CWCB: Instream flow appropriation for Little Dominguez Creek and Big Dominguez Creek

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Rob Viehl):

At its May 18-19, 2010 regular meeting, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) declared its intent to appropriate instream flow water rights for Big Dominguez Creek and Little Dominguez Creek. The attached list contains a description of the Instream Flow (ISF) Recommendations including stream name, water division, watershed, county, upper terminus, lower terminus, length, USGS quad sheet names and recommended flow amounts. Copies of the Instream Flow Recommendation Summary Reports and Appendices submitted into the Official CWCB Record are available for review during regular business hours (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) at the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Office, located at 1313 Sherman Street, Room 721, Denver, Colorado, 80203. Copies of the Instream Flow and Natural Lake Level Recommendation Summary Reports are also available on the CWCB website.

More CWCB coverage here.

H.R. 5320 (pdf), the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act of 2010: U.S. Representative DeGette withdraws her amendment citing progress in disclosure talks

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, today withdrew a bill amendment seeking disclosure of substances used in hydraulic fracturing during oil and gas development. DeGette spokeswoman Juliet Johnson said the congresswoman took the action because it appears she’s close to reaching a disclosure agreement with industry and others.

More coverage from the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams). From the article:

The committee passed the “Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act of 2010 (pdf),” which amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to increase funding to states, water systems and “disadvantaged communities,” step up EPA enforcement and encourage better environmental and financial management of water systems, among other things. But the committee did not accept DeGette’s hydraulic fracturing amendment.

More oil and gas coverage here.

Aspinall Unit update

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

Reclamation’s spring operation allowing the Black Canyon Water Right 24 Hour Peak Flow Target to be met is complete. Starting on May 10th releases ramped up at about 500 cfs per day until reaching a peak release of 5,100 cfs. The Peak Flow Target under the hydrologic conditions identified in the May 1st April through July runoff (560,000 af) forecast into Blue Mesa Reservoir was 3,883 cfs. The Gunnison River measuring gage located below the Gunnison Tunnel (diverting 1,000 cfs) measured a daily peak flow of 4,190 cfs range on May 18th.

Following the 24 hour peak, releases from Crystal were reduced by about 400 cfs per day through two changes per day. As of today, the down-ramping is complete and flows in the Canyon and Gorge are about 650 cfs which is less than the 700 – 800 cfs range previously mentioned in our plans. Due to the hot winds and dryer weather Reclamation plans to maintain these lower flows for the present time. Please contact Dan Crabtree at 970-248-0652 or reply to this email with questions or comments.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Glenwood Springs: Sewer rates set to jump 30%

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Gardner):

Glenwood Springs wastewater customers can expect a 30 percent increase in their sewer bill beginning in June.

The increase of the city’s water and wastewater rates for 2010 was unanimously approved by Glenwood Springs City Council at its May 20 meeting.

The sizable increase in wastewater rates will also be accompanied by a 5 percent rate increase of the treated water for 2010.

The increases are the fifth in as many years and were designed to generate revenue to pay for capital improvement projects, most notably the relocation of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, which cost $33 million. The total cost includes $22.3 million for construction of the wastewater facility. Approximately $4.6 million has paid for construction of the force main that will connect the lift station at the current site on Seventh Street to the new facility in West Glenwood Springs to the south of the Colorado River, and for construction of the access road.

The remaining $6 million covers engineering and associated costs, and a portion will also cover demolition of the existing facility on Seventh Street, according to City Manager Jeff Hecksel.

More wastewater coverage here.

NIDIS – Upper Colorado Basin Pilot Project’s “Summary of Weekly precip and water supply”

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Henry Reges the CoCoRaHS National Coordinator has graciously given me permission to post his notes from yesterday’s webinar:

More precipitation fell last week in the north central mountains of Colorado and throughout western Wyoming and northern Utah, while dry conditions continued to prevail over southwestern Colorado. Very little changes were seen in the water-year-to-date precipitation percent of average from last week, with western Wyoming seeing the biggest improvements and northeast Utah and southwest Colorado showing the largest decreases. With the warmer than average temperatures this past week in Colorado, and very low peak snowpacks in Utah and Wyoming, the majority of the lower elevation snotels in the tri-state area have nearly melted out for the season. Cooler temperatures over the past month and late season storms have kept the higher elevation stations near their current average snowpacks, with little mid-May melting, though few of those stations actually reached their normal peak snowpack values. The warmer temperatures in Colorado also meant an increase in streamflows this past week, with runoff now following along with the seasonal trend in many locations, though many sites in Wyoming and Utah still show low flows due to cooler temperatures coupled with below average snowpack. Despite recent precipitation many of southwestern Wyoming’s stations in the Green River basin continue to show below average snowpack, precipitation, and streamflows consistent with moderate to locally severe drought categories. Just over 50% of all the gages in the UCRB are reporting below normal 7-day average streamflows (less than 25th percentile).

Not much precipitation is expected in the coming week. Northwestern Wyoming and eastern Colorado have the best chance of precipitation over the next 5 days. West of the divide, no large scale features are likely to bring moisture to the area, though there is the chance for convective precipitation. Today’s GFS 12Z run shows precipitation for much of the state over the weekend, but this is a major change from the 0Z run, so confidence in this forecast is low. Warmer than average temperatures will prevail over the area throughout the rest of this week. After this, there is a transition to a more zonal flow with reduced chances for precipitation and near normal temperatures next week.

Draft 1 of the U.S. Drought Monitor removed the small D1 from the headwaters region of the Colorado River and a trimming of the D0 in Jackson county. The general consensus was that this was a good call. There were also suggestions to further trim the D0 out of Jackson and northern Routt county in Colorado as this area has also been receiving a lot of moisture recently. Changes in Wyoming and Utah were coordinated with their state experts. Other suggestions were to add D0 to a small area on the south facing slopes of the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado. Even though the region is entering its climatological dry period, the area has been drying out for nearly two months and the majority of the snowpack there has already melted.

Greeley: City council is considering big rate increases and agressive purchases of water rights

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

…the council favors aggressively buying water — as much as $90 million worth during the next six years — an approach officials say will cost residents in the near term but offer long-range savings and security. If the city goes that route, said water and sewer director Jon Monson, water rates would rise about 84 percent in the next 10 years, equating to $30 per single-family home per month. That’s compared to rates rising, if no additional water is bought, 47 percent in the next decade, or $17 per home. Monson presented the water outlook at Tuesday’s council work session.

Greeley’s current average water bill is $45.83 per month, he said. If the city added the $13 per month to water bills for the $90 million water acquisition, rates would be in the upper third of Colorado Front Range cities if other cities do not change their rates…

Greeley’s existing water supplies will keep up with the city’s growth — a 2.25 average rate in recent years — for 20 to 25 years, Monson said. “But we firmly believe now if we do this revolving fund … that water may be gone by the time we need it,” he said. Under the revolving plan, Monson said, Greeley would have to wait 10 to 15 years to start to cash-fund additional water supplies. But, if water is available at all, it would be extremely expensive, adversely affecting future growth, density and irrigation. Compounding the problem, he said, is the fact that other Front Range cities are ramping up water purchases and projects in the wake of the 2002 drought. For example, Monson said, Aurora is spending $800 million on a water project. Monson pointed out that Greeley would also need to add staff — at least several positions — in order to increase the city’s supplies. Although Greeley is a statewide leader in conservation, the city, without additional acquisition, would still exceed its supplies by 2038 or 2040, Monson said…

Under the water acquisition option, the city would, as it has historically done, rent annual excess supplies back to agriculture at cost. Plants such as Leprino Foods require substantial water resources, and council members pointed to the importance of agricultural partnerships to the city’s economic future. Norton said such partnerships with agriculture are “what northern Colorado is all about.”

More Greeley coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs Utilities experiences sticker shock with Reclamation contract offer

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We are shocked by the starting point you have provided,” said John Fredell, SDS project director. “We believe that we should be treated fairly, equitably and similarly to the existing contract for the Pueblo Board of Water Works.”

After spending most of the day politely listening to Fredell pick apart Reclamation’s proposed contract to tailor it to the needs of Colorado Springs and its SDS partners, Area Manager Michael Collins proposed a menu of prices that led to an abrupt silence. Collins proposed $50 per acre-foot for storage, $50 per acre-foot for conveyance at the North Outlet Works and $50 per acre-foot for an exchange. There was also a 3.08 percent annual increase built into the fee structure.

hat provoked incredulity from Colorado Springs water attorney David Robbins. “Fifty dollars an acre-foot for a facility we build and turn over to you?” Robbins asked…

Fredell then presented Colorado Springs’ proposal: $17.35 per acre-foot for storage and exchange, with no charge other than maintenance and operation fees for the North Outlet Works. The annual increase would be 1.79 percent. “We’ve heard the numbers,” Collins replied. “We’ll wait to respond until the next negotiating session.”

Later, Fredell returned, asking Reclamation to reconsider the Colorado Springs proposal. “Our residents pay 70 percent of the ad valorem of the Southeastern district,” Fredell said. “We have nothing more to give you until you consider our proposal.”[…]

Colorado Springs is seeking a long-term contract to store 20,000 acre-feet of water — about what it stores now — in an excess-capacity account in Lake Pueblo for 2011, with 800 acre-feet added annually until a total of 28,000 acre-feet is reached. Reclamation is considering a request by Colorado Springs for a 40-year contract, even though the environmental impact statement was conducted through 2046. Its partners want long-term contracts as well: Pueblo West, 10,000 acre-feet; Security, 2,500 acre-feet; Fountain, 1,500 acre-feet. All have used similar one-year excess capacity contracts in the past. Under Colorado Springs’ banner, one conveyance contract for the North Outlet Works is being sought, with the SDS agreement among all four partners used to assure payments are made. Fredell requested the annual charge for the new facility be waived since Colorado Springs is building the new structure and plans to deed it to Reclamation. Colorado Springs is the only SDS partner seeking a 10,000 acre-foot exchange — a paper trade — to Twin Lakes from Lake Pueblo, which would allow it to move water through the Homestake Pipeline as well and would benefit Reclamation by removing the transit loss of 10 percent that occurs as the water flows down the Arkansas River…

Colorado Springs wants to pay what the Pueblo Board of Water Works is paying for its 25-year storage contract, $17.35 per acre-foot. The rate of inflation of 1.79 percent was the same as Reclamation negotiated for a 40-year project with Aurora in 2007, Fredell said. Reclamation now leases excess-capacity space in Lake Pueblo for $24 per acre-foot to members of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which includes all of the SDS participants. The Aurora contract is now at about $50 per acre-foot, for both storage and exchange. However, Aurora is not in the Southeastern district and is charged more. The city east of Denver uses Reclamation’s Fryingpan-Arkansas Project to move water out of the Arkansas Valley.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Lawson welcomes their shiny new whitewater park

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From the Clear Creek Courant (Ian Neligh):

The park celebrated its grand opening May 22. It includes boulders that create specialty chutes and waves for kayakers and other boaters along the 450-foot stretch of Clear Creek just upstream from Mile Hi Rafting. The park also has improved parking and a changing station with environmentally friendly toilets. Eighty percent of the funding for the $400,000 whitewater park comes from a Federal Highway Administration grant through the Colorado Department of Transportation. The rest is split between the county Open Space Commission and Clear Creek County…

The project was overseen by Recreation Engineering and Planning of Boulder, which did designs at similar whitewater parks in Golden, Steamboat Springs and Buena Vista. Groundbreaking for the park was held last August, and work was finished in the creek by mid-autumn to protect the fisheries. Helseth said the creek was moved to one side behind a cofferdam to allow work to be done on the park. “They put those boulders exactly where they wanted them to make the perfect waves for kayaks, and then they actually grouted them into place,” Helseth said. “So now they won’t shift and move anymore, and they’ve really been laid out according to what they have identified as the optimal spacing for kayakers.”

More Whitewater coverage here.