud] Public Works Director Tony Huerta isn't too worried about the town's future water needs. Currently, the town's water treatment plant is functioning at 26 percent -- about 2 million gallons per day -- of its capacity, Huerta said. "We have ample supplies to meet our needs currently and in the future, even if we were to double our population," he said.

In 2009, the town has budgeted $75,000 for a master study of the town's water system to identify current and future needs and what it needs to do to start planning for the future. The biggest challenge is getting the raw water from Carter Lake -- which stores most of the town's water -- to the water treatment plant, Huerta said. The pipe from Carter to the facility can carry 6 million gallons per day, and town staff will continue to focus on making their current plant more efficient to increase its 4 million per day capacity to 6 million. Berthoud gets most of its water primarily from the Colorado Big Thompson Project, a development from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that "stores, regulates and diverts water from the Colorado River on the western slope of the Continental Divide to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains," according the Bureau's Web site. The rest of Berthoud's water comes from local ditch companies.

Berthoud's wastewater treatment plant will also be equipped to handle increased demands and is built to be expandable after it reaches capacity, Huerta said. In 2007, it processed about 930,000 gallons per day, which is about 23 percent of its capacity. Colorado law requires that as a wastewater plant gets to 75 percent of capacity, the town or city must begin plans and design for an expansion or new facility, and at 95 percent of capacity, the expansion or new facility should be in construction, Huerta said.

Meanwhile Les Williams, president of the Municipal Subdistrict of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, has written a column in favor of the Windy Gap Project for the Denver Post. A few excerpts:

Colorado needs more water. As things stand right now, the state will not have enough water for our population in the near future. We're not talking about a water shortage 100 years from now. This is a serious and immediate problem. Many Colorado communities face water shortages as early as 2010, and the Front Range as a whole is predicted to come up short of water by 2030. We have to act - and we have to act now with improved water conservation and new water projects. Alone, neither conservation nor projects can solve our water woes. But together they can help us tackle our water challenges and ensure Colorado remains the wonderful place that I have called home my whole life.

One proposed project that will help us meet our water demands is the Windy Gap Firming Project. It is being coordinated by the Subdistrict of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and it will provide water to more than 400,000 northern Colorado residents. The proposal includes a beautiful new reservoir called Chimney Hollow in Larimer County. The Windy Gap Firming Project represents the right approach to building much-needed water projects. It's a regional, collaborative project that minimizes impacts to the environment and makes economic sense...

- The Windy Gap Firming Project will never cause the Colorado River to dry up. The project is legally obligated to make sure there is water in the Colorado River below Windy Gap Reservoir. If the minimum streamflows are not being met, the project will not take any Colorado River water. The Windy Gap Project - and the Windy Gap Firming Project, if built - only diverts water from the Colorado River during the peak-flow season in late spring and early summer. The Windy Gap Project does not and cannot take water from the Colorado River during late summer or early fall when flows are low.

- The water providers who will receive the water from the project have in place progressive water conservation programs. These participating communities reduced their per capita water usage by 26 percent from 1988 to 2003. Their conservation programs include requirements and rebates for water-efficient fixtures and appliances; regulations and incentives to reduce outdoor water use through limits on outdoor watering, Xeriscape programs and educational campaigns; leak detection programs; pipe replacement and lining; and technological improvements at water treatment and wastewater facilities. Some of the participants also have in place infrastructure that allows them to recycle their water and maximize use of it. The participants are committed to conserving, but even with heightened conservation, they also need additional water supplies from the Windy Gap Firming Project.

Finding enough water for our state is a huge challenge and one that affects each and every citizen of Colorado. I encourage you to educate yourself on the facts. Visit to learn about the proposed Windy Gap Firming Project.

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

Category: Colorado Water
6:35:21 AM    

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