Dave Stanford, owner of H2O Consultants, has been selected as wastewater operator of the new plant at the Fairplay Sanitation District. A $60,000-per-year bid submitted by him and Kaupus Laboratories Water Specialists was selected by the district board at its May 14 meeting. It was one of four proposals. Two other bidders proposed rates of $72,000 a year and $85,000 per year. The difference was in the hourly rates, which were quoted at $65 an hour for H2O and $90 for Kaupus. Board members said Stanford’s proposed rate was lower, and he had been doing the actual work on the plant during the construction period and had proven that he could do the job.
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Northwest Colorado Farmers Union, the Douglas Creek Conservation District and White River Conservation District will host a conference Tuesday in Meeker about how oil shale will affect the Western Slope’s water supply, agriculture and local communities. The conference will feature a presentation about oil shale’s suspected impacts to western Colorado, including reports by the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Yampa/White/Green River Basin Roundtable, Western Resource Advocates and Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.
After the presentation, a panel featuring a local agriculture producer, a Rio Blanco County commissioner and a representative from the Colorado River District to discuss the issues. A representative from Shell Oil Company also will be there to provide an industry perspective and share some of its plans for western Colorado. Audience members will be allowed to ask questions of the presenters after the panel discussion.
The conference is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Old Public Library at the Fairfield center, 200 Main St. in Meeker. Sandwiches and drinks will be provided.
The Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority continued discussions about its options for a future water source and it appears it will be a while before it can determine what its best course will be…Regardless of which project or projects the authority ultimately chooses, it will need to find a place to store the water. The authority has a few options, including the Pueblo Reservoir, but no storage location has been finalized.
Here’s a recap of this week’s Chaffee County Commissioner’s hearing on Nestlé Waters North America proposed Chaffee County Project, from Christopher Kolomitz writing for The Mountain Mail. From the article:
Submission of written comment ended earlier this month and the public’s chance to comment ended Thursday. “I think it’s a violation of the process,” Jay Hake, a Salida lawyer said. “When people haven’t had a chance to review (newly submitted Nestlé documents), I think it’s a serious problem.” He also pointed to new information county officials provide and the lack of public opportunity to comment and review. More criticism was aimed at multiple changes made in the Nestlé project since it was first submitted in November…
Additional arrows were aimed at the company, its testing, officials and the plan. Chip Cutler, a lawyer who lives in Howard, said the Nestlé’ pump testing should have been done at high levels replicating proposed pumping. Howard resident Alan Rule said he feared the burden of monitoring the Nestlé project would fall upon Chaffee County officials, something for which the county may not be prepared. Michele Riggo, member of a Salida sustainability group, asked if Nestlé’s commitment to a $500,000 endowment was in writing…
Daniel Zetler, another local lawyer, said he felt Nestlé tactics have been to offer as little information as possible and “throw bones” to the county when opposition arises. He said Nestlé has misled commissioners about property tax revenue generated by the project and had a goal of draining the local aquifer.
More coverage from The Mountain Mail (Paul Goetz):
Public testimony closed at 11:35 p.m. Thursday and Chaffee County Commissioners set a June 16 date to deliberate whether Nestlé’s 1041 application and special land use permit will be approved. Closing the comment period ended the seventh public meeting held on the issue which began at 1 p.m.
At the meeting Nestlé officials said the Bighorn Spring would be withdrawn from proposed development. Bruce Lauerman, natural resource manager for Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. western division, made the announcement to an audience of more than 150 at the Salida Steam Plant Theater. Lauerman said Nestlé remains committed to the Bighorn site, but water production would be from the Ruby Mountain Spring at about 124 gallons per minute. Lauerman said Nestlé will place both spring sites into a conservation easement. “Easements are not part of getting the permits,” he said, or that would negate the charitable act and spirit of an easement. In addition, Lauerman said Nestlé would allow in-stream fishing access only at both sites. However, “If it becomes problematic, we will reserve the right to shut it down.”
Don Reimer, county engineer and planning director, spoke about outstanding issues. Economic and water issues remained at the forefront of discussion. County economic impact consultant Jean Townsend of Coley Forrest told commissioners additional information provided by Lauerman early in the meeting will cause reduction of the assessed value. She said the assessed property is $6,300 for property tax and $10,500 for school tax. Nestlé consultants THK Associates estimate the county would receive about $375 per year for the highway users tax fund, and would receive $8,200 in property tax…
Commissioner Tim Glenn asked about the strength of the trucking company commitments to hire 50 percent locally. Lauerman said advertisements in the local newspaper were successful. He said if the company was to hire today, they would be able to hire seven local drivers. “Logistics people tell me we need about 15 drivers,” Lauerman said.
Glenn later questioned Jon Hollenbeck of ACA Products about the number of employees and duration they would be working on the project. Hollenbeck said the jobs would be temporary, and 10-12 people would be working…
County water consultant Jim Culichia of Felt, Monson and Culichia, said Nestlé will be subject to the same scrutiny as Coors. Nestlé will file in water court which will take about six months. It will take water court about five years to finish the application. In the interim, Nestlé will be allowed to transport water. Fairchild asked about exporting water outside Colorado before going to water court. She asked if the public trust doctrine mattered. Steve Sims, water attorney for Nestlé said there is no “public trust doctrine in Colorado.” Sims said, “If water court didn’t approve, Nestlé would not be able to pump.”
Several people asked about the cone of depression – whether the well (used to pump water from the spring source) would take water from the river. Lauerman said Nestlé specifically does not want river water, adding, “These springs are buffered, protected sites.”
Nestlé officials have collected data from a downstream weir for the past year, and were agreeable to adding a second weir and drilling a monitoring well if the trench were ever reclaimed to the wetland project. Lauerman was opposed to gathering more data, and said, “We have collected the data. I will strongly object for our project to be postponed while we collect more data.”
According to Ted Hinricks, a Colorado River ranger for the U.S. Forest Service stationed in Eagle County, the Colorado River surged on Monday to around 10,000 cubic-feet-per-second at a gauge station at Dotsero, near the eastern end of Glenwood Canyon…
The Roaring Fork River reportedly was flowing at around 2,400 cfs as of Monday afternoon at a gauge station near Emma, but by the time it got to Glenwood Springs, it was flowing at 6,700 cfs, according to Tom Trowbridge of Roaring Fork Anglers, who read the river gauge early on Tuesday…
Officials have said that the Crystal River is nearing the flood stage, but Ellen Anderson, emergency services manager for Pitkin County, said no serious problems are anticipated. “It looks as though we’re going to get to bankfull, but not much more,” Anderson said on Tuesday.
The [Arkansas River] level was running at a healthy 3,330 cubic feet per second Friday morning at the Parkdale gauge just west of Canon City, prompting the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area to issue a high water advisory.
The new wastewater treatment plant for Pagosa Springs — originally scheduled for a 2008 completion — still lacks complete funding. Here’s a report from Jim McQuiggin writing for the Pagosa Sun. From the article:
Those discussions, in the form of a conference call held May 6 that included Starks, Pagosa Springs Mayor Ross Aragon, Town Manager David Mitchem and representatives from the Colorado Health Department, the USDA, the Department of Local Affairs, and the Water and Power Authority, kick-started the arduous process of chasing down necessary additional funding for the project. Although both the mayor and Mitchem reported the outcome of the call was “very productive,” both conceded the call was only a first step towards acquiring those funds.
Following up on the call, Aragon and Mitchem met with USDA representatives Tuesday morning to learn what steps would be needed to grab federal money.
“They want us to jump through hoops,” the mayor said, “but they have the money we need. There’s still a lot we have to discuss.”
Aragon reported that the USDA representatives brought up the possibility of a rate hike (one of several ideas) but said, “That’s not really an option, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve already gone up sixty-seven percent, and that’s much more than I wanted.”
The mayor also stated that, although the idea of scaling back the project was floated by the USDA representatives, the town would continue with the current scope of the project, adding, “We don’t want to build it and then find that, five years down the road, we need something bigger.”
No less sanguine regarding the conversation with the USDA representatives, Mitchem was nonetheless optimistic that the town could meet federal benchmarks set out by the USDA. “We’re going to move ahead with our preliminary plans,” he said, “We’re going to refine some of the engineering, review our current environmental studies and fine tune the flood plain mapping. We’re under a tight deadline from the feds. Everything has to be approved by Washington by October 1.”
Effective May 12, a long-standing ranching family and two area water districts entered into an agreement with a local land trust to explore the feasibility of conservation easements on some or all of approximately 140 acres located nearly two miles northeast of Pagosa Springs. As Dry Gulch is now planned, a portion of the acreage will eventually lie beneath the waterline, while the remainder will become lakefront property.
The land in question is part of several hundred acres currently owned by the Laverty family, including Kitzel Farrah, Kurt Laverty and Steve Laverty. Entities hoping to acquire that portion of the Laverty property include the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) and the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD), herein referred to as “the districts.”
Though the Lavertys have been reluctant to sell property to accommodate the reservoir, they are apparently willing to part with that which will ultimately be flooded, while preferably maintaining ownership of the rest. They are also reportedly inclined to donate certain property rights to the public (in the form of conservation easements), in order to preserve and protect the shoreline, view shed and water quality.
Of course, filling Dry Gulch may be possible without the Lavertys having to sell any land at all. According to Southwest Land Alliance (SLA) Executive Director Michael Whiting, many reservoirs exist over land permanently protected by more restrictive easements. Depending on the answers to a number of relative questions, the Lavertys might end up selling the districts all or a portion of the land, or simply holding on to it, while implementing multiple easements.
To answer questions and eliminate all doubt, the Lavertys, SLA and the districts agreed to investigate whether some combination of conservation easements and/or fee title acquisition would satisfy the districts needs, while also benefiting the Lavertys and the community overall.