Colorado River District grant program

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From email from the Colorado River District (Martha Moore):

Beginning December 1, 2009, the Colorado River District will be accepting grant applications for projects that protect, enhance or develop water resources in their 15-county area within the Colorado River Basin; this includes all tributary watershed areas in Colorado, except the San Juan River basin.

Water resource projects eligible for grant funding should meet one or more of the following objectives:

Development of a new water supply;
Improvement of an existing system;
Improvement of instream water quality;
Increased water use efficiency;
Sediment reduction;
Implementation of watershed management actions; and/or
Tamarisk control

Past successful projects have included the construction of new storage, the enlargement of existing facilities, the rehabilitation of non-functioning or restricted structures, both small and large-scale water efficiency measures, tamarisk removal and other watershed actions. In addition, proposals that enable water to be supplied to areas previously short are eligible and encouraged. Projects that utilize pre-1922 water rights will be given ranking priority.

Eligible applicants can receive up to a maximum of $150,000 (or 25% of the total project cost whichever is less) for their water supply projects. The total grant pool for 2010 is $250,000. The application deadline is Jan. 29, 2010.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Climate change and instream flows in Colorado

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From KUNC (Kirk Siegler):

Researchers looked at average global climate models for the year 2070 and applied them to various rivers in western Colorado, where water levels are already stressed. “This is a unique study because we’ve taken these predictions that just focus on the reduction or the increase in temperature,” said Ray Alvarado, of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, “And superimposed those on the local level to see what is the impact on supplies. It hasn’t been done before.” And researchers found climate change would rear its ugly head differently across western Colorado. They found that more precipitation would fall in the winter by 2070, but far less in the summer. The rub is that precipitation may fall in the form of rain, not snow. Not good for storing water that cities, farmers and others depend on.

The study also shows that water levels on the Colorado River would drop by about 23 percent, 35 percent on the Gunnison, and 70 percent on the Dolores in southwest Colorado…

Some parts of the state could see more moisture in a warmer world. State officials say northwest Colorado’s Yampa River could drop by only 2 percent by 2070. That’s also the river that’s being most closely eyed by thirsty cities and the oil shale industry.

More climate change coverage here.

Greeley: EPA fines Bucklen Equipment for Clean Water Act violations

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Here’s a release from the EPA via The Greeley Tribune:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with Bucklen Equipment Company to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act in Weld County. Under the agreement, the company will pay a penalty of $16,000 and remove any remaining gravel piles from wetlands along the Cache la Poudre River within the city of Greeley.

The EPA, in a release Tuesday, said Bucklen Equipment introduced sediment and altered the condition of the river and nearby wetlands. The investigation began in August 2008 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received information that the company was doing excavation along the river, including the removal of islands and grading the river’s floodplain, according to the EPA release.

The EPA will inspect the area next summer to determine if it has properly recovered.

Clean Water Act permits are required before performing any work that results in material being placed into rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. Any person planning work affecting waters and wetlands should contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Office at 9307 S. Wadsworth Ave., Littleton, CO, 80128-6901 or call (303) 979-4120 to determine if they need a permit.

More Cache la Poudre coverage here.

Gunnison River Basin: North Fork River Improvement Association watershed meeting December 9

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From email from the Colorado Watershed Assembly:

The North Fork River Improvement Association (NFRIA) is continuing the process to update the original 2000 Watershed Action Plan for the North Fork of the Gunnison. This is a chance for you to take action in addressing the foremost issues concerning your river. A public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 9, 2009, at the Paonia Public Library in Paonia, CO from 4:00 to 6:00pm.

NFRIA wants to assess how the public perception of the watershed has changed during the last nine years. Participation in this meeting will prove valuable for our organization in pursuing the goals of all stakeholders in the watershed. We hope to come away with an inclusive list of public concerns allowing us to optimize our efforts. NFRIA has completed many projects since the original Watershed Plan was released, including the Short and Sheppard-Wilmot Ditch diversions and the Chipeta Dam removal. In order to better serve all stakeholders, NFRIA welcomes critique of how well we have executed the initial action plan and suggested elements to focus on in the coming years.

This meeting is the second of two public meetings that constitute the first task in updating the watershed plan. The update process will review the science, the state of the watershed, sources of water quality impairment, and public concerns, and will set goals for the next 10 years. The Colorado Water Conservation Board is funding this project.

The original 2000 Watershed Action Plan can be found at www.nfria.org. Please feel free to contact the NFRIA office with any questions at 970.872.4614.

More Gunnison River Basin coverage here.

Denver Water: Moffat Collection System Project may benefit streamflows in South Boulder Creek

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From The Denver Post (Charlie Meyers):

The South Boulder Creek situation involves a similar difficulty to maintain flows below the reservoir during those cold months when water generation is diminished and fish mortality occurs. Again, flow control by Denver Water is at the heart of the issue. The water provider currently agrees to maintain flows at seven cubic feet per second — provided this small watershed can produce even that minuscule amount. Help may be on the way in a Denver Water plan to boost West Slope diversion through the Moffat Tunnel, boosting storage in Gross Reservoir. A companion arrangement would allow the water suppliers for the cities of Boulder and Lafayette to utilize storage in the reservoir.

The potential to use this to enhance winter flows has caught the attention of Trout Unlimited, which long has sought a solution to the South Boulder Creek puzzle. “If we can use this increased storage to boost flows in the creek,” this would be something we could support,” said Drew Peternell, director of TU’s Western Water Project. But Peternell’s concern also extends to a larger matter, which is a Denver Water push to acquire more water from the upper Fraser River basin, then deliver it through the Continental Divide via its Moffat Tunnel complex.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs Utilities requests Reclamation move forward on contract talks

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“To maintain our current schedule to begin construction on the Pueblo Dam connection in early 2010, we have requested that Reclamation move forward with the contracting process as soon as possible,” said John Fredell, project director…

The contract negotiations will provide an additional opportunity for public comment on SDS, a $1 billion-plus pipeline project on track to be completed by 2016…

Colorado Springs Utilities also is seeking permits in El Paso County, and expects to present its case to the El Paso County Planning Commission in February, Fredell said. The city also has scheduled meetings with the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, its technical advisory committee and its citizens advisory group during December and January.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.