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 10, 2009

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We're doing network maintenance today. may be unavailable at times. You can read Coyote Gulch at

2:44:34 PM    

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From the Sterling Journal Advocate (K.C. Mason): "Northeastern Colorado's all-Republican delegation to the 2009 state Legislature found little to cheer in Thursday's State of the State speech by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter. District 1 Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray and Reps. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and Cory Gardner of Yuma all heard more negatives than positives in the governor's 45-minute message to a joint session of the House and Senate. Their main problem: How can the Ritter administration make job growth its top priority in revitalizing Colorado's economy while thwarting the state's top industry with new rules and regulations on oil and gas producers?"

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
12:52:22 PM    

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Here's an update on plans to add storage capacity to Chatfield Reservoir, from Greg Liptak writing for YourHub. From the article:

The US Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement to develop costs and evaluate impacts on four proposals related to the Chatfield Reservoir. The Roxborough Water and Sanitation District is participating with many local and state groups in the study...

Two of the four proposals propose no new storage in the Reservoir. The third proposal envisions raising the top level of the Reservoir by 5 feet to provide for an additional 7,700 Acre Feet of storage. The fourth proposal, and the one most likely to be pursued, calls for raising the level 12 feet to 5,444 feet above mean sea level. This is the maximum amount of additional storage possible without affecting the flood control purpose. An additional 20,600 acre-feet of water storage is possible. In this scenario, fifteen water users would share the new storage.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
12:47:58 PM    

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Some prairie east of Denver moved closer to going back to its native self this week when Lend Lease terminated their agreement to develop the old Lowry Bombing Range. Readers may remember the recent hubbub around a sustainable water supply. We're pretty sure there's enough water out there for antelope, deer and jackrabbits -- along with the occasional coyote of course.

Here's a report from John Rebchook writing for the Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

Lend Lease Communities LLC announced Friday that it has terminated its agreement with the Colorado State Land Board to develop the Lowry Range in Arapahoe County into what could have been one of the largest sustainable communities moving forward in the U.S. Plans for the 30-year, multibillion-dollar project collapsed because Lend Lease said it was unable to secure a sustainable and economical source of water for the proposed 3,800-acre development north of Quincy Avenue.

Coyote Gulch wondered how economical it would be for Pure Cycle to move water from the lower Arkansas River as they had proposed to do. Here's the bad part from the article:

Under the contract, the land board will have to reimburse Lend Lease for millions of dollars in expenses it has incurred since 2006, although the final numbers are still being calculated, Waggett said.

Will Pure Cycle will be on the hook for any of that dough? Here's the reaction from enviros:

Environmental groups criticized the project for its distance from the urban core, saying it would add to suburban sprawl, put more commuters on the road and didn't have proven water supplies. Pam Kiely, of Environment Colorado, on Friday described the plan as "state-sponsored dumb growth," adding "this is an exciting opportunity for the state to reverse direction" at the site. Waggett said that while some environmental groups weren't keen on developing the land, they did recognize Lend Lease's commitment to sustainability. And he said groups should be applauding it for not going forward without a sustainable water supply. If it had continued with its plan, Lend Lease would have collaborated with environmental groups, much like it did with Greenpeace in Australia for the Olympics, he said.

More coverage from the Aurora Sentinel:

Australian-based developer Lend Lease has officially withdrawn from a project that would have seen the eventual development of more than 3,800 acres in a project spanning over 24,000 acres on the former Lowry Bombing Range. In an announcement released Jan. 9, the company officially announced its termination of a development deal that was slated to see the development of 17,000 acres of conservation land and about 3,800 acres of residential development on the tract on the outskirts of southeast Aurora. Lend Lease Communities President Chris Waggett cited an inadequate water supply for the project as the prime reason for the termination. Lend Lease originally won the development deal from the State Land Board in December 2006.

"The stars have got to align. I think we brought the stars into the same universe. The alignment didn't happen. It will be a question of when that may happen in the future," Waggett said. "I won't die wondering whether I could have done anymore. There was absolutely nothing more that Lend Lease could have done ... The disappointment was that I wasn't in the position of ultimately delivering outcomes. That was down to others and that's where it floundered."

Meanwhile, here are Pure Cycle's first quarter results, from The Earth Times.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
12:31:53 PM    

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Charles E. Bedford, state director for the Nature Conservancy, makes the case for unspoiled lands and waterways as an investment for the state, in today's Denver Post. From the article:

True, many people don't think about ecosystems -- clean water, air and open space -- as investments with a financial value. Rather, we think of them as priceless. But it is imperative that we recognize and re-invest in our natural resources just as we plan our country's economic future. Nature has real economic value to us all when left intact and functioning, and not just when we turn it into a commodity.

So, in this time of economic downturn, there's good news about our environmental portfolio, because we have invested wisely in our natural resources. I want to commend the gains made by a number of people and agencies across the state for their wise investments in the environment and the natural world.

Click through and read the whole thing. He gives a shout out to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for protecting in-stream flows and Marathon Oil (and others) for the tamrisk removal along the San Miguel River.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
12:17:27 PM    

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Here's a recap of a recent Windsor Town Board meeting where a change of use for Kern Reservoir was a hot topic, from Ashley Keesis-Wood writing for the Windsor Beacon. From the article:

"I recommend an executive session soon to get you up to date on the pending Kern Reservoir litigation," said Windsor Town Manager Kelly Arnold. The case centers on changing the use of the Kern Reservoir and Ditch Company water from agricultural irrigation to multiple uses, such as augmentation of groundwater wells for park irrigation. It is scheduled to go to court in June 2009.

Windsor is also working on developing a master plan for its potable (drinking) water in 2009. Clear Water Solutions is designing the plan. The conservation plan, which was discussed by the board in depth in December, will be used as the town applies for low-interest loans from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. Those loans will most likely be used to help the town cover its $33 million or $34 million share in the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a collaborative effort between 15 municipalities and water districts begun in 2000...

Windsor Mayor John Vazquez asked whether the town typically carried a surplus of water each year. "In a perfect year, we break even," said Windsor Director of Engineering Dennis Wagner. "In extreme drought years, like 2002, we have been forced to temporarily rent extra water, and in other years we have carried a little over." In those surplus years, the town does have the option to rent out the extra shares, Wagner said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
12:05:13 PM    

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Here's an update on the Lower Arkansas Valley Super Ditch Company, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Since 1960, the Arkansas Valley has lost 60,000 acres of irrigated agriculture land. The goal of the Super Ditch, a water marketing corporation formed last year, is to make sure the same thing doesn't happen in the next 50 years, said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, which shepherded Super Ditch into existence. "The theory is you give up a little to get a lot," Winner told Action 22 at its water workshop this week...

When the Super Ditch formed last May, the farmers who signed on committed to cooperating, but would not actually contribute water until contracts are negotiated. The concept is to pool the water, which would be gained by not farming a certain percentage of land. Whose land would be fallowed, and when, remains to be worked out, since there are no contracts yet. The Lower Ark has funded research at the Colorado State University Agriculture Research Center near Rocky Ford to determine the effects of fallowing land for up to three years. Initial results show some benefits in productivity after fallowing.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
11:51:12 AM    

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From the Christian Science Monitor (Moises Velasquez-Manoff): "For 15 years, Craig Allen, a scientist with the US Geological Survey, has monitored a 2.7-acre plot here in northern New Mexico. During that time, he's witnessed smaller tree species succeeding larger ones. He's seen dry years, bark- beetle infestations, large-scale tree dieback, and finally, a shift toward grassland. To Dr. Allen, these changes tell a tale of combined human impacts - overgrazing, fire suppression, and climate change. And they underscore how human activity can amplify the effects of natural cycles to alter a landscape dramatically."

Most of the piñons at Gulch Manor South went down a few years ago, down in Montezuma County. We're hoping the pine stands in the San Juans are spared.

Category: Climate Change News
8:50:59 AM    

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