Flaming Gorge pipeline: They’re talking about the project in Vernal

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From the Vernal Express (Mary Bernard):

[David Allison, environmental consultant for Uintah County] opened his talk before the Vernal Chamber luncheon saying the comment period relates to the environmental impact statement being prepared for Million’s permit request. “He has submitted project plans to the Corps in order to receive a permit for the 400-mile long pipeline,” says Allison…

“It’s a no-brainer,” Allison says enumerating the county’s concerns. “In the first place, based on water availability the amount of water requested may be unsustainable.” Water withdrawal would include 85,000 acre feet out of the Green River and 165,000 acre feet to be piped from Flaming Gorge Reservoir. “Secondly, they’re not dealing with issues relating to water rights in this environmental impact statement,” the consultant said. “Federal process under the National Environmental Protection Act do not allow severalty. They need to address all the impacts.”

The strongest argument Allison says is that water flows will be changed on the Green River which will likely further endanger protected species of fish. “We’ve spent a lot of money on threatened and endangered species,” Allison says, noting the considerable cost that has gone into protected lands like the Ouray Refuge in Brown’s Park.

He sums up effects by saying “these withdrawals will degrade water quality, increase temperature, raise sediment levels and alter flows.” “Local business will be affected as the draw-down will impact the recreational use of Flaming Gorge and the Green below the dam,” Allison says. “But these impacts are not part of the current Corps document in preparation.”

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

American Recovery and Investment Act funds Colorado projects

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From The Denver Post (David Olinger):

Elsewhere, many of the state’s highest-priority drinking-water and wastewater projects went unfunded, including some classified as acute health hazards. That’s because to be eligible, projects had to be ready to start construction by next month. And the available dollars, $62 million, amounted to less than 2 percent of the money sought by Colorado cities, towns and districts to improve their sewer and water systems. “It’s a drop in the bucket,” said Steve Gunderson, water-quality director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. One of the biggest challenges, he said, was finding projects that also could meet a federal requirement to earmark 20 percent of the money for “green infrastructure.”

Among wastewater-treatment projects, a $1.5 million loan for solar panels in Pueblo got the green tag. Among drinking-water projects, the state gave a green light to systems with leaking pipes.

Fort Morgan: City council looking at plan B for stalled Northern Integrated Supply Project

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From The Fort Morgan Times (John Brennan):

The city’s participation in the project would cost it more than $30 million over about 12 years after the project gains a permit, and city and water board officials have said it would ensure a reliable supply of water sufficient for future growth of the city. The project has been stalled, however, in the permitting process by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, due at least in part to objections from opponents of the project who claim NISP will damage the Poudre River. The city water advisory board has always strongly recommended that the city continue to be a part of NISP. No further information on the discussion regarding alternate options was provided in the council agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

Climate Change: Senators Udall and McCain get an up close look at changes in Rocky Mountain National Park

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From the Longmont Times-Call (Pamela Dickman):

“It’s unbelievable,” McCain said an hour later during a hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks held in Estes Park. “Every home in America should see. Every citizen should see what is happening here.”[…]

The issue is complex, according to four experts who testified about some of the problems associated with increasing temperatures and shrinking precipitation:

• Increased bark beetle kill, which adds to fire danger.

• Increased risk of wildfires, which threaten homes and can cause erosion and potential water contamination.

• Shorter, milder winters and longer, drier summers, which change the landscape and wildlife habitats.

• Less snow and earlier melts, which affect water supply for many states, as Colorado contains the headwaters for four major rivers, and which affect the state’s billion-dollar winter and summer tourist industry.

More climate change coverage here.

Orchard City: Town Board approves $5 capital construction fee

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The new $5-per-month charge will be charged for every water tap that is serviced by Orchard City’s treated water system. That includes individual taps that are served through master meters on pipeline companies and private water lines. The ordinance states the water capital construction fee will be “assessed on all users.” The town board heard the ordinance on first reading at its July meeting. It was adopted unchanged. Mayor Don Suppes explained, “We have to come up with a way to pay for water projects, and with our current water rates it is not going to happen. This is what the board came up with as the best way to get that done.”

More infrastructure coverage here.

Del Norte: Meter and waterline upgrade

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From The Del Norte Prospector (Alex Rice):

Del Norte is one of several San Luis Valley towns, along with Blanca and Crestone, installing new equipment in preparation for a state-mandated switch from a flat water usage rate for residents to a system that charges those in town depending on how much water they actually use. As per a town of Del Norte resolution, this billing structure likely won’t begin until September 2010.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Boulder: 3% Water and sewer increase?

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From The Denver Post:

According to a memo being presented to the City Council during a Tuesday night study session, the Boulder Water Resources Advisory Board is recommending an increase in water, wastewater and stormwater rates. The proposal calls for 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 each month — or about $17 more annually. Water bills for businesses, such as restaurants, would increase about $162 per year, while heavy industrial users would see bills go up by $5,100.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Routt County: Board of Commissioners approves $400,000 for Elkhead Ranch conservation easement

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From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Brandon Gee):

The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved spending $400,000 of taxpayer funds to help place 645 acres of the 3,950-acre Elkhead Ranch under a conservation easement to be held by the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. The easement is the third phase of an effort to protect the entire ranch. The easement lands include grazing pastures, hay fields, portions of Elkhead Creek, meadows, trees and wetlands. According to a news release, Elkhead Ranch “provides important habitat for numerous wildlife species including elk, deer, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, fox, sandhill cranes, Columbian sharp-tail grouse and greater sage grouse.”[…]

[Elkhead Ranch owner Heather Stirling] is contributing about two-thirds of the easement’s value, which means she is not being reimbursed for about 66 percent of the property value lost by placing it in a conservation easement. “This is not only beautiful land and prime agricultural land,” County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush told Stirling, “but your contribution is over the top, in my opinion.” Some have criticized the program for spending taxpayer money on remote lands that will remain under private ownership. Roundtree rejected those criticisms and also noted that this project and others are highly visible from public roads and public lands. Visibility is one criteria the PDR board uses to evaluate a project, but not the only one, Roundtree said.

More conservation easements coverage here and here.

Grandview Canal & Irrigation Company scores $5.3 million to reduce salinity

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From the Montrose Daily Press:

Grandview Canal & Irrigation Company will use the grant to pipe nearly five miles of the Grandview Canal and five miles of associated irrigation laterals located near Crawford. Converting the canal and laterals from open, earthen ditches to pressurized pipe will enable the company to upgrade about 900 acres of farmland that is currently flood-irrigated to sprinkler irrigation, according to the BuRec’s news release. The project will prevent approximately 6,400 tons of salt from entering the Colorado River system each year. It is slated for completion in 2011. The grant was awarded through BuRec’s Basinwide Salinity Control Program, which aims to reduce salinity levels in the Colorado and prevent economic damages in lower parts of the basin. BuRec says irrigation in western Colorado valleys is a prime source of human-caused salinity increases to the Gunnison and Colorado rivers.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Arkansas Valley: Secretary of Interior Salazar to hold water summit in Pueblo August 28

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The meeting is scheduled at 10 a.m. Friday at the Bob Jackson Conference Room at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. Also planning to attend are U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., and other members of Congress; Deanna Archuleta, deputy assistant secretary for water and science; Mike Ryan, regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; and local and regional leaders, according to a news release from Interior.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here and here.