The wetlands are at the base of the Monte Cristo Gulch drainage, near the turnoff to the Quandary Village subdivision south of Breckenridge. The purchase of the [10 acre] parcel complements other recent open space purchases in the area, providing a broader scale conservation of vital wetland habitat and function. Rare plants, inventoried by the Colorado Natural Heritage program, grow in the area. The Monte Cristo Gulch drainage holds the only known population of an endemic plant known as Draba weberi, with 20 to 100 individual plants growing in the valley.
After about 3½ hours of discussion among themselves, Chaffee County Commissioners Wednesday directed Barbara Green, county 1041 attorney, and other experts to draft stipulations to satisfy county issues. The commissioners’ meeting chamber was filled to capacity with people wanting to hear the discussion…
To allow time for drafting stipulations, commissioners set a tentative date for continued deliberation at 9 a.m. Aug. 5 if the commissioners receive the documents in time. Bruce Lauerman, Nestlé natural resources manager, asked for a late-July date to avoid more project delay. Green asked for a mid-August date to allow ample time for her to “wordsmith” the conditions. After the meeting, Lauerman told The Mail he appreciates the commissioners’ “thoughtful” deliberation.
Among sticking points is specific treatment of water rights and drought scenarios that might injure agriculture or deplete storage. Commissioner Tim Glenn said he “struggled” with the efficient use of water and water rights. He said he is worried about a drought scenario such as one included in earlier public testimony by district manager Terry Scanga of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. Glenn said there is potential for water storage depletion during a prolonged drought.
Economic loss is another sticking point. Glenn said the Nestlé Ice Mountain Bottling Plant in Michigan has an annual payroll of $16 million. In Chaffee County, Ruby Mountain spring has enough water to run a bottling plant in Denver, but Nestlé has no plans to build a bottling plant in Chaffee County…
Other stipulations to 1041 standards include:
• A time line for wetland restoration former hatchery area and a guarantee of continued well monitoring at the Big Horn Spring site.
• A limit on Nestlé truck traffic on Trout Creek Pass during holidays and peak hours.
• Defining possible uses by the county for mitigation fund money agreed to by Nestlé.
• Improved Arkansas River fishing access at Ruby Mountain spring.
In a meeting that seemed focused more on how, rather than if, to approve Nestle’s proposal, the three-man board of commissioners spent the bulk of their time today debating proposed conditions of approval for the project that seeks to extract 65 million gallons of spring water from Chaffee County for transport to Denver where it will be bottled and sold under Nestle’s Arrowhead water brand. In the end, the hearing was continued to Aug. 5 to give staff time to draft legally enforceable conditions addressing key concerns commissioners have with the proposal. The draft proposed conditions are scheduled to be presented to the Commissioners on Aug. 3 for consideration at a public hearing two days later. The week of July 27, staff will provide an update on its progress and if it needs more time, the commissioners’ meeting may be pushed back to Aug. 19, the date staff originally proposed but which was objected to by Nestle project manager Bruce Lauerman.
In early May, representatives from several regional water boards in and around Ouray County met with the Board of County Commissioners to begin a water summit with a mission to develop a plan to meet the county’s future water needs. The meeting is expected to continue in September with work sessions that will consider how to preserve and keep water rights in Ouray County and the surrounding region. “We would like to find ways to provide incentives to land owners to tie their water rights to their property,” said Commission Chair Heidi Albritton recently. “I think that’s what we’d all like to work to.”
The commissioners wish to evaluate all of the challenges which now crowd a sizable game board, in an input process that will comprise the members of the BOCC, the Ouray County Planning Commis-sion, the Tri-County Water Conservancy District, the Colorado River District, the Gunnison Basin Roundtable, the Shavano Conser-vation District, the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership and likely San Miguel and Montrose County elected officials and their staffs.
The big spectacle downtown this summer is the realization of the Town’s long time dream of a municipal water system with a dependable supply, pure water, and life-saving fire hydrants. For many decades some town residents have had shallow wells which ran dry in drought years and were easily contaminated by old septic systems. Others have lived in Crestone more than 30 years with no well at all, hauling water to fill cisterns. And what did we do if there was a fire? 3,000 gallon water trucks shuttled from refills at one municipal well and the golf course.
Jackson Gulch Reservoir serves the Mancos Valley, which makes up approximately 2,300 residents, as well as Mesa Verde National Park. The 60-year-old system needs realigned earthen canals, protective waterproof linings, maintenance upgrades, pipes in canal structures, and concrete rehabilitation. Total cost for the project will reach approximately $9 million, Kennedy said. Construction on the canal system has already started, and $1.2 million has been spent on the rehabilitation project during the past three years. The next stop for the funding is the House floor in mid-July. It will then move to the Senate, Kennedy said. At the earliest, the water district could receive the money by May 2010.
Here’s a retrospective looking back on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the UGRWCD, from Evan Dawson writing for The Crested Butte News. From the article:
The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD) was created in June 1959 to work along with the federal government in creating a series of water storage projects throughout Gunnison County.
The Upper Gunnison Storage Project, as it came to be known, was never entirely feasible or cost effective. The idea was finally abandoned altogether in 2008…
Gunnison area resident Richard Bratton served as the District’s attorney from 1959 to 1999. Bratton says he was in the office when the district was first created in 1959. Note, however, the “office” at that time consisted of Bratton and board members like Bill Trampe and Lee Spann, talking on the phone at 7 a.m. Bratton says the true beginning of the district happened in 1956 when the Colorado River Storage Project was authorized by Congress and construction began on a number of large reservoirs across the southwest, such as the Navajo, Flaming Gorge and Blue Mesa reservoirs. Alongside the big reservoirs, the government agreed to provide financing for “participating” water storage projects, Bratton says. The state water court formed the UGRWCD in 1959 to act as a liaison between the local participating project and the federal government. “Gunnison had a project called the Upper Gunnison Project. They had reservoirs and ditches all across the basin,” Bratton says. But in order to get the funding, there had to be an equal cost benefit ratio on each project—the cost of constructing the water storage project had to be equal to the benefits water users would receive. “We searched for years to find a project that met that demand. We did engineering and feasibility studies. We scaled it way down. To make a long story short, we never could find a project,” Bratton says.
Though Stevens can now accommodate considerably more water than it did when the district first declared its moratorium, it won’t be filled to capacity until wetlands mitigation work ends later this year. That work, now underway, is the first of a two-step process involving site preparation; excavation and placement of several inches of wetland soils; the installation of monitoring wells, depth gages and erosion control measures; road maintenance and planting of around 1,300 small shrubs. PAWSD officials believe workers will complete the first step in 120 calendar days. Then, depending on weather, the reservoir will be filled to capacity when district water rights are in priority, later this year. To complete the final step, district managers will again reduce the reservoir level by approximately six vertical feet, sometime around May 2010. That will allow planting of an additional 70,000 wet meadow and emergent plants, before refilling the reservoir late next year, when district rights are again in priority.
he city of Aspen water department is switching from chlorine gas to liquid chlorine bleach, which officials say is a much safer substance to use in disinfecting drinking water. “Basically, our overall threat level has gone down from high ‘orange’ to a low ‘green’ based on the Homeland Security threat levels,” said Charles Bailey, treatment supervisor, in a city announcement of the change and reported in The Aspen Times. “This might seem like a pretty minor thing, but the water department had to go through a lot of training and work to make this happen. The community is safer as a result.”