Cherokee Metropolitan District regulatory filing snafu leads to shutdown of four wells

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette (Jon Lentz):

Cherokee’s attorneys submitted the paperwork on three of the wells in 2005, but not within the required two-year period after each became operational. The attorneys also were two days late on the application for the fourth well in 2006. “The judge made his ruling that late is late, and vacated those water rights,” said Kip Peterson, Cherokee’s general manager. The district will file for reconsideration Thursday with the Pueblo Water Court, which ruled against Cherokee on July 28. “If that fails, there would be a Supreme Court request,” Peterson said.

The order comes nearly three years after a state Supreme Court decision reduced the district’s water well production by 40 percent, leading to strict watering rules for residents. The latest ruling cuts the district’s 2006 production by more than half, Peterson said…

The motion to shut down Cherokee’s wells was filed in January by the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Ground Water Management District. The group oversees the Upper Black Squirrel Creek groundwater basin, where Cherokee gets a portion of its water. In certain cases, the group can limit how much water Cherokee withdraws. In 2006, Cherokee lost a state Supreme Court battle with Upper Black Squirrel Creek after committing to supply customers within its boundaries, but outside the basin…

“These are water rights that should’ve been filed five years ago, in some cases seven years ago,” Peterson said. “This is definitely a decision that the district did not anticipate.”

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Sterling: Costs for new treatment plant to push rates through the roof

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From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Forrest Hershberger):

[Tom Ullmann of The Engineering Company] said without the new water system, the city will need a rate increase of about 9 percent over the next couple of years. However, with the cost of a new water treatment plant, that number skyrockets to as much as 190 percent. Since 2008, the city has had a growth in water customers of about .15 percent and water plant investments of about $35,000, equal to about 28 new taps. The inflation rate shown by Ullmann to the city council indicates labor costs for the city’s water treatment plant have gone down slightly, about 1.33 percent. Meanwhile, power costs have gone up just above 7 percent. The real increase can be attributed to the EPA and state health department, Ullmann said — testing, at an increase of 15 percent. The new plant is expected to cost more than $27 million. Additionally, chemicals for city water treatment are estimated to cost about $500,000, and labor $250,000. Ullmann said the average monthly water bill for Sterling residents is $21 per 10,000 gallons used. By 2012, that cost needs to average $61 per 10,000 gallons consumed. He said in comparison, Fort Morgan residents are paying about $56 per 10,000 gallons.

More water treatment coverage here.

Pagosa Springs: Water supply and wastewater treatment plant bids due in August

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From the Pagosa Daily Post (Sheila Berger):

Bidding for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – funded Highlands Wastewater Treatment Facility Elimination project opens [August 6]. [Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District] held an informational meeting for contractors on July 29 in order to prepare them for the contractual requirements of this project by providing an overview of key federal and state mandates and conditions of the federal stimulus funding…

Tentatively scheduled for the third week in August, PAWSD will solicit bids for the Hatcher Water Treatment Plant upgrade and expansion project. This project, funded by a very low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, will provide upgraded technology for the Hatcher facility in order to meet more stringent state and federal drinking water requirements as well as to provide for future capacity expansion of the plant.

More wastewater coverage here. More water treatment coverage here.

Kremmling awards $662,000 water line replacement contract

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Drew Munro):

Brannan Construction won the bid to replace leaking steel water lines in part of the town after it submitted a bid that was $117,000 lower than the next lowest bid, which was offered by Grant Miller Inc. of Breckenridge. Trustee Erik Woog said he and other council members were concerned about how the large Front Range company might handle sensitive portions of the project. But the cost differential cannot be ignored, he said…

This phase of the project entails replacing more than 10,000 feet of 6-inch and 4-inch water lines, primarily in Kremmling Country, Soltis said. It is being funded in large part by a $1 million Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant. (The low bid will allow the town to replace more line than originally anticipated.) The project is scheduled to begin immediately and be completed by mid-November.

Bids for an upcoming project to replace another 10,000 feet of the 6- and 4-inch lines will be solicited in a few weeks, he said. That phase will be funded exclusively by a $2 million federal stimulus grant. It is scheduled to begin Sept. 30 and be completed next spring…

Before the project began last year, Moses estimated the old pipes were leaking about 60 percent of the town’s treated water into the ground. That’s not only expensive, officials said, it was causing the town water treatment plant to work overtime, accelerating the time frame in which the town would face the costly prospect of replacing the plant.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Chatfield Watershed Authority

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Here’s a release from the Chatfield Watershed Authority via YourHub.com which describes the role of the the organization:

It was June of 1965. My dad had just finished letting his hunting dogs run the open fields near the Platte River. I still vividly remember the ominous skies, but being ten, I never could have imagined what happened next. Almost instantly, water came from nowhere, roaring down fast and furiously licking its riverbanks and leaving their containment like a tiger on hunt. We were trapped. As the raging current began to rise, my dad shouted for us to get into the Jeep. No sooner were we inside the Jeep, when the water quickly cut off our access to safety. Water was everywhere and it was quickly rising up above the tires to the bottom of our Jeep’s windows. Before I could stop him, my dog, Charlie, jumped out of the window. He must have felt it was his only chance. I bit my lip, fought back the tears, and watched as he worked his way downstream using the current. It seemed like hours had passed, but it could have only been a few minutes. I remember thinking that my dad would get us out of the situation. Because at ten, that’s what dads do. And I just couldn’t realize the full enormity of something so huge. Earlier, I heard there had been some talk about constructing a dam on the South Platte River. But, like dragging a cat by its tail over carpet, it just didn’t seem necessary. Instead, the South Platte became a waste dump of abandoned cars, refrigerators, and construction debris. I remember all the junk, because as kid, I would inner tube with my friends down the Platte River. And where the Chatfield Reservoir is now used to be a Mexican restaurant/bar and a gas station. It was known as “Malfunction Junction” by many of those that frequented the location. Yes, they were less litigious times and definitely before anyone really understood the magnitude and probability of a flash flood.

This was before the days of Doppler radar and other advance weather warning technology. It was also before appropriate flood control measures were taken. The great South Platte River Flood of ’65 wasn’t the first flood to hit the Littleton area or devastate the lives and property of Coloradans. But, it was the biggest and most costly of its time. Twenty-eight people died in the flood of 1965 and property damages came to over $540 million. It was time to build a dam. The year was 1972 when the massive cleanup and construction of the Chatfield Dam began; it was completed in 1975, paving the way for municipalities to turn the valley into the beautiful recreational site thousands of people enjoy each year.

Today, the Chatfield Reservoir serves as one of the State’s most actively used recreational areas and is home to abundant wildlife and natural ecosystems. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the task of making sure the water basin is kept clean falls under the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). But, in 1984, under the authority of the CDPHE, a little known entity called the Chatfield Watershed Authority (CWA) was established with a mission to promote the protection of water quality in the Chatfield Watershed for recreation, fisheries, drinking water supplies, and other beneficial uses.The hands-on CWA group members are your local wastewater and stormwater management entities such as the Town of Castle Rock, Roxborough Water & Sanitation District, and many others. (See complete listing at http://www.ChatfieldWatershedAuthority.org.)

The Authority members continuously review wastewater treatment planning at the various points at which water originates and then mixes with natural environmental flow downstream and into our water infrastructure, i.e. Chatfield Reservoir. Individual Authority members are also responsible for stormwater management and permitting. According to Amy Conklin, Manager of the CWA, “Our number one priority is to protect the water quality in Chatfield’s Watershed and we do that by monitoring activities that could potentially degrade the water or its environmental quality.”

Additionally, there is an environmental factor, nutrients in the water, which the CWA also monitors. If water in the basin contains too many nutrients, it can deter people from using the reservoir for its intended purposes, such as swimming, fishing and boating. For example, if the water contains too much chlorophyll, the Reservoir can actually bloom with algae. But, here’s the good news. The CWA constantly monitors what goes in to Chatfield Reservoir. You don’t have to nod off, like I did, in learning about phosphorus and other nutrients. That’s why I’m not going into details of how the whole chemistry thing works. There’s no need because it’s being taken care of by the members of the CWA. Whew, believe me, that’s a relief.
And here’s some other good news. While the population in the Chatfield basin is projected to more than double by 2035, [Source: DRCOG Chatfield Technical Appendix] the CWA is well into its long-range water quality management plan to meet anticipated growth, water supply, public safety, wildlife, and environmental challenges.

“Today, helping to protect water quality in the Chatfield Watershed for recreation, fisheries, drinking water supplies, and other beneficial uses has become a shared responsibility. So we are asking everyone to actively participate in helping to maintain a clean and reliable water source,” says Amy.

Yes, I survived the South Platte River flood of ’65. A Colorado State patrolman came out of nowhere and tossed my dad a towrope. Hooking the towrope to the front of the Jeep, my dad was able to steer the vehicle out of harm’s way. As for Charlie, he must have floated downstream working his way to higher ground. Because when the Jeep was pulled from the roaring waters, he was ready for a ride home. So was I.

I am truly pleased about what Chatfield Reservoir has become. She has evolved from solely being a silent protector to an obvious symbol of life. Children now enjoy her banks, boats sail her winds, birds nest in her trees, fish swim her waters, and we can rely on her beauty daily. While the initial purpose of the Dam may soon be forgotten, what the Reservoir has become is protected by the Chatfield Watershed Authority. Learn more by visiting http://www.ChatfieldWatershedAuthority.org

Additional notes:Chatfield Reservoir was built in 1975 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the confluence of the South Platte River and Plum Creek to control flooding. The reservoir currently has the ability to store more than 350,000 acre-feet of water. One acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons of water. The main purpose of the reservoir is for flood control, but it also provides storage space for conservation (or “multipurpose”) water, which is used for municipal, industrial, agricultural, and recreational uses, as well as maintaining fisheries and wildlife habitat.

More South Platte Basin coverage here.

Glenwood Springs: Frac’ing seminar Saturday August 8

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

Area residents interested in learning more about the gas-drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or “frac’ing,” might want to attend a seminar on the subject being held on Aug. 8 at the Ramada Inns and Suites of Glenwood Springs. The seminar, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is being sponsored by the American Institute of Professional Geologists and the Mountains & Plains Education and Research Center, and is billed as being an impartial look at the issue. The cost of the seminar is $60 for AIPG members, and $75 for nonmembers, and includes a boxed lunch and a beverage. Attendees may either register online at http://www.aipg.org or at the door on the day of the event.

More oil and gas coverage here.