Baca Ditch

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Here’s a look at the history of the Baca Ditch in Las Animas County, from Nancy Ellis writing for The Trinidad Times Independent. From the article:

“[Felipe de Jesus Baca] settled on the north side of the river”, Sanchez continues, “which was then known as Rio de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio. Dirt and rock were loaded into large pieces of rawhide and hauled to a dump site by mule or oxen. On sloping ground, contents were dumped on the downhill side to build up the embankment. After a large section of the ditch had been dug, its engineering was tested by channeling water into the ditch through a dam and inlet works positioned at a point on the river.”

“Logs, rocks and brush were used to construct a dam to contain the water spilling into the main headgate at the inlet, and a wooden headgate at the inlet regulated the water flowing into the acequia. Over time, silt sealed the ditch and the ground absorbed less water,” Sanchez writes.

Aurora: Mandatory watering restrictions for summer

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From the Aurora Sentinel (Adam Goldstein): “A water management plan for 2009 that would implement a set watering schedule according to residential addresses received initial approval from the Aurora City Council during its March 2 session, despite noted objections from some council members. Under the plan, a three-day watering schedule would apply even if reservoir conditions were normal. The idea of implementing such a schedule riled some council members, who said the restrictions would be unnecessary.”

Mary’s Lake treatment plant update

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From the Estes Park Trail Gazette (Juley Harvey): “Marys Lake Water Treatment Plant has negotiated an agreement with the Upper Thompson Sanitation District (UTSD) for the discharge of 15,400 additional gallons of discharge and has received a January invoice from the UTSD.

“The anticipated completion date for the Marys Lake plant is April. The Town is operating a temporary 1-million-gallon-per-day water treatment plant through completion of the project.

“Utilities Director Bob Goehring told the Utilities Committee at last week’s meeting at the Municipal Building that the Marys Lake Water Treatment Plant’s additional backwash discharge capacity will double — from 2 million gallons a day (mgd) to 4 million mgd.”

Timnath: Competing stormwater projects

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Here’s a report about competing stormwater projects near Timnath, from Cherry Sokoloski writing for the North Forty News. From the article:

As part of the deal reached between the two communities in early February, Fort Collins will contribute up to $2 million toward a Timnath project that will remove the town from the Boxelder Creek floodplain. But, in a matter of 10 years or less, the Timnath project will no longer be needed. That’s because a larger, regional project, directed by the Boxelder Basin Stormwater Authority, will also take Timnath out of the Boxelder floodplain. The projected cost of the regional, three-phase project is $10.5 million. Estimated cost for Timnath’s local project is $4 million to $6 million, money that would not have to be spent if the town decided to participate in the regional project…

[Timnath Town Manager Becky Davidson] said the Timnath Town Council has directed her to move quickly on the floodplain issue. “We can’t keep pushing it back,” she said. The town’s sense of urgency, she pointed out, stems from public safety concerns, since a Boxelder Creek flood event would impact much of Timnath. Working together with Fort Collins is a positive development, she added.

[Rex Burns a county engineer] said that if the Boxelder Authority had Fort Collins’ $2 million, plus another $2 million from Timnath, the second phase of the regional project could be completely funded, with no bonding required, and could “move forward much more speedily.” Phase two, involving construction of a new Edson Reservoir southeast of Wellington, would completely remove Timnath from the floodplain, he stated…

If Timnath were interested in joining the Boxelder Authority, the town’s contribution to the regional effort would have to be negotiated, Burns said. It’s possible, he added, that the town could end up paying less by participating in the larger project. The Boxelder Authority was formed last year to build the necessary stormwater facilities for the larger project. Participants include Larimer County, Wellington and Fort Collins, all of which will pay annual fees to the authority to fund the project. About 5,000 acres will be removed from the Boxelder floodplain as a result of the regional project. Besides Edson Reservoir, plans include an enlarged Clark Reservoir north of Wellington and channel improvements on the east side of I-25 near East Mulberry Street.

The Boxelder basin extends from southern Wyoming to south of Timnath.

Snowpack news

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From the North Forty News: “Colorado’s snowpack is already sliding downhill, not a good omen for spring runoff. As of Feb. 23, the overall snowpack in Colorado stood at 110 percent of average, compared with 119 percent at the end of January. The South Platte Basin, which includes the Cache la Poudre and Big Thompson rivers, slid to 96 percent, the lowest basin in the state, compared with 103 percent a month ago. The North Platte was at 104 percent of average…Even southern Colorado, which started out the season with a great snowpack, is on the decline. For instance, the San Juan Basin, which was at 135 percent of average in late December, now stands at 110 percent.”

HB09-1233: Recognize Acequias

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Representative Ed Vigil’s bill, HB09-1233, was approved last week by the Colorado House of Representatives and wending its way through the state senate, according to a report from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier. From the article:

The legislation is specific to the counties of Costilla, Conejos, Huerfano and Las Animas. House Bill 09-1233, regarding acequias (community irrigation ditches), is now before the state senate which assigned the legislation to its local government and energy committee on Monday.

State Senator Gail Schwartz, who also represents the San Luis Valley as part of her senate district, is carrying the bill in the senate.

The acequia bill:

• Allows the creation of acequia conservancy districts, acequia conservancy sub-districts, acequia water conservancy districts and acequia water conservancy sub-districts.

• Allows an existing conservancy district or water conservancy district or sub-district to convert to an acequia conservancy district or an acequia water conservancy district or sub-district, respectively.

• Specifies the eligibility and other requirements for the creation and conversion of such districts. For example, petitions requesting the creation or conversion of an acequia conservancy district must be filed with a district water court and the court must hold a hearing and determine if the requirements have been met to create a new district or convert an existing one. The bill only authorizes the creation of acequia conservancy districts in the four counties listed above.

• Allows such a district to: Hold its elections pursuant to a one landowner-one vote system; require owners of land irrigated by an acequia within the district to contribute labor to the maintenance and repair of the district’s acequias or pay an assessment in lieu of such labor; and hold a right of first refusal regarding the sale, lease, or exchange of any surface water right that has historically been used by the acequia to irrigate long-lot land within the district…

When Colorado adopted the prior appropriation system as its water law under the state constitution, it was “inconsistent with the community-based principles upon which acequias were founded,” Vigil’s legislation stated, so the communities that historically used the acequia system continued through informal methods “to allocate water based upon equity in addition to priority and to treat water as a community resource.”

The legislation concludes, then, that it is important to recognize this long-used practice. “Recognition by the general assembly of the continuing existence and use of acequias, while continuing to comply with the constitutional requirements of priority administration of tributary water, is critical to preserving the historic value that acequias provide to the communities in which they are located. The general assembly hereby declares that the purpose of this act is to promote and encourage the continued operation of acequias and the viability of the historic communities that depend on those acequias.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.