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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Thursday, January 15, 2009

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From the Conejos County Citizen (Larry Winget): "Users of Antonito municipal water and sewer systems could be looking at rate increases for those services, depending on information being gathered now by the Antonito Board of Trustees. The matter came under discussion during the BOT's regular monthly meeting, held Jan. 8, when Trustee Virginia Sylvester proposed raising water and sewer rates each by $1.50 per month."

Category: Colorado Water
7:04:07 PM    

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From Westword: (Alan Prendergast): "...but this is Ken Salazar we're talking about, the famously affable, centrist senator from Colorado. Wearing a bolo tie and flag pin (but no cowboy hat), he emerged from the three-hour chat with his colleagues on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Thursday morning smiling and unscathed. No one laid a glove on him."

More coverage from Avery Palmer writing for CQ Politics:

Sen. Ken Salazar told a Senate panel Thursday that if confirmed as Interior secretary, he will try to include funding for national parks and other public lands in the pending economic stimulus package. At the confirmation hearing, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Chairman Jeff Bingaman questioned Salazar about the economic recovery plan that House Democratic leaders had outlined. Bingaman urged Salazar to make sure the final plan includes funding to address deferred maintenance projects for national parks, forests and water infrastructure.

In particular, Bingaman, D-N.M., said he wants to address a $9.5 billion backlog in maintenance projects at the National Park Service, a $5 billion backlog at the Forest Service and $3 billion for aging water infrastructure. He also said the stimulus plan could help fund Bureau of Indian Affairs schools.

"Our first and foremost task will be to restore the integrity of the Department of Interior" -- Ken Salazar via Reuters (Ayesha Rascoe).

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:55:44 PM    

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From the Fairplay Flume (Tom Locke): "The United States Senate passed a bill Thursday that would establish the South Park National Heritage Area in Park County, and the bill, or some form of it, is expected to pass the U.S. House of Representatives and be signed by the president. The Senate passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Senate Bill 22) by a vote of 73-21. The act is actually a package of 160 lands bills that includes one bill targeting the South Park designation. It had broad bipartisan support in the Senate and is expected to have broad bipartisan support in the House."

From the Fairplay Flume (Linda Bjorklund):

Park County Tourism and Community Development Director Gary Nichols compiled a great deal of the information that went into the proposal, but is not just waiting around for results. He has obtained more than $100,000 in grants to move forward on identification of suitable areas to include and has enlisted support of five owners whose properties fit the profile for historic preservation:

"The budget is $150,000," Nichols said. "We are preparing master plans for each of those five sites."

Those properties are:

- The Buffalo Peaks Ranch, formerly the Guiraud Ranch, for whom the early town of Garo was named. It is located just off Colorado Highway 9 between Fairplay and Hartsel.

- The Paris Mill, located in Buckskin Gulch, about three miles west of Alma.

- The Santa Maria Ranch, along the South Platte River north of Hartsel.

- The Salt Works Ranch, near Antero Junction.

- The Como Roundhouse, just off U.S. 285 at Como.

The Paris Mill has also been designated by Colorado Preservation Inc. as an Endangered Place in its program to identify historical structures that should be saved.

Category: Colorado Water
6:11:48 PM    

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Grand County's comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District's proposed Windy Gap Firming Project contains some strong wording and deep confidence in the science behind their report. Here's a report from Tonya Bina writing for the Sky-Hi Daily News. From the article:

Regarding the water project, which would take additional Colorado River water across the Continental Divide for use by cities and utilities on the northern Front Range, Grand County calls the Northern Colorado Water Conservation Municipal Subdistrict's proposal "illegal." "An illegal alternative is not a reasonable alternative," states a line out of comments prepared for Grand County by a team of water rights experts, water attorneys, water engineers, National Environmental Policy Act specialists and water scientists.


The county maintains that the Windy Gap Firming Project cannot be decided in a vacuum without including the federal water-delivery system that will enable it -- the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT) that incorporates Grand County's "Great Lakes." Grand County is opposed to the Subdistrict's proposal to store municipal water in Granby Reservoir as well as "federal" C-BT water in a proposed Front Range reservoir built near Carter Lake called "Chimney Hollow." These measures are known as pre-positioning. "You can't store C-BT water in a non-C-BT facility," said Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran, "and Chimney Hollow is not a C-BT facility. It's our opinion that Senate Document 80 must be amended."


...the Northern Colorado Water Conservency District, the water-delivery agency, disagrees with the county's assessment that pre-positioning water is illegal. "We disagree," said Northern spokesperson Brian Werner, who said he just received Grand County's comments the day prior. "The bureau has stated and has told Grand County that they have the authority to do pre-positioning; they have the legal standing to do so."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:28:07 PM    

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From the Aurora Sentinel (Adam Goldstein): "The city's ambitious $754-million water project is on schedule, according to officials from the water department. During the first Water Policy Committee meeting of the new year, representatives from the city's Prairie Waters Project updated the newly reconfigured body about the progress of construction on the effort. The project, which will convey water from riverbank wells along the South Platte River just north of Brighton to a purification facility near the Aurora Reservoir, is scheduled for completion in 2010."

More from the article:

Darrell Hogan, program director for the Prairie Waters Project, broke down its progress by different sections and construction sites. According to Hogan's data, the city has so far expended almost $678 million on the project, which has been projected to cost $754,800,000. With all major permits for the project already acquired, one of the biggest remaining construction will be the third segment of the pipeline, which will stretch east from E-470, then south at Smith Road to the Aurora Water Purification Facility near the Aurora Reservoir. While Hogan said that the first segment of the pipeline, which will pump water from wells north of Brighton poses the biggest challenge in terms of construction, he also pointed to significant progress. More than $65,680,000 of the section's $64,961,920 has been spent, and the pipe is expected to be completed by June of 2010...

Hogan said that the pipeline's second segment, which runs from Commerce City south to 28th Avenue in Aurora, is 99 percent completed and that the full budget of $21,820,041 has been committed.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:38:07 AM    

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From the Aspen Daily News: "A deal to preserve the 611-acre Cold Mountain Ranch owned by Bill Fales and Marj Perry in the Crystal River Valley was given preliminary approval by the Pitkin County commissioners on Wednesday. The county board voted 5-0 to approve an open space master plan and to buy a conservation easement on the ranch for $7.5 million, which will protect 160 acres on a mesa above the ranch and 451 acres on the valley floor a mile up from the Carbondale town line. The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board had earlier approved the master plan and agreed to spend $5.1 million from the county's open space and trails fund toward the purchase. The remaining $2.4 million for the easement is coming from Great Outdoors Colorado as part of the $5 million Crystal Watershed Legacy Program."

Category: Colorado Water
6:20:45 AM    

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Here's some snowpack news from the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): "Statewide, snowpack was at 121 percent of the long-term average on Tuesday, about the same as last January, when record numbers began piling up in the southern mountains. The pattern this year, however has spread more evenly over the Western Slope, with generous amounts in the central mountains. The Arkansas River basin has the highest snowpack levels in the state at 149 percent. Equally important is the Roaring Fork basin, which supplies most of the transmountain water for the Arkansas Valley, which is at 138 percent of average...

"Snow sensors monitored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service show snow depths of between 4-5 feet at elevations above 10,000 feet and 2-3 feet above 8,500 feet in the area. The water content, which is more important to water users, is more than a foot in most higher elevations, and 5-8 inches in the lower areas. The numbers are a lot like last year, except that the snow has accumulated more gradually since November this year. Last year, there was little snowfall before January...

Arkansas River basin reservoirs are at slightly lower levels than last year, while river flows are running near average levels. Arkansas River flows above Pueblo were about 400 cfs this week, including about 100 cfs of water that is being moved from Turquoise and Twin lakes to Pueblo Reservoir in anticipation of heavy spring runoff. Storage in Lake Pueblo was about 204,000 acre-feet Tuesday, roughly the same as last year, when water managers were concerned about the possibility of some accounts spilling. Water is being stored throughout the basin in the winter water program, which as of Dec. 31 had stored more than 62,000 acre-feet, about the same as last year."

Category: Colorado Water
6:15:21 AM    

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Three El Paso County cities have signed on the the IGA for the management of the Fountain Creek Watershed worked out by Pueblo County and El Paso County, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Colorado Springs City Council voted 8-1 in favor of the agreement, with Councilman Tom Gallagher voting against. Meanwhile, Fountain City Council approved the agreement 7-0, while Manitou Springs voted 5-0 to sign on after about three hours of discussion.

Pueblo City Council will take up the question in early February, said President Vera Ortegon. The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District is expected to consider the IGA at its meeting next week.

An interim board, with representatives who have so far signed the agreement, will have its first meeting at 2 p.m. Friday at Fountain City Hall, said El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark. The district would have to be created by the state Legislature, along the same lines as the Denver Urban Drainage District. State Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, and Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, are expected to sponsor the legislation. The special district would have primary land-use authority in the 100-year flood plain along Fountain Creek from Fountain to Pueblo. It would primarily manage projects aimed at controlling floods, reducing sedimentation and erosion, improving drainage and enhancing water quality. The district also would provide input to land-use policies in El Paso and Pueblo counties...

Colorado Springs and Fountain each would have a seat on a nine-member board envisioned by the IGA, while smaller municipalities and commissioners would fill the other seats dedicated to El Paso County. Pueblo County, the city of Pueblo, the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District (or a second appointment by commissioners) and a citizen appointed by commissioners and council jointly would fill the Pueblo County seats on the district board. The ninth member would be appointed by a citizen's advisory group that would extend the work of the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force in discussing issues relating to Fountain Creek.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:09:17 AM    

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