Fountain Creek update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Under a Great Outdoors Colorado grant, the City of Pueblo, along with several partners, is developing a master plan for redevelopment of the Historic East Side that ties in parks, recreation, community activities, connections to Downtown Pueblo and improvement of Fountain Creek.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Pueblo County will consider buying an abandoned railroad bridge on Fountain Creek as an alternative to dredging as a way for Colorado Springs to comply with its permit conditions for the Southern Delivery System. In a work session Wednesday, commissioners heard a proposal recommended by the city of Pueblo and Colorado Springs Utilities to buy and remove the bridge as a more effective way to restore flood capacity to Fountain Creek than dredging. “Every- body ought to realize dredging is a one-time operation that can be short-lived,” said Dennis Maroney, Pueblo stormwater consultant. “After a storm event, you may have to go back and do it over again.”

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

At least eight projects are contemplated along the Fountain in Pueblo County alone, creating both challenges and opportunities, [Gary Barber, interim director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District] said. Four identified projects are bringing in more than $2 million to Fountain Creek, which others are just taking shape. “I see our role as a district to coordinate activity on Fountain Creek and move things along,” Barber told Pueblo County commissioners this week, as the county tried to sort out who’s doing what along the waterway.

The county is looking at a proposal by Colorado Springs Utilities and the city of Pueblo to buy and remove an abandoned railroad bridge, rather than have Colorado Springs dredge Fountain Creek. Removal of the bridge is seen as a more permanent solution than dredging, which would have to be done periodically after each flood deposits more sediment in the approaches leading to the bridge. That particular project is the main interest for the commissioners, who required the dredging as a condition for allowing Colorado Springs to build part of the $2.3 billion Southern Delivery System in Pueblo County…

A $500,000 sediment-removal demonstration project using technology developed by Streamside Systems is scheduled to be conducted near the railroad bridge. A 20-foot collector will be placed in Fountain Creek to remove bedload sediment — the particles that are carried along by day-to-day flows in Fountain Creek. The Colorado Water Conservation Board contributed $225,000 toward operation of the 90-day trial, which will be matched by $75,000 from the Pueblo stormwater fee, as well as in-kind work by the city. The outcome could help the city of Pueblo deal with sediments in the reach between Fourth and Eighth streets, where five storm-drain culverts frequently plug up, requiring constant maintenance. The project also will involve analysis of the sediments by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which is contributing $250,000 to projects on Fountain Creek.

Part of the state health money also will look at results from a side detention pond being built on the north end of Pueblo, which will create wetlands while reducing the severity of small floods. It would be built behind the North Side Walmart. The $700,000 project includes a $485,000 contribution from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as analysis of water-quality indicators by Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Those projects are an outgrowth of a $1-million partnership between Colorado Springs Utilities and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, which jointly are spending four years to develop the Corridor Master Plan, which covers Fountain Creek south of Colorado Springs. The master plan is the result of a 2007 agreement in which each contributed $150,000 a year toward the effort. The Fountain Creek District, formed in 2009, joined as a partner this year after Colorado Springs and the Lower Ark district agreed to contribute $100,000 annually toward funding the district.

Colorado Springs, as part of its agreement with Pueblo County, also is paying $300,000 over three years for study of a dam on Fountain Creek. The Fountain District has made no plans for how to spend that money. If SDS is completed in 2016, Colorado Springs would contribute another $49.4 million over five years to the Fountain Creek district, under its agreement with Pueblo County.

Another effort, by the city of Pueblo and the Fountain Creek Foundation is using a $75,000 Great Outdoors Colorado planning grant to develop a greenway park from Eighth Street to the Fountain Creek confluence at the Arkansas River. The project ties into a business-district redevelopment project on the Historic East Side.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

CDOW is drawing down Beaver Creek Reservoir for dam inspection

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From The South Fork Tines:

Water is being released slowly, and releases could increase significantly later this week. In addition, a road is being built on the water side of the dam to accommodate the inspection work. The DOW’s engineering staff is working with engineers from the Colorado Division of Water Resources to bring the water level down safely and to inspect the structures. The Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office and the Rio Grande National Forest are also working in cooperation with the state agencies. The DOW owns the dam and the reservoir which holds about 5,000 acre feet of water. The reservoir is located on U.S. Forest Service property about 8 miles southwest of the town of South Fork. Water from the reservoir flows into the South Fork of the Rio Grande River.

More Rio Grande Basin coverage here.

Justice Hobbs: ‘The water ditch is the basis of civilization’

Farview Reservoir Mesa Verde NP
Farview Reservoir Mesa Verde NP

Here’s a recap of Justice Hobbs’ keynote this week up in Breckenridge, from Julie Sutor writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Hobbs took his audience on a tour of the waters of the Americas, from the agricultural terraces of the Peruvian Andes to ancient reservoirs of Mesa Verde to the irrigated fields of the San Luis Valley, illustrating that water — and the ways we use it, divert it, store it, regulate it and fight over it — shapes human societies. “They were great civil works people,” Hobbs said of the ancient Incas. “You can’t walk down the great staircase of Machu Picchu without hearing the water sing.”

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Orchard City: South Grand Mesa Source Water Protection Plan

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The plan was compiled with input from area water providers and other domestic water stakeholders in the Surface Creek and Ward Creek drainages. The purpose of the plan is to identify the domestic water supply point sources so they can be protected from possible contamination by currently known and possible future threats. The plan focuses on using informed project planning, incident response, inter agency communication, and other measures. It is generally agreed that the biggest threat to pristine, mountain raw water supplies in the two drainages is from wild land fire that would have devastating consequences on the local watershed.

More Gunnison River Basin coverage here.

Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“I’m dismayed by the lack of progress [with the roundtable process],” said Jeris Danielson, a former state water engineer, consultant to Aaron Million’s Flaming Gorge pipeline project and director of the Purgatoire Water Conservancy District. “The discussion degenerated into, ‘There’s not enough water on the Western Slope,’ instead of talking about any projects.”

The IBCC’s meeting in Denver in April was mostly spent with members taking fallback positions that have stifled much discussion since the group was formed in 2005, he said. The group was initially seen as a way to develop guidelines for interbasin transfers, but most of the state’s nine roundtables are still wrestling with needs assessments with the basins…

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable will meet with the Gunnison Basin Roundtable at Salida on June 7 to discuss each basin’s concerns. It will be the second one-on-one meeting between the two roundtables.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A $42,000 project would attempt to develop a management plan to accommodate the needs of fishermen or boaters and water providers. “When you bring down water from the upper reservoirs into Lake Pueblo, when can you do that to meet all of the needs,” Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, told the Arkansas Basin Roundtable Wednesday. The guidelines developed would give all parties an idea of how much water would be released in wet, average or dry years in an attempt to head off complaints or potential lawsuits, Broderick said. The Roundtable agreed to pass its recommendation for approval along to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for a $33,000 grant for the project. Southeastern and the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District will equally split the balance of the costs.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A proposal to study the spawning habits of the flathead chub — which is found throughout the West — on Fountain Creek was bait for both skeptical comments and passionate defense among the normally placid roundtable members. Colorado Springs Utilities would use the study as part of its plan to build a fish ladder around its diversion at Clear Springs Ranch, located south of Colorado Springs in El Paso County. It would cost $144,000, with $109,000 through research efforts by the Division of Wildlife, Colorado State University, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Army Corps of Engineers. The remaining $35,000 is being sought through a state grant, said Merle Grimes, a consultant for the Fountain Creek Master Plan, which is a joint project of Colorado Springs, the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. “No one has attempted to do this study in the past,” Grimes said. “It has great value to the agencies who are participating.” The flathead chub is listed as a species of special concern, but not endangered or threatened, in Colorado. It’s not listed on the national endangered species list.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

Nebraska reaches accord with Colorado over the proposed Republican River compliance pipeline

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From The Yuma Pioneer (Stan Murphy):

The States agreed on a schedule for Pipeline deliveries that will avoid deliveries during the irrigation season to the maximum extent possible, which is consistent with the schedule developed by the RRWCD’s engineer. Colorado also agreed to support Nebraska’s proposed resolution of its Crediting Issue (which is to give Nebraska credit for the payment of damages in the running averages used to determine Compact compliance if Nebraska is required to pay damages to Kansas). The stipulation does not resolve Kansas’ issues with the Pipeline, but it removes one road block to completion of the Pipeline. The arbitration before the arbitrator selected by the States, Martha O. Pagel, an attorney from Portland, Oregon, is scheduled for July 12-14, 2010, in Kansas City, Kansas.

Second, on May 4, Kansas filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court for leave to file a petition to hold Nebraska in contempt for violating the Decree in Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado. Kansas said in the petition that no relief is sought against Colorado, but Kansas reserves the right to seek relief at a later time against Colorado for its violations of the Decree. In the petition, Kansas asked that Nebraska be adjudged in contempt and enjoined from further violations of the Compact, that Nebraska be ordered to pay over to Kansas the amount of Nebraska’s profits or Kansas’ losses resulting from Nebraska’s violations, whichever is greater, that Nebraska be ordered to pay preset sanctions in the event of future violations, that Nebraska be ordered to reduce groundwater pumping, and that a river master be appointed to monitor and ensure Nebraska’s compliance with the Decree.

The filing of the petition underscores the need for the Compact Compliance Pipeline to bring Colorado into compliance with its Statewide Compact allocations. Kansas continues to insist that Colorado is in violation of the sub-basin non-impairment requirement in the South Fork sub-basin. Colorado views that as a separate issue and has filed a motion to dismiss that issue from the arbitration.

More Republican River Basin coverage here and here.

The Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District board gets a look at the economics of recreation at Lake Nighthorse

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From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

Board members of the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District got the news Tuesday. The water district took on the job of creating a recreation master plan for the lake a year ago when Colorado State Parks, the logical sponsor of outdoor activities, said it was broke. Colorado State Parks manages recreation at a number of properties owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, including Mancos State Park and Navajo State Park. “We got into this by default,” said Bob Wolff, the water district board president. “We have an incredible resource here but when no one stepped up, we needed to figure out how to get into recreation.”

Lake Nighthorse -covering about 1,500 surface acres – is taking shape as water from the Animas River fills a basin over the ridge to the southwest from Bodo Industrial Park. The Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that owns the project that will supply drinking water to three Native American tribes and others, estimates filling will top out sometime in 2011.

Water district members would like to have a recreation master plan in place by then.

More San Juan Basin coverage here.

Watercraft inspections to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species now mandatory in Colorado

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Click here for the mandatory boat inspection page at the Colorado Department of Wildlife. Thanks to The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel for the heads up.

More invasive species coverage here and here.

Snowpack/runoff news: Crystal dam to spill later this month during the high flow regimen for the Gunnison through Black Canyon

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dave Buchanan):

The peak flows and accompanying shoulder flows are components of the Black Canyon reserved water right. That 2008 settlement includes annual peak flows and shoulder flows — tied to natural inflow — plus a year-round base flow of 300 cubic feet per second. Collectively, these elements were considered to mimic natural flows prior to the construction of the Aspinall Unit dams and deemed critical to the health of the park and the Gunnison River. Once the peak flows are finished, the river will be ramped down by 400 cfs per day to around 800 cfs for the rest of the summer, [Dan Crabtree, lead hydrologist for the Bureau’s Grand Junction office] said. The peak flow and its timing were decided once the May 1 runoff forecast for the Gunnison basin was available, Crabtree said…

The peak flows will be produced by increasing flows from Blue Mesa into Crystal Dam and then opening the outlets on Crystal. That will boost flows to around 4,150 cfs. It take an additional spill of around 800 cfs to make the peak flow target. While it’s not preferable to see water go over the dam instead of through the hydropower generators, there’s little choice when it comes to meeting the Black Canyon water right. “We always want to use the water in the most efficient way possible,” Crabtree said, “whether it’s for hydropower, storage against future drought or for recreational purposes.”

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District board election recap

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From the Pagosa Daily Post (Bill Hudson):

On May 4, the residents and property owners within the PAWSD district went to the polls and elected two new board members, in a landslide election: Allan Bunch, owner of the Malt Shoppe restaurant, and Roy Vega, owner of Vega Insurance. Bunch and Vega ran on a platform that questioned current PAWSD policies — particularly the proposed Dry Gulch Reservoir and its funding mechanisms, along with the high level of debt the district has incurred in recent years.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here.

The Colorado Department of Wildlife launches kokanee salmon research at Blue Mesa

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From The Telluride Watch:

The research will examine several issues: how many kokanee fingerlings are consumed by predator fish on their way to Blue Mesa Reservoir shortly after they’re released from the Roaring Judy Hatchery; the population, life cycle and diet habits of lake trout; the amount of predation by perch which were illegally planted in the reservoir several years ago and have a self-sustaining population; and continued assessment of kokanee population trends. The reservoir is a very productive fishery, upon which the DOW has relied for many years as the primary water for kokanee salmon production in Colorado. But during the last 10 years the kokanee population in the lake has dropped precipitously primarily due to predation by lake trout. Rainbow trout survival has also declined significantly because of lake trout predation.

The first part of the research will look at survival of kokanee fingerlings after they’re released from the Roaring Judy Hatchery. Each spring, some of the fish are eaten by brown trout as they make their way down the East River and Gunnison River and into the reservoir. The young fish were released the evening of April 27 and biologists electro-fished at spots in the Gunnison River on April 28; the stomach contents of the caught brown and rainbow trout caught will now be examined.
 At various locations throughout the reservoir during May, nets will be set to catch other fish, to determine the amount of kokanee they’re eating. All samples will be submitted to researchers from Colorado State University who will conduct a diet analysis.

“The intent of this work is to assess predation on kokanee,” said Dan Brauch, aquatic biologist for the DOW in Gunnison. “The more we can learn about the extent of all predation the better we can manage the reservoir for multiple species.”

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

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

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Springs City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday to increase water rates 12 percent in 2011 and 2012, largely to pay for the costs of the Southern Delivery System. Councilman Tom Gallagher was the lone vote in opposition to the rate increase…

Colorado Springs Utilities officials say similar increases will be needed each year until the project is completed in 2016. That will double rates, which are now at the midpoint for cities on the Front Range. The increase also is needed for maintenance on an aging infrastructure, such as a break on the Homestake Pipeline last month when a boulder fell on it. The line is still being repaired. The rate increase will amount to about $5 per month each year for the average home in Colorado Springs

More coverage from Eileen Welsome writing for The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

The city-owned utility plans to seek a 3 percent rate increase in 2017, no increase in 2018 and a 2 percent rate increase in 2019, the forecast shows. Utilities spokesman Dave Grossman emphasized that the proposed increases are based on assumptions that could change dramatically in coming years. “A dry or wet summer can change the amount of revenue by millions of dollars,” he said. The increases will come on top of six planned 12 percent rate hikes scheduled for 2011 through 2016. The six increases come after a 40.6 percent rate hike that went into effect in 2009 and a 6.2 percent increase that went into effect on Jan. 1. In sum, that means that water bills for CSU customers could more than triple from 2008 to 2019, with the typical residential bill going from $24.67 to $76.37. Utilities officials have said the bulk of the rate hikes will pay for SDS, while the rest will be used for repairs and upgrades on existing facilities.

More SDS coverage from Charlotte Burroughs writing for the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

The workshop provided information on the opportunities for businesses regarding work related to the new Southern Delivery System. “We’re really excited to be moving out of the permitting phase that we’ve been in for seven years and move into the implementation phase to get rolling with construction here,” said SDS Project Director John Fredell. “That’s a huge step forward for the project.” He stressed there are real regional opportunities and benefits in terms of employment for the businesses in Fremont County. Available jobs include carpentry, civil contractors, job site trailers, electrical, equipment, insulation, gravel, landscaping, welding, truck drivers, rebar and more. “We’re already seeing that come to fruition,” Fredell said. “One of the first pieces of work we’re going to do is the dam connection to Pueblo Reservoir.”

Fredell estimated the major permits would be completed by the end of the year. It also has its record of decision from the Bureau of Land Reclamation and is nearing 30 percent of the initial components from the Army Corps of Engineering. “We only need about 100 permits to actually build everything for the projects,” Fredell said. But the company also needs to attain about 300 land acquisitions before it begins construction. “We’ll be ready to start up in 2015 or 2016,” he said. “In 2010, we plan to complete the dam connection. We also have to put in some pipe on the other end of the pipeline at Mark Sheffield Road.”[…]

SDS will be completed in two phases, which include the Juniper Valley, Williams Creek and Bradley pump stations then 62 miles of underground pipeline and a water treatment plant, which initially will treat 50 million gallons and then be expandable to more than 100 million gallons. “The first piece of the dam will connect to the north outlet works, which will begin later this summer or early fall,” Fredell said…

Phase 2 is roughly between 2020 and 2025, which will expand the pump stations, the water treatment plant and building Williams Creek Reservoir and Upper Williams Creek Reservoir. “We won’t build phase 2 all at once,” Fredell said. “We’ll start with Upper Williams Creek first, expanding the treatment facility then Williams Creek last.”[…]

When asked how to bid on the projects, Fredell said it would post a general list of jobs to bid on every week. To stay in touch with the program, register for the e-newsletter or e-mail or

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Longmont: City council OKs $14 million debt for wastewater treatment plant

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From the Longmont Times-Call (Rachel Carter):

The Longmont City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to issue as much as $14 million in bonds this month to fund capital projects at the plant. The city will sell the bonds May 24, and the funds will be available in mid-June. City finance director Jim Golden said the city’s bonds are rated individually, and the sewer plant bonds that will go to public sale later this month received AA ratings — a good, solid rating that is the same the city received in the recent past on its storm drainage and open space bonds.

More wastewater coverage here.

HB 10-1188 (Clarify River Outfitter Navigation Right) dies in conference committee

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

“What we tried to do with this bill was relate the statutes with reality,” said Rep. Kathleen Curry, the unaffiliated Gunnison legislator who introduced the bill with Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton. “What unraveled the legislative process was the fear of litigation and how the courts would interpret (it). We had a bill that looked reasonable when you read the bill, but the opposition felt like … the courts would make a broader finding and open up everything.”

When Curry introduced the measure in January, it was designed to allow rafters to float down Colorado rivers through private land, touching the riverbed and banks only in cases of emergencies.

But when it reached the Senate, lawmakers there said the idea constituted a taking of private property. As a result, that chamber turned it into a study, but sent it to a nongovernmental organization made up of landowners and water companies, not recreational river users.

Curry said without the bill, a slew of ballot questions may be placed before voters this fall to decide the matter one way or the other. There are 16 pro-landowner measures pending, and four designed to open private land to all rafting.

Regardless of what gets on the ballot in November, Curry predicted the uneasy peace that has existed between rafting companies and landowners will end, and a heated war will erupt this summer between the two sides. She said she already is hearing reports of rafters cutting down fences that property owners have erected to stop them from traversing rivers that cross their land.

More HB 10-1188 coverage here.

Senators Bennet and Udall plan to question President Obama’s supreme court nominee, Elena Kagan, about her understanding of water law and water issues

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s position on water rights will be high on the lists of issues for U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall when considering Kagan’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bennet also will pay close attention to her position on individual rights, while fellow Colorado Democrat Udall said he’d like to know how Kagan would tackle other natural-resources law…

Bennet said he would like to hear Kagan acknowledge the critical importance of water in the West and the need to preserve and protect Colorado’s rightful share under current law, a Bennet spokesman said in an e-mail.

More Colorado Water coverage here.

The Chieftain’s Chris Woodka water stories section

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Here’s a collection of water stories written by Chris Woodka from The Pueblo Chieftain website. Chris is a favorite of mine. If you don’t know his work take time to click through and read his stuff for a real treat.

Today was the first time that I saw the news website. Thanks to Loretta Lohman (Nonpoint Source Colorado) for the link.