Aspinall Unit update

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

Crystal releases will be reduced another 150 cfs this afternoon, October 7th, resulting in Gunnison River flows below the Gunnison Tunnel of 500 – 550 cfs. Crystal releases will be further reduced in the coming weeks as the Gunnison Tunnel decreases diversions. However, these changes should not affect overall flows in the Black Canyon or Gunnison Gorge and, barring any unforeseen hydrologic events, we expect conditions to remain fairly constant over the next several weeks.

Moab: 16 million tons of tailings on the move

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From the Associated Press (Dan Stark) via the Aspen Times:

Since this spring, more than 330,000 tons of uranium tailings have been hauled away from a huge pile near Moab and deposited in disposal pits 30 miles to the north, according to the U.S Department of Energy. Crews began running two trainloads a day in August, doubling the amount of waste shipped to Crescent Junction each day. The pace will pick up even more next month with longer trains and bigger containers, Donald Metzler, the project’s manager for DOE, said Wednesday.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Dan Morgan, ‘I don’t think anyone should expect Washington to do the right thing if citizens aren’t informed and raising hell

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Here’s a recap of College’s State of the Rockies series Monday session, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Among its many activities, the Environmental Working Group has compiled a database that details federal farm subsidies for conservation, disaster and crop support down to the farm level. For instance, Colorado farms received $3.1 billion in federal payments from 1995-2006. “If you’re going to change the world, you need data,” said Shannon, an award-winning journalist prior to joining the group. “I don’t think anyone should expect Washington to do the right thing if citizens aren’t informed and raising hell.”[…]

The Climate Bill would add the conflict of managing farmland for environmental purposes like sequestering carbon against the current dilemma of growing corn either as food or for ethanol. There are also efforts to exempt farms from the fuel consumption provisions of the bill, Morgan said.

More Colorado water coverage here.

Pitkin County urged to seek water rights for instream flows

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A big part of Colorado’s economy – particularly on the west slope — is recreation. Here’s a look at reserving water rights for instream flows for recreation, from Janet Urquhart writing for The Aspen Times. From the article:

Pitkin County has discussed, but has not sought, an in-stream water right for a planned kayak park on the Roaring Fork River at Basalt. Glenwood Springs boasts what has become a hot spot in the state for kayaking and surfing at its wave on the Colorado River, but has not sought an in-stream water right to help preserve flows there. During a joint meeting of commissioners and members of the Glenwood Springs City Council Tuesday in Aspen, [Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards] urged Glenwood council members to consider seeking the recreational rights. Front Range water users don’t want additional water allotted to recreational uses, she warned. “They don’t want those diversions,” she said…

When Glenwood built its whitewater park, it reserved the right to apply for in-stream rights for recreation, but did not seek them, said Mayor Bruce Christensen. The city anticipated a fight with Front Range interests, feared securing the rights would be costly and figured senior rights on the Colorado downstream from Glenwood would help keep flows in the park secure, he explained. “Now that the park is created, it’s a logical next step,” Richards said…

Richards also warned against counting as permanent the water rights held by Excel Energy’s Shoshone hydroelectric plant on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. It commands important flows in the Colorado that benefit Glenwood’s various rafting and kayaking opportunities, but Shoshone has become a small part of Excel’s portfolio, she noted. “There are a lot of concerns about what we here take for granted as water flows through our area,” Richards said…

When the Shoshone plant was off line for repairs in 2007, a deal was reached to maintain a certain level of flows on the river through Glenwood Canyon to protect endangered fish and the rafting industry. At that time, Glenwood and Aspen approached [Xcel] about acquiring Shoshone water rights but the energy company wasn’t interested in selling them, Christensen said.

More Roaring Fork watershed coverage here.

Elkhead Reservoir to close for boating October 25

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From the Craig Daily Press

Elkhead Reservoir will be open weekends only, staff and weather permitting. The reservoir will be closed to boating for the season Oct. 25. The park will remain open for hunting, fishing and hiking only. If there are any questions, call Yampa River State Park office at 276-2061.

More Elkhead Reservoir coverage here and here.

Fountain Creek: Colorado Springs is seeking to recover legal fees from Pueblo County resulting from lawsuit over sewage spills

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A motion filed late last week in the Denver U.S. District Court asks for consideration of payment of legal fees, even though Colorado Springs agreed to pay $17,750 of the Sierra Club’s fees after U.S. District Judge Walker Miller ruled in the Sierra Club’s favor on some points. Colorado Springs was fined $35,000. The settlement with the Sierra Club left open the possibility of Colorado Springs seeking to recover its costs for [Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut]’s portion of the lawsuit. Thiebaut, along with the Sierra Club, filed the federal lawsuit in 2005 after sewage spills into Fountain Creek. Thiebaut’s lawsuit was thrown out in 2007, and his motion for reconsideration was denied in early 2008.

“Thiebaut’s legal theory for his authority and standing here was baseless and without foundation, and he continued to pursue his case long after it should have been clear that he lacked authority to do so,” attorney John Walsh wrote in the latest motion. Walsh argued that as a district attorney, Thiebaut could not file a civil suit in federal court and was not authorized by the legislature to do so. “Thiebaut never did identify the specific legal basis for his alleged authority,” Walsh wrote in the motion. “Instead, rather than rely on legal authority, Thiebaut continued to rely on a baseless interpretation of his own (nearly limitless) authority, calculated to justify the action he wanted to take.” Walsh claims Colorado Springs prevailed in its motion to remove Thiebaut from the case and is therefore entitled to recovery of expenses…

“In my opinion our case was a better case, which would have resulted in an even better order,” Thiebaut said. “Nevertheless, Colorado Springs has undertaken new programs to eliminate spills as a direct result of our lawsuit.” Last week’s motion moves in the opposite direction of recent actions by Colorado Springs, Thiebaut said. “This request is rather ironic considering that Colorado Springs continues to note that now it wants to cooperate with Pueblo on projects like Fountain Creek and the Southern Delivery System,” Thiebaut said.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.