Buena Vista fifth annual Paddlefest May 28

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From the Salida Citizen:

Paddlefest acts as the “Kick Off” to the Arkansas River paddling season, drawing hundreds of river enthusiasts to Chaffee County for a weekend filled with boating, on water instruction, kayak competitions, river education, seminars, sales and entertainment. Paddlefest is a unique event that offers educational opportunities for folks with a variety of interests – there will be something for everyone – families, individuals just learning about water sports to hard core professional kayakers. Free demos and basic instruction on Stand Up Paddle boards and recreational kayaks will be offered on the Buena Vista Town Pond. As well as, free whitewater demos on the river.

More whitewater coverage here.

Wiggins: Residents warned that nitrates in supply are too high for infants under 6 months old

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

The Northeast Colorado Health Department gave the town notice that its water had nitrates at an unacceptable level for such young children to be drinking, Mayor Mike Bates said. Water nitrate levels reached 13.98 milligrams per liter, which is above the standard of 10 milligrams, a notice to the town said. According to health officials, healthy adults generally excrete nitrates, but infants younger than six months are sensitive to nitrate poisoning, which may result in serious illness or death. Nitrates are converted into nitrites, which reduce oxygen in the child’s blood, causing shortness of breath and blueness of the skin. This has given the condition the name of “blue baby syndrome.” A child’s health can deteriorate over a period of days in extreme cases. The notice sent to the town said people should not give Wiggins water to infants under six months or use it to make infant formula, juice or cereal.

More water treatment coverage here.

South Platte River: Ducks Unlimited is restoring and creating habitat for water fowl

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From the Greeley Tribune (Dan England):

The idea for Ducks Unlimited is to recharge and in some cases recreate wetlands, and while the idea isn’t entirely new, it has water officials wondering whether it’s the wave — no pun intended — of the future. The organization siphons off excess flows from rivers in the spring through a diversion or a pump installed at the river. It then runs the water off either right next to the river or maybe as far as a few miles away. The water creates wetlands duck habitat. The water then sinks into the ground, where it eventually returns to the river in the summer, when water is needed the most. Underground pipelines carry the water to the location if it’s far away. “We prefer to do restorations,” said Greg Kernohan, manager of conservation programs in Colorado and Wyoming, “but on occasion we can basically create these wetlands out of nowhere.” Areas that seem to fit best include naturally occurring sandhills and basins, flood plain meadows from irrigation and marginal farmland, Kernohan said. Ducks Unlimited sees unlimited potential along the South Platte in Weld because marginal farmland tends to work fairly well. The organization has done several projects in Weld, including the relatively new Centennial State Wildlife Area, but really is just now taking a hard look at the county to see what else it can accomplish.

Part of the reason for that is the organization believes the best way to create wetlands is to appeal to farmers in the area to get them to “fowl” a portion of their property. They agree not to irrigate as much land and use those credits to flood another area to create the wetlands habitat, Kernohan said. Ducks Unlimited will help with this and in some cases helps cover the costs associated with it as long as the farmer maintains the land once it’s been “fowled.” Those decisions can be profitable for farmers, who discover they can charge up to $3,500 per gun to hunt on their new waterfowl habitat.

More restoration coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Colorado orders Cotter to start treating the water at the Schwartzwalder mine

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From the Associated Press via The Durango Herald:

The Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety said Thursday it doesn’t believe the plan would prevent uranium from contaminating Ralston Reservoir, which supplies some of the Denver area’s drinking water. Loretta Pineda, the agency’s director said Cotter has been directed to resume treating the water and submit a new plan within two weeks.

From The Denver Post:

The state Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety rejected the protection plan Cotter submitted last month and instructed the Denver-based company to submit a water-treatment plan within two weeks, the agency said in a news release…Cotter had proposed a man-made wetland and a chemical filter to capture uranium leaking from the mine.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

H.R. 2288, The Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Improvement Act of 2010 passes U.S. House of Representatives

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

The Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Improvement Act of 2010, H.R. 2288, is intended to authorize annual base funding for the upper Colorado and San Juan fish recovery programs through fiscal year 2023. A Congressional Budget Office report estimated annual costs of the program will be about $3 million a year through 2015 and $3 million to $4 million a year from 2016 to 2023. The budget office based its estimates on reports from the Bureau of Reclamation and the Western Area Power Administration. Passage of the bill “will help ensure that the vital restoration work these programs have started can be accomplished,” said the bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo. The program aimed at recovering the Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, bonytail and razorback sucker is scheduled for funding reduction in 2011.

More endangered species coverage here.

Pitkin County: Healthy Rivers and Streams program embarks on nonconsumptive use study

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Scott Condon):

The Healthy Rivers and Streams program is in the process of hiring a consultant to determine the appropriate flow for each of the seasons, said Pitkin County Attorney John Ely. The study will concentrate on the stretch of river from the intake to Salvation Ditch, just east of Aspen, to its confluence with Castle Creek. That stretch can be heavily stressed because of numerous diversions. A minimum streamflow of 32 cubic feet per second was established on the Roaring Fork in the mid-1980s by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Ely said. That legal decree often isn’t met during dry times. Diverters with senior rights are still entitled to take their fair share of water, so the river flow can drop below 32 cfs…

The 32 cfs in-stream flow reflects a level where fish can survive, but it doesn’t necessarily accommodate a healthy river, Ely said. The Healthy Rivers and Streams Citizen Advisory Board wants to determine what the healthy flows would be, keeping in mind the natural seasonal fluctuations. The board put out a request for proposals for the study this spring and will likely select a consultant by the end of June. Conditions on the river will be studied throughout one full year. Once complete, the goal will be to find ways to achieve what are determined to be the healthy flows, Ely said. He wouldn’t speculate on what those methods might be.

Pitkin County set a precedent last year by becoming the first holder of water rights to donate water to a river to augment the flow. The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved the county’s request to donate 4.2 cfs it can divert from Maroon Creek back to the Roaring Fork River. The water trust agreement was the first big accomplishment of the Healthy Rivers and Streams program. Pitkin County voters authorized the program in November 2008 and approved a 0.1 percent sales to fund the effort. Those revenues will fund the study of healthy river flows.

Ely said the goal of the effort isn’t to restore historic flows of the river. That’s impractical because it would flood out much of the riverside development. It is also impractical because there are 20 “decent-sized” diverters between the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River and its confluence with Maroon Creek, Ely said. About 37 percent of the headwaters of the Roaring Fork is diverted to the Eastern Slope, according to the Roaring Fork Conservancy, a Basalt-based nonprofit that monitors water quality and quantity issues in the Roaring Fork watershed. Numerous smaller diversions are made to supply ditches within the valley.

More Roaring Fork coverage here.

Adiós Chips

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From The Denver Post (Yesenia Robles):

Instead of roasting Chips Barry on Friday night at a farewell banquet, nearly a thousand people gathered to pay their last respects. The memorial event at the Wells Fargo Theater at the Colorado Convention Center was originally scheduled to celebrate and joke about Barry’s retirement, and many of the speakers had a head start on their speeches. Some admitted they were instructed by Barry on which stories to tell.

From the Denver Business Journal (Kathy Proctor):

During Barry’s tenure at Denver Water, the utility implemented a water conservation program, built a recycled water distribution system, invested millions of dollars in improvements at its treatment facilitieis, monitored recovery from devasting wildfires in the utility’s watershed and led the work to recover from one of the worst droughts in the state’s history.

On Friday, Barry was lauded for his humor, his golf and squash game, and the empathy he felt for the people he worked with and befriended.

Stories were told, including his idea for pushing water conservation by sitting on a new, low-flow toilet for newspaper and TV cameras. Laughter was shared over Barry’s ties, described as “so loud they could talk.” Proclamations in his honor came from Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

More Denver Water coverage here.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District looks favorably on the project

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The [Lower Ark] district board voted to back a plan by Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million to build a 560-mile pipeline that could bring water into the Arkansas River basin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating the project under the National Environmental Policy Act. “This is a letter indicating interest, and there is no commitment to the project,” said Pete Moore, chairman of the Lower Ark board…

Million came to the board seeking endorsement at its April meeting. Million Resource Conservation Group is raising $18 million to finance permits for the project, and has already put $2 million into the effort. Investors are being lined up for the second phase of the project, which would begin in 2013, if the environmental impact statement is complete at that time. Million’s plan is to build a project that would deliver 165,000-250,000 acre-feet of water from the Green River and Flaming Gorge at a cost of $2.5 billion-$3.4 billion.

A request for a water supply contract was made to the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Flaming Gorge, in 2006. Million filed for a water rights permit in Wyoming in 2007.

Meanwhile, Steve Witte, Water Division 2 engineer briefed the Lower Ark on the proposed Arkansas Valley irrigation efficiency rules water court case on Wednesday. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

After the consumptive use rules were filed in September, more than 20 statements of opposition were filed in Division 2 Water Court at Pueblo. That resulted in a case management order to attempt to work out issues identified in the objections, Witte said. The state met with attorneys in the case on April 29, and with technical advisers of the objectors on May 3 to sort through the issues. “The discussion was good, and helped to resolve the misunderstanding of the rules by some of those who were not on the advisory committee,” Witte said. The committee changed the rules as Witte originally proposed them in 2006, more closely defining which on-farm or canal changes would be addressed.

Basically, surface-fed sprinklers or drip irrigation systems on farms are regulated, while canal lining or pipes ditchwide are subject to regulation. The rules are meant to avoid violation of the Arkansas River Compact with Kansas as well as to protect senior water rights in Colorado, Witte said.

At the meetings, Witte also explained how compliance plans outlined in the rules would work, and clarified that the state’s model of consumptive use, called the Irrigation Systems Analysis Model, would only be one way by which use is calculated.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here. More Arkansas Valley consumptive use rules coverage here and here