Arkansas Valley: Where is the tipping point for farm communities as farms are dried up?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District Wednesday voted to help find the answer by folding the task into its existing research on the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch…

The Colorado Water Conservation Board already is funding research by the Lower Ark district in connection with the Super Ditch, a land-fallowing, water-leasing program that is seen as a possible answer to traditional buy-and-dry. The idea of the tipping point came out of a recent meeting of the Interbasin Compact Committee, looking at ways to share the state’s water in the future.

Implement dealers, farm supply stores and retail stores suffer as water leaves farming communities, but no one has determined a threshold. The IBCC would like to plug that sort of information into its model that looks at balancing various water supply strategies. “No one has done this before,” Nichols said. “In the past, you got models that told you nothing.”

More Colorado Water coverage here.

Yuma: 2009 precipitation top 20 inches

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From The Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

It is the first time in recent memory topping 20 inches in a calendar year. The traditional average annual precipitation is between 15 to 20 inches. The precipitation level being reported here is a combination of the Weather Underground stations at the Y-W Combined Communications Center, which reliably recorded moisture through September, and the one at Bo and Patty Vaughn’s residence west of town, which has been reliable lately but was offline in May and June when much of the moisture fell. Sunday’s snow storm resulted in .23 of an inch of moisture, putting Yuma’s total precipitation to date in 2009 at 20.06 inches.

Breckenridge: Illinois Gulch restoration

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From the Summit Daily News (Robert Allen):

Wetlands were added, boulders were placed and trees were planted to help restore the area before development. The creek snakes through the Water House on Main Street condominium development before connecting with the Blue River. Project manager Sharon Cole with East West Partners said the creek in 2000 had been basically “a wash through the parking lot,” and that with the final phase of Main Street Station’s being built, the gulch has been reclaimed. The realignment project began March 1 and was completed about Oct. 1, and the project overall cost several hundred thousand dollars, Cole said. The company worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and environmentalists and “what we’ve accomplished is the creek now flows close to its natural origin,” Cole said. Willows have been planted and trout-spawning pools have been added to Maggie Pond. Cole said monitoring will continue the next three years to ensure the improvements make progress.

More Blue River watershed coverage here and here.

The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership to host workshop focusing on reclamation activities and abandoned mine lands issues in the upper Uncompahgre Watershed December 11

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Here’s the release from the UWPP via the Delta County Independent:

The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership will be hosting a day long workshop focusing on reclamation activities and abandoned mine lands issues in the upper Uncompahgre Watershed. The program, titled: “Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed” will be held on Friday, Dec. 11, from 9:30-3:30 at the Ouray Community Center.

According to the workshop’s organizer, Andrew Madison, this event will bring together representatives from state, local and federal agencies, as well as local organizations and industry representatives to discuss how different agencies are handling AML issues as well as future strategies for remediating and safeguarding abandoned mine sites. The workshop will involve short presentations as well as a roundtable discussion focusing on data sharing and prioritizing abandoned mine sites for future reclamation. Participants will include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety, Trust for Land Restoration, Trout Unlimited, the Red Mountain Project and many others.

Abandoned mines can pose many hazards both to people and environment through un-safe mine openings and structures as well as soils and surface water contamination from acid mine drainage and abandoned mine waste. However these sites are an important part of the culture and heritage of Ouray County and provide a unique glimpse into the past for tourists and younger generations. Through proper management, reclamation and safeguarding, the hazards of these sites can be remediated while preserving cultural aspects.

The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership is a volunteer group seeking to involve citizens and organizations in the Uncompahgre Watershed. Its mission is to protect and restore water quality in the Uncompahgre River through coordinated community and agency efforts.

For more information about “Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed” contact Andrew Madison at 413-297-7232 or

More Uncompahgre River watershed coverage here and here.

Dry Gulch Reservoir: Trout unlimited files Petition for Rehearing with Colorado Supreme Court saying storage safety margin reserve constitutes speculation

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From the Pagosa Daily Post (Sheila Berger):

In its petition, Trout Unlimited requests the Supreme Court to remove from its November 2 opinion its endorsement of a one-year safety supply reserve, stating that, “the Districts would add a volume of water equivalent to a one-year’s demand to the amount of storage they would otherwise require, essentially doubling the size of the reservoir.” Trout Unlimited also alleges in its petition that planning for a one-year storage reserve constitutes speculation.

A one-year safety supply is, by definition, enough storage to supply one year of demand in the situation that a drought or another catastrophic event prevents PAWSD from diverting water from its stream sources. For example, in the summer and fall of 2002, even with sand bagging, a very minimal amount of river water was available for diversion. Because there had been no runoff in the spring of 2002, reservoirs were dangerously low. Even with severe drought restrictions, the District was very close to “running dry.” In 2002, the District had no storage safety margin. Currently, the safety margin is provided by the recently completed Stevens Reservoir Enlargement. For the first half of the 2002 drought year, sufficient river water was available for diversion. Reliance on storage became necessary in late June. The Trout Unlimited claim that a one-year safety supply doubles the size of the reservoir is an erroneous statement, as some of the first year demand would be served through river diversions and some of the storage reserve would be supplied by existing District reservoirs. Future drought patterns cannot be predicted with certainty, and the District has implemented its one-year safety supply margin to prudently plan for that uncertainty. The water districts feel that planning for severe drought is not speculative given the long historical record of, and recent occurrence of, severe droughts in the southwestern United States.

The response of the Supreme Court to the Petition is anticipated to be forthcoming in the next month. Meanwhile, the Districts will hold a special joint meeting at 6:00 p.m. November 30, at the PAWSD offices to discuss the case and the necessary next steps to preparing for another trial with the District 7 Water Court.

Here’s the release from the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District.

More Dry Gulch Reservoir coverage here and here.