Republican River Basin: Kansas and Nebraska respond to arbitrators ruling in Republican River spat

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From the Omaha World Herald (David Hendee):

Kansas Attorney General Steve Six said Nebraska’s overuse of Republican River water is unacceptable.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said he remains hopeful that despite differences with “our neighbors, this matter can be settled outside of court.”

Both states accepted some parts of the decision and rejected others.

Nebraska agreed that it owed Kansas a token $10,000 in damages for farmer’s overuse of Republican River water in 2005 and 2006. Kansas once claimed $72 million in damages.

Kansas rejected the arbitrator’s recommendations limiting damages, on a proposed remedy and that sanctions must await additional violations by Nebraska.

Kansas accepted the arbitrator’s statement that Nebraska’s attempts to comply are inadequate and that Nebraska should further reduce the amount of groundwater farmers pump to irrigate crops.

Nebraska rejected the arbitrator’s recommendation that Nebraska and the Upper, Middle and Lower Republican Natural Resources Districts should make deeper cutbacks in the amount of groundwater pumped.

And Nebraska rejected the idea that a federal river master should take control of water use in the Republican valley.

More Coyote Gulch Republican River Basin coverage here.

Precipitation news: Wheat Ridge storm cleanup, July in Yuma and Denver

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Here’s a look at the aftermath of the big storm in Wheat Ridge, from Jeff Francis writing for the Wheat Ridge News. From the article:

[Councilwoman Karen Adams] pushed through the rain and hail and into her garage, just a minute before the power went out. Upstairs, her husband took shelter in a closet after the windows blew out. She comforted the family dog in the basement. Even though they were in the same house, the noise and chaos of the storm, along with the darkness, meant each didn’t even know if the other was home.

From The Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

Moisture has added up to 4.65 inches in Yuma for July. Last Thursday’s hail storm left 0.85 of an inch, followed by more rainfall Monday evening and again at midnight and into the early morning hours of Tuesday. Then came thunderstorms late Tuesday, stretching into the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, dumping another one-half inch. Total precipitation in Yuma for 2009 now is up 14.15 inches. Of that amount, 11.12 inches have fallen since May 1. The current wet period really seemed to kick in on May 21, the last day of school in Yuma when it remained rainy and cloudy all day. Yuma has received 10.41 inches of rain in the 10 weeks since May 21. If one prorated that pace of precipitation over a full year (52 weeks), Yuma would end up with 54.13 inches…

The new storm drainage pond north of the city of Yuma’s ball field complex, at the east end of town, has been an effective addition during this wet summer. However, there has been so much rain the last two months — at least for a place that basically is a desert — that the storm runoff is about to be maxed out.

Here’s a look at Denver’s rainfall in July from (Corey Christiansen):

This July is now just 0.18 inches away from being one of the top ten wettest July ever in Denver. As of Thursday, the Denver International Airport had recorded 3.53 inches of rain for the month. With all the extra rainfall, homeowners are seeing green in more places than just their lawns.

Boulder: City Council lukewarm to water, sewer and stormwater rate increases

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Heath Urie):

At a study session Tuesday night, several council members indicated they wouldn’t support a proposal to increase the rates for water, wastewater and stormwater management beginning next year.

The Boulder Water Resources Advisory Board is recommending an increase of 3 percent on water bills, 2 percent for wastewater and 1 percent for stormwater. Together, the increases would mean most residential customers would pay $1.40 more a month — or about $17 more annually. Under the recommendations, water bills for businesses, such as restaurants, would increase about $162 a year, while heavy industrial uses would go up by $5,100.

While the City Council won’t make any formal decisions about the rates until September, Councilwoman Susan Osborne said she wouldn’t support increasing the rates this year because of the downtrodden state of the economy.

More Coyote Gulch infrastructure coverage here.

Morgan County: Source water quality protection plan to be final in October

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From The Fort Morgan Times (John La Porte):

Having the plan will help the district have an “in” to be informed of any new proposed land uses in areas affecting its well fields and an opportunity for input regarding such changes, said MCQWD manager Mark Kokes. Those areas include the Hay Gulch area west of Wiggins hill and the San Arroyo and Beaver Creek drainages. The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has reviewed those areas, Kokes noted. The area of most immediate concern, Kokes said, is Hay Gulch, which is the most economically feasible area for underground storage.

Front Range interests, including the city of Parker, have been buying up water in Morgan County and other northeastern Colorado counties for possible underground storage and eventual transport to their facilities via pipelines, Kokes and Brush landowner Steve Treadway said. Underground storage has a couple of advantages — storage for later use with minimal loss to evaporation and built-in pre-treatment of the water, with some impurities taken out as the water percolates through the ground, Kokes said.

Water district officials and others are concerned, however, about possible degradation of water in their well fields as other water is brought in. Water taken from the South Platte River is high in nitrates and total dissolved solids, and the impurities grow worse as one moves downstream, Kokes said. “The further downstream you get, the less desirable the water is,” he stated…

Oil and gas activity is less of a concern than degradation due to inferior water being stored near well fields, Kokes said, pointing out that oil and gas is heavily regulated. Steve Enfante, county emergency management coordinator, noted that regulations on hazardous materials spills include requirements to report and clean up any spill of more than 25 gallons of any petroleum-based product. For crude oil, reporting and cleanup requirements start at five gallons, said Ken Strauch of the Northeast Chapter of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Surprisingly, Kokes said, there is not much agricultural activity or many septic tanks near the district’s well fields.

More Coyote Gulch Morgan County coverage here.

Durango: City Council approves modified stormwater regulations

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From The Durango Herald (Jason Gonzales):

The amendments adhere to state standards, which address a few key points, said Kinsey Holton, storm-water quality program coordinator for the city:

•A permit now can be issued to a developer or general contractor along with the property owner.

•A lot without landscaping that is sold to a homeowner can be removed from storm-water management coverage.

•The city now has the power to enforce a fee schedule. The fee schedule will allow inspectors to cite permit holders without stopping work entirely, Holton said.

“It gives us an alternate tool instead of having to issue a stop-work order for a site that isn’t in compliance,” he said. “When stop-work orders are issued it sends everyone home, from the electrician to the plumbers who don’t have anything to do with the regulations.”

More Coyote Gulch stormwater coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Larimer County League of Women Voters opposed to Powertech’s proposed in-situ uranium project in Weld County

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Here’s an opinion piece from Carol Rush outlining the League’s opposition to Powertech’s plans to mine uranium from the aquifers under Weld County. From the article:

There are potential public health and economic impacts of the Centennial Project. Both the Larimer County Medical Society and the Colorado Medical Society wrote resolutions opposing in situ mining because of the potential health impact of radioactively contaminated water on our agriculture, livestock and civilian population. The League of Women Voters of Larimer County has concluded that in situ leach mining should not be done in this area because of the health and environmental risks it poses to the Northern Colorado Front Range. The league agrees with more than 11,000 local residents who signed petitions opposing the Centennial Project as well as the 80 municipalities, public entities and businesses who have signed resolutions opposing it.

More Coyote Gulch energy policy nuclear coverage here and here.