Here’s a recap of this week’s workshop from Evan Dawson writing for the Crested Butte News. From the article:
While the meetings took place in the Upper Gunnison River Basin, there wasn’t much discussion of Gunnison-specific issues. Instead, the resounding topic across all the meetings was a dwindling water supply and growing demand for water all across Colorado…
[Peter Nichols, one of Governor Bill Ritter’s appointments to the IBCC] said it would take many years of problem-solving to find the 800,000 acre-feet of demand projected for the future of Colorado. Colorado Department of Natural Resources executive director Harris Sherman said, “it’s not a question of whether we grow or not. It’s how we grow.”
More coverage from the Crested Butte News (Evan Dawson):
Both the Mt. Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District and Crested Butte Mountain Resort have plans for reservoirs to be built in Mt. Crested Butte, and both in nearly the same location, on the northwest side of town. But the plans were developed separately, and now the two groups must decide if the two reservoirs are compatible together—or if there could simply be one. The Water and Sanitation District discussed the reservoir during a meeting on Monday, July 13.
As of Wednesday the dam was holding back 25,000 acre-feet of water, slightly more than 20 percent of its capacity. The deepest point in the lake was 95 feet, with 87 vertical feet to go, Artichoker said. The amount of water the Bureau of Reclamation can take from the Animas River for Lake Nighthorse, one component of the Animas-La Plata Project, depends on the flow in the river. From April through September the agency must allow a minimum flow of 225 cubic feet per second below the pumping plant to satisfy the demands of downstream water-right holders and provide water for fish species; in October and November, the minimum flow is 160 cfs; and December through March, 125 cfs.
On Wednesday, the Animas flow peaked at 483 cfs, down from 766 cfs a week ago, 1,110 cfs two weeks ago and 2,110 cfs on July 1. Since frequent rain has done little to boost the flow, the Bureau of Reclamation has limited the amount it pumps to Lake Nighthorse, just over a ridge to the southwest from Bodo Industrial Park. The current 225 cfs downstream demand would allow the agency to pump considerably more than the 110 cfs it was taking on Wednesday.
Pumping into Lake Nighthorse will cease in August for 30 days. The hiatus will allow for saturation of the core of the earth-filled dam and give engineers a chance to check filling criteria devised by dam designers and safety engineers. “We don’t want to shock the dam by putting a big load on it all of a sudden,” Artichoker said. “We want to ease the dam into its function.” Piezometers will measure water level; inclinometers will show if there is settling or bending in the structure; brass embankment measurement points on the top of the dam also measure settlement; and a toe-drain system on the downstream side of the dam will indicate if there is seepage. “Information so far tells us that this dam is really tight, but we want to see if it’s performing as anticipated,” Artichoker said. “There won’t be any pumping, but there will be monitoring done 24/7.”
More Coyote Gulch Animas River watershed coverage here and here.
From the Delta County Independent (Kathy Browning):
The new treatment plant was started four years ago. It’s been a real step up from the days of just chlorinating river water. When water regulations changed for the better, a new treatment plant was required to meet current federal and state water quality standards.
The total project cost $700,000. Gunnison County contributed $50,000, the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant was for $375,000, Oxbow contributed $175,000 and the Town of Somerset received a DOLA loan for $100,000. The customers are paying off the loan through monthly fees of $36.50 for 10,000 gallons a month in the summer and 5,000 gallons in the winter. The cost is 15 cents for each 100 gallons over the limits. $20 from the monthly water bill goes toward paying off the loan and putting some aside for a capital reserve. While Oxbow Mining Waterworks operates the system today, when coal mining is completed and the land reclaimed the water treatment system will be turned over to the Somerset Domestic Waterworks District.
“We’re real fortunate to have Oxbow pay for a water treatment plant,” said Phillip Buskirk, president of the Somerset Domestic Waterworks District. “Oxbow helps Somerset a lot by running this.”
More Coyote Gulch water treatment coverage here and here.
Here’s a release from City of Northglenn Public Communications via YourHub.com:
*** The location for this event has been moved to the Community Room at West View Recreation Center, 10747 W. 108th Ave., in Westminster. Plague has been confirmed at Standley Lake Regional Park, and most of the park is closed. The time and date remain the same. ***
Residents and elected officials are invited to attend an open house at the Standley Lake Visitors Center on Thursday, July 30th between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. Participate in ongoing efforts to protect clean drinking water and gather information while enjoying refreshments and a relaxing afternoon by the lake. The Standley Lake/Clear Creek Source Water Protection Planning group is hosting this meeting to gather input on the Standley Lake Source Water Protection Plan. The plan is focused on identifying phosphorus and nitrogen sources and ways to reduce the levels of these fertilizers in Standley Lake.
Clear Creek and Standley Lake provide drinking water for over half a million people on the Front Range. Recipients of this water include residents of Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Golden, Arvada, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster. Effective protection of these water supplies requires collaboration from local government representatives, planners, state and federal agencies, and community members and organizations. Everyone is encouraged to attend this event. Presentations and posters will provide information on pollution prevention strategies and will provide details of the Source Water Protection Plan. In addition, you will have the opportunity to learn more about how you can help to protect the health of Standley Lake and the quality of your drinking water.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is funding this effort through a $50,000 grant, which is supported by in-kind funding from a wide variety of stakeholders.
Matt Lindon, Utah’s assistant state engineer, said a new policy expected to be signed Sept. 21 will help guarantee year-round flows for the fish — and means any new requests for water in that area won’t be granted at the expense of the endangered species. The change is part of ongoing efforts to protect four endangered species: the humpback chub, the Colorado pikeminnow, the razorback sucker and the bonytail…
Although there isn’t much development along that stretch of the Green River now, Lindon said the new policy will safeguard the fish against future water requests and still allow the river to provide water that’s already spoken for. “We’re just making sure there’s water for fish and water for water rights,” he said.
Jana Mohrman, a hydrologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver, said the new policy will become especially important in years of low water, when the strain on the river is at its greatest. The fish would retain a “senior” water right and others who sought water in a new application after Sept. 21 would be subordinate to that.
More Coyote Gulch endangered species coverage here.
Fremont County District 1 Commissioner Mike Stiehl, who studies water issues in Colorado, was reached Thursday morning at a water workshop in Crested Butte. He said the decision was not a surprise. “I still think there are a bunch of positive things that have come from this [Fremont County permit for SDS],” Stiehl said, “no matter how it turns out. The benefits to our economy were primarily potential employment, but that is still there no matter where they come out. Pueblo is pretty darned close, and people can commute.” Stiehl said Fremont County already has accounted for about $15,000 of the $50,000 deposit from CSU, not including commissioners’ time spent on the project. Unused funds will be returned to the utility. “We have accounted for time, effort, paper, telephones and staff time down to one-tenth of an hour,” Stiehl said.
Both Stiehl and Fredell said CSU had forged strong relationships with Beaver Park Water and the Penrose Water District. Both agencies worked with the utility company to create agreements to partner to obtain or move water through the SDS pipeline, if it was built in Fremont County.
More Coyote Gulch Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.
The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation, Great Plains Region, has announced it intends to award a grant to Colorado State University to study water quality in Colorado’s Lower Arkansas River Valley. The estimated total program funding available was cited as $250,000, although no specific amount for this award was indicated by the agency. A grant notice from the Bureau of Reclamation – Great Plains Region states: “The public benefits to be derived from this Agreement are to improve water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and conservation efforts on the Arkansas River. The Lower Arkansas River Valley currently experiencing the ill effects of shallow ground water tables, excessive salt buildup, and high selenium concentrations, both on the land and in the larger river ecosystem.”
From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Jo Holcomb):
Gray water contains household products, such as shampoos or detergents, and the effect on the environment is virtually not known at this time. That’s why CSU professors Sybil Sharvelle and Larry Roesner started a three-year research project to study the effects of irrigating with gray water. Specifically, the researchers are looking for negative effects on humans or plants. That’s where the city of Grand Junction Environmental Laboratory comes into play. The laboratory, in conjunction with Denis Reich, Western Slope water specialist, performed tests on bacteria for the study. From January through March 2009, gray water from baths, showers, sinks and washing machines was collected by volunteers from Curtis Swift’s master gardener class, at CSU Cooperative Extension Service. These samples were delivered to the city of Grand Junction Environmental Laboratory, which conducted the monitoring on total coliform and E.coli bacteria. Results of these cultures will be used in the researchers’ study.
More Coyote Gulch gray water reclamation coverage here.
There isn’t much new news about Aaron Million’s pipeline but here’s a report about opposition up in the Green River Basin in Wyoming from Kirk Siegler reporting for New West. From the article:
Even around the arid West, a 550 mile water pipeline is not unheard of. But a two to three billion dollar project that’s privately financed would be unprecedented, at least for this region. But Million sees the project as a private-public partnership. He plans to sell the water to growing towns and cities…
That’s something you hear a lot in this part of the state. Downstream, the Green does briefly flow into Colorado. Locals also note that water in this basin is already scarce, and possibly already over-allocated to downstream farmers and cities. A few miles away in Rock Springs, local chamber of commerce director Dave Hanks points to another factor, climate change. Hanks says it’s already rearing its head here. There’s less snow, and less snowpack, the storage mechanism for water in the west. “We will definitely be opposed to this. It’s not no, it’s hell no,” he says…
Million promises to pull the plug on his proposal, if federal regulators conclude it will stress the system, and hurt the environment. But he says the whole reason he’s chosen to go through Wyoming and not the fragile, high mountains of Colorado, is because of the environment. Much of the I-80 corridor is designated for pipelines already. It’s also mostly downhill to the Front Range. Not so in his home state.
A public hearing for the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill between Naturita and Bedrock is slated for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 13, at the Nucla High School gym, 224 W. Fourth St., Nucla. Commissioners are considering whether to approve a special use permit for Energy Fuels to operate the mill in an area zoned for agriculture. Energy Fuels recently secured the approval of the Montrose County Planning Commission, which, after several hearings, voted unanimously to forward the application on to the county commissioners with a recommendation for approval.
Proponents say the mill will bring badly needed jobs to the West End and regenerate the economy. Opponents contend the mill could pose health and environmental hazards that will last well beyond the anticipated economic boost.
More Coyote Gulch nuclear energy policy coverage here and here.
A well is being drilled at the Santa Fe trail head off of Highway 105 in Monument. The well is being constructed after the town declared an emergency because Monument Well No. 7 stopped pumping several weeks ago. The former well was inspected and it was found that the casing had deteriorated. Monument Well No. 7 was critical because it was the only well that could pump directly to the water tank, according to a town statement. The new well is estimated to cost a half million dollars and funds will come from available capital accounts and contingincies, according to the statement.
The Pueblo City-County Board of Health on Wednesday approved the new fees recommended by Heather Maio, director of environmental health for the health department. Inspections of new systems will cost to $545 from the current rate of $325 and repaired systems will bring a fee of $467, substantially higher than the $40 charged now, the lowest in the state. The state caps fees at $1,000, which some counties have reached, Maio said.