Northern Integrated Supply Project: 300 rally for project

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

About 300 people attended the rally sponsored by the Colorado Farm Bureau and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which has proposed building Glade as part of the Northern Inte-grated Supply Project, or NISP.

A series of politicians and representatives of farm associations told the crowd that without the water-storage provided by the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, which includes Horsetooth Reservoir, Weld County wouldn’t be one of the top agricultural producers in the country and the region wouldn’t enjoy such a high quality of life.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

CWCB: Old Dillon reservoir upgrade chasing $1.5 million

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From the Summit Daily News (Caitlin Row):

Dillon’s town staff seeks to secure substantial funds from the Colorado Water Conservation Board for a project that will create water reserves for Dillon, Silverthorne and unincorporated Summit County. “We want to nail (the loan) down,” said Devin Granbery, Dillon’s town manager, noting that an emergency ordinance would put the financial agreement into effect right away. The town is moving quickly to access the loan because Granbery said he’s unsure if more money will be available for water projects in the near future.

While Dillon sought a loan to pay for 90 percent of its portion of the expansion, Silverthorne and the county plan to pay for the project with reserved internal funds. Dillon will pay the remainder of its costs through its water fund. In all, Dillon must pay $1.7 million. The total cost estimate for the expansion is $6.3 million, and it will be shared proportionately between the three entities. The project will include reservoir enlargement, associated improvements, wetlands mitigation and rehabilitation of outlets to the reservoir. The U.S. Forest Service is still reviewing the project’s permit application — the reservoir is located on Forest Service land — and project bids could go out later this year if it’s approved. Construction is slated for 2010.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Green Mountain and Ruedi reservoirs update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

It looks like we might have seen the peak of the snowmelt run-off over the weekend. As inflows to Green Mountain Reservoir dropped off Saturday night, we responded by reducing releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue River. Sunday, we reduced releases from above 3000 cfs to around 2700 cfs. This was done in three separate intervals of about 100 cfs over the course of the day. This morning, Monday, we reduced again, cutting releases back by about 200 cfs to a flow of 2500 in the Lower Blue River.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

We may have seen the peak of the snowmelt inflow to Ruedi Reservoir over the weekend. Yesterday, inflow to the reservoir began to slow down. As a result, we were able to begin reducing our releases to the Fryingpan. Currently, at 2 p.m. Monday, we are reducing releases from the dam to the Fryingpan again. We are cutting back by 50 cfs. This should result in a flow of about 510 cfs in the Fryingpan River.

Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) 44th annual International Fly Fishing Show and Conclave

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From the Cherry Creek News (Josset Gauley):

Fly fishers from across the United States and world are uniting July 28 – August 1 for the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) 44th annual International Fly Fishing Show and Conclave in Loveland, Colorado that is the premier event dedicated to the art and sport of fly fishing. The event features more than 80 workshops and clinics on casting, fly tying, on-water fishing techniques and other topics taught by well-known instructors. The fly fishing show features exhibits with the latest in gear, outfitters, conservation information and the Authors Booth.

Lower South Platte watershed meeting July 8

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From the Greeley Tribune:

A Lower South Platte Watershed meeting has been scheduled for July 8 in Fort Morgan. The meeting will offer an opportunity for landowners, organizations, agencies and businesses to be involved in making decisions about water quality issues in the watershed. The meeting will be from 3-5 p.m. at Morgan Community College, Founders Room, 920 Barlow Road, Fort Morgan. It is open to the public…

The watershed planning project, funded by the state health department’s Water Quality Control Division through the Colorado Non-point Source Program, will encompass about 3.45 million acres from Platteville north and northeast to the Colorado-Nebraska state line and all or portions of nine smaller tributary watersheds within the planning area. The goal of this planning process, scheduled for completion in November 2010 with the publication of the Lower South Platte Watershed Plan, is to empower a group of landowners, managers, conservation professionals and residents to implement and oversee the plan in their watershed and review the plan on a regular basis to determine whether changes are needed to keep the plan functional.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Precipitation news

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Douglas Crowl):

As of Sunday, the city of Loveland treated 300 million gallons less water than it did in 2008 during the same time, and 234 million less than in 2007, said Ralph Mullinix, Loveland’s director of water and power…

Water use in recent days has been about 20 million gallons a day, but Mullinix said he expects usage to increase with dry, hot weather in the forecast and this month being the peak. The city of Loveland treats 42 percent of its annual water production within a three-month period when people usually water their lawns in the summer, Mullinix said…

Besides green lawns and low water bills, Loveland residents can look at Lake Loveland to see the rain’s impact. The lake is tiptop full, along with Horseshoe Lake and Boyd Lake, which all are in the Greeley-Loveland Irrigation Co.’s system. Though Loveland owns some shares in that system, the company primarily supplies water to Greeley, Evans and to 14,000 acres of farmland between Loveland and Greeley…

What’s most unique this year is how long the lakes and reservoirs have remained full, or nearly full. In recent years, the spring runoff fills the lakes but immediately are drained as farmers begin to irrigate crops because of dry weather, Brinkman said. This year, farmers with row crops, such as beans and beets, have yet to irrigate, when in typical years they are on a second or third round of irrigation, he said.

Southern Delivery System: Partners want Pueblo West to give up stand on flow program

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Southern Delivery System partners have expressed “significant concern” over Pueblo West’s refusal to accept the Arkansas River flow management program as a condition for the $1.1 billion pipeline project. A letter also proposes ways to support Pueblo West’s pumpback plan, which could reduce the projected losses of water that Pueblo West fears.

A June 19 letter from Colorado Springs Utilities Chief Water Services Officer Bruce McCormick to Pueblo West Utilities Director Steve Harrison raised concerns about Pueblo West’s lawsuit against Pueblo County over the county’s conditions that all SDS participants must participate in the flow program set up in a 2004 intergovernmental agreement. A copy of the June 19 letter was provided to The Pueblo Chieftain. Apparently, Pueblo West has responded to the letter, but no one would make a copy of that response available. “We’re talking through the issues,” McCormick said Monday. “We’re in the process of scheduling a meeting.” “I can’t tell you what’s in the letter. Things are kind of intense on negotiations right now,” Harrison said…

Colorado Springs Utilities is still leaning toward bringing SDS through Pueblo County, rather than along its fall-back route in Fremont County, and expects a decision from Colorado Springs City Council at a July 22 meeting. Utilities also is looking at how large it would size its North Outlet Works to accommodate future users as it advances the engineering for SDS in Pueblo County.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

U.S. Representatives Markey and Salazar announce $5 million for Arkansas Valley Conduit

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

U.S. Reps. John Salazar and Betsy Markey, both Democrats, made the joint announcement of a $5 million appropriation by the energy and water subcommittee Monday.

“We’re extremely pleased and hopeful things continue to go this well in the Senate,” said Bill Long, president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, sponsors of the conduit project. Long and other Southeastern officials are in Washington today to further discuss with members of the Colorado delegation how a plan to use Bureau of Reclamation contracts to help repay the cost of building the conduit will work. The concept was approved in an authorization bill signed into law earlier this year by President Barack Obama…

Salazar is a member of the appropriations committee and has made several public statements in the past few months about the need for the conduit, even assuring valley residents last month that construction will begin before he leaves office…

Markey stressed that the funding will save the communities of the Lower Arkansas Valley millions of dollars in expenditures they could face in meeting water quality standards. Radium and uranium are contaminating some of the wells in the area, and smaller water systems would be hard-pressed to cover the costs projected by preliminary estimates by the state Water Quality Control Division…

The Southeastern District had sought $9 million in funding, but the $5 million will be enough to advance the project significantly, said Phil Reynolds, project manager. The money will go toward finalizing the route, determining property ownership, identifying geologic or technical obstacles, begin work on an environmental impact statement and begin the pre-design of the pipeline. The pipeline would be gravity-fed along about 140 miles and spurs would serve Crowley County and Eads along the way.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

S.B. 09-080, Precipitation Collect Limited Exemptions

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From the Associated Press via the Aspen Times (Stephen K. Paulson): “It will be legal for homeowners to use rainwater for fire protection, animals, irrigation and household use,” [with an exempt well].

Here’s the New York Times article that got everyone’s attention.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

CWCB: Hearing for water rights acquisition for instream flows in Maroon Creek

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Here’s the link to the notices page at the Colorado Water Conservation Board. They’re gearing up for an, “acquisition via a long-term loan of certain water rights associated with the Stapleton Brothers Ditch to be used for instream flow purposes on Maroon Creek and the Roaring Fork River,” according email from Rob Viehl.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

CWCB: Water availability task force meeting July 16

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The next Water Availability Task Force Meeting will be held on July 16 from 9:30-12:00pm at the Division of Wildlife Headquarters in the Bighorn Room. The agenda can be found on the CWCB website.

Since the last WATF meeting in May, conditions have continued to improve statewide. The only region with continued dry conditions is the southern Front Range. Reservoir storage remains strong. June 1 storage data shows the highest positive departure from average volumes since late summer of 1999. For the first time in many years, several basins are at or near their total storage capacity.

If you have any questions, please contact Ben Wade at 303-866-3441 ext 3238 or

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Pueblo West is educating public about potential effects if the city is require to join Pueblo flow program

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From the Pueblo West View (Mike Spence):

Pueblo West officials are planning to meet with as many local groups as possible in an effort to educate them on the Southern Delivery System and the flow management program. A special public meeting with Pueblo West’s Metropolitan District board of directors was held at the Pueblo West Library three weeks ago. The latest stop on the tour was at the Rotary Club’s meeting last week. Steve Harrison, Pueblo West’s director of utilities, presented Pueblo West’s case against Pueblo West’s participation in the flow management program. The short synopsis is that Pueblo West sought to partner with Colorado Springs Utilities on the SDS project. The pipeline coming out of Pueblo Dam would be expanded from 72 inches to 96 inches to allow Pueblo West to take up to 18 million gallons of water daily from Pueblo Reservoir…

Pueblo West’s role with the SDS would be small – only the first 800 feet of the 43-mile pipeline would be involved. Things were proceeding smoothly until March 5 when the Pueblo County Board of Commissioners released its 1041 permit requirements for the SDS project. Requirement No. 9 was that Pueblo West participate in the flow management program. The purpose of the flow management program is to ensure that a minimal amount of water (100 cubic feet per second) flows through the Arkansas River from Pueblo Dam through Pueblo’s legacy project that includes Pueblo’s kayak course.

County officials insist the impact on Pueblo West would be minimal – from zero to 50 acre feet of water annually. Studies, however, indicate the impact would be around 700 acre feet of water per year. None of the other partners in the flow management program back up the county’s projections. Pueblo West officials estimate the replacement cost of that water would be around $5 million – if the additional water could be found.

County officials have said the 1041 permit requirements are non-negotiable and they have stuck to that stance. That prompted the metro district in May to file suit against the county over the flow management program. Pueblo West followed that suit with a letter opposing the Army Corps of Engineer’s 404 permit dealing with wetlands in connection with the SDS project…

Whatever amount of water is lost is critical because Pueblo West doesn’t have much to spare, according to Harrison. The district has enough water for its customers now (10,600 tapholders, about 33,000 residents), but is working to acquire more to accommodate buildout (60,000 residents). The district has enough water rights to collect about 8,300 acre feet of water in an average year, Harrison said. But Harrison said those water rights, which collect water from mountains on the West side of the Continental Divide above Leadville, collect only about 4,500 acre feet of water in a dry year. That can put Pueblo West in a tight situation because the metro district needs about 4,500 acre feet of water to supply its existing residents and businesses…

Pueblo West officials think they have a strong case because it never agreed to the flow program, despite its participation in the pipeline. And that is reflected in language approved by federal authorities in the environmental impact statement for the pipeline. In addition, Pueblo West’s water has never been used in the portion of the river (between the upper gage near Pueblo Dam and West Fourth Street. Supporters of the flow management program, however, say that Pueblo West’s water usage does have an impact on that section of river. Because Pueblo West water is non-native to the Arkansas River Basin, it can be reused over and over again. Pueblo West takes its water from the reservoir, then sends its wastewater down Wildhorse Creek into the Arkansas River near West Fourth Street. However, it is credited for the amount of water it is putting into the river at that point and is allowed to exchange that credit for water in the reservoir Pueblo West is seeking to build a Pump Back project that will take the wastewater and treat it and send it back into the reservoir, skipping the exchange process. That will increase Pueblo West’s water supply by about two acre feet a day.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Precipitation news

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From the Associated Press via The Aspen Times:

Denver is one-tenth of an inch away from a precipitation record in June. The National Weather Service says that as of Friday, 4.86 inches of water had been measured at Denver International Airport for the month, which is 3.52 inches above normal…For the year, 10.38 inches of water has been measured at the airport as of Friday.

Nelson Tunnel/Commodore Waste Rock Pile superfund update

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From The Mineral County Miner:

Hays Griswold, overseeing the stabilization of the pile for the EPA, said the original plan to build a ramp up the channel for West Willow Creek that would serve as the stream bed was abandoned after this year’s runoff threatened to wash away part of the two-acre pile…

The new design for the project, once the channel is established in bedrock, would line grouted boulders four-to-six feet up the side of the bed. From there, the pile would be benched and pushed back further…

While the end of work is near on the rock pile, the EPA is still doing testing inside the Nelson Tunnel to determine the type and number of water sources entering the 8,000-foot adit that drains five mines before dumping into West Willow Creek.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Vallecito Reservoir: New fees in the offing

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From the Pine River Times (Carole McWilliams):

User fees are in the works at Vallecito for things like vehicle and boat trailer parking as part of Pine River Irrigation District’s new contract to manage recreation for the Bureau of Reclamation on the lake and bureau land around it.
But the details of where and when fees will be charged are a work in progress…

[Business owners and residents] most immediate concern was parking for the fireworks over the lake on July 4, as well as the Vallecito Service League’s annual arts and crafts fair that weekend.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Orchard City: Trustee Water Committee workshop

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From the Delta County Independent:

The second, monthly Trustee Water Committee workshop meeting will be held in the Orchard City Community Room on July 7 beginning at 4 p.m. The committee’s monthly meetings are being conducted now in an open workshop format due to the high interest in the subject of water shown by the public and other trustees.

Nolan Doesken: ‘If we had somebody every two blocks, that wouldn’t be too many’

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Click through and sign up for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Ntwork.

Here’s a report from the Denver Post. From the article:

A real-time rain, hail and snow-gauge network, masterminded by Colorado State University, took in more than 800 instant reports one wet day this month. So far, no floods, so good, but the network — the awkwardly named Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network — stands by, and in the meantime provides climatologists with priceless data on actual weather patterns. The grid has spread to 46 states and will take on three more this year, with 14,500 volunteer reporters nationwide.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Good year for lynx in Colorado

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Raise a glass today to the lynx restoration program and the ten lynx kittens the CDOW has counted this year. Here’s a report from the Associated Press via From the article:

The tuft-eared cats with big, padded feet were native to Colorado, but were wiped out by the early 1970s by logging, trapping, poisoning and development. They are listed as threatened on the endangered species list.

Be sure to click through for the photo of one of the brood. Here’s the link to CDOW’s lynx website.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

H.B. 09-1185, Water Rights Applications Documents

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House Bill 09-1185 (pdf) will become state law on Wednesday. The bill allow electronic filing of documents for water rights applications. From the Durango Herald:

House Bill 1185 allows people filing paperwork for water rights to e-mail the application instead of mailing four paper copies to state regulators. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, were the sponsors.

•SB 80 allows homeowners with a well permit to collect rain and snow from their rooftops for use in the house, to water a garden and for stock watering. Isgar and Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, were the sponsors.

Here’s the link to the new streamlined water court rules also slated for their debut on Wednesday.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Ruedi, Green Mountain and Colorado-Big Thompson update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

[Saturday] As the snowmelt continues to runoff, we are matching our releases from the dam to the Fryingpan with the rising inflows. Now that Ruedi Reservoir is full, we are just bypassing the snowmelt as it comes down. Our increases will be in 50 cfs intervals. Today at one p.m. we increased from 531 cfs to 581 cfs. Today at 5 pm. we will increase again from 581 cfs to 631 cfs. Tomorrow, Sunday, we will increase releases another time from 631 to about 681 cfs. The 681 cfs in the Fryingpan will continue until further notice.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

[Saturday] As the temperatures warm up, we are seeing more snowmelt runoff come down the Blue River system. With Green Mountain Reservoir about full, we continue to match our releases to the Lower Blue to what we see coming into the reservoir. In other words, we are bypassing the inflow to Green Mountain on downstream. The snowmelt runoff did increase over night and during the night we bumped up over 3000 cfs. We are releasing both through the hydro-electric power generation plant and the spillway. Releases to the dam today and tomorrow could be as high as 3300 cfs. If you plan on recreating in the area, please be sure to check the gage before you head up. Also be aware that changes in flow, up or down, could occur while you are in the river.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

[Saturday] With the warming weather, we are seeing snowmelt come down the river system, some of which we are bypassing through the C-BT system. But this year, there is just enough for us to capture a little of it. This weekend, the little we are capturing, we are sending to Horsetooth. Horsetooth should hit an elevation of 5420 this weekend. Pinewood is also up, compared to where it has been the past couple months. The rise in water level will last through this weekend, but will begin dropping again on Monday as we start moving some water up to Carter Lake. And snowmelt runoff into Lake Estes has enabled us to bump up releases from Olympus Dam to the lower Big Thompson River. Last night, we bumped up releases to about 450 cfs. Tonight, we anticipate we will scale that back slightly to around 400 cfs.

Taming the land: See how we grew

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Here’s the link to number 8 in Chris Woodka’s series Taming the Land titled “See how we Grew,” running in The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Arkansas Valley was a fertile source of food for the miners in the mountains and the people in the towns that served them. The farmers markets that opened in Pueblo last week are a reminder of an era when the local farmers market was the market for nearly everyone in the area. Sure, there were foodstuffs imported into the area after the arrival of railroads in the valley, and the valley’s farmers exported cash crops as well. Locally grown fruits and vegetables were part of the local diet as well as money-makers for many more farmers than remain in the business today. As the region grew, there were canneries, flour mills, slaughterhouses, cheese factories, alfalfa pellet plants, sugar beet mills, broom factories and other food or fiber processing businesses that expanded the reach of the local farmer.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at farming in the Arkansas Valley today from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Republican River Water Conservation District closes on compliance water pipeline groundwater rights

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

The Republican River Water Conservation District Water Activity Enterprise completed the purchase of ground water rights for the Compact Compliance Pipeline on Friday, June 19, using funds provided from the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s construction loan fund. The ground water rights will be leased back to the sellers until the water is needed for delivery through the pipeline. Although the Republican River Compact Administration has not yet approved a plan for augmentation and accounting procedures for the pipeline project, the RRWCD Board of Directors concluded that completing the purchase was prudent in light of the State of Colorado’s current budget situation.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Bonny Reservoir update

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

A release of water from Bonny Reservoir that began June 17 will continue until 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 28. Healthy rainfall in the area led to State Engineer Dick Wolfe to order a maximum release of inflow water. According to information from Wolfe, the reason for requesting this final level is to recognize there will be a continued net increase in reservoir storage once the release is stopped, for at least the next several days. It is estimated that the net increase in storage will be approximately 15 to 20 acre feet per day once the release is stopped, meaning water flowing into the reservoir will make up for the water being released, maintaining a certain level in the reservoir.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Wheat Ridge: Clear Creek Greenbelt cleanup

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From (Karen Groves):

…Wheat Ridge stormwater coordinator Bill LaRow will be leading crews along the banks of Clear Creek Greenbelt for a clean up day on July 18…

The clean-up day is open to individuals or groups who don’t mind volunteering to collect trash from along the banks of the creek. LaRow said he and Open Space Coordinator, Margaret Paget would lead groups and share a little water wisdom along the way.

more info:
What: Clear Creek Clean Up
When: July 18 from 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Anderson Park by Pavilion, Wheat Ridge
Contact: To confirm the date or for more information, call Bill LaRow at 303-235-2871 or e-mail

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Morgan County Quality Water District source water protection plan

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From the Fort Morgan Times:

During the team’s monthly planning meeting Tuesday, MCQWD Manager Mark Kokes said there is currently a strong push to pump water underground for storage. The water would percolate through natural sands into an underground gravel pit, he said, where it would be pumped back to the surface when needed. If water from less pure sources such as the South Platte River were pumped into areas near the MCQWD well fields, he said, it could affect the quality of the cleaner water. “With poor quality water entering an aquifer, it doesn’t take long for water to infiltrate through the soil profile,” he said. Kokes said any water that may affect the MCQWD well fields should meet local qualifications, but he fears that legislators will implement criteria for all of the state’s underground water storage…

Identified as a considerable source of concern for the well field near Brush was the Prairie Ponds augmentation recharge area and the Clean Harbors hazardous waste facility. The Clean Harbors facility is a good distance from the protection area, Williams said, but it is in the same drainage basin.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Fountain Creek Flood Control and Greenway District inaugural meeting

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It looks like the Fountain Creek Flood Control and Greenway District board will have plenty to do. People are lining up for funding for projects like the East Side Greenway project in Pueblo. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The corridor plan envisions four demonstration projects that already are moving ahead, including the East Side Greenway project in Pueblo. The project received a $75,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant this week, which will be matched with $500,000 in state grants and possibly a $500,000 federal appropriation, said Scott Hobson, Pueblo city planner. Those projects will give voters tangible evidence of progress on Fountain Creek when it comes time to ask for a permanent funding source such as a mill levy, Winner said.

“There are a lot of moving parts here,” said Jeff Chostner, Pueblo County commissioner. Chostner avoided a coin-flip in the race for chairman of the board by nominating Hisey and was named vice-chairman. The chairmanship will revert to Pueblo County next year. “We’ve been bombarded by requests from folks who want to help us spend the $50 million.” Chostner said the board has not had time to develop its procedures on how it will operate. Chostner also stressed that its primary responsibility is to control the flood waters of Fountain Creek, not simply to fund attractive projects.

One idea that Colorado Springs and the Lower Ark suggested was using $100,000 of the next $300,000 funding cycle of the corridor plan to pay for an administrator and office costs. “To go after the big money, you have to have a master plan,” Winner said. Included in the documents he presented to the board Friday was a list of potential grant sources. The district needs to have someone on board to write those grants, he added.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Brush: Groundwater levels rise during this wet year

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Katie Collins):

On behalf of his parents, Arla and Herman Cook, Jeff Cook spoke about the family’s concern with water issues at the Prairie Ponds, Bolinger and Henry Discharge that relate their farmland south of Brush, on which the family has been farming for the past 59 years.

For years, Cook said, the depths of water tables have been monitored at a well on the southwest corner of their land near the Brush Prairie Ponds, and usually measures dry. During this wet year, he said, the water table is rising and currently is only six feet below ground. The amount of augmentation water being put into the northeast corner of the Prairie Ponds, pumped out by the city of Brush, has caused the water table to rise eight inches in the last 16 days, he added. Cook’s family is asking the council to work with the family to protect their farm and the farm’s production…

Utilities Director Dave Baker said no more augmentation water, with the exception of some spillover, would be pumped into Prairie Ponds and that pumping had stopped as of that day.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Eldorado Springs: Septic improvements moving ahead

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Heath Urie):

The Boulder County commissioners on Tuesday approved an additional $260,850 toward the already-over-budget project, which the developer, Fischer Construction, said includes unforeseen costs of working on the mountain terrain. The new fees, for hand-digging trenches, laying pipe, general labor and removing rocks, brings the project to a total cost of about $2.4 million. Voters in 2003 approved a loan of $1.8 million, to be repaid by residents over 20 years through property-tax assessments. Keith Ickes, director of Boulder County’s administrative services office, said the new expenses make the work about 33 percent over budget, but there was no way to know the exact costs up front because the work is being done on a “design-build contract.”[…]

In 1999, Boulder County Public Health determined that of the more than 130 houses in Eldorado Springs, only 13 had approved septic systems. The rest were put in long before permits were required, many more than a half-century ago, and the county suspected some of the systems might be leaking into creeks.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Aspen: Jenny Adair wetlands project doing its job

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From the Aspen Daily News (Will Grant):

The city of Aspen’s Jenny Adair Regional Stormwater Quality Project is an artificial wetlands area off N. Mill St. intended to reduce pollutants into the Roaring Fork River by channeling stormwater runoff through a series of filters. The city built the wetlands in 2007 and says the wetlands have saved the river 144 tons of trash, sediment and oil in two-plus years. “We’re so impressed with the project,” said city of Aspen stormwater manager April Barker. “It’s only been here two years, and already it’s doing exactly what we wanted.”

What the city wanted was someplace where the flushed pollutants could settle out before the stormwater runs into the river. The wetlands system acts as a filter by slowing down the water, which allows most things suspended in the water to settle out and, later, for microbes to do their part to improve the water quality. Sediment is the number one pollutant in stormwater runoff in Colorado, Barker said. Sediment can change the river morphology, increase the water temperature and often acts as a place for other pollutants to attach themselves.

The process starts when stormwater runoff from the city is diverted to one of several vaults buried in the ground between Aspen and the Roaring Fork River. The vaults are concrete boxes about 9 feet deep and 20 feet square. The water runs through a 3-foot-wide convoluted channel intended to slow the water through the vault. The water gradually drops its sediment load in the channel; heaviest sediments form at the front of the channel, finer sediments collect downstream. A metal grate catches anything floating on the surface. The vaults remove about 50 percent of the runoff’s initial sediment load, Barker said, and the wetlands remove 80 percent of the sediment that makes it through the vaults. Before the water leaves the vault, it runs through a small opening at the base of a division wall within the vault. By forcing the water through an opening at the bottom of the wall, any oil on the surface of the water will be left in the vault…

After the water leaves the vault it flows into the wetlands. Vegetation in the wetlands keeps the water moving at a slow pace and absorbs some nutrients in the water that are considered pollutants…

After slowly running through the vegetation, the water enters a settling pond, which is its last stop before running into the river. Although the pond allows further settling out of pollutants, it is also where the microbes do their part. Microbes in the water perform denitrification, meaning they convert nitrate in the water to nitrogen gas. Nitrate in high concentrations is harmful to nearly everything, including humans, but the microbes grow off it. The microbial treatment is a significant one, according to Dr. Diane McKnight, a professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering at the University of Colorado. She has researched the dynamic interaction of chemical, biological and hydrologic processes in aquatic ecosystems and says the microbes do an important job. “What the wetland does is create areas where the water has retention time,” McKnight said, “as opposed to having that process happening more slowly in the stream or not happening until way down stream.” The microbial process affects a chemical change in the water, as opposed to the physical change when the pollutants settle out. After the microbes do their thing, “the metals have a changed chemistry so they’re no longer moving with the water,” McKnight said. “The water leaves the wetlands without the metals.”[…]

The Jenny Adair project has received two awards: The 2008 President’s Award from the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, and an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The AALC President’s Award is not given every year and has been awarded only once in about 30 years, Ellsperman said. It recognizes the functionality and sustainability of the project. The ASLA award recognizes the project’s attractive, natural design.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Craig: Wastewater plant just keeps on cooking, Potable water treatment plant upgrades nearly finished

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From the Craig Daily Press (Collin Smith):

City officials are in the process of doing minor maintenance updates to the sewage facility, such as a roughly $28,000 roof replacement project, but the plant remains much the same as it was when built in the late 1980s. The biggest change to the plant has been a computer overhaul installed a few years ago, which automated most of the treatment systems, Craig City Engineer Bill Earley said. In the next four to eight years, officials plan to build a third “sludge lagoon” — a large pit filled with sewage after it is separated from water going to the Yampa River — to keep up with growth. Earley said that could cost between $500,000 and $700,000 today, but probably will be more when the city opts to build it…

The wastewater plant only runs at half capacity now, putting out about 1.1 million gallons of sewage a day…“The wastewater plant is in pretty good shape,” Earley said. “It just needs a lot of maintenance.”

Meanwhile, From the Craig Daily Press (Collin Smith):

The Craig City Council approved a roughly $8 million construction project at the plant a few years ago, plus $1 million in design fees to Denver-based engineering firm Tetra Tech, with the intent of doubling the city’s capacity for clean drinking water from 6 million gallons to 12 million gallons a day. Officials hope the project will net enough water output to carry Craig through the next 20 years…

The plant itself has not been without its own problems in recent months. The renovation project came under the City Council’s scrutiny in January, after city staff came forward and said the plant’s new raw water pumps — which bring water into the plant from the Yampa River — seemed to break under normal operating conditions. In February, Mike Rothberg, Tetra Tech senior vice president, told the council that his company made an error in its math when it designed the pumps. Essentially, Tetra Tech engineers neglected to consider pump conditions at high water levels, Rothberg said. Usually, engineers don’t bother with those calculations because high waters are relatively easy to pump since the water doesn’t have to be pushed very far up. In the Craig plant’s case, Tetra Tech’s mistake caused all three pumps to continually break down…

After Rothberg’s presentation, the city council opted to follow his recommendations to retrofit the plant to make the new pumps work within the system, instead of buying new pumps to install at the plant. In his recommendation to council, Rothberg said the city could install a valve that opens and closes on the water line that goes from the pumps to the beginning of the treatment cycle and add a computer system to automate operations. In high water conditions, the valve would close, putting more backpressure into the line and stabilizing the pumps. After researching the various options, city staff agreed Rothberg’s ideas would be the cheapest and easiest way to get the plant running at full capacity. Earley issued a $70,380 purchase order last month to Cortez-based Southwest Contracting, the same company that built the new water plant to Tetra Tech’s designs, to handle the new renovations…

The ultraviolet and dissolved-air flotation filtering systems cannot be fully tested until operators turn the plant up to maximum output, which they cannot do until the pumps are fixed. Once the city gets a look at the new filters in action, there may need to be some tweaks to the system.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Broomfield: Annual tests passed with flying colors

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From the Broomfield Enterprise (Michael Davidson):

Broomfield’s water continues to exceed standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The city has never violated a standard or even had to warn residents to boil water, Coufal said. “We don’t get in the news very much. That’s a good thing,” he said…The city’s water now comes from Carter Lake near Berthoud, with additional supplies coming from Denver’s water system…Cryptosporidium and giardi are the microbes the lab watches for now. Exposure to either one can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea and dehydration.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Runoff (precipitation) news: Blue Mesa 3 inches from spilling

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From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Inflows to Blue Mesa Reservoir continue to remain higher than expected and rain is in the forecast for this weekend. Even today inflows to Blue Mesa Reservoir have been staying higher than originally forecast. Blue Mesa Reservoir is now about 3 inches from spilling. Releases at Crystal Reservoir were increased by 400 cfs earlier today. An additional increase of 200 cfs is now planned for this evening, Friday June 26. Further increases are likely to occur this weekend. Flows in the Black Canyon should increase to around 3200 cfs by the end of today and have the possibility to reach 4000 cfs if precipitation continues in the Upper Gunnison Basin.

From the Greeley Tribune (Jakob Rodgers):

Both the Poudre and the South Platte rivers are at [free rivers], meaning no limitations on drawing water from the rivers. That designation is a bit unusual for this time of the year. Jim Hall, south division engineer for the South Platte River Basin with the Colorado Division of Water Resources, said the day when that has to happen is drawing closer. “I would expect that to change in the next week or two,” Hall said…As of Tuesday, Greeley had received 2.47 inches of precipitation — about an inch more than normal for the month of June. The city is more than an inch above average year-to-date totals, as well, accumulating 9.46 inches of precipitation.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

[Friday] We have just increased releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue to about 2900 cfs. We are releasing both through the power plant for hydro-electric power generation and via the spillway. We are anticipating this rate of release to the Lower Blue to last at least through today due to the continued inflow of snow melt run-off.

From the Denver Post (Howard Pankratz):

The storms left Denver just one-tenth of an inch shy of setting a record for June precipitation as of the end of Friday. Despite tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm watches and warnings and flash-flood advisories, no serious damage was reported…

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said Friday that Barker Reservoir below Nederland had reached capacity and was spilling over Barker Dam into Boulder Creek, which at one point was flowing at more than 500 cubic feet per second. Rainfall and snowmelt also increased the water level in the St. Vrain River near Allenspark to 6.7 feet.

Custer County augmentation plan update

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Here’s an update on Custer County’s augmentation plan through the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, from Nora Drenner writing for the Wet Mountain Tribune. From the article:

A public hearing regarding the matter took place on Wednesday, June 17 in the county courthouse. Some 40 interested persons showed up to voice their opinions on the matter. The hearing began with an opening statement by UAWCD manager Terry Scanga. That statement illustrated the benefits of bringing a blanket water augmentation plan to the county. Scanga said the sources of augmentation water would not result in the dry-up of agricultural land in Custer County. Instead, said Scanga, the UAWCD would use water from its existing water rights to meet Custer County’s needs. Scanga further noted a blanket augmentation plan would allow the UAWCD to augment those wells that are currently out of compliance and as such are in need of water…

The UAWCD is proposing using the Texas Creek and Grape Creek water drainages to bring the water augmentation plan to the county. Also in the works is the building of reservoirs along Texas Creek and Grape Creek, however, sites or a time frame has not been established.

In his statement, Scanga also said that the local Concerned Citizens for Custer County organization C-4 has made inaccurate representations about the advantages of postponing the filing of the augmentation plan until after July 1 when new regulations go into effect. According to C-4, said Scanga, “The new rules will change the disclosure obligations of an applicant in respect to the proposed augmentation plan.” Scanga continued, “The new rules are no more stringent in requiring the applicant to demonstrate in water court that no injury will occur to other water right owners. It is odd that this citizen’s group has shown little concern about the protection of senior water right owners, which is the whole purpose of augmentation.” Instead, said Scanga, “The new rules increase the burden on water resource engineers, and therefore the cost of such engineers to all parties.” Scanga further said, “The new rules would likely decrease the efficiency of the process because the first cases subject to the new rules would likely experience delays and increased costs.”[…]

In the end, the commissioners asked the UAWCD to delay filing the water augmentation plan in water court to they could have time to review it. Scanga indicated the plan would be submitted by June 30.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Red Cliff gets $2 million for wastewater plant

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From the Vail Daily (Chris Outcalt):

“What I’m being told is that this is a done deal, we’re getting the $2 million,” [Ramon Montoya, Red Cliff’s mayor] said. “I don’t know what could possibly stop it at this point.” The town has gotten a few grants the past few years, but the $2 million puts it close enough to the $5 million needed to fix the collection system and the plant. Montoya is actually starting to think about when work on the project might begin…

Red Cliff regularly exceeds the capacity of its current sewer- and water-treatment facility and has repeatedly been cited by the state of Colorado for discharges into the Eagle River. One of the biggest problems with the facility, said Montoya, is that water is seeping into the sewer lines. “We’re basically taking in ground water,” he said. “We’re doubling the amount of stuff we’re sending through the plant.”

Meanwhile two El Paso County wastewater operations have received notices of violation from the state, according to R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

Paint Brush Hills and Cherokee metropolitan districts operate lagoon plants, an older method of treating sewage. Sewage is stored in ponds, where aeration and chemical processes remove contaminants. Paint Brush Hills’ plant serves about 12,000 customers in the Falcon area. Cherokee serves about 18,000 just east of Colorado Springs. Neither district’s violations were connected with threats to drinking wells or aquatic life.

In the more recent violation, by Paint Brush Hills, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on May 5 ordered the district to make improvements to its plant or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. According to the violation notice, the plant exceeded monthly average limits on the release of biochemical oxygen demand – the amount of dissolved oxygen in water – in seven months since January 2008. The plant also violated fecal coliform standards in December 2007 and chlorine standards in January 2009 and lacked enough pH, or acidity, in releases in August 2008. The releases were into an unnamed tributary of Black Squirrel Creek. The violation notice requires the district to submit plans for improvements to the plant and to have construction completed by Dec. 31, 2010, or show an engineer’s report proving releases from the plant were anomalies and pollution levels can be controlled by the facility…

In the other recent violation, Cherokee Metropolitan District was fined $80,082 in April for discharges of chlorine, organic compounds and fecal coliform into the East Fork of Sand Creek from 2006 to 2008. District manager Kip Petersen said hot temperatures caused similar problems with Cherokee’s lagoons, which led to the highest fines the district has paid the state. “They’re allowing me to pay it over three years, so that was generous of them. Still it’s a big nut and that really bothered me,” said Petersen. “I just felt it was a large penalty for something that was not necessarily within our control.” Cherokee is building a new sewage treatment plant, expected to be running next year, which uses machines, not ponds, to decontaminate sewage.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Buena Vista: Standup paddling clinic July 17-19

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Philip Armour):

The inaugural Stand Up Paddling Nationals were held at the Glenwood Whitewater Park on May 31. The winner, Dan Gavere, beat about 20 other “watermen” in three disciplines: down-stream racing through Class II–III whitewater, slalom and surfing. “It was a riot,” says Gavere, who is also the Southwest sales rep for Werner Paddles (

In fact, he’s teaching an introduction to stand-up paddling July 17-19 on the Arkansas River in Buena Vista with the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center ( Gavere has even stand-up paddled on the Platte River in downtown Denver at the Confluence.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Montrose: Citizen group to manage Uncompahgre corridor through town

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From the Telluride Watch (Beverly Corbell):

Ben Tisdel, [Friends of River Uncompahre] boardmember said he and others were worried that the new committee might not follow guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency for development near rivers. “We want to make sure that there is an even balance of interests on the committee, and we want to have the positive hope that all interests are fairly represented,” Tisdel said. Montrose City Spokesman David Spear said he wants to assure FORU and others that the city council’s plan calls for a balance of members to represent five categories, including landowners, realtors and developers (in one category), river advocates such as FORU, river recreation advocates, and residents in general. Spear said he expects the river committee to have 11 members but just how many and when the members will be selected is up to the city council…

The city has held two open houses to give out information on preliminary plans to preserve the river corridor, which was the most highly ranked public objective of the 2008 Comprehensive Plan. The plan recommends a 100-foot buffer between the river and any pavement or structures and will be the basis for the new ordinance, said senior city planner Garry Baker earlier this year

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Precipitation (runoff) news

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Gardner):

The month of May was the third wettest month in Glenwood Springs since 2003, when Oscar McCollum began keeping daily records of temperature and precipitation in Glenwood Springs. McCollum, who records daily temperatures and precipitation for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, recorded 3.44 inches of rain for the Month of May in Glenwood…

Conditions for the Upper Colorado River Basin, according to an online report by the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation stated that April and May conditions measured at 120 percent and 105 percent of average, respectively. The overall water year precipitation rate through June 9, is 101 percent of average, the report stated…

The rain showers have kept the Colorado River swollen around 8,400 cubic feet per second (cfs) as of June 24, according to the United States Geological Survey. The Colorado River through the Glenwood Canyon peaked on May 21, at 9,900 cfs, which was still above average peak flow, according to the National Weather Service. The Roaring Fork River peaked on May 19, at 6,100 cfs, which is considered average peak flow for the river.

FIBArk recap

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Here’s a recap of last week’s FIBArk festival up in Chaffee County, from Scott Willoughby writing for the Denver Post. From the article:

Without question, FIBArk is Salida’s time to shine. The 61-year-old festival celebrating all things Arkansas River-related could be considered the town’s calling card, a five-day affair that began on a bet and blossomed into full-blown whitewater carnival complete with contests, clinics, parades, parties and the ever-popular Hooligan Race that attracts thousands of river enthusiasts each year. At this point, the original “bet I can beat you in a boat race down to Cañon City” almost seems secondary to the remainder of the multiring circus surrounding it. But the prestige of being “First in Boating on the Ark” (FIBArk, get it?) remains even after the race was shortened to the 26-mile marathon ending in Cotopaxi (won this year by Andy Corra of Durango). “It’s like nothing else in the world,” said Scott Shipley of Lyons, a former Olympic slalom kayak racer who is designing the whitewater course for the 2012 Olympics in London. “I’ve literally been to whitewater parks everywhere from the Czech Republic all the way to Australia, and this place is just such a part of the community. It’s a real community-type feel anyway, but they get behind this whitewater race like nothing else.”

More coverage from The Durango Telegraph:

A Durangoan earned “king of the river” status during last weekend’s 61st FIBArk Whitewater Festival in Salida. Andy Corra, the 48-year-old owner of 4 Corners Riversports, won the Wildwater Natioanl Championships on Saturday and the marathon 26-mile Downriver Race on Sunday, beating out racers a fraction of his age. The downriver race is the event that first got the FIBArk festival started in 1949. The 26-mile race through class III water runs from Salida to Cotopaxi and has always drawn some of the best boaters in the country and world to the starting line. Corra first won the race in 1985. This year’s race put him at six FIBArk victories, a record he shares with veteran boater Gary Lacy. “Obviously, the older you get, the harder it gets, but it’s such a technical sport and there’s so much boat-control and learning how to race an event like this, it kind of evens out,” Corra told the Pueblo Chieftan. “I was certainly stronger when I was 25, but I don’t think I’m much slower.” Fellow Durango boater and 1991 FIBArk champ Mike Freeburn finished second in the Nationals and offered a blow-by-blow account. “The start was chaotic,” he said. “(Andy) got out and I got stuck behind a whole group of people right away, so I lost contact with him. One guy turned sideways and I crashed right into him. My plan was to stay right with him and there was instantly a 20-meter gap, so once he had that little jump, it was really hard to make that up.” At the finish line, Corra offered props to Freeburn, who is 43, for keeping him motivated and competitive. “We’re doing it for the old guys,” he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Summit County: Upper Blue Sanitation District to kick off $27 million expansion

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From the Summit Daily News (Robert Allen):

Groundbreaking for Upper Blue Sanitation District’s $27 million expansion project at Farmer’s Korner is expected to occur in the next three weeks, said district manager Andy Carlberg…The contract for the wastewater reclamation facility was awarded to Glacier Construction at $7 million less than the $34 million estimated six months ago. Construction is expected to take less than two-and-a-half years…

The project includes two new buildings totaling 43,000 square feet. It is to be built north of the existing structure at the intersection of Highway 9 and Swan Mountain Road. Plant capacity is to expand from 2 million to 5 million gallons per day. The district will encourage participation of local labor and subcontractors throughout the project, Carlberg said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Bike to work swim home day

Today was “Bike to work swim home” day for me. If you click on the thumb you’ll see the rain gauge reporting 1.34″ north of Denver. I rode home through that storm. The cell overwhelmed the stormwater system on North Pecos. It was a really wet time overall.

Here’s the link to the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District. Click on “Alert System” to view their maps.

Green Mountain update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Today we saw inflows to Green Mountain Reservoir start to taper off. We have responded in kind, reducing our releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue River in 100 cfs increments. By this evening, there should be a flow of about 2250 cfs in the Lower Blue.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act permit a foregone conclusion?

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Here’s an update on Colorado Springs Utilities’ proposed Southern Delivery System, from R. Scott Rappold writing for The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

The public comment period ended Friday, and 13 people and organizations -12 against, one in favor – submitted comments, a possible sign that people see the once-controversial project as a foregone conclusion, since the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Pueblo County have both approved it. Van Truan, from the Corps of Engineers Pueblo office, said he was surprised by the low number of comments…

Truan said the Corps will not release the comments until a permit is issued or denied. The Corps is expected make a decision on the permit within 120 days, Truan said. He said most of the comments were similar to those voiced earlier in the process, so the agency has not decided if it will hold a hearing on the permit. “A lot them refer to things that are really not in the scope of our permit, but beyond that,” Truan said.

Some who commented released their remarks. The Sierra Club and the Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition called on the Corps to hold a public hearing. The Pueblo West Metropolitan District, a partner in the pipeline, asked the Corps to deny a permit because it wants to slow the approval process while the district tries to resolve a conflict with Pueblo County over flow guarantees through a whitewater park on the Arkansas River. Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut, who has sued Colorado Springs over sewage spills and opposed the pipeline, urged the Corps to consider the cumulative impacts of the project and possible alternatives to the pipeline. “The Corps must require CSU to analyze other less environmentally harmful alternatives, such as water conservation strategies, water recycling and reuse and land use restrictions,” Thiebaut wrote in his comments, which his office released.

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

While Pueblo West is fighting a Pueblo County condition requiring it to help protect the Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam, the metro district has agreed in the past to help maintain flows through Pueblo. In a Nov. 13, 2001, agreement with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Pueblo West agreed to cooperate in a flow management program as a condition for future storage in Lake Pueblo under the Preferred Storage Options Plan. On June 8, a decree in Pueblo West’s 1985 filing for reuse and exchange committed the metro district to forgo exchanges when levels in the Arkansas River fall below 100 cubic feet per second in order to maintain water quality…

Utilities Director Steve Harrison said Tuesday. “Every water provider knows the value of environmental flows, but there is a difference between environmental and recreation flows.”

Pueblo County is taking a hard line on the flow program because the variety of flows it helps to provide are needed for aquatic life as well as recreation, countered Ray Petros, special counsel for water and land-use issues for the county. “The health of the river below the dam is important,” Petros said. “The cost of restoring the river later would be much greater than protecting the river now.”

Pueblo West, currently undergoing political turmoil, still stands by the 2001 agreement, which was associated with the potential enlargement of Pueblo Dam under PSOP, Harrison said. “We didn’t think it would be that large of an issue. It was a voluntary program,” Harrison said. Petros argued it was more than a voluntary program, pointing out the 100 cfs limit was written into Pueblo West’s June 8 water court decree. “This was back in 2001, long before the county permit requirement,” Petros said. “At that point, they looked at this as what would be required as a condition for reservoir enlargement. I don’t agree it’s voluntary. It’s embedded in the contract.”[…]

Pueblo West would stand to lose more as a full participant in the Pueblo flow program, Harrison said. He pointed to a draft report by MWH Engineering, contracted by Colorado Springs, that shows Pueblo West eventually could lose the ability to exchange about 500 acre-feet of the 3,200 acre-feet of exchanges it could theoretically make now. The loss would be about one-third as much if Pueblo West is successful in developing a pump-back option of sewer flows from Wild Horse Creek to a gulch near the golf course. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is considering that request…

Petros said the MWH report fails to consider how the Recovery of Yield program – which returns about 70 percent of forgone flows – would reduce that amount, and assumes that Pueblo West would be able to fully develop 8,400 acre-feet of water. Petros said other factors may pose a greater limit for the metro district’s ability to realize the full amount.

That doesn’t matter to Pueblo West, which doesn’t believe the county has any right to curtail its water supply, which is nearly all transmountain deliveries of water that would otherwise not be in the basin, Harrison said. “Pueblo West doesn’t want to dry up the river,” Harrison said. “I don’t understand why the county is trying to take a large chunk of our water. If we lose that water, we have to replace, and that could be expensive.”

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Army Corps of Engineers has not decided whether a public hearing is needed for its evaluation of the Southern Delivery System. “We’re reviewing the comments we received to see if there would be valid, new information to be gained at a public hearing,” said Van Truan, chief of the Southern Colorado regulatory arm of the Corps. “There has been plenty of opportunity to comment on the project.”

The major impacts that concern the Corps is that 0.23 acres of wetlands would be permanently lost in the project, three outfall structures and numerous stream crossings of pipelines. Those impacts are relatively routine and the Corps considered issuing a permit under a process that requires no public review. “Colorado Springs is insisting we do everything in the open,” Truan said. “Having a public hearing is a big process for us. We may have a public input session.”[…]

Among the comments received:

The Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition and Sierra Club requested a public hearing on the SDS pipeline, as well as additional time to file comments. The coalition said alternatives to SDS have not been adequately studied.

Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut asked the Corps to delay a permit until ongoing problems on Fountain Creek, including sewer spills, flooding and sedimentation, are fixed.

Pueblo West, a participant in SDS, asked the Corps to delay action until its issues with Pueblo County over the Pueblo Arkansas River Flow Program are resolved.

Pueblo County endorsed any Corps action that incorporates pertinent conditions of the county’s 1041 permit. The county also refuted Pueblo West’s comments about the flow program, saying it is necessary to protect the Arkansas River.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

CWCB: How to bridge the water gap

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Here’s a recap of the CWCB’s presentation last week to the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District meeting, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Conservation, alternative ag transfers and new supply projects will all fit into the equation, but no single plan would meet all the needs, [Eric Hecox of the Colorado Water Conservation Board] said.

In conservation, the state water board is looking at the impacts of conserving 20 to 40 percent of the water used in cities in 2000. The problem has been in establishing a baseline, since most cities have not filed conservation plans with the state. Many cities restricted water use during the drought of 2002 and have continued to see lower per capita water use in the years since. While conservation is not seen as an effective strategy to meet future supply needs, it does reduce the demand side of the equation, Hecox said. The state is looking at several ways to decrease the pain of water transfers for rural communities. The Arkansas Valley Super Ditch, a water marketing concept that keeps water rights in the hands of farmers by combining the resources on seven ditch systems, is in the forefront of these studies.

The CWCB has two separate studies looking at new supplies. One will evaluate water transfer projects from Flaming Gorge, the Yampa River and the Colorado River, as well as pipeline projects within the South Platte basin and from the Arkansas River basin to the South Platte. Hecox was careful to point out that the state is not endorsing any of the concepts, but is simply evaluating them. The IBCC and roundtables also have asked the CWCB to look at smaller projects. Earlier this month, the Arkansas, South Platte and Metro roundtables voted to ask the CWCB to also consider transfers from the Gunnison River basin. “With the smaller projects, you might have to have 10 to compare against one 250,000-acre foot project,” Hecox noted.

The second study, which will be completed in 2010, is looking at the amount of water in the Colorado River basin that is available for Colorado’s use under 1922 and 1948 interstate compacts. Colorado is entitled to develop between 445,000 and 1.4 million acre-feet, explained Randy Seaholm, who has been the CWCB’s point man on the Colorado River for years. While the state could be subject to a compact call from the downstream states – California, Arizona and Nevada – the known hydrology of the Colorado River supports development of the additional water with little risk.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Colorado Trout Unlimited announces 2009 Conservation Awards

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Congratulations to Melinda Kassen the recipient of CTU’s 2009 Bruce Hoagland Award for Leadership in Conservation. Here’s the release.

Republican River Compact: River referee report due June 30

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From the Nebraska Journal-Star:

The deadline for a Republican River referee’s report on a water dispute between Kansas and Nebraska has been extended to June 30. The two states are trying to use the report on nonbinding arbitration to resolve Kansas’ claim of more than $70 million in damages. That’s Kansas’ estimate of the damages Nebraska caused by using more than its share of water for irrigation over a period of several years and violating the terms of the Republican River Compact. Brian Dunnigan, director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, said the word from Colorado-based water expert Karl Dreher is that he will need only one extension of the original June 17 deadline. “So we think we’re going to hear on June 30,” Dunnigan said. After that, the states will have until July 30 to decide how to respond to the arbitrator’s decision.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Castle Rock: Conservation program expansion

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From The Douglas County News Press (Chris Michlewicz):

Town council approved three new ways for residents to benefit from its water conservation rebate program, a part of the Water Resource Strategic Master Plan adopted in 2006. In addition to the existing smart sprinkler controllers, high-efficiency clothes washers and three-day irrigation timers, Castle Rock officials decided June 9 to start doling out rain sensors and sprinkler head rotary nozzles, as well as offering incentives for reducing the amount of water-guzzling plants and grass in their yard. Residents can be reimbursed for half the cost of a $50 rain sensor, an electronic device that determines whether watering is needed and relays information back to the control system. Homeowners can earn up to $200 in rebates by installing rotary nozzles, and commercial customers can receive a return of $2,000…

Smartscape renovation rewards residents by offering $1 for every square foot of high-water-use plants that are removed up to 1,500 square feet. Some residents complained that the plan does not allow for flexibility in specific low-water-usage landscaping, but assistant utilities director Rick Wilkey said they will evaluate concerns on a case-by-case basis.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Coalition of conservation groups favor more study of alternatives

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Conservation and environmental groups are worried that the proposed Southern Delivery System’s releases into Fountain Creek would negatively impact the waterway, according to Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“The proposed discharge would have profound and pervasive negative impacts on the aquatic ecosystem and the environment within the Arkansas River basin,” said Joseph Santarella, attorney for the Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition. The coalition raises 14 points on which a permit for SDS would violate the Clean Water Act in a 44-page letter to the Corps released on Friday…

The letter claims the project is not the least environmentally damaging alternative, as required by federal law. Other alternatives, including one considered by the Bureau of Reclamation to protect wetlands, were not included in the Section 404 permit application, Santarella said. SDS would result in degradation of aquatic habitat; could lead to higher levels of contaminants like selenium, mercury and E. coli; and contribute to violations of state water quality standards, the letter stated. Additionally, the specific steps that would be taken to deal with those problems are not fully explained and the method to evaluate compliance are “skewed” and “biased,” according to Santarella’s letter.

The groups also raise the issue of environmental justice that they say has not been addressed in any evaluation of SDS so far. The project, through its increase of flows on Fountain Creek, would have a disproportionate impact on low-income minorities living on Pueblo’s East Side and in the Lower Arkansas Valley, the letter states…

Colorado Springs City Council should finalize the route in July, which could trigger negotiations with Reclamation for those parts of the project that involve Pueblo Dam and Lake Pueblo.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

This year, the Canon City Recreation and Park District is taking its BYOB race to new heights by teaming up with the Whitewater Kayak Recreation Park-Canon City, known as WKRP-Canon City, to host a full-blown Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival. WKRP-Canon City is working to raise funds to build a premier whitewater park for boaters in the river along Centennial Park. The festival will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday at Centennial Park, Fourth and Griffin, in Canon City with the Riverwalk Games, featuring co-ed teams competing in kickball, flag football, sand volleyball, horseshoes, dodge ball and, of course, the coup-de-gras event, the BYOB race. Teams that build their own boats will put into the Arkansas River at Centennial Park boat ramp at 5:30 p.m. then paddle, push and prod their way downstream 2 miles to the Raynolds Bridge takeout. Spectators are encouraged to line the race route and cheer on the farcical flotilla. “The defending champ is John Howard and his Canon Rental team,” said Kyle Horne of the recreation district. “They have won the last four years.”

A more serious paddling event will be the Royal Gorge Pro Raft Race, featuring teams made up of area raft guides. That race starts at the entrance to the Royal Gorge at Parkdale at 6 p.m. and ends at the Fourth Street Bridge in Canon City…

Teams can still sign up for the BYOB race by calling the recreation district at 719-275-1578. Cost to compete is $40. Cost to compete in the pro raft race is $20 per person and includes a T-shirt. To sign up for the pro race, call Jimmy Whiteside at 719-924-0594.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Happy Fathers Day

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Happy Fathers Day to all you fathers out there — you know who you are.

Things are shaping up well so far. I spent an hour on the phone with Hellchild. I get a bike ride downtown later. Beaver and Goober should be over later — just in time to smother everything in sight with Mrs. Gulch’s renowned green chile.

Update: There’s cherry pie also!

Energy policy — oil and gas: New Castle town council taking hard look at Antero Resources produced water injection well

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

Acting at the direction of the Town Council, council member Art Riddile raised the issue with the Denver-based energy company at a recent meeting of the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board. “Our immediate concerns were the possibility of truck traffic going through our town, plus the possibility of hazardous spills and then watershed issues,” Riddile said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.