Rio Grande Basin: Water year recap

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

[Chris Landry executive director of the Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies] and his team compared snow core samples to determine the number of dust events during a winter season. He reported an increase in dust events from 2008 to 2009 from 7 to 12 at the site studied in the Rio Grande Basin. The concentration of dust was heavier as well. In 2008 the concentration was 12 grams per meter while in 2009 it was 55 grams per meter. He said that is an enormous amount of material. “The San Juans in particular experienced the most dramatic advance in the state in snowmelt timing,” Landry said.

He said the reason for more dust might have simply been because this past winter was windier. He said not much data is available about the source of the dirt, presumably blowing in from the western desert. Landry said the dust layers on snow were fairly consistent statewide from Rabbit Ears Pass in the north to Wolf Creek Pass in the San Luis Valley.

The report from Division of Water Resources Division Engineer for Division III Craig Cotten bore out the fact that the snow melted off early this year. He told the water board the reasons for the early run off were probably dust on the snow and warmer temperatures in May. He showed graphs illustrating a dramatic decline in river flows in May. However, Cotten said irrigators were curtailed less than usual this year because of winter recharge and deliveries to downstream states. “We only had a month of curtailment on the Rio Grande this year,” he said.

On the Conejos system, curtailments were also zero during most of the run off period, from April 15 to July 9, Cotten said. The Conejos system went back to zero curtailment the end of August. He added, “We also had the entire suite of ditches in priority and diverting. The most junior priority on the Conejos system diverted for almost three months this year.”

Both river systems will likely over deliver the amount of water required by the Rio Grande Compact interstate agreement with downstream states. At this point Cotten is estimating an over delivery of 9,700 acre feet on the Rio Grande, about the same amount of water carried over in credit last year. He told the water board the ditches would be turned off October 31 under standard operating procedure but if the weather is warm the first part of November, water may run longer in order to recharge the Valley and reduce the amount of over delivered water downstream.

More Rio Grande Basin coverage here.

Bonny Reservoir update

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

The Colorado Agriculture Preservation Association (CAPA), Colorado Association of Conservation Districts (CACD) and Republican River Riparian Restoration Partnership recently hosted a meeting at Bonny Reservoir for legislators and agency personnel, with more than 50 attending. The focus of the meeting was to identify issues that are negatively impacting stream flow and ways that key partners would be able to assist with restoring a healthy riparian habitat leading to an increase in stream flow…

One of the major issues affecting the maintenance and upkeep of Bonny is the confusion about boundaries and responsibilities of all involved agencies, including Bureau of Reclamation, State of Colorado, Division of Wildlife, Parks and Recreation, and Army Corps of Engineers…

At the end of the meeting several things were agreed upon. Most importantly that a land management conservation plan should be developed for the riparian area so that agencies and organizations know how the land should be managed and can work together to create a healthier river system. Over the next few months individual meetings with involved agencies and legislators will be held and the groups that hosted the meeting will develop the land management plan no later than January 1, 2010. After the plan is fully developed the agencies and organizations will be able to begin developing grant applications for funding to restore the river and wetlands.

More Republican River Basin coverage here and here.

Colorado Springs Utilities may buy Summit County parcels to keep development from encroaching on Blue River System

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

The city-owned utility will ask City Council on Tuesday for approval to buy three parcels, 1.6 acres in a growing area near Hoosier Pass, for $240,000, to keep residential development from encroaching on its oldest trans-mountain water line, the Blue River System. About 10 percent of Colorado Springs’ water is diverted from the Blue River watershed and under the Continental Divide at Hoosier Pass. The system began delivering water in 1953. Utilities doesn’t own the land, but easements along the pipeline’s path. In recent years, Utilities officials have grown concerned about development near the water system. The area is 10 miles south of Breckenridge, a booming ski-resort town, and houses and mountain subdivisions now abound in this once-rural area…

Utilities wants to buy the land and leave it undeveloped, and has a willing seller. The three parcels were appraised at $270,000, Utilities wrote in a memo to the council. A search of real estate Web sites shows that, while homes in Quandary Village are selling in the $700,000 to $900,000 range, while half-acre vacant lots are going for up to $240,000. Berry acknowledged that buying expensive mountain real estate is not ideal for a utility struggling with rising costs and about to embark on a major expansion of its water network, the $1.4 billion Southern Delivery System. “The alternative would be twice as costly,” Berry said. “In the grand scheme of things, yeah, you’d like to avoid that situation but if you have to do it, there’s nothing more important than preserving the integrity of those pipes and that water.”

More transmountain/transbasin diversions coverage here.

Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District budget hearing November 12

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District will have a hearing next month on its proposed 2010 budget, which totals $14.5 million. The hearing will be at 1 p.m. Nov. 12 at the district’s offices, 31717 United Ave., Pueblo, in the Airport Industrial Park…

About $5.3 million would repay the Fountain Valley Pipeline and is assessed only in El Paso County. The pipeline, built in the 1980s, serves Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security, Stratmoor Hills and Widefield. About $6.5 million would repay the costs of building the Fry-Ark Project itself. Personnel costs are about $1 million, while legal fees are a little more than $500,000. The overall amounts would not change significantly from the 2009 budget.

More Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District coverage here.

Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District budget meeting December 14

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District will have a public hearing on a $2.76 million budget for 2010 at 10 a.m. Dec. 14 at its office, 801 Swink Ave., Rocky Ford. The district collects a 1.5-mill tax on property…

The Lower Ark’s draft budget includes $1.18 million for water rights acquisition, $529,000 for administrative expenses, $400,000 for assistance to other entities, $180,000 for legal services and $150,000 for the Fountain Creek study. Legal fees are projected to be about $40,000 less in 2010, while most of the other large expenses are close to this year’s projections.

More Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District coverage here.