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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Friday, February 6, 2009

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Aaron Million has proposed a pipeline to move water from the Green River above Flaming Gorge Reservoir to Colorado's Front Range. Here's an update on the project from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain From the article:

An entrepreneur seeking to build a pipeline from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming to deliver water to the Colorado Front Range says his project is being hijacked by water interests in the South Metro Water Supply Authority. "Let's be clear: They're trying to steal the project," Aaron Million, who formed Million Resource Conservation Group to develop the Flaming Gorge pipeline, said last week. "I don't understand the deal. They're supposed to be men of honor. They should act as such."

Rod Kuharich, executive director of the South Metro group, refused to comment on Million's charge, saying there could be a lawsuit in the future. The group is exploring the possibility of a Colorado-Wyoming coalition, and has had a few stormy meetings with Million. Million approached Kuharich at the Colorado Water Congress convention last week, offering an "olive branch," but Kuharich simply told Million he was welcome to talk to the South Metro board at its next meeting Monday...

Million said some aspects of the pipeline were shared with South Metro, supposedly in confidentiality. About one year ago, however, Million learned the South Metro group was contacting some of the same people he had in Wyoming...

It's no secret that South Metro is interested in the project. It is part of the range of solutions discussed in the group's 2007 master plan. Last month, at an Action 22 meeting in Pueblo, Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director Harris Sherman mentioned the competing plans. South Metro water users are trying to form a Colorado-Wyoming coalition to get buy-in to the interstate issues.

Meanwhile the Army Corps of Engineers already has begun working on an environmental impact statement for Million's project, which could take almost three years to complete. Million filed an application in water court for water rights on the Green River for the project in December 2007...

The state of Colorado is making it clear, however, that it is not taking sides on whether either project should be developed. "We're not going to become involved in any dispute between Mr. Million and the South Metro authority," DNR spokesman Theo Stein said Tuesday. This is not the first time Million has hit rough waters with Colorado water users. The Front Range Water Council, a group of the largest municipal water users in the state, in August 2007 asked the Bureau of Reclamation to delay a contract with Million until state water availability studies were completed.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:45:18 AM    

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Last Friday the Colorado Water Congress awarded their Wayne Aspinall Award to former Mesa County legislator Tillie Bishop. Here are some excerpts from a report written by Mike Saccone for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

"This is the highest award you can get within the water community," Bishop said. "It's a tribute to Wayne Aspinall for all his years of public service." Bishop said he was grateful to have his work during his 28 years in the state House and Senate recognized, including funding small water projects across the state. "To have this come from the Colorado Water Congress and to be among some of the most distinguished people in the water community is a great, great honor," he said...

Category: Colorado Water
6:34:00 AM    

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The city of Alamosa -- which gets its water supply from wells -- is not immune from the new rules unfolding for regulation of the aquifers in the San Luis Valley, according to a report from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier. From the article:

Craig Cotten, Acting Division Engineer for Colorado Division of Water Resources Division 3, told the Alamosa city council on Wednesday that cities would not be immune from imminent well regulations. He said the state engineer hopes to promulgate the rules sometime this year. Alamosa obtains its municipal water supply from deep or confined aquifer wells. When the state implements well regulations governing large capacity well users in the Rio Grande Basin (San Luis Valley), cities like Alamosa will have to comply, Cotten explained. He said the city's choices are to file its own augmentation plan or join a water management sub-district. He said Tim Walters is working on a sub-district specifically for confined aquifer wells like the city's. The city would have to petition into the sub-district, Cotten explained.

Cotten said the city pumps on average about 2,000 acre feet of water a year from its wells. Using a very rough calculation he estimated that 20-25 percent of that was consumptive use with the rest returned to the unconfined or more shallow aquifer. He said that analyzing Alamosa's confined aquifer wells would be difficult because the return flows from the city's system are going back to the unconfined aquifer while the depletions are being made in the confined aquifer. Cotten added that Alamosa is in better shape than some other well users because the city owns surface water rights (on its ranch property) that could be used to augment or offset its well usage. He recommended that the city begin working on a plan to comply with the state rules that will be implemented in the near future. "Start to look at the possibility of developing an augmentation plan," he said, "in case you can't get into a sub-district or do not want to get into a sub-district." Cotten told the city council that the benefits of a sub-district include spreading the compliance responsibility over a larger group.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:26:08 AM    

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