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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Saturday, January 3, 2009

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From the North Forty News (Cherry Sokoloski): "Greeley officials will begin the design phase of a water pipeline through LaPorte early this year, according to project manager Dan Moore. The 60-inch pipeline, which will deliver water from the city's Bellvue treatment plant to Greeley, is being built in sections. The LaPorte section is next to last on the schedule. Plans for the LaPorte segment have drawn strong criticism from local landowners, who have concerns about impacts on the Cache la Poudre River and historic resources...Moore said his office will begin contacting property owners early this spring during the design phase to discuss their issues. He said the preferred route is more of a corridor at present than an exact route, and some flexibility is possible in terms of meeting landowners' concerns. 'We can work with certain variances," he said, 'but it all has to work together like one big puzzle.' Greeley hopes to begin construction on the LaPorte section of pipe in 2010 or 2011."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
9:05:40 AM    

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Reverse Osmosis is used widely to treat drinking water in areas where the source is highly saline or contains minerals such as uranium or radium. The byproduct of the process is highly polluted brine. The East Cherry Creek Valley is planning to utilize a settling pond to allow some of their brine from a proposed treatment plant to percolate into the ground in the Beebe Draw aquifer. This has raised concerns from those that have wells in the area, according to a report by Gene Sears writing for the Brighton Standard-Blade. From the article:

East Cherry Creek Valley Water District's effluent may not be trash, per se, but it is unusable waste nonetheless. Millions of gallons of waste are dumped yearly. Through a series of land and water deals complicated in execution but simple in intent, ECCV intends to unload brine water leftovers from the treatment of drinking water destined for the city of Centennial upon the citizens of Weld County. And that worries farmers like [David DeChant]. As proposed, the ECCV Water District's ambitious plan ferries wastewater from a soon-to be-built reverse osmosis plant near Barr Lake downhill to a football field-sized retention pond near Weld County Road 39. From there, the brackish byproducts will percolate straight down into the groundwater of the Beebe Draw aquifer. That aquifer supplies shallow wells to rural residents users and farms - including DeChant's - across the area. He and a growing contingent of neighbors oppose the process, certain that more salinity in their wells will hurt crops and drinking water for years to come, most likely permanently.

The process, given the nod by Colorado District Court Water Division 1 Judge Roger A. Klein, is on the fast track. But opponents of the project pin their hopes on a Jan. 6 public meeting with Colorado State Health Department officials who will make the final determination.

The ECCV Northern Project is another example of the south Denver metro area looking north for usable water and, in this case, even farther north than usual for a place to dump their unusable water. While only ECCV will be carrying water south initially, members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority - Arapahoe County, Centennial Water, Cottonwood Water, Inverness Water, Stonegate Village Metropolitan District, and Castle Rock - paid for additional water capacity in the pipe, which has an estimated capacity of 50,000 acre-feet a year. In the beginning, ECCV plans to pump 3,000 acre-feet of water a year, run it through its reverse osmosis plant, then mix the salt-laden waste - about 15 percent of what goes through the system - with Barr Lake water to bring it to a level of hardness that ECCV says is about the same as the existing water in the Beebe Draw aquifer.

Category: Colorado Water
8:53:58 AM    

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The Cañon City Daily Record says that the proposed uranium mining efforts in the Tallahassee area of Fremont County was their top story for 2008. Here's a report from Debbie Bell:

Surrounded by opposition, the controversial Conditional Use Permit to allow uranium exploration in the Tallahassee area was approved unanimously by the Fremont County Commissioners in June.

Headquartered in Australia, Black Range Minerals faced heavy resistance from residents in its quest to test the area northwest of Cañon City for the economic viability of a full uranium mining and milling operation. The commissioners listened to almost seven hours of testimony from 70 people during a June public hearing and sifted through stacks of documentation before approving the permit.

The county pledged to be a strict watchdog to ensure strict compliance to a lengthy list of conditions. Black Range Minerals is paying for an independent, third-party water expert to monitor surface and groundwater throughout the exploration process.

That expert, hydrogeologist Bruce Smith of Western Water & Land Inc. in Grand Junction, hosted a public meeting in November to answer citizens' questions. He told residents the exploration presents a low risk of aquifer cross contamination.

Tallahassee residents have openly scoffed at the wisdom of allowing exploration of uranium in the area, despite similar drilling about 30 years ago during the Hansen Project, a nearby uranium exploration project by Cyprus Mines Corp.

Black Range is in the process of drilling about 800 test holds on a 3,900-acre parcel of land, primarily on the Taylor and Boyer ranches. The targeted area lies generally south of CR 2 and west of the intersection of CR 2 and CR 21.

A lawsuit soon followed the county's issuance of a CUP. Tallahassee Area Community Inc., a group formed solely to fight the exploration, and others filed a Rule 106 lawsuit to appeal the decision. Rule 106 is an avenue to appeal the decision of an administrative body, such as the Fremont County Commissioners.

The case has been assigned to District Judge David Thorson's courtroom. No hearing date has been set.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
8:36:48 AM    

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From a release written by the town of Buena Vista in the Chaffee County Times:

The Town of Buena Vista was notified by the Great Outdoors Colorado board that the Town's request for $200,000 from the Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation Grant Program has been approved...

Goal of the project is to complete Phase Two development of the Buena Vista River Park. Elements of the project include construction of two more whitewater structures, modification of three existing structures, and construction of a small town park, including two bouldering rocks, parking, trail connections and open play areas. Total cost of the project is $293,700, including matching cash and in-kind contributions. The South Main Neighborhood and the Buena Vista Whitewater Project Committee (a local group of volunteers dedicated to fundraising for development of the whitewater park) have pledged cash of $32,595 and $35,350 in-kind.

The Town has pledged $2760 of in-kind support. In addition, local government will contribute the remaining $22,995 cash match required to complete the project. In a letter to the Chaffee County Commissioners, Mayor Cara Russell asked the County to contribute a portion of the local cash match. The Town's portion will come from its 2009 Conservation Trust Fund allocation...

According to Town of Buena Vista administrator Sue Boyd, "staff will participate in a teleconference early in January to learn about expectations and reporting requirements for the grant. Final design and permitting is expected by May so that park construction can begin and be completed before the end of the building season in 2009. Construction of the whitewater features is expected to begin in the fall of 2009 for targeted completion before the start of whitewater season in 2010."

Category: Colorado Water
8:30:41 AM    

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The Chaffee County League of Women Voters has scheduled two events dealing with water development, according to a release published in the Chaffee County Times:

The League of Women Voters of Chaffee County plans to host meetings this month focusing on water development.

On Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, the documentary movie "The Flow" will be screened. On Jan. 14 and Jan. 15, a representative of the Nestlé Corporation will discuss Nestlé's proposed water development in Chaffee County. These events will provide some perspectives on privatizing water resources not only in Chaffee County but worldwide.

"The Flow" is Irena Salina's award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st century - the world water crisis. It will be shown on Jan. 5 at 10 a.m. at Sangre de Cristo Electric Association, 29780 Hwy. 24 N., in Buena Vista. On Jan. 9, the documentary can be seen at 6 p.m. downstairs at the Salida Regional Library, 405 E St., in Salida.

Bruce Lauerman, Natural Resource Manager, Western Division, Nestlé Waters, will speak about the proposed Nestlé development on Thursday, Jan. 15. This presentation will begin at noon at the First Methodist Church in Salida, at 4th and D Streets. Trout Unlimited is co-sponsoring the same presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at the Buena Vista Community Center, 715 East Main St. The presentation will begin after a brief business meeting that begins at 7 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to attend all League of Women Voters meetings. Please refrain from wearing scents to the meeting in consideration of those who have allergies.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Visit the local LWV blog at

Call Marjie Gray at 395-8948 for more information about membership.

Coyote Gulch reviewed FLOW in September.

Category: Colorado Water
8:24:31 AM    

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Flows in the Arkansas River through Pueblo are one concern of the Pueblo County Commissioners as they work through Colorado Springs' permit application for their proposed Southern Delivery System, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

One of the primary goals of Pueblo County commissioners is to protect flows of the Arkansas River through Pueblo - a job one commissioner sees as unfinished from his time on City Council. "Conceptually, you are going to reroute the river from the dam, down Fountain Creek and to the confluence ... I want to see a living river come through the city for my kids and grandkids," Commissioner Jeff Chostner told Colorado Springs officials at a public hearing earlier this week on the proposed Southern Delivery System...

Chostner, like most of the council members and Pueblo Board of Water Works members - even those who voted for the IGAs - favored a route for SDS that would take water from the Arkansas River below the confluence of Fountain Creek. That option would yield more water at a lower cost per acre-foot for the project's firm yield, with a larger average yield at a slightly higher rate. It also would keep water flowing through Pueblo with or without the IGAs, and give Colorado Springs a self-interest in protecting water quality on Fountain Creek, proponents say. SDS Project Director John Fredell argued at an earlier meeting that Colorado Springs would not be any more concerned about Fountain Creek water quality because it would have to treat the water at the end of the pipe anyway.

Colorado Springs isn't considering the confluence option because of the additional energy costs associated with the reverse osmosis treatment that would be needed to remove salinity. The Bureau of Reclamation's comments in the environmental impact statement refute a suggestion by Pueblo County water attorney Ray Petros that the salinity problem could be overcome with a series of reservoirs upstream on Fountain Creek...

In comments to the county, Tom Autobee, a member of the Pueblo Board of Water Works, said maintenance or improvement of the flow program should be a condition of the permit. A Pueblo County staff report said an agreement being worked out between the Pueblo Board of Water Works and Colorado Springs Utilities would determine which water would be released to sustain critical low flows below the Pueblo Dam...

Gary Bostrom, water resources manager for Colorado Springs Utilities, told Pueblo County commissioners that the participants in the flow management program set up by the IGA to date have allowed 15,000 acre-feet to flow through Pueblo under mandatory curtailments, and another 11,650 acre-feet to be voluntarily released through Pueblo. That amounts, approximately, to a combined 9 cubic-feet-per-second, averaged over the four full years the program has been in operation. That's a fraction of what flows in the river. However, during a presentation to the Pueblo Board of Water Works earlier this year, it was pointed out the timing of flows is more critical than the overall amount. The program has target flows of at least 100 cfs year-round, with amounts ranging between 100 and 500 cfs from March 16 to Nov. 14. Most of the water is recaptured downstream for use in exchanges. Most of the mandatory curtailments have been from Colorado Springs and Aurora, with Pueblo and Colorado Springs splitting the voluntary releases evenly.

"The SDS project and Pueblo flow management program are related because Colorado Springs can terminate its participation if Colorado Springs cannot reasonably construct SDS from Pueblo Dam," the city states in its rebuttal. "If Colorado Springs is permitted to construct SDS as requested in this application, it will continue to participate in the (flow program) and will comply with all of its provisions."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:14:32 AM    

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Here's an update on Pagosa Springs' new treatment plant, from Jim McQuiggin writing for the Pagosa Sun. From the article:

Starks said he believes state approval for the site plan should come in, "by late-January, mid-February at the latest, but I'm pushing hard to get it done by the end of January 2009. We're hoping to open it up to bidding soon after that." Optimistic that the latest delays will not affect the construction schedule, Starks said the new plant was on track for breaking ground in the late spring and is projected to go on line in the spring of 2010...

Despite delays in planning and engineering, the Pagosa Springs Sanitation District was quick to raise customer rates in order to fund the project. As reported in The SUN in August, wastewater monthly rates rose almost 67 percent this past year, from $22.50 to $37.50 a month. As construction proceeds and the plant goes on line, those rates will continue to rise over the next few years. The rate hike was the direct result of the district's need to fund the new wastewater treatment facility. Over the past few years, the district found funding for the new plant from various sources, a mixture of loans and grants. The rate increase was a condition of a $1.5 million loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA). In order to secure the loan, the sanitation district agreed to substantial customer rate increases as set forth by the CWRPDA. Additionally, the CWRPDA mandated an increase in tap fees, from $3,750 per Equivalent Residential Tap (ERT) to $4,400 per ERT -- an increase of 17.3 percent. The compulsory rate hikes were due to a gap in funding for construction of the plant. The initial preliminary engineer's estimate of $4.3 million in 2006 rose $1 million in 2007 to $5.3 million. Although the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) promised the town $4.75 million in funding, a $1.25 million grant and a $1.5 million loan -- up $1 million from the district's initial DOLA application -- total funding for the plant fell short by about $550,000 After agreeing to the stipulated rate increases, the district closed on the CWRPDA loan back on Aug. 29.

Category: Colorado Water
8:04:50 AM    

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan: "The Town of Windsor has completed a draft water conservation plan. The plan is available for review from December 26, 2008 to February 24, 2009. The plan was developed by Clear Water Solutions, a consultant for the town. One major goal is to achieve a 12 percent water savings. Such savings create opportunities for the town to apply for grants for other capital water projects (such as NISP). Other goals include communication, leak detection and repair, meter testing and repair, xeriscape information and demonstration areas. The draft can be viewed on or downloaded from the town's Web site at or a hard copy is available for review in the office of the town clerk. "

Category: Colorado Water
7:57:54 AM    

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From the Associated Press via the Denver Post (John Rogers): "Jan Kleissl and a handful of his students at the University of California at San Diego think technology using laser beams might lead to a better way to conserve the millions of gallons of water sprayed each year on thirsty crops. He and his team are using a large aperture scintillometer to study how much water crops lose to evaporation and the peak times that water disappears. The hope is to give farmers a more accurate, up-to-date reading of how efficiently their crops are using water than current technology allows."

Category: Colorado Water
7:48:00 AM    

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From the Pagosa Daily Post (Sheila Berger): "Automated Meter Reading, or AMR, is the technology of collecting data via direct transmission from water meter or energy metering devices (gas, electric) and transferring that data to a central database for billing and analyzing. The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District has nearly completed installation of this relatively new technology.

"As a result, this is the first year in its 32-year history that the District has been able to bill residential customers for actual water use during the winter. Over 5100 radio transmitters, called FireFlys, have been installed on PAWSD customer commercial and residential meters, and the transmitted data was used in December to bill for actual November use."

Category: Colorado Water
7:37:16 AM    

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan): "A long-sought effort to build flood-control improvements in the Boxelder Creek basin north of Fort Collins has cleared another barrier. The Larimer County commissioners on [December 23rd] approved a fee structure for properties in the service area of the newly formed Boxelder Basin Regional Stormwater Authority that are outside of Fort Collins and Wellington. The annual fees, which for residential properties range from $62 to $97, are based on the type and property size and the amount of storm runoff that would come from impervious surfaces, such as rooftops and driveways. For nonresidential properties, the fee will be based on the amount and type of impervious surface times 3 cents per square foot. The fees go into effect Jan. 1. The first bills for the fees will be sent out with county tax notices in early 2010, said Rex Burns of the county's engineering department."

More coverage from Cherry Sokoloski writing for the North Forty News:

Last summer, Fort Collins, Wellington and Larimer County formed the Boxelder Basin Regional Stormwater Authority, a cooperative venture that will build detention facilities in the Boxelder Creek basin. The basin extends from Wyoming south to Timnath. The stormwater project, four years in the planning, will remove about 5,000 acres from the Boxelder Creek floodplain. In Wellington alone, 220 homes could be protected from flooding when the first phase of the project is complete. Other affected properties lie close to Interstate 25 and East Mulberry Street and have potential for commercial development. Properties within the floodplain must purchase flood insurance if they are mortgaged. After the Boxelder improvements are complete, this will no longer be necessary for most property owners in the creek's floodplain...

The project has three major components: expansion of Clark Reservoir northeast of Wellington, construction of a new Edson Reservoir east of Wellington and mid-basin channel improvements. Total cost of the project is estimated at $10.5 million. In 2008, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a $3 million grant for the first phase of the Boxelder project, the Clark Reservoir expansion. That phase will cost $4 million, and the three governmental entities are contributing the balance. Construction on this phase of the project could begin late this year. To pay for the second and third phases, each governmental entity will collect stormwater fees. Fort Collins and Wellington already collect such fees. The Wellington Town Board will consider an amended stormwater fee schedule in late January, to reflect costs of the Boxelder project. In Larimer County, the Boxelder fee will be collected only within the project's service area. That bill will go out with the annual property tax bill. While the fee takes effect as of Jan. 1, 2009, property owners will not be billed until 2010...

For its share of the project, Larimer County must come up with $333,000 per year. To do that, county staff has developed an up-and-down "stairstep" rate schedule. Small parcels will pay less than mid-sized parcels, but larger parcels (more than 5 acres) will also pay a smaller rate than mid-sized parcels. This is because large parcels have more open land and consequently a lower percentage of impervious areas. In addition to the annual user fees, the county will assess a one-time "system development fee" for any new structures built within the service area. As defined now, the service area includes 1,785 developed residential properties (including agricultural residences and mobile homes) and 162 developed nonresidential properties. For residential properties, annual fees will vary from $62 for a mobile home in a park to $97 for a parcel that's one-half to 1 acre in size. From there, rates will go down, with parcels larger than 20 acres paying $65 per year.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:29:16 AM    

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Here's a year end roundup for Park and western Jefferson counties from Tom Locke writing in the Fairplay Flume. A few excerpts:

-Total costs of Park County's snow- and wind-caused state of emergency are estimated at $1.1 million.

-Golden-based Horizon Nevada Uranium Inc. plans to mine uranium in a 4,000-acre area of southeast Park County in the area of South Park Ranches subdivision and sends 400 notices to property owners.

-An agreement by opposing parties leads to a finalization of condemnation of property in the Woodside Park subdivision by the Will-O-Wisp Metropolitan District. The land will be used for facilities that will withdraw water from Elk Creek for serving the Tanglewood Reserve development near Pine Junction...

-The Fairplay Sanitation board accepts the guaranteed maximum price of $5.1 million for the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant.

-Park County issues a press release saying Horizon Nevada Uranium Inc.'s proposed uranium mining in Park County isn't compatible with residentially zoned land and it is subject to Park County land use regulations...

-After zebra mussels are discovered at Pueblo Reservoir, boating at Antero Reservoir is halted due to the threat of zebra mussels infecting Antero, which is in southwestern Park County...

-Thousands of acres are staked and claimed for uranium mining in South Park...

-Great Outdoors Colorado awards $500,000 in lottery Funds to Colorado Open Lands and Park County for the purchase of a conservation easement on Tarryall Creek Ranch in Park County...

-The Red Hill Forest subdivision, two-plus miles southeast of Fairplay, initiates efforts to buy water from the Town of Fairplay and pipe it to the subdivision...

-Quagga mussel larvae are found at Tarryall Reservoir southeast of Jefferson...

-The Fairplay Sanitation District proposes a 31 percent increase in residential and commercial rates for 2009 and a 37 percent rise for entities exempt from property taxes...

-Fairplay's new wastewater plant begins operating the Monday before Thanksgiving...

-Golden-based New Horizon Uranium Corp. relinquishes its staked mining claims northeast of Hartsel as uranium prices drop and as it makes its Sand Creek property in Conserve County, Wyo., its main priority.

Category: Colorado Water
7:16:18 AM    

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