Woodland Park water and sewer rate hike effective April 1st

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From the Pikes Peak Courier View (Norma Engelberg): “Water tap and sewer plant investment fees will increase by 5 percent as of April 1. At its March 19 Woodland Park City Council meeting council voted on a resolution to continue the annual 5 percent increases instituted in 1989.

“Tap sales have fallen drastically in the past few years, from 74 in 2005 to a projected 10 in 2009. In a memo to council, utilities director Jim Schultz states that since 2006, water customers have been disproportionately supporting the payback of debts in the water and wastewater utilities. A 15 percent water-rate increase in 2007 has bought relief for a few years but if tap revenues don’t increase by early 2010 other measures might have to be enacted.”

Southern Delivery System: Reclamation issues final record of decision

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From email from Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Record of Decision on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Southern Delivery System. The SDS is a non-federal water delivery pipeline that would run from Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs, Colo. It will connect to Pueblo Dam and require water contracts between Colorado Springs Utilities and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Michael Ryan, Regional Director for Reclamation’s Great Plains Region, signed the Record of Decision later Friday afternoon.

“We have completed the environmental compliance and have provided the public with a detailed report on the impacts of the Southern Delivery System,” said Ryan. “It is a positive step forward in providing a clean and efficient water supply for many Colorado communities, while also ensuring we remain diligent stewards of our natural resources.”

Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera also gave his thoughts on Reclamation’s review of the project, saying, “This is a critical milestone toward making the Southern Delivery System and the water it will provide for our future a reality. Reclamation’s review of SDS was lengthy, thorough and complete and we ended up with a better project as a result.”

Reclamation prepared its Environmental Impact Statement in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The Final EIS was released last month and is available at http://www.sdseis.com. The signing of the ROD concludes the NEPA process.

For more information on the Record of Decision for the Southern Delivery System EIS, please visit the http://www.sdseis.com website. To obtain a hard copy of the ROD, please contact Kara Lamb at (970) 962-4326.

Update: More coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The decision follows last year’s environmental impact statement and clears the way for Colorado Springs and its SDS partners to choose a route and begin contract negotiations with Reclamation. Colorado Springs and its SDS partners would seek long-term contracts with Reclamation for storage, exchange and conveyance at Lake Pueblo…

Colorado Springs is allowed to exchange water — store it out of priority in Lake Pueblo — against return flows down Fountain Creek. Pueblo West can exchange storage against return flows down Wild Horse Dry Creek. Pueblo County conditions include Pueblo West participation in a flow protection program for the Arkansas River through Pueblo, which Pueblo West officials protested last week. With some modifications in wording, Colorado Springs, Security and Fountain found the Pueblo County conditions legally acceptable. Major technical objections to the project were removed last week, when the Pueblo Board of Water Works approved agreements that provided for a pool of water to augment low flows and how outlets at Pueblo Dam would be shared. Permits must be obtained from the Colorado Department of Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers for the SDS project to commence.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here, here and here.

Energy policy — oil shale: Development effects on water supplies

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams): “A Shell Oil official confirmed Friday that the “in-situ” oil shale production the company is researching at its Mahogany facility near Rangely currently consumes about three barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced.

“But, he said, contrary to recent media reports on an environmental study of energy company water rights on Colorado’s Western Slope, Shell is not trying to “corner the market on water” in the Colorado and White River basins.”

Jackson Lake open to boating for the season

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From the Fort Morgan Times: “Jackson Lake has opened for boating for the 2009 summer season. All vessels must be inspected for aquatic invasive species (ANS) before launching. The inspection station at the park will be open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The inspection hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. The inspection station will be open longer on the weekends, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Boats will not be allowed to launch without an inspection. That schedule will remain in effect through May 1, when additional staffing may extend the inspection hours. Boaters should make sure that the vessel is clean, drained and dry prior to inspection.”

SB09-141, Fountain Creek Watershed District

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette (John Schroyer): “SB141 was introduced only after the deal was approved last year by both counties’ boards of commissioners. In El Paso County, the proposal passed 3-2. It would create a new governmental entity to oversee Fountain Creek and address issues such as water quality, erosion and flood control.”


The district’s nine-member board, which would be made up of officials and appointees from both counties, will have the power to impose new fees and place mill levy increases on county ballots. Placing a tax increase on the ballot would require the support of at least seven members, and a mill levy hike would be limited to 5 mills. That could raise up to $30 million a year for new projects. For the time being, the board will have at least $10 million a year for the next five years, which could be doubled by federal funds. The initial money comes out of the budget for the $1 billion Southern Delivery System, the pipeline from the Pueblo Reservoir that Colorado Springs Utilities plans to build. The district would include all of Colorado Springs and Pueblo. Four smaller districts would be created within the umbrella district, which stretches from south of Pueblo, where Fountain Creek feeds into the Arkansas River, to north of Colorado Springs, where the creek begins. The four districts would have separate powers, and new fees would likely differ between them.

The bill was approved unanimously by the House Agriculture Committee and is expected to head to the full House. But [Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan] said she won’t breathe easy until it’s signed by the governor. “Water bills, they’re an unusual beast. Things will fly through (the Legislature), and then on second or third reading they can die,” she said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Nestlé Waters Chaffee County project: Update

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From the Denver Post (Jason Blevins): “Nestle has promised to replace all the water it takes from the valley and spend $1 million to restore riverside habitat where a dilapidated fishery sits. It has installed 10 monitoring wells to gauge the health of the underground aquifer that supplies the springs and will monitor wetlands near them. Nestle hydrogeologist Bruce Lauerman calls the plan a “sustainable, surgical extraction” of water and describes preserving the pristine water supply by taking only a fraction of its flows. “We are one of the best things that could happen to these springs,” he said. “Our involvement affords a level of protection that other owners and users of this property could never offer.'”


“We have to take everything they are promising on faith,” said Michele Riggio, who last week helped found the anti-Nestle group Chaffee County Citizens for Sustainability. “The risks are too great, and there are not enough proven benefits, so why try?” To help change that attitude, Nestle is working with county residents to start a community foundation. There is also the lure of jobs and tax money. Construction of the $4 million underground pipeline from the springs to proposed water silos at a truck stop on U.S. 285 would require about 50 workers. County officials also envision millions of dollars from property taxes and from the taxes truckers pay as they gas up…

Last April, residents of Enumclaw, Wash., rallied to repel Nestle’s plan to annually bottle 100 million gallons of local spring water. Residents of McCloud, Calif., are in a five-year legal battle to stop Nestle’s plans for a water-bottling plant. Residents in Maine, Michigan and New Hampshire also are challenging Nestle’s plans to bottle their spring water.
“It’s hard to anticipate all the scenarios, and Nestle has the ability to fight something for 20 years,” said Jane Browning, who lives in Howard, southeast of Salida. “We don’t have that ability.”[…]

How it would work:

•Nestle Waters North America, a subsidiary of the Switzerland-based conglomerate, will replace water it draws from the Chaffee County aquifer below the springs with water it plans to lease from the city of Aurora.

•Aurora owns senior water rights near the headwaters of the Arkansas River and is negotiating a 10-year deal with Nestle.

•Nestle’s studies of the springs and aquifers show it would need to put about 0.3 cubic feet per second back into the river.

•If the county approves the plan, Nestle will build production wells on land it owns near two springs and draw a year-round average of 125 gallons per minute.

•Nestle’s research shows that its withdrawal amounts to 10 percent of the springs’ capacity. The company says its tests show the aquifer recharging in a few hours after heavy test pumping.

Update: From SalidaCitizen.com: “The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), a local non-profit membership-based organization, has been following the proposed Nestle project. We previously submitted a letter of concern to Don Reimer, Chaffee County Engineer and Development Services Director for the Planning Commission Meeting held on March 4, 2009 for the purpose of reviewing the Nestle Special Land Use Permit and 1041 Application. Since that time, extensive additional information has been publicly circulated from the County’s consultants hired to review the Nestle applications. In light of these reports and serious discrepancies in the findings, the GARNA Board of Directors has voted to rescind the letter dated March 3, 2009. We now have grave concerns and are here this evening to state our opposition to the project.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs city council review of Pueblo County stipulations

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Here’s a look ahead at the Colorado Springs city council review of the required stipulations from Pueblo County for the city’s proposed Southern Delivery System, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

That [the Colorado Springs council] still must decide between a route from Pueblo Dam, the preferred option of Colorado Springs Utilities, or an alternate route through Fremont County that comes with fewer strings attached. “I want to caution that this doesn’t mean construction is imminent. This means we are closer to having two viable options for our management and council to analyze and decide which is in the best interest of our customers,” John Fredell, SDS project director, said this week after Pueblo commissioners approved terms and conditions.

In addition, Colorado Springs is awaiting a record of decision from the Bureau of Reclamation, expected in the near future. That would clear the way for contract talks over storage, exchange and conveyance at Lake Pueblo, to be negotiated by Colorado Springs on behalf of its partners in SDS, Security, Fountain and Pueblo West. Those negotiations won’t likely begin until a route is chosen, said Kara Lamb, Reclamation public affairs officer. If the Fremont County route is chosen, some parts of the environmental impact statement will have to be rewritten because mitigation measures cover the preferred alternative, the route from Pueblo Dam. The negotiations would be open to public comment.

In addition, Colorado Springs is awaiting a record of decision from the Bureau of Reclamation, expected in the near future. That would clear the way for contract talks over storage, exchange and conveyance at Lake Pueblo, to be negotiated by Colorado Springs on behalf of its partners in SDS, Security, Fountain and Pueblo West. Those negotiations won’t likely begin until a route is chosen, said Kara Lamb, Reclamation public affairs officer. If the Fremont County route is chosen, some parts of the environmental impact statement will have to be rewritten because mitigation measures cover the preferred alternative, the route from Pueblo Dam. The negotiations would be open to public comment.

Besides the route decision and the contract is the matter of two agencies which haven’t yet issued permits for the system, said Keith Riley, who is coordinates those permits. The Colorado Division of Wildlife is working with Colorado Springs Utilities on a mitigation plan for wildlife that would be affected during construction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is doing an internal review of a Section 404 permit, which is needed before dams can be built on Williams Creek, but Colorado Springs has not made its application…

Colorado Springs still has to host at least one public hearing on the two proposed routes, as well as sort things out internally with Colorado Springs Utilities staff, Mayor Lionel Rivera said last week. The council will have to weigh the additional cost of coming through Pueblo County, primarily guarantees of $50 million in funding for Fountain Creek and $75 million in planned sewer improvements, against the relative disadvantages of coming from a river outlet in Fremont County…

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.