Republican River Basin: Arbitration next for dispute between Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

According to Janelle Myotte of Quality Irrigation, who attended the RRCA meeting, Commissioner Dunningan of Nebraska and Commissioner Barfield of Kansas both voted NO on the approval of the pipeline. Commissioner Wolfe of Colorado voted YES. Nebraska stated that they had concerns over the proper accounting procedures, this is the reason why they are not approving the pipeline. Kansas stated that they have not had enough time to review the resolutions presented by Colorado on their issues regarding the pipeline. Colorado is filing for arbitration on this matter.

More Republican River Basin coverage here.

Montrose: Gunnison Tunnel 100th year celebration September 26

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Here’s the lowdown on the upcoming celebration, from Katharhynn Heidelberg writing for the Montrose Daily Press. From the article:

Celebration organizers are encouraging community involvement right now by inviting the public to the Gunnison Tunnel Museum at Main and Townsend. The temporary museum is in renovated space that formerly housed Sagebrush Books. It will feature displays, historic newspaper articles, photographs and artifacts from the tunnel’s opening day, Sept. 23, 1909, when President William Howard Taft came to town. The museum also functions as headquarters for the centennial celebration, which is being organized through the collaborative efforts of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, individuals, staffers, ditch riders, historians and committee members. The chamber and visitors bureau, the Montrose County Historical Museum, plus many local businesses and governmental entities are also pitching in for the centennial event Sept. 26, which is funded through donations.

“It’s all combined together,” said Marc Catlin, director of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association. “It’s a place to see the history, to see what’s going to happen at the event and to see the memorabilia.”

More Gunnison Basin coverage here.

Peru Creek Basin: Efforts at restoration paint a costly and complicated picture

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Many Colorado water watchers were hoping that the restoration work up in the Peru Creek Basin would be a successful demonstration project for good samaritan efforts at mine cleanup. What has been shown is that restoration projects related to past mining activity are complicated and costly. Current estimates for cleaning up the runoff and drainage in the basin is at $20 million. Here’s a report from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

That amount includes construction and annual operations and maintenance for as long as 20 years, but it’s still much higher than expected. When Trout Unlimited entered the picture, there was speculation that a treatment plant could be built for under $1 million. “All the work that’s been done up there paints a much more dire picture of what we need to do,” [Trout Unlimited’s Liz Russell] said. He said the stakeholders working on the cleanup had also hoped that Congress would have passed some Good Samaritan legislation by now. Such a liability limiting law would have eased the cleanup process by enabling a nonprofit to work on remediation without fear of being pinned with responsibility for the cleanup work forever.

One option that’s not on the table anymore is a Superfund designation for the Pennsylvania Mine. EPA officials previously suggested a Superfund listing would loosen up federal funding for a cleanup. But county officials were not keen on the idea of Superfund status for the mine, preferring to explore alternate options instead.

This summer, some of the research at mine is focused on treating other sources of pollution in the area besides the mine itself. State and federal experts are teaming up to find sites for repositories, where some of the mine waste could be stored in a place where running water can’t get to it. That could help reduce metals-loading into Peru Creek.

The Snake River is showing signs of making a comeback. From the sidebar to the article linked above:

Latest survey shows promising signs of recovery
Trout populations in the Snake River appear to be making a comeback after a surge of pollution two years ago all but wiped out most of the fish. Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists recently surveyed a stretch of the river running through Keystone Resort and found evidence that some rainbow trout survived over the winter.

More Peru Creek Basin coverage here.

Pueblo Board of Water Works to consider raising rates

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Pueblo Board of Water Works will meet next week and is expected to act on a staff recommendation to raise water rates 3.2 percent next year in order to provide $1.05 million in debt service for bonds to help pay for shares of the Bessemer Ditch. The 3.2 percent increase would amount to about 96 cents per month for the average customer with a 1-inch residential tap. The board meets at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the board room at 319 W. Fourth St.

More Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here.

Energy policy — geothermal: Mount Princeton Geothermal LLC is proposing a 10 megawatt geothermal electric generation plant near Buena Vista

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“This is a big deal,” Bill Bennett, energy use adviser for Sangre de Cristo Electric said Thursday. “Everyone in the valley should be interested in this project. This is a nonpolluting, renewable power supply that could provide all the electricity this valley needs.”

Bennett’s comments came during the monthly meeting of the Upper Arkansas Valley Conservancy District, which heard a presentation from Fred Henderson, of Mount Princeton Geothermal LLC.

Gov. Bill Ritter’s office has scheduled another meeting on geothermal development from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Upper Ark offices, 339 East U.S. 50.

Last month, the Upper Ark board heard concerns from some residents in the Buena Vista area about the potential impacts of geothermal power generation. Henderson attempted to address those concerns – noise, the potential for earthquakes, land disturbance – during Thursday’s presentation. “I can’t answer all the questions. This is a three- to four-year project,” Henderson said. “We need to drill into the deep aquifer before we can even decide where the plant would be.”

Bennett said Sangre de Cristo’s lines could easily accommodate the output from a 10 megawatt plant, adding that such a plant could easily provide most of the 104 million kilowatt hours Sangre de Cristo customers used last year. “People fight this because they don’t understand it,” Bennett said. “They should be fighting to get this.” Ironically, geothermal power could have little to do with water rights, even though it would likely be administered by the Division of Water Resources. That’s because no water would be consumed in what Henderson described as a “pump and dump” system. Essentially, water would be pumped up from the heat source in the area – which lies somewhere below the 2,000-foot level if engineering predictions are correct – run through a sort of reverse air conditioner and reinjected into the deep underground reservoir. Six extraction and four injection units would be air-cooled, again using no water. What deep-well drilling will attempt to show in the next phase of the project is where the reservoir lies, Henderson said.

More geothermal coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System: No public hearing for Corps permit

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

… the Corps determined there was enough information presented in documents and hearings with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Pueblo County, both of which have approved the pipeline. “With all the information we received and all the prior hearing and public comments, we didn’t think we’d get any new information that would change our decision,” said Van Truan, with the Corps Pueblo office, Friday.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

S. 787: The Clean Water Restoration Act

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Here’s an opinion piece in opposition to S. 787, the Clean Water Restoration Act, from Patrick O’Toole writing in The Denver Post. From the article:

The reality is that an expansion of the Act will restrict the ability of states, municipalities and individuals to adjust to such variables as changing snowpack and runoff due to climate change. The dying forests of the West present another watershed challenge that we must be prepared to address, post haste. We live in a time in which people in the water community need more flexibility, not less.

More S. 787 coverage here.