Colorado-Big Thompson Project update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

It is almost spring and that means we are in the middle of filling both Horsetooth and Carter reservoirs for the upcoming season.

For the last six weeks, we have been sending water into Horsetooth Reservoir at a rate of about 500 cfs. Those tracking the reservoir’s progress will note that it reached a water level elevation of just over 5400 feet earlier this week. Currently, it is sitting at almost 5403–about 11 feet down from where we typically start the water season. However, we are hoping to fill Horsetooth a little more than that, this year.

While we have been filling Horsetooth, Carter Lake has remained at a water level elevation of 5744–about 15 vertical feet from full. Because our goal is to have both Horsetooth and Carter at their highest elevation for the season by mid-May, it is time to resume pumping water to Carter. This means on Monday afternoon (March 8, 2010), we will once again begin pumping water into Carter Lake.

When we are pumping to Carter, we cannot send as much water into Horsetooth. Once the pump to Carter goes on, inflow to Horsetooth will drop to around 165 cfs. We anticipate we will fill Carter through the month of March, resuming our fill of Horsetooth by the second week of April. Both reservoirs are anticipated to reach their highest water level elevation for the season by the middle of May.

More Colorado-Big Thompson coverage here and here.

Vail Valley: Eagle River Watershed plan public meetings

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From the Vail Daily News:

The public is invited to participate in a series of meetings in Colorado’s Vail Valley about the Eagle River Watershed Plan. The open houses will include short presentations by Eagle County, the Eagle River Watershed Council and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District on emerging issues facing local water supplies. Among other things, residents will be able to share their ideas about protecting and enhancing local waterways. Refreshments and light snacks will be provided. For more information, call the Eagle River Watershed Council at 970-827-5406.F

The meetings and topics are:

• Wednesday, 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Upper Eagle River and Gore Creek, Vail Town Council Chambers

• April 14, 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Middle Eagle River, Avon Town Council Chambers

• April 29, 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Lower Eagle River, Eagle Town Council Chambers

• May 12, 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Lower Eagle River, Gypsum Town Council Chambers

An additional meeting on the Colorado River will be scheduled in May.

More Eagle River watershed coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: First million tons of uranium mill tailings moved from site near Moab, 15 million tons to go

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

The shipment of the first million tons was completed Wednesday…

“We’ve still got a long ways to go,” project Director Don Metzler said. The cleanup originally was scheduled to continue through 2028, but with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the completion time moved closer to 2025. By continuing to work on efficiencies, “We can even get a few years off that,” Metzler said. The $1 billion project could come in under budget, too, Metzler said…

Moving the mill-tailings pile, a remnant of the uranium production for the Cold War, from Moab began in June. The cleanup operation runs 24 hours a day from the 130-acre pile near Moab to Crescent Junction, about 30 miles away. The project fills two trains of as many as 26 cars a day Monday through Friday. Moving the pile was a high priority for downstream states Arizona, California and Nevada, which feared damage to the water quality from the mill-tailings pile. Utah officials also wanted the pile moved so it wouldn’t detract from Moab’s reputation as a mecca for mountain biking, hiking and other outdoor pursuits in the nearby Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Dillon: Council approves water and sewer rate hikes

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From the Summit Daily News (Caitlin Row):

Town manager Devin Granbery said council will take a second look at the proposal and host public comment during the March 16 town meeting — it starts at 6 p.m.

Dillon’s town staff say they need to increase rates to maintain the water and sewer fund into the future. This includes funding for operation, maintenance and capital projects. Town treasurer Carrie McDonald said that necessary capital improvements — like a water storage tank, the Old Dillon Reservoir and “membrane replacement” at the treatment plant — have been put off because they town simply can’t afford it now.

More infrastructure coverage here.

HB 10-1188: Rafting bill faces uncertain outcome in State Senate

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

“I’m hearing many rumors coming from the Senate that they’re not going to get that bill out of committee,” said state Rep. Christine Scanlan, bill co-sponsor. “I know they have upwards of 19 lobbyists working against the bill, which is kind of unbelievable.”[…]

The bill’s author, Rep. Kathleen Curry of Gunnison, believes the controversy is unwarranted. She intends to simply clarify existing law, but the bill has sparked a debate over private property rights. She wants people — senators and anyone interested — to simply read the wording. The bill would explicitly allow commercial boats to make incidental contact on river banks and bottoms, even when a river is flanked by private property. Commercial boaters would also be allowed to conduct emergency portages when they encounter bridges, unnavigable rapids or other hazards…

Curry said she believes the bill’s foes are making a strategic mistake if they kill the bill. They know what they are getting with her bill, she said. Commercial outfitters will likely force a ballot initiative if the bill fails, and no one can be certain whether it would be as narrow as what Curry is seeking. Curry’s bill only applies to commercial outfitters, not to the average recreational boater with his or her own raft. And it only addresses stretches of rivers that have a history of commercial rafting — not to those that haven’t yet seen much commercial activity.

According to [Summit County resident Duke Bradford, owner of Arkansas Valley Adventures], river outfitters have already taken the steps necessary to go to the ballot, should the bill fail. “We’re going for the right to float on all rivers. If the legislators say they don’t believe the law gives us the right to do this, it’s time for us to change the law,” Bradford said.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Yampa tap water wins Colorado Rural Water Association taste test

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From Steamboat Today (Zach Fridell):

The water in Yampa, straight from the Flat Tops and through a ground source about a mile south of town, has been named the tastiest water in Colorado by the Colorado Rural Water Association. The water was judged on taste, color and odor during a blind taste test at the association’s annual conference in February, and Yampa’s town water supply came out on top of the six samples submitted. “I try to do as little to it as possible,” [Yampa Public Works Director Eric Berry] said. He didn’t pull the water sample out of a secret well or from a preserved reservoir, but straight out of the faucet in his house. He put it into glass quart jars and took it to Colorado Springs…

The water from Yampa will have a shot at national recognition at next year’s National Rural Water Conference in early February. Berry said the only things he adds to the water are a small amount of chlorine and sodium hydroxide, standard additives to keep the water clean. He said the good taste most likely comes from the minerals naturally present. Although the water has not been analyzed for all its mineral properties, Berry said he knows there is a relatively high level of calcium.

More water treatment coverage here.