Pourdre River watershed: Corps of Engineers is doing a basin wide review of water projects in conjunction with NISP EIS

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would be responsible for issuing permits for Glade as well as proposed expansions of Halligan and Seaman reservoirs, is weighing the environmental impacts all of the projects could have on the river before allowing construction of the pipeline’s remaining segments. The Corps is analyzing the combined effects of the projects as part of environmental impact statement, or EIS, studies for Glade and the Halligan-Seaman projects, said Chandler Peter, a project manager with the agency.

At issue is how depletion of the river caused by the projects would affect the river’s resources, including its fisheries, riparian areas, recreation and morphology, Peter said. “We need to understand the cumulative effects of these projects and determine what mitigation and operational conditions would be needed to minimize those impacts,” he said.

Click through and read the whole piece. He’ll bring you up to date on Greeley’s new pipeline.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Energy policy — geothermal: Pagosa Springs geothermal lease

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Here’s Part One and Part Two of Bill Hudson’s series When is a lease not a lease? about the inner workings of the Pagosa Springs town council and its geothermal lease.

Hudson also reports that the town council is not going to pursue a new wastewater plant.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Runoff news: Fryingpan-Arkansas water still flowing at high levels

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“It’s the craziest water year I’ve ever seen,” said Roy Vaughan, Fryingpan-Arkansas Project manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. “We may be looking at a third peak for runoff.”[…]

The Fry-Ark Project, the largest single diversion, has brought over more than 72,400 acre-feet – almost 140 percent of average – and Boustead Tunnel into Twin Lakes is still flowing. “Nobody foresaw this,” Vaughan said. “The Twin Lakes Co. is in a similar situation. We’re filling the upper reservoirs and moving water to Lake Pueblo.”[…]

The Arkansas River is running near or above 3,000 cubic feet per second from Buena Vista to Avondale, which is not unusual for this time of year over the long-term, but far more than most recent years. Much of that is because of the imported water, since precipitation in many parts of the Arkansas Valley has been only about 80 percent of average this year…

“Everyone thought as hard as it ran early, that it would be over by now,” Vaughan said. “Up until a couple of days ago, we were seeing rain every day and in the early part of June it was adding snow above the 12,000-foot line.”

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which allocates water from the Fry-Ark Project, is still not planning to adjust allocations until its next meeting, Aug. 27, said Bob Hamilton, engineering director.

In May, the district’s board took a cautious approach to allocations, because it did not want to find itself facing a shortfall like the one that developed last year, when a much heavier snowpack faded late in the season.

This year, the snowpack seemed to be fading in April, and the early runoff had water managers spooked. Vaughan projected 60,000 acre-feet on May 1, adjusted the figure to 54,000 two weeks later. The Southeastern district allocated water based on 80 percent of that rate, after 5,000 acre-feet was repaid to the Pueblo Board of Water Works for its help in 2008. As a result, only 29,500 acre-feet were allocated…

The outlook for more moisture later this summer is favorable because of fluctuating water temperatures of the Pacific Ocean that are creating alternating periods of La Nina and El Nino, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s long-term forecast. Colorado’s southern Rocky Mountains are in a bull’s-eye for better than average precipitation. Temperatures should be in the average range, according to the forecast.

Platoro Reservoir: Dam safety upgrades

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., secured a request for $646,000 in the energy and water appropriations bill. Salazar sits on the Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee, which approved the funding. The bill must still gain House and Senate approval. Platoro Reservoir is used for flood control and for re-regulating the flows of the Conejos River for irrigation in the San Luis Valley Project of the Bureau of Reclamation. Flows are crucial to the Rio Grande Compact with Texas and New Mexico The reservoir is used by the Conejos Water Conservancy District as well as a large number of hunters, fishermen and recreational enthusiasts. Funds will go toward further inspection of deteriorating inflow pipes, and to install a system to carry increased bypass flows. “Platoro Reservoir, built in 1951, can no longer handle our wintertime by-pass flows creating a critical dam safety issue,” Salazar said. “This funding will help preserve the life and use of the reservoir for agriculture, flood-control and recreational use.”

Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District: Jane Rhodes to fill eighth seat on board

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Pueblo County commissioners Tuesday named Rhodes, a third-generation farmer on Fountain Creek, as their selection for a joint city-county appointment to the board. Pueblo City Council earlier passed a resolution naming Rhodes as one of two finalists from a list of 11 who applied for the post. Council must still formalize the action. Rhodes has lived her entire life on Fountain Creek and has expressed her concern about increased flows from development to the north many times over the past five years. She was a member of the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force, representing the interests of landowners in the Fountain Creek watershed. She is also a District 70 school board member.

Rhodes will join seven other board members: Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner, El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey, Colorado Springs Vice-Mayor Larry Small, Fountain Mayor Pro-tem Gabriel Ortega, Palmer Lake Councilman Max Stafford, Pueblo Councilman Larry Atencio and Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District Director Leroy Mauch. A ninth board member will be appointed by the full board from among the members of a Citizens Advisory Group, appointed last week by the board.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System: Pueblo West hopes to come to consensus with partners

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Despite filing a lawsuit over being required to join the Pueblo flow program if the city connects to the proposed Southern Delivery System Pueblo West officials have hope that they can reach an accord with their partners in the pipeline. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“In terms of the specific point of your letter referencing the Wild Horse Creek Pump Back as a solution, we believe it could be a productive discussion topic at the proposed meeting,” Pueblo West Utilities Director Steve Harrison wrote in the letter. Harrison said there had been difficulty in arranging a meeting because of the schedules of attorneys on both sides, but said a meeting date should be available in the near future. Colorado Springs Utilities Chief of Water Services Bruce McCormick wrote a letter to Harrison on June 19 asserting that as project manager under the 2007 agreement among SDS partners – Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West – it had authority to negotiate all permits related to the project.

Pueblo West disagrees on the issue of the Pueblo flow management program for the Arkansas River, claiming it never agreed to take part in it and that the program would cost it more than 500 acre-feet per year when its water rights are fully developed. Pueblo West has sued Pueblo County over the condition that it participate in the flow program and filed a letter with the Army Corps of Engineers seeking to block a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for SDS until the matter is resolved. McCormick said the Pueblo West actions “create a distinct problem.”

Pueblo West says its actions are justified because its partners in SDS failed to intervene on its behalf. “Pueblo West’s letter to the Corps of Engineers was not a violation of our contract with Colorado Springs Utilities,” Harrison wrote. “Our lawsuit against Pueblo County is consistent not only with the substance of Pueblo West’s contract with CSU, but is also consistent with the statements made by CSU representatives to the Pueblo County commissioners at their March 18 hearing, statements which clearly abrogated any role of CSU as project manager in regard to condition 9 (the Pueblo flow management program).”

Colorado Springs offered to support Pueblo West’s proposal to pump sewered return flows which are now flowing down Wild Horse Creek into a gulch behind the Pueblo West golf course that empties into Pueblo Reservoir. McCormick reserved the right to comment on water quality issues that are of concern to communities that draw water directly from Lake Pueblo, and to intervene on Pueblo West’s behalf to help settle issues of concern to the Pueblo Board of Water Works. The pumpback plan would reduce the amount of water Pueblo West would lose in exchanges whether or not it participates in the flow management program. If it participates in the program, set up under 2004 intergovernmental agreements, losses would be 180 acre-feet annually Ñ about 20 times greater than it would lose under current decreed conditions.

Ray Petros, Pueblo County’s water counsel, pointed out the study Pueblo West is using to determines its losses does not take into account flows that can be recaptured downstream in the recovery of yield program. It also assumes Pueblo West will fully develop 8,400 acre-feet from water rights it now owns, he said. Pueblo West asserts it is not obligated to participate in the flow management program because the vast majority of its water is imported into the basin, so it would never have reached the river anyway…

Pueblo West agreed to invest $1 million in SDS, which would give it the capacity to add 18 million gallons per day to its current maximum pumping rate of 12 million gallons per day. If Pueblo West were not a part of SDS, the metro district already has a permit for a river intake that would cost $4 million-$6 million, Harrison said. Harrison said Pueblo West might have to spend $15 million to replace the 500 acre-feet it could lose from the flow program, using Twin Lakes share prices and taking legal expenses into account.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Nestle Waters Chaffee County Project: Commissioners will discuss 1041 permit today

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

County commissioners will discuss, and possibly vote on, the permit today.

A Nestle official says foes’ complaints are with bottled water as a whole. “Most of it has nothing to do with the 1041 or the science. It’s their opinions about the end use of the water,” said Bruce Lauerman, Nestle’s natural-resources manager, a hydrogeologist who travels the West, looking for natural springs the company can tap so it can call its product spring water.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, plastic accounts for 16.9 percent of trash in America, up from 2.6 percent in 1970. Yet just 6.8 percent of the plastic made each year is recycled, the lowest of any commodity. About 80 percent of plastic water bottles end up in the trash…

The concern is that new bottles aren’t made from recycled materials, and even those dropped in recycling bins don’t get made into bottles because it is difficult to remake the plastic and not enough are recycled to meet manufacturers’ needs. Most water bottles dropped into recycling bins in Colorado Springs are bundled and sent to China, where they are made into jackets, park benches, plastic lumber and other products. Waste Management sends 375 tons a month of plastic beverage bottles dropped in Colorado recycling bins to China, said company spokeswoman Melissa Kolwaite. And that is actually much better than Colorado used to do in recycling. In a state where 12.5 percent of waste is recycled – less than half the national average of 28.5 percent – things are improving. Last year, single-stream recycling, in which all materials can be dropped in the same bin, came to Colorado Springs. According to a legislative report on recycling, 89.7 percent of the state’s residents have access to curbside recycling, while 7.76 percent have drop-off recycling.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.