Colorado Water Conservation Board to meet January 26-27 in Denver

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

Notice is hereby given that a meeting of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) will be held on Tuesday, January 26, 2010, commencing at 10:15 a.m. and continuing through Wednesday, January 27, 2010. This meeting will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Denver Tech Center, 7675 E. Union Avenue, Denver, CO 80237, (303) 770-4200. The CWCB will hold a workshop on the Colorado River Water Availability Study (CRWAS) Tuesday, January 26, 2010, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at this same location.

More CWCB coverage here.

Colorado Springs city council approves $1.11 billion budget for Colorado Springs Utilities

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From the Colorado Springs Independent:

In approving Colorado Springs Utilities’ $1.11 billion budget, City Council this week allowed the city-owned agency to use water rate money to fund $75.8 million in projects over 10 years. The projects will satisfy regulations imposed on the Southern Delivery System pipeline that will bring water from Pueblo Reservoir. Money for those projects is included in the rate base starting in January, although roughly $64 million in work won’t begin until after 2010. The idea is to spread the cost over 10 years, rather than coming up with all the money now, says Councilman Randy Purvis, adding that amortizing payments spreads the cost to future ratepayers. Projects include dredging Fountain Creek, developing wetlands and erosion control. The largest sum, $49.7 million, comprises five annual cash payments to the Fountain Valley Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District formed this year to improve and preserve the corridor. The Utilities budget contains rate increases that will raise the typical residential bill by about $1.90 a month, which would have been larger but for reductions in gas charges due to falling fuel costs.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here.

Pueblo West: Water and sewer rates to rise

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From The Pueblo West View (Mike Spence):

…the 7.9 percent hike in water rates and the 3.2 percent increase in wastewater fees aren’t enough to offset the district’s costs. The fee hikes will increase the monthly water bill for the average water user by $3.51 ($1.75 for water and $1.76 for wastewater).

Steve Harrison, Pueblo West’s director of utilities, has been pushing for higher increases for several years. His proposal – 13.5 percent for both water and wastewater services – received some support from members of the Pueblo West Metropolitan District board of directors at past meetings. In an effort to close the funding gap, Harrison proposed the 13.5 percent hike in fees at the metro board’s Dec. 14 meeting. “The sewer fund is seriously underfunded,” Harrison said. “We need help.” Despite Harrison’s plea, the request was voted down.

More Pueblo West coverage here.

South Platte Roundtable recap

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From the Fort Lupton Press (Rosalie Everson):

“There is virtually no new water left to develop in the South Platte River Basin,” Mike Shimmin, a member of the Interbasin Compact Committee said in a roundtable progress report [December 17] at the Larimer County Fairgrounds. There might not be any more water to develop, but there will be major population growth, perhaps double, in the basin, an area that includes the northeastern quadrant of the state. Closing the door to new residents, an option one member of the audience inquired about, would not completely solve the problem. Fifty percent of the increased water users will be the children and grandchildren of those who are already living in Colorado. They will need water for their basic needs, and they will also expect to fish, water ski, work and eat, priorities that can conflict with the water that will, or by 2050, will not, be supported by the existing water supply.

Agriculture in the South Platte River Basin is big business, with an annual value of more than $3 billion in crops sold. If water currently irrigating the 1,027,000 acres of cropland in the South Platte Basin is diverted to growing cities, then the average $3,102 of income per crop acre will evaporate, drying up not only farms but also the small town businesses and special district taxes-school, library, and fire protection, their profits support. Recreation, a huge generator to Colorado’s economy, could be affected if farms aren’t irrigated, Simmons said. “Much of sports and recreation environment along the river and streams is created by return flow from irrigation,” he added…

There’s also an impending double water whammy. Underground reservoirs used by municipalities are shrinking, so they are acquiring surface water rights to make up for the shortage. “We have data from South Metro Denver, and Northern El Paso County that they will need 110,000 acre feet,” said Eric Hecox, the section chief of the Colorado Water Conservation Board…

The gap between available water and increased municipal needs should be accomplished without the destruction of the agricultural economy, the roundtable members said. “We need to look at every way we can to solve this gap,” Evans said. The solution most endorsed was increasing water storage, with several members noting that the proposed Glade Reservoir would have been filled to 60 percent of its capacity had last summer’s above average rainfall been “captured.”

More South Platte Basin coverage here and here.