Larimer County: Invasive mussels update

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Larimer County inspections have led to the decontamination of 54 boats. Three of the boats had mussels attached. Here’s a report from Pamela Dickman writing for the Loveland Reporter Herald. From the article:

Larimer County started the inspections in mid-April with a $300,000 grant from the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Inspectors, on duty seven days a week, checked 55,571 boats through Wednesday. Of those, they believed 109 were high-risk because they had been on infested waters, seemed overly dirty or had water or plants onboard. Half of those, 54, were decontaminated because inspectors believed, after a closer look, that they were more risky…

“It’s a long, tedious process,” said Dan Rieves, visitor services manager for the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources. “The cure is exposure to hot water under pressure. They power-wash the boat, for lack of better terminology.”[…]

Now that the busiest boating season is over, inspectors will be at Carter and Horsetooth only on weekends during October. That means boaters can hit the water only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after their vessels have been inspected. At Boyd Lake State Park, inspectors will be on duty from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day through October, and from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily in November, according to the park’s Web site.

More invasive mussels coverage here and here.

Denver Water: Rate adjustment on tap for 2010?

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Here’s a release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney):

Denver Water staff presented to the Board of Water Commissioners a preliminary proposal to adjust water rates for 2010 at its meeting Wednesday. The adjustment will help fund the utility’s 10-year capital plan.

The 10-year plan includes 300 projects, including upgrades to aging infrastructure to prevent putting reliable water service at risk.

The plan also calls for expansion of the utility’s system capacity to meet the future needs of its customers. Over the next 10 years, the utility plans to expand its recycled water system, enlarge Gross Reservoir by 18,000 acre-feet, finish developing gravel pits that store reusable water, and explore ways to work with other water providers to bring more supplies to its system.

Denver Water has determined the cost of making repairs and replacements to its aging infrastructure and building new supply within its system will total $1.3 billion over the next 10 years.

“Our water system is aging; some of our facilities are more than 100 years old. We need to be more proactive in our work to repair, maintain and upgrade our assets,” said Brian Good, director of operations and maintenance. “Next year’s projects include increased main replacements, more cement mortar lining of pipes to extend their useful life and upgrading underground vaults. We also will be doing major upgrades at the Marston Treatment Plant, replacing gates at Cheesman Dam that date back to the early 1900s, and installing a new hydropower turbine at Williams Fork Reservoir.”

In 2010 the water department will need an additional $13.5 million in revenue to cover rising costs associated with maintaining and improving the city’s water system. Denver Water owns and maintains 2,800 miles of distribution pipe — enough to stretch from Los Angeles to New York — as well as 12 raw water reservoirs, 22 pump stations and four treatment plants. Rehabilitation and replacement of infrastructure is needed throughout the water distribution system, much of which dates back to post-World War II installation or earlier.

Under the current rate proposal, average Denver residential customers would see their bills increase by about $40 a year — an average of $3.30 per month, or about $12 on a summer bill. Typical suburban residential customers served by Denver Water would see an increase of $51 per year — an average of $4.30 per month, or about $16 on a summer bill. The effects of the proposed changes on customer bills would vary depending upon the amount of water the customer uses and whether the customer lives in Denver or is served by a suburban distributor under contract with Denver Water; the more customers use, the more they will pay.

If the proposed adjustments are approved, they would take effect February 2010. Rates for Denver Water customers living inside the city would remain among the lowest in the metro area, while rates for Denver Water residential customers in the suburbs would still fall at or below the median among area water providers.

Denver Water is funded through rates and new tap fees, not taxes. Its rates are designed to recover the costs of providing reliable, high-quality water service and to encourage efficiency by charging higher prices for increased water use. Most of Denver Water’s costs are fixed and include maintenance of the system’s distribution pipes, reservoirs, pump stations and treatment plants. Denver Water also examines and adjusts its capital plan as necessary each year.

The Board is expected to vote on the proposed changes on Wednesday, Oct. 28, after considering public comment. Public comment will be taken at the Oct. 14, 9:15 a.m., and Oct. 28, 9 a.m., Board meetings. The meetings are open to the public and will be held at Denver Water, 1600 W. 12th Ave. Public comment also will be taken at Denver Water’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee meeting, Thursday, Oct. 15, 5:30 p.m., at Denver Water. Comments also may be sent to the Board via e-mail at

Details of the 2010 rates proposal are posted. Members of the public who have questions about the proposed rate adjustment may call 303-628-6320.

More Denver Water coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs Utilities jumps into the permitting process in El Paso County

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The El Paso County Planning Commission will have a public hearing and solicit comments, most likely in early 2010. In addition, the SDS partners will host two public meetings in November to explain the project.

In Phase 1, a treatment plant in the northeast part of the city, two pumping stations and 33 miles of pipeline will be constructed in El Paso County as part of a $1 billion-plus plan to build a 50-mile pipeline from Pueblo Dam. The pipeline would serve Colorado Springs, Security, Fountain and Pueblo West and would be designed to meet water supply needs until about 2046. The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by 2016, but construction of parts of the project would begin in 2010. Colorado Spring Utilities plans to begin work on the dam connection and some of the pipeline in El Paso County next year, as well as dredging and restoration projects on Fountain Creek, according to a timeline. Construction on the treatment plant and pump stations is not expected to begin until 2012.

In Phase 2 of the project, scheduled to begin in 2020-25, two reservoirs would be constructed on Williams Creek. Colorado Springs already has obtained approval for the project from the Bureau of Reclamation, but has not begun contract negotiations for storage, exchange and conveyance at Lake Pueblo. An Army Corps of Engineers permit under the Clean Water Act is in progress, as is an agreement with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Cañon City: Sewer expansion moving forward with state and federal stimulus dough

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

High Country Pipeline of Penrose recently was awarded a $1.8 million bid to build the sewer extension for Fremont Sanitation District. The North Canon Area Sewer Line Extension will serve 178 residences, running north of High Street between York and Lawrence streets and to several residences south of High Street between York and Pennsylvania. The project will consist of 17,100 feet of sewer main, 45 concrete manholes and 15,000 feet of service line. The project will be constructed completely with grants and stimulus funds and will not have to be repaid by the homeowners, said Jeff Blue, Fremont Sanitation District director.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Fountain Creek: Colorado Springs to pay Sierra Club legal fees for lawsuit over sewage spills

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Springs was ordered to pay a fine of $35,500 in the complaint filed by the Sierra Club in 2005 after two large spills into Fountain Creek. The Sierra Club prevailed in its argument that some Colorado Springs releases of partially treated sewage violated the Clean Water Act. However, U.S. District Judge Walker Miller ruled that Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been “effective” and that Colorado Springs had made “substantial improvements” in its wastewater collection system. The Sierra Club sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. In a stipulation entered this week, the Sierra Club agreed to accept Colorado Springs’ offer for settlement of legal fees in the case.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Arkansas Valley: State Engineer files new surface irrigation rules in Division 2 Water Court

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“The Irrigation Improvement Rules are designed to allow improvements to the efficiency of irrigation systems in the Arkansas River Basin while ensuring compliance with the Arkansas River Compact,” [State Engineer Dick Wolfe] said in the court filing…

The rules would take effect on Jan. 1, 2011, and would apply only to surface irrigation improvements in the Arkansas River Basin made since 1999. The goal is to prevent the depletion of return flows to the Arkansas River which could be caused by things like sprinklers, drip irrigation systems and lining of canals. Under a draft set of rules proposed in late 2007, the burden of proving that improvements did not affect return flows fell entirely on irrigators. Several changes were made in the rules that removed some on-farm improvements, such as gated pipe or concrete lining of small ditches, from the rules during those meetings. The state also recognized the need for general permits within certain parts of the Arkansas Valley and agreed to take things like pond seepage into account. The state also developed a model that builds on engineering already accepted by Kansas to determine the impact of sprinkler systems based on their location in the Arkansas Valley, finding that on ditches with adequate water supplies, efficiencies could benefit the river, while improvements on water-short ditches could reduce return flows.

After the final committee meeting on the rules, farmers indicated they are still not convinced the loss of flows can be accurately measured and questioned some of the assumptions that are made in the state’s model. Wolfe countered that the model is flexible enough to accommodate changes if new data proves the assumptions wrong.

More Arkansas Valley ag rules coverage here and here.