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

A picture named usdroughtmonitor06152020

A thousand pardons. Henry Reges’ weekly webinar summary got buried in my email.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Recap of Thursday’s FIBArk events

A picture named hooliganrace

From the Salida Citizen (Steve Stucko):

Head-to-head Boater X action in the Class-V Pine Creek Rapid section of the Arkansas near Granite was the first river event and resulted in a win by Ben Kvanli of Texas. The festival grounds came alive in the afternoon as the boat ramp and F Street bridge provided great views for several exciting finishes of the raft sprints, the hill climb as well as the hilarious antics of the raft rodeo. The new vendor layout in Riverside Park pleased many as they searched for their favorite festival food and enjoyed the evening music lineup.

More whitewater coverage here.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: How will the city’s proposed hydroelectric plant impact the riparian and aquatic environment?

A picture named microhydroelectricplant

From The Aspen Times (Aaron Hedge):

“This project is an ecological train wreck,” said Tom Starodoj, a resident of the area, during Wednesday’s public meeting.

The study established that Castle Creek needs at least 13.3 cubic feet per second at its lowest point of the year, which is typically between January and April when the cfs hovers around 20. Phil Overeynder, the city’s public works director, said in the meeting that figure is easily sustainable.

Overeynder said the city remains confident in the numbers the study relies on, which were generate in the early 1990s. Bill Miller of Miller Ecological Consultants, Inc., which conducted the study, said the life of the waterway will remain healthy if the project is completed.

Miller assured skeptics that the vibrancy of the stream depends not on a certain cfs during dry times, but on the complex cycle of peaks and furloughs it goes through every year. He said the city would not have the flexibility to drain the stream, though it is legally within its right to do so.

More coverage from Curtis Wackerle writing for the Aspen Daily News. From the article:

a group of homeowners who live along the creek are skeptical of the effect a proposed hydropower facility would have that would draw up to 25 cfs from the creek. What happens when the creek is running at 50 cfs? Will the plant still take its 25 cfs? And how is that not going to adversely affect the stream?

Those questions and others were posed in a meeting on the Castle Creek hydropower facility Wednesday night at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Most of the 17 or so members of the public in attendance were Castle Creek homeowners who question whether the project is the right thing to do…

Miller noted, however, that in a naturally flowing mountain stream like Castle Creek, the peak flows seen during the spring runoff are the most critical to ecology. Spring flows on Castle Creek tend to peak in the 700 cfs to 800 cfs range. This year, the creek peaked above 900 cfs. This inundation of water helps reinvigorate the channel and the plant life on the sides, Miller said. “Protecting that peak is probably as important or more important than preserving minimum flows,” he said.

Mark Uppendahl with the Colorado Division of Wildlife defended the 13.3 number, calling it the “amount of water we feel preserves the natural environment to a reasonable degree.”

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Fountain Creek master plan update

A picture named fountaincreek

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

There are eight active projects along Fountain Creek, partly as a result of a partnership started three years ago between the Lower Ark district and Colorado Springs Utilities, said consultant Kevin Shanks.

A Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan is being developed as a result of an agreement that is funded by $150,000 annually from both the Lower Ark and Colorado Springs. The groups agreed to fund the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway director’s salary, $100,000 per year this year and next as well.

The Fountain Creek district, formed last year, signed on as a partner in the projects this year. All told, the partners will spend $1.2 million by the end of next year on the Fountain Creek project. That money has leveraged between $3 million and $6 million in other funds, depending on whether some pending applications are approved…

The most dramatic community effort has been the Fountain Creek Greenway project at the confluence with the Arkansas River. Under a Great Outdoors Colorado planning grant, the city of Pueblo is working to increase recreation and access to Fountain Creek. “It’s become the No. 1 project in Pueblo, and is inspired by the efforts to improve the South Platte in Denver,” Shanks said…

Extension of the trail system along Fountain Creek, eventually to the Pinon Bridge is being planned.

There also is nearly $1 million available for a side detention and sediment removal project in Fountain Creek through Pueblo. The side detention pond will be at the North Side Walmart to decrease the intensity of small floods. When it is not flooded, it will create a wetlands area that will help wildlife and improve water quality, Shanks said.

The other large piece moving ahead are improvements at Clear Springs Ranch, south of Fountain. The property is owned by Colorado Springs, and will include a fish passage, wetlands, bank improvements and improved sinuosity. The project, which is required for the Southern Delivery System under Pueblo County’s 1041 permit, will help reduce flood damage downstream, erosion and sedimentation. “Without the agreement, Colorado Springs could have done Clear Springs Ranch and checked off the box,” Shanks said. “It would not have been done up to the standards of the master plan, however.”[…]

Here are active or planned projects along Fountain Creek that have been developed through the Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan:

Eco-Fit Park: A park on the southern edge of Colorado Springs would stress youth fitness and environmental values. No cost has been specified, and the project has stalled in a slow economy.

City of Fountain Trailhead: The 8.5-acre site on the Toby Wells property has historic interest because of a Sears mail-order house in good condition. It would provide a trailhead, creek crossing for a trail along the creek and a community center.

Clear Spring Ranch: Part of the old Hanna Ranch, the property is owned by Colorado Springs. It would provide some flood control, wetlands restoration, creek improvements and a fish ladder. Pueblo County is requiring the improvements at the site south of Fountain under its 1041 permit for Southern Delivery System. An estimated $3.7 million is planned from various agencies.

Environmental Stewardship Center: An educational park and wildlife viewing area would be built on land being donated by a developer of a large subdivision near Pinon in Pueblo County.

Front Range Trail: A trail project would extend the existing trail system in Pueblo to the Pinon Bridge.

Side Detention and Sediment Removal: A $1 million project in Pueblo will begin this year to create a side detention pond behind the North Side Walmart, and to demonstrate how the Streamside Systems sediment collector will remove particles from water as it flows, improving water quality.

The Fountain Creek Greenway: Planning efforts for the Pueblo greenway project are being coordinated with improvements on the Historic East Side. In addition to improving access and recreation opportunities, it will improve wildlife habitat and increase the effectiveness of the levee system.

Midland Greenway Trail: A project just getting started on Colorado Springs’ West Side would connect Fountain Creek to existing trails on Upper Fountain Creek along U.S. 24, near Gold Hill Mesa.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Salida: City Council approves $545,000 loan application for water infrastructure project

A picture named watertreatment

From The Mountain Mail (Audrey Gilpin):

The 20-year fixed interest rate is 2 percent. [City finance director Jan Schmidt] said annual debt service will be about $33,500 and will be paid from the water enterprise fund. “Capital reserves aren’t sufficient to pay for the necessary improvements,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said galleries consist of an infiltration gallery, chlorination system and a 1.25 million gallon water tank that feeds water into the city distribution system. Before replacing the roof during phase 1 of the project, Schmidt said failed sections of built-up roofing could be lifted and spaces where water, dirt and debris could potentially enter the tank were visible.

Phase 2, Schmidt said, includes installing a liner inside the concrete tank to stop leakage. A second reading and public hearing on the action will be held during the July 6 regular council meeting.

More water infrastructure coverage here.

Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board meeting recap

A picture named pipeline

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The district is wrapping up a study of the [Arkansas Valley Conduit] alignment, technical evaluations, environmental reviews, permit scoping and water supply evaluation that began last year under an Environmental Protection Agency grant. That work should be wrapped up in August and will allow the district to move into the more formal environmental impact statement required for the conduit under the National Environmental Policy Act.

At the same time, the district will begin working on a long-term contract for excess-capacity storage at Lake Pueblo that includes both conduit users and suppliers elsewhere in the Southeastern district. The contract essentially is the reoperations portion of the former Preferred Storage Options Plan, although the amount of storage requested and the parties requesting it have changed. “This study is allowing us to be ahead in working on the conduit,” Executive Director Jim Broderick told the Southeastern board Thursday. “We still have to look at the gap between the water now available and the amount of water needed in the future.”

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

The Morgan County Quality Water District wins second place at the National Rural Water Association Rally

A picture named waterfromtap

From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

The Morgan County Quality Water District was chosen as having the second-best water in the U.S. at the National Rural Water Association Rally this year. That comes on top of being recognized for the best water in both 2006 and 2009, and as Rural Water District of the Year for 2009 in Colorado by Colorado Rural Water, said MCQWD Manager Mark Kokes during this week’s meeting of the Morgan County Board of Realtors at the Country Steak-Out. Culinary chefs tasted the five finalists at the NRWA rally to choose the best and second-best, he said.

MCQWD is noted for its pure and exceptional water, Kokes said. That does not mean that it is necessarily the softest water around, but there is more to excellent water than softness, and MCQWD believes it has the best water around, he said. For instance, Quality Water exceeds EPA Safe Drinking Water standards, Kokes said.

More water treatment coverage here.

Snowpack/runoff news: Dry summer ahead for the San Luis Valley?

A picture named smithreservoir

From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Colorado Division of Water Resources Division Engineer for Division III Craig Cotten said on Friday although the basin’s snowpack was above average at its peak, it has dropped substantially since then. The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s forecasts currently are predicting below average run off on the Rio Grande and above average on the Conejos River systems. “We are wondering if those forecasts might be a touch high,” Cotten said. “We are dropping fairly significantly on all of our rivers and creeks right now.” He added there was still some good flow on the rivers and creeks but they are below average for this time of year. “It looks like it’s continuing to go down,” Cotten said…

He said most of the ditches have had a fairly good run during the springtime, but summer could tell a different story. Currently, the Conejos River system is under a 22-percent delivery obligation to the state line and the Rio Grande has a 15-percent delivery obligation to the downstream states under the Rio Grande Compact. Until a few days ago, most of the delivery on the Conejos was being met with return flows. “We had not curtailed any ditches for compact purposes until a few days ago,” Cotten said. Last year, no curtailments on the Conejos were made until July 9.

Curtailments on the Rio Grande are currently 11 percent, similar to the Conejos, Cotten explained. “We are getting some return flows through the system,” he said…

The Beaver Reservoir was causing water watchers some consternation, as a sinkhole was discovered about a month and a half ago at the dam. The water level was subsequently reduced to 40 feet below the spillway to evaluate the sinkhole more closely. “It was determined it did not pose a great danger to the dam,” Cotten said. The reservoir has since been filled to a point about 20 feet below the spillway, which is still fairly low but will allow fish to survive and fishermen a chance to catch them.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

Recent high water and fast stream flows caused extensive damage to bridges, roads, water-diversion infrastructure, campgrounds and other facilities in the White River National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday. Forest engineers said the agency may not know for several weeks just how much damage occurred as a result of recent accelerated snowmelt that resulted from high temperatures.

From the Vail Daily:

“We first became aware of the challenges the Forest Service might face when, in the middle of last week a hiker reported to our Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District that the Lower Cross Creek Bridge in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area had been washed out,” said Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. “This report was followed by a series of reports of damaged roads and trails, damaged or destroyed bridges in other locations, flooded campgrounds, or high water filling vault toilets along many of the tributaries to the Colorado River.”

From the Summit County Citizens Voice:

In Summit County, the high flows damaged infrastructure associated with water transmission facilities for the Cities of Golden and Colorado Springs. Elsewhere on the forest, damage included a washed-out bridge in the Holy Cross Wilderness area and a mudslide along Piney Ranch Road (FDR 700) just past the Lost Lake Trail. A culvert on the spur road to Woods Lake was over topped by high flows and the surrounding fill was washed out.

Meanwhile Yuma County is still drowning (They’ve gotten 40 inches of rainfall in 18 months.). Here’s a report from Tony Rayl writing for The Yuma Pioneer. From the article:

Officially, Yuma is up to 2.38 inches of rain in June, most of it falling from last Thursday night, which featured a tornado warning complete with sirens and calls from the 911 center, and this past Monday night, when a quiet storm passed overhead and quickly dumped 0.21 of an inch.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

Such an event of greater than 75 cfs flowing at the Near Granby Gauge would be a long-awaited gift to the Colorado River between the Lake Granby Dam and Windy Gap, said Jon Ewert, DOW aquatics biologist in Hot Sulphur Springs. That section of the Colorado has been deprived of flushing flows because of the dam built for reservoir storage. “It would be beneficial to that stretch,” Ewert said, “it would move sediment out and clean out riffles (stretches of gravel where fish like to spawn and where insect production is).”[…]

With runoff peaking last week, the Northern Water Conservancy District was moving water out of Shadow Mountain Reservoir into Granby Reservoir, releasing by as much as 5,000 cfs for a period of 12 hours. In the Colorado-Big Thompson system, Shadow Mountain Reservoir helps to maintain a constant surface elevation in natural Grand Lake and is a conduit between Granby Reservoir and Grand Lake. Heightened runoff in Grand Lake inlets caused that lake to rise, which by Colorado-Big Thompson decree is not allowed to fluctuate by more than 1 foot. As far as Granby Reservoir’s chances for spilling, “We’re 99 percent sure it’s going to spill,” [Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District spokesperson Brian Werner] said. The lake is rising about .5 feet per day, which means the lake could spill within about 10 days…

Northern is not sending water through the Adams Tunnel with Front Range reservoirs full. Windy Gap, which pumped 6,700 acre-feet, has pumps shut off.

Greeley: Long-term water planning reveals higher rates in the ratepayers future

A picture named fountainpavementdrawing

From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

As Water and Sewer Director Jon Monson looks at the sizable footprint of Greeley’s future — the 2060 comprehensive plan has the city growing heavily to the north and west — “I need to look up the river quite a ways, a long time, to make sure that water will be there when people need it.”

At the center of this multi-layered planning are residents, upon whom cities rely to fund operations and storage projects. The typical Greeley household water bill is $45.83 a month, and that, if a planned water acquisition occurs, would rise about $30 per month over the next 10 years. By comparison, rates have climbed $8.85 per month, or 24 percent, since 2003. “The only place we get our money is the ratepayers. It’s basically an investment in our water future,” Monson said. “… To grow into this area (of the 2060 plan) with the lifestyle we’re accustomed to, or we want, Tree City USA, takes water. And the time to get that water is now, when it’s available and it’s relatively inexpensive.”[…]

Monson’s department would like to buy $90 million worth of water in the next six years. While that would help ensure the city’s needs for several decades, water rates would likely climb 84 percent in the next 10 years, or by $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. If the city added the $13 per month to water bills for the overall acquisition — the initial $30 million buy coming in the 2011-12 budget — rates would be in the upper third of Front Range cities if other cities do not change their rates during the 10-year period…

“We’re not making money,” Monson said. “We’re not a for-profit agency. We’re just covering our costs.” The department’s annual costs currently are $30.5 million, breaking down to about $12 million for operations, $11 million for debt service, $6 million for depreciation and a $1 million from the general fund.

Greeley is involved in numerous regional water storage and delivery projects, including the Haligan and Milton-Seaman reservoir expansions in the Poudre Canyon area, the Windy Gap Firming Project west of Loveland and the Bellvue Pipeline in Larimer County…

Also, Monson said, the city is dealing with critical water maintenance projects, including headgate repair and replacement at the Boyd and Freeman ditch, from the recent flooding; ongoing cement-lining installation in older, rusting pipes in downtown; outlet gate construction at Milton-Seaman reservoir; and centrifuge replacement at the wastewater treatment plant. All those elements — plus rising electrical and power costs and the regional water projects that cost into the millions in permitting alone — factor into water rates. In Greeley, Monson said, about a quarter of a household’s water bill goes to maintenance costs…

Also, he said, elusive future water supplies will likely be lower quality. Greeley is trying to secure as much source water as possible from close to the Poudre Canyon mouth. If the city waited until primary water sources flowed close to town, it would need to do expensive reverse-osmosis treatment and lose the natural down-gravity flow from the canyon.

More Greeley coverage here.