S.B. 09-147, Water Supply Plans Pre-2003 Depletions

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Here’s a look at S.B. 09-147 — legislation that will give some groundwater irrigators a break on water they pumped from the South Platte alluvial aquifer prior to 2003 — by allowing augmentation using leased water, from K.C. Mason writing for the Sterling Jounral Advocate. From the article:

A new law allowing South Platte River well users to use leased water for payment of past depletions in decreed augmentation plans is being hailed as proof that groundwater and surface users can resolve their differences. The heavy hitters attending a recent bill-signing news conference emphasized the importance of Senate Bill 147 to the agriculture economy of northeastern Colorado…

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, and Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, will allow groundwater irrigators to buy or lease water from wherever they can, including the Colorado-Big Thompson project, for use in substitute water plans that are recognized in water court. Before the new law, well users could not get decreed water rights without paying back depletions from pumping between 1974, when wells were brought into the prioritization system, and 2003, when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in the Empire Lodge case that the state engineer no longer could approve annual substitute plans. “The key is that they won’t have to keep going back to water court to amend their augmentation plans, which is both costly and time consuming,” [Harris Sherman, DNR director] said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Lake Mead poised to drop below 1965 levels

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From the San Diego Union-Tribune: “The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says in a recent report that by July the vast Colorado River reservoir on the Nevada-Arizona border will drop more than 13 feet from its current level of 1,105 feet above sea level. The lake level is now 30 feet above elevation 1,075. That’s the trigger point for a federal shortage declaration that would force Nevada, Arizona and Mexico to reduce their combined water use by 400,000 acre-feet a year.”

Ogallala (High Plains) Aquifer has dropped 9% in 60 years

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From the Houston Chronicle: “The U.S. Geological Survey says in a report issued Tuesday that by 2007, the aquifer has dropped a foot on average in Nebraska since the early 1950s…The aquifer supplies about 30 percent of the nation’s groundwater used for irrigation. And the USGS says the aquifer provides drinking water to more than 80 percent of the people who live above it.”

From the McCook Daily Gazette:

…it’s easy to forget just how big, and important, the aquifer is, and to take it for granted. Covering 174,000 square miles under Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, The High Plains Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for most of us and provides the life-giving liquid that makes one fourth of the United States agricultural production possible. Although extensive irrigation has caused the aquifer to decline, some of the same technology that made irrigation possible, such as the highly efficient systems produced by Valmont right here in McCook, is making the most efficient use of the valuable resource of water.

A complete copy of the report is available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5019/ and an abbreviated version is at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3005/

More coverage from the Omaha World-Herald:

The total amount of drainable water in the aquifer in 2007 was about 2.9 billion acre-feet, a decline of about 270 million acre-feet since before development, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a report Tuesday…The High Plains aquifer, also popularly known as the Ogallala Aquifer, is a nationally important water resource that likes under some 174,000 square miles in parts of eight western states—Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs City Council approves Pueblo County permit requirements

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold): “The Council approved the conditions set by Pueblo County to build the $1.1 billion Southern Delivery System water pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir. Officials from both communities then shook hands and spoke of a new spirit of cooperation, where there was once litigation and mistrust, over water issues…

Council members said the conditions are things Colorado Springs should have done long ago. “We have to recognize we have a responsibility to take action, not only for Colorado Springs, but for all of our region, to protect this very valuable resource we have on Fountain Creek,” said Councilman Larry Small. Councilman Darryl Glenn said the regional approach should extend north as well as south, and he voted for approval because the conditions allow Colorado Springs to provide water to northern El Paso County water users. “We have to change the way we view water management. We need to manage water and the impacts of water on a regional basis, and I do believe this is a solid step forward,” Glenn said.

The dissenting vote came from Councilman Tom Gallagher, who said he believes water demand here will outpace the pipeline’s capacity in 20 years, and Colorado Springs will have to find more water…

What isn’t locked in is the route. Utilities officials will return to the council later this year to ask which route the pipeline should take ? though Pueblo has always been the preferred route, and it is $150 million cheaper than the Fremont County route. Colorado Springs officials have said they hope to start building the pipeline this year; the permit allows them up to three years.

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

New porous pavement uses recycled glass

From Glass On Web:

The new environmentally friendly pavement, called FilterPave™, combines a durable and decorative surface with porosity that minimizes runoff by quickly percolating stormwater into the ground or an underground storage system. Recycled Glass Key Component Although various kinds of porous pavements have been around for more than 25 years, the FilterPave system is the first to use recycled glass as one of its components. Presto Geosystems, Appleton, WI, and Kaul Corporation, Lakewood, CO, designed the patented FilterPave pavement for driveways, parking lots, walkways, golf-cart paths, landscaped areas, or anywhere else that needs to combine a smooth, hard surface with environmentally friendly stormwater control. Presto Geosystems Director Bill Handlos, P.E., says that Presto chose recycled glass as a main component because glass meets the application’s physical requirements and is plentiful everywhere at low cost. “A bottle manufacturer usually wants recycled glass in just one trademark color,” he says, “so recycled glass of mixed color often ends up in landfills.

We know how to turn that unwanted glass into aggregate for FilterPave porous pavements.” Handlos says the recycled glass undergoes a special process to round its edges and reduce the particles into specifically sized and shaped “glass aggregate” that is harder than stone aggregate but no more brittle when bound. The recycled glass is supplied through certified glass suppliers. Structure Combines Strength With Porosity The FilterPave system’s other key ingredients are an open-grade clear-stone base course, small various-colored granite and the tough but flexible elastomeric glue that binds the glass-and-granite surface layer together, yet leaves it porous. Although the binder is strong, it is safe for use around plants and animals. The elastomeric binder, granite chips and glass aggregate set up strong and hard, with a top surface that’s smooth, like finished concrete, and an inner structure that is about 38 percent porous. The depths of the base course and the top layer are matched to each application’s water-handling needs and strength requirements. Handlos explains, “Usually, a top layer and base deep enough to hold and pass the required amount of water will also provide more than enough pavement strength.

Craig: Colorado River District/Colorado Division of Water Resources informational meeting

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From the Craig Daily Press: “The Colorado Division of Water Resources, in partnership with the Colorado River Water Conservation District, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, is hosting an informational meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn of Craig. Elkhead Creek Reservoir operations and releases will be at the center of the discussion. All interested water users on lower Elkhead Creek and the Yampa River, downstream of Elkhead Creek, are encouraged to attend the public meeting.”