The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust receives national accredited status

A picture named saguachecreek.jpg

From The Del Norte Prospector:

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced last week that the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust has been awarded accredited status. “Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “The accreditation seal lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land.”

RiGHT Executive Director Nancy Butker said, “For the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT), accreditation provides our landowners with assurances they need in a changing and sometimes uncertain economic climate. “They can be confident that RiGHT has earned the respect and stamp of approval from our national association for our practices, our standards and the quality of conservation projects.”

More Rio Grande Basin coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: HB 10-1348 third reading tomorrow in the State House

A picture named uraniummill.jpg

From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):

No one spoke in opposition to HB 1348, which will have its third and final reading on the House floor Friday, and two Republicans – Reps. Marsha Looper and Tom Massey – spoke in favor of the bill, which has bipartisan sponsorship and widespread support in the Arkansas River Valley and along the southern Front Range.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Englewood: Raw water supply in good shape heading into summer

A picture named mclellanreservoir.jpg

From The Englewood Herald (Tom Munds):

“Right now, McLellan Reservoir is full, plus we are expecting our normal allotment of water from the Ranch Creek system this year which will more than the amount necessary to meet the needs of our customers,” Fonda said. “I don’t see a supply problem and don’t envision any type of water restrictions this summer.” Currently, the city provides treated water to about 326 million gallons of water to it customers. Almost all the 10,000 residential and commercial customers are within the Englewood city limits…

…Englewood has more water than it can treat for customer use which makes it possible to sell about 978 million gallons a year to Highlands Ranch. “The sale of water to Highlands Ranch is a plus for our city customers,” Fonda said. “The sale brings the utility department about $1.6 million a year which we put in the general fund and keeps our water rates low. We estimate our customer’s water bills would be 20 to 25 percent higher if we didn’t have the revenue from water sales.”

More infrastructure coverage here.

Eagle County, Colorado Springs and Aurora agree on Homestake plans

A picture named holycross.jpg

From The Denver Post:

Eagle County and Aurora and Colorado Springs have reached an agreement on a 15-year- old dispute over water rights in the Eagle River Basin. The agreement, announced Wednesday, prevents the two cities from obtaining water within the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. Instead, water will be diverted from the Camp Hale area, a less pristine area that was used for Army training during World War II. The agreement also calls for the two cities to build a smaller-than- planned reservoir in lower Homestake Creek and to scale back a proposed groundwater development.

More transmountain/transbasin diversions coverage here.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: What is the environmental cost?

A picture named flaminggorgepipelinemillion.jpg

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Boulder hydrologist and environmentalist Dan Luecke and the pipeline’s inventor, Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million, faced off in attempt to answer [environmental questions] Wednesday night at the University of Wyoming…

[Aaron] Million reiterated his view that the pipeline – a public-private partnership – would keep Front Range farms operating, provide a plethora of wind and hydropower development opportunities and prevent the fragile Green River ecosystem from being harmed. If the project proves to be environmentally unsound, he said, the pipeline should not be built.

Environmentalists are concerned the pipeline could harm endangered fish in the Green River, potentially forcing water to be diverted from pipeline users to put more water back into the river for the fish. Leucke called the pipeline “one of the most damaging kinds of water projects I can conceive of” because it would pump water above the Continental Divide from one river system to another to be consumed by growing Front Range communities…Environmentalists want the South Platte and Arkansas river systems to be managed more efficiently with an eye toward water conservation, and Million’s pipeline could encourage them to do otherwise, Leucke said.

Million countered, saying users of water from the pipeline will be mandated to comply with water conservation restrictions.

Just as serious, Leucke said, is the expense of the water from the project. He said Colorado water officials have estimated pipeline water would cost about $2,200 per acre-foot, while new water projects within Colorado could deliver water for $800 per acre-foot…

“I think the numbers we’ve been talking about didn’t look at any sort of climate variability scenarios yet,” [Former Wyoming State Engineer Jeff Fassett] said, adding that the Army Corps of Engineers will study the matter more thoroughly.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

Cañon City: Council approves new water rate structure

A picture named waterfromtap.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

the way the city’s water rate has been structured, the more water people use the less they pay. Senior citizens with minimal water use are paying for more than they use, Rabe said. After a lengthy study of the cost to provide the water service, Rabe said that will change. Overall the water fund will see a 5 percent increase in revenue during the next three years. “There will be a big difference for minimal water users,” Rabe said. For example, residential customers who use less than 10,000 gallons of water in a three-month period will see the rate change from $40.68 to $27.90. That is a 31 percent decrease, Rabe said. Nonresidential customers who use less than 5,000 gallons in a three-month period will see the rate drop from $21.77 to $9.30, or a 57 percent decrease, Rabe said…

“People who use the average 30,000 gallons in a quarter will see no change or a slight decrease. People who live in areas where we have to pump the water uphill, like Dawson Ranch or North Fifth Street, will see an increase in the zone surcharge. It will go up a little bit,” Rabe said. City Finance Director Harry Patel said the majority — about 60 percent — of the city’s water customers are using less than the 30,000 gallon average. Water users will not see an increase in stormwater fees, nor will the $5,000 new tap fees go up.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Arkansas River Watershed Tamarisk Workshop recap

A picture named goatmunchingtamarisk.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The workshop attracted 86 participants from all parts of the valley as part of the Arkansas River Invasive Plants Plan, an effort launched in 2007 by the Southeastern district and 30 partners to aid in restoring land taken over by tamarisk…

While the strategies vary in different parts of the basin, the basic lessons are the same:
Most have stopped talking about eradication and are looking at knocking back infested areas to the point where natural vegetation will have a change.
– Many partners are needed in projects, as well as the cooperation of landowners. Not all landowners want to remove tamarisk and may even value their presence as windbreaks.
– One swipe at the problem may get rid of 90 percent of the invasive trees, but follow-up efforts are needed. Complete restoration can depend on how well native vegetation takes hold.M.

“Complete eradication is pretty much impossible,” said Mike Eichenberry of the U.S. Forest Service, which has been eliminating between 500-800 acres of tamarisk each year since 2004 on the Comanche grasslands…

In North La Junta, a flood control district is using a different method for a different purpose, said Mike Taylor of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Tamarisk and willows have constricted the channel of the Arkansas River and reduced its ability to protect North La Junta from floods. The river has filled with about 15 feet of sediment since the 1965 flood, and the goal is to widen the channel to 300 feet. That should accommodate a 25- to 50-foot flood and avoid a repeat of flooding in 1999. The district, NRCS and other partners are using a root rake — large teeth attached to the blade of a bulldozer — to dig out tamarisks to a depth of two feet. “Once you get at them deep enough, they will not regenerate,” Taylor said. The willows are tougher, and like tamarisk hold soil in banks against erosion. Taylor laughed that it was the first time in his career that he’d been involved with a project trying to encourage erosion, saying a small flood would help scour the river. And while the area at first looks like a “moonscape,” native plants come back, and local residents are enjoying the effect. “Each spring we’re seeing people picnicking and enjoying the river. They say they haven’t seen the river in years,” Taylor said…

Killing tamarisk by any means will take years, but they most likely won’t come back as strong, said Anna Sher, a revegetation expert from the University of Denver and Denver Botanical Gardens. “Managing for native species will result in less tamarisk cover,” Sher said.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.