Eastern Fremont election to join Upper Ark upheld

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Here’s an update on Eastern Fremont County’s voters approval for joining the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, from Rod Sering writing for The Mountain Mail. From the article:

Inclusion of eastern Fremont County in the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District was confirmed by the recent Colorado Supreme Court dismissal of a contested election suit, district directors learned Thursday. Julianne Woldridge, attorney for the water district, told directors during their regular meeting, “The inclusion was confirmed and is still in effect. I believe we are done with litigation in this. “The court made a very brief decision and dismissed the case because it was untimely.”

More coverage from the Cañon City Daily Record (Charlotte Burrous):

The Colorado Supreme Court recently dismissed the case, virtually upholding the election results of 4,680 for the inclusion to 2,274 against it. “The Supreme Court found in our favor,” said Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District general manager Terry Scanga. “The decision was two lines. The first sentence said the court agreed to jurisdiction over the case. The second sentence was a dismissal of the appeal because (Ivan Widom and Mark Emmer) filed too late. That ended it right there.”[…]

After the 2007 election, Cañon City resident Widom and Salida resident Emmer argued through their attorney, Bill Alderton, that the election was illegal. “They protested the vote because they said we didn’t” follow the election statues or TABOR rules, Sandefur said. “But the Upper Arkansas is a special district. Special districts are not under TABOR.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Standley Lake/Clear Creek Source Water Protection Planning group meeting

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From YourHub:

The Standley Lake/Clear Creek Source Water Protection Planning group is having its first stakeholder meeting on behalf of the Standley Lake cities and the broader Clear Creek Watershed. It will be from 10 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Feb. 19, at Consolidated Mutual Water District, 12700 W. 127th Ave., in Lakewood. The group is developing the Clear Creek Watershed Source Water Protection Plan, which aims to identify sources of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water and ways to limit these pollutants from entering Clear Creek.

More than 18 public water suppliers treat water received from Standley Lake and Clear Creek. Some of the recipients of this water include residents of Arvada, Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Golden, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster. The group will present information about the different levels and sources of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Clear Creek watershed. The public is welcome to ask questions or give their opinions on how to voluntarily limit these pollutants…

For more information on the project and future meetings, go to http://www.standleyswp.com.

Water Tables 2009

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Here’s a press release from Colorado State University for the their Water Tables 2009 fundraiser for the Water Resource Archives:

Colorado State University Libraries will host Water Tables 2009, its annual fundraiser for the Water Resources Archive at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21. The event starts with a reception and tour of the Archives at the Library before moving to the Lory Student Center main ballroom for dinner.

The theme of this year’s event is “Compact Issues and Conflict Resolution,” with Stewart Environmental Consultants Inc. as the presenting sponsor. Nineteen water experts will host tables discussing relevant topics while a gourmet meal is served. The evening will begin with a reception and open house for the Water Resources Archive in Colorado State’s Morgan Library…

Reservations can be made online at http://lib.colostate.edu/watertables09 or by calling (970) 491-1833. Reservations will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis; limited seating is available.

For more information about the event contact Jane Barber at (970) 491-5712 or jane.barber@colostate.edu.

Northern Integrated Supply Project: Participants plan greater push during supplemental EIS

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According to this report from John Brennan writing for the Fort Morgan Times the 15 participants in the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project plan to be much more proactive while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are issuing their supplement environmental impact statement for the project. From the article:

The 15 participants in the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) plan to take a more proactive and aggressive approach to generating support than they did the first time around. NISP will be going through a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (EIS) process, Carl Brouwer of the Northern Water Conservancy District told the Fort Morgan Water Advisory Board at its meeting Thursday. That process, which involves more study of specific issues raised in the initial draft EIS process as well as another round of public comments and hearings, will delay the project, said Brouwer, the project manager for NISP. Under a previous timeline, Northern Water had projected starting construction in 2011, but that has been pushed back until at least 2013, Brouwer said…

The supplemental draft EIS should be completed late this year or in early 2010, he said, with the comment period likely to be in the spring of ’10. The NCWCD now hopes to have a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers by the end of 2010…

While the delay pushes back Fort Morgan’s financial obligation for NISP — projected at more than $36 million over the next 14 years — the uncertainty of whether NISP will ever actually be built leaves the city wondering about its water future. Mayor Jack Darnell said at Thursday’s meeting that his question is whether Fort Morgan needs to be more aggressive in buying up more Colorado-Big Thompson water, which is most of its current supply. “Should we go out and get a loan to buy more?” Darnell asked Brouwer. Darnell said the city has been budgeting for about $500,000 a year to buy C-BT water, which will only buy 40 to 60 units. At that rate, Darnell said, “it will take a long time to get where we need to be.”

Brouwer said Fort Morgan’s long-range water needs, including new growth, have been estimated at about 9,500 acre-feet, and the city currently owns rights to about half that amount. C-BT units are roughly an acre-foot each, but because those units are distributed subject to annual “quotas” based on snowpack, runoff and other factors, each unit yields only a percentage of an acre-foot that can vary from 40 to 70 percent. Brouwer said the city might need about 9,000 more C-BT units to meet its long-range needs…

Fort Morgan would get about 3,600 acre-feet — without quotas — from NISP, in which it is the third-largest participant in terms of investment and share of water, according to figures presented by Brouwer. Brouwer also mentioned that if an Army Corps permit is denied, the Glade Reservoir portion of NISP could be moved to Cactus Hill, which the Corps has said is “non-jurisdictional” and would not require a permit…

Brouwer said the 15 NISP participants, which include municipalities as well as water districts including Morgan County Quality Water, will soon be asked to become part of a formal association that will work for approval of the permit. “The message will be to let the science work and protect the Corps from the politics,” he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

State budget crisis effecting DNR water enforcement

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The Colorado Department of Water Resources is cutting back on overtime for and new hires, according to a report from Charles Ashby writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Department of Natural Resources wants to hike water permit fees to raise nearly $2.5 million. At the same time, it’s proposing not to fund about $250,000 in overtime pay for its 120 water commissioners around the state at a time when a freeze in new hires has prevented the Division of Water Resources from filling 25 positions, including nine ditch riders whose jobs are to ensure that everyone’s water rights are respected. The proposed fee increases, which could go into effect as early as next month, had several state lawmakers up in arms when they first learned about them Wednesday…

Theo Stein, spokesman for the department, said that the bad economy and the need for all of state government to make more than $1 billion in cuts this year and next is driving these proposals. “DNR is looking at some very difficult decisions on how to allocate limited resources,” he said. “The overtime, it’s probably one of those programs that in a tough year you have to take a second look at.”

Meanwhile, the department is proposing a slew of fee increases – including hiking new well fees from $300 to $665 and general substitute water supply plan fees from $300 to $2,000 – but that additional revenue is not being directed toward the water commissioners. Other proposed fee increases include late registration, monitoring well and change permit fees, which can be as low as $60, would go to as high as $665. The department also is proposing to hike fees for extensions and requests to determine water rights from $60 to $760. Lawmakers said that while some fee increases may be appropriate, these seemed exorbitant.

In addition to the nine water commissioner positions that have been frozen, the division also has openings for division engineers, well inspectors, hydrologists and other support staff that are subject to the hiring freeze.

Aurora’s bid for Columbine Ditch rejected

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Aurora will not be purchasing the Columbine Ditch, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Aurora’s bids failed to meet the minimum price criteria outlined for both the sale and the lease according to staff recommendations that the board will see at its meeting Tuesday. Instead, staff is recommending approval of two other bids to lease water at the minimum price specified in the bids and selling the Columbine Ditch to Ginn Development Co., which is developing a world-class ski area near Minturn…

Ginn bid the minimum $30.48 million for the Columbine Ditch, which brings water across the Continental Divide about 15 miles north of Leadville. Minturn is located in the Eagle River basin and Ginn would, presumably, leave the water in the watershed. Aurora bid $30.5 million for the ditch, but its payment proposal of six years did not meet the time frame of the water board, according to the staff report. Alternatively, Aurora offered $25 million immediately. Ginn, on the other hand, offered immediate payment of the entire amount. Aurora also bid only $250 per acre-foot in a 20-year long-term lease of up to 3,000 acre-feet of water. By the end of 20 years, the price would escalate to $350 per acre-foot. The water board specified minimum bids of $350 per acre-foot for up to 5,000 acre-feet of water. Bidders who met the minimum requirements were the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District and Evergreen Land Development for use on the Mount Massive Golf Course near Leadville.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Fremont County alternative

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Here’s an update on the deliberations over Colorado Springs’ proposal to run the Southern Delivery System through Fremont County, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

That left commissioners in Fremont County – the fallback option for Colorado Springs, Security and Fountain – wondering when the mitigation for impacts in their county would be developed. “How do these mitigations transfer to Fremont County?” asked Mike Stiehl, chairman of the Fremont County commissioners. “Many would stay the same,” explained Keith Riley, a Colorado Springs Utilities staffer working on SDS. Riley said parts of the EIS might have to be written if Colorado Springs chooses to run the pipeline through Fremont County, an alternative it is considering if it becomes too difficult to obtain a 1041 land-use permit in Pueblo County…

Stiehl closed public comment on the application for the project after Tuesday’s hearing and noted commissioners have 45 days to make a decision under their own guidelines. Commissioners will meet again on the issue on Feb. 24. Pueblo County commissioners will next take up deliberations on the 1041 permit at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Pueblo County Courthouse.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

The San Luis Valley Agricultural Conference and Trade Fair recap

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide): “The final session was scheduled to discuss the status of the Valley’s first water management sub-district, but the group still had no decision from District Judge O. John Kuenhold regarding the sub-district’s management plan that was the issue of a trial before Kuenhold last year. Earlier this week Rio Grande Inter Basin Roundtable Chairman Mike Gibson told that group that in a recent lunch with Kuenhold, the judge had told him he was not yet ready to release his decision but when he did, nobody would be happy with the result.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

San Luis Valley Advisory Committee appointments

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Here’s the list of apponitments for the advisory committe Dick Wolfe is forming. He hopes that the committee will generate a bottom-up solution for pumping that will help protect senior rights holders and Colorado’s responsibilities under the Rio Grande Compact. Thanks to the State Engineer’s office for the information.

Appointees to the Rio Grande Basin Well Administration Rules Advisory Committee

1)The Advisory Committee shall be composed of representatives nominated by appropriators and entities including:

a)One representative from each of the following Districts:

Alamosa – La Jara Water Conservancy District – John Shawcroft – Alternate – Dwight Martin
Conejos Water Conservancy District – Mike Willett
Rio Grande Water Conservation District – Steve Vandiver – Alternates – Ray Wright, Lewis Entz
San Luis Valley Irrigation District – Michael Entz – Alternate – John Slane
San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District – Dee Greeman – Alternate – Chuck Lavry
Trinchera Water Conservancy District – Monty Smith – Alternate – Alvin Kunigi

b)One representative from each of the following geographic areas or water user associations:

Acequia Preservation Association – Kelly Sowards – Alternate – Tom Martinez
Alamosa-La Jara area – Allen Miller
Carnero/La Garita area – Mike Spearman
Costilla/Culebra area – Harold Anderson
Saguache area – Tim Lovato – Alternate – Ed Nielsen
Rio Grande Senior Water Users – Cory Off – Alternate – Rick Davie
San Luis Valley Well Users Association – Kirk Thompson – Alternate – John Shawcroft
Rio Grande Water Users Association – Doug Shriver
Empire Canal Water Users – Lawrence Crowder
Rio Grande Canal Water Users Association – Clay Corzine
Trinchera Irrigation Company – Conrad Trujillo – Alternate – Ty Ryland
Costilla Acequia Association – Joe Gallegos
Sanchez Ditch and Reservoir Company – Jerry Lorenz – Alternate – Tom Caldon

c)Up to one representative from county commissioners from each of the following counties in Water Division 3:

Alamosa – Greg Higel
Conejos – Lawrence Gallegos
Costilla – Franklin Kuhn
Mineral – Zeke Ward
Rio Grande – Doug Davie
Saguache – Mike Spearman

d)Up to one representative of each of the following State and Federal agencies:

Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service – Bruce Rittenhouse – Alternate – Roy Smith
Colorado Division of Wildlife – Ed Perkins – Alternate – Jay Skinner
National Parks Service – Great Sand Dunes National Park – Andrew Valdez – Alternate – Fred Burch
Natural Resources Conservation Service – Frank Riggle – Alternate – Rodney Clark
United States Fish and Wildlife Service – Meg Estep – Alternate – Mike Blenden, Clarke Dirks
Bureau of Reclamation – Ken Beck
Colorado Water Conservation Board – Travis Smith

e)Up to one representative from each of the following municipalities:

Alamosa – Don Koskelin
Ft. Garland – Stan Allaart
Blanca – Rodger Wakasugi
Creede – John Mattingly – Alternate – Clyde Dooley
Saguache – Dan Pacheco
Sanford – Vaughn Miller
Romeo – Don Martinez
La Jara – Bill Yohey

f)And, at least five additional appropriators of waters of the Rio Grande basin in Colorado, engineers, or water attorneys who practice in Water Division 3, to be selected by the State Engineer.

Romero Ditch Co. – Sam Vance
Engineer – Alan Davey
Prairie Ditch – Bill Mckinley II
Manassa Land & Irrigation Co. – Nathan Coombs
Alamosa River – Rod Reinhart
At large – Amy Kunugi
At large – Robert Mathis
At large – Tim Walters
At large – Leroy Salazar

At large – Norman Slade

At large – Tom Corzine
At large – Lynn Kopfman, Alternate – Lynn McCullogh
Attorney – Erich Schwiesow
Attorney – Tim Buchanan
Attorney – Bill Paddock

Here’s a report from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier From the article:

Deputy State Engineer Michael Sullivan, promoted last year from division engineer of the Rio Grande Basin (Water Division 3), told water users attending the agricultural conference in Monte Vista on Friday that the state engineer had pared down a list of 90-100 nominees to 56 people who will serve on an advisory committee to assist the state in coming months.

“We decided to focus on folks that could help us represent a large constituency,” Sullivan said.

He said the group will help State Engineer Dick Wolfe answer a multitude of questions as Wolfe crafts rules to govern groundwater use in this basin. Sullivan said the committee is so large because the state wanted to incorporate representatives from as many different groups as possible. He added that all of the advisory committee’s meetings will be open to the public, and the first one will likely be held in a location such as Ski Hi Park that will afford enough space for all those wishing to attend. The group’s first meeting date has not yet been set.

Committee members were just notified this week of their appointments.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.