More on last week’s Colorado Supreme Court ruling on Dry Gulch Reservoir planning horizon

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From the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn):

According to Drew Peternell, of Colorado Trout Unlimited’s Western Water Project, the Supreme Court laid out a new test for public utilities. In the Pagosa Springs case, the court ruled that the city’s claim for water based on a 100-year planning horizon was not reasonable. “They have to show that claim for water is based on realistic projections for population growth. They can’t just pull numbers out the air,” Peternell said.

Undeveloped (conditional is the legal term) water rights are subject to periodic hearings in water court. Every six years, the water providers have to show their claim on the water is still valid. When the time for those hearings comes, they will be held to the new standards spelled out by the court, Peternell said.

Denver Water, the biggest player in Summit County, joined in the court case on the side of Pagosa Springs, along with other water providers from around the state. “We wanted the court to maintain a degree of deference to governmental entities that have to plan for future growth,” said Denver Water attorney Casey Funk. Funk said the Supreme Court decision established some new factors that water courts have to consider before awarding water rights, but that water providers still do have some flexibility in planning for future needs. Essentially, the ruling partly clarified some of the conflicts between the “great and growing cities” doctrine, which provides flexibility to plan for future water needs, and the anti-speculation doctrine, which limits pie-in-the-sky water claims.

More water law coverage here.

More Dry Gulch Reservoir coverage here and here.

Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District hatches plan to accelerate the Arkansas Valley Conduit

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Hoping to alleviate building delays due to the vagaries of federal funding the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District is shortening the timeline for the environmental (NEPA) reports. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Thursday approved a plan to wrap up major parts of an Environmental Protection Agency grant by next March, allowing the Bureau of Reclamation to begin work on an environmental impact statement by April. “The NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) piece of this needs to get started,” said Phil Reynolds, project manager. In order to do that, an EPA grant that was going to take 27 months to complete will be pushed ahead of schedule. The work also includes identifying the route of the pipeline and looking at rights of way. The parts affecting the EIS, however, need to be completed so Reclamation can begin work.

At a meeting this week with the Bureau of Reclamation officials in Billings, Mont., the district received assurances that the $5 million appropriated by Congress for 2010 will be spent in this fiscal year, Executive Director Jim Broderick told the board. “Between now and March 31, we will enter into a third-party agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation,” Broderick said. “If we had not done that, the intent was to spend $2 million this year, and encumber $3 million for the following year.” That would make it difficult for the district to ask for more money in the following year, Broderick said.

Meanwhile, here’s the SECWCD budget news, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“We are not looking at a huge shortfall,” said Kathie Fanning, chief financial officer. “So many things are coming to fruition.” Most of the district’s revenues – $12 million – go toward repayment of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, including $5.3 million for the Fountain Valley Conduit. The district began repaying $132 million on the Fry-Ark Project in 1982, and still owes $68 million on the 50-year loan. This year’s payments toward the project are about 6.5 million. Other payments toward operation of the winter water program, operation and maintenance. The largest expenses in the operating fund go toward employees, $1 million, and legal work, $515,000. Both figures are essentially unchanged from 2009. The district also has budgeted nearly $3 million for its enterprise fund, which includes an accelerated payment schedule for an Environmental Protection Agency grant for the Arkansas Valley Conduit. The budget includes property tax collections of 0.944 mills for parts of nine counties. El Paso County contributes 72 percent, while Pueblo County contributes almost 16 percent. Counties west of Pueblo contribute almost 9 percent, while those east of Pueblo make up the remainder.

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.

Fruita: Construction begins on new wastewater treatment plant

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Le Roy Standish):

Construction of a $22.8 million wastewater treatment plant began Thursday in Fruita. The plant is being built at 15 Road near the Colorado River by Garney Construction of Littleton…

The new plant will have the ability to treat 2.33 million gallons of waste daily. Huston said the city anticipates the facility will have 20 years of operation and the ability to handle Fruita’s projected growth rate of 2.5 percent. But the main reason for the new plant is federal clean-water standards, Huston said. “The environmental laws have changed, and they will require us to meet greater nutrient removal standards by 2013,” Huston said.

More wastewater coverage here.