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.