Summit County: Bill’s Ranch augmentation

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From the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn):

A neighborly collaboration could help Bill’s Ranch property owners in their quest for supplemental water. A Front Range water provider plans to donate some storage rights in a Frisco-area pond to help Bill’s Ranch residents compensate for well water they use to water outdoor plants and lawns. The deal is still in the works, but it looks like it could meet state requirements that limit residential well-water use. Under a complicated formula, well users have to show that they can replace water that doesn’t return to local streams and lakes. The storage rights in the pond would give them that ability. The plan emerged about five years ago, when the Mountainside Homeowners Association decided to sell the land under Bill’s Ranch pond — but not the water — for $10 to an entity called United States Water and Sanitation District.

The deal was facilitated by Denver-area attorney Bob Lembke, who owns a home near the pond. The Mountainside homeowners association was concerned about liability issues associated with public use of the pond. Lembke and the water district are involved in various water development and storage projects on the Front Range. “We just did it because I live on the lake,” Lembke said, citing his personal motive as well as altruistic community values as the reason for his involvement.

Fremont County: A look at a ditch rider

Here’s a look at Joe Lippis’ career as a farmer and ditch rider on the Fremont Ditch, from Charlotte Burrous writing for the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

In 1970, Fremont Ditch started the first improvement project between Brewster and McCumber lanes. Since then, the entire ditch has been concrete-lined or piped to save water loss and to keep the maintenance cost of cleaning a dirt ditch at a minimum for shareholders, Lippis said. It has not been smooth sailing for him either, encountering various problems as a ditch rider. “There are two kinds of irrigators,” he said. “There are people who irrigate, and there are people who just run water. There is a big difference…

Some farmers still irrigate the same way the pioneers did in 1862. This causes taking too much water and misusing water shares, he said. On one hand, Lippis enjoys being outside, he said though he is aggravated by problems associated with it. “I like being of service to the people,” Lippis said. “I just don’t like the frustrations it can bring on. I don’t like the phone calls I get from disgruntled people in Florence on the lower end of the ditch, who don’t have any water.” If the ditch company had an allocation system to measure water, there wouldn’t be these kinds of problems. He again cautioned residents to not take more than their fair share…

“Riding the ditch is a thankless job, but somebody has to do it,” he said. “If I quit riding the ditch a third time, it will be permanent.”

Mesa County water projects

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

They approved funds to improve the wastewater treatment plant in Mack, accepted the completion report for the rebuilt Bruner water system in the Rosevale neighborhood and accepted an easement from Clifton Sanitation for part of the Riverfront Trail east of 32 Road near D Road.

The wastewater treatment pond in Mack is leaking into the groundwater, according to Julie Constan, a county engineer…

Growth had all but passed by the Rosevale neighborhood, situated south of Broadway and west of the Colorado River. The neighborhood of about 250 homes had an aging water system (built in the 1950s) and its water provider was going out of business. The situation hit a peak last year. Ute Water Conservation District stepped in and rebuilt the system with the help of Mesa County and $600,000 in federal funding through Community Development Block grants. On Monday, the commission approved Ute Water’s project completion report…

Residents are being charged $5,800 each for the new meters and lines. Those who chose not to pay the sum immediately are being charged $30 a month.

Runoff (snowpack) news

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From the Pueblo Chieftain:

As temperatures climbed in the last week, more snow has melted off below 10,000 feet in elevation, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service was reporting statewide snowpack at 74 percent of average Monday. In the Arkansas River basin, snowpack moisture is at 92 percent of average, while the Rio Grande basin has dropped to 64 percent. The Colorado River basin, which provides water imported into the Arkansas River basin, is at 82 percent of normal…

“It started coming off about 10 days ago,” said Roy Vaughan, manager of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project for the Bureau of Reclamation. “It’s what we’ve seen in the last five or six years. Everything above 10,000 feet is still packed, but the lower elevations lower the average.” Vaughan is projecting about 60,000 acre-feet coming through the Fry-Ark Project, which is above the long-term average of 52,400 acre-feet…

While the runoff is coming earlier than usual, there are still adequate water supplies in the state. Statewide reservoir levels are at 60 percent, which is above average. The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting average flows in the Arkansas River and throughout the state. Precipitation for the year has been average in Eastern Colorado, above average in the northern mountains and well below average in the Southwest and Rio Grande regions, according to the USGS.

Bessemer Ditch shareholders approve bylaw changes paving way for sales to Pueblo Board of Water Works

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Shareholders in the Bessemer ditch approved changes to the their bylaws which will grease the gears of potential sales — primarily to the Pueblo Board of Water Works. Pueblo is hoping to scale back their reliance on out of basin water. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“Now we’ll start cleaning up and closing some contracts,” said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo water board. “We have some engineering to do, and we’ll be looking at the financing.”

The vote clears the way for the sale of the Columbine Ditch north of Leadville. Next week the water board will attempt to finalize the contract with Ginn Development, which has offered $30.48 million for the ditch for a new ski resort near Minturn. Aurora will have the opportunity to match the offer under a previous agreement.

The water board will spend more than $60 million on the purchase, including payments of $10,150 per share for 5,000 shares. More than 200 people showed up for Monday’s meeting at the Pueblo Convention Center, and about a dozen spoke passionately both in favor and against the bylaw changes.

“I didn’t think we’d get beaten this bad,” said Leonard DiTomaso, a Bessemer board member who organized a campaign to scuttle the rule changes. “I thought we’d win.” Other Bessemer board members at the meeting were also surprised at the wide margin of victory, although those who supported the sale were optimistic the rule changes would pass. The changes to the bylaws and articles of incorporation allow the shareholders of the Bessemer Ditch to use water outside the ditch boundaries for the first time since the ditch was incorporated in 1894. While the Pueblo water board intends to lease water back to farmers on Pueblo County’s largest ditch for at least 20 years, it is now assured it will be able to move water outside the ditch…

The purchase was undertaken partly as a defensive move against other water providers who have made offers on the ditch, and Pueblo may not need the water for 30 years, Hamel added. In response to one complaint, Hamel also said Pueblo water users have conserved water, reducing their per capita consumption by 15 percent since 2002.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.