Delta: Irrigation audit workshop May 20

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From the Delta County Independent:

Colorado State Extension horticultural agent Curtis Swift will conduct an irrigation audit workshop on Thursday, May 20, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Bill Heddles Recreation Center. You will learn how to determine the water pressure at critical locations in your system, irrigation application rate and distribution uniformity for your sprinkler system. Then you will learn how to schedule your system for best frequency, rate and duration for your intended crop (grass, vegetable and flower gardens, trees and shrubs). Locating and identifying irrigation system problems will also be covered. And an actual audit of one of the rec center systems will be conducted so you will have some practical experience to help you learn.

Please pre-register at Delta’s CSU Extension center at 874-2195. Cost is $5 per person. Class is limited to 35 participants.

More conservation coverage here.

La Plata Archuleta Water District special election recap

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From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

About 25 percent of an estimated 4,600 eligible voters had returned ballots as of 4 p.m. Monday in an election to fund the La Plata Archuleta Water District. “It’s a good showing,” said Amy Kraft with Harris Water Engineering, the designated election official. “Special-district elections can have turnouts of 10 percent.” All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. today at 954 East Second Ave., Suite 101, Kraft said. The results will be posted in the window as soon as the final ballot is counted, she said.

Voters are being asked to approve Issue A, which authorizes a levy on the market value of their property of 5 mills (half a penny) and lift the district’s revenue limit, now held in check by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, also known as TABOR.

More La Plata Archuleta Water District coverage here and here.

Mesa County approves new wastewater tap fees and rates for Whitewater residents

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

Under an agreement between the Clifton Sanitation District and the Whitewater Public Improvement District, the owners of the 74 parcels within the original public improvement district boundaries will pay the Clifton Sanitation District a one-time $2,900 plant investment fee and a $19.04-a-month service fee. Landowners who purchase taps after May 31, 2011, or who aren’t within the original public improvement district boundaries will pay a $3,720 plant fee.

More wastewater coverage here.

Snowpack news

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Scott Condon):

Aspen appears to have set a record with 36.35 inches of snow for April, barely eclipsing the old mark of 36 inches in 1970, according to Charlie Bailey, water treatment supervisor with the Aspen Water Department. The water department tracks Aspen’s precipitation for the National Weather Service. The report hasn’t been filed out for April yet, so the numbers are unofficial, Bailey said…

Even so, the Aspen area snowpack remained below average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The snowpack for the Roaring Fork basin was 74 percent of the 30-year average on Tuesday afternoon. At the agency’s Independence site east of Aspen, the snowpack was 83 percent of average. In the Fryingpan Valley, the snowpack ranged from a high of 98 percent at Ivanhoe to a low of 0 percent at Nast. Ivanhoe is the highest snow measuring station in the Fryingpan Valley and Nast is the lowest. In the Crystal drainage, the snowpack was at 80 percent at Schofield Pass and 62 percent at McClure Pass. The conservation service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reported that snowpack was below average in all of the major river basins in Colorado on May 1 — despite cold and snowy weather over the last half of April. “For the most part, any gains we saw during the last week of April were far surpassed by the melt we saw earlier in the month,” said Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS. Colorado’s statewide snowpack decreased to the lowest reading of the season on May 1 at only 78 percent of average.

From the Grand Junction Free Press (John Gardner):

However, [Bryon Lawrence, a hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Grand Junction] is not too excited about the spring runoff season this year due to a lack of snow accumulation this winter. He said that this year is shaping up to be a “mediocre” runoff year at best. “The snowpack has been considerably below normal,” he said. “And we are not expecting a really good runoff this year.”[…]

According to the National Weather Service, The Colorado River peaked on May 21 in 2009, running at 10,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) at Dotsero. The average peak runoff for the Colorado River at Dotsero is 9,425 cfs. The weather service predicts the peak runoff to be well below the 2009 levels, at only 4,500 cfs this year at the same location. “That is less than half of normal,” Lawrence said. He also expected the peak runoff not to occur until the end of May, or even as late as June 20. However, that is the typical time frame for the runoff to occur, he said. The National Water Information System real-time water flows used by the United States Geological Survey reported the Colorado River near Dotsero at 1,360 cfs on Monday. In comparison, this year the Roaring Fork River Basin is currently at 95 percent of average for precipitation. The Roaring Fork River’s peak flow is expected to be about 4,200 cfs, just 300 cfs less than experts are expecting for the Colorado River. However, that is still well below the average peak runoff of 6,150 for the Roaring Fork River.

Southern Delivery System update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Springs City Council last week approved closing on one home and 24 easements in Pueblo West for more than $250,000. That was added to 18 properties at more than $750,000 earlier this year. Colorado Springs, as part of Pueblo County 1041 negotiations, agreed to use eminent domain only as a last resort…

Colorado Springs plans to begin building the $1 billion-plus SDS later this year, but must first begin contract negotiations with the Bureau of Reclamation. A date for negotiations has not been set. Pueblo West would benefit from SDS by tapping into the line near Pueblo Dam. A Pueblo West company, ASI Constructors, has been chosen to build the North Outlet Works as one of the initial SDS projects. A workshop for SDS contractors is planned for 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday at El Pueblo History Museum, 301 N., Union Ave.

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs Utilities will have to raise rates 12% to pay for the pipeline and increasing maintenance costs. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Colorado Springs City Council Tuesday will consider approving water rate hikes of 12 percent for 2011 and 2012. Similar increases are foreseen for 2013-16, according to testimony last week at a public hearing on the rate hikes. The hikes are needed not only to pay for the bonds to finance SDS, but increasing maintenance costs. In April, for instance, a boulder damaged part of the Homestake Pipeline that brings water to Colorado Springs from Twin Lakes. Currently, the residential water bill in Colorado Springs is near the average among Front Range utilities, about $37 per month. Cities on rivers, like Pueblo and Denver, have the lowest rates, while cities with complicated water systems like Aurora, Palmer Lake and Woodmoor, are at the upper end of the scale. If the 12 percent increases are approved, that would jump to about $41 a month in 2011 and $46 a month in 2012. If the 12 percent rate hikes continue through 2016, the Colorado Springs average would be about $71.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.