Donala Water District considering bond issue to connect to renewable water supply

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From the Tri-Lakes Tribune (Nicole Chillino):

Donala Water and Sanitation District is contemplating asking its voting public in May to allow it to buy bonds to help it pay for a means of piping a renewable water supply to its system, according to a statement from the district. While the district recently purchased water rights belonging to the Mount Massive Ranch near Leadville, it has to tap into the water through an entity with access to Arkansas River water, since water from the ranch flows into one of the river’s tributaries, according to information from Donala’s general manager Dana Duthie. Donala is trying to connect to the river through Colorado Springs Utilities, which owns several points of diversion along the Arkansas that could be tapped into, according to the information. The district will be evaluating whether it needs to increase its debt to pipe the water to patrons, and if it decides to ask the taxpayers to issue more debt, whether the issuance will require a tax increase, Duthie said.

More Denver Basin Aquifer System coverage here.

World Water Monitoring Day events in Littleton and Ouray County

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From the Littleton Independent (Holly Cook):

“If there’s a lot of oxygen in the water it’s like, yeah, fish can breathe,” said Denver Academy sophomore Phil Matthews. “If there’s not a lot, it’s bad for the fish.” The dissolved oxygen test was only one of many basic indicator tests Denver Academy students completed at the Littleton Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant as part of the fifth annual World Water Monitoring Day, Oct. 20.

World Water Monitoring Day is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. The Water Environment Federation encourages communities to raise water quality awareness from March 22 to Dec. 31 each year…

“We want to expose kids to their impact on overall water quality so that they might take the easy steps to protect it,” said Littleton Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant chemist Steve Mustain. He continued by explaining how water treated in the plant eventually moves to places like Thornton, where it becomes residents’ drinking water. “Yes, the South Platte is a river running through town but it’s also used for drinking water and supports aquatic life.”[…]

Nearly 1.1 billion people (roughly 20 percent of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water. The lack of clean, safe drinking water is estimated to kill almost 4,500 children per day. “It would be important to know about your water quality if you lived in Mexico or Costa Rica,” said sophomore Nick Evans, while testing the PH balance of the river water. “Especially if you’re drinking from a tap.”[…]

According to the World Water Day organization, the problem isn’t confined to a particular region of the world. A third of the Earth’s population lives in “water stressed” areas and that number is expected to rise dramatically over the next two decades…

Started in 2002 in the United States, World Water Monitoring Day is celebrated in 50 countries by more than 75,000 participants per year. It’s the goal of the Water Environment Federation to involve 1 million people in 100 countries by 2012. It was inspired by the belief that everyone — not just professionals with specialized degrees — can study the natural world and collect meaningful data, trained volunteer monitors spend countless hours in the field making careful observations and measurements. Results are shared with participating communities around the globe to track emerging trends, through the World Water Monitoring Day Web site.

Meanwhile, here’s a report from the Uncompahgre River watershed, from The Telluride Watch. From the article:

Seven volunteers from the Friends of the River Uncompahgre (FORU) and the Ridgway-Ouray Community Council (ROCC) gathered this week to participate in a World Water Monitoring Day sampling event. Hosted by the Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership (UWPP) in cooperation with the US Forest Service, the group took samples from the Uncompahgre River in Delta, Olathe, Montrose and Ridgway. Samples were also taken from Canyon Creek in Ouray, as well as Full Moon Gulch and Red Mountain Creek in Ironton. The samples taken were field tested for turbidity, temperature, pH (acidity), and dissolved oxygen levels and the results were entered into an online database where results from around the world could be seen. Coordinating the effort was Andrew Madison, an Americorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) with the UWPP; the testing kits were provided by the US Forest Service office in Delta…

The purpose of having participants perform basic tests is to help them better understand the health of their respective watersheds as well as to have an active role in protecting their water resources. This program fits in well with the UWPP’s mission of protecting and restoring water quality in the Uncompahgre River through coordinated community and agency efforts. Public outreach and education is an important part of this and the UWPP was happy to participate and increase awareness regarding the health of the Uncompahgre River. The US Forest Service was also happy to participate, showing its concern regarding the protection and stewardship of this important resource.

More water pollution coverage here.

$1.75 million for Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Project funding passes U.S. Senate

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From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

Jackson Gulch Reservoir supplies water to the town of Mancos, the Mancos Water Conservancy District, and the Mancos Rural Water Company. The reservoir is also the sole source of municipal water for Mesa Verde National Park. Jackson Gulch has been in the middle of rehabilitation for approximately six years, and the project is not cheap, according to Gary Kennedy, superintendent of the Mancos Water District. “We started this process about six years ago,” Kennedy said. “We came up with a price tag of a little over $6 million at the time, we ended up with a total price of $8.2 million and today it is even higher.” The primary goal of the project is infrastructure repair. Construction began on Jackson Gulch in 1941, and time has left the project in desperate need of additional work. “We have earthen sections that need to be rebuilt or realigned,” Kennedy said. “They need to be lined with some kind of sealing material so they won’t leak. We have approximately 30 per cent loss in the canals. Flow capacity is 2/3 of what it should be. If we can get that back up where it is designed to be, basically we can have a brand new canal system put back in.”[…]

While this year’s appropriation, which Jackson Gulch should receive next May, makes it easier for the project to continue to obtain federal funds, each year is a new process. “With this first appropriations, it makes it an ongoing funded project,” Kennedy said. “That makes it easier to get funded in the future.”

The Jackson Gulch Project is one of the first Bureau of Reclamation projects in the West to find funding through appropriations, according to Kennedy, but the appropriation sets the stage for more federal money to flow into other water projects.

More Jackson Gulch Reservoir coverage here.

Arkansas Valley: New gravel pit reservoirs planned for eastern Pueblo County

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Blue Grass Reservoir plan seeks to build two reservoirs with at least 11,000 acre-feet of storage in eastern Pueblo County on the south side of U.S. 50 near the Pueblo Chemical Depot, about 6 miles downstream from the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River. The reservoirs would be gravity fed from the Excelsior Ditch, said John Sliman, owner of Southwest Sod Farms. “It is our hope that if the Lower Arkansas (district) has a need for water storage, you would consider our project,” Sliman said. “It is my feeling these types of water storage projects will help accomplish both the goals of growth and continued farming in the Arkansas Valley.” Sliman said the reservoirs would help cities maximize their use of current water rights and prevent the need to dry up more farms in the valley.

The reservoirs could be constructed according to specifications by those who store water in it, and built in such a way as to store up to 18,000 acre-feet, said Robert Huzjak, Sliman’s engineering consultant. Materials could be mined on site and the work would be done by Bob Beltramo, who currently operates a gravel operation in the area. The reservoirs would be lined with a slurry wall during construction and dug out to bedrock, 34-42 feet deep. An earthen berm would add another 20 feet of height atop the slurry wall. Projected cost of construction of the storage would be $3,400 to $4,000 per acre-foot. If there is a need for it, storage could be developed by 2011, Huzjak said.

More infrastructure coverage here.

State Representative Sal Pace plans to introduce legislation to reduce impacts of out of basin water transfers

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

State Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, on Friday pitched a concept for a bill that would encourage voluntary agreements for mitigation in water transfer projects from one basin to another, rather than court-ordered conditions. “With this bill, it is my hope that generations from today our grandchildren can still enjoy a vibrant rural Colorado,” Pace told the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board. Pace is trying to contact as many water groups as possible before developing a final draft, which he wants to have in hand by the end of November.

Earlier this week, the Pueblo Board of Water Works indicated it would like to see some version of the bill before supporting it. The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District voted unanimously to support the concept of the bill. The Fountain Creek board reserved its comments until a more complete proposal is developed, although Pace said he would not change the basics of the bill he provided in an outline…

The bill would encourage mitigation between conservancy districts and those making water transfers between state water divisions. If agreements could not be reached, water judges could choose to apply the same sorts of conditions now available only to the Western Slope in transfers by conservancy districts under 1937 legislation…

“The traditional battle lines are municipalities vs. rural conservancy districts,” Pace said. “The bill would (provide incentives for) cooperation much like this board came together in a cooperative fashion.”

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board voted unanimously to back Pace’s concept for a bill that would encourage those who take water from rural areas to work with conservancy districts to develop mitigation plans. “Our mission is to protect the water in the Arkansas Valley,” said Reeves Brown, Pueblo County director. “This does that.”[…]

The idea is to provide an incentive for urban areas that purchase water rights in other basins to voluntary agree to mitigation, rather than “rolling the die” in water court, Pace said. “I want to insure that when water is moved in the future, it is done in a responsible manner, so we don’t look like Arizona, with pockets of communities and a lot of dry land in between,” Pace told the board. The bill would provide incentives, using existing provisions of law, rather than attempting to penalize violations after the fact. It would not interfere with the ability to sell water rights or how water rights are used, Pace said. “There’s no language to limit a person’s ability to buy or sell water,” Pace said…

Executive Director Jay Winner said Pace’s legislation is timely, given the potential pressure the Arkansas Valley faces. Winner, as a member of the Interbasin Compact Committee, sees no breakdown in the West Slope’s resistance to another transmountain water project. “There is nothing in place for slowing down or stopping more buy-and-dry. We need to put a fence around the Arkansas Valley,” Winner said.

A study of available water in the Colorado River basin will find there are at least 440,000 acre-feet of water to develop, but the West Slope will claim it needs it for future development, Winner said. Meanwhile, Denver-area communities become ever more thirsty, he said. Parker has built a 75,000 acre-foot reservoir and plans by the South Metro Water Supply Authority include pipelines into the Arkansas Valley. “When 2050 hits and the state’s population doubles, we need to think how we’re going to feed all those people. We need to keep agriculture in place,” Winner said. “Sal is moving in the right direction.”

More transmountain/transbasin diversion coverage here.

Fountain Creek: 25 apply for director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board took its first look at 25 applications for the position Friday, and assurances that $100,000 is now in place to fund administrative expenses of the district next year. The board could decide on an interim director at its Dec. 4 meeting, if the executive committee – made up of the board’s officers – is able to pare the list to a handful of finalists in early November. In any event, finalists will be interviewed. The district also will set its budget at the meeting…

Those who have applied for the interim director’s job are, in alphabetical order:

Steve Anselmo, president of a Pueblo engineering company.
Gary Barber, manager of El Paso County Regional Water Authority and a water rights broker. Barber is chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable and played a key role in drafting legislation that set up the district as a member of the Vision Task Force.
Janna Blanter, a Colorado Springs financial consultant.
Mark Carmel, former Pueblo County administrator.
Heather Gunn, a Fountain media consultant.
Scott Hahn, of Salida, who most recently served as city manager of Cordova, Alaska.
Thomas Karwaki, director of economic development for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe near Seattle, Wash.
Ricky Kidd, engineer-administrator of the Pueblo Conservancy District and a private engineer.
Andy Long, owner Roberts Mortgage, Colorado Springs.
Kevin McCarthy, a Pueblo businessman and member of the Pueblo Board of Water Works.
James McGrady, general manager of the Castle Pines North Metro District
Dennis Maroney, Pueblo stormwater director and a key player on the Vision Task Force. Maroney serves on the district’s technical advisory committee.
Jim Munch, former Pueblo city planning director and most recently director of development for Pueblo Springs Ranch, a position he left in April. He now is a private consultant.
Randy Newman, a government contractor at Guantanamo Bay, moving back to Colorado Springs.
Allen Nichols, most recently marketing director for Cleveland Vocational Industries, Shelby, N.C.
John Plutt, a Colorado Springs businessman.
Ingrid Richter, director of development for InCompass Development, Colorado Springs.
Roberta Ringstrom, environmental scientist, Colorado Springs.
Alaina Ruscovick, a file clerk for a Colorado Springs law firm.
Rodney Scott, an Air Force supply specialist and administrative assistant in Colorado Springs.
Steven Shane, most recently a technology director for an electronic manufacturing firm, now living in Colorado Springs.
Bob Simmons, most recently, a lieutenant in the Aurora Fire Department.
Richard Stettler, Colorado Springs, University of the Rockies vice president and chief of staff.
Donald TeStrake, of Centennial, most recently site manager for an electronics consultant.
Eve Triffo, a lawyer and experienced grant writer living in Canon City.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

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The Southern Delivery System pipeline will cross Fountain Creek and discharge into the creek from a new reservoir on Williams Creek, the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District learned Friday. Those two actions are in the direct jurisdiction of the district. The district also will have an advisory role to the El Paso County commissioners in the permit process.

“We would like to make a presentation with a summary of the project, saying ‘here are the impacts, and here are the recommendations for mitigation,’ ” Colorado Springs Utilities Fountain Creek specialist Carol Baker told the district’s board Friday. The board agreed to hear the presentation in January, after its technical advisory committee and citizens advisory group have had a chance to review the project and make recommendations. The district, by state law, has primary land-use authority in the floodplain of Fountain Creek, so will be able to tie its own conditions to the project…

The board also agreed Friday to adopt the March 2009 strategic plan of the Vision Task Force, the January 2009 Army Corps of Engineers management plan and appropriate local zoning and land use regulations in reviewing technical merits of projects.

Meanwhile, Teller County hopes to weigh in on Fountain Creek issues through the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftian. From the article:

The Teller-Park Conservation District has asked the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District to include projects for flood impacts, erosion and water quality on Upper Fountain Creek, which extends about 12 miles into Teller County. “Property owners have incurred property damage and livestock (loss) due to flooding in this area, and several horse properties are located right within the floodplain of (Teller and El Paso) counties,” Vern Vinson, conservation district president, wrote in a letter to the Fountain Creek board. Woodland Park is trying to obtain a floodplain easement through the Natural Resources Conservation Service as well, and Vinson indicated there would be a better chance if the conservation district had a cooperative agreement with the Fountain Creek district…

When it came time to form the district, only Pueblo and El Paso counties were included in the legislation, because they were the primary areas causing an impact or affected by changes on Fountain Creek. The district board indicated it would be able to make a place for Teller County on its technical advisory committee and citizens advisory group, but that the membership of the Fountain Creek board was determined by statute. “We’re pleased to see you folks here,” Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner, a member of the Fountain Creek board, told representatives of the conservation district. “We do not want to leave the impression that Teller County was left out.”

Finally, the new district is using a $25,000 CWCB loan to evaluate how stormwater relates to land-use policies in the Fountain Creek watershed. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board voted unanimously to oversee the grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The grant aims at a process that has been envisioned for several years to develop uniform stormwater policies throughout the region…

“This project will implement many of the recommendations contained in the Fountain Creek Watershed Strategic Plan,” [Rich Muzzy, of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments] said. The strategic plan, along with the Corps study, will be used as policy guidelines until the district can develop its own. The district also will use local land-use recommendations as a guide…

The CWCB-funded project would synthesize existing information and develop a policy evaluation regarding how “non-point sources” – basically any discharge that is not covered by a state permit – are treated. The results would be reviewed by the district’s technical advisory committee and citizens advisory group. Then, workshops would held to determine how to implement strategies, and finally regional groups would be formed to put the information to practical use.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Trail across Twin Lakes Dam re-opens after seven year hiatus

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

After almost seven years the Bureau of Reclamation announced today the trail across Twin Lakes Dam is re-opening.
“Hikers and cyclists will no longer have to walk around the dam, but are now able to cross it directly, staying on the trail,” said Mike Collins, Area Manager for Reclamation’s Eastern Colorado office which oversees Twin Lakes. “Re-opening would not happen without the support and continued participation of the public.” In order for the trail to remain open, the public needs to be vigilant about activity at the dam. “We ask that the public use the trail only to cross the dam,” said Howard Bailey, safety and security manager for Reclamation’s Eastern Colorado Area Office. “We need your help keeping this facility safe.” Loitering and fishing are not allowed from the dam or within a 100-foot perimeter. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the dam. “Safety and security remain our top priorities,” said Collins. “It takes all of us working together, protecting our public facilities, to make something like this possible.”

For questions about the trail re-opening, Twin Lakes Dam, and the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, please contact Kara Lamb, public information, at (970) 962-4326.

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A trail over Twin Lakes Dam that was closed for security reasons following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has been reopened.

More Twin Lakes coverage here.

Green Mountain Reservoir update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

We are still releasing about 700 cfs from the dam to the river. We are anticipating this will continue through next week. If there is a change, I will let you know.

More Green Mountain Reservoir coverage here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

First and foremost, the water year on the C-BT is about to wrap up. Halloween is the last day of the 2009 water year for C-BT. That means that some water users are taking the last of their water from the project. Last week, when releases from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson River increased and when Horsetooth releases out of Horsetooth Dam suddenly increased, it was because water users were taking their last shares of water. Those draws dropped the elevations at Horsetooth and Pinewood. Today, Pinewood is on its way back up and will continue rising through the weekend. Also, we are currently pumping water to Carter Lake, which is also slowly rising–water users are still taking water from Carter. Releases to the Big Thompson have dropped off and will drop again tonight to about 50 cfs in the canyon. That is an average flow for this time of year. Horsetooth is currently at an elevation of 5379. About 50 cfs is flowing to Horestooth. However, demands out of the Big Thompson River have dropped off, at least for the weekend, which means beginning tomorrow morning, we can increase flows to Horsetooth by another 50 cfs. This will level out the current draw of water from Horsetooth, holding the elevation close to 5379, at least for the weekend.

There remains the possibility that water users will call for the very last of their water the last week of the water year. So, it is possible that delivery via the Big Thompson River, or via Horsetooth Reservoir, will be required one more time before the water year closes. If that is the case, late next week we could see flows in the Big T increase, or see an increase in water going out of Horsetooth. Either way, I will keep you posted.

More Colorado-Big Thompson coverage here.