Nestlé Waters North America’s Chaffee County Project to start delivering Arkansas Basin water to Denver bottling plant next month

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From the Colorado Independent (Scot Kersgaard):

Not everyone is happy about this. Buena Vista and Salida have birthed a protest movement that has been more noisy than effective. By some estimates, 80 percent of the roughly 17,000 people in Chaffee County are opposed to this diversion of water. Still, when it came time to issue permits, the three-member Board of County Commissioners was unanimous in approving Nestle’s plans. In the end, it was probably a combination of fear and Old-West style property rights values that carried the day for Nestle.

Commissioner Tim Glenn, the lone Democrat on the board, told a local reporter “Out and out denial of the permit… well you know what would’ve happened… we would have been sued.”

Commission Chair Frank Holman, on the other hand, thinks the Nestle deal is good for the county. “It is a good thing,” he said. “The county will get 12 to 15 new full-time truck driver jobs out of this. And those jobs are sorely needed,” he said…

Holman plays down concerns. He said that most of the water Nestle will be draining away would have flowed directly into the Arkansas, so the Aurora augmentation water more than makes up for what will be piped to Johnson Village and poured into trucks. He adds that the deal is now a matter of private property rights. Nestle now owns the land where the water originates, he said, and the company has leased the augmentation water to replace the water its carting away, so Nestle is well within its rights. “Nestle is a good neighbor,” he said. “They are giving us money to help with schools. They are creating a conservation easement on their land. And they are creating river access for fishermen.” Nestle has given $500,000 to two local school districts as an endowment from which the districts can spend the interest or earnings. The company has verbally promised to create a conservation easement on most of the land it has purchased, but no easement has yet been recorded…

Nestle is paying Aurora $160,000 a year for the water. The amount paid increases 5 percent a year for the first 10 years of the lease. After 10 years, Nestle has the option of requesting a second 10-year term. If Aurora agrees, the price will increase 3 percent a year for the final 10 years. Nestle can break the agreement at any time. Aurora can only break the deal if it can demonstrate that it needs the water for its own uses. The Aurora City Council voted 7 to 4 to approve this deal last year.

“The thing that gets me most fired up,” said Graham, “is how illogical it is to take our water, pipe it five miles to a truck plant, send 25 trucks of it to Denver every day, and then put it in plastic bottles. Considering that anyone can just turn a tap in their home and get the same water. It is just absurd.”

More Nestlé Waters North America’s Chaffee County Project coverage here and here.

Rafting rift settlement

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Here’s the release from Governor Ritter’s office:

Gov. Bill Ritter announced today an agreement has been reached between commercial rafting outfitters and private property owners along the Taylor River. The compromise clears the way for sponsors of 24 competing ballot measures to withdraw their respective proposals from the November ballot, averting an expensive and divisive election fight.

The Governor had asked two outfitters, Three Rivers and Scenic River Tours, and the owners of the Jackson-Shaw property, in May to find a mutually agreeable solution to their dispute.

Gov. Ritter thanked the parties for their hard work and willingness to find common ground. “To reach this accord, both sides had to make difficult concessions, and I appreciate their willingness to do so,” the Governor said. “Today’s agreement marks an important step toward opening a dialogue between landowners and rafters. My hope is that this dialogue will then lead to a fair and efficient dispute-resolution process for the future.

“Colorado’s rivers are essential to all Coloradans, not only for the vital drinking and agricultural water they carry, but also to our overall economy and quality of life,” said Gov. Ritter, who is an avid fly-fisherman. “Anglers, rafters and private landowners may all have separate and unique interests, but they all share a common Colorado interest that is bound together by doing what’s best for our children and the future of our state.

“I also applaud the decision of the sponsors to withdraw their ballot initiatives,” Gov. Ritter added. “The decision of these parties to withdraw these ballot measures was courageous and puts the interests of all Coloradans above their individual interests.”

Said Lewis Shaw, chairman and CEO of Jackson-Shaw Co., which owns the Wilder on the Taylor fishing reserve: “We are pleased to announce a resolution to the dispute on the Taylor River involving commercial rafting and private fishing property. Gov. Ritter has offered much-appreciated guidance to both parties to reach this settlement privately, avoiding possible contentious legislative initiatives or impositions. The agreement permits rafting companies Three Rivers and Scenic River Tours structured access through the private Wilder Ranch property while respecting each parties’ positions for their mutual enjoyment of this beautiful natural resource.”/p>

“Over the years, Colorado’s property owners and rafters around the state, working on a case-by-case basis, have found ways to accommodate each other,” said John Leede, president of the Creekside Coalition, which represents about 600 riparian landowners across Colorado. “We believe this long-standing approach has served Colorado well by balancing the needs of various interests. Our ballot issues were introduced to protect against legislative and ballot proposals from the commercial rafting community that we believed were one sided and would have disrupted the delicate balance between rafters, fisherman and property owners across the state. We are appreciative of the Governor’s leadership in resolving this issue and we will continue to participate constructively in future discussions around these issues.”

The withdrawal of the ballot measures also clears the way for the creation of a task force that will propose a dispute-resolution process to address future conflicts on Colorado rivers.

Gov. Ritter will convene a task force of stakeholders to develop a proposal for resolving conflicts among landowners, anglers and the boating public. The task force will be charged with developing a framework for resolving disputes on Colorado rivers on a stretch-by-stretch basis as those disputes arise. This approach recognizes that disputes vary from place to place and that a one-size-fits-all strategy is unlikely to succeed.

The task force will be led by the Department of Natural Resources and the Governor’s Office. The task force will include representatives from landowners, commercial and recreational river users, local government officials and law enforcement, which has historically been tasked with intervening in such disputes.

The task force will be asked to deliver a report outlining its proposal to the Governor by Dec. 31.

More HB 10-1188 (State Representative Kathleen Curry’s bill to clarify navigation rights) coverage for background on the rift here. More background on the proposed ballot issues for this fall’s elections here.

2010 Colorado elections

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The three gubernatorial hopefuls were in Pueblo yesterday, according to a report from Peter Roper writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

One of them will be elected governor in November, which is why Republicans Scott McInnis and Dan Maes, along with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper came to Pueblo on Tuesday to woo Southern Colorado voters…

“You don’t just now learn about water,” McInnis declared to the audience of about 150 listeners, a reference to Maes saying that his past year of campaigning had taught him how important and complicated the issue is in Colorado…

On protecting rural water, the Denver mayor said conservation would be important, claiming his city had cut its per capita consumption by 20 percent.

McInnis had a bolder view, saying Colorado should pursue obtaining water rights in the massive Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming and piping it to Front Range cities, taking the pressure off Colorado river basins, such as the Arkansas River.

Maes said that as diverting water from the Western Slope to the Front Range was always a difficult subject, but he said that if conservation efforts were not enough, “that conversation needs to take place.”

More coverage from Joe Hanel writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

Republicans Dan Maes and Scott McInnis and Democrat John Hickenlooper showed differences over water, oil and gas and their styles of politics when talking to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and Action 22, an advocacy group for Southeast Colorado. Colorado’s water crisis is most acute in the Arkansas Valley, and both groups asked the candidates to address water.

Maes said Colorado has plenty of water, but it needs to be trapped in reservoirs before it leaves the state. Because water belongs to the whole state, transfers from the Western Slope to Pueblo, for example, would be appropriate after the eastern cities have made “good faith efforts” to conserve water. But Maes told the cattlemen’s group that western Coloradans do not need to be threatened. “I say it in Pueblo County, and I say it in Montezuma County: Not a head of cattle or a field of crops will want for water because they need it for a green lawn in Denver,” said Maes, who ran a credit-reporting business in Evergreen.

McInnis said he thinks the best solution is a 400-mile pipeline from Southwest Wyoming to the Front Range, proposed by Aaron Million. “That project, the Million project, in my opinion is a long-term answer to the water needs,” said McInnis, a former congressman for the 3rd Congressional District that covers the west half of the state. In 2007, McInnis registered briefly as a lobbyist for Million’s company, Million Conservation Resource Group, according to records kept by Congress.

Hickenlooper, the Denver mayor, did not offer a specific project. Instead, he said the first task is to build trust and understanding around the state. It might take 20 years to get the Million pipeline built, and he cast doubt of Maes’ suggestion of a Western Slope water transfer to Pueblo. “That would never happen without a higher level of trust than we have right now,” Hickenlooper said.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Salida: FIBArk events Thursday through Sunday

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

Snowmelt continues to buoy the river flow around 3,000 cubic feet per second which should make for some exciting finishes in the river events. Events kick off from 7 to 9 a.m. Thursday with a pancake breakfast in downtown Salida followed by a 10 a.m. Pine Creek Boater X rafting event…

The 62nd annual event is sponsored by New Belgium Brewing, maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale, making it a must for the brewing company to enter a floatable craft in the Hooligan race slated for 5:30 p.m. Saturday just upstream of the F Street Bridge. “The whimsical factor of FIBArks hooligan craft race is just off the charts — there is nothing like it,” said Shawn Hines of New Belgium Brewing. “We’ll have a homemade boat that we’ll enter and cross our fingers that it keeps us all dry.”

From The Mountain Mail (Arlene Shovald):

Former downriver champion Erich Seidel will be inducted into the FIBArk Hall of Fame during the Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Salida SteamPlant. Seidel won the downriver competition in 1953 when the FIBArk celebration was 5 years old. Seidel died in 2003 and his family will receive the honors posthumously on his behalf. His children, Tom Seidel and Christina Seidel-Harrison and grandson Craig Harrison will be in Salida for the ceremony Wednesday. “The family was proud and honored to learn of Erich’s induction into the FIBArk Hall of Fame,” Craig Harrison said. “Erich’s kids, Christina and Tom, both have kayaked casually and Tom competed in the FIBArk Juniors in the early 1970s.” Seidel, a German kayaker, was sponsored by Klepper when he came to Salida in 1953. He worked in Munich, Germany, and in New York for Klepper, primarily as a sales representative.

In 1953 he and a friend, Theo Bock, set up the first slalom course on the Arkansas River to demonstrate gate running and thus introduced that aspect to FIBArk and whitewater sports in America. Seidel and his wife, Helga, moved to Salida in 1954. He and his friend, Xavier Wuerfmannsdobler, explored and paddled rivers of the west and together influenced many local paddlers, among them Eric Frazee who, at 17, represented the United States in the World Champion Slalom in Germany in 1957. Seidel’s name lived on in the Salida area long after he quit competing, because of an event one spring when he made the first successful descent through Brown’s Canyon and fell into a huge hole. His Foldboat was ruined, but he escaped and today the name Seidel’s Suck Hole continues as a dreaded rapid. Seidel had a home in Maysville for awhile, then moved to New York and eventually returned to Germany where he continued kayaking until he was in his early 60s. His former wife was the only person in the family to see him compete at FIBArk, but his son, Tom, has been in Salida almost every year for the festivities and the rest of the family has been here several times. They said they and are delighted to be present for the ceremony Wednesday honoring Erich.

More whitewater coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Negotiations between Colorado Springs Utilities and Reclamation hit cost snag

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“The proposal you provided to us is unacceptable. It sounds arbitrary and capricious,” John Fredell, SDS project director, told Reclamation’s negotiating team. “Clearly you did not recognize that as in-basin users, we want to be treated fairly.”[…]

One of those [Colorado Springs Utilities] ratepayers, Walter Lawson, chided Reclamation for not revealing the whole cost to Colorado Springs, and said Reclamation is trying to “extort” money from Colorado Springs…

The morning session of negotiations centered on contract terms, as Reclamation rejected about 25 proposed changes. Most of those centered on Colorado Springs’ intention to wheel water through SDS to other El Paso County communities and to sell excess capacity in the oversized pipeline at the base of Pueblo Dam. The two sides staged frequent caucuses to discuss the finer points of the contract, but made little progress.

Late in the day, Reclamation Area Manager Michael Collins presented a proposal that would have allowed SDS participants to build an oversized pipeline from a new North Outlet Works to the point where Pueblo West would tap into it. The capacity of the line needed by SDS, 96 million gallons per day, would be retained by participants, while Reclamation would discount its rate for combined storage and conveyance by the amount of excess capacity it could sell in the North Outlet Works. Reclamation proposed a $75 per acre-foot fee for storage and conveyance — $25 less than the previous combined offer — plus the unspecified discount. It also stuck with its offer of $50 per acre-foot for exchange. The rates would increase by 3.08 percent annually…

At a May negotiating session, Colorado Springs proposed to sell the excess capacity in the line to future users as a way to pay for it. Colorado Springs also wants to pay just $17.35 per acre-foot, the same rate as the Pueblo Board of Water Works pays under a 25-year contract signed in 2000, with an annual increase of 1.79 percent. “At the next meeting, we’d like to hear why our proposal is unreasonable,” Fredell said.

Colorado Springs hired Joe Hall, a former Bureau of Reclamation area manager, to analyze some documents which Reclamation provided to justify its $50 per acre-foot rates. Hall said the basis for the rates is “confusing and inconsistent,” since it deals with some policies that are almost 30 years old and which apply to sales of former agricultural water to cities, rather than use of in-basin water rights. “I’m not saying your studies and analyses are bunk,” Hall said. “They are just not appropriate to what we’re trying to do here.”

Collins explained that federal laws give Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar broad concessions to set rates, and did not attempt to argue the basis with the Colorado Springs team. “We have some concerns about what’s been said,” he said. Reclamation will continue to control the excess capacity of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, Collins added.

The next session was set for July 15-16 in Fountain.

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

Reclamation area Manager Micheal Collins made it clear at the beginning of Tuesday’s negotiating session that the record of decision, along with the EIS, would not be reopened. “We will not explore the record of decision conditions or the commitments that are tied to SDS,” Collins said in his opening remarks…

“Our belief is that there are important effects of the SDS project that have not been adequately addressed in the EIS or various other permits,” Jane Rawlings, assistant publisher of The Chieftain, told Reclamation during SDS contract negotiations on Tuesday. “These include water quantity, flooding, sedimentation issues and water quality issues including biological and mineral levels.”[…]

Rawlings said some of the impacts which have not been measured include lower levels at Lake Pueblo because of heightened use of SDS, the removal of the stormwater enterprise by the Colorado Springs City Council and the concept of selling excess capacity in the SDS pipeline. “Today, I challenge you, the Bureau of Reclamation, to use this negotiation process to think outside the box and consider the citizens — the people — who pay your salaries in Southeastern Colorado,” Rawlings said. “We believe you need a supplemental EIS to adequately address these vitally important issues.”

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.