Orchard City: $2 million in new debt for water system repairs

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The Orchard City Town Board learned at its March 10 regular meeting that a loan request for $2 million has been approved by a state agency. That loan money, combined with $750,000 cash from the town’s own Water Fund, will hopefully complete 60 percent of the needed replacement work on the West Side Main transmission line. The leak prone water line is blamed for a large portion of the up to 30-percent treated water loss that has been reported in the Orchard City water delivery system in recent years.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Colorado River District: It’s the same water. It’s all connected

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Here’s the release from the district:

That’s the water conservation message now being seen in a billboard and bus stop bench campaign unveiled in the Denver metro area by the Colorado River District, which is based in Glenwood Springs, Colo., and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, based in Silverthorne, Colo.

“It’s the same water. Conserve it!” is overprinted on images of mountains, a skier, a lawn sprinkler and a woman taking a shower.

The first billboard was recently placed on Interstate 70 near the top of Floyd Hill in Clear Creek County to catch the attention of eastbound traffic heading back to the Front Range from the mountain ski areas. The message is also featured on 200 bus stop benches in the Denver metro area.

While the message is primarily directed at residents living on the Front Range, it applies equally to those living on the West Slope. Billboards will go up in western Colorado this summer to broaden the audience and the water education message.

Up to 25 percent of the state’s share of Colorado River water is diverted to the Front Range through transmountain diversions. Water planners are searching for more water supplies as Colorado’s population is predicted to double to 10 million people by 2050. Water conservation and awareness that water largely comes from rivers, not spigots, are important elements in the challenge to develop water supplies.

The campaign features a smartphone compatible website http://www.itsthesamewater.com, containing a wealth of information on water use, conservation and less-water-intensive landscaping. Much of the web information comes from Denver Water. The state’s largest water utility is widely recognized for its conservation efforts.

More conservation coverage here.

Prowers County: Tamarisk control update

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From The Lamar Ledger:

Grant funding in the amount of $24,343.65 from the Colorado Water Conservancy Board is available, but funding from the county, Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentive Program (NRCS EQIP), NRCS Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP),State Land Board and Colorado Division of Wildlife funding is yet to be defined. In 2009, 1,414 acres of Tamarisk were sprayed at a cost of $116,748.60. Of that amount, $83,686.86 came from the NRCS EQIP, $7,500 came from NRCS WHIP, $7,405 from the State Land Board, $2,949.69 from the Division of Wildlife and $13,156 from the Colorado Water Conservancy Board. Per acre, tamarisk spraying cost $82.57…

Areas under consideration for tamarisk removal include the Clay Creek tributary and the Arkansas River west between Holly and Granada.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.

SB 10-027 (Fine Illegal Surface Water Diversions): Bill passes the state house 63-1

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From the Cortez Journal (Joe Hanel):

Senate Bill 27 allows the attorney general to slap a $500 per day fine on people who illegally use surface water. The fine matches the penalty for illegal use of groundwater that is already in place. The House passed it 63-1. In testimony on the bill last week, Assistant Attorney General Chad Wallace said his office usually negotiates a much lower fine and only uses the threat of fines when a water user has flaunted water rules laid down by the state engineer.

The state senate repassed the bill and now it moves on to Governor Ritter for his signature.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

HB 10-1188: Rafting bill scheduled for second reading tomorrow

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The rafting bill is scheduled for the second reading tomorrow (March 19) according to a legislative aide I spoke to this morning. Meanwhile, heres an update from Julie Sutor writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

The state Senate Judiciary Committee gave its approval on Monday to a bill that would guarantee rafters’ right to continue using Colorado rivers after supporters and opponents packed a hearing at the state Capitol. Proponents had worried about the bill’s fate in the committee, but it passed on a vote of 4-3. The bill was amended to include all rafters, not just commercial outfitters. Lawmakers also removed a provision that would allow portages on private land. The bill now goes to the full Senate for debate…

Greg Felt, a whitewater guide and fishing guide, told the committee both sports can coexist.

“We’re not here to undermine agriculture, we’re not here to undermine private property rights, and we’re not here to upset what has been, by and large, a pretty positive working relationship between agriculture and recreation. What we’re here to do is to try and preserve the status quo in face of attacks from various quarters throughout the state,” he told lawmakers.

Christian “Campy” Campton, owner of Frisco-based Kodi Rafting, said relations between the agriculture and rafting communities have historically been very positive for the most part. “We’ve always been able to work it out and be responsive to each other’s needs, Campton said. “It’s when they sell the ranches to developers that it becomes a problem.”[…]

The dispute escalated in December, when Shaw’s company sent commercial rafters a letter saying “there is no credible interpretation of legal statute, case or authorization permitting rafting, floating or any transit through or over private property.” Shaw threatened legal action if rafters or their customers touched the riverbanks or river bottom while on their property. The property has been developed as a fishing resort on the banks of the Taylor River near Gunnison, and the company contends rafters interfere with fishing. Shaw said he gave rafters permission to use his property last year based on guarantees they would not interfere with fishermen. He said he was disappointed when hundreds of them took advantage of his offer, disrupting the fishermen, and he notified them he would not renew his offer this year…

Club 20 opposes the expansion of the bill to include private boaters in addition to commercial rafters. “It’s effectively impossible to regulate individual behavior,” Brown said. “If you own a piece of property, and a commercial rafting party goes through, and they stop on the bank, throw out a bunch of trash, defecate on your property and take off, you know who they are. Their vessel is marked. That scenario never happens, because commercial rafters have something at stake — their license. “By contrast, if you allow every individual to float, you have no clue who that is. You have no recourse,” Brown added.

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone).

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Animas-La Plata project: Reclamation fires up the pumps again to continue filling Lake Nighthorse

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From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

Pumping began in May 2009 but stopped in July when the flow in the Animas River dropped to the minimum required to protect downstream fish habitat and satisfy landowner water rights…

“We’re just getting going again,” Jim Gates, a geologist and technical service manager with the bureau, said Wednesday of the pumping. “We started pumping on March 5 and have continued sporadically since.” Until April 1, the flow in the Animas must be at least 125 cubic feet per second, Gates said. On April 1 when, theoretically at least, melting snow will increase the flow, there must be 225 cfs to satisfy downstream needs. The Animas was flowing at 185 cfs in Durango on Wednesday.

Gates said the pumping station, on the west side of the Animas near Santa Rita Park, has been pumping a maximum of 42 cfs to the reservoir. The station has eight pumps – two each with capacity of 14, two each with a capacity of 28 cfs and four that each can move 56 cfs.

More Animas River watershed coverage here and here.

Snowpack news: South Platte Basin at 80%

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If you know of a way to squeeze more moisture out of the clouds, and you live in northern Colorado, you need to get to work. The South Platte Basin is sitting at 80% with the Upper Colorado River Basin at 78%. The Yampa/White and North Platte are at 74% and 75% respectively.

In southern Colorado snowpack is above normal with the Dolores/San Juan/San Miguel at 102% while the Rio Grande is at 109% and the Arkansas at 106%. The Gunnison Basin comes in near average at 95%.

Click here to view snotel data from your favorite snotel site.