Colorado Springs: Colorado Rural Water Association’s 29th Annual Training Conference and Exhibition February 15-18

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Here’s the lowdown from the Colorado Rural Water Association.

Tamarisk control: 15 camels working the tamarisk clusters near Loma

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From Discovery News (Alyssa Danigelis):

Rancher Maggie Repp has unleashed her 15 camels in Loma, Colorado, on tamarisk clusters and noticed that they managed to obliterate every one of the hardy shrubs, Lisa Song reports in the High Country News.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.

Grand Junction: Pit-liner bill upheld

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Wwebb):

Judge William W. Hood III issued the ruling Tuesday in the case brought by Fourmile Recycling Facility Inc. of Moffat County, and a second operation there.

The operators challenged rules adopted by the Colorado Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission, which was implementing a new state law. The Legislature passed the bill in 2008 out of concern about the potential health effects of the facilities in places such as the De Beque area in Mesa County. Its principal sponsors included state Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, and Bernie Buescher, a former state representative from Grand Junction now serving as secretary of state. The law requires new facilities to be located at least a half mile from homes, other occupied structures and parks. Companies also must now use synthetic rather than more permeable clay liners for disposal pits unless they qualify for waivers.

Brine waste from oil and gas exploration and production consists of salt water mixed with small amounts of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing of wells, along with crude oil and other hydrocarbons.

The new rules don’t apply to brine waste disposal by oil and gas well owners, who instead are subject to similar regulation by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Hood disagreed with plaintiffs’ contentions that the new rules were contrary to the 2008 law, unreasonable and unconstitutional, and that they usurped local regulatory authority over such disposal sites.

More groundwater coverage here and here.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: Million Resources Group has seventeen entities in Colorado and Wyoming interested in the water

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Update: Here’s the list from the Associated Press via

Central Colorado Water Conservancy District and its subdistricts, headquartered in Greeley, Colo., up to 150,000 acre feet; Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities: from 3,500 to 5,500 acre feet by the year 2040; City of Brighton, Colo.: up to 12,000 acre feet; Douglas County, Colo.,: up to 40,000 acre feet; East Larimer County Water District, Up to 5,000 acre feet; Fort Collins-Loveland Water District; up to 5,000 acre feet; Larimer and Weld Irrigation Co.: up to 20,000 acre feet; Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District, up to 35,000 acre feet; Norris Ranches (T-Cross Ranches, Norris Cattle Inc. in Colorado Springs); up to 20,000 acre feet; North Sterling Irrigation District; up to 25,000 acre feet; Penley Water Company in Douglas County, Colo.,; Up to 10,000 acre feet; Pioneer Canal and Lake Hattie Irrigation District in Wyoming, 8,000 acre feet; Prewitt Operating Committee, headquartered in Sterling, Colo., (Logan Irrigation Co., Illiff Irrigation District, Morgan Prewitt Reservoir Co.), up to 10,000 acre feet; Windsor Reservoir and Canal Co., up to 10,000 acre feet; Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, up to 3,000 acre feet.

More coverage from the Associated Press (Ben Neary) via From the article:

Mike DiTullio, general manager Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, said Thursday his district serves 15,000 customers and ultimately could use another 10,000 acre feet of water. The district’s letter submitted to the Corps of Engineers expresses interest in securing an additional 5,000 acre feet per year. “We’re interested in any water project that could bring water into northern Colorado,” DiTullio said. “It doesn’t have to be (Million’s); we’re into any of them. We think that water is just an essential ingredient for the health and welfare of northern Colorado and Wyoming.”

Tim Murrell, Douglas County water resources planner in Castle Rock, Colo., said Thursday that the county’s letter expressing the need for up to 40,000 acre feet of water doesn’t indicate support or opposition to the pipeline project. “It wasn’t interest in this water,” Murrell said of the county’s letter. “It was a statement that we would need a certain amount of water from some source.”

From the Associated Press via

Some of the potential customers say they don’t necessarily endorse the pipeline project, which faces opposition in Wyoming…Million this week gave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a list of 17 local water entities in Colorado and Wyoming interested in getting water. He says their needs exceed the pipeline’s capacity and prove that it’s necessary.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

Republican River Water Conservation District board meeting recap

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

Legal counsel David Robbins told the board that the three states — Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska — have reached a contract agreement with arbitrator Martha Pagel of Oregon. Colorado invoked the non-binding fasttrack arbitration last August after Kansas and Nebraska voted down the pipeline plan as presented. The initial timeline called for the arbitrator being chosen by September 16, the trial to be held February 1-5, with the arbitrator’s decision due by March 1. Robbins said there was no news yet on a revamped timeline. “We are more in a mode of a tugboat on an oceanliner, trying to nudge the three states along,” he said, noting the district itself had very little power in terms of forcing the states into action…

Robbins told the board that Colorado officials were meeting with their Nebraska counterparts this week in an effort to find out how to reach an agreement on the pipeline. Robbins and Dennis Montgomery, another member of the RRWCD’s legal team, were going to be involved with the meetings…

Later in last Thursday’s meeting, district engineer Jim Slattery reported that pipeline consultant GEI strongly recommends not do the prequalifying of potential contractors until ready to actually do the project. He added that GEI is receiving phone calls daily from contractors eager to get started, and the process is receiving interest from all over the country. That was when Robbins spoke up again, asking if the district should build before it is clear how much credit toward compact compliance Colorado will receive for the water it sends down the North Fork from the pipeline. (As it stands now, only 22 percent of the water that crossed the gage at the Nebraska state line would go toward compact compliance. However, when all is said and done, it is expected Colorado will receive 80 to 100 percent credit.) He noted that if the arbitration goes well, then Colorado will be in a stronger position to go forward with the pipeline…

Board President Dennis Coryell said last Thursday the district is just beginning to receiving the feedback, and hopes all ground water management districts and commissioners provide their opinion within the coming weeks.
(The district already has spent more than $40 million on purchasing the wells for the pipeline, from the Cure family. The wells are located approximately 10 miles or more north of Laird in extreme eastern Yuma County. However, there is another $15 million of the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s $60 million loan left to spend on construction of the pipeline.) Board members did relay some feedback they have received. Greg Larson said Byron Weathers of Colorado Corn, indicated the organization would prefer to wait for arbitration to run its course. Several others said their ground water districts are leaning toward waiting for the arbitrator’s decision, as well as other issues to be settled, such as the amount of credit Colorado will receive, the sub-basin test on the South Fork being pushed by Kansas. (The state is fighting the idea of water being sent down the North Fork counting for the water the compact states Colorado should be sending down the South Fork.)

More Republican River Basin coverage here and here.

Arkansas Valley: Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District offers $40,000 per share for rights on the High Line Canal

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A copy of a contract being offered by the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District revealed the offer. Woodmoor is seeking to buy shares of the High Line and Holbrook canals, which primarily serve farmers in Otero County. The Woodmoor district is on the northern El Paso County line, east of Interstate 25. It serves 8,400 customers and some of the homes in the district drain into the South Platte basin.

It’s not known how many contract offers have been made, who has accepted or what prices are being offered on the Holbrook Canal. The contract provides a diligence period of four months with the possibility of extension. The price reflects the potential difficulty of moving water from the Arkansas Valley. Bessemer Ditch shares last year sold to the Pueblo Board of Water Works for $10,150 each. A share on the Bessemer historically irrigated 1 acre. Further down the river, on the Fort Lyon and Amity canals, shares have sold to municipal or industrial interests for a less than $2,500 per acre in recent years. High Line sold water to Aurora and Colorado Springs on a temporary lease agreement for $500 per acre in 2004-05.

The district filed for an exchange decree on potential Lower Arkansas Valley water rights on Dec. 30 in Division 2 Water Court. The move would allow Woodmoor to take water by exchange up reservoirs, both existing and planned, on the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek. On Wednesday, the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board voted unanimously to oppose the water court application.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

Colorado State University: Water Tables 2010 February 20

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Here’s the link to the website. They write:

Join us for the fifth year of Water Tables, the annual fundraiser supporting the Water Resources Archive on Saturday, February 20.

You won’t want to miss this evening of dinner and conversation with experts on Western water. This year’s theme, “Across State Lines: Sharing the Resource,” promises to be livelier than ever. The event starts at 5 p.m. with a reception and tour of the Archive at Morgan Library before moving to the Lory Student Center main ballroom for dinner.

You can choose to sit with one of 20 table hosts who will hold discussions during dinner on various aspects of how states and countries share water. Archival materials on display during the reception will illuminate some of the history behind the topic.

With one international and five out-of-state water experts hosting tables this year, the Water Resources Archive is giving greater attention to western water issues, as well as Colorado’s precarious position of being the Headwaters State.

Water Tables 2010 provides a unique opportunity to mingle with this special group representing diverse perspectives. Join us!

Here’s the list of table hosts and topics from the CSU Water Resources Archives Newsletter:

Colorado State University Libraries will host Water Tables 2010, its fifth annual fundraiser for the Water Resources Archive, at 5 p.m. Saturday, February 20th. The event starts with a reception and tour of the Archive at Morgan Library before moving to the Lory Student Center main ballroom for dinner.

The theme this year is “Across State Lines: Sharing the Resource.” Twenty table hosts will hold discussions during dinner focused on various aspects of how states and countries share water. Archival materials on display during the reception will illuminate some of the history behind the topic.

With one international and five out-of-state water experts hosting tables this year, the Water Resources Archive is giving greater attention to western water issues, broadly, as well as Colorado’s precarious position of being the Headwaters State. Water Tables 2010 provides a unique opportunity to interact with this special assemblage representing diverse perspectives.

This year’s table hosts and topics are:

Don Ament, Former Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture
Topic: Is ag dry-up inevitable?

Alan Berryman, Assistant General Manager, Engineering Division, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District
Topic: Interstate comity is for the birds

John D’Antonio, New Mexico State Engineer
Topic: The Rio Grande Compact — sharing the resource

Derek Everett, Visiting assistant professor, History Department, Metropolitan State College of Denver
Topic: Fluid boundaries: water and western state lines

Jennifer Gimbel, Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board
Topic: The state of Colorado’s role in balancing non-consumptive needs and meeting the state’s future consumptive use demands

Neil Grigg, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University
Topic: Water for a sustainable future: challenges to the political system

Taylor Hawes, Colorado River Program Director, The Nature Conservancy
Topic: The Colorado River Compact: is it up to the task?

Tom Iseman, Program Director for Water Policy and Implementation, Western Governors Association
Topic: How far has multi-state water management gotten us? Where will it lead us?

Frank Jaeger, District Manager, Parker Water and Sanitation District
Topic: Colorado-Wyoming Coalition: developing Colorado River water across state lines

Eric Kuhn, General Manager, Colorado River Water Conservation District
Topic: How can we keep from losing the resource? How would we deal with a compact call on the Colorado River?

Harry LaBonde, Jr., Wyoming Deputy State Engineer
Topic: The Green River Pipeline Regional Watershed Supply Project — perspectives from Wyoming

Mario Lopez Perez, Engineering and Technical Standards Manager, National Water Commission of Mexico
Topic: The Colorado River as an international river: Mexico’s perspective

Jon Monson, Director of Water and Sewer, City of Greeley
Topic: The Laramie-Poudre Tunnel and the Colorado-Wyoming Compact of 1957: a tale of transfer ag to urban

Patrick O’Toole, President of the Family Farm Alliance, and former member of President Clinton’s Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission
Topic: A historical look at western water policy development

Jennifer Pitt, Senior Resource Analyst, Environmental Defense Fund
Topic: Si se puede? U.S.-Mexico cooperation on the Colorado River

Rock Ringling, Managing Director, Montana Land Trust
Topic: Private land conservation’s role in the preservation of wetlands and water resources

Bill Rinne, Director, Surface Water Resources Dept., Southern Nevada Water Authority
Topic: Augmenting the Colorado River — sharing the resource

David Robbins, President and Co-founder, Hill & Robbins, P.C.
Topic: Why we have to share — limits on our right to consume

Randy Seaholm, Former Chief, Water Supply Protection, Colorado Water Conservation Board
Topic: Environmental flows, Colorado’s compact entitlement and compact administration

Steve Vandiver, General Manager, Rio Grande Water Conservation District
Topic: Riding herd on the Rio Grande Compact in the San Luis Valley

More Colorado Water coverage here.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: No list of customers yet but Aaron Million names three interested parties

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From the Associated Press via

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last year directed Million to name potential customers to prove the project’s need. Million issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying Douglas County and the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District in Colorado and Lake Hattie Irrigation District in Wyoming are interested. Million didn’t have a full customer list available. The list was not available Wednesday afternoon from the Corps of Engineers.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline (Regional Watershed Supply Project) coverage here and here.

Snowpack news

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From The Aspen Times:

Snowfall in Aspen and Snowmass has been scant since late December and locals have been crossing their fingers this week. The Aspen Skiing Co. reported 3 inches of new snow at Snowmass early Wednesday, while Aspen Highlands picked up 2 inches over the past 24 hours, according to the morning report. Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk both picked up an inch. Sunlight Mountain Resort near Glenwood Springs had 2.5 inches. Snowfall reports around the state varied widely, with resorts in the southwest enjoying the biggest dumps. Wolf Creek reported 10 inches over the past 24 hours on Wednesday morning, and Durango Mountain Resort had 13 inches. Silverton boasted 8 inches. Telluride reported 4 inches of new snow. Powderhorn in far western Colorado picked up 8.5 inches, but most resorts elsewhere around the state were reporting 1 to 3 inches, though Vail and Beaver Creek both reported 5 inches of new snow early Wednesday morning.

From the Cortez Journal:

“The storm has definitely favored southern Colorado and southeastern Utah,” said Norv Larson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said Tuesday. Snowfall accumulated to 10.1 inches through Wednesday morning, according to Jim Andrus, local weather observer. The snow has brought much-needed moisture to the region. “Right now for the month of January we have .95 inches of water and normal is 1.01 inches,” Andrus said. “We are already sitting at 94 percent of normal.”[…]

Thus far, Cortez has seen 31.6 inches of winter snow with measurable snow on the ground for 45 straight days. “That’s the longest stretch of measurable snow I’ve ever had here,” Andrus said.

First decade of 21st century was the warmest on record

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From the Associated Press (Randolph E. Schmid) via The Denver Post:

In 2009, global surface temperatures were 1.01 degree above average, which tied the year for the fifth warmest year on record, the National Climatic Data Center said. And that helped push the 2000-2009 decade to 0.96 degree above normal, which the agency said “shattered” the 1990s record value of 0.65 degree above normal. The warmest year on record was 2005 at 1.11 degrees above normal…

In the United States last year the average temperature was 0.3 degrees above normal. And on average it was moist, with average annual precipitation in 2009 for the 48 contiguous states some 2.33 inches above the long-term average at 31.47 inches. It was the 18th wettest in 115 years of record keeping. However, dry conditions occurred during much of the year across parts of the Southwest, Upper Mississippi Valley and southern Texas, the agency said. And there was periodic low rain and snowfall in parts of a ring around the country from the northern Rockies, Far West and Southwest to the southern Plains and Southeast, then up along the East Coast and back across the Great Lakes.

More climate change coverage here and here.

Helen Hankins appointed to lead Bureau of Land Management in Colorado

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From the Associated Press via Grand Junction Free Press:

Helen Hankins, a 58-year-old native of Council, Idaho, is currently associate state director for the BLM in Arizona. Hankins replaces Sally Wisely, who retired last year. Hankins has worked for the BLM for about 40 years, including an assignment in Durango. As Colorado state BLM dikerctor, Hankins will oversee 815 employees with a budget of approximately $75 million. Colorado has 8.3 million acres of BLM public lands and 27 million acres of mineral estate.

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Land Management (Celia Boddinton):

Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey today announced the appointment of career employee Helen Hankins as the new state director for the agency’s Colorado State Office. Hankins is currently the associate state director for the BLM in Arizona.

“Helen has worked at all levels and across the nation for the BLM,” Abbey said. “The depth and breadth of her experience and her dedication to our country’s public lands is exceptional. I’m very pleased she has accepted this crucial position.”

Hankins, 58, is a native of Council, Idaho. She joined the BLM in Albuquerque, N.M., serving as a clerk-typist in the agency’s student work study program in 1970. She went on to serve in increasingly responsible positions in Durango, Colo., Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, Washington, D.C., Elko, Nev., and Phoenix, Ariz.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of New Mexico and was one of the first two women to complete the BLM’s 5-month-long minerals law school program.

In Colorado, Hankins will oversee 815 employees with a budget of approximately $75 million and administer 8.3 million acres of BLM public lands and 27 million acres of mineral estate, which are concentrated primarily in the western portion of the state.

Hankins, an active member of both Rotary International and Toastmasters International, is married to Michael Mauser, with whom she has hosted eleven exchange students. Helen and Michael look forward to continuing their shared passion for hiking and backpacking in Colorado. She plans to assume her duties on February 1.

Craig: Yampa/White River Roundtable recap

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From the Craig Daily Press (Andy Bockelman):

At its Wednesday night meeting at the Holiday Inn of Craig, the group of regional water experts unanimously tabled discussion for at least two future meetings after hearing a presentation from Steamboat Springs water attorney Tom Sharp.

In [his proposed Yampa Doctrine], Sharp wrote that Article XIII of the 1948 Upper Colorado River Compact — which requires that the state of Colorado not cause the flow of the Yampa’s Maybell gauging station to drop below 5 million acre-feet during the course of 10 years — among other things, needed closer, more specific regulation to ensure that Colorado is responsible for the curtailment of its own water should the Lower Basin states require it.

Sharp said the Yampa’s flow is 1.2 million acre-feet and users only require about a tenth of it. But he said modern users could be vulnerable since its water is now needed for regional power plants, reservoirs and other such uses, as opposed to the pre-1950s period when it was primarily used for irrigation and other agricultural purposes.

Attendee Eric Kuhn, of the Colorado River District — who said he wasn’t officially representing the group — spoke against the Yampa Doctrine, saying he didn’t think passing it would better the issue of water rights and regulations. “I’m not sure I agree that the state will be jumping quickly into rule-making,” Kuhn said.

I missed this story Tuesday. It’s a preview of yesterday’s Yampa/White River roundtable meeting where local water attorney was Tom Sharp to present his “Yampa Doctrine” methodology to protect Yampa irrigators if there is a call on the Colorado River from downstream Colorado River Compact states. Here’s the report from Mike Lawrence writing for Steamboat Today. From the article:

The Yampa Doctrine is an effort to protect local water users in the event of a worst-case scenario for the Colorado River system: a so-called “compact call,” a case of extreme water shortage in which the 1922 Colorado River Compact is enacted and Lower Basin states — Nevada, part of Arizona and California — call for their allocated water from Upper Basin states including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, part of Arizona and New Mexico. Sharp said Monday that there is not yet a specific plan for how state water officials would acquire the allocated water — in other words, who gets shut off — if such a call occurs. “What (the Yampa Doctrine) would do would be to protect the Yampa Basin users from being forced to curtail their use, to stop their use, when there is a Lower Basin call and the Upper Basin has to deliver up water at Lee’s Ferry (in Arizona),” Sharp said.

Sharp said Yampa River users could be vulnerable to state action because regional reservoirs and power plants have “very junior water rights.” “We need to be prepared to make the Yampa Doctrine argument as a defense to being the youngest guy on the block,” he said.

State water officials have not agreed with his interpretation of water policy language, Sharp said. “Nobody else particularly thinks that’s appropriate,” he said of the Yampa Doctrine.

More Yampa River Basin coverage here.