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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Saturday, January 24, 2009

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Here's an update on Montrose's efforts to shore up buffer zones along the Uncompahgre River through town, from Beverly Corbell writing for the Telluride Watch. From the article:

The city charged [Friends of the River Uncompahgre] with coming up with an overlay of the river to show proposed buffer zones, Haugsness said. That "future buffer ordinance" was on display at an open house last night (Jan. 21) at the Montrose Pavilion at 1800 Pavilion Drive, where city staff were on hand to gather public input and discuss the specific elements of the proposed ordinance.

According to a city news release, preserving the river corridor was the most highly ranked public objective of the 2008 Comprehensive Plan. The plan recommends a 100-foot buffer between the river and any pavement or structures and is the basis for the new ordinance.

Haugsness said members of FORU, since its formation two years ago, have worked hard on projects like river cleanup and getting information out to the public about the importance of the river.

Members of FORU are not concerned about growth, Haugsness said, but with maintaining water quality.

Thanks to The Water Information Program for the link. More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
10:15:32 AM    

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The trial portion of the tussle between Telluride and Idarado over Blue Lake wrapped up late last week, according to a report from Katie Klingsporn writing for the Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:

The town and Idarado wrapped up a two-week trial late last week in Montrose that saw the two bodies battling over water and infrastructure rights, contractual language and water quality. The trial began on Jan. 5, and arguments wrapped up last Thursday, with the judge requesting both parties file additional information. Once he receives these, he will deliberate the case, but it's impossible to say just when he will deliver his ruling...

The disputes are rooted in the complicated language and intricate statues of water law, and it's a story that reaches back years. At its essence, it comes down to the town accusing Idarado of a breach of contract that delayed town plans and cost the town money, and Idarado answering that it just wants to ensure that its water rights -- as well as remediation obligations -- are protected.

The town has been working on this water plant -- called Pandora -- for several years, and says it's vital to the future of the town's water supply and storage capacity. (Eight years ago, the town conducted a water study that concluded that Telluride would need to have a plant in place by 2008 to meet its growing water needs.) Much of the project's work is done; the engineering is complete, the site for the plant secured, the town even has voter-approved bonds for construction.

But as the town and Idarado neared the end of negotiations, quarrels arose over language in 1992 settlement agreement penned by the two parties that mapped out Idarado's senior water rights and gave consent for the town to build a water supply system in Bridal Veil Basin. Provisions in the agreement would give the mining company the right to recall not only its water right, but any proportionate ownership in water storage and conveyance structures.

Thanks to the Water Information Program for the link. More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
10:05:22 AM    

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Reclamation is just about ready to start filling the Animas-La Plata project's Lake Nighthorse -- the impoundment behind the Ridges Basin dam -- according to a report from Dale Rodebaugh writing for the Durango Herald. From the article:

...starting March 1, the federal agency in charge is concentrating on filling the reservoir that is part of the project. The dam at Ridges Basin could begin to hold back water as soon as March 1. Filling the reservoir, called Lake Nighthorse, is expected to take between 18 months and three years. "This is a transition period between construction and filling and finalizing operations and maintenance contracts," Rick Ehat, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation construction engineer, told The Durango Herald Editorial Board on Wednesday. "There are a number of near-term and long-term issues to consider in the next 18 months."[...]

The Colorado portion of the project consists of the 120,000-acre-foot reservoir at Ridges Basin southwest of Durango (the body of water is called Lake Nighthorse), a pumping station on the Animas River near Santa Rita Park, and a pipeline between the river and the reservoir. The New Mexico portion, on which work is beginning, includes a pipeline to supply Farmington, a 29-mile pipeline between Farmington and Shiprock, and storage tanks. All work is expected to be complete by 2012...

The anticipated March 1 start-of-filling depends on numerous related issues, Ehat said. Among them:

- Relocation of County Road 211, a power line and a gas line.

- Installation of a boat ramp and access road on the east shore of the lake.

- Installation of an intake at the basin for a project to provide water to the southwest corner of La Plata County.

- Sufficient available water and structural integrity of the Ridges Basin dam.

- Functional equipment at the pumping station.

Seasonal downstream water commitments also factor in the filling schedule, Ehat said. Gaging stations upstream and downstream from the pumping plant will determine how much water can be transferred to Lake Nighthorse...

The capacity of Lake Nighthorse is slightly less than Vallecito Reservoir's 125,000 acre-feet, but it has a surface of 1,500 acres compared to Vallecito's 2,700 acres. Lake Nighthorse could be within a hair of being full by December, although 18 months to three years is considered a reasonable time to reach maximum capacity, Ehat said. The pumping station on the Animas has eight pumps - two able to move 14 cubic feet of water a second; two with capacity of 28 cfs; and four with a capacity of 56 cfs...

Page is the liaison between the Bureau of Reclamation and A-LP sponsors. Colorado stakeholders are the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District, the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, and the city of Durango.

New Mexico partners are the Navajo Nation, the La Plata Water Conservancy District and the San Juan Water Commission.

Contracts for operations and maintenance will be signed with the partners and a management agency will be hired, Page said. The Native American tribes were not charged for construction costs, but they must foot their share of operations and maintenance, he said.

Chiarito said a boat ramp should be in place by the summer. But the full extent of recreation hasn't been determined, he said.

Thanks to the Water Information Program for the link. More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
9:42:02 AM    

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Here's an update on local reaction to Shell's filing for a decree on the Yampa River, from Collin Smith writing for the Craig Daily Press. From the article:

Both the Moffat County Land Use Board and the Yampa/White/Green Basins Roundtable presented the same concerns to Shell officials -- that their company's large water use potentially could close the Yampa River to any future development.

Shell's water right application presents a plan to take 375 cubic feet of water per second out of the river from two diversion points about three miles upstream from the base of Cross Mountain. Roundtable members agreed that is not a lot of water to pull at once, as peak flows around springtime there usually exceed 11,000 cubic feet a second...

The company plans to pipe its water about 1.5 miles south to a 45,000 acre-feet reservoir in Cedar Springs Draw. Such a water body would be "substantial" in size, said Jeff Comstock, Moffat County Natural Resources Department director. By comparison, Shell's reservoir would be more than twice as big as Elkhead Reservoir. The water then would be pumped south to Rio Blanco County, into another site off Yellow Creek. Shell officials said Yampa River water would be used along with water from the White River and other sources to aid in the production of fuels from oil shale, should that resource ever become feasible to produce...

However, when Shell plans to begin drawing water isn't the biggest issue, Sharp said at the Roundtable's Jan. 21 meeting. Shell's application did not include any limits on how much water it could pull from the Yampa River each year, he said. Without a limit, Sharp added, the company could pull all the remaining water available for development, thus potentially closing it to any future uses without federal approval. Any new rights filed between now and when Shell begins developing also may have to shut down or go through a federal review process. "The draft on the river jeopardizes the entire basin," Sharp said. "It essentially makes us over-appropriated on the river from your diversion, upstream."[...]

There is about 110,000 acre-feet of water taken out each year now, and about 54,000 acre-feet left for future development, said Dan Birch, Colorado River Water Conservation District deputy general manager. Absent an unusual proposal, such as Shell's, the Yampa River likely could sustain another 30 years of development, he added...

[Shell] cannot specify how much water it will use, or how many times it will need to take water from the river, because the project is years away, Boyd added. The application is open-ended on purpose for that reason, he said. But, there will be natural limits on its ability to pump water, including Shell's obligation to get in line behind every other current water user on the river. "Our water right is going to be junior to every other right on the river as of now," Boyd said. "Nature may take care of some of this, because when the river isn't at peak flows, we might not be able to take anything. I don't think it would even be realistic for us to believe we could take the whole 375 cubic feet (of water) out of the river at one time."

At its Jan. 12 meeting, the Land Use Board voted unanimously to recommend the Moffat County Commission file in opposition to Shell's application. Members stressed afterward, though, that the term "opposition" does not reflect the board's intent. "That's just the word that's used so that we can be a part of the process," said T. Wright Dickenson, Land Use Board member and a former county commissioner.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
9:05:35 AM    

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The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District has settled with Tri-State Generation over the change of use for shares in the Amity Ditch, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Peter Nichols, water attorney for the Lower Ark district, Wednesday told the board a stipulation was reached on revegetation issues, subject to approval by Prowers County conservation officials. A stipulation in water court usually represents a condition that an applicant must meet to ensure that other water users are not injured by a proposed action. In this case, the Lower Ark asked for revegetation standards to be included in the decree for both temporary and permanent land dry-up. An annual revegetation report showing compliance with local, state and federal revegetation requirements was necessary, the district argued. The Lower Ark also raised concerns about accounting for water losses through secondary evapotranspiration on return flows...

Two objectors, of 20 originally in the case, remain. Environment Colorado objects to the use of John Martin Reservoir in the project. Other valley water users opposed the group's motion for dismissal of the case on those grounds last August, however, and the Arkansas River Compact Administration refuted the objection at its annual meeting in December. Clifford, Myrna and Ronnie Verhoeff, who farm on the Amity Canal, want to ensure there is no injury to their water rights, and filed their own engineering report in court. A trial is scheduled to begin March 17 in Division 2 Water Court at Pueblo.

The application by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association would convert almost half of the shares in the ditch to industrial use, providing about 20,000 acre-feet annually for a future power plant at Holly. Tri-State is considering its options for the plant, including coal, gas and nuclear power.

Environment Colorado still plans to fight in court, according to a report from Chris Woodka and the Pueblo Chieftain:

Environment Colorado remains committed on following through with its objection to Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association's proposal to convert almost half of the water rights on the Amity Canal to industrial from agricultural use so it can build a power plant near Holly. "Right now our primary concern is to hold Tri-State accountable to the letter of the law in using water out of John Martin Reservoir," said Keith Hay, energy advocate for Environment Colorado. The group, represented in Division 2 Water Court by Western Resources Advocates, also wants Tri-State to clearly show the need for the water under Colorado water law, Hay said...

"Our position is notwithstanding the position of other parties in the case, this is not the intended use of John Martin Reservoir," Hay explained. Hay said no decision has been made on whether Environment Colorado would consider a settlement of any sort before trial is scheduled to begin on March 17.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:44:42 AM    

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From the Pine River Times (Carol McWilliams): "The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has asked the state to force interim fixes to stop discharge violations at the small Gem Village sewage plant."

[More ...]

The demand for interim fixes comes as the town is building a new treatment plant, now estimated at $7.6 million, to replace the Bayfield sewage lagoons. The town intends to build a lift station and line to get Gem Village sewage to the new plant, which is expected to be operational this fall, and decommission the Gem Village lagoons. The lift station and line are expected to cost another $1 million or more. In a Jan. 14 response letter and supplemental information to the tribe, Town Manager Justin Clifton said the town is short at least $600,000 on funding for that. He didn't have anything new to report to the town board on Tuesday. Last May town trustees approved a moratorium on annexing any new customers into the Gem Village service area because of problems at the plant.

However, the tribe asked for immediate enforcement measures at Gem Village in a Jan. 7 letter to the town and the State Department of Health and the Environment, which issues and oversees sewage plant operating permits. The letter, signed by new Tribal Council Chairman Matthew Box, said waiting for the new Bayfield plant is not acceptable. Copies of the letter were sent to the town and the Environmental Protection Agency. Clifton reported to trustees in November that the town had received notices from the state of "significant noncompliance" with discharge limits at the Gem Village plant.

The state notice dated Oct. 31 listed discharge violations this year including total flow, organic loading, failure to remove at least 85 percent of organic loading before discharge, and presence of fecal coliform and T. coliform bacteria far above discharge limits. Clifton sent a response to the state on Nov. 11 noting plans to pipe Gem Village sewage to the new Bayfield treatment plant, also noting the moratorium on new annexations into the Gem Village system. He argued then against any fines for the violations or requirements to spend money on interim fixes, because those would take away from money needed to build the Bayfield plant and come up with another $1 million for the Gem Village lift station.

From the Durango Herald (Shane Benjamin):

The town of Bayfield on Wednesday responded in writing to a complaint the Southern Ute Indian Tribe made in regard to the town's Gem Village wastewater treatment plant releasing unacceptable levels of pollutants into Dry Creek.

In a letter to the tribe, Bayfield Town Manager Justin Clifton urged the tribe to be patient and understand that the town is working to fix the problem. But solving the problem has been time-consuming, and "the constraints we face are not mere challenges," he wrote.

"Certainly we share your concern that we have not been able to move more quickly in achieving compliance at the Gem Village facility," Clifton wrote. "... The truth is the town faces significant technical, financial and time constraints that have limited our ability to fix this problem now and later.'"

Thanks to the Water Information Program for the link.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:34:17 AM    

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From the Carbon Valley Farmer and Miner (Christine Hollister): "After three public hearings, the Town Board in Frederick will get a look at a proposed storm water utility Feb. 24. Town engineer Dick Leffler will present the results of those three meetings to the Town Board. The original proposed fees were: Lots of or less than 6,250 square feet - $4.27 per month; lots of or between 6,251 and 9,999 square fee - $5.79 per month; lots of or between 10,000 and 24,999 square feet - $10.13 per month; lots of or greater than 25,000 square feet- $19.38 per month; Industrial land - $34 per acre per month; Commercial land - $45 per acre per month; Public land - $21 per acre per month. Billing could go into effect starting after the first of April, Leffler said."

Category: Colorado Water
8:21:22 AM    

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Aurora is trying to win friends north of Denver for its Prairie Waters project, according to Gene Sears writing for the Brighton Standard Blade. From the article:

Senior Public Information Officer Gabrielle Johnston and Manager of Public Relations Greg Baker attempted to clarify Aurora's position in the community while dispelling the notion that they are simply another big player seeking Weld resources. According to Baker, the problem lies in the historical perception of water negotiations rooted in decades of high-stakes deals, many shrouded in mystery if not mysticism, some detrimental to the agricultural community. That's not the type of relationship Aurora seeks, Baker said, but rather one of open dialogue. "We want to be a genuinely responsive and communicative partner in the community," Baker said. "He discussed the department's communication policy at length, noting that it is in no one's benefit to practice deceptive water acquisition techniques, a practice he says that Aurora rigidly adheres to. Baker said that Aurora Water deals directly with willing landowners, eschewing third-party brokers and speculators that feed off of escalating water rights values, often at the cost of a community's resource. "There are venture capitalists in the region who are buying water rights to resell them later to cities at a profit," Baker said. "We try not to play that game, because we don't think that is right."[...]

Given a choice, Baker said Aurora would much prefer using resources already in place, if only as a cost savings measure. "Because, the water that is cheapest to use is your own water, of course," Baker said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:17:17 AM    

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The EPA is saying that the remedy for Operable Unit #6 in the California Gulch superfund site is not sustainable so they want to reopen the record of decision, according to a report from Ann E. Wibbenmeyer writing for the Leadville Herald Democrat. From the article:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to reconsider the remedy for operable unit six of the California Gulch Superfund Site in Lake County. This was the major topic of discussion at a meeting with the EPA, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Lake County Commissioners on Jan. 15 in Denver.

The chosen remedy for the operable unit is stated in a record of decision, a legal document for the EPA. It was published Sept. 25, 2003. The EPA has since determined that the remedy is not sustainable and needs to be modified, said Jennifer Lane with the EPA...

He said that the EPA, BOR and CDPHE mentioned rebuilding miners' cabins, refurbishing fallen head frames and additions to the Mineral Belt Trail as ideas that could come from this process. [Commissioner Mike Bordogna] said that if millions of dollars are going to be spent in this area, then bigger tourist attractions could be built than the mine waste piles.

OU 6 is one of 12 operable units in the California Gulch Superfund site and is located east of Leadville. It covers approximately 3.4 square miles and includes Stray Horse Gulch and the upper and lower portions of the Evans Gulch. The remedy currently has the acid mine-drainage water flowing through the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel to be treated by the Bureau of Reclamation. It was this tunnel that had a blockage that led the Lake County Commissioners to declare a state of emergency last year. "We learned a lot this past year with the emergency of the LMDT," said Lane.

One possible remedy discussed, but not chosen, in the ROD was consolidating and capping certain mine-waste piles, such as those at the Makado, RAM. Pyranees and Greenback mines. This was an unpopular alternative at the time that the ROD was published. The public comment given at the time is part of that document. "It also has the unfavorable effect of greatly altering the historic aspect of the mining district," said Bob Elder in the original OU6 comments on the consolidating and capping alternative presented at the time. "The existing historic landscape is highly prized not only by the local citizens but also by Lake County's touring visitors," he also said...

The EPA has spent six years trying to implement the current remedy, said Lane, and the competency of the tunnel has been questioned. The solution has to start dealing with the source of the contamination to prevent it in the first place, she said. The EPA still wants to work with the community to come up with the design of the remedy for OU6 to preserve the history, said Lane.

Meanwhile, the final conference call for the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel disaster declaration was held on January 4th, according to a report from the Leadville Herald Democrat:

The final conference call concerning the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel emergency declaration happened on Jan. 14, 11 months after the declaration...

During this final conference call, the commissioners were told that the federal bills will be moving forward this year. These are bills that deal with the legal authority of the federal agencies over the LMDT, a misunderstanding that contributed to the commissioners' decision to declare the emergency...

Also updated at the meeting was the Colorado Department of Public Health and Safety's progress on the Canterbury Tunnel project. The state agency was funded to study the link between the Canterbury Tunnel and the LMDT to see if they had any legal grounds for fixing the collapse in the first place. The conclusion of the study was that there is no connection and the state says that there is nothing further it can do with that project, said Jeff Deckler with CDPHE.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:03:24 AM    

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From the Rocky Mountain News (Lynn Bartels): "The House voted 47-16 for House Bill 1014, which provides more resources to the Division of Real Estate to provide oversight of conservation easements, where a state income tax credit is claimed. The bill now goes to the Senate."

Here's the link for the bill, Concerning the Provision of Additional Resources to the Division of Real Estate to Provide Oversight of Conservation Easements for which a State Income Tax Credit is Claimed (pdf).

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:52:41 AM    

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From the Environmental News Network: "The climate trend that is raising temperatures across most of the world is warming all of Antarctica despite earlier signs that most of the ice-covered continent has cooled during the past 50 years, researchers are reporting today."

Category: Climate Change News
7:44:12 AM    

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From the Associated Press (H. Josef Hebert): "President Barack Obama plans to name environmental lawyer David Hayes as deputy interior secretary, a position Hayes also held during the last three years of the Clinton administration. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar welcomed the selection of Hayes as his second in command, although the nomination has not yet been officially announced, calling him a man who "fixes problems." Hayes, who served as the department's No. 2 official under Secretary Bruce Babbitt from 1997 to January 2001, also at one time lobbied the Interior Department on behalf of a California utility."

More from the article:

Environmentalists on Friday called him an excellent choice, and he is unlikely to have any problems getting Senate confirmation. Over 25 years Hayes "has an impressive track record of protecting threatened lands and improving water management in the west and throughout the nation," said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. Hayes is vice chairman of American Rivers and a senior fellow of the World Wildlife Fund, advising that group's president on climate issues. He was a member of Obama's transition team, focusing environment and natural resources.

While at Interior in the late 1990s, Hayes tackled some of the department thorniest land protection issues including acquisition from a lumber company of the Headwaters old-growth redwood forest and restoration of the Bay-Delta ecosystem, both in California, as well as a number of western water and endangered species habitat issues...

There is no public record of Hayes having done any lobbying after 2006, meaning he likely won't require an exemption from the administration's lobbying rules announced by Obama as one of his first acts as president. The rules, with few exceptions, bar anyone from working at agencies they lobbied during the last two years.

Here's the link to Mr. Hayes bio from the Latham & Watkins, LLP website.

Meanwhile, Secretary Salazar and his staff are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work analyzing the late term rules for oil shale development issue by the Bush administration, according to Mark Peters writing for Dow Jones Newswires via EasyBourse:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday his agency will review "midnight rules" on mountaintop coal mining and oil-shale development approved by the Bush Administration in its final weeks. The new secretary said the Interior Department will examine "several" other approvals to determine its options. "Some [of the regulations] are bad, and some are good," Salazar said during a press conference in New York City Friday. "And what we will do is we will undertake a review of all of those regulations."

Category: Climate Change News
7:27:11 AM    

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Here's a report about the stimulus package winding its way through Congress and the potential help for Colorado's budget, from Charles Ashby writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The economic stimulus plan, which has passed the House Appropriations Committee, offers up to $850 billion for the states, Congressman John Salazar told lawmakers who had gathered to hear him...

Under the package, Colorado could receive $565 million the first year and another $500 million the second, most of which would go to highway construction, said Salazar, a newly appointed member of the appropriations committee...

Salazar said about $413 million would go to Colorado roads, $94 million to transit and $46 million to water projects. He also listed other possible funding for all states, including $32 billion in tax cuts, $16 billion for public housing and $41 billion for education. That money includes more than $35 million for Southern Colorado school districts in the form of construction and No Child Left Behind funds. For Pueblo City Schools, that means about $17 million, and for Pueblo County Schools, $3.5 million. He said there also will be money to extend power transmission lines, broadband Internet lines, health-care money, law enforcement funds and more money for college scholarships. Salazar said the money the states are likely to receive in the stimulus package won't come with many strings as long as they are used to boost jobs and the economy.

More coverage from the Denver Post (Tim Hoover):

Congressman Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat, said that Colorado could get up to $495 million in the current state fiscal year that ends in June and an equal amount the following year. The money would come from a "state fiscal stabilization" portion of the more than $800 billion federal stimulus package that is meant specifically to shore up faltering state budgets...

Perlmutter said the goal is to get the budget rescue money to states within 60 days after the bill is signed. That means the money could come to Colorado as soon as mid-April, he said. The measure still must be approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the president. Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for Gov. Bill Ritter, said the stimulus package is still a work in progress and it was premature to respond.

Category: Colorado Water
7:10:15 AM    

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Larimer County staffers spent part of the week wrapping up a project designed to improve trout habitat in the Big Thompson River, according to a report from Pamela Dickman writing for the Loveland Reporter Herald. From the article:

Earlier this week, Larimer County parks staff members and Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists finished trout habitat improvements to the stretch of the river that borders Glade Park, just west of Loveland off Glade Road. They hoped fish would begin to use the habitat, and many trout were the day after the work was finished...

The work crew added two deep pools in the riverbed, shored up the banks to prevent erosion and added large boulders to help improve and maintain a healthy habitat for trout during the winter, when water levels are lower...

He and his colleagues determined where the river could best naturally support and maintain those pools. They also selected specific large boulders from a project last summer at Carter Lake to help with stream flow and to naturally maintain the pools...

A Colorado Division of Wildlife Fishing is Fun grant paid for the $80,000 project, which will also include a refurbished parking lot, a new vault bathroom and handicapped access to the river at Glade Park. The grant also covers lot and bathroom improvements to three other popular fishing spots: the Narrows, the Forks and Sleepy Hollow. That work will begin this spring and summer. The grant aims to improve fish habitat, but at the same time the work saved a large cottonwood tree by shoring up eroded banks of the river, created deeper sections of the river and added boulders where waders can sit and dip their feet, Kondratrieff said.

Category: Colorado Water
7:03:07 AM    

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Here's an update on Colorado's snowpack from Jerd Smith writing for the Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

Colorado's snowpack - a critical indicator of annual water supplies - has weakened in recent weeks, dropping from 120 percent of average Jan. 1 to 108 percent of average this week, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. "We have hit a January thaw," said Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor for the NRCS...

...the South Platte Basin, which serves much of the central and northern Front Range is dry now, with snowpack measuring just 94 percent of average. It may suffer more if the remaining winter and spring months are warm and dry, as some forecasts suggest. "The mountains are looking good," said state Climatologist Nolan Doesken. "But the Front Range wildland interface is really pretty dry."

More snowpack news from the Aspen Times (Brent Gardner-Smith):

As of Thursday, the snowpack in the Colorado River basin, which includes the Roaring Fork River watershed, was 113 percent of average. Last year at this time, the snowpack in the basin was 115 percent of average. "In looking at the percents of last year's snowpack, this year's totals are remarkably similar to those of a year go," [Mike Gillespie, the data collection office supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service] wrote in a "Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report" on Jan. 1, before the January dry spell kicked in. "Statewide, snowpack totals are 120 percent of average and are 109 percent of last year. This year's Jan. 1 readings are the highest statewide snowpack since 1997, when the state recorded a snowpack of 160 percent of average."

Category: Colorado Water
6:53:00 AM    

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