CSU: New climate model project hopes build a system capable of simulating the circulations associated with large convective clouds

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Here’s the link to the website. Here’s the link to the images.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs city council approves water rate hikes

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Eileen Welsome):

“We recognize the sacrifice that our citizen-owners are making, but we also recognize that SDS is the very best cost alternative for our future,” he said in a brief interview after the vote.

Councilor Tom Gallagher and several witnesses who spoke during the hearing urged councilmembers to postpone a vote until further information could be obtained.

But William Cherrier, the utility’s chief planning and finance officer, told council members that up to $49 million — or $1 million a year — could be saved over the life of the project if the utility was able to take advantage now of historically low interest rates and special bonds available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

More coverage from KKTV.com. From the article:

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Tom Gallagher was the only vote in opposition to the hike. He asked council to postpone the vote to do more research on the project. “There will be no second chance and I believe we have just gone down a road that future generations will look back and curse this council,” said Gallagher.

More coverage from Fox21 (Rachel Welte). From the article:

“I think it is the right thing to do for our community, it is going to secure our water supply for at least 40 years,” Mayor Lionel Rivera said. Mayor Rivera said the city has done numerous studies dating back to 1997 on the project. He said in the long run it is going to benefit more than just the residents of Colorado Springs. “We are going to be developing regional partnerships to provide water for some of our neighbors who rely on ground water,” Rivera said.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Snowpack/Runoff news: Durango just short of 100 inches of snowfall

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From The Durango Herald (Shane Benjamin):

Durango received 96.3 inches of snow from October through April, said Briggen Wrinkle, a local weather observer. The average winter snowfall in Durango is 66.7 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

While it was a big snow year in Durango, surrounding areas received close to an average amount of snowpack and moisture. The Animas River valley from Silverton south to the Colorado-New Mexico border was 90 to 99 percent of normal, said Bryon Lawrence, a hydrologist for the Weather Service. “It wasn’t an exceptional snow year, but it was near normal,” Lawrence said.

From the Vail Daily (Edward Stoner):

Through March, local snowpack was tracking at about the same level of the 2001-02 drought year. But, by Monday, the April storms had pushed snowpack levels at Vail Mountain to about twice of what they were in 2001-2002. That means there is plenty of snow at high altitudes waiting to melt into rivers. There was 19.3 inches of “snow water equivalent” at Vail Mountain on Monday. The average for that time of year is 23.6 inches. Rivers are still running below average this week. The Eagle River at Avon was flowing at 350 cubic feet per second on Wednesday, compared to an average of about 700 cubic feet per second.

Donala Water and Sanitation District’s special election recap

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From The Tri-Lakes Tribune (Nicole Chillino):

Voters approved a measure to allow the district to expand its debt by up to $20 million, with about 67 percent of votes, or 1020 out of 1515, being cast in favor of the measure. The district also received permission to increase the district’s mill levy up to five mills, with nearly 73 percent of votes, or 1098 out of 1508, supporting the ballot question. Approximately 33 percent of the district’s residents participated in the election, according to general manager Dana Duthie. “The number of voters is phenomenal,” he said…

Now that the measures have passed, the district is waiting on a decision from Colorado Springs Utilities regarding whether to relax its limitations and city code to allow it to engage in regional partnerships, Duthie said. If the change comes through, Donala hopes it will allow the district to hookup to the utility district to move water from the Arkansas River, its access point to the water rights it purchased on Mount Massive Ranch near Leadville.

The district’s future actions with regard to its potential use of at least a portion of the money approved by voters will also partially depend on whether it can get water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Duthie said. While the district might have to wait for either of its potential uses of the money, it wanted to receive voter approval to increase its debt and increase its mill rate prior to the passage of several pieces of legislation coming down the pipe that, according to Duthie, would curtail the financing of infrastructure for small districts like Donala. Donala Water and Sanitation District also elected three members, including William Nance, David Powell and incumbent Timothy Murphy, to its board of directors for four-year terms.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Contractors meet with the project management team

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

SDS will provide an average of 380 jobs annually, with a peak of 700 jobs in 2014, said Dan Higgins, construction manager for Colorado Springs Utilities. “Utilities will not be doing the main hires, that will be done by the primes and subs,” Higgins told a crowd of about 60 local contractors.

The purpose of Monday’s workshop, along with one last week in Colorado Springs and another planned for Thursday in Canon City, is to guide contractors through a procurement process that can be daunting. SDS has been broken down into several project segments that will give local firms the opportunity to meet bonding requirements, rather than running the whole project under one large contractor. That also includes a wide array of jobs ranging from carpenters, landscapers, fencing, stucco and welding to sign-making, security and traffic control. Colorado Springs has hired MWH, the same engineering firm that completed the Environmental Impact Statement, to manage construction, but is keeping CH2MHill on board to bring design up to 30 percent levels…

“We’re really excited at this point to stop planning and permitting and begin constructing,” said John Fredell, SDS project manager. “This is truly a regional project, situated well for Pueblo and El Paso counties. The regional economic benefits are going to be huge.”[…]

A second phase of the project is planned to construct two reservoirs on Williams Creek, probably sometime after 2020.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District update

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From Steamboat Today (Mike Lawrence):

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District already has announced plans to raise Stagecoach Reservoir in South Routt County, adding nearly 3,200 acre-feet of water storage capacity to the reservoir’s existing 33,275 acre-feet. Work on that project will begin this summer. On Sunday, general manager Kevin McBride said the district also is taking steps toward a mission statement and, eventually, a master plan. Those steps include public input, beginning with the district’s board meeting later this month. McBride said developing a mission statement and master plan will help formalize, among many district goals, “how we will protect the water resources of the Yampa Valley in light of the pressures outside of the district.”[…]

hose pressures continue to intensify. They include three proposals, in various stages of planning and feasibility, for massive pipelines to transfer water from the Yampa River, Green River or Flaming Gorge Reservoir to Front Range communities. Such proposals have been floated for several years, but the demand for such a large-scale transfer was highlighted in March when the Colorado Water Conservation Board released its Colorado River Water Availability Study for public comment.

Local water attorney Tom Sharp noted that the study provides a range of zero to 1 million acre-feet of remaining, developable water in the Colorado River system, depending on climate and consumption projections. The interesting thing about that range, Sharp said, is its low end. “Until this study, no study had been done by any regional or state government saying that the number remaining for Colorado River development could be zero,” Sharp said…

Combine the pipeline proposals and state projections with population growth and the potential for increased energy development on the Western Slope, and the need for formalized planning is clear. There currently is no comprehensive, guiding document specific to the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, which oversees Stagecoach and Yamcolo reservoirs and supplies untreated water to local municipalities, agricultural users and Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s Craig Station power plant. McBride said the district has founding documents, various objectives and some principles for projects and transactions, but nothing under one roof, so to speak.

McBride said Conservancy District officials will make a presentation to Steamboat Spr­ings City Council on May 18 in Centennial Hall on 10th Street. The district’s board meets at 3 p.m. May 19 in the Routt County Courthouse, in the Commissioners Hearing Room on the third floor.

More Yampa River Basin coverage here and here.