Surface Creek Watershed: Source Water Protection Plan

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Folks are organizing to protect the Surface Creek Watershed. Here’s a report from the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA), a non-profit group located in Pueblo West, has signed on with drinking water interests in the Surface Creek Valley area to advance the government-funded Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) project.
Thirty people responded to 60 written invitations that went out for the meeting held at the Cedaredge Community Center. Colleen Williams, a facilitator with the non-profit group, said $5,000 grants are available to groups participating in the program. “We might be able to get $10,000 easy with this (size) group,” she told those at the meeting.

The SWPP project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by the Environmental Protection Agency, and by the Colorado Health Department, Williams said. The grants require a 50 percent local match which can be provided by local attendance at meetings credited toward the match at the rate of $30 per hour. “Specialists” who attend meetings qualify for a $100-per-hour grant match credit…

The Source Water Protection Plan is aimed at “keeping contaminants off the land and out of water treatment plants,” Williams said. Williams said that other communities, including the Plateau Valley area and Rangely, are participating in the SWPP project. Groundwork for the SWPP effort was laid in 1996 with passage of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The initiative was advanced in 2004 with the compiling of local “Source Water Assessments” (SWA)…

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website explains the statewide Source Water program as follows: Colorado Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) is a program designed to provide information about your drinking water, as well as provide you and your community a way to get involved in protecting the quality of your drinking water. The program encourages community-based protection and preventive management strategies to ensure that all public drinking water resources are kept safe from future contamination.”

More Surface Creek watershed coverage here.

Montrose: Water master plan complete

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Kati O’Hare):

The plan will be presented to Montrose City Council during its work session Thursday evening. It includes modeling of the inter-water distribution in the city, determines where the city needs to make capital improvements to make the system work more effectively, and provides a schedule for those improvements based on projected growth. [city engineer Jason Ullmann] said the city would start on some of the “no-cost” improvements as soon as the plan is presented to council.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Max Schmidt — ‘Two things are for sure with water: gravity and greed’

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Le Roy Standish):

The 15 acres at 2962 A 1/2 Road cost $1.25 million, according to a news release from the district. When the reservoir is built, it will serve the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District. The new reservoir and other Orchard Mesa Irrigation District improvements will reduce the amount of water needed to operate the system, according to the release. “The saved water could be used in late summer to improve endangered fish habitat … and to help Western Colorado irrigators in dry years,” according to the release. The reservoir should help preserve Colorado River water levels through a 15-mile stretch of the river during dry parts of the year. The 15-mile stretch is between the point where Orchard Mesa Irrigation takes its water to where the Gunnison River flows into the Colorado. When water demand is high, water levels for fish can become critical in this stretch…

The reservoir, which [Brent Uilenberg, technical service division manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation] calls “more of a pond,” will hold 100 acre-feet of water…

The cost of construction is $15.25 million, Uilenberg said. The price tag includes pumping plants, pipelines, an automation system and placing structures in the canals…

Max Schmidt, manager of the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, said the project will help maintain river flows on the Western Slope even as a thirsty Front Range pulls thousands of acre-feet of water each year up and over the Continental Divide. “We are right in the middle of a great rubber band. Denver pulls one way, California pulls the other, and this is one of the very few chances to put more water into the 15-mile reach,” Schmidt said. “Two things are for sure with water: gravity and greed.”

More Gunnison Basin coverage here.

University of Nebraska – Lincoln: New spreadsheet for evaluating irrigation efficiency

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From The Fence Post:

The new tool will help irrigators calculate the amount of money they could save by improving the efficiency of their system, said Tom Dorn, Lancaster County Extension educator, who developed the tool. Irrigators need to determine whether the pumping plant uses more energy than the Nebraska pumping plant performance criteria suggest it should, Dorn said. “To do that, all irrigators need to do is enter data from irrigation records into the online spreadsheet,” Dorn said. The spreadsheet is available at

More infrastructure coverage here.

Peru Basin: Dye test starting September 9

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From the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn):

State and federal experts will use three types of dye to trace water flowing through the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, above Keystone near the headwaters of the Snake River…The Sept. 9 study will try to pinpoint underground pollution sources and identify ground water flow pathways that may be sources of water in contact with polluted…The study is expected to last approximately two years or until the dye has been observed in subsequent samplings from the monitoring locations.

More Peru Creek watershed coverage here and here.