Coyote Gulch turns seven

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I completely forgot to remind you water nuts about my seventh anniversary here at Coyote Gulch. I started the weblog seven years ago on March 29th. I didn’t have much to say that night so I linked a series of photographs from someone’s hike in Coyote Gulch. The canyon that is, not the weblog. Of course the link is now dead.

Thanks to you readers for all the links, compliments, corrections and encouragement over the years.

Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability: Fundraiser April 4th

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Salida Citizen: “The newly formed Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability (CCFS) announced that its first fundraiser is scheduled on Saturday, April 4, from 5:00-9:00 p.m., at the Victoria Tavern in downtown Salida.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Yampa: Don’t drink the water

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From the Steamboat Pilot & Today: “Yampa residents should use bottled water for drinking, food preparation and other uses after the town’s main water line broke Monday night.”

Snowpack news

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Kati O’Hare): ““Snow pack at the present time is 99 percent of average, but only 77 percent of last year,” said Dan Crabtree, water management group chief for the Bureau of Reclamation. Last year, the snowfall in the Gunnison Basin filled up reservoir storage resulting in some water being released early to make room for more runoff. The Uncompahgre Water Users Association reported that it didn’t have to dip into reservoir storage until April because of the wet spring and slow melt off. A recent storm that hit the area is helping the snow pack numbers. Currently, snow pack is at 99 percent of average, but is only 77 percent of last year, according to the Bureau of Reclamation. That is not the case this year, said Steve Fletcher, UWUA water master for the Olathe/Delta area.

“Crabtree said the Uncompahgre Valley has good storage rights in Taylor Reservoir, which is located at 9,900 feet and holds 106,000 acre-feet of water (there is 326,000 gallons per acre-feet). He said that reservoir looks to be in good condition and should fill.”

From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Zach Fridell): “Steamboat Ski Area is in the running for its fifth-highest snow amount in the past 15 years with 368.5 inches reported Tuesday morning, half an inch shy of the total amount recorded in 1999. The amount is still far less than last year’s record 489 inches, but [National Wea ther Service forecaster Joe Ramey] said the snow will keep falling as several storms approach…

“Ramey said Steamboat is above average this year, with Rabbit Ears Pass at 110 percent of average snowfall and the Yampa and White River Basin at 106 percent of average.”

Energy policy — oil shale: The need for a regional debate on development

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From Denver Post guest columnist Sharon Bronson writing about the development of oil shale: “Frankly, the oil shale debate in Colorado demands a broader regional conversation about energy development and water management in the West. We are all painfully aware of how rapid development, an extended drought and global warming are stressing our water resources. As the seven Colorado River basin states, along with Mexico, continue to fight over a shrinking water “pie,” how will the water for commercial oil shale development be supplied? What are the downstream impacts of pursuing this type of energy policy? Is producing oil shale a better use of this water than raising crops? We need straight answers to these hard questions. The BLM, even today, acknowledges that the development technologies for oil shale have yet to be proven as commercially viable, and their associated impacts are unknown.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Farm disaster on the South Platte

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Here’s a look at the fallout from the shut down of wells earlier in the century in the South Platte Alluvial Aquifer, from the Associated Press via CBS News. From the article:

The farmers’ plight traces back to the late 1800s, when reservoir and ditch companies bought senior rights to the Platte. Some 30 years later, farmers drilled their first wells in the South Platte River Valley…

For years, the state water engineer worked out ad hoc deals with farmers, allowing them to pump their wells without replacing water required by the law. There was enough to go around, and senior rights holders were satisfied. But trouble cropped up during drought years earlier this decade. In 2003, the state Supreme Court ordered the engineer to force individual farmers to adhere to the law to satisfy the needs of senior rights holders. “We’re not interested in putting anybody else out of business,” said Tim Buchanan, an attorney for Harmony Ditch Company, a contingent of alfalfa farmers in Logan County. “We just want our share of the water.” The decision ultimately shut down or severely curtailed pumping at 4,000 area wells, said Doug Sinor, a water court attorney. As many as 2,000 farmers were affected: Potatoes, corn, beans, cabbage and sugar beets all dried up.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Windsor: Town Board approves water conservation plan

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Here’s an update on Windsor’s efforts to secure funding for a sustainable water supply which starts with filing a conservation plan with the state of Colorado, from Ashley Keesis-Wood writing for the Windsor Beacon. From the article:

The conservation plan, which was discussed by the board in depth in December and January, will be used as the town applies for low-interest loans from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. Those loans will most likely be used to help the town cover its $33 million or $34 million share in the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a collaborative effort between 15 municipalities and water districts begun in 2000.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Irrigating the Surface Creek Valley

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Here’s an article about John Spurgeon’s new book Irrigating the Surface Creek Valley, from Bob Borchardt writing for the Delta County Independent. From the article:

With help from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society, the Surface Creek Valley Historical Society and the Surface Creek Winery and Gallery, local author John Spurgeon is receiving much deserved recognition for his book “Irrigating the Surface Creek Valley.”
According to Spurgeon, every community “has its own water story, even if it has been forgotten with the passage of time.”[…]Spurgeon said the irrigation ditches fascinated him, and he wanted to know why, how, and for what purpose these ditches came to be. “What’s this buying and selling of water all about?” he asked. His research and inquiries led to his writing of this easy-to-read and extremely fascinating book.

I’ve emailed the Independent for information on purchasing the book.

Arkansas River Basin Water Forum

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Here’s a recap of the second day of the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The creation of a Fountain Creek District, passed by the state Legislature this week and awaiting Gov. Bill Ritter’s signature, represents the fruit of more than two years of discussions that will lead to action, rather than just another plan. “Having grown up along that creek, I want to make it a living entity that both Colorado Springs and Pueblo can enjoy,” Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner told the Arkansas River Basin Forum Wednesday. “This is a real opportunity to create and preserve those traditional things about Fountain Creek that we enjoy.” About 150 people at- tended the two-day forum at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Chostner, along with Carol Baker of Colorado Springs Utilities and Heather Bergman of the Keystone Center, recounted the process that began with finger-pointing and is coming to conclusion in the form of a new district which will make funding projects in the no-man’s land between Pueblo and Fountain possible. The effort to form the district began in 2006, after more than a year of harsh rhetoric following major sewage spills into Fountain Creek in 2005 – only the latest incident in a long history of disputes. Chostner said there is still “mutually assured distrust” between the two radically different counties in the new district: Pueblo and El Paso. The difference is that a new nine-member board will take on decisions by consensus, instead of conflict. “You can build all the castles in the air you want and dream about what projects you want to do on the creek, but without money, you can’t get anything done,” Chostner said. “Ultimately, the controversy can’t go on forever.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.