101st Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Convention will be held November 19-21 in Lakewood

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From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Marsha Daughenbaugh):

The 101st annual Rocky Mountain Farmers Union convention will be hosted by Colorado from Nov. 19 to 21 in Lakewood. The three-day event includes workshops, election of officers and board of directors, policy discussions and networking. Delegates from all areas of Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico will join for discussions and decision-making efforts to help preserve family farming and ranching operations that are important to the economy and heritage of the United States. All RMFU members are invited and encouraged to attend and participate.

The agenda and registration information is at http://www.rmfu.org

Estes Park: Students learn about water quality while participating in ‘River Watch’ program

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From the Estes Park Trail Gazette (Juley Harvey):

The students became involved after participating with Merrill in the CloudSat program last year, where they collected data on clouds and precipitation. Merrill found the River Watch program and asked the trio to participate this summer. In the River Watch program, they analyzed samples and stored data on the Internet, to be reviewed and evaluated by the Department of Wildlife. They performed tests for pH levels, alkalinity, hardness, temperature, dissolved oxygen, metals and nutrients. Next, they will train their peers. They hope to test more rivers and headwater streams. They started out monitoring Fish Creek, but the project ended quickly, because “the water was like THAT wide. There was not good data.” “The cool parts,” they said, “were learning about and working with chemicals, collecting stuff and knowing we`re collecting our own data. We feel like we definitely made a difference. We learned how to test…and how rivers interact with the ecosystem and how important they are, and how streams are important to the ecosystem. There is only a little bit of streams left. We need to do what we can to keep them clean and healthy.”

More education coverage here.

CSU: How long will Colorado’s water last?

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Here’s the release from Colorado State University:

Colorado State University will host a panel of water experts to discuss the current state of Colorado’s water supply from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the Cool River Café, 8000 East Belleview Ave. in Greenwood Village. The panel of renowned CSU water experts will report on the state’s current water supply and what it means for our economy and quality of life. The panel will explain the many ways – including a unique student effort that is having a global impact – CSU is working to manage Colorado’s water supply for the future.

Panelists will include: Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute; Larry Roesner, professor, CSU College of Engineering; Dick Wolfe, state engineer, Colorado; and CSU students from Running Water International in CSU’s College of Business.

The event is free and open to the public. To register go to http://www.alumni.colostate.edu or call (303) 376-2613.

Wiggins: New supply pipeline design underway

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

The idea at this point is to build a pipeline following mostly state and county rights of way from a well site eight miles northwest of Wiggins, take it along the west side of town and just south of the Wiggins School District’s football field and then east to connect with the current water system, said engineer Tim Holbrook of Industrial Facilities Engineering Inc. as he gave the Wiggins Town Council a preliminary engineering report. However, some of the details must await design testing, he said. Currently, the plan is to treat the water at the well site, softening it and taking out sulfates before sending it to Wiggins, Holbrook said. That would mean the water would not have to go to the existing water plant and could go directly into the water main. This would be the least expensive and least difficult route to follow, he said. Only a little over a mile of pipeline would need to be on private land with this plan, according to the map of the pipeline. The treatment plant would be about 300 feet by 700 feet at the Smith-Jones farm site and include a 50,000-gallon water storage tank, Holbrook said. With this design, the town could use the existing water system to irrigate the city park through another water line, although planning is necessary to make sure some households can have access to drinking water, Holbrook said.

More Wiggins coverage here.

Hayden: Town Council raises rates

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From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Jack Weinstein):

Monthly residential rates will increase by $3.05 to $19. Monthly senior rates will increase by $1.83 to $11.40. The ordinance was approved, 5-0. Council members Bill Hayden and Jim Haskins did not attend the meeting. Town Manager Russ Martin said the increase would generate an additional $25,000 to $30,000 to help close the gap in a fund that doesn’t make enough money to cover costs. The ordinance also increased tap fees to $4,800 from $3,800 for water, and to $2,400 from $1,900 for sewer. The ordinance will go into effect 15 days after being published. Martin said the rate and tap fee increases would help eliminate a $75,000 annual deficit in the town’s water fund.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Bayfield: Town trustees raise water tap fees

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From the Pine River Times (Carole McWilliams):

Bayfield town trustees have raised water tap fees to $6,600, up from $4,334 for a basic three-quarter inch tap and a similar percentage increase for larger taps. They approved the increase on Oct. 6, effective immediately. It applies to anyone who hadn’t already submitted construction paperwork to the town by that day. There was concern about builders loading up on cheaper taps if there was a time lag…

Clifton said water tap fees will bring in around $100,000 this year, and he’s projecting $86,000 in 2010. The water capital fund is paying $97,000 a year in debt, he said. “If the money isn’t available through tap fees, we have no choice but to take it from rates,” he advised. We have $215,000 in capital expenses, and we are bringing in $87,000.” The water treatment plant is at 80 percent of capacity and needs to be expanded in the next few years, and a system pump needs to be upgraded, he said. He is budgeting $100,000 a year to save up for plant expansion. He is expecting an average $218,000 in new water capital expenses in each of the next four years. Clifton then presented options for higher water tap fees, ranging from $5,500 to $6,600. The current fee is $4,334. Raising the fee to $6,271 would bring in around $188,000 a year, he said.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Land Owners United conservation easements meeting October 20

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From the La Junta Tribune Democrat:

Land Owners United LLC has been diligently working for resolutions, regarding the assault on conservation easement valuations and will conduct an informative meeting on current status and action plans. The meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5 p.m. at Las Animas Elementary School in the cafeteria, 530 Poplar Avenue (Hwy 50 and Poplar Ave), Las Animas. Guest speakers will include Mack Louden, Not 1 More Acre; Mortgage Brokers Coalition, DORA Law Suit; and Mark MacDonnell, Atty (LOU), DORA Open Records Request – Status. For more information, contact J.D. Wright (719)263-5449.

More conservation easement coverage here.

Summit Ridge Water District to consolidate with Montezuma Water District?

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From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

The Summit Ridge Water District board of directors will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20, to discuss a proposed consolidation with Montezuma Water Company. The possible consolidation comes at a point when the Summit board believes the two organizations have become redundant. “The board feels as though the district has outlived its usefulness,” said board member Mark Tuttle. “We’ve accomplished what was necessary in the beginning.” The water district, created about twenty years ago, currently serves 540 active taps and has roughly 630 members, according to Tuttle. The district’s original purpose was to provide water to the Summit Ridge area, a task larger companies did not find appealing.

More Montezuma County coverage here.

Lake Pueblo winter storage program update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“What we’re trying to do is look at the reservoir operations before we’re at the point where we’re making decisions,” said Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which administers the program. “We’re trying to manage it so it does not spill.” There is little danger that winter water would spill in most years. It is far down the ladder of priorities used by the Bureau of Reclamation to determine which accounts would be released as the reservoir fills. “If winter water were to spill, there would be so much water no one would know what to do with it,” Broderick said. Water stored in most excess capacity accounts would spill first. Right now, that totals more than 36,000 acre-feet and an average winter would result in a spill of about 14,000 acre-feet under current conditions if no changes are made…

A snag could come in late April because federal rules require a maximum level on April 15 for Lake Pueblo to accommodate flood waters. The court decree that set up the winter water program gives ditch companies until May 1 to move their winter water from the previous year out of storage. Meanwhile, Reclamation is clearing out space in Turquoise and Twin Lakes to make room for next year’s imports. At the same time, Lake Pueblo will fill even more as it stores river flows in the winter water program, which allows storage rather than the former practice of flooding fields in winter months. For years, the Southeastern District routinely approved requests to store carryover water more than one year. That’s not likely now, Broderick said…

Last year, about 140,000 acre-feet of water were stored in the winter water program, but only about 48,000 acre-feet in Lake Pueblo. Water also is stored in John Martin, Lake Meredith and other downstream reservoirs. There are still 15,000 acre-feet in Lake Pueblo, primarily in accounts for the Bessemer, Catlin and High Line canals, which cannot use downstream storage. “If you can help us get the water out by April 15, that will help us manage everyone’s water a little more easily,” said Roy Vaughan, Fryingpan-Arkansas Project director for Reclamation.

“We can get it out by April 15 if the weather is good and the ground is ready,” replied Dan Henrichs, superintendent of the High Line Canal. “But if it’s not and the wind blows, it’s gone.”

Update: Here’s a look at the model being developed to measure transit loss in the Arkansas River from Pueblo Dam to John Martin Reservoir, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

[Engineer Russ Livingston] is developing a transit loss model for the Arkansas River from Pueblo Dam to John Martin Reservoir.

The reach is the most complicated along the river because of tributaries, diversions and natural features. Water is lost as it splashes on the banks, soaks into the aquifer or becomes mired in riverbed ponds and evaporates. The rate of evaporation is also influenced by whether there is a lot of water in the river or just a little. The rate is factored in when a large block of water is released from Pueblo Dam to a headgate miles away or moved into John Martin. The trouble is, the current rate being used is 0.07 percent per mile, a figure based on a court case from the 1940s and applied since the 1970s…

More data is being included in the new study – $120,000 is being provided by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, Southeastern Water Conservancy District and other partners. Information from 58 gauges at four-hour intervals from several events in carefully chosen conditions are being used, Livingston said. The model can also be calibrated and verified against historic events. “We can segment out natural flows versus reservoir releases,” Livingston said. “At the end, you have a tool that can show you how well your model works.” The information can be useful both for ditch companies trying to account for their own water deliveries, as well as for the state in making sure other water rights aren’t injured.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

Snowpack: El Niño building in the Pacific Ocean

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From 9News.com via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

The Climate Prediction Center issued its Winter Outlook for temperatures and precipitation Thursday and it is calling for the El Nino pattern. El Nino comes when there are unusually warm waters in tropic sections of the Pacific Ocean. This warmer than average condition of the sea surface changes rainfall patterns in the tropics and the jet stream pattern over North America. The Climate Prediction Center believes El Nino conditions should strengthen over the winter months. Scientists there believe that could bring warmer than average temperatures over the high plains and Rocky Mountain Region, including Colorado. But it will be cooler than average from Texas east along the Gulf Coast. As for precipitation, it will be wetter than average for the California and Gulf Coasts. It will be drier than average for the Ohio Valley and the northwestern Corner of the United States.