Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District: Catch a Wave and Save

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From the Pagosa Sun (Sheila Berger): “The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District’s water conservation efforts surge forward today as the district launches its ‘Catch the Wave and Save!‘ project. PAWSD has had a water conservation program in place since 1995, but today, based on a new Water Conservation Plan adopted late last year, the program formally makes a splash with an exciting combination of public education programs and resources. Over the next two months, the community is challenged to ‘Catch the Wave and Save!’ by plunging into the following educational opportunities.”

Lower Blanco River restoration efforts

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Here’s an update on restoration efforts along the Lower Rio Blanco River, from Jim McQuiggin writing for the Pagosa Sun. From the article:

At a meeting scheduled April 28 from 7-9 p.m. in the south conference room of the Pagosa Springs Community Center, project supporters will present plans for further restoration of the river. According to Dave McDonough of the Lower Blanco Property Owners Association (LBPOA), there are 26 property owners who would be affected by the project. “Raising the money is not an issue,” McDonough said. “We’ve done that. We need the property owners to engage with us. Ultimately, we need their permission to work in their back yards.”

When the Chama river diversion was opened in 1971, removing about 70 percent of the Blanco’s water to be sent to New Mexico, portions of the Lower Blanco were impacted, with diminished fish and wildlife habitats as well as changing the overall dynamics of the river.

With the third phase of the project completed last year, about five miles of the total nine miles of the project have been finished. Reaction to improvements on the river so far completed have been unanimously positive…

Although expanded fish habitat is a primary goal of the project, the restoration boasts several other merits from slowing down the river through the narrowing and deepening of channels, essentially making the most of available water resources that were depleted by the Chama diversion. The project also includes the construction of flood plains that can protect the integrity of river banks as well as mitigate flood issues with private properties. “The flood plains will help keep the water off of pastures and properties and put it back into the river,” said McDonough. “Ultimately, what this project does is keep more water in the river. It creates a healthier watershed, healthier riparian environments, vegetation, and fish habitats.”

The LBPOA also reports that improvements on the river have not only provided safer environments for fish — along with increased numbers of fish — but also increased numbers of turtles, crayfish and birds. Furthermore, wells monitored along improved portions of the river have not only shown increased levels but water collected from those wells has been reported to be clearer and cleaner.

With permitting from the Colorado Department of Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers contingent on the project securing easements, McDonough hopes to contact property owners as soon as possible, either by meeting with them at the scheduled April 24 meeting or through phone or e-mail…

According to project engineer Chris Phillips of Riverbend Engineering, crews “Should start construction in late August, early September,” with the project taking about six weeks. Should construction be completed this summer, the LBPOA will begin the process of securing funding to begin the fifth and final phase of the project. That phase would include about 2.5 miles of the river.

Lower Blanco residents interested in the Lower Blanco river restoration project should contact Dave McDonough at 264-0596 for more information.

Governor Ritter appoints three to Colorado Water Conservation Board

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From the Greeley Tribune: “Eric W. Wilkinson of Greeley was re-appointed to a term expiring Feb. 12, 2012. He is the general manager of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. John H. McClow of Gunnison was appointed to a term expiring in 2012, and Carl Trick II of Cowdrey was re-appointed to a term expiring on the same date.”

Rifle: Planning for something we have no control over

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb): “The treatment plant is costing the city more than $20 million and forced it to raise sewer rates by 105 percent, and now it’s staring at an estimated $44 million price tag for a new water plant. Without outside financial help, that could require raising water rates to $75 a month, city utilities director Charles Stevens said. Both projects were made necessary by city growth that’s been driven largely by natural gas development in the Rifle area. Mayor Keith Lambert said he expects the current drilling slowdown to be temporary. Meanwhile, the city worries about the growth implications if commercial oil shale development fires up on federal land in Rifle’s backyard. ‘We feel like we’re trying to plan for something we have no control over,’ said the city’s attorney, James Neu. The city had hoped it might tap some federal stimulus bill funding for its water plant. But the bill provides only $32 million statewide for water projects, and with 35 other projects ahead of Rifle’s in line, city officials aren’t optimistic.”

Kremmling: Water system repairs need funding

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Here’s an update on Kremmling’s project to upgrade and replace their water supply system, from Drew Munro writing for the Sky-Hi Daily News. From the article:

[Mayor Tom Clark and Town Manager Ted Soltis] said the state agency is scheduled to make a decision in mid-June. In the meantime, the town is spending about $130,000 on engineering and other expenses so that, if the money comes through, work can begin immediately. “Ideally, this year we’re going to do about 10,000 feet of line,” he said. Next year, the town would like to replace the remaining 10,000 feet of line. “Of course, both those projects are contingent on funding,” Soltis said.

Last year, the town replaced much of the main water transmission line from the treatment plant to town, plus about 300 feet of the worst distribution lines, which cut losses from about 67 percent of the town’s treated water to about 50 percent, Soltis said. Those projects were funded in part with a $478,500 DOLA grant.

Soltis told town board members on Monday that he is in the process of applying for $2 million in federal stimulus money to fund the project. That request, however, faces long odds. He noted that only about $32 million is available in Colorado for such projects, that Kremmling’s water line project is behind about $90 million worth of other requests, and that some $335 million in requests have been made in the state.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Interview with resource manager Bruce Lauerman

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After the recent meeting of Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability, Chaffee County Times reporter Kathy Davis got in touch with Nestlé resource manager Bruce Lauerman to discuss the project and the permitting process. From the article:

“Piping the water to Johnson Village keeps truck traffic off the county roads,” Lauerman said. The five-mile pipeline would cost $4 million, he said. Colorado Department of Transportation issued an access permit and indicated all the CDOT concerns were addressed,” Lauerman said.

Regarding the concern about taking water out of Chaffee County and the impact on neighboring wells and water supply, Lauerman said, “The 1041 application reviewers look at the impacts and plan for mitigation … Nestlé is doing what they can for safe retraction and replacement of water.” Nestlé can take only 200 acre-feet annually and that is 10 percent of the average flow of the springs, he said. Local, state and federal authorities heavily regulate the process, according to Lauerman. “Additionally, Colorado water law requires that Nestlé Waters has an augmentation plan to protect local and regional water rights owners,” he said.

Nestlé’s flyer with questions and answers for the project says, “In most cases, state authorities determine how much water we (Nestle) can safely and sustainably withdraw.” Nestlé plans on collection of 200 acre-feet of groundwater annually or in discharge terms, approximately 0.3 cubic feet per second (cfs), Lauerman said. “Our reduction of the flow in the river is not measurable,” he said. Nestlé would use augmentation to replace any depletion. The company would lease with the city of Aurora to release water from Twin Lakes Reservoir to match Nestlé withdrawals.” If Nestlé wants to take more, the company has to go through the process again. “Neighboring well will not be affected by the project,” Lauerman said…

Regarding CCFS plans to request a 60-day delay for approvals of the applications in order to get more information, Lauerman said he came here two years ago and began communication on the project. Information about the project has been communicated on site, at public presentations, information flyers have been distributed and information has been provided for Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners and Planning and Zoning Commissioners. Throughout 2008, 150 people visited the spring water site, he said. Flyers on the Chaffee County Springs Water Project were at both public libraries, Lauerman said. The application was posted at both libraries and the county courthouse. To get more information on Nestlé and the project, Nestlé is setting up a new information Web site at…

Planning commissioners can only make comments on the 1041 application, according to county engineer/planner Don Reimer. The BOCC met March 18 and tabled both applications to April 21 for more information. The April 21 BOCC meeting to continue the discussion on the Nestlé applications starts at 1 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Buena Vista. The BOCC makes the final decisions on both applications, Reimer said. The county commissioners can continue, approve or deny the applications, he said. “There is a tremendous amount of information available and enough for a sufficient amount of time for the BOCC to make a decision. I think it is not reasonable to delay. “[…]

Another public question was on Nestlé’s alleged bad relations in other communities. Lauerman said that it was “unfair to characterize Nestlé” by looking at two to three communities out of dozens around the country. People need to dig deeper than the rhetoric that was showcased, he said. A list of contacts was given to BOCC, he said. The decision makers can have one-on-one contact, he said. “The company is working hard on giving back to the community. This type of project is a low-impact, sustainable project with significant benefits to Chaffee County. The project preserves open space and protects natural resources,” Lauerman said. According to Lauerman, the benefits include that the company would be required to invest $1 million in wildlife habitat and the restoration of the hatchery is also part of the re-investment. The tax benefits for Chaffee County would be $60,000 to $80,000 a year, according to Lauerman. One-third of the company’s fueling will be done in Chaffee County, Lauerman said. One condition of Nestlé’s permit would be an endowment to Chaffee County, he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Denver Water summer watering rules extended through September

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From the Denver Post (Mike McPhee): “…instead of ending at the end of August, the rules will now be in effect until Oct. 1. They’re all part of Denver Water’s efforts to reduce total usage 22 percent by 2016. The rules state that lawns may not be watered between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. And although there are no assigned watering days this year, no lawn may be watered more than three times a week. The snowpack should fill Denver Water’s reservoirs this spring, but Denver Water still urges conservation of water.”

Here’s the release from Denver Water:

April 8, 2009: Denver Water’s annual summer watering rules take effect May 1, and this year the utility has extended the rules beyond August, through September. At its meeting today, the Board of Water Commissioners decided to extend the utility’s watering rules until Oct. 1. “September is part of irrigation season and outdoor watering is half of all residential use,” said Greg Fisher, manager of demand planning. “Because of Colorado’s semi-arid climate, we need to use water efficiently throughout the entire season.”

Similar to last year, Denver Water will enforce its rules with roving water monitors. The watering rules are:

– No lawn watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
– Do not water more than three days per week (there are no assigned days for watering).
– Do not waste water by allowing it to pool in gutters, streets and alleys.
– Do not waste water by letting it spray on concrete and asphalt.
– Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
– Do not use spray irrigation while it is raining or during high winds.

Recent snowpack readings show that it is likely that all of Denver Water’s reservoirs will fill this year.

“We want customers to water efficiently regardless of snowpack,” said Fisher. “They have been doing a great job of that, and we need to maintain and improve upon that track record.”

Denver Water customers have been making good progress toward reaching the utility’s goal to reduce overall water use to 22 percent below 2001 water use levels by the year 2016. Last year’s savings was 18 percent. The utility’s goal is to make these savings and changes in water use habits a permanent way of life.

By using only the water they need, Denver Water customers can maximize supply during the hottest months of summer. A long-term commitment to efficient water use will also help postpone or avoid spending more money on other supply options and support the preservation of Colorado’s natural environment.

Arizona dust storm blankets mountain snowpack

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From the Gunnison Country Times “The vast swaths of desert landscape to the west and southwest of here provides plenty of surface area for a low pressure system to pick up tiny dust particles, suspend them into the atmosphere and transport them to the Colorado high country, Crowley explained. Friday’s event — which turned skies an eerie shade of red, reduced visibility in some towns to next to nothing and, combined with moisture, in some cases made it literally ‘raining mud,’ according to Crowley — wasn’t the first dust storm of the year. But it definitely was the biggest. Some longtime weather watchers called Friday’s dust storm ‘the worst they’d ever witnessed,’ according to Chris Landry, who closely monitors ‘dust on snow’ events for the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies in Silverton…

“Pure white snow reflects the sun to a much greater extent than dirty snow does. The less reflection, the more solar radiation the snowpack absorbs; thus, the faster it melts. In 2006, snow melt timing was advanced anywhere from four to six weeks due to large dust storm events then, according to Landry. This year is shaping up to be even dustier.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Snowpack news: 100% quota from Northern?

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan): “The overall water-content level of snow in the high country feeding the upper Colorado River was above average as of April 1, said Karen Rademacher, senior water resources engineer with the Northern Colorado Water Conser-vancy District. The farther west in the Colorado’s drainage basin, the more snow there is, she said. ‘Our neck of the woods in the far eastern edge of the basin is not quite as good, but no complaints,’ she said.

“The water level in snowpack that feeds the Poudre River was about average, Rademacher said, and likely improved with the storms that hit the state during the last couple of weeks. More storms are forecast for the coming week. Flows on the Poudre River and other tributaries to the South Platte River are forecast to be somewhat below average this year, she said. Flows on the Poudre are expected to be about 86 percent of average.

From the Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson): “Reservoirs on the eastern plains are full, which eases some concerns, said Dave Nettles, assistant engineer with the Colorado Division of Water Resources office in Greeley. Those closer to the Front Range, including Barr Lake, Lake Loveland and Fossil Creek, are about 75 percent full, he said, adding the late March and early April snowstorms helped the situation.

“The board of directors of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District will set this year’s quota from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project at its Friday meeting. If discussions of Wednesday’s meeting in Fort Collins are any indication, the board is going to have a reservoir full of suggestions and information. Some of that information is good, some of it isn’t so good. Spring moisture also will play a part in determining the quota for the Colorado-Big Thompson, which is a supplemental water supply for eight counties in northern and northeast Colorado, said Eric Wilkinson, Northern’s general manager. ‘Spring rains are almost as important as the snowpack. A 1-inch rain on irrigated land in the spring is equal to 60,000 acre-feet of water, or about 20 percent of the C-BT quota,’ Wilkinson said.”

From the Northern Colorado Business Report: “As of April 1, snowpack in the high country and expected stream flows for Northern Colorado are giving some cause for optimism with content in the Poudre River watershed at 100 percent of average and the Big Thompson watershed at 98 percent of average…

“While snowpack looks good, a lack of moisture in Northern Colorado through the fall and winter still has some concerned. Projections of stream flows for the April-through-July period indicate the Poudre River will be running about 86 percent of average while the Big Thompson will run about 75 percent of average, barring precipitation during those months. The South Platte River tributaries are expected to run at about 81 percent of average during the time period…

“But Karen Rademacher, senior water resources engineer with the water district, said things are looking good for the moment and the district’s board of directors could issue a 100 percent quota to help farmers planting their spring crops. ‘A 100 percent quota is possible this year — we have the water to do that,’ Rademacher said.”