Bayfield: New sewage plant nears the finish line

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From the Pine River Times (Carole McWilliams):

Bayfield’s new $7.6 million sewage treatment plant is almost finished, but groundwater infiltration into sewer lines could take up a lot of its 600,000 gallon per day capacity. The town made a major effort to eliminate sewer line infiltration in 2006 and 2007 after it took over operation of the sewer system from the separate and now dissolved Bayfield Sanitation District. But Town Manager Justin Clifton reported to the town board on July 21 that the system has been running around 430,000 gpd, versus the 250,000 gpd that it should be running based on winter volume. “This problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible, as it is using up a large portion of the new plant’s capacity,” he said in a written memo to trustees. “You can almost see it the day the (irrigation) ditches come on,” he said of the increased flow volume.

“We are getting very close to start-up of the new sewer plant,” he reported. “The equipment providers will be on site during the first couple weeks of August to make sure everything is working properly. We still have some work to do getting a testing lab set up and a few other loose ends, but for the most part we are in the wrap-up stage of construction.” He wants a public ribbon cutting as “an end to a very controversial time in Bayfield’s history”

More Coyote Gulch infrastructure coverage here.

Orchard City water system

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Here’s a look at the Orchard City water system, from Hank Lohmeyer writing for the Delta County Independent. From the article:

The long-standing policy of the town to keep water rates as low as possible has hurt Orchard City’s ability to get other government grants for system upgrades. Granting agencies want to see the town carry more of a burden in paying for the water system costs by charging higher user fees.

Meanwhile, the Orchard City Town Board approved a 5 percent increase in rates last week. Here’s a report from Hank Lohmeyer writing for the Delta County Independent. From the article:

The rate increase, which applies only to water used and not to the base rate, is in addition to the capital construction fee proposal that would be tacked on to every Orchard City Water bill (see related story). The capital construction fee will be considered at the trustees’ Aug. 12 meeting…

The five-percent use rate increase will apply to every rate class in the town system. For example, the use rate for a single-family home inside-of-town will rise from 94¢ per 1,000 gallons for the first 30,000 gallons to 99¢ (an actual 5.3 percent increase). Before last year’s 10 percent hike, that household was paying 85 cents per 1,000 gallons for the first 30,000. That water customer using 10,000 gallons per month will see their new bill for water use increase by 50 cents per month. That same water user located outside of town will pay $1.16 per 1,000 gallons for the first 10,000 gallons under the new rate. The rate increase was discussed by trustees at a water workshop where they looked at various options, including another 10 percent hike and also raising the base rate. But, the board finally decided on the 5 percent increase primarily because trustees also plan to impose the capital construction surcharge on water billings at their Aug. 12 meeting. That surcharge is likely to be as high as $5 per month for every Orchard City water tap.

The Orchard City Town Board is also considering adding a monthly capital surcharge to existing customers in an effort to raise needed funding. Here’s a report from Hank Lohmeyer writing for the Delta County Independent. From the article:

on July 8, the trustees at their regular monthly meeting heard first reading of an ordinance that would impose a capital surcharge on town all town water bills. The ordinance will receive second reading and likely be voted on at the trustees’ Aug. 12 regular meeting. The amount of the surcharge has not been determined. At their July water workshop session board members discussed amounts of $2.50 or $5 per month. The $5 per month surcharge would raise an estimated $107,000 per year.

More Coyote Gulch infrastructure coverage here.

Mesa County: Tamarisk leaf beetle release

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From the Longmont Times Call:

Beetles that eat trees are the good guys in the fight to save water and native plants in western Colorado. With the help of volunteers, Mesa County has released 2,500 beetles on an island in the Colorado River in Grand Junction. Their job is to eat the leaves of the tamarisk, a nonnative tree that can consume 200 gallons of water a day.

More coverage from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Le Roy Standish):

“This is the first ever” release of beetles by the county’s division of pest management, Sirota said early Wednesday. She and several volunteers from the Tamarisk Coalition took the beetles, 2,500 of them supplied by the Palisade Insectary, and released them on South Watson Island, at the end of Seventh Street in the Colorado River. “You just kind of shake them out on the tamarisk,” she said.

More Coyote Gulch invasive species coverage here.

Brigham Young University scores $215,000 to assess water quality in the Colorado River Basin

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Here’s a release from Reclamation via

he U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation, Upper Colorado Region, has announced it intends to award a non-competitive cooperative agreement to Brigham Young University to address water quality problems in the Colorado River Basin. The estimated total program funding available was cited as $215,000, although no specific amount for this award was indicated by the agency.

A funding opportunity notice from the Bureau of Reclamation states: “There are four general work areas for this research. These are: characterization of phosphorus distributions in the sediment; quantifying sediment loading processes to the reservoir; developing tools to collect, store, and analyze the resulting data; and develop water quality models that include these processes to provide tools to support analysis of management decisions to minimize adverse impacts from these processes.”

The funding opportunity number is 09SS402923 (CFDA 15.517).

Full Announcement:

More Coyote Gulch Colorado River Basin coverage here.

S.B. 09-080: Rainwater catchments legislation limited to properties with an ‘exempt well’

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Here’s a look at S.B. 09-080 which allows collection of precipitation for properties that have an exempt well, from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Some of the early news stories on the change were unclear about the change in the law, creating an expectation that this “new” source of water would be widely available. But the new rule is very limited in scope. It doesn’t enable everyone to start catching and using rain water willy-nilly. In fact, the only people eligible are those who have a well permit from the state. “We’re starting to get some calls on this,” said local water commissioner Scott Hummer. “You can only use rain water for the same domestic indoor uses authorized by a well permit.”

In other words, people who get their water from a utility are not allowed to capture and use rainwater. The fundamental premise of state water law is still that every drop of rain needs to flow back into a river or into the groundwater, where it becomes part of a downstream water right owned by someone else who previously claimed it.

The tiny new exception is only for people who use a well for domestic water. And it only allows them to use the water for the same purposes specified by the well permit. In most cases, that means only indoor domestic use. It’s not legal to capture the rainwater and use it on outside plants, and it’s not legal to fill a hot tub with it, Hummer explained.

More Coyote Gulch 2009 Colorado Legislation coverage here.

Pitkin County: Water rights for instream flow transfer to CWCB delayed by two valley districts

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From the Aspen Daily News (Brent Gardner-Smith):

Pitkin County’s effort to place 4.3 cubic-feet-per-second of water into a trust managed by a state agency, for the benefit of the Roaring Fork River, has been challenged and delayed by the Basalt Water Conservancy District and the Starwood Metropolitan District. The two districts have asked for a formal hearing on the county’s proposal before the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “We just had concerns,” said Art Bowles, a board member of the Basalt Water Conservancy District. “We are not at all opposed to them donating water, but we want to just make sure it doesn’t affect us down river.”[…]

“This is the first time that the board has received a request to hold a hearing on a proposed water acquisition,” Linda Bassi, the head of the CWCB’s Stream and Lake Protection section, wrote in a March 9 memo to the CWCB board of trustees. On the other hand, the county’s innovative proposal to place water into a trust agreement administered by CWCB is also the first one the CWCB has received. The proposal was made possible by legislation passed in 2008 which strengthened the state agency’s ability to hold water rights for environmental purposes…

If the trust agreement is approved by the CWCB board, it would set up an arrangement where Pitkin County would be able to easily put under the trust an additional 34 cfs of water rights it owns — primarily from its open space purchases — to the benefit of the river. However, in February, attorneys for the Basalt Water Conservancy District and the Starwood Metropolitan District, sent a letter requesting a formal hearing to review the potential water acquisition. “The Basalt Water Conservancy District supports the minimum stream flow program and it supports instream flows that have designated historical use and are appropriate for that purpose,” said Christopher Geiger, an attorney Balcomb & Green, P.C. in Glenwood Springs…

But [Christopher Geiger, an attorney Balcomb & Green, P.C. in Glenwood Springs], who also represents the Starwood metro district, was critical of the CWCB process to date. “They haven’t provided anyone with the explanation with how the water right is going to be measured or administered in the river for instream flow purposes,” Geiger said. “They haven’t shown that it is going to have any appreciable benefit to the natural environment. At the same time, based on how the CWCB chooses to operate the water right, it might prevent the district from exercising its water rights.”[…]

One of the results of the Basalt and Starwood request for a hearing is an additional physical analysis of the stretch of the Roaring Fork River that the county’s water right would flow through. The analysis is to provide better information about the actual minimum amount of water needed in late summer to “protect the environment to a reasonable degree.” That analysis is best accomplished by looking at the river in late August. Pitkin County has agreed to an extension of the normal CWCB timelines so the data can be gathered and analyzed…

“Administrative agencies are entitled to a significant amount of deference in their decision making process,” said Amy Beatie, the executive director of the Colorado Water Trust, which has worked in support of Pitkin County’s decision. “They are asking for water court-type preparedness in order for a preliminary decision to be made.” Beatie said many of the concerns raised by Basalt and Starwood are typically covered in water court, which is a required next step after a CWCB review and approval.

More Coyote Gulch instream flow coverage here and here.

Centennial Water and Sanitation rebate program

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From the Highlands Ranch Herald (Robyn Lydick):

A new pilot rebate program for replacing older, 3.5 gallon per flush toilets with current standards of a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush. The rebate is $75 per toilet with up to three per home covered. Homeowners and landlords with toilets installed prior to 1994 can use either low flow or high efficiency toilets as replacements. A full list (pdf) of qualifying models is on Centennial Water’s Web site…

Centennial Water will provide rebates for 250 toilets in the first year and analyze any changes to the program. Jon Klassen, water conservation specialist with Centennial Water, said that the program could save as much as 1.9 million gallons of water annually through the community. Participants in the rebate will be monitored for three years to assess the cost effectiveness of the program.

More Coyote Gulch conservation coverage here.

Fort Lyon Canal scores 3,000 acre-feet of water from the Pueblo Board of Waters Works

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Pueblo water board approved the sale Friday, extending a schedule of one-time leases of water it approved in February. A lease is a one-time sale of water that does not change water rights…

The Fort Lyon Canal had asked for up to 10,000 acre-feet, but Ward said he is not comfortable with drawing down Pueblo’s supply that much at this time. Fort Lyon is the largest ditch system on the Arkansas River, but is often water-short. It irrigates up to 90,000 acres of farms in Otero, Bent and Prowers counties along its 113-mile length.

More Coyote Gulch Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here.

Pueblo Board of Water Works approves Aurora’s purchase of Columbine Ditch

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Aurora will pay the Pueblo water board $30.48 million for the ditch, located on Fremont Pass 13 miles north of Leadville. The water board will use the money from the sale as part of a $60 million package to buy 5,200 Bessemer Ditch shares, about one-fourth of the total. “This action is critical,” said Tom Autobee, a member of the water board. “It allows us to buy a water right in our backyard in exchange for a transmountain right that’s not reliable.” Without the sale of the ditch, Pueblo water rates would have to increase 25 percent in two years beyond the rate increases currently being considered, said Executive Director Alan Hamel.

More Coyote Gulch Columbine Ditch coverage here and here.

Fountain Creek Watershed: New technical committee is asking for more direction

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The committee was created this month by the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District to sort out the technical merits of proposals in flood plain controlled by the district. The district also makes recommendations throughout the watershed. “We need direction from the district board about what type of regulatory guidelines we have,” said Kim Headley, Pueblo County planning director. “I don’t think they want us to be looking at every land-use application throughout the watershed.”[…]

Many members of the committee have been looking at Fountain Creek issues for years as part of an Army Corps of Engineers study, but they have not previously evaluated specific projects and how they could impact the creek. After working through its first application, the 62-unit Confluence Vista development at Fountain, members of the committee were doubtful about their task. It was the third public hearing for the proposal in a month, and the final outcome was a recommendation endorsing the concept, with provisions to look at details as they emerge. The committee said bank stabilization, invasive species management, coordination with future trail plans and minimizing visual impact should be considered, but did not say how.

More Coyote Gulch Fountain Creek Watershed coverage here and here.