CWCB: July 21-22 meeting in Crested Butte

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is meeting on July 21-22, 2009, at the Elevation Resort, 500 Gothic Road, Crested Butte, Colorado. The agenda is now available on the CWCB website. CWCB Staff memos and other materials will be available July 17, on our website. The meeting will be “streamed” via the internet through the CWCB’s website. Click on the “Listen to the meeting LIVE!” link, found on our home page…If you need more information about this Board meeting, please contact Lisa Barr at lisa.barr@state.co.us.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Pueblo Board of Water Works is trying to work out the details to finance Bessemer Ditch water rights acquisitions

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Dennis Darrow):

Nick Gradisar [board chair], addressing the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon at the Pueblo Convention Center, said the utility is considering a combination of rate hikes, outside water leases and the sale of Pueblo’s interest in the Columbine Ditch on the Western Slope. The increase in local water rates could amount to 10 percent a year for two years, Gradisar said. The extra revenue would go toward repaying a $22 million bond issue the utility is considering as the last piece needed to finance the deal.

The water board recognizes the hardship an overall 20 percent rate hike could cause on low- and fixed-income homeowners in particular, Gradisar said. To further emphasize his point, he shared census statistics about Pueblo’s high poverty rates and low household income levels. Accordingly, the board welcomes public feedback on how to possibly limit the rate hikes, particularly for low-income people, Gradisar said. One idea he wants studied is a so-called “lifeline” discount rate that some utilities charge their poorest customers, Gradisar said…

Overall, though, the board views the rate hike is justified by the long-term value of the water the utility would acquire, Gradisar said. The deal would keep the Bessemer water at home, lessen the utility’s reliance on Western Slope water and aid the recruitment of businesses, Gradisar said. Also, local water rates are currently among the lowest in the state and other communities such as Colorado Springs are spending at even higher levels to strengthen their water resources for the next half-century, Gradisar said…

The rate hike would be in addition to the utility’s continued reliance on water leases and also the sale of the Columbine Ditch, Gradisar said. The ditch sale – either to the city of Aurora or, if that city declines, to a Minturn resort developer – is expected to generate about half of the needed money for the deal, or about $30 million cash, he said. On water leases, Gradisar said the lease program, including a lease deal with Aurora that is the target of criticism by some in Pueblo, currently makes up a significant portion – about 19 percent – of the utility’s current revenues. If not in place, local water rates would need to rise another 19 percent to keep the books balanced, he said. One Aurora lease that nets $550,000 a year is set to expire by 2011.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Durango: City is moving to get a voice on Animas-La Plata board

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The city of Durango is hoping to get a voice on the governing board for the Animas-La Plata project. Here’s a report from Dale Rodebaugh writing for the Durango Herald. From the article:

In addition to helping craft decisions as the Animas-La Plata Project moves forward, the city also wants a say in other projects involving the river. “It makes sense because Durango has invested significant money to have enough Animas River water to operate a whitewater boat park at Smelter Rapid,” Mayor Leigh Meigs said Friday. “We need to be at the table.” Meigs was speaking about a 2007 negotiated settlement signed by water court judge Gregory Lyman that ended three years of wrangling between Durango and 50 other water users or interested parties and averted a trial.

As for A-LP, in 2005, the city put up slightly more than $1 million to cover the installation of equipment that will transfer A-LP water to a city treatment facility. The city share of construction costs was estimated at $5 million…

City Manager Ron LeBlanc said a seat on the water district board is necessary in order to plan confidently. “We need to protect water interests of 16,000 residents and up to 19,000 visitors daily who ride the train or come to town to bank,” LeBlanc said. “Since water district board members aren’t elected, the city has no guarantees. We’re used to electing representatives.” Durango also is scheduled to annex the property on which the A-LP pumping plant sits. The pumping plant, located on the banks of the Animas a short distance downstream of Smelter Rapid, draws water from the river for Lake Nighthorse, the human-made reservoir over the ridge from Bodo Industrial Park.

As matters now stand, Durango can’t count on having a designated seat on the water district board. The district has three zones – the outlying Shenandoah and Rafter J subdivisions (three seats), the so-called Dryside around Breen and Marvel (seven seats) and incorporated Durango (five seats). The five Durango members are residents of the city but don’t speak for it. Bob Wolff is chairman of the water district board, a resident of Durango and a member of the city’s water commission, said Barry Spear, legal counsel for the water district. Wolff knows city positions well, but doesn’t represent it, Spear said…

Otherwise, statutes governing board membership don’t allow for special-interest appointments, Spear said. When there is a vacancy, the opening is advertised for 30 days and anyone who owns property and has lived for a minimum of one year in a district may apply. Judge Lyman considers applicants on the basis of knowledge of and/or participation in water issues, Spear said. An applicant backed by City Council wouldn’t automatically be accepted or rejected for either reason, he said. A case in point: One of the seven Dryside board members has moved out of the area. Applications to replace him will be accepted until July 26. Interested parties, however, must meet all requirements, which include being a resident of the district.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Log Lane Village: Water and sewer rates to rise

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From the Fort Morgan Times (John La Porte):

Members of the town’s board of trustees said Wednesday that while funds were sufficient to keep up with payments on loans on the systems, more reserves are needed to have money available when repairs are needed. Currently the monthly base rates are $60 for water and $45 for sewer; owners of vacant homes pay a $25 monthly fee for fire protection, said Town Clerk Kim Alva. “We don’t have that rainy day fund,” said town attorney Bo Chapin…

With the age of the town’s pipes, money should be set aside for maintenance and replacement, said board member Martha Manion. Five valves in the water system are not operational, and any leaks in areas controlled by them would mean shutting water off all over town for repairs, said board member Chuck Lakatos. A reserve fund could be established for pipe and valve repair and replacement, salaries for town staff and outside contractors and repairs to streets when pipe work is finished, Hotchkiss said.

23rd Annual Poudre River Festival recap

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Here’s a recap of the festival from Molly Armbrister writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

Families with young children, Colorado State University students and senior citizens turned out to enjoy the water and sunshine, along with picnic cuisine provided by Avogadro’s Number and music by the river. Gary Kimsey, a founder of Friends of the Poudre, the organization that sponsored the festival, said, “It’s a day to celebrate the river.” Friends of the Poudre is Colorado’s oldest river-protection nonprofit group and also sponsors the Poudre River Ball in the fall to raise money and awareness for its cause.

Save the Poudre hosted a booth at the event to provide information about its mission to oppose the proposed Glade Reservoir. The Poudre Paddlers, a canoe and kayak club, also had a booth, while the city of Fort Collins had a booth highlighting the natural areas surrounding the city. Musical acts Slim Pickens, The Horsetooth Mountain Rangers and Chuck Pyle were also at the event to add to the festivity. Still, the main attraction of the day was the river itself, providing cool refreshment through swimming, rafting and tubing.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project and Windy Gap Firming Project update

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From the Loveland Reporter Herald:

McInnis, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, sent a letter Friday in support of the project to the Larimer and Weld county commissioners and to the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District…

Last week, more than 200 people attended a rally in support of the project on a Weld County farm. They said the project would relieve pressure on farmers to sell their water, thereby preserving farmland. McInnis agrees, according to his letter, which says the reservoir project would prevent a “buy and dry” atmosphere that could turn Northern Colorado into a dust bowl.

Meanwhile, here’s an update on the proposed Glade and Chimney Hollow reservoirs from Shari Phiel writing for the Berthoud Recorder. From the article:

Despite the economic downturn, Colorado — and especially the Front Range — will continue to grow, creating greater and greater demand for water. But, of course, there is only so much water available through the C-BT. In response to this demand, the [Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District] has proposed two separate reservoir projects. One being the Windy Gap Firming Project which would create Chimney Hollow Reservoir and the other is the Northern Integrated Supply Project which would create Glade Reservoir through the construction of dams in both valleys.

Jeff Drager, project manager for the proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir, says the project is needed to provide for more storage during wet years when Lake Granby is often full. “If the Colorado-Big Thompson is full or if the Adams tunnel is full of water … there’s no room to put Windy Gap water in and that’s turned out to be a bit of a constraint over the last 20-some years of operation.” Per the NCWCD, Chimney Hollow would only use the same Colorado River water rights granted in the 1960s and 70s, and is expected to deliver a “firm annual yield” of up to 30,000 acre feet of water by 2010 at a cost of $270 million. The dam would be constructed just west of Carter Lake.

The other, and certainly more controversial project, is the NISP project and construction of 170,000 acre-foot Glade Reservoir. The NISP project is expected to bring 40,000 acre feet of water to 15 communities “without drying up the Poudre River or our agricultural communities,” says the NCWCD. The water district also sees the project as the answer to the question of how to meet the demand for more water without drying up either the Poudre River or agricultural lands in the process. The NISP project plan includes construction of Glade Reservoir, which will require relocating nearly seven miles of U.S. Highway 287, a pumping facility, a pipeline to deliver water for exchange with two irrigation companies, and necessary improvements to an existing canal to fill the reservoir. Water woud be diverted from the Poudre River north into Glade Reservoir. Total cost for the entire NISP project is anticipated to reach $426 million.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Energy policy — geothermal: Upper Ark looks at proposed development near Buena Vista

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Mount Princeton Geothermal LLC is investigating whether a $30 million-$40 million, 10-megawatt geothermal electric generating system could be built in the Chalk Creek area…

Envisioned are up to six production wells that would remove heated water from the ground, convert some of the heat energy to electric power and return cooled water to the same aquifer from which it is remove through four reinjection wells, said Fred Henderson, chief scientist for the project. “We still have to spend millions of dollars to see if the project is possible,” Henderson said…

There are roughly 500 homes in the area, and one of those residents, Steve Glover, an engineer, made a presentation to the Upper Ark board Thursday with his concerns about the proposal. “These fissures could go down 10,000-15,000 feet. If they model it wrong, then what are we stuck with?” Glover said. Glover also asked the Upper Ark board whether it could intervene with the Division of Water Resources in determining whether water used in the project – up to 23,000 acre-feet a year would circulate through the plumbing of a geothermal plant – is tributary to the Arkansas River basin…

The state’s role is to issue a well permit, but only after determining that the water does not impact existing water rights. “The application for a well permit would trigger the state engineer’s involvement,” said Julianne Woldridge, the Upper Ark’s water attorney…

It’s not known whether the project is possible because of the nature of the aquifer in the Buena Vista area. Formed by geologic uplift, the underground structure of rock is a spider’s web of intersecting fissures, Henderson said, overlapping his fingers at diagonal angles to illustrate the point.

The idea of a geothermal electric plant is to take water out of the ground at 2,000-3,000 feet, where it is near boiling temperatures, and use it to run a turbine and generator. The cooled water must then be re-injected into the same aquifer. There are questions about whether the water would need to be injected higher, lower or at the same depth in the aquifer, as well as where on the surface the injection wells should be located. Henderson said the first determination of whether deep production well sites are connected to injection well sites can only be determined for sure by deep drilling, which is scheduled to begin later this year as the third phase of the Mount Princeton project.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.