Arkansas Valley Conduit: Southeastern Colorado lawmakers hope to protect CWCB funds including the conduit

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From the La Junta Tribune Democrat (Debi Brazzale):

Early indications are that the funding will be left largely intact in the coming budget year after having been diverted last year to help cover the state’s budget deficit. Neverthess, Rep. Wes Mckinley, a Democrat from Walsh, and Republican Sen. Ken Kester, of Las Animas, say they are on guard and that the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s funds need to be protected to keep water projects going in their districts.

Of special concern is the Arkansas Conduit Project, which took a temporary hit last year when more than $100 million was diverted from the water conservation board to help the state through its fiscal straits and balance the state budget. Some $35 million of that total came out of the conduit project’s funding, putting federal matching dollars at risk as well. The project provides treated water to southeastern Colorado. That money since has been recouped through higher-than-anticipated revenue from the state’s severance tax, according to Colorado Water Conservation Board Direction Jennifer Gimbel. Gimbel also said that, so far, next’s year’s pending budget takes $11 million from the board’s funds but that the diversion won’t affect the conduit or any other current projects.

McKinley acknowledged the budget process is far from over. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they did take some more,” said McKinley. “It seems like if there’s money out there, there’s several hands grabbing for it.”

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.

Colorado Watershed Assembly presents Water on the Land: Water Rights and Land Conservation workshop April 23

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From email from the Colorado Watershed Assembly:

The Colorado Water Trust is pleased to invite you to its first ever water workshop in Basalt, Colorado on Friday, April 23 at the fantastic Basalt Library in a room overlooking the Frying Pan River.

The workshop is generously funded by Great Outdoors Colorado and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The agenda includes a description of how the Roaring Fork Basin works, and sessions on basic principles of Colorado water law, the state’s the instream flow program, green water transactions, and water and land conservation. It concludes with a discussion of local hot topics.

This is the first in a series of twelve workshops they will be doing around the state over the course of this year. Up next: Silverthorne and Fort Collins.

For more information, visit Workshop flyer–Basalt.pdf.

More conservation easement coverage here. More instream flow coverage here.

Arkansas River Basin Water Forum April 6-7

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The annual Arkansas River Basin Water Forum provides a dialogue for discussion about water issues and will culminate with the Bob Appel Friend of the Arkansas Award. It is sponsored by various water agencies. This year’s theme is “Our Multifaceted Gem.” Panelists during the event will talk about the Southern Delivery System, Super Ditch, the High Line Canal water leasing project and the Arkansas Valley Conduit. Climate change, water quality, wildlife issues and recreational concerns also will be addressed. Keynote speaker will be Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

Colorado Public Radio to feature Fountain Creek

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A documentary television series looking at how Fountain Creek has changed over 300 years, told through the viewpoint of a 10-year-old child, is being planned and could begin airing as soon as next month on Rocky Mountain PBS. The outline of the series was shared at the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District meeting Friday by Glenn Ballantyne, who is working with the Fountain Creek Foundation to produce the show…

Called “Fourteen to Four” — a reflection of the change in elevation in thousands of feet in the Fountain Creek Watershed from the top of Pikes Peak to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Pueblo — the series will be 10 segments of 30 minutes apiece. Each segment will cover 30 years of history.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Ruedi Reservoir: Operations update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

I wanted to kick off Spring with two announcements about our information outreach for Ruedi Reservoir this year:

1. In order to keep folks better informed about our operations through the spring, summer and fall, this year we will host two public meetings. The first will be at the usual time in May, before spring run-off and any possible Coordinated Reservoir releases under the Endangered Fish Recovery Program. The second will be in late July to provide a “heads up” of operations through August and into early fall. Our goal with the July meeting is to help eliminate surprises for the Basalt community regarding Lower Fryingpan River flows and demands for water from the Endangered Fish Recovery Program and other water users.

With that in mind, our first meeting this year will be on Wednesday, May 12, from 7-9 p.m. in the Basalt Town Hall.

Our second meeting will be on Thursday, July 22, also from 7-9 p.m. and in the Basalt Town Hall.

2. I am also pleased to announce the debut of the Ruedi Reservoir Webpage. Please visit it at www.usbr.gov/gp/ecao/ruedi.html. On this page you will have “one stop shopping” for information or hyperlinks related to the Reservoir, including flows for the Lower Fryingpan River, the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project history, Ruedi Dam, the Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, and reservoir elevations (once the gauge is properly adjusted. It is currently off-line).

As for flows in the Fryingpan [Friday March 26], releases from the reservoir combined with Rocky Fork Creek are resulting in a flow of approximately 69 cfs. We anticipate that will continue through the end of March and into early April.

Please visit the Webpage and let me know what you think. And hopefully, I will see you in May.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas project coverage here.

Rio Grande Basin: Annual Rio Grande Compact Commission meeting recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

Although last year’s spring runoff came earlier than usual, Colorado sent 299,300 acre-feet of water across the New Mexico state line. The state also accrued a 1,500-foot credit…

The compact, signed in 1938, uses a sliding scale that allows Colorado to keep much of its water in dry years while hiking delivery requirements in wet years. In a year with an above-average snowpack, flows in excess of 560,000 acre-feet on the Rio Grande must be sent downstream. On the Conejos River, which is managed by a similar sliding scale, flows in excess of 224,000 acre-feet must be delivered to New Mexico in an above-average year…

Colorado State Engineer Dick Wolfe, who serves as the state’s commissioner, said they would keep a close eye on the efforts of the other two states to deal with endangered species like the silvery minnow and the southwest willow flycatcher, which impact how the other two states manage the Rio Grande. Although Colorado is working on a habitat conservation plan for the flycatcher, a small bird, the management decisions the other two states have to make on the river for the species have not effected Colorado.

San Luis Valley water leaders Doug Shriver and Ray Wright died in a freak snow-slide accident a while back. The Compact Commissioners passed a resolution acknowledging their efforts. Here’s a report from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier.

More Rio Grande Basin coverage here.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: The Casper Star-Tribune editorial board sounds off

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From the Casper Star-Tribune:

Seeking to blunt the fierce opposition from southwest Wyoming communities to the plan to carry water across Wyoming from the Green River Basin to Colorado’s Front Range, supporters of the pipeline have courted eastern Wyoming communities for support. It appears they’ve had some success: Cheyenne, Torrington and Laramie County have joined a coalition of public entities, most in Colorado, that has launched a two-year study of building a water pipeline from Flaming Gorge Reservoir across southern Wyoming to the Front Range. A competing private pipeline project, pushed by Colorado entrepreneur Aaron Million, also has drawn some support from eastern Wyoming entities. But the pipeline backers’ political savvy doesn’t mask the fact that there are serious environmental and economic questions about the proposed transbasin pipeline. As we’ve said before, the potential damage to southwest Wyoming likely can’t be outweighed by benefits to other cities, and it’s difficult to see much benefit accruing to the state from any aspect of the project…

Even if it’s determined there would be little harm to Wyoming, the very idea of a transbasin water diversion raises a red flag. Natural watercourses have been dammed and diverted for many years across the West to benefit people, but hindsight has shown that environmental harm from some of those projects outweighs the benefits. Do we really want to risk further environmental degradation by shipping water across the Continental Divide?
If there’s not enough water to support the current rate of population growth along Colorado’s Front Range without importing it from elsewhere, perhaps development should be slowed. At the very least, it would be nice if Colorado kept its internal water worries to itself.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here. More Colorado Wyoming Cooperative Supply Project coverage here.

HB 10-1051 (Water Efficiency Plans Annual Reports) and HB 10-1358 (Water-smart Homes)

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From The Denver Post (Yesenia Robles):

[HB 10-1051] (pdf), sponsored by Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, and Sen. Bruce Whitehead, D-Hesperus, requires water providers to annually report water usage instead of doing so every seven years. “We’re just getting a little more specific, and of course making it more frequent. A lot of things happen over seven years,” Whitehead said. Whitehead said the purpose of having more recent and specific information funneled to the Water Conservation Board is to keep track of the conservation efforts of many water providers and to find gaps in the efforts. Some water providers expressed concerns about the costs of reporting the information. Whitehead said the information is already gathered, so financial impacts should be minimal.

The other bill, [HB 10-1358] (pdf), will require all home builders to offer water-efficient appliances and fixtures, including washing machines and shower heads, as options for home buyers. Johnston and Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, who sponsor the bill, said now is not the time to make it a requirement to use those appliances. They said they expect that in the long run most people will make that choice — if they have it — when they realize the savings on their water bills.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.