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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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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Here's an update on Fremont County's review of Colorado Springs' permit application to run their proposed Southern Delivery System from the Arkansas River near Penrose, from Debbie Bell writing for the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

Two Special Review Use permits for major projects top the Fremont County Planning Commission agenda Tuesday evening.

The $1 billion Southern Delivery System returns for discussion following the panel's vote to postpone a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners during a December meeting.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:07:20 PM    

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Here's an update on the advisory committee that will help set pumping rules for the San Luis Valley, from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier. From the article:

"The benefit of establishing an advisory committee is that all stakeholders can be represented and provide advice and recommendations to me in shaping the rules and regulations," Wolfe stated. "It is my hope this large group will be able to sufficiently represent the many varied interests in the basin."

In the order establishing the advisory committee, Wolfe cited his authority under the General Assembly to administer ground water in Water Division 3 (the Valley) in order to protect senior water rights, maintain aquifer sustainability, reduce further water declines and encourage the use of ground water management sub-districts.

Wolfe added that by statute he is required to regulate the waters of the state according to the state's constitution, Water Rights Determination and Administration Act and other laws. He cited statutes that provide the state engineer with wide discretion in permitting continued underground water use "consistent with preventing material injury to senior surface water rights."

Wolfe stated that the purpose of the proposed rules/regulations will be to protect vested water rights in the basin "while at the same time encouraging the maximum beneficial utilization of Colorado's water under sustainable conditions."

Recognizing the "complex surface water and groundwater systems in the Rio Grande Basin," Wolfe said he decided it would be beneficial to create an advisory committee comprised of waters users and representatives from groups with water rights interests in the basin.


Wolfe is requesting one representative from each of the following water districts to make up the advisory committee: Alamosa - La Jara Water Conservancy District; Conejos Water Conservancy District; Rio Grande Water Conservation District; San Luis Valley Irrigation District; San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District; and the Trinchera Water Conservancy District.

In addition, the state engineer is seeking one representative from each of these geographic areas or water user associations: Acequia Preservation Association; Alamosa-La Jara area; Carnero/La Garita area; Costilla/Culebra area; Saguache area; Rio Grande Senior Water Users; San Luis Valley Well Users Association; Rio Grande Water Users Association; Empire Canal Water Users; Rio Grande Canal Water Users Association; Trinchera Irrigation Company; Costilla Acequia Association; and the Sanchez Ditch and Reservoir Company.

Wolfe is also seeking one county commission nominee from: Alamosa; Conejos; Costilla; Mineral; Rio Grande; and Saguache Counties. He is also seeking municipality representation from Alamosa, Blanca/Fort Garland, Center, Creede, Monte Vista, Saguache and San Luis.

The federal and state agencies are not left out. Wolfe has included one representative from each of these agencies: Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service; Colorado Division of Wildlife; National Parks Service - Great Sand Dunes National Park; Natural Resources Conservation Service; and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The state engineer will also select at least five others to serve on the advisory committee representing additional appropriators of water in the basin, engineers or water attorneys who practice in the basin.

The state will also accept individual nominations by email to

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:45:44 PM    

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From the Examiner/Denver (Tony Hake): "A new study sponsored by Aspen Mountain and the Park City Mountain Resort warns that Colorado's ski industry faces a grave threat from global warming. According to the authors, a warming globe will at best force ski areas to move to higher altitudes to reach snow and at worst, will find themselves out of business due to no snow at all. "

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
6:17:15 PM    

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams): "Even as Republican state lawmakers gear up to make Colorado a more oil-shale-friendly business climate, a group of national and regional environmental groups Tuesday announced their intent to sue the federal Bureau of Land Management over so-called 'midnight' leasing regulations pushed through by the Bush administration.

"A group that includes the Center for Biological Diversity, Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Sierra Club Tuesday sent a notice of intent to sue to outgoing Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director James Caswell outlining alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act."

Meanwhile, San Miguel County is asking the USFS some tough questions about the acreage included in a recent oil and gas lease sale. Here's a report from the Telluride Daily Planet.

This morning, San Miguel County Commissioners will meet with officials from the United States Forest Service to talk about what they say is a rushed decision by an outgoing administration to lease delicate public lands to oil and gas companies for drilling.

On Feb. 12, about 48,000 acres of San Miguel County will be offered for oil and gas leasing; statewide, 133,054 acres will be on the block in the Bureau of Land Management's quarterly lease sale. San Miguel County has the most acreage available of any county in Colorado, and officials are alarmed by more than just the acreage.

Last week, the USFS announced it would pull the leases that fell within roadless areas, blaming an oversight. The decision to yank some leases eliminated parcels in the Naturita Canyon area.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:00:29 PM    

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Here's a look at the upcoming legislative session from Peter Marcus writing in the Denver Daily News. They say that Chis Romer is going to re-introduce a bill for exempt domestic cisterns.

Category: Colorado Water
6:44:07 AM    

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Get your carpool together for the Ouray Ice Festival this weekend. Here's a report from the Denver Post:

Pioneered and promoted by ice-climbing guru Jeff Lowe in 1996 and now owned by Ouray Ice Park Inc., this weekend's festival is recognized worldwide as the premier gathering of its kind. Of course, there isn't all that much rivalry when it comes to celebrations of frozen water that include ax-throwing contests, tightrope walks across an icy gorge and ice-climbing competition, which draws the discipline's top dogs.

The weekend also includes a variety of climbing clinics from beginner to advanced, kids climbing events, gear expos, auctions, films, parties and presentations. Simply standing around and gawking at the surrounding spectacle in the magnificent ice park is acceptable behavior as well. Just be sure to wear warm shoes, and maybe leave a little something in the hat for the nonprofit park that generates half its annual income from this one- of-a-kind carnival.

Category: Colorado Water
6:38:07 AM    

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From the San Diego Union-Tribune (Robert Krier): "San Diego had its wettest November-December combo in 23 years, yet the dreaded 'D' word keeps popping up. Yes, meteorologists are still talking about continued drought in their long-range predictions. La Niña is the culprit. The periodic atmospheric pattern, which tends to keep storms away from Southern California, is flexing its muscles for the second straight year.

Klaus Wolter, a climate researcher for the University of Colorado and a federal water-assessment team, predicted a La Niña back in November [^] before any storms hit Southern California. Now he says he thinks La Niña is strengthening but sees a glimmer of hope for precipitation in late January...The Colorado River Basin, the other major source of imported water for Southern California, fared better than the Sierra last year, and the same is happening this year, Wolter said. The snowpack in Colorado is about 120 percent of normal, and the rest of the watershed is above or near normal."

Category: Colorado Water
6:33:11 AM    

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From Red, Green and Blue: "Barack Obama's nominee for Interior Secretary, Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, says he has some unfinished business to take care of before he leaves the Senate and takes the helm at the Interior Department. Salazar will be in the unique position of working on legislation that would give new protections to public lands and then ushering those new protections along with him to Interior.

More from the article:

The bills supported by Sen. Ken Salazar include (from the Denver Post):

- The Arkansas Valley Conduit Authorization Act establishes a 35 percent federal cost share for the construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit, a proposed 130-mile water delivery system from Pueblo Dam.

- The Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area Act designates 210,000 acres of federally owned land on the Uncompahgre Plateau as the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.

- The Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Area Act designates 249,339 acres in the park as wilderness.

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area Act includes Conejos, Costilla and Alamosa counties.

- The South Park National Heritage Area Act includes 19 ranches and 17,000 acres of wetlands and agricultural lands in the headwaters of the South Platte River.

- The Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Act authorizes federal funding to rehabilitate the Jackson Gulch irrigation canal near Mancos.

- The Northern Front Range Backdrop Study Act identifies ways to protect natural resources and open spaces near the Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest.

- The Baca National Wildlife Refuge Management Act defines the purpose of the refuge as one "to restore, enhance, and maintain wetland, upland, riparian, and other habitats for native wildlife, plant, and fish species in the San Luis Valley."

- The Upper Colorado River Basin Fund Act provides funding to continue endangered fish recovery implementation programs.

Category: Colorado Water
6:28:01 AM    

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