A look at irrigation in the Arkansas Valley

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Here’s the first in the series Taming The Land from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. He’s going to look back at the development of water in the valley and also look at 21st century trends.

Reclamation recommends continued monitoring of Lake Pueblo for invasive mussels

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Reclamation is recommending continues monitoring of Lake Pueblo for invasive mussels. No adults have been found so far only the veligers. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka Writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The report was commissioned by the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the lake as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. Dead adult zebra mussels were found in the lake in late 2007, and veligers (the larval stage) were found in January 2008.

Since then, more veligers have been found in the lake and downstream, and quagga mussel veligers have been found as well. No live veligers have been found, since testing protocols to date have called for using alcohol to preserve specimens.

Renata Claudi of RNT visited Lake Pueblo last year and concluded that while historic levels of minerals like calcium in the lake favor outbreaks of mussel populations, the fluctuations of water, pH levels and dissolved oxygen were highly unfavorable. But she cautioned that the examination was only cursory. “Based on the limited data analyzed, this effort by no means replaces a full-scale assessment of environmental suitability,” the RNT report stated.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Amity Canal: Tri-State settles with last objector

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The final objector in the Tri-State change of use filing for water in the Amity Canal has settled. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association plans to present a proposed decree in Division 2 Water Court on March 17 after all 20 objectors in the case either settled or withdrew. “Given the support from all parties in the case, we are optimistic that the court will accept the decree,” said Tri-State spokesman Lee Boughey.

A settlement with the Verhoeff family, which wanted continuing protection of its water rights on the Amity, was filed in the court on Friday. The settlement is the latest in a series of agreements since Tri-State filed for the water change in 2007.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Pueblo: City council approves Fountain Creek IGA

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): “Pueblo City Council voted unanimously Monday to join an agreement that will allow Pueblo and El Paso counties and cities to work jointly on improving Fountain Creek.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Eastern Colorado: Say hello to drought

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From KRDO.com (Josh Poland): “Area farmers say the lack of moisture creates many problems. The wind blows away nutrient-rich topsoil. Worms and micro-organisms head deeper into the soil in search for moisture. Farmers themselves have a harder time getting seeds into the ground.

“‘If you’re plowing, for example, you want to get a certain depth in the ground,’ says Patrick Hamilton, a farmer at Venetucci Farm. ‘When it’s so dry, the ground gets so hard and just sets up and you can’t get your implements in the ground.'”

Parker Water and Sanitation: Draft conservation plan ready for comment

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Here’s a release from Parker Water and Sanitation (via YourHub) inviting comments on their draft water conservation plan:

Parker Water & Sanitation District is accepting comments on its recently completed Draft Water Conservation Plan. Copies of the Plan can be picked up at the District Office, 19801 E. Mainstreet in Parker.

The plan can also be downloaded from the District’s website, http://www.pwsd.org [ed.

The State of Colorado requires water conservation plans be approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board under §37-60-126 C.R.S. The Water Conservation Act of 2004 amended §37-60-126 C.R.S. to include additional requirements.

While PWSD does have a state approved Water Conservation Plan on file, the plan was last updated in 1997 and does not meet the new requirements.

The Draft Water Conservation Plan is a five year strategic plan that identifies and evaluates programs we should offer and support in an effort to achieve our community’s long-term water conservation goals. A Public Review Meeting is scheduled for April 9, 2009, 7 PM at the District Office, 19801 E. Mainstreet.

Comments are due by May 12, 2009 and can be submitted to:

Craig Miller
Water Conservation Specialist
19801 E. Mainstreet
Parker, CO 80138

Windsor: Water rates to rise

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From the Windsor Beacon (Ashley Keesis-Wood): “Windsor residents living in the Weld County portion of the town will notice a small change on their water bills this year. The new rate, approved by the Windsor Town Board recently, will increase water bills by 15 cents per month, or about $1.80 per year. “This rate change only affects Weld County residents,” Windsor Director of Finance Dean Moyer said at last Monday night’s town board work session. “It also will not affect the use of non-potable water systems or wells.” The sewer and drainage rates will stay the same. The Water and Sewer Advisory Board recently recommended the cost increase to offset the rising cost of water from suppliers.”

Jackson Gulch funding in omnibus bill

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Here’s an update on funding for rehabilitation of Jackson Gulch Reservoir and the Jackson Gulch canal, from Jeanne Richardson writing for the Cortez Journal. From the article:

Board members and staff of the Mancos Water Conservancy District made another trip to Washington, D.C., this past week to talk with legislators about a bill that will appropriate funds to the district for repairing and rehabilitating the Jackson Gulch Canal near Mancos…

The Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation bill passed through the House in September 2008, but it was an individual bill then. Now it’s grouped with others in the omnibus bill and has to be re-approved…

The bill will authorize $8.25 million for repairs to the canal, and this is the sixth request for appropriations that the district has made. It’s the third year that the bill has been active…

Last year, the district put in a retaining wall along the inlet canal, allowing access to the canal for the first time in 50 years. This work will serve to make access to the canal easier when it comes time for the rehabilitation of the canal itself. The timeline of the rehabilitation project depends largely on when funding comes through and how much the district will receive…

The Jackson Gulch Reservoir serves the entire Mancos Valley and Mesa Verde National Park, and is a backup supply for the town of Mancos. According to Kennedy, the reservoir also provides irrigation water for more than 13,000 acres that include residential, commercial and agricultural consumers. The district has said all along that this $8 million, if spent on the rehabilitation project, would be much less costly than spending three times that much on a replacement canal later on down the road.

Here’s the link to the Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Project website from the Mancos Water Conservancy District.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Pagosa whitewater park update

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Here’s an update on work in the Pagosa Springs whitewater park, from Jim McQuiggin writing for the Pagosa Sun. From the article:

With approval letters from the Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Division of Wildlife received by Pagosa Springs staff on Wednesday, Riverbend Engineering started work first thing Thursday on Phase I of the river restoration project.

Aside from the removal of Davey’s Wave, Phase I of the project calls for the installation of an upstream cross vane structure as well as a new whitewater feature to be installed in front of the Visitor’s Center. The new structure will have a net drop in water surface of two feet, while the cross vane structure, just upstream from the current location of Davey’s Wave, will have a net drop of 1 foot. Phase I will also include habitat structures installed neat the Sixth Street bend, complying with Colorado Division of Wildlife mandates for the “Fishing is Fun” project. “Work on the whitewater structures are our first priority,” Phillips said, “But as work on those structures slows down, we’ll start moving manpower and equipment for the installation of those structures, probably by early next week.”

Eastern Colorado: Say hello to drought

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From the Denver Post (Mark Jaffe): “The Front Range — which received just 2 inches of precipitation over the past five months — has slid into “moderate drought,” according to the U.S Drought Monitor. The Drought Monitor — a collaboration among state and federal agencies — raised the Front Range to the first, and lowest, drought designation late last week. “We are just one or two big storms away from being OK,” Colorado state climatologist Nolan Doesken said. “But if they don’t come, it could be trouble.” No big snowstorms worked their way over mountains from the west this winter, and no storms swept in against the east side of the range, Doesken said. “March, April and May are our wettest period, so if we get the average 6 inches we usually receive, we should be OK,” Doesken said.”