Republican River Basin: Arbitrator issues ruling

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From the Denver Business Journal:

Arbitrator Karl Dreher has been looking at issues in the fight between Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska for eight months. He issued his non-binding decision Tuesday, although the states have 30 days to review the decision and decide if they want to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Colorado officials haven’t decided if they’ll accept the decision, but state Engineer Dick Wolfe is “generally pleased” with the ruling, according to the attorney general’s office…

Dreher did side with one of Nebraska’s issues, which will result in “a very small increase” in the amount of water Colorado needs to put in the river as it flows out of the state, the announcement said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

S. 1321: Water Accountability Tax Efficiency Reinvestment Act of 2009

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From the Highlands Ranch Herald (Robyn Lydick):

The Udall-Coffman Water Accountability Tax Efficiency Reinvestment Act of 2009, the acronym is “water,” would create a 30 percent tax credit on the purchase of products that have earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label. The tax credit has a $1,500 cap. “That’s still an incentive for us as consumers,” [U.S. Senator Mark Udall] said.

The WATER Act has been endorsed by industry groups, water authorities, and local leaders in Colorado — including the mayors of Denver, Centennial, and Greenwood Village; the Douglas and Arapahoe County Commissioners; the Town of Castle Rock; the South Metro Water Supply Authority; the Douglas County Water Authority; and the Southeast Business Partnership.

Runoff 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…

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.

Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Commissioners delay decision on special use permit

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

Commissioners debated everything from water rights to economic impact and traffic and wildlife concerns before deciding they need staff, especially a water attorney, to set out a list of conditions to consider before they can vote on the proposal.

Nestle’s proposes to augment the water it uses by purchasing water from the city of Aurora. And it is that proposal, that drew the biggest amount of concert from at least one of the three com- missioners. “I really struggle on this whole deal,” said Tim Glenn, commissioner. “The general manager (Terry Scanga) of an agency (Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District) charged with protecting the water of not only Chaffee but also Fremont and Custer counties raised a significant concern. “He is going to bat for every water right and every ag producer in the valley and I felt his testimony was compelling along those lines,” Glenn said. Scanga raised concern about the potential harm to the valley should Aurora evoke senior water rights during a drought year and cause problems with ag producers with more junior water rights. Glenn said 200 acre feet is “perhaps not a huge amount of water but when you get the compounded effect in a drought year when there is storage depletion” then the net effect could be as much as a 2,000 acre feet deficit…

Glenn suggested one possible solution could be persuading Nestle to use local entities to augment their water because they would be more sensitive to local ag producers. “I suspect Aurora really doesn’t care about Chaffee County,” Glenn said. Another solution, Glenn said, is to get Aurora to agree not to evoke its ability to use exchange water and cause more damage in a cycle of drought years, but “I seriously doubt that would happen.”

The commission will meet again Aug. 5 to continue deliberating the issue. At that meeting they will have a list of conditions they can impose which will help them with a decision.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Fountain Creek: Master plan requires millions

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The master plan for Fountain Creek includes projects $40 million in projects, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan, which has been in the works for two years, was shared last week with the Fountain Creek Flood Control and Greenway District at its inaugural meeting. The projects have been developed by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Colorado Springs Utilities in an effort that began in 2007 as a way to resolve some of the differences in negotiations over a broad range of water issues…

Soon, money may be available from many sources to bring plans into reality, and the new district logically will serve as the conduit to channel money to projects. There are others involved – a newly formed Fountain Creek Foundation, cities in the watershed, Colorado Open Lands – but the district is the first choice of the partners in the corridor plan. And the corridor plan should be the first choice of the district as it looks toward its first major funding source, Jay Winner, Lower Ark general manager, said at last week’s meeting. “With all these grants coming in, you need someone to manage the funds,” Winner said. That could be provided if Colorado Springs and the Lower Ark extend their agreement another year this fall. The two have agreed to make $100,000 of the $300,000 they annually put into Fountain Creek available to hire an employee and set up an office. The district will receive $100,000 from Colorado Springs this year and in each of the following two years to study a dam, series of dams or other means of flood control on Fountain Creek, under conditions agreed to with Pueblo County commissioners for the Southern Delivery System. The bulk of the $50 million committed to Fountain Creek, however, would not be paid until SDS is under construction. The funds are set aside in five annual payments for control of floods, erosion and sedimentation…

Money already is trickling into Fountain Creek: a $75,000 planning grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, a $70,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board for a fish passage design at Clear Springs Ranch and $20,000 for trail development from Colorado State Parks…

The city of Pueblo is pursuing $1 million in funding for an East Side redevelopment project that includes dredging Fountain Creek and fortifying earthen levees. Colorado Springs is looking for another $1.5 million in funds for the immediate future for other projects at Clear Springs Ranch, land owned by Colorado Springs south of Fountain. Long-range projects include up to $8 million for the East Side Project, $20 million for an environmental stewardship center envisioned near Pinon, $2 million to build the fish passage at Clear Springs Ranch, up to $2.5 million for trails and parks, up to $400,000 to help landowners protect wetlands, up to $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $1 million to $5 million for a GOCo legacy grant…

At last week’s meeting, Baker also reviewed the commitments Colorado Springs has made under SDS to improve Fountain Creek. In addition to the $50 million, they include: $75 million for wastewater system improvements by 2025; Sediment control and dredging at Clear Springs Ranch; Continued evaluation and management of Fountain Creek projects; Continued stormwater management; Improvement of wetlands and control of invasive species, like tamarisk.

The district is working on an intergovernmental agreement that would incorporate the corridor plan into the district’s planning. The board meets again at 1 p.m. July 31 at Fountain City Hall.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.