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.