The Mesa Land Trust signed up ranches for conservation easements left and right in 2009

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From the Grand Junction Free Press (Wyatt Haupt):

The largest piece of the conservation pie was Lobe Creek Ranch, which accounted for more than 3,300 acres. Lobe Creek Ranch is owned and maintained by the Aubert family, who also agreed to conserve its Leslie Place Ranch. The combined land deals totaled about 3,700 acres in Glade Park, based on land trust data. Mary Hughes, development officer of land trust, said the family placed conservation easements, which “ensures the property will never be developed or subdivided.” She added, “They own the property. They maintain the property (and) they continue to ranch the property.”

More conservation easement coverage here and here.

CWCB: State Senate snips the construction fund after all

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From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):

Sen. Bruce Whitehead, D-Hesperus, said he felt good about the bipartisan effort, but he wasn’t too happy with the result. The new plan takes $2 million from a water account that had been empty until recently, when some loans were repaid.

More CWCB coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs weighing the synergies of allowing northern El Paso County water providers to use project for raw water transport

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From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

All concerned say that cooperation would help water districts that rely on dwindling groundwater supplies, while stemming sharp rate hikes for Utilities’ customers in coming years. From now until 2016, when water is first delivered, rates will increase 12 percent a year. And that’s just for half the project; the other half, which includes a reservoir, will be built later. If other communities pay to piggy-back onto the pipeline, say some city officials, everybody wins. “That’s the whole goal, is to use that pipeline to its maximum capacity to reduce the impact of SDS on ratepayers,” Vice Mayor Larry Small says…

…recent analysis shows the SDS pipeline won’t be fully used year round, says Gary Bostrom, with Utilities’ water services division. Between November and April, when water demand is low, consumers will use 10 million to 20 million gallons a day from Pueblo Reservoir. That leaves plenty of room for more water to be pumped into storage, whether for pipeline customers or others, to be used during summer months, Bostrom says. “There is ample space in Southern Delivery for regional purposes,” he says…

Bostrom insists the city doesn’t intend to sell its water rights, only to deliver water for others. But even that might bring a squall of costs and red tape. First, city codes restrict water service to within the city limits or to subdivisions agreeing to be annexed. To accommodate outlying partnerships requires changes to the code, and perhaps the City Charter. Second, Pueblo Reservoir storage contracts are available only for those entities located within the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, a multi-county area that’s been taxed for years to build and maintain the reservoir. Some subdivisions interested in SDS don’t lie within the district, Utilities officials say. Then there’s return flows. Fountain Creek is subject to government protection against pollution and erosion. Lastly, the Bureau of Reclamation, which runs Pueblo Reservoir and permits water projects, might need a say-so about new partners’ plans, such as Petersen’s idea to enlarge Upper Williams Creek reservoir. That would take time and money. Colorado Springs’ arduous application process, which included a National Environmental Policy Act study, took nearly six years and cost $19 million. Bostrom says the city will try to recoup a portion of that from any future partners, and Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel says SDS construction costs also could become part of any partnership deal…

A fly in the ointment is a recent analysis showing that if [Colorado Springs’] 200 square miles are built out in 30 to 40 years, the city will need 17 million gallons more water than SDS can deliver. The city’s federal application predicted SDS would satisfy needs through 2046. That leads Wayne Vanderschuere with Utilities’ water services division to warn, “I would be concerned about making promises that we may not be able to keep.”

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Greeley leases 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado-Big Thompson water to the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District for augmentation

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From The Greeley Tribune:

GMS and WAS plan to use the water as augmentation supply for the 2010-11 operating season.

Greeley partners with agricultural users on various projects including the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, Greeley Irrigation Company, Water Supply and Storage Company, and Greeley-Loveland Irrigation Company. In addition, the city has leased an average of 8,000 acre-feet of water to agriculture over the last four years. The lease of Greeley’s 4,000 acre-feet is estimated to supply the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District with a net supply of 1,600 acre-feet.

More Greeley coverage here.

Snowpack news: Roaring Fork Basin totals moving towards average

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From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

The [Roaring Fork Basin] snowpack was 92 percent of the average established between 1971 and 2000, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reported Tuesday…

The snowpack was 97 percent of average Tuesday at a site between Aspen and the Independence Pass summit, according to the conservation service. That site is at 10,600 feet in elevation. The snowpack in the Crystal Valley has been higher all winter than the Fryingpan’s tally. Schofield Pass was at 100 percent Tuesday while McClure Pass was at 99 percent. North Lost Trail, near Marble, was at 92 percent. In the Fryingpan Valley, snowpack fared well at higher elevations but was substantially below average at lower elevations. At Ivanhoe Lake, the snowpack was 93 percent of average Tuesday. That site is at 10,600 feet in elevation. At the Kiln site, at an elevation of 9,600 feet, the snowpack was just 72 percent of average. At Nast Lake, even lower in elevation, the snowpack was just 68 percent of average Tuesday, the conservation service data showed.

Snowpack remains above average in the southern part of the state and below average to the north. Vail Mountain’s snowpack was 77 percent of average Tuesday while Copper Mountain was at 75 percent. Rabbit Ears Pass, in the Steamboat Springs area, had a snowpack only 53 percent of average. Down south, the Wolf Creek summit had a snowpack 120 percent of average on Tuesday. Lizard Head Pass, near Telluride, was at 113 percent of average. Three major river basins in the southern part of Colorado were at or above average, including the Gunnison basin, 100 percent; Dolores basin, 109 percent; and San Juan, 112 percent.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

Tuesday’s snow depth measurement at the top of Buffalo Pass showed 101 inches of accumulated snowpack. It sounds like a lot of snow, but overall, the water stored in the snow in the Yampa and White river basins is just 77 percent of average, according to the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. On the west summit of Rabbit Ears Pass, the snowpack is even lower, just 53 percent of average. In North Routt, at the Elk River site, it’s a healthier 89 percent.