Grand County: State of the River

A picture named coloradorivergranby.jpg

From email from the Colorado River District (Martha Moore):

Presentations on anticipated stream flows, reservoir operations, boat inspections, water for endangered fish, and projected long-term county water supply and demands will be the main subjects at the annual Grand County “State of the River” meeting 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 14th at Mountain Parks Electric Community Room, 321 W. Agate Ave. (Hwy 40), Granby.

The public meeting is sponsored by the Colorado River District and Grand County.

Come hear from the people investing in the security of our precious water resources.

For more information, please call Martha Moore at (970) 945-8522, ext. 226, or e-mail To learn more about the Colorado River District please visit

Map to Mountain Parks Electric:

Energy policy — geothermal: Colorado Geothermal Working Group seminar

A picture named geothermalenergy.jpg

Here’s a recap of a recent seminar on geothermal potential up in Chaffee County, from Ron Sering reporting for The Mountain Mail. From the article:

The seminar gathered public and private entities from throughout the state – including a variety of local officials and leaders to learn about issues and prospects for abundant area geothermal resources. Joani Matranga, western regional representative for the Governor’s Energy Office, outlined broad goals for the group. “We want to identify our geothermal resources for economic development and expand direct use of heat energy,” she said. The group also wants to start the first electricity production in Colorado.

Geothermal energy is roughly divided into three applications: geoexchange, which uses the natural temperature increase beneath the surface of the earth, direct use and electric power generation.

Geoexchange takes advantage of warm subsurface temperature with ground source heat pumps that pipe liquid through the ground and back to the surface to heat buildings in winter. The same temperature differentials permit cooling in the summer.

“Direct use,” John , professor emeritus of civil engineering at the Oregon Institute of Technology, said, “is providing heat, or cooling directly to buildings, greenhouses, aquaculture ponds, and industrial processes.” Colorado has at least 40 types of direct use geothermal applications. Locally, these include several hot spring spas and the Colorado Gator Farm aquaculture operation in the San Luis Valley…

Geothermal electricity production takes advantage of a new generation of technology to produce electricity using hot water cooler than 300 degrees, officials said. Past application required steam resources, which are fewer than hot water. The water is piped out of a geothermal well and through a reservoir of fluid that boils at a temperature lower than water. Resulting steam drives turbines to produce electricity. The water is subsequently reinjected to the aquifer. A cold water source cools the binary fluid for reuse and the cycle begins again. Although not without potential water resource issues, the process is considered a nonconsumptive use of water resources.

Although some western states such as Utah regard geothermal as a mineral resource, Colorado governs it under water law. Key to permitting geothermal ground water in Colorado is to prove the resource is “nontributary” – it has limited or no connection with surface streams.

Here’s an article about the recent test drilling up in Chaffee County, from Ron Sering writing for The Mountain Mail. From the article:

Mount Princeton Geothermal has gained permission for first exploration of geothermal resources in the area since the 1970s. The process is similar to drilling a water well, except the goal is to measure heat. “These holes,” [Fred Henderson III, of Mount Princeton Geothermal, LLC] said, “are nonconsumptive and will be used to measure the temperature change by depth to determine heat flow in each well. We measure the temperature gradient every three feet.” The project is the first of its kind in decades. “The goal with these six holes is to complete the western side of the high heat flow anomaly drilled by AMAX Exploration Co. from 1973-75,” Henderson said.

A drill site on a plateau south of the Mount Princeton chalk cliffs, resembles a water well. ASAP Drilling of Buena Vista planned to penetrate 600 feet. “Test holes will be capped,” Henderson said, “but left open for later temperature measurements to serve as monitoring holes to detect changes as we proceed with our program.” “We will set up a monitoring network,” Henderson said, “to understand how much we are adding to or changing the water table.”

Thermal gradient testing is the second part of a four-phase program by Henderson and Mount Princeton Geothermal. Additional wells are planned during May and possibly June. “We have to learn about the resource,” said Joani Matranga of the Governor’s Energy Office, “and what we can do with it.”

The next phase will be deep slim hole drilling and pump tests, scheduled this year. “That is critical for a whole bunch of reasons,” Henderson said. “One is to prove we won’t be interfering with anyone’s water table. There are a lot of people’s homes up there – second cabins – and they don’t want us to harm their water. It’s critical for us to do it right.” The goal is to begin production and injection drilling to begin developing a geothermal electrical generation facility next year. “We don’t yet know where the plant would go, because we don’t know where the hot water is,” Henderson said…

The Mount Princeton group must pass a number of other permitting and regulatory tests, including assurances the water resources used are nonconsumptive and, in the case of geothermal ground water, nontributary to more senior water rights. “We don’t want to be connected to the water table. We want it to be nontributary. We will check this by well testing,” Henderson said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Snowpack news: No watering restrictions for Boulder this summer

A picture named watersprinkler.jpg

From the Boulder Daily Camera (Ryan Morgan):

The city of Boulder won’t put watering restrictions in place this summer, thanks to abundant late-spring showers that have built up the mountain snowpack that supplies the city with water.

As recently as March, snowpack levels were “significantly” below average. But measurements taken on May 1 show that April’s showers built up the snowpack to between 94 percent and 119 percent of average levels. The rain and snow have also helped keep water levels in the city’s reservoirs high.

Changes to onsite wastewater regulations

A picture named septictankbasics.jpg

Morgan County is pushing the Northeast Colorado Board of Health for revision and clarification of the regulations for maintenance and repair of existing septic systems on parcels with existing wells. Here’s a report from the Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article:

A public hearing regarding proposed changes to onsite wastewater regulations was held during the Northeast Colorado Board of Health’s Wednesday, April 29, meeting. The proposed changes include an exception provision regarding the stipulation that for each dwelling, a property owner must have a minimum of two and one-half acres available to repair or replace an existing septic system if there is a well also located on the property.

The matter was first brought up by Morgan County Commissioner Jon Becker, after his county experienced several conflicts with the regulations. Becker cited examples of old homesteads that have been parceled off where two houses may now reside on two and one-half acres or less. Becker asked the board back in February to consider rewording the current regulations to include a variance process that would bypass the two and one-half acreage requirement, but still adhere to state setback requirements for wells, ground water, soil types, property lines and buildings for the septic structures.

Despite verbal concerns from the state regarding the exception, board members unanimously approved the new wording and voted to send the new policy in its present form to the state health department for approval. The proposed changes cannot be approved without consent from the state health department.

Hayden: Town trustees okay new water tower design

A picture named orrmnwatertower.jpg

From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Blythe Terrell):

At its meeting Thursday, the Hayden Town Board of Trustees told Russ Martin that the project was worth the risk that it won’t get funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Design for the project could cost $75,000, and Hayden already has spent one-third of that.

The water storage tank, which probably would be built near Yampa Valley Regional Airport, is expected to cost $2.5 million. The town could get as much as $2 million in stimulus money. If the town wants to keep moving, it must move now, Martin said. “They literally have to have a 60 percent design by May 27, and they will have to have a 100 percent, final design by the end of June,” Martin said. “This is the game they’re putting us in, and if we want to do it, this is what we’ve got to do.”

If the town gets $2 million for the $2.5 million project, that could mean water rate increases, Martin said. It’s too soon to know how much those hikes would be, he said.

Green Mountain Reservoir: Regulations to combat invasive mussels

A picture named zebramussels.jpg

Here’s an update on the USFS’s boating regulations at Green Mountain Reservoir aimed at preventing the introduction of invasive mussels at the lake, from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Effective immediately, the lake bed and low-water beaches will be closed to all vehicles. Boat launching will be subject to checkpoint inspections to comply with new state regulations. “Access must be narrowed down to limited locations to inspect and treat, if necessary, boats before entering the lake,” said Jan Cutts, District Ranger on the Dillon Ranger District…

Normally, fishermen would be preparing for beach launches and setting up trailer camps at the beaches along the south end of the reservoir. This year they’ll have to wait until the Heeney Marina opens on May 15. The marina will be the only authorized checkpoint at the start of the season…

In a release, Forest Service officials said, “Effective immediately, vehicle access to the lakebed will be closed. Vehicle access will be available above the high-water line once traffic controls are in place. No trailered watercraft will be allowed on the reservoir until watercraft inspection and disinfection stations can be established. It is hoped that the WID facilities and staffing will be operating by Memorial Day weekend.” Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Dillon Ranger District office at (970) 468-5400.

Here are the CDOW links: