Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Director Jim Broderick pow wows with Reclamation’s Mike Ryan

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“I think they are starting to understand the significance of what we are trying to do, and listening to the Secretary of Interior,” Jim Broderick, director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District told the board Thursday. Broderick went to Billings, Mont., last week to meet with Mike Ryan, regional director for Reclamation, and other officials. He took a list of about 20 issues that have been of concern to the district in recent years. It’s a new era of cooperation for the district, which has had an often placid, but sometimes stormy relationship with Reclamation in the past. A large part of the credit for the thaw belongs to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Broderick said. Salazar met with Southern Colorado water interests in August. His major action as a result of the meeting was to appoint Deanna Archuleta, deputy assistant secretary for water and science, as liaison for Arkansas Valley issues, like Southern Delivery System and the Arkansas Valley Conduit. Ryan also attended that meeting.

More Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District coverage here.

Mountain Studies Institute: Nitrogen levels in San Juan Mountains lakes less than that of Front Range lakes

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From the Silverton Standar & the Miner (Mark Esper):

Mountain Studies Institute contributed to two new scientific papers published Nov. 6 that explain how extra nitrogen deposited in undisturbed lakes is changing the nutrient balance available to algae, the small aquatic plants at the base of the food chain. San Juan Mountain lakes studied near the MSI field station in Silverton had relatively low levels of nitrogen, however, compared to many of the lakes studied in the Front Range of northern Colorado and portions of Norway and Sweden. Although increased concentrations of nitrogen in alpine lakes from atmospheric deposition have been widely reported, the subsequent effects on lake biology are not well documented. The results of the studies are published in the top-notch scientific journals Science and Ecology.

The findings demonstrate that atmospheric nitrogen deposition, which have been increasing steadily due to emissions from motor vehicles, energy production and agriculture, could reduce algal diversity and favor algae that are poor quality food for higher consumers such as zooplankton. Zooplankton are small swimming animals in lake food webs that are important food for higher predators, such as fish. Algae, like all plants, need nitrogen and phosphorus for growth. Inputs from pollution in the atmosphere appear to shift the supplies of nitrogen relative to other elements, like phosphorus. “When nitrogen levels get too high, the growth of algae at the base of the food web becomes limited by how much phosphorus they can acquire,” says Koren Nydick, executive director and chief scientist at the Mountain Studies Institute. “Initially, excess nitrogen from air pollution may stimulate growth of algae, but the phosphorus-starved algae are poor quality food for zooplankton, and this may have repercussions for fish.” James Elser from Arizona State University, who led the collaborative study, likens phosphorus-poor phytoplankton to “junk food” for zooplankton.

Lake sampling and experiments were initially conducted in low and high nitrogen deposition regions of Colorado in 2006. The San Juan Mountains near Silverton served as a “low deposition” region due to the relatively low amounts of nitrogen deposition recorded at a long-term monitoring station at Molas Pass. Algae in the San Juan lakes tended to be more deficient in nitrogen than phosphorus. This contrasted to lakes on the Front Range of northern Colorado, which receives about three times the nitrogen deposition recorded at Molas Pass. Algae in Front Range lakes tended to be phosphorus-poor (i.e., “junk food” for fish).

More Climate Change coverage here.

EPA faking the look of mine tailings with shotcrete at California Gulch

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From the Leadville Herald Democrat (Ann E. Wibbenmeyer):

The reaction to the work was positive, with comments about how authentic the piles still looked. There was some discussion about the wood used for the new cribbing wall, and whether it should have been treated to look old. According to Kerry Guy, project manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the wood was not treated at all. In this way, the boards will begin to look weathered sooner than with a treatment. The treatment on the surface of the wood could be done at a later time, he said, if that is what the community wants…

The work was done on the Denver City mine piles, which is owned by Leadville Silver and Gold. Bob Elder, local mining engineer, is the only remaining board member of this company and gave the EPA permission to use the piles [for the pilot study]…

Around the back of the Denver City piles, to the left, is the area that was covered with shotcrete. This is concrete shot onto the piles in varying shades to more closely resemble the rocks left on top of mining piles. Half of this was lined and the other half shot without a liner, to test the need for a liner to reduce the amount of acid mine drainage water into the Arkansas River.

More California Gulch/Yak Tunnel coverage here and here.

University of Colorado research team determines new way to measure snowpack with GPS

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Peter Budoff):

A research team led by the University of Colorado has developed a new way to measure snow depth and water levels using traditional GPS technology, a method that could change the way scientists study the climate. GPS antennas receive a signal directly from a satellite that enables them to display information about their specific location. In reality, some of the signal from the satellite is actually reflected off the ground, walls and other objects and then received by the antenna after most of the signal has already hit. Long dismissed by scientists as purely interference, the reflected signal is the basis for the CU team’s study, which was released Thursday. By measuring how late the reflected signals hit the GPS antenna, the researchers are able to calculate how much of a certain object — in this case snow and water — was present to interfere with the signal. “You can think of it as measuring the ‘echo,'” said CU professor Kristine Larson, who led the study. Using known values, the team can take the time it took for the reflected signal to hit the antenna and figure out the depth of the snow on the ground or amount of moisture in the soil in the area around the GPS.

Larson said she came up with the idea for the study about five years ago, when she was experimenting using GPS devices as seismographs to calculate the intensity and location of earthquakes. “My results were completely contaminated by reflections,” she said. “I was getting reflections off a water tower that were as big as the actual earthquake. I went from being irritated to thinking how I can actually use these signals.”

Larson and other researchers have set up GPS stations at various locations, including a field site in Marshall. Last spring, researchers were able to use GPS signals to calculate the depth of the snow that fell at the Marshall site during two large storms. Most recently, the group has been working with Munson Farms in Boulder, setting up GPS devices that enable farmers to measure the precise moisture content of the soil and vegetation.

More Climate Change coverage here and here.

Cañon City: Source of contamination under golf course different from main plume at Lincoln Park/Cotter superfund site

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From the Cañon City Daily Record (Rachel Alexander):

[Steve Tarlton, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment] said the company and department have determined that the source of contamination for the golf course plume is different from the source of the main plume, but the specific source has not been determined. Tarlton said the department has asked Cotter to continue to characterize the plume, install a ground water interception system that will most likely be series of wells and to determine possible sources. “We now have enough information to know where the plume is moving,” Tarlton said. Possible sources of the contamination include the CCD tanks, which Cotter currently is decommissioning and existing and historic ore pads, which the company is excavating.

Cotter also continues with the closure of the secondary impoundment and the deep dewatering of the primary impoundment.

Here’s the link to the Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill Superfund Site website.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Cañon City: University of Colorado to kick off climate change education program December 1

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From the Cañon City Daily Record (Debbie Bell):

Launching a statewide tour to bring home the message of climate change, the University of Colorado at Boulder will host a free community education program at the Abbey gymnasium Dec. 1.
“We are starting in Fremont County because CU Boulder has brought a number of science programs to the community already,” said Wynn Martens, outreach coordinator for CU Boulder Campus. “We would like to gather insight from the community on how to integrate our Web site as a resource for rural communities in Colorado.”[…]

The event, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the CU Boulder Office of Continuing Education and Professional Studies. That organization recently launched a new Web site that features a series of educational videos and resources that localize climate change in Colorado. The initiative involves faculty and national institute scientists in a joint effort to raise public awareness on how climate change affects environmental issues in the state, from pine beetles in the mountains to wind turbines on the eastern plains, and offers examples of how individuals and organizations are addressing the challenges. White’s research focuses primarily on the causes of climate change to make informed predictions about the future. “The University of Colorado is home to some of the world’s leading climate scientists,” said Anne Heinz, associate vide chancellor and CEPS dean. “The Web site pairs these scientists with citizens to tell compelling stories about how climate change is affecting our state. It is an excellent public education tool that presents the facts in an accessible, localized manner.”

Those planning to attend the Dec. 1 session are encouraged to visit the Web site in advance. The Web site features five short videos that discuss the science of climate change and address issues like greenhouse gases, water, ecology and energy. Linda Lewis, human resources director of Cañon City, recently downloaded the videos. They will be aired on Bresnan Channel 19 repeatedly leading up to the Dec. 1 meeting. A schedule is available online at; click on the “Channel 19” link…

The Dec. 1 event begins at 7 p.m. at the Abbey field house. Seating is available on a first-come basis. The results of that pilot event will help CU Boulder set plans for future trips across the state.

More Climate Change coverage here and here.

Colorado River Basin: Snowpack and streamflow

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From the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn):

Stream flows in Summit County are not too far off seasonal norms, but the Colorado River at Kremmling recently experienced an all-time record low flow for that date, according to local water commissioner Scott Hummer. The Colorado was only flowing at 280 cubic feet per second on Nov. 16, and flows farther downstream were also well below average, Hummer said. The previous minimum for the date was 330 cfs in 1978. “I can’t find a rhyme or reason as to why we’re starting to see these low flows so early in the season,” Hummer said.

Statewide, and in the Blue River Basin, the snowpack is at 79 percent of average. Only the Arkansas (at 99 percent) and the South Platte (100 percent) have an average snowpack for the date, he said. Some of the higher elevation sites in the Blue River Basin have a decent snowpack, including Fremont Pass, where an automated Snotel site shows the snowpack at 121 percent of average. But lower elevation sites are dry, with Summit Ranch, north of Silverthorne, coming in at just 33 percent of normal.

Alamosa: Report on 2008 salmonella outbreak blames aging infrastructure, inspection regime

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From the Valley Courier:

The health department’s final report (pdf) provides a comprehensive look at the disease outbreak, the response to the outbreak, and the conclusion of the 18-month investigation into how the city’s drinking water became contaminated. The investigation involved a detailed review of the water system; historical records; and interviews with city of Alamosa personnel, local health officials and responders to the outbreak. “We believe the people in Alamosa deserve to know what happened, what was done about it and why it happened,” said Ron Falco, Safe Drinking Water program manager in the Water Quality Control Division at the department.

The 65-page report concludes that animal waste most likely contaminated a concrete in-ground water storage tank that had several holes and cracks. A water sample collected during the outbreak indicated that water in the tank contained bacteria. Additional site visits conducted in 2009 found animal footprints in the snow around the tank, and a photograph in July 2009 captured bird feces on a corner of the tank that was repaired at the time of the outbreak. While these observations were made in 2009, they likely are representative of the animal activity that could have contaminated the water supply in the tank in 2008. “We cannot say with absolute certainty where the salmonella came from because the actual contamination event was not directly observed, and probably occurred at least 7 to 10 days before the outbreak was reported,” Falco acknowledged. “But after weighing all the evidence, we believe that the most likely scenario is that contamination entered this in-ground storage tank.” The city commissioned an inspection of the in-ground storage tank in July 1997 by a professional tank inspection company. That inspection report noted cracking and problems with the corners of the tank, and recommended routine inspections for the future. It appears that the tank continued to deteriorate into 2008. The state did not know of the city’s 1997 inspection findings, and its own inspections did not focus on storage tanks and distribution piping.

Alamosa was granted a waiver from state requirements to disinfect its drinking water in 1974, so water being served to the public in Alamosa at the time of the outbreak was not chlorinated. The investigation showed that only a small quantity of bird or animal feces contamination may have led to the salmonella outbreak. This kind of outbreak may have been very difficult to prevent in a system that did not chlorinate its water.

More Alamosa coverage here and here.

Paradox Valley: Energy Fuels Corp. formally applies for uranium mill state permit

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From the Cortez Journal (Joe Hanel):

The mill, proposed for the Paradox Valley west of Naturita, would be the first new uranium mill in the country in 25 years. It has caused heated debate in the Paradox Valley, in part because it could restart the uranium mining industry in Southwest Colorado. Montrose County commissioners approved zoning for the mill, known as the Piñon Ridge mill, in September…

This week’s application to the state triggers a 10- to 15-month process that will include two public hearings. State regulators will zero in on health effects of the mill in both the short- and long-term, said Steve Tarlton, radiation program manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Colorado has the most stakeholder-focused review process for uranium licensing in the United States,” Tarlton said. Tarlton’s office has 30 days to determine if the application is complete. Once it does, Energy Fuels has 75 days to hold two public hearings. Those hearings probably will happen in Montrose and the Nucla-Naturita area, said Energy Fuels spokesman Gary Steele. After the hearings, state law gives regulators nine to 12 months to approve or deny the permit. Energy Fuels CEO George Glasier said he is confident his application will pass muster with the state.

Travis Stills, a Durango lawyer who represents mill opponents, said Energy Fuels can expect plenty of opposition. “There will be considerable technical, grassroots and legal scrutiny of whatever it is they have proposed there,” Stills said. Stills filed the lawsuit in state court in Montrose against the county commissioners on behalf of Sheep Mountain Alliance. In the suit, mill opponents claim the county commissioners should not have approved the permit, because in the middle of the process, the company cut the amount of ore it intended to process in half and doubled the projected life of the mill to 40 years. The suit also claims that the mill should not have been approved in the Paradox Valley because it would carry much higher environmental risks than uranium mines, which are common the in the valley.

More coverage from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Once the radiation program determines the application is complete, Energy Fuels must conduct the first of two required public meetings within 45 days. It must conduct a second public meeting within 30 days of the first. Montrose County, meanwhile, has 90 days from the first public meeting to submit to the state its review of the environmental report included in the company’s application. The state Health Department can act on the application within 270 days of the county’s response or within 360 days of the second public meeting, if the county has no response. Energy Fuels’ application is available on the Web at rad/rml/energyfuels/index.htm and at the Nucla Public Library, 544 Main St., and Montrose County Planning and Development, 317 S. Second St. Public comments will be accepted throughout the review process. People may comment about the application at public meetings, by e-mail to or by writing to Steve Tarlton or Warren Smith at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Radiation Program, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver 80246-1530.

More on nuclear energy and Colorado’s role in the industry, from Hope Nealson writing for the Cortez Journal. From the article:

In 2006, 6.5 billion people used 14 trillion watts, or terawatts, of energy, [nuclear expert and former senior manager for the U.S. Department of Energy Dave Nulton] said. It will take all types of energy, including solar, wind, hydro and coal power, to satisfy the projected increase of demand for normal growth to 45 terawatts by the year 2050. Nulton said to achieve that kind of power, 66 wind turbines would have to be built every day until 2050, or two nuclear reactors every three days. “These numbers are extreme and really unachievable,” he said. “If you could build 66 windmills per day or two nuclear reactors every three days, you still wouldn’t get there without the help of other energies like coal, solar, etc.” Furthermore, Nulton said with atmospheric levels of carbon jumping from 228 ppm (parts per million) before the industrial revolution to 386 ppm today, using cleaner sources of energy like nuclear will help the world avoid approaching “catastrophic climate change by 2050.”

Nulton said the Four Corners – and Cortez’ role in general – would be to provide the uranium needed for nuclear power. “This area served the uranium supply (for nuclear power in the U.S.) for a number of years – now we’re second,” he said. “If you look at the available uranium in this country, Wyoming has more and the Four Corners is second.” Nulton said worldwide, there is a lot more uranium in Canada and Australia. “If we want to be energy independent, we don’t have to rely on another country like we do for oil – we can produce it in our own country,” he said. With no harmful releases, essentially no carbon footprint, low operating costs and minimal land requirements, Nulton said nuclear power is also an option that helps dispose of nuclear weapons. Other countries already reprocess the old fuel in nuclear war heads.

China has the most reactors at 16. There are 440 operating reactors in 31 countries, satisfying approximately 15 percent of electrical needs. Thirteen countries have plans to build reactors and 50 are currently under construction, he said.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Arkansas Valley Super Ditch announces plans to sell water to districts in El Paso County in 2011

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A lease agreement to provide 2,000 acre-feet of water annually for $500 an acre-foot (325,851 gallons) to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority was announced Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District by John Schweizer, a Rocky Ford farmer who is president of the Super Ditch…

“We do not have a signed lease, but we are making excellent progress,” said Gary Barber, agent for the Pikes Peak group. He said chances of a contract are good, if all of the boards of the El Paso County water districts approve the deal. The details of which farmers will participate in the deal, how dried-up land will be accounted for, how water will be moved to the communities that are purchasing it and other technical matters have yet to be worked out…

The Lower Ark board, which supported the formation voted unanimously Wednesday to allow water attorney Peter Nichols to file a change of use case for the Super Ditch. Until that change is approved in Division 2 Water Court, the lease would be administered under a Substitute Water Supply Plan by the Division of Water Resources, Nichols said. Division Engineer Steve Witte said the plan would be similar to one used to regulate the lease deal between the High Line Canal and Aurora in 2004-05…

The timing and location of flows to augment the Arkansas River will depend on where water is taken from under the Super Ditch lease, Witte said. Nichols said the amount of water leased to the Pikes Peak group could increase to up to 8,000 acre-feet annually over the next 20 years. “The numbers will increase as we prove the ability to move the water,” said Jay Winner, executive director of the Lower Ark district.

One big problem will be moving the water to El Paso County. That has not stopped El Paso County from pursuing water rights along the Arkansas River, however. Fountain and Widefield have purchased a ranch in Custer County for its water rights, while Donala bought a Lake County ranch water rights. “We will see a working model of how the water will be moved in January,” Barber said. Most of the Pikes Peak group is located in Northern El Paso County, outside of Colorado Springs, which controls most of the pipelines leading from the Arkansas River. Colorado Springs has discussed using Southern Delivery System capacity to assist the other communities, but no decisions have been made and SDS is at least seven years from completion. One Pikes Peak participant, Fountain, has a share of the Fountain Valley Conduit from Lake Pueblo, however and could use the excess capacity to bring water into the community. Fountain also has the most urgent need because of its rapid growth in recent years.

More coverage from Dave Vickers writing for the La Junta Tribune-Democrat. From the article:

The deal calls for PPWA to pay $500 per share to lease the water from shareholders of the Bessemer Ditch, Highline Canal Co., Oxford Ditch, Catlin Canal, Otero Ditch, Holbrook Canal and Fort Lyon Canal.

The seven entities in the PPRWA that want access to the farmers’ water include Academy Water and Sanitation District, Cherokee Metropolitan District, Donala Water and Sanitation District, Triview Metropolitan District, The Town of Monument, the Town of Palmer Lake and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. All are in northern El Paso County. Some, including Cherokee Metropolitan District, have been battling to preserve their rights and struggling to obtain more water because the aquifers that currently supply their members are drying up…

As members of the Super Ditch, shareholders from the seven canals are not contractually tied to any deal. The Super Ditch, incorporated last year as a private company, was developed by farmers who have searched for ways through the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District to market their water in a way that would avoid what happened in Crowley County. Colorado Springs and Aurora purchased water rights to the Colorado Canal and Rocky Ford Ditch in the 1980s and 1990s, then exchanged those rights upstream so they could transport the water to their cities. In the process about 70,000 acres of former farm land was dried up. Schweizer said that perhaps as much as 25 percent to 30 percent of the land under the seven ditches would be without water eventually, but only during years when the seven El Paso County entities need water to overcome shortages there. “It would probably be done with rotational fallowing,” Schweizer said. “Some years none of the land would be dried, some years, like 2002 and 2003 (when severe drought fell upon Colorado), more land could be fallowed.” Although the leasing and fallowing program is scheduled to start in 2011, Schweizer said most Super Ditch members believe it will take at least that long to “work the kinks out and get the program approved in water court.”

Colorado Springs Utilities has been working on a second pipeline, called the Southern Delivery System, which recently was approved by both federal officials and officials from Pueblo County, El Paso County and the cities of Pueblo and Colorado Springs. The SDS project is intended to meet the drinking water needs of the Colorado Springs metropolitan area past the year 2040. Officials from CSU have said in the past they are open to use of SDS by other entities, including Super Ditch, that could use excess delivery capacity SDS might provide. “Some of the little communities have engineered their own plans for a pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir, but the cost of it was out of their reach,” Schweizer said. “They believe it would be better to go with SDS, at least at first. I know they would like to have a permanent place for getting water from that pipeline when it’s built. “A whole lot will depend on SDS and whether Colorado Springs allows it to be used to transport water for other water users,” he said.

More Super Ditch coverage here and here.

Change in Pueblo West effluent discharge point (to Lake Pueblo) debated

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“State parks’ greatest concern surrounds the public perception of a direct wastewater discharge into the North Marina Cove,” John Geerdes, regional manager for state parks wrote in a letter to Pueblo West officials last week. The public perception could decrease use of the north boat ramp as well as the North Marina Cove, impacting visitation and revenue at the state park, the most heavily used in Colorado, Geerdes said. A lengthy list of other concerns also is addressed in the letter.

Pueblo West wants to change its discharge point for treated sewage from Wild Horse Dry Creek to a gulch behind the Pueblo West Golf Course, about two miles from Lake Pueblo. The $6.5 million project would discharge water that meets state Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines and would allow Pueblo West to fully use its transmountain water rights, said Steve Harrison, Pueblo West utilities director. The metro district is confident its releases into the gulch won’t be detrimental to water quality in Lake Pueblo, noting that Pueblo West also takes its water from the lake and would not want to jeopardize its own supply, Harrison said…

Geerdes said state parks’ concerns include: Long-term effects of nutrient loading in the lake are unknown and create the potential for algae blooms that could affect both wildlife habitat and the appearance of the lake; Increased weed production, including tamarisk, along the drainage in the gulch. The state is asking for assurances that weeds would be controlled; The lack of dilution of water that is released into the gulch; State parks wants a long-term monitoring plan that includes the point of discharge into the reservoir; State parks has a potable water line that crosses the drainage, which could wash out with increased flows.

“State parks requests Pueblo West explore, evaluate and present other alternative options before making any final decision to release water return flows into Golf Course Wash,” Geerdes wrote.

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

Pueblo West is filing an application with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to relocate the discharge site of its wastewater plant from the Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam to Lake Pueblo. The discharge would be of treated water, not wastewater. Currently, the treatment plant discharges water into Pesthouse Gulch and then into the Arkansas River below the dam. The application would change the discharge route into Golf Course Wash, which leads into Lake Pueblo near the North Marina. District Manager Larry Howe-Kerr told the [Pueblo County] commissioners the district would satisfy all of the state’s water quality requirements in making the change.

Commissioners, however, turned down the request for approval, agreeing with county planning staff that the regional water-quality management plan, called a “208 plan” after the pertinent section of state law, needed to be amended first. That process could take six months or longer, according to Kim Headley, the county’s planning director. Howe-Kerr challenged that assessment, saying the regional plan should be modified later, after the state approves the change in the discharge site…

Headley said Lake Pueblo is a major source of drinking water to the region and other communities would want to comment on the Pueblo West application. Amending the 208 plan would require public hearings on the proposed change. After the commissioners voted not to approve Pueblo West’s application to the state, Howe-Kerr said Pueblo West would press ahead with the application anyway with the state’s Water Quality Control Division.

More Pueblo West project coverage here.

Arkansas Basin Roundtable survey recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Sharing water, municipal conservation and tamarisk removal were listed as the best ways to improve water supply in a recent survey of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. Also ranking high were rotational fallowing programs, like the type envisioned by the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch, and certain water projects, like the Arkansas Valley Conduit, that improve drinking water supplies for communities in the valley. The survey has been the topic of discussion for the roundtable for months, largely at the urging of President Gary Barber, who has been coaxing the group to finalize a needs assessment report to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Both the report and survey were finalized at the November roundtable meeting.

The roundtable scored regional and statewide projects as well as methods along loose criteria that asked if they were viable, equitable and bearable, with a rating system that graded them 1-5, with 5 as the highest score. Then, the answers of roundtable members, who come from all parts of the Arkansas River basin, were averaged to provide a priority ranking for projects that are planned, already under way or have been completed during the first four years of the roundtable…

Projects to import more water from the Western Slope ranked surprisingly low on the list of viable, equitable and bearable options. More than a dozen strictly in-basin projects scored higher. The top three were the Green Mountain Pumpback plan, which primarily aids Denver, a Blue Mesa pumpback and the Flaming Gorge import plan. Ranking dead last on the list was the continued buy-and-dry of agricultural water rights, which was ironic considering the largest water deal in the Valley this year was the Pueblo Board of Water Works purchase of 27 percent of the Bessemer Ditch. The Pueblo water board, while buying the shares, offered farmers the option of using the water for the next 20 years, an offer nearly all of those who sold their water rights accepted.

More IBCC – Basin Roundtables coverage here.

‘Water for the 21st Century Act’ update December 17

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From email from the Interbasin Compact Committee (Jim Yahn):

You are invited to a Progress Update on the “Water for the 21st Century Act” on Thursday, December 17th. We are hoping that you will join with other Northern Colorado leaders in attending this important event concerning our future water supply needs. This Progress Update event will be held December 17, 2009 in McKee 4-H, Youth & Community Buildingat the Larimer County Fairgrounds (The Ranch) in Loveland, Colorado. The event will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please pass this invitation along to your Council Members, City or Town Manager, Water Board Members, key staff members and any others involved in decisions about your water future.

Please RSVP to Lory Hildred at the City of Greeley Water and Sewer Department. Her phone number is 970-350-9812. Her e-mail address is Your reply is requested by December 1, 2009.

More IBCC coverage here.

Arkansas River: Streamflow below Lake Pueblo

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From The Pueblo Chieftaian (Chris Woodka):

Flows from the dam were cut from about 350 cubic feet per second Saturday to 70 cfs on Sunday, as irrigators began a program that allows them to store winter flows for use later in the year. The winter water program was started by ditch companies under an agreement with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District in 1975, after Pueblo Dam was completed. It became a decreed water program in 1984. Water is stored in Lake Pueblo, as well as several downstream reservoirs, from Nov. 15 to March 15 of the following year…

Under a recovery of yield program, created by an intergovernmental agreement in 2004, a minimum flow of 100 cfs below Pueblo Dam is maintained throughout the winter months. The flow is calculated at the river gauge above Pueblo, with flows through the state fish hatchery added. This week, flows above Pueblo have been between 60-65 cfs, while fish hatchery flows have been between 30-40 cfs. “What we’ve agreed to is that the flow won’t go under 100 cfs, with retroactive curtailment of exchanges after March 15,” said Alan Ward, water resources administrator with the Pueblo Board of Water Works. Ward supervises the recovery of yield program. That decision was made last year, after flows in the Arkansas River dropped to nearly nothing in 2005 and were in danger of running low again in 2007. The IGA among Pueblo, the Pueblo water board, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fountain and the Southeastern district calls for curtailment of exchanges when the river drops below 100 cfs…

In practice, Colorado Springs is the only IGA participant that exchanges in the winter months, storing water out of priority in Lake Pueblo in exchange for return flows, mostly from treated sewage, down Fountain Creek.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.