Great Outdoors Colorado and the San Luis Valley

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

During the 15-year history of one of the recipients of lottery ticket sales, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the Valley has received $28 million for a variety of projects ranging from Creede Recreation Park on one end of the Valley to Costilla County open space on the other…

Saguache County’s share of GOCO funds during that time tops the Valley list at more than $8 million followed by more than $5 million each in Alamosa and Rio Grande Counties, $1.3 million in Costilla County, more than $400,000 in Conejos County and nearly $230,000 in Mineral County.

Projects have included: Hooper Park; Zapata Falls; South Side Community Park in Alamosa; King Ranch Preservation Project; Twin Lakes Trail; Manassa Fairgrounds; Antonito Public Park; Sanford Park; Romeo Sports Complex; Will Stegar Project in Costilla County; Sierra Grande Playground Project; El Parque-A Village Park in San Luis; Fort Garland Community Park; Costilla Open Space; Creede Recreation Park; Wright Ranch Preservation Project; Creede Skate Park; Wolf Creek Pass Project; River Valley Ranch; McNeil Ranch; Del Norte Area Trails Master Plan; Natural Wonders of the San Luis Valley Play Park in Monte Vista; South Fork Rio Grande Park; Native Aquatic Species Facility; Saguache County Closed Basin Biological Inventory; Crestone Peak Trail; Irby Ranch; and Center Park.

Some projects such as the Hooper Town Park received less than $10,000 while others like the Costilla County Open Space project topped half a million.

More conservation coverage here.

Steamboat Springs: Five-party water rights exchange may net city 2,000 acre-feet of storage in Steamboat Lake

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From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Brandon Gee):

Steamboat attorney and re gional water guru Tom Sharp has proposed a five-party water rights exchange that could prove to be a lower-cost alternative to solving some of the region’s water priorities.

If realized, one end result is that the city of Steamboat Springs would receive as much as 2,000 acre-feet of storage rights in Steamboat Lake to augment its 8 cubic feet per second flow in the Elk River. That would save the city the cost and difficulty of building its own new reservoir on the Elk. Augmentation of the city’s Elk River water right is necessary for the city to bring the water into the municipal water system, which is necessary for development in western Steamboat and the city’s goal of reducing its near sole reliance on the Fish Creek watershed.

Sharp said the city’s 1999 Elk River water right could be curtailed during low flows because the Colorado Water Conservation Board holds a 1977 in-stream flow right on the river. If flows in the Elk drop below 65 cfs, junior rights such as the city’s would be shut off — unless water could be released from a reservoir to augment flows…

City officials confirmed they are interested in the concept but said they will have to weigh it against all available alternatives. Public Works Director Philo Shelton said the cost estimate for a new 1,500-acre-foot reservoir is $12.5 million. Shelton said the city has not identified a location for such a reservoir, but he said it would be upstream of the city’s diversion point on the Elk River at Routt County Road 44…

The exchange involves the city, Xcel Energy, Tri-State Gen eration and Transmission, Col orado River Water Con serva tion District and Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District. Water rights would be shuffled between Elkhead Reservoir near Craig, Steamboat Lake in North Routt County and Stagecoach Reservoir in South Routt County…

Jim Pokrandt, spokesman for Colorado River Water Con servation District, said the district is interested in the proposal but needs to consider several issues and take the idea to its board of directors. The river district owns the rights in Elkhead Reservoir that would be leased to Tri-State.

Also through the complex exchange, Xcel Energy’s contract storage rights in Steamboat Lake would move to Stagecoach Reservoir, and the Upper Yam pa Water Conservancy Dis trict would receive the rights in Steamboat Lake that could be contracted to the city. Sharp said he thinks the exchange provides advantages to all five parties, but he also acknowledges there are several challenges to it including money and contract terms.

More Yampa River Basin coverage here and here.

Chris Haga: ‘At 100 feet, we broke through a clay layer and found a pristine supply of water. It was an awesome day’

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From The Pueblog Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The [Round Mountain Water District] reported it has completed a plan to build a well to increase the reliability of its water supply at the monthly meeting of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. The roundtable supported the district’s $120,000 grant from the Water Supply Reserve Account in 2007, part of a $1 million project to improve the water system that serves Silver Cliff and Westcliffe…

“The Gallery Well project has been completed,” Chris Haga, a member of both the district board and the roundtable. “The purpose of the project was to bring a new source of water into the district.” Haga reviewed the project’s history in a slide presentation with the district’s manager, Tracey Garcia, and fellow board member Jerry Lacy. “Prior to the project, we were struggling to bring water into our system at peak times,” Garcia told the roundtable.

The new well includes a wireless control system that allows it to be operated remotely from the district’s office. “It’s phenomenal what it can do,” Haga said…

The Gallery Well was the final step in providing a reliable water supply. “At 100 feet, we broke through a clay layer and found a pristine supply of water. It was an awesome day,” Haga told the roundtable.

More Custer County coverage here.

Arkansas Valley: State engineer plans to file proposed irrigation rules in Division 2 Water Court by the end of the month

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

At the end of the month, the state plans to file new rules in Division 2 Water Court that would cover improvements like sprinklers and drip irrigation systems fed by surface sources, rather than wells. Canal improvements, such as concrete lining or pipelines, are also covered, but on-farm improvements have been exempted during a process set up last year by State Engineer Dick Wolfe.

A committee made up of affected farmers, lawyers and governmental agencies involved in chipping the rough edges off rules first proposed in 2007 will have its final meeting in Pueblo on Sept. 21. “I think we’ve done a great job,” Wolfe said. “The whole idea was to get a consensus on a draft set of rules. The committee has worked through a lot of issues and we’ve made substantial changes along the way.”

More Arkansas Valley consumptive rule rules coverage here and here.

H.R.3123, Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel Remediation Act of 2009

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From the Colorado Independent (Katie Redding):

A U.S. House bill ordering the Bureau of Reclamation to pump and clean the contaminated water in the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel was voted down Tuesday, largely by Democrats, including two from Colorado, in what observers suggest looked like clear political gamesmanship.

H.R. 3123 coverage here.

Guy Laliberte to deliver message about water from space station

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From The Associated Press via The Denver Post:

Guy Laliberte, the Canadian billionaire founder of the Cirque du Soleil, said Thursday he aims to read a statement to the world about the planet’s water problems after taking a Russian rocket to the space station…

He said his reading from space will be part of several shows in 14 cities around the world beginning Oct. 9. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, pop singer Peter Gabriel and Irish rockers U2 have said they are participating in the event.

Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability meeting September 16

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From the Ark Valley Voice:

Hello Friends, CCFS has scheduled a meeting to discuss the status of the Nestle Waters project. The date is Wednesday September 16, 7pm at the Salida Community Center (3rd & G St.) At this meeting we will present some background, talk about the current standing of the permit application, discuss the permit resolution, and explore some of the options that the public has to resist the project. If you can be present we encourage and invite your participation.

More Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project coverage here and here.