IBCC: Non-consumptive needs assessment meeting February 10 in Silverthorne

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From email from the Interbasin Compact Committee (Jacob Bernstein):

The CWCB is extremely interested in projects and planning efforts that you have completed to protect environmental and recreational values in your watershed. We would also like to know what projects and planning efforts you have in mind to complete in the future (e.g. restoration projects, voluntary flow agreements, studies, instream flows, etc.). The CWCB will create a master list of past projects and planned projects. This will help us focus funding towards what you are planning and where additional resources are needed.

We would also like to invite you to this meeting, taking place from 10am to 3pm [February 10] at the Silverthorne Pavilion in Silverthorne to learn more about the nonconsumptive needs process, next steps, and information, seek input from you, and continuation of getting clarification and follow-up on the nonconsumptive planned and existing projects, methods, and studies.

Please RSVP to Jacob Bornstein (Jacob.bornstein@state.co.us; 303-866-3441 x3248). If you have questions, or wish to send your survey responses back (whether or not you attend the meeting).

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: A look at Larimer County’s interest in the project

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

In letters written to Million in January, the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District and the East Larimer County Water District both said they each want 5,000 acre-feet of water from the pipeline annually. In his Jan. 5 letter, Fort Collins-Loveland Water District general manager Michael DiTullio said water use in the district is expected to increase from 10,000 acre-feet per year to 17,000 acre-feet annually, and Million’s pipeline would help the district meet that demand. DiTullio said the district can’t commit to the pipeline water until a price can be negotiated. “What that letter says is we’re interested in any water storage project that could bring additional waters to Northern Colorado,” DiTullio said Thursday.

Loren Maxey, president of the East Larimer County Water District, or ELCO, said his district is interested in water from the project because the district’s water demand is expected to grow from 3,700 acre-feet per year to 11,000 acre-feet per year within the next 40 years.

The city of Brighton and a handful of other water users in northeast Colorado and in Adams, Douglas and El Paso counties also have said they are interested in Green River water…

Because it’s so unclear how much water is left to be developed in the Colorado River, Million’s project has the potential to create friction among people with different ideas about how to use the river’s remaining water. “That’s the center of our concern,” said Chris Treese of the Colorado River Water Conservation District. “How do we develop whatever’s left, or do we rush headlong into pursuing and approving very large projects that race us off the edge of the cliff before we know how close we are with regard to the Colorado River Compact? You don’t want to ever be in a deficit position. The Million project is perhaps taking us over the edge of that cliff.” Treese said he also wonders how the project can be regulated because Colorado has no power to control or regulate the pipeline’s diversion of the Green River’s water because it’s occurring in a different state.

More Flaming Gorge coverage here and here.

Piping ditches

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Here’s what Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company did on the Mary Lateral, from Gerald W. Knudsen, P.E. writing for Environmental Protection. From the article:

The pipe system has 45 branches off the main supply line, which ranges from 12 to 36 inches in diameter and from 30 to 50 pounds-per-square-inch high density polyethylene (HDPE). The turnout pipes that serve each shareholder are also HDPE with a transition to polyvinyl chloride. Turnout pipe diameters range from 4 to 8 inches. Each branch turnout is supplied with an ultrasonic flow meter and two butterfly valves. The meter measures the amount of water passing through the turnout. MVIC controls the first butterfly valve, setting flows according to the number of shares of water allocated The shareholder uses the second butterfly valve to shut off or reduce water volume. Each meter is either solar or battery powered.

On older parts of the system, MVIC is using impeller flow meters that require annual maintenance and are subject to plugging. To reduce maintenance and eliminate plugging problems, the team decided to use a non-intrusive flow meter.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Powertech aquifer pump test approval due by mid-April

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

If approved, Powertech will be allowed to test the feasibility of in situ leach mining for uranium at the Centennial Project site. The test could help regulators find answers to questions about how the underlying aquifer works and how any contamination from the mine could move through it and affect groundwater elsewhere…

The mining could have the greatest impact on the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer, which many surrounding landowners have tapped for their well water.

The councils of most of the surrounding cities and towns, including Fort Collins and Greeley, have said they oppose the mine, partly for fear it could pollute the groundwater.

How far any pollution from the mine could spread within the aquifer and how that could affect water wells in the area isn’t well understood, but the pump test could shed some light on the matter, according to the EPA…

Information about the hydrogeology of the aquifer is sparse, and few people have studied how fast water moves in the aquifer to determine how pollutants could spread…

Vincent Matthews, state geologist and director of the Colorado Geological Survey, pointed only to a 1980 CGS study of hydrogeology and uranium resources northeast of the Centennial Project site, written at a time when Unocal and other companies were planning uranium exploration projects near Keota in Weld County. The state sampled 104 water wells — many of which tapped the Fox Hills formation — near uranium deposits in northern Weld County. The study showed that the well water quality was extremely poor and much of the water contained high levels of uranium and vanadium. The closer a well was to a uranium deposit, the more contaminated it was. But, Matthews said, the study doesn’t say much about what’s happening in the same aquifer and rock formations near Nunn…

The USGS has no specific data on the Fox Hills aquifer near the Centennial Project, and any other studies conducted in the area wouldn’t apply to that spot because each site has its own unique characteristics, said James K. Otton, a USGS geologist specializing in uranium. Otton last year wrote a brief on in situ leach uranium mining, saying the mines have always left increasing contamination behind and no one has ever succeeded at fully cleaning up the groundwater after an in situ mine has shut down.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Garfield County is doing research before accepting discarded pit liners at the landfill

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

The county is looking at a price tag of nearly $2 million to build a landfill cell capable of accepting the liners, which can be fouled by oil and gas contaminants. New state rules generally require that the liners be removed when a pit is closed rather than being buried on site. But they currently must be shipped outside the county for disposal. County manager Ed Green said the landfill cell would cost about four times as much as a normal cell because it would need to have a liner with leak-detection equipment beneath it and at liner seams. It’s also possible the liners could be characterized as hazardous waste, which would trigger state and federal rules and add to costs. Garfield is the state’s most active county for drilling, and Green said a local disposal site can be an attractive option to help companies comply with the law.

County staff targeted $1,000 as a presumably palatable price to charge companies to accept and bundle a liner at the landfill. However, it’s been projected that the cost to the county could be $1,750 per liner, including cell construction and operation costs.

At a meeting Tuesday, county commissioners expressed discomfort with the possible expense involved. Commissioner Tresi Houpt, who also is a member of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which implemented the new pit liner rule, questioned the idea of asking taxpayers to subsidize drilling expenses.

More oil and gas coverage here.