FromThe Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):
Sitting as the Utilities Board, the City Council on Wednesday approved a plan for financing and building the Southern Delivery System water pipeline, which includes a doubling of water rates between 2010 and 2019. The city-owned utility has already received approval from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the reservoir, and Pueblo County. Though each rate increase will have to be approved by the council annually, the plan calls for annual water rate hikes of 10 percent to 12 percent through 2017, and 4 percent a year for two years after that. The increases would be on top of a 41 percent hike in water rates this year. “The rates will double over the next nine years as we go forward in getting this project done, but it’s something that needs to be done for the future of our community,” said Mayor Lionel Rivera. Average monthly water bills would go from about $40 in 2010 to $70 to $100 in 2019.
The federal license to operate the hydroelectric plant at Ruedi Reservoir has been approved for transfer to the city of Aspen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Prior to the July 14 ruling, the hydro plant license had been held jointly by Pitkin County and the city.
More Coyote Gulch hydroelectric coverage here and here.
On Friday, the city held a public meeting at the Durango Community Recreation Center to discuss the proposed changes. About 45 people attended, including contractors and a representative from the Colorado Department of Public Health’s Water Quality Control Division, which is charged with monitoring water quality and control throughout the state. The Planning Department is expected to vote on the proposed changes at its regular meeting July 27. The proposed changes will then go to the City Council for consideration.
More Colorado Coyote Gulch stormwater coverage here.
Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District stepped in to provide a way to move water through the lake. The Lower Ark will allow its water to flow through the Minnequa Canal into the system that includes the St. Charles reservoirs and Lake Minnequa, owned by Evraz. The water board will make up evaporative losses of water stored in Lake Minnequa. The water board will apply for two junior exchange rights and a junior storage right under the resolution approved Tuesday. Water Resources Administrator Alan Ward explained the need for the application to the board Tuesday.
The first exchange would allow water stored at Lake Pueblo to be exchanged upstream to the Minnequa Canal headgate at Florence, which gives the water board more flexibility in choosing the type of water used to fulfill its obligation. The water board has a carriage agreement with Evraz to move the water through the canal, and loses about one-sixth of the water as it flows the 45-mile length of the ditch.
The second exchange would be from the Lake Minnequa outfall into the Arkansas River, located at the Interstate 25 bridge over the river, to Lake Pueblo. This would let the water board recapture some of the water it provides for Lake Minnequa. “We couldn’t use it all the time, because it would be junior to the RICD (Pueblo’s recreational in-channel diversion) and the flow management program,” Ward said. “When the flow conditions are right, we want to have more flexibility to recapture that water.”
A 1,200 acre-foot storage right, junior to any others on the river, would allow the water board to store floodwaters in Lake Minnequa under rare circumstances.
This was a good year to store water.
In other PBOWW news: The board detailed its plan to finance the Bessemer Ditch buy, according to Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
The board will issue $22 million in bonds by Oct. 22 to round out its package of $60 million to purchase and convert 5,230 shares of the Bessemer Ditch, roughly one-fourth of the total. There are 65 contracts to close, so some of those will be completed before the date of the bond issue, Executive Director Alan Hamel said…
The bonds are one of three legs the water board is using to finance the Bessemer purchases. The board is planning to gain $30.48 million from the sale of the Columbine Ditch to Aurora and Climax Mine, with City Council approval of the contract expected on Oct. 27. The board will fill out financing from its water development fund, which was built up with lease contracts to Aurora and Xcel Energy in recent years, and some smaller long-term leases approved this year.
The creek at the dunes flowed, Platoro Reservoir was full, the San Luis Lakes hosted boating for the first time in years, well levels rose and the San Luis Valley’s rivers delivered water to downstream states in what local water experts are viewing as a pretty good water year so far. Making the 2002 drought year a dry memory, the 2009 water year has been so healthy in terms of recharge, spring run off and precipitation that the Valley’s rivers have had no problem meeting their Rio Grande Compact delivery obligations to New Mexico and Texas. As a result, water administrators have not had to cut irrigators back on water use to the extent they normally do, and even junior priority water rights came into priority this year…
Currently the Rio Grande has an 8-percent delivery obligation to the state line, but the water division is able to handle that with return flows. “We have about 100 cfs [cubic feet per second] down at the state line right now,” Cotten said. Even with the flow only about 70 percent of average right now, the Rio Grande should have no problem meeting its annual obligation to downstream states according to [Division III Division Engineer Craig Cotten]. “It was really a good year,” he told members and guests of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District Board (RGWCD) on Tuesday…
Retired Division Engineer and current RGWCD Manager Steve Vandiver said he saw more gains in the aquifer in May than he had ever seen. Several monitoring wells saw gains of 12 feet in just one month, he said. Mike Blenden, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said habitat conditions on the Monte Vista wildlife refuge were good, almost like “the good old days.” “We raised a lot of birds,” he said…
RGWCD District Engineer Allen Davey noted unanticipated gains for the first part of the year in his longitudinal study of the Valley’s unconfined aquifer storage. “We have seen some drop off now, but it’s going to have to be a good year,” he said. He said he also found increases in confined aquifer monitoring wells.