Open University: Bottled Water

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The bottled water industry is fairly new to the scene. They’re making a lot of dough but recently a lot of opposition has been bubbling up because of it’s non-sustainable aspects.

Here’s a link to a lecture from iTunes U on the subject. It’s targeted at the UK so you get to have some fun doing quick metric conversions.

I tried to find a YouTube or other video link but I was unsuccessful. It may only work on a Macintosh or possibly a Windows machine running iTunes.

Update: Here’s a link to the video from Thomas Wiradikusuma. He left it in the comments below.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Arkansas, Metro and South Platte roundtables combined meeting: Conserved consumptive use?

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At a recent combined roundtable meeting Jennifer Gimbel — Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board — poured a little cold water on the idea of a pipeline from Flaming Gorge (either Aaron Million’s or the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition) as the “silver bullet” that would solve Front Range water needs without drying up agriculture. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“I don’t believe a project from Flaming Gorge to bring in 250,000 acre-feet is going to cut it. It’s going to take a combination of proposals,” Jennifer Gimbel, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, told a meeting of Front Range water interests Wednesday. “There’s no silver bullet.”

The meeting combined state basin roundtables for the Arkansas River, South Platte River and Denver Metro areas. It was the second time the three groups have met jointly. In 2007, the roundtables learned about potential strategies. This time, the objective was to put “meat on the bones” of those plans, said Alex Davis of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

Gimbel’s statement drew immediate fire from Rod Kuharich, chairman of the Metro Roundtable. Kuharich is director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which is looking at a Flaming Gorge Project similar to an idea first proposed by Aaron Million. Up until 2007, he was the CWCB director as well. “I am real disappointed to see a large project dismissed carte blanche, regardless of who does it,” Kuharich said, adding that other projects like Blue Mesa pumpback should be examined as well. Kuharich said conservation and lease-fallowing options also discussed at Wednesday’s meeting are only partial strategies that do not give municipal water suppliers certainty. Conservation should not be relied on to provide water for future growth, because the sources of water will dry up, Kuharich said. He described the terms of lease-fallowing programs, such as Super Ditch in the Arkansas Valley, as “draconian.”

“How are you so sure it’s draconian when you twice failed to respond to an invitation to meet with Super Ditch?” said Peter Nichols, who is a Metro roundtable member and attorney for the Super Ditch…

“Conservation alone is not the answer,” [Keith Yahn, Sterling farmer and water manager who chairs the South Platte Roundtable] said. “It appears agriculture is going to bear the brunt of the state’s water gap. That water is reused six or seven times by the time it reaches the state line.” Don Shawcroft, president of the Colorado Agriculture Water Users Alliance, echoed that concern. “We’re concerned about the public’s perception of agriculture’s needs,” Shawcroft said. “What are the economic incentives to conserve water?”

The alliance is arguing for a new category of water in Colorado’s hierarchy, called conserved consumptive use, that would allow farmers to market water.

Lawsuit over Aurora long-term contract with Reclamation put on hold for two years

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Boczkiewicz):

U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer put on hold for two years a lawsuit challenging the contract. He said a landowners group opposed to it could ask him during the two years to reinstate his consideration of the group’s lawsuit. The judge’s decision was a victory for Aurora, the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation…

The two-year stay of Native’s challenge is to give time for Congress to consider approving legislation authorizing the contract. The legislation also would include a plan for funding the proposed Arkansas Valley Conduit municipal water supply project. “If it (the contract) is lawful, they don’t have to go get the legislation,” Native’s attorney, Sarah Klahn, told the judge…

Brimmer, at the end of an hourlong hearing, listed three reasons for granting the stay that the Lower Arkansas District, Aurora and Reclamation had asked for. He said the Native group “has not identified any concrete harm its members will likely suffer.” He also said the public interest is served because the legislation, if approved, would result in “various improvements” that would benefit water users in the valley. The judge’s third reason was that it is more likely Congress will pass the legislation because the district supports it. The district’s attorney, Peter Nichols, told Brimmer, “We believe it’s likely to have the support of (the state’s) entire congressional delegation.”

Native’s attorney, Sarah Klahn, challenged Nichols’ assertion. She told the judge there is no indication Rep. John Salazar, D-5th District, has changed his opposition to part of the legislation. Salazar, whose congressional district includes part of the valley, is a key figure in whether Congress will approve the legislation. Lower Arkansas’ attorney said Salazar, Rep. Betsy Markey, D-4th District, and Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-7th District, will conduct a hearing in the valley about the proposed legislation. Markey’s congressional district includes the eastern part of the valley. Perlmutter’s district includes Aurora.

Somach, in answer to a question from the judge, said the contract does not result in more water being exported during the two years. He said the amount of water exported will be the same as it has been for the past 23 years under the authority of annual contracts between Aurora and Reclamation. Klahn challenged Somach’s assertion, citing Reclamation records that she said show there will be “a decrease in the amount of water in the river. There will be less water for my clients to divert.”[…]

Brimmer granted the district’s request to drop one of its claims, that the contract violates the federal Water Supply Act of 1958. Klahn said she and her clients “are evaluating our options.” She said they “are disappointed in the decision mostly because the stay will allow Aurora to continue stealing water from the Arkansas Valley.” When Klahn used the term “stealing” during the hearing, Somach objected, saying Aurora is importing valley water only as allowed by state water courts. Klahn, after the hearing, replied, “The contract is going to allow Aurora to take additional water from the valley and we believe the contract is illegal, so we think the term ‘stealing’ is appropriate.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Runoff (snowpack) news: Fry-Ark projections

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Thursday scaled back its allocations for water after up-to-the-minute estimates of the water yield of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project indicated more unwelcome meltdowns. The district allocated about 35,000 acre-feet of water Thursday, with about 55 percent going to cities and 45 percent to farms. It also allocated about 5,000 acre-feet of agricultural return flows, mainly to well augmentation groups. “It’s coming off hard,” said Roy Vaughan, Bureau of Reclamation manager for the Fry-Ark Project. “There’s still a lot of high snow, but it’s melted at the lower sites.”[…]

On the other side of the equation, high temperatures have plummeted snowpack in the Roaring Fork basin to about 60 percent of normal, and there are similar numbers for the Arkansas River basin. Earlier this week, the numbers were at nearly average levels. Vaughan revised his May 1 forecast of more than 60,000 acre-feet to the project’s historic average of 52,400 acre-feet. Only about 85 percent of that is available for allocation, however. On top of that, the first 5,000 acre-feet of allocations will go to the Pueblo Board of Water Works to repay last year’s loan for a shortfall in allocations. The board was determined to avoid a repeat of overestimating the project’s yield. The allocations committee already had shaved another 15 percent off the May 1 projection, but the board took it down another 5 percent. The board rejected an idea to only allocate half the water until the runoff picture clears up…

The move will mean about 3,500 acre-feet for Pueblo, which is using its allocation to fill its space in Pueblo Reservoir. The water board typically has not taken its allocation other than for drought recovery or to help well users meet obligations to Kansas under the Arkansas River Compact. “We’re gearing up for Comanche Power Plant to come online,” Executive Director Alan Hamel explained. Pueblo has contracts to supply water for the third unit at the Xcel electricity generation station. Pueblo West would get a little more than 100 acre-feet under a new category of water added last year. El Paso County water users will receive about 9,500 acre-feet, which includes repayment of a water debt to Colorado Springs, water for the Fountain Valley pipeline and a new allocation for Manitou Springs. The east of Pueblo allocations were complicated this year by a squabble between Ordway and Crowley County. Ordway’s population was subtracted from Crowley County’s in determining the amounts each received, said Bob Hamilton, engineering director. In all, users east of Pueblo will receive about 4,500 acre-feet, about 70 percent of what they requested. West of Pueblo, users will get about 85 percent of what they sought, about 1,500 acre-feet. Farmers will get about 16,000 acre-feet of water, about 15 percent of what they requested, based on a formula involving eligible irrigated acres.

Greeley: New headgate for No. 3 Ditch

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Here’s some background on No. 3 Ditch up in Greeley along with an aerial of it’s shiny new headgate, from Mike Peters writing for the Greeley Tribune. From the article:

Most people in Greeley really don’t know much about the water ditch that meanders through Greeley from the west to the east. They don’t know that it’s as old as Greeley (139 years) and essentially, it’s the reason Greeley survived in what was then called “the Great American Desert.” On Saturday, the owners of the ditch — the Greeley Irrigation Co. and the city of Greeley — will dedicate a new headgate for the ditch. Dug by huge, horse-drawn plows in 1870, the ditch has now progressed to the computer age.

Clifford Clift, with the Greeley Irrigation Co., said a computer now monitors the ditch’s water levels and opens and closes the gates depending upon the amount of water that’s needed. The new gates and diversion structure cost about $500,000, Clift said. “The irrigation company will pay five-eighths of the cost because it owns five-eighths of the ditch. The city owns three-eighths, so they’ll pay that share.”

When the first members of the Union Colony arrived here in April 1870, they were surprised to be able to look for miles without seeing a tree — they were more familiar with the huge forests of the eastern United States. But founder Nathan Meeker had a plan. He’d earlier visited the Mormon colony in Utah and saw how they dug long ditches from the rivers to bring water to their crops and towns. When Meeker talked with Ben Eaton, an earlier settler in this area, they began working together. Eaton, for whom the town of Eaton was named, would later become the governor of Colorado. But the pioneers knew the ditches would be difficult to dig, so they “volunteered” many workers. At the time — the spring of 1870 — the population of Greeley and the surrounding Union Colony was about 400 people. By order of the town government, all able-bodied men were required to work on the ditch. Peggy Ford of the Greeley Municipal Museums said the ditch diggers used large plow-like devices, pulled by horses, and they would repeatedly cut down through the ground, layer by layer until the ditch was the right depth. “But even then,” Ford said, “they had trouble with water backing up and the sides of the ditch eroding.” It took some time, but eventually, the ditch would bring water from the Cache la Poudre River through Greeley to water the home gardens, and into the Union Colony to water the crops. It’s 13 miles long and empties back into the Poudre River on the east end of Greeley. Natalie Stevens of the city’s water department said the original ditch irrigated 3,500 acres of land, and today — 139 years later — still irrigates about 1,500 acres…

The No. 3 Ditch Headgate Dedication will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. City and county officials are expected to be there, and refreshments will be served. The headgate of No. 3 Ditch is located on the Cache la Poudre River between 71st and 83rd avenues. To reach the area, drive west to 71st Avenue, north on 71st and follow the road as it curves east and then north again. A sign will direct motorists to the parking area.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.