H.B. 09-1303: Admin Mineral Development Water Wells

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Here’s a look at House Bill 09-1303 (Admin Mineral Development Water Wells) (pdf) from Joe Hanel writing for the Cortez Journal. From the article:

William and Elizabeth Vance and James and Mary Fitzgerald sued the state engineer’s office in 2005, claiming that coalbed methane wells were depleting their water wells. They won in a La Plata court in 2007. The case, Vance v. Simpson, is on appeal to the state Supreme Court. A ruling is expected any time. Sen. Jim Isgar and others worry the court could require every one of Colorado’s 38,000 gas wells to get a water well permit, which would overwhelm the state engineer’s office. So Isgar, D-Hesperus, and Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, drafted House Bill 1303, which brings coalbed methane wells into Colorado’s water rights system. Without the bill, the court decision could force the state engineer to roll all coalbed methane wells into the legal water system in two months. Other observers have said the court decision could apply to every gas or oil well in the state. “We aren’t in session until next January, and if this ruling comes out the day after we adjourn, we leave the state engineer in the position of having to approve 3,000, 4,000 wells in 60 days,” Curry said.

The House Agriculture Committee passed the bill on a 13-0 vote Wednesday, sending it to the full House…

The bill allows the state engineer to make rules for when a gas well should be treated as tapping “nontributary” water – that is, deep water that will not harm nearby water rights. For tributary wells, it allows time for gas drillers to prepare a substitute water supply plan, just like farmers use when they’re using well water for irrigation. HB 1303 puts a three-year moratorium on integrating gas wells into the water system, to give the state engineer and the gas companies time to adjust.

Coalbed methane wells pump out water before they start producing gas. The wells are especially plentiful – and rich – in La Plata and Archuleta counties. The Raton Basin near Trinidad also has many coalbed methane wells.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Taming the land part five

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Here’s part V of Chris Woodka’s series “Taming the Land” which is running in the Pueblo Chieftain.

Invasive mussels update

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Here’s an update on the fight to contain invasive mussels in Colorado waters, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Last year, evidence of mussels was found in seven Colorado reservoirs and lakes after they were first detected in Lake Pueblo in January 2008. A total of 102 bodies of water were tested, which means that boat inspection programs or closures of some lakes were successful in stopping mussels from spreading further than they have, Brown said. “The mussels move from body to body of water primarily by boats,” she said. Making sure boats are clean also deters the spread of other invasive plants or animals, as well as diseases that can kill fish, Brown added. Sampling will begin again this month as water temperatures begin to warm up enough to allow breeding to resume, she said. Brown speculated that more adults have not been found because the zebra and quagga mussels are mainly populating the sediments at the bottom of lakes.

More coverage from the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Mile Blumhardt):

Starting April 15, Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake will implement boating hours and all boats at those Larimer County parks will be inspected for exotic zebra and quagga mussels. Those inspections to try and quell the spread of the invasive mussels started in June at Boyd Lake and went through November. The inspections started up again March 19, according to Tim Walsh, Boyd Lake ranger. Walsh said no quagga or zebra mussels had been found as of Tuesday. Boating hours at Horsetooth and Carter will be in place 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily April 15 through Sept. 30 with reduced inspection hours thereafter. Boat launching will not be allowed outside of those hours…

In October, boating at Horsetooth and Carter will be allowed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In November through February, hours and days are even more restrictive…

Mark Caughlin, Horsetooth’s district manager, expects inspection times to be similar to Boyd’s. He said Larimer County Natural Resources will train 17 employees to perform the inspections. “We understand there will be an inconvenience,” Caughlin said. “We’re in the business of keeping our reservoirs open to boating and we’re trying everything within our power to keep open as many hours of boating as we can.” To reduce the inconvenience, Caughlin said boaters can have their boats inspected when they come off the water. If the boat and trailer are found to be clean, they will be tagged so that boaters can bypass having the boat and trailer inspected on the next outing. Caughlin said the county also is planning off-site inspections by Memorial Day.

Update: From the Loveland Reporter Herald:

All boats will be inspected for invasive mussels before they can launch on Carter Lake or Horsetooth Reservoir starting April 15.

Larimer County will inspect all boats to comply with state regulations designed to curb the spread of zebra and quagga mussels. The mussels, not native to Colorado, plug pipes and motors and leach nutrients from the water, depriving native species and plants.

To ensure that all boats are inspected, officials set specific hours for boats to launch on Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir. Boaters can remain on the lake longer than those hours but cannot launch outside the set times, which are:

April 15-Sept. 30 — 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Oct. 1-31 — 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays.

Nov. 1-Feb. 28 — 8 a.m.-9 a.m. and noon-1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays as weather and ice conditions allow.

More information is available online at http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources/boating_inspections.htm.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.