Colorado Springs Utilities drops challenge to Pueblo County’s 1041 permit authority

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

Colorado Springs Utilities sued in November 2005, challenging the right of Pueblo County to require a 1041 land-use permit, named for the legislation that gives counties authority over multi-jurisdictional projects. At the time, there was opposition to the pipeline in Pueblo, and a permit seemed unlikely. The $1.4 billion pipeline is expected to deliver 10 million gallons a day from Pueblo Reservoir starting in 2016 and will eventually bring 78 million gallons a day to a new reservoir southeast of Colorado Springs.

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The action ends nearly four years of litigation, after Colorado Springs filed the lawsuit in 2005, centering on Southern Delivery System, a $1 billion-plus pipeline project that will affect Pueblo Dam, land in Pueblo West, Walker Ranches and numerous county roads. Pueblo County spent nearly $440,000 on the lawsuit and an appeal, which will not be recoverable, said Pueblo County Attorney Dan Kogovsek. Kogovsek explained the only way to have recovered the payments for lawyers and cost of depositions would be if the lawsuit were determined to be frivolous. “We discussed it, but just because we won the lawsuit does not mean it was frivolous,” Kogovsek explained…

Colorado Springs agreed not to contest Pueblo County’s authority to regulate SDS in the future, said Ray Petros, special counsel on land-use issues for the county…

In 2007, Chief District Judge Dennis Maes ruled in favor of Pueblo County’s position that its land-use regulations written under 1974’s HB1041 were applicable to SDS. Colorado Springs argued that they were not, because the project was not substantially different than other, existing utility corridors in the county. Colorado Springs appealed the decision, but the appellate court has not issued its opinion. The city and county have asked the case be remanded to district court. Colorado Springs applied for a 1041 permit in 2008 anyway, and received the permit in April. Last week, Colorado Springs City Council gave its blessing to the Pueblo County route over an alternative through Fremont County.

More Coyote Gulch Southern Delivery System coverage here.

CWCB: Division 6 Instream Flow appropriations in 2010

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Rob Viehl):

The Stream and Lake Protection Section of the Colorado Water Conservation Board is giving a presentation at the Routt County Commissioner meeting to discuss recommendations received for potential Division 6 Instream Flow appropriations in 2010. These streams include: Big Beaver Creek, Grizzly Creek, Indian Creek, Moeller Creek, Morrison Creek, North Fork North Platte River, Piceance Creek, South Fork Big Creek, South Fork Slater Creek, West Prong South Fork Slater Creek, Wheeler Creek, and Yellow Creek. The Stream and Lake Protection staff will provide a brief presentation on the ISF program as a background for discussion. For additional information on these segments, please visit the CWCB’s website at: http://cwcb.state.co.us/StreamAndLake/NewAppropriations/ISFAppropriationNotices/2010ProposedAppropriations/2010Appropriations.htm

The meeting will take place at 11:00 a.m. on August 4th, 2009, and will be held in the Routt County Courthouse Commissioners’ hearing room, 522 Lincoln Avenue on the 3rd floor, Steamboat Springs. Questions about new appropriations may be directed to Jeff Baessler at 303-866-3441 ext 3202 orJeffrey.Baessler@state.co.us

More Coyote Gulch CWCB coverage here.

Grizzly Creek: Home for greenback cutthroat?

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Charlies Meyers (The Denver Post) is always looking for a new trout stream. He reports that a stretch of Grizzly Creek is above a stream full of mine runoff. That effectively blocks other species from the stretch. Here’s the report. From the article:

Janowsky is leading a broad- based team of experts poised to begin restoration on more than 2 miles of a creek whose sparkling headwaters rise off the flank of 14,267-foot Torreys Peak, a popular climbers’ destination just south of the Bakerville interchange off I-70. Funded in large part by MillerCoors, the Forest Service and Trout Unlimited and bolstered by a small army of volunteers, the effort will begin the first week of August with a launch of equipment and materials that will make the creek suitable for fish while erasing a rash of environmental scars. A buck-and-rail fence will be installed to prevent motorized incursion, while a mile of unauthorized road will be obliterated to further aid in stream protection. At the same time, a single-track trail will be maintained for hiking and other backcountry uses. Design and construction will be managed by Frontier Environmental Services, the firm that earlier was contracted by West Denver TU to design and build the so-called Golden Mile on Clear Creek. The Clear Creek Watershed Foundation will oversee the project once it has been completed, an effort that includes on-ground remediation and metals reduction…

“It’s the perfect chemical barrier to keep fish from coming in from down below,” said Paul Winkle, area biologist with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

More Coyote Gulch conservation coverage here.

Runoff (storage) news: Pueblo Board of Water Works has a record amount of storage for the year

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The water board has about 50,000 acre-feet of water in storage now, nearly a two-year supply of potable water for the city. The water board supplies about 28,000 acre-feet annually for potable use, or about 9 billion gallons. However, much of the water in storage is needed to fulfill contracts for outside water sales and would be needed for the future growth of the city, Ward said. “If we get below 16,500 acre-feet in storage, then we start thinking about water restrictions,” [Alan Ward, water resources administrator for the Pueblo Board of Water Works] said. “Right now, that would take several years of severe drought. Our target is twice the minimum, or about 33,000 acre-feet. We’re in a position where we can do that, but we wouldn’t have that luxury in the future because we don’t have the storage.”[…]

Right now, Pueblo has about 66,000 acre-feet capacity in storage accounts in four reservoirs. That number could increase by another 9,000 acre-feet by 2025 under a federal contract to use excess capacity at Lake Pueblo. The water board also has filed an application in Division 2 Water Court to triple the size of its Clear Creek Reservoir in northern Chaffee County and has been among those pushing for a study on the enlargement of Lake Pueblo. Pueblo supplies Comanche Power Plant with about 8,000 acre-feet of water annually, and the water board is obligated to provide another 5,000 acre-feet annually for the third unit under a 2005 contract. Pueblo also sells about 5,000 acre-feet of water annually to Aurora, under a lease agreement that can be suspended during a drought, as it was in 2002…

The water supply this year is swollen for several reasons, Ward said. The largest factor is boosting the amount in storage to supply Comanche. The water board also benefitted from a healthy spring runoff – Twin Lakes brought over 120 percent of average. The volume of the runoff surprised everyone and was bolstered by frequent storm systems during June. Finally, farmers who are leasing water from the Pueblo water board are delaying when they take the water, leaving it in storage longer.

Meanwhile the Pueblo City Council has approved the board’s sale of the Columbine Ditch to Aurora. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Columbine Ditch is located 13 miles north of Leadville on Fremont Pass and brings over water from the Eagle River basin. Council’s approval was the last piece needed for the sale, which already has been approved by the Aurora City Council and Climax. Money from the sale will help buy shares on the Bessemer Ditch. Mike Occhiato and Ray Aguilera voted against the sale at Monday’s City Council meeting, saying the water board should look for better alternatives in purchasing Bessemer shares. “Anytime I hear the word Aurora with the sale of water, it makes the back of my hair curl,” Aguilera said. “Anytime you sell water to Aurora from this basin, it doesn’t wash with me.”

The $30.48 million from the sale should be received in the near future, but details are still being worked out. The money from the sale will go toward $60 million the water board needs to complete its purchase of 5,200 shares of the Bessemer Ditch, about 25 percent of the total. The water board may not need the water for at least 20 years, and has agreed to lease water back to farmers for the cost of assessments during that time. It also has agreed to lease excess water from the sale to Pueblo County interests first and not to lease the water outside the Arkansas River basin. Other shareholders in the Bessemer Ditch would not be restricted from selling their shares to users outside the Arkansas Valley under changes in the Bessemer Ditch bylaws approved in May. However, Aurora – the only outside water provider that currently has the ability to move water out of the Arkansas Valley – is restricted from obtaining new water rights in the valley under several intergovernmental agreements. Last week, the water board entered financial contracts to issue $22 million in bonds to help finance the deal. The rest of the money would come from the water development fund and new long-term lease agreements for outside water sales. The water board is expected to discuss the amount of rate hike needed to finance the bonds at its Aug. 25 meeting and is looking for ways to minimize the increase in water rates.

More Coyote Gulch PBOWW coverage here and here.