House Subcommittee on Water and Power Congressional field hearing on managing water for the future May 17

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From email from the South Platte Basin Roundtable:

Please join Congresswoman Betsy Markey, Chairwoman Janet Napolitano, and members of the House Subcommittee on Water and Power for a Congressional field hearing on managing water for the future. The hearing includes discussion about the roles of the federal and state governments, as well as local entities, in supporting agriculture. Among the topics to be discussed: the importance of agriculture in the region and the federal, state and local programs and grants available for water conservation and efficiencies; and ongoing water supply studies. It will also highlight the innovative practices of farmers in the region.

Testimony is by invitation only and is being arranged by the subcommittee, but the hearing, which begins promptly at 10 a.m., is open to the public. Booths from agricultural service organizations will be open from 9 a.m.- 10 a.m. and 12-1 p.m.

What: Congressional Field Hearing

When: 9 am-1 pm, Monday, May 17, 2010

Where: UNC University Center, 2045 10th Ave., Greeley

The Congresswoman Napolitano held one of these hearings down in Castle Rock back in 2008.

More South Platte Basin coverage here.

La Plata West Water Authority informational meeting recap

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From The Durango Herald (Ann Butler):

“We have a very singular opportunity for us to finance a significant amount of the project,” La Plata West Water Authority Board President Roy Horvath told the more than 60 attendees at an informational meeting Thursday. “The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has $3.4 billion in rural development funding to spend across the whole nation. Normally, the USDA only has $6 million to $8 million for the whole state of Colorado.” It was the third such meeting in three weeks. More than 70 people attended the first meeting, and about 35 went to the second. Questions ranged from timing to the status of current and planned wells.

The answers: The earliest water could be available is within 2½ to three years. Current wells are grandfathered in, and new wells would require approval by the board and the Colorado Division of Water Resources, but the board couldn’t imagine the circumstances where it wouldn’t grant approval. Horvath said this is far different from the original plan to bring in irrigation water from Lake Nighthorse. “All we have access to is water for domestic use,” he said about A-LP. “It’s not meant for production-scale agriculture.” But in a part of the county where many residents truck in their drinking water, that sounds good enough. More than 200 property owners already have made a commitment of $500 per tap desired to demonstrate community interest to the USDA. This series of open houses is an attempt to encourage more to commit. The commitments also allow the board to determine what areas the system would serve based on clusters of interest…

The La Plata West Water Authority has scheduled an additional meeting about the effort to bring drinking water to western La Plata County. It will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School, 11274, Colorado Highway 140.

Further information, a map of the proposed service area and a copy of a user-comment form are available by calling 385-2340. Information about the project and copies of the project-commitment letter are available at

More San Juan Basin coverage here.

The Colorado River District is hosting a ‘State of the River’ meeting in Granby May 12

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From email from the Colorado River District (Martha Moore):

The Colorado River District and Grand County are hosting the annual Grand County “State of the River” public meeting on Tues., May 11th from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Mountain Parks Electric Community Center, 321 West Agate, Granby.

Learn about:

* how this year’s snowpack will translate into stream flows,
* Grand Lake water quality issues, and
* critical negotiations affecting the Fraser and Colorado Rivers.

Will Grandma be able to float the Fraser? Will Junior be fishing his favorite fishing hole come August? Which reservoir should Aunt Mille head to for the best boating? And what’s up with all that brown dust on our white snow?

These and more pertinent questions will be answered at the Grand County “State of the River” meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 11th at Mountain Parks Electric Community Room, 321 W. Agate Ave. (Hwy 40), Granby.

Forecasted stream flows, anticipated reservoir operations, water required for endangered fish and projected long-term county water supply and demands will be the main subjects at this annual public meeting sponsored by the Colorado River District and Grand County.

For more information, please contact Martha Moore at (970) 945-8522, ext. 226, or e-mail

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District is buying a reservoir site at Stonewall Springs Ranch

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The district’s board voted Thursday to purchase 300 acres on the Excelsior Ditch for $5.85 million from Colorado Springs developers Mark and Jim Morley. The ground is part of the Stonewall Springs Ranch, which the Morleys have for years planned to develop as a reservoir site. The Morleys most recently planned three reservoirs storing up to 25,000 acre-feet on the 1,400 acre property, which they purchased from Dick Evans for $6.275 million in 2006. The property is located south of U.S. 50 near Nyberg Road and the Pueblo Chemical Depot…

Woodmoor purchased the middle site, but has not determined how big the reservoir on the site would be, said Jessie Shaffer, manager of the district. “There would be the opportunity to store up to 8,300 acre-feet, but we haven’t decided on a final size,” Shaffer said. The Morleys are operating a quarry on land to the west of the site Woodmoor purchased and could build up to a 6,500 acre-foot reservoir there. On the parcel to the east, an 11,500 acre-foot reservoir could be built, Mark Morley said…

Along with the land, Woodmoor purchased 771 shares of the Excelsior Ditch, which is expected to generate about 326 acre-feet of water in an average year. The Woodmoor board also voted to buy 6.6 shares on the High Line Canal. It will be added to the 41.2 shares that went under contract April 8. The purchase will bring the district’s total investment in the High Line to more than $2 million. Each share on the ditch irrigates 10 acres, only the historical consumptive use of the water rights…

Woodmoor is buying the water rights in the Arkansas Valley as part of a plan to reduce its reliance on Denver Basin aquifers. Late last year, Woodmoor filed an application in Division 2 Water Court to exchange water upstream along the Arkansas River, Fountain Creek and Monument Creek in order to use shares from either the Holbrook or High Line canals. Shaffer did not rule out future purchases on the Holbrook Canal. The Woodmoor district is located in northern El Paso County east of Interstate 25 and serves 3,300 customers.

More Woodmoor coverage here.

Governor Ritter appoints Mike King to head up the Colorado Department of Natural Resources

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Here’s the release from Governor Ritter (Theo Stein/Evan Dreyer):

Gov. Bill Ritter today announced he has appointed Mike King as executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. King, a native of Montrose, has served in a variety of roles in the department since 1999, most recently as deputy director for the past four years. He also was an assistant attorney general in the natural resources section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office from 1993 to 1999.

“Mike is a strong, steady leader with a sharp understanding of natural resource issues,” Gov. Ritter said. “He approaches problem-solving with a commitment to treating people fairly and bringing people with opposing viewpoints together to find common ground. As a native Coloradan, Mike knows it’s the little things and the big things that make this state so special. I am confident that under his leadership the department will continue to manage and protect Colorado’s rich natural resources for the benefit of this and future generations.”

King earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1989, a law degree from the University of Denver in 1992 and a master’s in public administration from CU-Denver in 1998. An avid hunter and angler, King lives in Parker with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

“From water to wildlife to energy development, the Department of Natural Resources is entrusted with protecting and managing some of Colorado’s most important assets,” King said. “I am deeply grateful to the Governor for his confidence in me, and I am committed to continue working with the myriad groups and individuals who look to DNR for leadership in these critical areas.”

King will replace Jim Martin, who was recently appointed by the Obama administration to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s Denver-based Region 8 office.

More Colorado water coverage here.

Tamarisk control: Tamarisk is not the water hog it has been made out to be

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dave Buchanan):

A recent study by the U.S. Geological Service says tamarisk, commonly known as saltcedar, consumes no more water than native plants such as cottonwoods and willows. Also, the report says tamarisk-dominated landscapes aren’t totally inhospitable to wildlife. Reptiles, amphibians and birds, including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, use and breed in tamarisk stands. The report was requested by Congress asking for a review of the scientific literature about tamarisk and Russian olive to assess the impacts, distribution, water consumption and control methods for the two invasive species.

Click through to if you want to download the report. Here’s the pitch from the authors:

The primary intent of this document is to provide the science assessment called for under The Saltcedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–320; the Act). A secondary purpose is to provide a common background for applicants for prospective demonstration projects, should funds be appropriated for this second phase of the Act. This document synthesizes the state-of-the-science on the following topics: the distribution and abundance (extent) of saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) in the Western United States, potential for water savings associated with controlling saltcedar and Russian olive and the associated restoration of occupied sites, considerations related to wildlife use of saltcedar and Russian olive habitat or restored habitats, methods to control saltcedar and Russian olive, possible utilization of dead biomass following removal of saltcedar and Russian olive, and approaches and challenges associated with revegetation or restoration following control efforts. A concluding chapter discusses possible long-term management strategies, needs for additional study, potentially useful field demonstration projects, and a planning process for on-the-ground projects involving removal of saltcedar and Russian olive.

More Tamarisk control coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: SDS partners starting negotiations with Reclamation for excess capacity contracts in Lake Pueblo

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The first negotiation session is planned for 9 a.m. May 25 in the third floor boardroom of the Helen T. White building at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, 210 N. Santa Fe. The second session is set for 9 a.m. June 15 in the Max Kade Theater in the Armstrong Building at Colorado College, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs and its SDS partners are asking the Bureau of Reclamation for federal excess-capacity contracts to store water, connect a pipeline to Pueblo Dam and to exchange water as part of SDS, a $1 billion-plus project that would build a pipeline through Pueblo and El Paso counties…

The hearings are open to the public, and will include public comments at the end of each negotiating session, said Kara Lamb, spokeswoman for Reclamation. “Written comments also may be submitted on the draft contract,” Lamb said…

Colorado Springs Utilities intends to begin construction later this year, and has identified ASI Constructors of Pueblo West as the lead contractor on building the North Outlet Works at Pueblo Dam. Utilities also hosted its first workshop for contractors Thursday in Colorado Springs. Other workshops are planned for 3:30 p.m. Monday at El Pueblo History Museum, 301 N. Union Ave., and 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Fremont Campus of Pueblo Community College at 51320 W. U.S. 50, Canon City. The first phase of SDS will cost about $880 million, with $550 million going toward construction. The rest goes toward planning, legal and permit costs. An average of 380 workers is anticipated with a labor costs of $160 million by the time the project is completed in 2016. During that time, Colorado Springs ratepayers could see their rates double, if Colorado Springs City Council implements 12 percent rate increases Utilities is seeking.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

The Bureau of Reclamation invites the public to attend two contract negotiation sessions on May 25 and June 15. Reclamation is negotiating with the cities of Colorado Springs and Fountain, the Security Water District, and the Pueblo West Metropolitan District for the proposed excess capacity contracts related to the Southern Delivery System Project. The first contract negotiation session will be held May 25 at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center in the 3rd Floor Board Room at 210 N. Santa Fe Avenue in Pueblo, Colo. The second negotiation session will be held June 15 in the Max Kade Theater at Colorado College, 14 East Cache la Poudre Street in Colorado Springs, Colo. Each session will begin at 9 a.m. There will be a designated time in each session for public comments to be heard. Reclamation is also accepting written comments on the draft contract.

For more information, to obtain a copy of the draft contract, or to submit written comments, please contact Kara Lamb at (970) 962-4326 or

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.