Roaring Fork Conservancy warns that Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project will include transmountain water

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Nestlé Waters North America announced last year that they had struck a deal for augmentation water from Aurora via Twin Lakes for the bottled water giant’s Chaffee County Project. Nestlé Waters’ plan is to truck 200 acre-feet or so out of basin to Denver for bottling. The Roaring Fork Conservancy is spreading the word in the valley, according to a report from Scott Condon writing for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. From the article:

A plan by a subsidiary of Nestlé to bottle water near Buena Vista could have implications for the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers, the Roaring Fork Conservancy warned this week. It also signals that the beverage industry is on the prowl for high mountain spring sites in Colorado’s mountains — another potential threat to limited water supply of the Roaring Fork watershed, said Tim O’Keefe, education director for the Roaring Fork Conservancy, a Basalt-based nonprofit focused on water quality and quantity issues. “We’re trying to use what’s happening in [Buena Vista] to sound the alarm,” O’Keefe said…

Aurora diverts water from Grizzly Reservoir, about 10 miles east of Aspen. That water is piped via the Independence Pass Transmountain Diversion Project to the east side of the Continental Divide, dumped into Lake Creek and stored in Twin Lakes Reservoir. Aurora also diverts water from the upper Fryingpan basin through the Busk-Ivanhoe Project to Turquoise Reservoir, which also feeds Twin Lakes. Numerous documents tied to the Nestlé plan indicate that Twin Lakes is among the sources Aurora can use to sell water to Nestlé to augment the Arkansas River, according to G. Moss Driscoll, an attorney who recently interned with the Roaring Fork Conservancy and helped with the position paper on bottled water. “There’s no doubt it will involve transbasin water,” Driscoll said.

[Aurora] intends to use water purchased from Lake County ranches and the Columbine Ditch to feed the Arkansas River directly and fulfill its augmentation contract. Water from Twin Lakes is listed as a possible source for augmentation, but is unlikely to be used, Baker said. Even if it is, very little comes from the upper Fryingpan and Roaring Fork drainages. The vast majority of Aurora’s water diverted from the mountains comes from Homestake Reservoir, another source that leads to Twin Lakes. In a strict accounting sense, some Roaring Fork water could be used to augment the Arkansas River, Baker said, but it would be a rare occasion and a small amount.

The Roaring Fork Conservancy counters that Nestlé’s bottling scheme is just another way, however small, that the Roaring Fork watershed is being tapped. “The two springs Nestlé is proposing to draw water from are fed directly by the Arkansas River, the flows of which are bolstered by transmountain diversions from the Roaring Fork Watershed,” the conservancy’s paper said. “On average each year, 37 percent of the runoff in the Upper Roaring Fork Subwatershed and 41 percent of the runoff in the Upper Fryingpan Subwatershed is diverted to the Arkansas River Basin.”

The conservancy is sponsoring the screening of a film called “Tapped” to educate people about the broader issues surrounding bottled water. The documentary is a “behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world” of an industry that is trying to turn water into a commodity. It’s from the producers of “Who Killed the Electric Car” and “I.O.U.S.A.” The movie will be shown at 7 p.m. on March 31 at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen and at 7 p.m. on April 6 at the Church at Carbondale. Tickets are $9.

More Roaring Fork watershed coverage here.

Greeley: City council approves easement acquisitions for new pipeline

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

The pipeline will deliver water from Greeley Canal No. 3 to the Poudre Ponds located off north 35th Avenue, said Jon Monson, water and sewer director. The Lower Cache la Poudre River Stewardship Project will help meet the city’s water storage needs in lined gravel pit reservoirs.

More Greeley coverage here.

Boulder Reservoir Master Plan public meeting April 7

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From the Boulder Daily Camera:

The city of Boulder is looking for public input on Phase II of the master plan, which involves analysis of various alternatives for the plan. For more information on Phase II, visit The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 7 at Calvary Bible Church, 3245 Kalmia Ave.

More Colorado-Big Thompson coverage here.

Snowpack news: Lake Pueblo may spill

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The South Platte River Basin is up to 86% of average this morning. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right to see the picture for the whole state. Don’t give up keep doing your rain dances or whatever you’ve been doing. It’s working.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

“We’ve had a fairly wet year (in southeast Colorado), so the agricultural users of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project that get their water from Pueblo haven’t taken all of it yet. So that’s sitting in the reservoir still,” said Kara Lamb, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the reservoir and the Fry-Ark project that diverts water to the reservoir from the Western Slope. “Some of that water has to be out by May 1 or they lose it.” The water level is 14 feet higher than normal for late March, and 17 feet below the overflowing point in the reservoir, Lamb said. To accommodate the swell in river levels with the spring melt-off, the Bureau will begin releasing the water May 1.

The water is owned by farmers and a few municipalities, Aurora being the largest, under contracts that let them store it there until April 15 – though they were given a one-time waiver this year to store it until May 1. Colorado Springs, as a city in the basin and a Fry-Ark project partner, does not stand to lose any water, said Utilities water resources manager Wayne Vanderschuere…

[Aurora] could lose 5,000 acre-feet – 1.6 billion gallons. While Aurora Water Department spokesman Greg Baker said officials hope to find someone to use it, southeast Colorado farmers don’t need it, so the water may have to be simply released downstream. He said Aurora’s other water supplies are in good shape…

Mike Gillespie, snow-survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, doubts snow levels will recover in central and northern Colorado, even with a big spring storm expected to hit this week. “With a less than average water availability, we definitely see the more junior water rights go un-met. I don’t know if it’s going to be that severe yet this year, but it has the potential for that,” Gillespie said…

Vanderschuere said that occurs most summers, though this year it could be earlier. But with snowpack in the Arkansas River Basin at 107 percent and in the Hoosier Pass area – near the city’s Blue River pipeline – at 94 percent, and good snowpack on Pikes Peak, he is not worried…

Colorado Springs Utilities water storage (as of March 14): System-wide: 77.3 percent of capacity

From the Boulder Daily Camera:

A winter storm warning remains in effect for the Front Range foothills, Boulder and Denver through 6 p.m. Wednesday. The National Weather Service forecast calls for another 1 to 4 inches on Wednesday, with snow tapering off by afternoon. Total snow accumulation is expected to be between 12 and 18 inches.