Yampa River: Rusty crayfish invade headwaters

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

[Colorado Division of Wildlife] officials have identified rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) in the headwaters of the Yampa River, prompting an immediate closure to the take of live crayfish from the waters in the Yampa River basin. Crayfish, also known as “crawdads,” are a popular bait and food item. It is not uncommon to find people collecting the animals from Colorado waters. Rusty crayfish are an aggressive species native to the Ohio River basin in the upper Midwest, but human activity has moved them throughout the northeast and into southern Canada. The discovery of rusty crayfish in the Yampa basin is a first in Colorado. Because of their large size and aggressive nature, rusty crayfish can impact fish populations by consuming small fish and fish eggs. The species can also negatively impact fish and spread unwanted aquatic plants by aggressively harvesting underwater plant beds. “They’re not selective in their feeding, so they’ll eat whatever fish eggs are there and whatever plants are there,” said Elizabeth Brown, Division of Wildlife aquatic nuisance species coordinator. “Any native species is at risk for food-web disruption from these critters.”

More invasive species coverage here.

CWCB: The board postpones new floodplain rulemaking session until November

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

The Colorado Water Conservation Board had planned a rulemaking session on the plan to expand flood plains in the state from 100-year-flood to 500-year-flood level next month. But Tom Browning, chief for the board’s watershed protection and flood mitigation section, said that has been put off until November because of concerns expressed by officials statewide. And while he confirmed that there are some “proposed rules” for the state’s flood plains, he did not offer details.

Development may suffer in Severance if the new rules are drawn as planned, according to a report from Sherrie Peif writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

For the past 18 months, Severance has dealt with a flood plain expansion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That expansion cut a path through town, essentially throwing its comprehensive growth plan in the trash. Now, with the additional proposed regulations from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Severance may not be able to be developed at all.

More CWCB coverage here.

Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District water court update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“The district has concerns about the use of winter water and the Fryingpan-Arkansas facilities,” said Bob Hamilton, engineering supervisor. The district also wants to protect its own exchange application in connection with the Arkansas Valley Conduit, Hamilton said. The board voted unanimously to oppose the application…

A filing in Water Court does not necessarily mean complete opposition to an application, but is often used as a stepping stone to a negotiated settlement between parties to prevent injury to existing water rights.

The board also voted unanimously to oppose an application by Pioneer Natural Gas and other companies drilling for coal-bed methane in the Raton Basin near Trinidad. The application seeks to settle issues surrounding produced water from drilling. Methane is trapped in coal seams below the ground and in the first stages of drilling water is produced…

Southeastern has filed to make sure the determination of non-tributary wells listed in the application is accurate and that the new water rights would not violate the Arkansas River Compact with Kansas, Hamilton said.

The district will settle with applicants in two other cases, in lieu of obtaining conditions applied to past court decrees settled by the district. Those involved Stratmoor Hills and Rocky Ford conversion of former ditch water rights to municipal use.

The board also took action to shore up its own water rights, agreeing to file for due diligence on conditional Eastern Slope rights. Last year, the district filed a due-diligence application on its Western Slope water rights, said attorney Steve Leonhardt.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.