Colorado-Big Thompson Project scores $14 million in stimulus dough

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

Grand County is asking that $100,000 to $200,000 of the C-BT stimulus money be spared, according to an April 23 letter the county manager sent to the Bureau’s eastern Colorado area manager. The money is needed for an appraisal plan, the county’s letter states, which might become the first step toward a solution to Grand Lake’s water quality problems. County officials have called the lake’s water quality “an environmental disaster that needs to be fixed.” In recent years, Grand County has taken the stance that water delivery through the lake, a natural lake made part of the C-BT system about 70 years ago when the system was approved, is degrading the lake’s clarity. “We would respectfully ask that within the $14 million funding allowance, the Bureau might be able to divert up to $200,000 of this funding to begin the appraisal process,” County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran wrote. The Bureau has told county officials the agency could start the process without congressional go-ahead, but due to budget timing, the Bureau’s first opportunity to assign needed funds would be in 2012.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Energy policy — geothermal: Evaluation of geothermal potential underway in Chaffee County

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From The Mountain Mail (Ron Sering):

Thermal gradient drilling began Monday for six holes to gather information about possible generation of electricity using geothermal energy in Chaffee County. Personnel at Mount Princeton Geothermal LLC said the first hole will be on land owned by Taylor Adam east of the intersection of CR 289 and 290 at the bridge south of Deer Valley Ranch and west of Dead Horse Lake. The drilling is the first in several events occurring this week regarding geothermal exploration.

Officials with the governor’s energy office will host an all day geothermal conference at Salida Steam Plant at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Friday, officials of Mount Princeton Geothermal will host a tour of test holes and discuss plans for a project to construct the state geothermal electric generation project in the Mount Princeton area. The tour will begin at 8 a.m. with breakfast at Mount Princeton Hot Springs followed by a carpool tour.

The wells, the first such exploration in the area since the 1970s, are permitted as monitoring test holes by the Colorado Division of Water Resources. “The holes are non consumptive (no water pumping) and will be used to measure thermal gradient (temperature change at varying depths) and rock types to determine heat flow in each well,” Fred Henderson III, chief scientist for the local geothermal group, said. “The goal with these six holes is to complete the western side of the high heat flow anomaly drilled by AMAX Exploration Co. in the 1970s.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

New owner for Black Mountain Disposal?

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From the Grand Juction Daily Sentinel (Le Roy Standish):

One of Black Mountain’s ponds leaked in 2001. Exactly what spilled, how much spilled and an acceptable plan to clean up the mess has yet to be produced by Black Mountain’s current owner, Elaine Wells. The county closed the facility late last year, and the state has taken Black Mountain Disposal to court, demanding it clean whatever spilled.

But new owners may be on the horizon, meaning that if the property sells, cleanup will be the new owner’s responsibility. On Tuesday, during a review hearing of Black Mountain Disposal’s conditional-use permit and certificates of operation, which the county commission suspended in October, the representative of possible new ownership, Jeffrey Been, said he already hired Walsh Environmental of Grand Junction to start the cleanup process. Been has submitted a letter of intent to the county indicating he represents people who want to buy Black Mountain Disposal. “I have signed a contract to buy the assets of Black Mountain Disposal, and in that contract I have been appointed seller’s agent,” Been wrote in the letter.

The County Commission ruled the facility should remain closed, and it scheduled another hearing in 30 to 90 days to get an update on the progress of the sale and the cleanup.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Bessemer Ditch: Bylaws changes sparking conflict

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The Pueblo Board of Water Works is trying to buy shares of the Bessemer Ditch as part of a strategy to lessen the city’s dependence on transmountain water — and to make sure that Pueblo can keep growing of course. The purchase requires changes in the bylaws of the ditch association and that has some of the ditch members alarmed. They’re mounting opposition to the changes according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

On one end of the [issue] are the Pueblo Board of Water Works, St. Charles Mesa Water District and those who want to sell to the water board. At the other end are numerous small shareholders who say that the 1894 articles of incorporation and bylaws of the ditch company should not be changed. Neighbors and families are in disagreement about what to do, and a historic decision could be made at a special meeting of shareholders at 6 p.m. May 11 at the Pueblo Convention Center.

Both sides have mailed or handed out a flurry of information in preparation of the meeting to try to sway shareholders. As a mutual ditch association, the decision is up to private water rights holders, just like other water transfers in the Arkansas River basin over the past 50 years have been…

The almost 900 shareholders have stakes ranging from just one share to several hundred. The St. Charles water district has about 2,000 of the 20,000 shares on the ditch. The Pueblo water board wants to buy 5,000 shares, mostly for future needs and to keep thirsty cities to the north from raiding the local canal. In order to do that, however, the water board wants clear direction from the Bessemer shareholders that it will be able to use the water in the future. “We will be investing a large sum of money in these shares and we must protect that investment by amending the governing documents to give us the opportunity to move the shares out the ditch when needed in the future,” water board Executive Director Alan Hamel said in a letter to shareholders…

The Pueblo and St. Charles water boards have committed to use the water within Pueblo County, but the possibility of using the water outside the county would remain in the bylaws at the request of the Bessemer Ditch board, in order to maintain maximum value. The water board also has committed to make improvements on the ditch and lease back the water to shareholders, and states its aims in a way that tries to convince non-sellers they would be hurting neighbors by resisting the changes.

“The effect of not approving the changes to the governing documents is that your friends and neighbors who want to sell will not be able to sell their shares to the Board of Water Works, or any other entity that want to use the water outside the ditch,” Hamel stated.
Some of the shareholders of the Bessemer Ditch who want to sell have written their own letter asking for the cooperation of others, arguing that the change of bylaws will increase the value of everyone’s water rights. “If you have interest in leasing your water (perhaps to the Super Ditch) or selling in the future, then you’ll vote for the changes, allowing the water to be moved from the ditch,” the letter states. The letter is endorsed by 27 shareholders, most of whom are reportedly among those with contracts with the water board. They state that the negotiations between the St. Charles and Pueblo water boards have strengthened protections for shareholders who choose not to sell. The changes in the bylaws and articles of incorporation increase the value of water while maintaining the ability to farm and the quantity of water per share, they say, urging support of the changes.

Opponents of the bylaw changes have presented reasons not to change the bylaws for months. An analysis by Mike Bartolo, a small shareholder on the ditch and head of the Colorado State University Ag Research Center at Rocky Ford, claims the price per acre-foot in the current offer is a little more than $5,000 or roughly half of the cost per share, and criticizes the way the Pueblo water board has portrayed the price. Bartolo also urged shareholders to look at leasing as an opportunity and has joined the Super Ditch board on behalf of Bessemer shareholders. Leonard DiTomaso, who with Mike Klun was elected to the Bessemer Ditch board in January on promises to fight for preserving agriculture on the ditch, has been tireless in sending out letters to try to convince shareholders to leave things as they are. “Everyone I talk to, shareholders and non-shareholders, thinks our ditch should live forever,” DiTomaso said. “I agree. People like seeing our green irrigated farms. Most of the farms are well-managed and cared for.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Loveland: Community Summer Sports Market

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bill Prater):

Vowing to raise enough money to keep the Loveland Kids Fishing Derby free and high-quality family event, the Loveland Fishing Club and City of Loveland are sponsoring a first-ever “Community Summer Sports Market,” to be held Saturday, May 16 under the pavilions at Fairgrounds Park. “For $10, any individual or business can buy a 10×10 space to sell their new or used sports-related stuff,” says Tom Miller, past club president and an organizer of the event. “Clean out your garage, earn some spending money and feel good knowing that 100 percent of the money raised through that $10 fee is going to support the Kids Fishing Derby.”

The free, volunteer-run derby attracted more than 1,200 youngsters and their families last spring. In addition to a top prize for biggest fish, every little angler took something away from the Duck Pond in North Lake Park, including dozens of donated fishing poles, tackle boxes and tackle. Many of the parents can recall their own first fishing adventures at the annual community event.

Southern Delivery System: Gary Bostrom’s influence

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Project manager John Fredell has gotten most of the press lately as the public face for Colorado Springs Utilities proposed Southern Delivery System. Here’s some background on Gary Bostrom the chief water planner for CSU who has had a pivotal role in CSU’s water planning for quite a while now, from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.