Here’s a report on a restoration project on the Roaring Fork River, from the Aspen Times. From the article:
A half-mile stretch of the Roaring Fork River 2 miles east of Aspen is slated for restoration work later this year, according to an announcement by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. ACES director Tom Cardamone announced that a coalition of local, state and national agencies and organizations will be involved in the project, which is meant to restore the river to “a stable, healthy channel, and reclaim two damaged sections of river bank which are undercut and collapsing.” The agencies and organizations involved include ACES, the Aspen Valley Land Trust, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Nature Conservancy and Pitkin County.
From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Le Roy Standish):
EnCana Oil and Gas (USA) and Occidental Petroleum are looking at putting disposal wells to use in the area, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Occidental is testing an existing well. EnCana has moved beyond the testing phase and has an application on file with the BLM for the well, which would accept wastewater from drilling operations. The disposal wells are a sign of the times, said Doug Hock, EnCana spokesman. In this slowing economy, the water that drillers would normally recycle and use to drill new wells is now simply wastewater.
Council voted 6-0 Monday, with Mike Occhiato absent, to approve a resolution that affirms a 2004 six-party intergovernmental agreement that pledges Pueblo’s support for what was then called the Preferred Storage Options Plan. PSOP also had a component that looked at excess-capacity storage in the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which has continued to progress as the rest of the proposed legislation stalled.
“What the city of Pueblo wanted to do was maintain the voluntary flow program,” Council President Vera Ortegon said Tuesday. The resolution, which is being sent to all members of the Colorado congressional delegation, reaffirms the 2004 IGA among Pueblo, the Pueblo Board of Water Works, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fountain and the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Part of that agreement curtails exchanges – out-of-priority diversions to store water in exchange for equivalent downstream releases – during certain flow conditions.
Now, Colorado Springs Utilities will spend the next few months evaluating the expense and scheduling of the Pueblo County route versus a fallback option in Fremont County to determine where the pipeline will go. Pueblo County commissioners are expected to give final approval to the 1041 permit next Tuesday. Fremont County commissioners approved permits in February and continue to meet with Colorado Springs Utilities about the possibility of that route. “We need to choose the route before the end of the year,” Mayor Lionel Rivera said. “We’re working on the alignment through El Paso County, so we have to know where we’re coming in.”
Although the decision hasn’t been made, it sure sounded like the pipeline would come through Pueblo, however, with many calling Tuesday’s vote “historic,” including Rivera. “This is a new beginning for Pueblo and El Paso counties to work together for regional economic development,” Rivera said…
Councilman Darryl Glenn voted in favor of Pueblo conditions after staff assured him that northern El Paso County communities would be able to use the pipeline for water supplies. In his remarks at the meeting, Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner said northern El Paso County’s use of the pipeline is fine, so long as water is not taken over the Palmer Divide into the South Platte basin.
Chostner also hailed the agreement as beneficial to Fountain Creek, pointing out that the money for improvements will not go to Pueblo County or Pueblo, but to the newly formed Fountain Creek Flood Control and Greenway District, a joint body that represents interests in both counties. “Fountain Creek will not continue to be a no-man’s land, but can become a true amenity,” Chostner said. He also praised the benefits to the Arkansas River that would come of preserving the Pueblo flow agreement and regional cooperation. “I look to this as an opportunity for our communities to work together. . . . Let’s move forward.”
From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide): “Cotten began serving as acting division engineer after Michael Sullivan moved into the deputy state engineer position last fall. A graduate of Monte Vista High School, Cotten earned a civil engineering degree from Colorado State University in 1990 and returned to the Valley to work for the Division of Water Resources. He had previously served a summer internship with the office. ‘I was able to get hired back on after graduating and have been here ever since,’ he said. Cotten initially served as a hydrographer, measuring stream and ditch flows. He then became lead hydrographer and served in that role until becoming assistant division engineer about two and a half years ago.”
Meanwhile the project to map the San Luis Valley’s geology moves on. Here’s a report from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier:
“We are in the Rio Grande Rift,” [U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Geophysicist Dr. V.J.S. (Tien) Grauch] explained to Rio Grande Roundtable meeting attendees in Alamosa on Tuesday. “This is why there’s a basin here.” Grauch explained that at one time there was a large body of water (Lake Alamosa) in the basin basically lying between the modern-day towns of Monte Vista and La Jara on the west and the sand dunes and the town of Blanca on the east. Grauch explained that if the fill in this basin were removed, it would look like a deep hole. The Baca Graben is the deep part of the hole, and the dunes are located to the side of that hole. At its deepest point, the Baca Graben is 23,000 feet deep, Grauch said. Using various measurement methods including airborne magnetic surveys conducted from low-flying helicopters over the dunes, experts were able to detect a signal and subsequently map out a fault line running parallel to a known fault line called the Range Front Fault near the edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The north/south road to the sand dunes on the surface essentially follows this underground anomaly, Grauch explained. The parallel fault extends northward to where Medano Creek comes out of the mountains “and we lose the signal,” Grauch said. What geophysicists were able to determine about this fault, Grauch said, were: it is about 200 feet deep; it is at least the same thickness as it is deep; and it is more magnetic on the east side than on the west side. Grauch said the hypothesis she is leaning toward is that the parallel fault abuts a thick clay layer. “Where that thick clay ends on the east side it’s abruptly ending against a fault,” she said.
As the USGS team looked under the dunes via its aeromagnetic surveys it mapped other fault trends intersecting the dunes area in northeast/southwest patterns. Grauch said some of those faults coincided with drainages either past or present such as Big Spring Creek.
• The snowpack in the upper Colorado River system that provides another large complement of Denver’s delivery has swelled to 116 percent of normal.
This means the agency will pull a large volume through the Roberts Tunnel, a relief for the mainstream Platte. Flows on the Blue River are projected at up to 110 percent of normal.
• More good news for those who fish the Platte below Cheesman Reservoir in the vicinity of Deckers. Divers will work throughout most of the summer to prepare valves. Dam releases will range from 200-400 cubic feet per second, nearly perfect for fishing and recruitment of young trout.
• An ample snowpack in the Fryingpan-Arkansas system will enable Aurora Water to fill Spinney Reservoir by early June, another boon to angling.
The Chaffee County commissioners will take up Nestlé Waters’ 1041 application on April 21. Here’s a report from Paul Goetz writing for The Mountain Mail. From the article:
Comments were based on staff recommendations, rhetoric and evidence provided by consultants from Nestlé and Chaffee County, as well as other review agencies. Nestlé has provided a “substantial” list of 22 different documents since the March 10 planning commissioners 1041 application special meeting, Don Reimer, county planning director said. A complete application review will be placed on the county Web site, http://www.chaffeecounty.org, within the next few days, Reimer said…
The 1041 application was found to need further investigation with experts in wetlands hydrology and economic impacts. The county retained consultants for this purpose on April 7. Information from both consultants are expected April 17. Included in the draft application review, planners said Nestlé’s need to show the proposed project can be substantiated is not applicable. The application does not meet economic diversity and economic development standards, planners said…
Bruce Lauerman, Nestlé natural resources manager, announced a $500,000 endowment would be established and used for grants to local non-profits who facilitate the values of the Nestlé project. An ad will be placed in The Mountain Mail within the next week which will search for local truck drivers to work with Nestlé’s contracted trucking company, Lauerman said. The company plans to research whether or not it can draw 50 percent of its drivers from Chaffee County…
Planners said they agreed with county staff and found several items in the comprehensive plan need to be addressed including: protecting the scenic and visual quality of the valley and providing access to public lands and river and stream corridors. Efficient use of water including the recycling and reuse of water is satisfactory, planners said.
Nestlé is currently considering Chaffee County water counsel comments and proposed a condition of approval to address concerns. County staff and planners agreed Nestlé comply with water counsel, which will be addressed by a separate report. Planners said further information from the wetlands consultant is needed to determine whether the proposed project and diversion of water shall not decrease the quality and total maximum daily load of peripheral or downstream surface water resources. In reference to not significantly degrading groundwater quality, Sig Jaastad, planning commissioner, said he had concerns if the project would adversely affect upstream users. Planners agreed the standard would be satisfied if a ground water monitoring plan is established.
In addition, planning commissioners gave the following comments on recommended conditions:
•Develop land management plan with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, National Resource Conservation Service, Colorado State University extension and county staff.
•Obtain approval for land management plan from county.
•Plan should include a time line for implementation of practices and annual reports.
Here’s a look at the proposed Flaming Gorge pipeline (Regional Watershed Supply Project) from the viewpoint downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam, from Mary Bernard writing for the Vernal Express. From the article:
“This will not be a good thing,” says Bob Leake, regional water rights engineer. “We already have times when we operate below minimal flows on the Green River now.”[…]
“Flaming Gorge already operates at minimum flows, which means we barely break even,” Leake says. That means the reservoir is never full and managers struggle to maintain water levels. Leake explains that the reservoir operates for two singular reasons; “first, for hydroelectric power and second, to protect the endangered fish on the river.” Reduced flows would likely impact the Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, humpback chub and bonytail, which are endangered fish species. Once thriving species, they are now managed by the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and monitored under a three-state implementation plan.
More coverage from Jeff Gearino writing for the Casper Star Tribunt:
An estimated 200-plus residents came out Tuesday night to express their disapproval of the proposed privately funded trans-basin water diversion project…Sweetwater County residents vowed to fight the project that, which they said would hurt industry, curtail future growth, threaten a world-class fishery and impact the livelihoods of cities such as Green River and neighboring Rock Springs, which depend on the Green River for their very existence.
From the Greeley Tribune: “A water conservation plan adopted by the Greeley Water and Sewer Board in November was approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board on April 6. The plan is expected to reduce Greeley’s water demand by more than 8 percent during the next 20 years through rebates, landscaping ordinances, leakage reduction, regulatory measures and more, according to a press release.”