Republican River Basin: Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas trying to reach settlement

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From the Kearney Hub: “Attorneys for Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado are taking the final steps to stop the states’ Republican River dispute before it returns to the U.S. Supreme Court. For 10 days beginning [March 8th], the legal teams will be in Denver presenting evidence and expert testimony over Kansas’ claim that Nebraska continued to overuse its share of Republican River water, despite agreeing in 2002 to comply with a World War II-era pact allocating water among the three states.”

Thanks to Coyote Gulch reader Greg for the link. More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

CWCB: Water availability task force meeting March 20th

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The next Water Availability Task Force Meeting will be held on March 20, from 1-3:30p at Denver Water in the Three Stones Building, Cheesman Room. Please visit the CWCB website for agenda information.

Prior to the WATF meeting, an important Front Range Climate Change Vulnerability Study group meeting will be held in the same room from 9a-12p. Ben Harding of AMEC will lead a discussion on the Colorado River Water Availability Study’s approach to climate change and the models used. Levi Brekke from the US Bureau of Reclamation will explain downscaling for climate change models. Attendance is strongly encouraged.

Please Note: This will not be a joint meeting of the Water Availability and Flood Task Forces.

If you have any questions, please contact Ben Wade at 303-866-3441 ext. 3238 or at ben.wade@state.co.us.

Colorado Water Conservation Board meeting March 17-18

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From email from the CWCB:

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is meeting on March 17-18, 2009, at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 Ken Pratt Blvd, Longmont, CO 80501.

The agenda is now available on the CWCB website. CWCB Staff memos and other materials will be available March 13, 2009, on our website. The meeting will be “streamed” via the internet through the CWCB’s website. Click on the “Listen to the meeting LIVE!” link, found on our home page.

The CWCB is implementing a new email system in an effort to improve our communication with citizens, customers, and constituents. If you do not wish to receive notices of Board activities, please let us know.

If you need more information about this Board meeting, please contact Lisa Barr at lisa.barr@state.co.us.

Southwestern Colorado: Local cloud seeding projects

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Here’s a background piece on cloud seeding in southwestern Colorado from Kristen Plank writing for the Cortez Journal. She has written a nice primer on the subject also. From the article:

[Larry] Hjermstad, founder of Western Weather Consultants LLC, seeds locally for approximately 10 different entities that support the cloud seeding program, from the town of Telluride to the Dolores Water Conservancy District.

The DWCD invests in two of Hjermstad’s cloud seeding programs in hopes to increase inflow into McPhee Reservoir. Mike Preston, manager for the DWCD, said the water district has played a part in the program since 2000, and paid approximately $17,000 for the 2008-2009 winter program. “Ski areas are investing in the program for the snow to ski on, but our interest is pure and simple,” Preston said. “If we can increase the inflows into the McPhee Reservoir by some percentage, then everyone benefits.”[…]

Hjermstad recounted an independent study done by Bernard Silverman, prior chief scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, that showed the effects of a 33-year cloud seeding program on Vail’s surrounding streams. The study, lasting from 1977 to 2005, showed an eight to 30 percent increase in stream flows. “(Silverman) wasn’t looking at snow as being of value, but rather water as being of value,” Hjermstad said. “The study verified that precipitation increases are reflected in stream flow increases. To me, this is the missing ‘ground link’ for what we are trying to do with precipitation.”[…]

Cloud seeding, or weather modification practices, is a popular process throughout the world. Locally, a total of 34 “ice nuclei” generators are spread across the San Juan Mountains, working from November through the end of March. Hjermstad will have operators turn on generators for roughly 24 storms during a three-month period.

Well over a trillion seemingly invisible silver iodide nuclei will work their way into the bottom portion of a cloud system, where they will attract moisture, produce snowflakes and fall to earth. The compound works so well at producing additional snowfall because of its nearly identical characteristics to an ice crystal. It’s as safe as one, too, Hjermstad said. “One reason silver iodide was chosen was because, as a molecule, it is extremely tightly held together once the two elements combine,” he said. “Nothing in nature breaks it apart.” This includes the sun, the photosynthetic process in plants, or anything from the digestive systems of humans, animals or aquatic wildlife. Hjermstad said that cloud seeding programs also do not take away from any precipitation that may have been dispersed into towns downwind.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Boulder Reservoir: Invasive mussel quarantine in effect until April 3rd

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Boulder Reservoir is closed to large watercraft (requiring a trailer) until April 3rd as part of the effort to combat the spread of invasive mussels, according to a report from Ryan Morgan writing for the Boulder Daily Camera. From the article:

Paul Bousquet, a spokesman for the Parks and Recreation Department, which manages the reservoir, said officials are taking steps to keep the critters out of their waters. Since last Friday, all large watercraft — defined as any boat that requires a trailer –have been banned from the reservoir for a quarantine period that will last until April 3. The quarantine is meant to give the boats plenty of time to dry off and for any mussels they’re harboring to die off, Bousquet said. During that three-week period, all boaters with permits to be at the reservoir will be asked to come in for an inspection and quarantine.

Smaller boats — like kayaks, canoes or wind-surfing boards — will be allowed on the water during the quarantine, but might be subject to inspection. Once the quarantine is over, all boats entering the reservoir, including small craft, will be required to buy permits. Large boats might be required to undergo decontamination using a new facility the reservoir might put up in the next few weeks using funds from a state bill meant to stop the mussels’ spread, Bousquet said. Smaller boats — like kayaks — will likely go through a quicker inspection, he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Steamboat Springs: Water dedication policy

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Steamboat Springs is looking at adopting an ordinance that would require developments to have water rights to develop or money to help the city develop water before being annexed. Here’s a report from Brandon Gee writing for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. From the article:

As currently drafted, the city’s water dedication policy would require developers to bring water rights — or money to help develop the city’s existing water rights, through means such as infrastructure — to the table as a condition of annexation. The policy expresses a strong preference for actual rights before a fee in lieu, and also prefers pre-1922 water rights [Pre-1922 rights are senior to the Colorado River Compact].

At a recent meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council, resident Mary Brown said the only place to find senior water rights, older than the compact, is on agricultural land. “They’re going to dry up a farm somewhere. That’s just how it works,” Brown said. “Eventually, by requiring the delivery of wet water to the city, you are promoting the drying up of ag land in the county. … I think it will have far-reaching, adverse consequences.” As a result, Brown said, the city would be better off accepting cash to firm up its existing rights. A recently adopted Steamboat Water Supply Master Plan concluded that “the city and the (Mount Werner Water and Sanitation) district have a reliable long-term supply source … capable of meeting projected demands throughout the next 20 years,” but that it should “increase redundancy in the community’s water supply.”[…]

Others, including Council man Steve Ivancie, said they would prefer a stricter policy that brings actual raw water to the table. Ivancie also spoke out against a clause in the draft policy that would give council authority to accept other considerations in lieu of water rights. “This policy should be as airtight as possible,” Ivancie said…

Public Works Director Philo Shelton said the intent of the policy is not to have developers go out and purchase a random assortment of water rights throughout the valley. Rather, Shelton said the city hopes developers seeking annexation will dedicate the water rights tied to their land to the city. “We want to make sure we get that piece of paper with the land,” Shelton said. When a parcel has no active water rights associated with it, Shelton said, the city likely will work out a different arrangement, as it has decided to do with the proposed Steamboat 700 development west of city limits. Instead of water rights, Steamboat 700 will be asked to pay for improvements that will allow the city to put existing water rights to use — such as those in the Elk River and Stagecoach Reservoir. The developers’ payment will be based on a water demand study for the project.

Taming the land

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Here’s the second in the series “Taming the Land” from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. He is detailing the history of water development in the Arkansas Valley. Part one of the series is here.