Aspen: Recap of public meeting for planned hydroelectric installation on Castle Creek

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From The Aspen Times (Carolyn Sackariason):

Nearly two dozen people attended a public meeting held Friday concerning the Castle Creek Hydroelectric Project. City officials, paid consultants, hydrologists and aquatic biologists were on hand to explain the project and answer questions about the project. The purpose of the meeting was to determine whether the city should circumvent a full environmental review through a permit process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As it stands now, the city plans to apply for what’s known as a “conduit exemption,” which wouldn’t require a full-blown environmental review. But the city’s public works director Phil Overeyender said if public comment, which will be taken for the next 60 days, raises enough concern or potential effects that the city hasn’t considered, a full environmental review could be possible.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Reclamation: Fryingpan summer flows concern for fishermen

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From The Aspen Times:

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is preparing a response to a letter of concern about summer water releases from Ruedi Reservoir, and it should be available to the public next week, an agency spokeswoman said. The Basalt town government and Ruedi Water and Power Authority asked the reclamation bureau for a detailed review of the water releases. The releases from the dam created a six-week “disaster” for anglers on the Fryingpan River, says a letter from the entities. Copies of the letter were sent to members of Colorado’s congressional delegation and state legislators. The reclamation bureau received the letter Monday and is collecting information for the response, said spokeswoman Kara Lamb.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project watershed coverage here.

Thompson Divide: Coalition funding water quality study to get in front of oil and gas exploration and production effects

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From The Sopris Sun (Jereby Heiman):

The Thompson Divide Coalition (TDC) has organized a study that is intended to establish baseline data on the purity of streams and underground water in the threatened area to the west and southwest of Carbondale. The group has partnered with the Roaring Fork Conservancy to design and execute the study. The Roaring Fork Conservancy is a Basalt-based watershed conservation organization that employs scientists and other experts and works to protect rivers, streams, underground water and stream bank habitat. “This baseline will allow us to hold the gas drilling companies accountable,” said Jock Jacober, chairman of the TDC Steering Committee.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Cortez: New sanitation district rates take hold

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From the Cortez Journal (Steve Grazier):

[District Manager Jay Conner] said business and multi-unit users will still pay $27 per month for thousands of gallons of flushing water. However, the $27 rate nets customers 3,000 gallons a month instead of the previous 10,000 gallons. Customers using more than 3,000 gallons will be charged an additional $3.50 per 1,000 gallons. Multi-unit and commercial users receiving a rate increase typically consist of Cortez’s downtown businesses, mobile-home park residents and apartment building tenants, Conner said.

The sanitation district manager cited various reasons for the rate increase, which affects about 1,100 multi-unit users and 283 commercial businesses in and near Cortez. “Our sewer lines are needing some repair,” Conner said. “The cost of billing, fuel and materials have also gone up.” Conner added that the Cortez Sanitation District has more than 100,000 feet of clay-tile sewer lines being replaced in and around the city. About 80,000 feet of asbestos-concrete lines are also in need of replacement.

Residential customers of the sanitation district are also on tap for a rate hike, Conner said. The monthly charge of $27 per household is targeted for an additional $3 in January 2010.

The sanitation district board is scheduled to vote on the issue at its Dec. 14 regular meeting, Conner said. Residential and commercial sanitation customers last received fee hikes in December 2008.

More Montezuma County coverage here.

Rico: Dolores Water Conservancy District approves alluvial well for supplemental supply

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From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

Rico proposed using alluvial wells north of town, which pump water from shallow aquifers, to supplement their current water supply. “We’ve been working on this for a couple of years now,” said Mike England, Rico town manager. “We struggle with the Silver Creek supply, especially after it rains.” “Rico’s primary point of water supply on Silver Creek faces turbidity and other issues,” said Mike Preston, DWCD manager. “They would like to drill a well up above Rico and be able to run the water down into town.”

England stressed Rico has tried to address their water concerns without new sources, but the 300 lots currently using water have put a strain on the town’s resources. “We have promoted the conservation of water,” England said. “We have raised prices for residential and commercial properties. We are near capacity and need to try to develop other water sources. This request is not for future development, just historic use.”[…]

The Colorado Water Conservation Board allows the Dolores Water Conservancy a 1 per cent, or 0.20 cubic feet per second, de minimis allowance of water usage in the instream flow segment between Rico and the confluence with Fill Gulch. De minimis allowance is the maximum amount of water usage allowed without substantial impact to instream flow. The proposed Rico project would require an allocation of 0.178 cfs. “What they are proposing is taking up a substantial part of the de minimis ,” Preston said.

Curtis walked the board through the existing water use on the section of river in question, noting there are 25 existing parcels, including reserved water usage rights for the Sundial development, that have prior claim. Ultimately, Curtis did not see a problem with the Rico request. “The way consumptive use is, we should be able to handle 300 residences,” he said. “Our conclusion was this isn’t a big use on the district and we don’t see a big impact.” The board’s approval of the request was subject to CWCB agreement that only 0.022 cfs be counted against the de minimis allowance downstream of Fill Gulch.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here and here.