Platte River tour July 12-15

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From the North Platte Bulletin:

A four-day water and natural resources tour in July will examine the challenges of sharing water supplies in the North and South Platte River basins in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. The tour covers all three states and includes a visit to the North Platte River irrigation project. It will be held July 12-15, beginning and ending in Kearney. Stops will be along the North and South branches of the Platte River.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking a hard look at managing the Missouri mainstem — hearings start June 1 in Jefferson City, MO

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Here’s the link to the website for the study. Here’s the pitch:

The Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS) is a broad-based, Congressionally authorized study to review the project purposes established by the Flood Control Act of 1944. The Study will analyze the eight authorized purposes in view of the current Basin values and priorities to determine if changes to the existing purposes and existing Federal water resource infrastructure may be warranted.

Thanks to for the heads up. From their article:

John Grothaus with the Kansas City District of the Corps says the first phase of the project is “public scoping” to get input from stakeholders and agencies, as well as members of the general public. “The first phase of the study, which is in some respects going to shape how we conduct our assessment of the existing conditions in the basin and how we shape the formulation of alternative plans. You know, what are people’s views what are their priorities?” Grothaus said.

The study will examine whether a 1944 federal law needs to be changed or revised from the eight set ‘purposes’ for the river, its dams and reservoirs.

“The fact that we’ve been granted this authority through Congress indicates that Congress feels like there’s some wisdom in looking at the purposes and seeing if any changes are needed or warranted,” Grothaus said.

Those eight purposes, outlined 65 years ago, are flood control, irrigation, hydropower, navigation, water supply, recreation, water quality, and fish and wildlife.

More Missouri River Basin coverage here.

Rocky Mountain National Park officials embarking on restoration project near the Grand Ditch

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):

Three years after the May 30, 2003, breach, the National Park Service filed suit against the owners of the Grand Ditch. And in 2008, Water Storage and Supply Co. settled out of court, paying $9 million to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Officials at the park are now starting the lengthy environmental-impact-statement process of determining the best way to restore the damaged area. They will listen to experts and residents for ideas on how to best do that without causing further damage. Options, according to Rocky Mountain National Park, include:

• Doing nothing and allowing natural restoration in some locations.
• Stabilizing steep slope.
• Removing sediment and dead timber and possibly using it in other areas of the restoration project.
• Planting native species.
• Regrading and re-contouring areas to restore the natural water flow.

The possibilities, which could be combined into the final plan, may require using chainsaws, helicopters and even fences…

Comments will be accepted at two upcoming public meetings:

• June 1, 7-9 p.m., Grand Arts Center, 913 Park Ave., Grand Lake.
• June 3, 7-9 p.m., Harmony Library, 4616 S. Shields St., Fort Collins.

Written comments: Send to Grand Ditch Breach Restoration Plan, Rocky Mountain National Park, 1000 U.S. 36, Estes Park, CO 80517 or submit online at

More Grand Ditch coverage here and here.

USGS: Colorado snowmelt and runoff occuring and average of 3 weeks earlier now as compared with the 1970s

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Here’s the release from the United States Geological Survey:

Snow in the Colorado mountains is melting significantly earlier in the year, and the changes appear to be related to recent climate trends.

Colorado snowmelt and streamflow are occurring an average of two to three weeks earlier than in the late 1970s, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study published today in the Journal of Climate. These shifts in timing are correlated with warming springtime air temperatures and decreasing snowfall over the study period and may have an effect on Colorado water supply.

The study examined recent trends in snowmelt and streamflow timing in Colorado for the years 1978-2007 and evaluated potential linkages with trends in air temperature and precipitation in the state. The analysis was based on snowpack data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Snow Telemetry, network and air temperature data from research sites operated by the USGS in Rocky Mountain National Park and the National Science Foundation, Long-Term Ecological Research program at Niwot Ridge, Colo.

“Results from this study indicate that even the mountains of Colorado, with their high elevations and cold snowpacks, are experiencing substantial shifts in the timing of snowmelt and snowmelt runoff, which are occurring earlier in the year,” said David Clow, USGS scientist and author of the study. “If the shifts in snowmelt timing observed in this research persist, they could have important implications for reservoir operation, water rights, wildfire severity, and forest health in Colorado.”

Snowmelt and streamflow timing trends were analyzed using a relatively new, powerful statistical test called the Regional Kendall’s Tau test, which provides increased power of detection by combining data from multiple sites within a region.

The USGS article is now available in the May 2010 edition of the Journal of Climate (PDF)

Southern Delivery System: Contract negotiations between Colorado Springs Utilities and the Bureau of Reclamation for use of Fryingpan-Arkansas Project facilities start tomorrow

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Bureau of Reclamation will negotiate with Colorado Springs and its SDS partners beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the third floor boardroom of the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, 210 N. Santa Fe Ave. A second session is planned at Colorado College in Colorado Springs on June 15. The negotiations are open to the public, and there will be an opportunity for public comments at the meeting.

Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West have applied for Bureau of Reclamation contracts to store, exchange and move water from Pueblo Dam. The pipeline could carry up to 78 million gallons per day to El Paso County, with capacity of 18 million gallons per day to Pueblo West…

According to the draft contract, Colorado Springs is requesting contracts for conveyance, long-term storage of 28,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Pueblo, and exchange of 10,000 acre-feet of water to Turquoise or Twin Lakes. No rates for any of the activities have been set, and should be the primary area of discussion during negotiations. The contract also specifies that SDS will be constructed by the participants at their sole expense.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.