The Town of Berthoud is fighting the good fight against taste and odor complaints

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From the Longmont Times Call:

This year, however, the story is somewhat different. The first part starts out the same: stinking water and public complaints. But this year the town has gotten serious about trying to solve the problem. It has hired water experts to advise the community. Activated carbon is being added to the water at a different point in the treatment process in hopes of clearing the taste and eliminating the smell.

It has negotiated a deal to bring in treated water from deep, cold Carter Lake via the Little Thompson Water District water system. For a little over a week now, 230 gallons a minute of treated water is making its way to Berthoud to serve about a fourth of the community demand. Some are talking about whether the Carter Lake plant can produce enough to supply the entire town. Given that water systems throughout the region are at peak demand right now, Berthoud should know shortly whether that’s a potential solution.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Aspen Institute’s Environmental Forum Tuesday recap

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From the Aspen Daily News (Brent Gardner-Smith):

It takes about 4 million gallons of water to develop a natural gas well using the technique known as hydraulic fracturing. And the “fracking” process, which is commonly used in Garfield County, also requires that about 6,000 gallons of undisclosed chemicals be injected into a typical well to help break up underground rock formations. Those estimates are from Marianne Lavelle, a senior editor on energy issues for National Geographic Digital Media, who spoke Tuesday at the Aspen Environment Forum.

Lavelle said about 80 percent of the water used in the fracking process stays deep underground. But the rest of the toxic watery mix comes back up to the surface and is often stored in earthen pits lined with black plastic. “It now has not only chemicals, but a lot of salt and a lot of minerals,” Lavelle said of the water, which is called “fracking water” or “produced water” in the gas industry. And Lavelle said it is a big challenge for the industry to dispose of the produced water.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Summit County, Keystone Resort and Denver Water ink agreement for snowmaking supply

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

The resort relies on water from the Roberts Tunnel, owned by Denver Water, to blanket its slopes in white every year through early-season snowmaking. Keystone is allowed to pump as much as 1,500 acre feet from the tunnel between Sept. 1 and March 31 each winter. Denver Water needs to make repairs on the Roberts Tunnel, which draws about 54,000 acre feet per year from Dillon Reservoir to supply municipal water to the Denver Metro Area. The tunnel is 50 years old and requires valve replacements at its east end — a project that must be performed while the tunnel is drained, thus rendering water unavailable for Keystone during construction. The repairs were originally scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 and last throughout the winter until April 4, 2011. “That would impact an entire season of Keystone’s snowmaking, which is essential to guarantee good snow by the holidays,” Summit County manager Gary Martinez said…

So Keystone and Summit County have negotiated a deal through which the resort will pay Denver Water $120,000 to postpone work on the Roberts Tunnel until Dec. 16. The delay will allow Keystone to draw water through Dec. 15. Denver Water is still planning to finish construction by April 4, 2011, in time to capture spring runoff and fill reservoirs with water for summer use. The Keystone funds will cover the added costs of completing the project on a tighter timeline. In the event that construction isn’t done by the April deadline, and Denver Water loses the opportunity to store spring runoff, both Summit County and Keystone will make up for the deficits with water from Clinton Reservoir and Dillon Reservoir for up to three years. “This is an example of the county putting our water portfolio to good use. It would be really tough for our revenue budget to have Keystone fall flat because of an inability to make snow,” Martinez said.

More Summit County coverage here and here.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin

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Here are Henry Reges’ notes from Tuesday’s webinar. From the notes:

Much of the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) has only received about 50% of its normal  precipitation for the month. Areas which have seen the best precipitation are in the San Juan basin (around  the  4-­‐corners) and in the Yampa-­‐White basin. Most of the precipitation in the San Juan basin for the month fell as a result of monsoonal moisture over the past week, with some stations recording nearly an inch of rain or more. Also seeing good amounts of precipitation over the past week were the  Dolores and Gunnison basins.

U.S. Drought Monitor update

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The southwest monsoon surged into most of the Southwest, dumping 2 to 4 inches of rain on southwestern Texas, most of New Mexico, east-central Arizona, and southern Colorado, reducing or eliminating short-term dryness (D0A) and trimming away D1 where over 2 inches fell. In southern Colorado, however, even though 1 to 2.5 inches fell, it was not enough to overcome accumulated short and medium-term deficits, and D0 remained. In contrast, the monsoon has failed to reach into western and northern Arizona and southern sections of Nevada and Utah. This region doesn’t receive a lot of monsoonal rain (normally 1 to 2 inches in July), but gets enough to support the growth of summer grasses. With the lack of rain and reports of very poor pasture and range conditions, D1 was expanded across much of northern Arizona. Abnormal dryness was slightly extended into southern Utah, southern Nevada, and western Arizona. Last week’s D2 in northeastern Arizona was repositioned northwestward to better represent the area with reports of lingering long-term drought impacts and minimal summer rains (northern Navajo and northeastern Coconino counties).

2010 Colorado Elections: John Suthers makes a stop in Frisco

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

Suthers … said Colorado’s water resources are a big priority in his office. “We’ve done a very good job protecting Colorado’s water interests. These fights go on forever, and we need to be diligent in making sure those interests are protected in the future,” he said.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Reclamation has $12.8 million for ‘WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants’

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Here’s the release from Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor announced today the selection of 37 WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) Grants that will use $12.8 million in federal funding to construct projects that seek to save water, increase energy efficiency and improve environmental conditions while addressing water demands in the West.

“Reclamation is taking a step forward to improve conservation and more efficient use of water and energy in the West,” Commissioner Connor said. “Our nation faces many water related challenges including drought, climate change, energy demands, expanding populations and increased environmental needs. With the money from these grants, project sponsors will accomplish important water conservation and energy efficiency improvements that will help to address those challenges and progress toward more sustainable water supplies.”

Through these new WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grant projects, federal funding will be leveraged to complete more than $54 million in water management and delivery improvements. These projects will improve water management, increase energy efficiency in the delivery of water, facilitate water marketing projects, protect endangered and threatened species, and carry out other activities to address climate-related impacts on water or prevent water-related crisis and conflict.

WaterSMART Grant projects funded this year will contribute to the Secretary of the Interior’s High Priority Performance Goal for Water Conservation. Under the goal, the Department seeks to enable capability to increase available water supply up to 350,000 acre-feet by 2012. Based on the information submitted by applicants, Reclamation estimates that the 37 projects announced today will result in more than 130,000 acre-feet of conserved water each year once construction has been completed. Adjustments to that projection will be made, if necessary, as Reclamation and project sponsors develop financial assistance agreements for each project.

A number of projects will address the connection between water use and energy use. For example, the Laguna Madre Water District in Port Isabel, Texas will make improvements to its non-potable water system, including installation of an energy recovery turbine to create an expected 17,520 kilowatt-hours per year of electricity from wastewater flows. Other projects expect to save energy through water conservation. The Lower Colorado River Authority in Texas will automate 11 check gate structures, expected to result in 2,560 acre-feet of water savings annually. The Authority estimates that completion of the project will decrease pumping needs and reduce energy consumption by approximately 132,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

Other projects are expected to make contributions to environmental restoration by conserving water or making other improvements that benefit endangered or threatened species. For example, the Three Sisters Irrigation District in Oregon, will provide water saved through pipeline construction to the Deschutes River Conservancy for a protected instream right, complementing habitat restoration efforts in Whychus Creek for threatened species, including bull trout, red band trout, summer steelhead, and Chinook. In Clallam County, Washington, the Agnew Irrigation District expects to save 658 acre-feet of water annually by converting open irrigation ditches to pipe. Conserved water will remain in the Dungeness River during the period most critical to fish, benefiting the Puget Sound chinook, Hood Canal summer chum, bull trout and Puget Sound steelhead.

The District will also work with the Washington Water Trust to facilitate the launch of the Dungeness Water Exchange, which is intended to restore in-stream flows during critical low water periods. In California, the Los Molinos Mutual Water Company will undertake water management improvements with expected savings of approximately 3,000 acre-feet of water annually. Conserved water will remain in Mill Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, to benefit chinook salmon and steelhead migration.

Proposals were received from water districts, municipalities and native American Tribes across the West. This year Reclamation received 197 applications, with requests for more than $84 million in federal funding. Projects were ranked through a published set of criteria in which points were awarded for those projects that incorporate renewable energy or address the water-energy nexus, address Endangered Species Act concerns, contribute to water supply sustainability, or incorporate water marketing and banking.

WaterSMART Grants include three other grant categories this year in addition to the Water and Energy Efficiency Grants announced today. Next month, Reclamation plans to announce selections for System Optimization Reviews, Pilot and Demonstration Projects for Advanced Water Treatment, and Research Grants to Develop Climate Analysis Tools.

For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit

More conservation coverage here.

Windsor: Town Board is wrestling with securing water supplies for the future

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From the Windsor Beacon:

It’s not cheap. And, it won’t be getting cheaper any time soon, water consultants say.
That’s why they are recommending that the town buckle down, buy additional water, and take part in the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, that will essentially build two new reservoirs for Windsor and 14 other municipalities. What might that cost us? Are you sitting down? $46 million. That’s a 46 followed by six zeroes. We don’t need to tell you that’s a big number. You can figure that out by yourself. That breaks down into $40.4 million to be a partner in NISP and $5.5 million to purchase 300 acre feet of water for future development…

Water consultants, hired by the town earlier this year, have identified some options. They presented those options to the town board last Monday night. They were:

> Increase the town’s rates by 5 percent every year for five years beginning in 2011, while also increasing the fee charged to developers to add new taps to the water supply system or . . .

> Increase the water rates by about 5.2 percent every year or . . .

> Increase the town’s rates by 5 percent and add a water resource fee to developers’ costs.

The town board, after hearing the options, took a look at its tiered water rate system. Windsor currently uses a two-tiered residential system, with a fee of $3.20 for every 1,000 gallons of water used up to 17,000 gallons. When that threshold is reached, the rate jumps to $4.80 per 1,000 gallons.

More coverage from Ashley Keesis-Wood writing for the Windsor Beacon. From the article:

“The question we’re setting out to answer is: What it will cost to fully fund NISP (Northern Integrated Supply Project) and anticipate what you’ll need to pay for additional water in the future?” said Webster Jones, a consultant with the Water Consulting Group, during last Monday night’s joint Water and Sewer Board and Town Board work session…

The town commissioned a water rate study from Clear Water Solutions in January, most of which was paid for by a grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Water Consulting Group is working with Clear Water Solutions on the study. The water rate study will look at the way the town’s water payments are structured and options to raise money for the town’s $40.4 million share of the NISP project…

With that in mind, Jones presented three options to the boards to acquire the money. The first option would increase the town’s rates by 5 percent every year for five years beginning in 2011, while also increasing the fee charged to developers to add new taps to the water supply system…

A second option would increase the water rates by about 5.2 percent every year, and a third option would increase the town’s rates by the 5 percent as well as adding a water resource fee to developers’ costs. “That’s about $500 per tap and is added to only new taps when developers build,” Jones said…

The board also began discussion about its tiered water rate system. Currently, Windsor has a two-tiered residential system, with a fee of about $3.20 for every 1,000 gallons of water used up until about 17,000 gallons, when the rate jumps to about $4.80 per 1,000 gallons. “A three or four-tiered system is pretty popular among conservation-minded communities, with steep price increases going up each tier,” Jones said.

More Windsor coverage here and here.

Monsoon season

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From the Telluride Daily Planet (Kathrine Warren):

It’s officially monsoon season. This week’s heavy afternoon rainstorms are expected to continue through the weekend and the beginning of next week. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the Western Slope and Southern Utah through at least Friday, according to NWS meteorologist Joe Ramey. On Monday and Tuesday a series of localized rainstorms down valley triggered major mudslides that shut down Highway 145 while crews cleared mud, trees, rocks and other debris from the road…

Ramey said monsoon season is the result of a change in the way moisture moves off the Pacific Ocean. “In the summer, because the pole and the equator are both warm and there’s less of a temperature difference, the westerlies weather pattern shifts north,” he said. Typically Southwest Colorado gets its moisture off the coast of California and this shift pulls moisture from southern Mexico into the area. “We kind of get into the tropics,” Ramey said. He said it takes three ingredients for heavy afternoon storms: moisture, a lifting mechanism and instability. “We always have the lifting mechanism, the San Juans, we’re usually lacking the moisture, but we have copious amounts now, and the heat and warmth of the summer gives us that instability,” Ramey said. The storm pattern will linger longer than usual because of a high-pressure system to the east that is preventing the moisture to move out of the area.

From The Durango Herald (Ann Butler):

The National Weather Service has declared a flash-flood warning from noon to 9 p.m. today for all of Western Colorado up to the Wyoming state line and west into the southeastern quarter of Utah. It will be the third day in a row when heavy rains and flash flooding are possible. “It missed you today, but it may not miss you tomorrow,” meteorologist Jim Pringle with the Grand Junction office of the weather service said Wednesday evening. “There’s a good probability you’ll see some tomorrow.” Weather service forecasters said flash floods are most likely in the steep terrain of the southwestern San Juan Mountains and along the narrow slot canyons in southeastern Utah…

His office had received reports of half an inch of rain in 30 minutes at the official climate station in Cortez, and radar showed more than 2 inches in the western two-thirds of San Miguel County, where it is too sparsely populated for on-the-ground reporting. “Most significant rainfall on Wednesday occurred in some pretty remote areas,” he said. “It just wasn’t in Southwest Colorado. Garfield and Rio Blanco counties both received in excess of 2 inches,” Pringle said…

Heavy rains in the mountains west of Boulder washed out a road two miles northwest of Nederland.

Governor Ritter is taking applications for the 17-member River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force

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

Gov. Bill Ritter’s office is now accepting applications through Aug. 6 for a new River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force, a working group of up to 17 members that will present the Governor and lawmakers with recommendations by the end of the year.

The Governor created the task force to help craft a dispute-resolution process to resolve future conflicts between river users and private landowners on Colorado waterways. The task force follows heated debate that occurred earlier this year over proposed legislation, a specific dispute along the Taylor River and the introduction of several ballot measures which have since been withdrawn.

“The charge of this new task force is not to resolve the longstanding legal and policy dispute over whether there exists or ought to exist a ‘right to float’ in Colorado,” Gov. Ritter said. “Instead, the task force’s charge is to establish a framework for landowners and boaters to efficiently and fairly resolve disputes over the use of rivers as they arise.

“Private landowners invest untold sums into maintaining and enhancing the waterways that run through their lands,” the Governor added. “And more tourists come to Colorado to raft than in any other state; this activity alone generates $132 million per year in revenue. It is in the interest of the entire state that landowners and rafters have a means of resolving their disputes in a manner that keeps waterways open to rafting while respecting the interests and investments of private landowners.”

The charge of the task force is to develop a framework for resolving conflicts among landowners, anglers, commercial rafters, and the boating public on a stretch-by-stretch basis as disputes arise. The group will:

Hold two public meetings in different parts of the state to gather stakeholder input.

Hold at least four other open meetings to evaluate the public input and consider options for a dispute-resolution process.
Prepare a final report with recommendations for the Governor and legislature by Dec. 31.

Those interested in serving on the task force should fill out and submit the application via fax (303.866.6368), email ( or U.S. Postal Service mail (Office of Boards and Commissions, 136 State Capitol, Denver, CO 80203). The deadline to submit applications is Aug. 6.

For more information, call 303.866.6380.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Ritter is seating the 17-member River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force to present recommendations to his office and lawmakers by the end of the year. Applications to serve on the task force are being accepted through Aug. 6. The conflict between rafters and landowners began with a dispute along the Taylor River on the Western Slope, when a developer threatened to close the river to passage through his property. After the Legislature failed to act on the issue, threats of up to two dozen ballot measures were averted when interested parties on both sides agreed to let the task force study solutions. “The charge of this new task force is not to resolve the longstanding legal and policy dispute over whether there exists or ought to exist a ‘right to float’ in Colorado,” Ritter said. “Instead, the task force’s charge is to establish a framework for landowners and boaters to efficiently and fairly resolve disputes over the use of rivers as they arise.”

The task force is designed to set up a system for settling those conflicts (including potential snarls between property owners and anglers, commercial rafters and the boating public) on a stretch-by-stretch basis as disputes emerge…

The group will hold two public meetings in different parts of the state to gather stakeholder input and hold at least four more open meetings to evaluate the public input and consider options for a dispute-resolution process. Its report containing recommendations to the governor and the Legislature is due Dec. 31. Anyone interested in serving on the task force can print an application from the state Boards and Commissions website, or call 303-866-6380 for more information. Completed applications can be faxed to 303-866-6368 or submitted by e-mail to

More rafting rift coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System: Pueblo County plans to hold Colorado Springs Utilities to the requirement not to use SDS to move water out of basin

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From The Pueblo Chieftain:

“Any use of SDS to take water out of the basin is a violation of their 1041 permit,” County Commissioner Jeff Chostner said Wednesday…

Chostner was referring to news reports that Colorado Springs may sell excess space in the SDS pipeline to other users, including the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District in northern El Paso County. “Any uses of SDS water to supply Woodmoor would be a violation of Colorado Springs’ permit,” Chostner said, noting that such a violation would be grounds for the county revoking the SDS permit. The reason for concern is that part of Woodmoor, an upscale housing development near the El Paso-Douglas County line, is outside the Arkansas basin. But in applying for its land-use permit to take water out of Lake Pueblo and through Pueblo West, Colorado Springs pledged not to use SDS to deliver water outside this basin.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project gets county notice to proceed to turn on the pumps

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From the Colorado Independent (Scott Kersgaard):

This evening, Nestle can turn the spigot and begin filling its fleet of twenty-five 8,000 gallon trucks each day. Many consider a drop in the bucket the 65 million gallons of water Nestle has the rights to bottle and sell every year, at least in terms of the impact on the Arkansas River and its aquifers.

Others look at it differently. The deal has riled up local environmentalists who cringe at the very idea of siphoning off the precious cargo to pour into environment-straining plastic bottles and burning up gasoline to ship it throughout the West. John Graham, president of one of the local advocacy groups opposed to Nestle, shakes his head at the very idea. He says water as clean as the water Nestle is bottling is available to almost everyone with a tap for a fraction of the price and with none of the environmental impact of an operation that will log more than 6,000 miles a day at least on the road between Johnson Village and Denver…

Chaffee county’s permitting process produced a document listing 44 conditions Nestle had to meet before it pumped a drop and that it must continue to meet as pumping continues. County Development Director Don Reimer, who today issued the notice to proceed, is tasked with monitoring the operation on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance. Conditions include such things as monitoring the condition of wetlands and groundwater to ensure that the pumping operation does not have a negative effect. It also includes a stipulation that at least half the truck drivers have primary residency in Chaffee County and that Nestle attempt to hire 100 percent of the drivers from Chaffee County.

More Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project coverage here.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: Micro-hydro plant for Mountain Village?

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From the Telluride Daily Planet (Celine Wright):

Though still in very early planning stages, the hope is that the town will apply and receive a grant in order to be able to conduct a feasibility study for micro-hydro power in Mountain Village. The Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority offers grants and loans to help local governments develop their hydropower resources; they still have $100,000 left in their 2010 grant funds. Applications are due by Aug. 1. Kurt Johnson of Telluride Energy will write and submit the feasibility assessment grant application. Johnson has written four other CWRPDA grant applications, and all have received funding. Last week Johnson met with Scotty McIntyre, director of public works in the Village. According to a town release on the subject: “Based on Scotty’s preliminary data, we have reason to believe our water system has potential for significant on-site energy production.”[…]

And if Mountain Village ends up receiving the grant: “The study will take a look at a map of our water system, the pressures the pipes contain, and the distances and elevations the pipes travel, crunch the numbers, and see if a significant amount of energy can be feasibly be generated,” says Deanna Drew, the town’s environmental services coordinator. Mountain Village has an extensive water system: more than 50 miles of pipeline and 27 pressure release valves (PRVs). With this, the potential for micro-hydro system could be there. “The city of Ouray is trying to replace a PRV with a turbine that generates electricity, it will be a great model, and something that might also be feasible here,” says Drew.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Colorado River: Possible alligator sighting near Palisade

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Update: From (Ashley Prchal):

Wednesday, a group of kids playing near the water at Riverbend Park raised the alarm when they say they spotted an alligator on the bank. They say their parents didn’t believe them, but a bystander did. “Everybody thought we were crazy. These ladies said we must be blind or seeing things. But this guy saw it too and he saw it go into the water. And he was trying to tell everyone we weren’t being crazy. We really did see it,” says Josie Brumfield.

From (Tami Brehse):

Police say a woman called in and said she saw one swimming in the river near her dog. They didn’t find any sign of the gator on their search, but they say that doesn’t mean it’s not out there. “I’m not saying there was an alligator, I’m not saying there wasn’t an alligator,” says Officer Stephen Tonello, “but I will say the witness seemed credible.” The woman said when her dog went in the water, the alligator swam over by the dog. She called her dog out, then the alligator flipped its tail and swam downstream.

Is the North American Monsoon is kicking up?

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From The Durango Herald (Ann Butler):

Predictions of heavy rains may lead to flood watches for several days after one was declared Tuesday. “We’ll probably be doing the same thing tomorrow and the next day we did today, declaring a flood watch from about noon to 9 p.m.,” John Kyle, data-acquisition program manager at the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service, said Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s flood watch covered an area that included Southwest Colorado from the eastern edge of Archuleta County north almost to Grand Junction and west into south-central Utah up to the Interstate 70 corridor. Northwestern New Mexico was under a flood advisory during the same time period. “We’re still looking at a mostly southerly flow with heavy rains still real possible,” Kyle said. “We see a good string of moisture coming through the week, including Saturday, Sunday, Monday, even Tuesday.”

Cash for grass: Drew Beckwith — ‘The utility pays money for a customer to rip out their turf’

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From (Paul Day):

Jim Creek is one of many tributaries to the Fraser River. In this valley, Denver Water operates dozens of diversion structures that siphon water from what would naturally flow in the Fraser. The big utility now wants approval to take even more water and pipe it to Denver as part of its Moffat Firming Project. Recreation and tourism would suffer if the stream is further imperiled, says [Kirk Klancke, a fly fisherman and Grand County resident] who’s president of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited. “This river is struggling for survival,” Klancke said. “An additional withdrawal could put it over a tipping point where it may not survive.”[…]

Is there a way to keep the Fraser from becoming a liquid graveyard? Yes, say environmental groups. But their solution requires Denver Water customers to make changes in their yards. “The utility pays money for a customer to rip out their turf,” explains Drew Beckwith, a water policy analyst with an environmental group called Western Resource Advocates. The program he’s talking about is called Cash for Grass and it’s already ongoing in Aurora…

Beckwith claims that if just 20 percent of Denver Water customers replanted only half their yards, the amount of water saved would equal the new diversion on the Fraser River requested for Denver’s Moffat Firming project.

The new boss at Denver Water says its not that simple. “Removing turf from resident lawns does not in itself solve the problem,” says Jim Lochhead. Lochhead says a program like Aurora’s would take years to get rolling and Denver needs water in a relatively short time frame. He says the added volume provided by an approved Moffat Firming Project will help handle additional growth and improve the reliability of Denver Water’s system.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.

USGS: Occurrence and Distribution of Dissolved Solids, Selenium, and Uranium in Groundwater and Surface Water in the Arkansas River Basin from the Headwaters to Coolidge, Kansas, 1970–2009

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From the abstract:

In 2007, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with City of Aurora, Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, Pueblo Board of Water Works, Southeastern Colorado Water Activity Enterprise, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District began a retrospective evaluation to characterize the occurrence and distribution of dissolved-solids (DS), selenium, and uranium concentrations in groundwater and surface water in the Arkansas River Basin based on available water-quality data collected by several agencies. This report summarizes and characterizes available DS, dissolved-selenium, and dissolved-uranium concentrations in groundwater and surface water for 1970–2009 and describes DS, dissolved-selenium, and dissolved-uranium loads in surface water along the main-stem Arkansas River and selected tributary and diversion sites from the headwaters near Leadville, Colorado, to the USGS 07137500 Arkansas River near Coolidge, Kansas (Ark Coolidge), streamgage, a drainage area of 25,410 square miles.

Dissolved-solids concentrations varied spatially in groundwater and surface water in the Arkansas River Basin. Dissolved-solids concentrations in groundwater from Quaternary alluvial, glacial drift, and wind-laid deposits (HSU 1) increased downgradient with median values of about 220 mg/L in the Upper Arkansas subbasin (Arkansas River Basin from the headwaters to Pueblo Reservoir) to about 3,400 mg/L in the Lower Arkansas subbasin (Arkansas River Basin from John Martin Reservoir to Ark Coolidge). Dissolved-solids concentrations in the Arkansas River also increased substantially in the downstream direction between the USGS 07086000 Arkansas River at Granite, Colorado (Ark Granite), and Ark Coolidge streamgages. Based on periodic data collected from 1976–2007, median DS concentrations in the Arkansas River ranged from about 64 mg/L at Ark Granite to about 4,060 mg/L at Ark Coolidge representing over a 6,000 percent increase in median DS concentrations.

Temporal variations in specific conductance values (which are directly related to DS concentrations) and seasonal variations in DS concentrations and loads were investigated at selected sites in the Arkansas River from Ark Granite to Ark Coolidge. Analyses indicated that, for the most part, specific conductance values (surrogate for DS concentrations) have remained relatively constant or have decreased in the Arkansas River since about 1970. Dissolved-solids concentrations in the Arkansas River were higher during the nonirrigation season (November–February) than during the irrigation season (March–October). Average annual DS loads, however, were higher during the irrigation season than during the nonirrigation season. Average annual DS loads during the irrigation season were at least two times and as much as 23 times higher than average annual DS loads during the nonirrigation season with the largest differences occurring at sites located downstream from the two main-stem reservoirs at USGS 07099400 Arkansas River above Pueblo, Colorado (Ark Pueblo), (which is below Pueblo Reservoir) and USGS 07130500 Arkansas River below John Martin Reservoir, Colorado (Ark below JMR).

Click here to download the report. More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

CWCB study: ‘Cost Savings Associated with the Upper Colorado River Basin Endangered Fish Recovery Program, Instream Flows, and Prospects for the Future’

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

A draft report by Professor John Loomis and Jeff Ballweber of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University entitled “Cost Savings Associated with the Upper Colorado River Basin Endangered Fish Recovery Program, Instream Flows, and Prospects for the Future” is now available on the CWCB website for public comment. The report investigates the role of instream flows as part of a program to protect and recover certain water-dependent endangered species. The authors looked at two sub-projects of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (“Recovery Program”) – the Upper Colorado’s 15-Mile Reach and the Elkhead Reservoir enlargement in the Yampa River Basin – as useful examples of the CWCB’s role in the Recovery Program and of the Recovery Program’s ability to recover species in a cooperative manner that also allows for water development. In addition to identifying the potential economic benefits of ISF water rights in the context of threatened and endangered species protection, the report also provides valuable information on cost savings, saved work hours and reduced project delays resulting from the Recovery Program itself. The report also evaluates scenarios involving increased instream flows to estimate what the cost savings might be to water developers from additional instream flow appropriations and acquisitions by the CWCB.

Please direct all comments and questions to Linda Bassi, Section Chief, Stream and Lake Protection, CWCB at by close of business on August 25th, 2010.

Click here to download the report. More endangered species coverage here.

Aspen Institute’s Environment Forum: Water panel recap

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Janet Urquhart):

“It isn’t always available when we need it, where we need it,” said Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project based in New Mexico and one of three water experts tapped for a panel discussion, “Hot and Dry: Water in the West and the World,” Monday at the Aspen Institute’s Environment Forum. While the Earth has an estimated five to 10 times more fresh water than the planet’s population currently uses, conservation is key to sustaining a resource for which there is no substitute, stressed Postel and her panel colleagues, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and Pat Mulroy, director of the Southern Nevada Water Authority…

Globally, only about 3 percent of agricultural producers use a drip irrigation system, which is vastly more efficient than more typical means of irrigation. “That’s the silver lining — there’s so much more that can be done with existing water,” Postel said.

In Aspen, poised at the headwaters of the Colorado River basin, an audience member questioned the incentive to conserve locally when the Front Range siphons off the unused water. “Are you being hurt by that?” Mulroy asked pointedly.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Montezuma County: Verde Fest August 20

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Betty Janes writes in the comments:

It’s a FREE family event and everyone’s welcome. This year Verde Fest is on Saturday, August 21 in Cortez City Park. We also have a free talk on Permaculture on Thursday, Aug. 19 in the Mancos Public Library and a workshop on water harvesting on Friday, Aug. 20. More details can be found on [Montezuma Climate Action Network].

More San Juan River Basin coverage here. More Dolores River watershed coverage here.

Stormwater: Veteran Fort Collins planner says, ‘Mother Nature has the last at bat.’

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

The ability to protect the community from flooding has improved over the years, but a big storm still “kind of touches a button,” he said. “It’s that public safety element,” he said. “You don’t forget it.” Smith, 60, retired Friday after 33 years with the city. He plans to stay in the community but also wants to travel.

Smith’s retirement is a loss for the city, said Brian Janonis, executive director of Fort Collins Utilities. Smith helped build the stormwater “from scratch,” he said…

Much has changed in the utility and the city over the years, Smith said. Stormwater planning now emphasizes “green” systems incorporating retention ponds that serve as open space when not collecting runoff. But uncertainty is still part of the trade. The Spring Creek Flood of 1997 proved “Mother Nature has the last at bat,” Smith said.

More stormwater coverage here.

Runoff news: The warmup at the beginning of June was responsible for the highest streamflows since 1995 in some areas

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice:

Colorado River flows at the Utah state line peaked June 9 at about 30,000 cubic feet per second and dropped off quickly after that. After the sudden snowmelt, some Colorado river basins could see flows dropping to near record-low levels later this summer, according to Blue River Basin water commissioner Scott Hummer. The unusual runoff pattern was reflected by inflows into Lake Powell. The June 1 forecast called for 65 percent of average inflow, however the June inflow ended up at 90 percent of average, at 2.78 million acre-feet. As a result, the final April to July inflow forecast, released July 1, was increased to 72 percent of average, about 5.7 million acre feet.

The runoff also brought storage levels in most reservoirs across the region to above-average levels at the beginning of July, with Lake Granby at 124 percent of average and Pueblo Reservoir at 148 percent of average.

The North American Monsoon and August rain in Colorado

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Anyone who has ever backpacked during August in the Colorado Rockies knows that the potential exists every day for noisy downpours. Here’s a release from the Colorado State Climate Center (Emily Narvaes Wilmsen):

Intense sunshine, warm temperatures near the earth’s surface and sluggish winds in the upper atmosphere can combine to produce very heavy rains and frequently lightning in Colorado from the middle of July through mid-August, according to the Colorado State University state climatologist.

The last 12 days of July and first 12 days of August historically have a distinctly higher probability of producing intense rains than other times of year – dropping three or four inches of rain in one or two hours, said Nolan Doesken, state climatologist who runs the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State.

Some of the biggest storms and worst floods in the state during this “monsoon season” have occurred in northeastern Colorado, but other parts of Colorado are susceptible as well, Doesken said. Southwest Colorado often gets heavy local downpours during this period.

Notable storms that have occurred in this “window” in recent decades include:

• The Big Thompson Canyon flash flood of July 31, 1976
• The catastrophic Cheyenne, Wyo., flash flood of August 1, 1985
• The Fort Collins flash flood of July 28, 1997; and
• The Pawnee Creek flash flood near Sterling, CO of July 29, 1997.

“The sky will give us some clues,” Doesken said. “When dew point temperatures climb to 60 degrees or above, the chance for very heavy rains increases. This doesn’t happen too often in Colorado, but when it does, we can see and feel it. When clouds cling close to the ground and have dark, solid cloud bases, that is a sign of copious moisture.

“Many of our summer storms have very high cloud bases. These storms can still be severe, but will likely not produce very heavy or long-lasting rains,” Doesken said. “It is the solid, low-based thunderstorms to look out for. If you see very thick, well-defined curtains of rain coming from the bottom of these clouds straight down to the ground, these are likely the very heavy rains we are most concerned with. If these storms move slowly or continue to redevelop in the same place, these are more ingredients for flash flooding.”

Why this time of year is prone to intense rain:

1) Plentiful solar energy to initiate convection (warm air rising buoyantly). While the days are beginning to get shorter and the sun is a bit farther south, it is still not far from summer solstice when we get maximum solar energy.

2) The troposphere – the lower atmosphere from the surface up several miles into the air where thunderstorms form – reaches its warmest temperatures this time of year. The amount of water vapor the atmosphere can hold is a non-linear function of temperature. Warm air can hold much more water vapor than air at cooler temperatures. Abundant moist air is a prerequisite for very heavy rains.

3) The North American monsoon circulation most reliably pumps subtropical warm, moist air into Colorado from the south and southwest this time of year. The extent of this wind pattern (a monsoon is a wind pattern, not just rain) is greatest in late July and early August.

4) Upper-level winds a few miles above ground level, which move quickly most of the year, are sluggish in late July and August (i.e. the jet stream is weak and usually displaced north over Canada). Therefore, when storms form, they tend to move slowly, allowing heavy rains to fall in the same place for longer periods of time.

“Extremely heavy rains during this time period tend to be fairly localized and not widespread,” Doesken said. “While extreme flooding can occur, it tends to be short-lived and over fairly small watersheds. Large river flooding – such as the Colorado River, Rio Grande, Arkansas and South Platte – is unlikely, but smaller tributaries may have localized severe flash flooding.”

For updated information on heavy rain potential, go to

2010 Colorado elections: Scott Mcinnis background

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From The Denver Post (Karen E. Crummy):

Two years out of St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, McInnis was an associate at Delaney & Balcomb, a Glenwood Springs firm specializing in water and energy issues. McInnis said he handled mostly mechanic liens and divorce cases, although Scott Balcomb, son of firm co-founder Kenneth Balcomb, said McInnis also worked on water rights and lease disputes. When McInnis pondered running for the statehouse, Balcomb said, the firm encouraged him. “It was good to get our name out there — the firm’s name, his name,” he said. “We got quite a bit of business that way.”[…]

Early on in his statehouse career, McInnis started sending copies of proposed House and Senate bills to Kenneth Balcomb for his review. Most focused on water issues, according to letters from the firm to McInnis. McInnis said that it was common for legislators to pass water issues by Balcomb because he was legal counsel to the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the primary policy and planning agency for the Colorado River Basin. Balcomb wrote back his thoughts, often on each bill, and often with directives. He doesn’t mention the water district in any of his letters, and some of his comments show his concerns were with his firm’s interests. “There is hardly a client in this office, or one who would come in in the foreseeable future, who would not be irreparably damaged by such legislation,” he wrote. Or “this is a bad bill” and “you should be absolutely opposed.” A review of those bills shows most never made it to floor votes. Of those that did, McInnis voted four times in line with Balcomb’s position and three times against it…

The year after McInnis was tapped for Ways and Means, the U.S. Forest Service proposed changes to the management plan for the White River National Forest. The proposals included restricting users to marked trails and closing 676 miles of roads and user-created trails. Ski areas would be prohibited from expanding beyond current permits and timber-cutting reduced. McInnis objected, and despite the fact that study groups and public hearings had been held, he quietly assembled a coalition of special-interest forest users — motorized users, ski, timber, cattle, water users — for strategy meetings. Conservation groups and environmentalists were not invited.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Arkansas Valley: How much water does agriculture need?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The problem is, there have not been many good studies quantifying how much water will be needed for agriculture in the Arkansas River basin in the future. “A city can reliably tell you what their demand is every year, but we don’t even have an idea of what we currently need for agriculture,” said Mike Bartolo, director of the Colorado State University Agricultural Research Center at Rocky Ford. “Agriculture is way behind the curve.”

Statewide water supply studies by the Colorado Water Conservation Board have mostly concentrated on the Colorado River Basin with the twin goals of compact compliance and urban supply. Hardly any work has been done on assessing what a study of the supply for growing food should look like…

The irrigation system of the Arkansas Valley is a complex network of more than 12,000 water rights, return flows and variable weather conditions every month, much less year-to-year. There are also interactions between thousands of wells in the alluvial aquifer and surface flows that would take years to assess.

Even if the amount of water available could be predicted, it would be hard to estimate consumptive use. The state in the last five years has installed a weighing lysimeter at the Rocky Ford Research Center to look at consumptive use of alfalfa, the valley’s most common crop. Actually weighing the water used in this area is thought to be the most accurate way to estimate consumptive use for all crops. “Some days, I’ll look at the lysimeter readings and say, ‘Wow, did it use that much?’ ” Bartolo said.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable gets ‘tipping point’ study pitch

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From Wikipedia:

In sociology, a tipping point or angle of repose is the event of a previously rare phenomenon becoming rapidly and dramatically more common. The phrase was coined in its sociological use by Morton Grodzins, by analogy with the fact in physics that adding a small amount of weight to a balanced object can cause it to suddenly and completely topple.

Here’s a report about the proposed tipping point study of dry-ups in the Arkansas Valley, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

At the roundtable meeting, economists Richard Gardner and George Oamek stressed they are doing preliminary work, and could not readily answer questions about deeper economic impacts. Roundtable members wanted to know if the study would look at the relative wealth of the people who remain in an area, and whether they would be newly affluent sellers of water or welfare recipients. The economists said that could vary by community, and they were unwilling to draw a broad conclusion.

Turns out, the answers — for Crowley County, at least — were already detailed in a background paper for the study.

Gardner, Oamek, David Kracman and Ken Weber prepared a community economic profile for Crowley County that weighs the gains and losses to the county, factoring in the development of prisons to replace the agricultural jobs lost.

The result is a distressing template for other communities, showing that population growth has come only in the form of prison inmates, that new jobs went to people in other counties and that poverty is increasing.

“Crowley County is a testament to the negative externalities that communities bear when large amounts of water rights are sold out of the region,” the report states. “The loss of an important basic industry can ripple through Main Street and take down communities.”

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

Wet Mountain Valley: Westcliffe and Silver Cliff stormwater project gets Westcliffe Board of Trustees approval

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From the Wet Mountain Tribune (Nora Drenner):

Following the public hearing, by a six to one vote, the Westcliffe trustees voted to move forward with the proposed project. Cascarelli was the lone no vote. [Westcliffe trustee Joe Cascarelli] was also the lone no vote to approve resolution 6-2010 appointing Squire as the certifying official for an environmental assessment as required by DOLA for the proposed stormwater drainage project.

More Custer County coverage here.

Montrose: Uncompahgre River Corridor Master plan ‘vision workshop’ Monday

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Kati O’Hare):

At a “vision workshop” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Montrose Pavilion, citizens can help direct the future of 10 miles of river corridor through the city of Montrose. Options include boat ramps, a water park, a dog park, trails, fishing access and commercial development.

The team has recorded everything from habitat and bank conditions to land use and water quality. They also have sketched possible public amenities, identified potential land acquisitions and trail connectivity, and have outlined a public process to move forward. But the community’s wants and needs are a critical part of the process, said Ann Abel Christensen of DHM Design…

The consulting team has broken the 10-mile corridor into 18 sections, each of which will be addressed separately. Maps and details of each section will be displayed at Monday’s meeting, as will conceptual drawings for community input.

More Uncompahgre River watershed coverage here.

South Platte Basin: $18.3 million Cheesman Dam rehab to kick off next week

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The divers’ environment — 200 feet beneath the surface of Denver’s mainstay reservoir and under 70 pounds per square inch of pressure — resembles “a space shuttle in reverse,” said Spencer Dell, 36, a member of Seattle-based contractor Global Diving & Salvage Inc.’s underwater team. A phone-booth-size diving bell will carry two team members out from a six-bunk main chamber, connected by hoses and wires, for 12-hour construction shifts. They’ll wear rubber suits heated with warm water and hard yellow helmets fitted with earpieces and microphones. Because the helium-oxygen mix they will breathe distorts voices, their words must be unscrambled by a support crew listening from a floating steel barge. The overhaul of rusty, leaking cast- iron fixtures — scheduled to begin Monday at dawn — marks Denver’s first major effort to upgrade the dam, a 221-foot-high granite-brick structure that, when the reservoir opened in 1905, was the tallest in the world…

Tunnels blasted and chiseled through granite a century ago, but currently closed off and never inspected, eventually must be cleaned to prevent clogging. The overhaul also includes major electrical upgrades. If all goes well, Denver will be set for another century…

After blasting, cutting and prying out corroded iron fixtures, the divers must bolt in three rectangular stainless-steel sleeves designed to carry reservoir water into tunnels — each gate worth $500,000 — and then inject grout and seal them in place. They also must install a grate with 2-inch holes — coated with enamel designed to prevent invasive mussels from attaching — to keep debris from clogging Denver’s supply system. Project engineers, who planned this overhaul for five years, relied on century-old blueprints. They’re bracing for surprises divers probably will encounter.

Here’s the Cheesman Dam history page from Denver Water. From the website:

Cheesman Dam, which was named for Walter Scott Cheesman, was the world’s tallest at 221 feet when it was completed in 1905. Cheesman was the first reservoir of Denver’s mountain storage facilities – a small, but visionary, beginning that helped expand Denver Water’s system. In 1973, the dam was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It remains, after more than 100 years, the workhorse of the storage system and jewel among the system’s dams, a monument to thoughtful planning and wise water use.

More Denver Water coverage here.

CWCB: The draft State Drought Mitigation & Response Plan is ready for public comment

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Here are the Public Review Draft 2010 Drought Hazard Mitigation Plan, Annex A, Annex B and the Appendices.

From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The State of Colorado’s DRAFT Drought Mitigation and Response Plan is now available on the CWCB website for public comment. The Plan was comprehensively revised to comply with the FEMA’s 3-year planning cycle. The revision process has resulted in a State Drought Plan that uses state of the art planning techniques to prepare Colorado for drought. The mitigation plan, the response annex as well as the associated appendices will be available online until August 20th.

The plan also includes a groundbreaking vulnerability assessment of state assets as well as various sectors affected by drought. The methodologies, as well as the state asset section, are available for your review now. Please check back early next week for the individual sector specific chapters.

Please direct all comments to Jeff Brislawn at by close of business on August 20th, 2010. Should you have any questions regarding the plan or public comment period please contact Taryn Hutchins-Cabibi at the CWCB’s Office of Water Conservation and Drought Planning at 303.866.3441 ext. 3231.

More CWCB coverage here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project: Second annual support rally recap

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From the Fort Lupton Press (Kevin Drake):

Armed with a clever, new retort to familiar pleas of “Save the Poudre,” proponents of the Northern Integrated Supply Project rallied support for the divisive regional reservoir project Thursday in a Weld County barn…

The second-annual rally at Anderson Farms in Erie, emceed by Weld County Commissioner Doug Rademacher and former state Ag Commissioner Don Ament, was billed as an opportunity for farmers to voice their support for the project. But a lengthy line of state legislators and representatives, as well as county and municipal officials, took to the podium atop a wooden farm trailer to tout the benefits of the project.

“I’m proud to stand before you and support NISP,” said State Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton). Hodge said she is concerned about the continued disappearance of rural agriculture due to what she called “buy and dry” practices and the area’s dwindling water supply. “The West Slope seems to think they don’t need to send us any more water, so we need to effectively use what we have,” Hodge said. “This project takes us in that direction. It’s our water. We’re saving it for a not-so-rainy day.”[…]

“It is not one or the other,” [Frederick Mayor Eric Doering] said. “Those agricultural needs continue to need to be met. They can’t be met without the kind of project that this fits. It’s not only farmers for this, it’s municipalities for this, to protect the agricultural interests of this state, especially this region as we move forward.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

Bayfield: Watering restrictions are now in place

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From the Pine River Times:

The Town of Bayfield is imposing restrictions on the use of municipal water for landscaping. Watering with municipal water will not be allowed between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily. Additionally, residents and businesses will be restricted from watering certain days. Odd numbered addresses will be allowed to water on odd numbered calendar days and even numbered addresses will be allowed to water on even numbered calendar days. The restrictions are imposed due the unusually dry and hot summer. The Pine River has gone “on call,” which means many of the Town’s water rights will not be available for water treatment. The town purchases storage water from the Pine River Irrigation District to ensure there is adequate water during dry spells. However, the town needs to protect against excessive use, which could require the town to purchase more water, which in turn can affect water rates.

More conservation coverage here.

Paonia scores $285,880 towards the costs of a new water treatment facility

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From the Delta County Independent:

Federal stimulus dollars are being distributed from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA). The CWRPDA and the Water Quality Control Division reviewed the Town of Paonia’s original request for funding from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund. Town clerk Barbara Peterson received a letter dated July 2 from Nick Walter, CWRPDA senior financial analyst, stating the town had qualified for the loan which does not have to be repaid. In effect, the loan has become a grant.

More water treatment coverage here.

Rubber bladder dam breaks at Tempe, Arizona

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Here’s some video from Thanks to Loretta Lohman for the link.

Here’s a report from the Associated Press via The Durango Herald. From the article:

The 16-foot-high section of the dam on Tempe Town Lake near Arizona State University’s campus broke open at about 10 p.m. Tuesday. There were no immediate reports of any injuries and authorities said no structures were in immediate danger…

Witnesses said the dry Salt River filled as far as the eye could see within seconds, and small animals could seen scrambling away from the floodwaters. Warning sirens began wailing within minutes, and officers rushed along the riverbed to warn anyone – particularly transients known to camp on the river bottom during the summer – of the approaching water. Water was flowing at 15,000 cubic feet per second, equivalent to the amount released during heavy storm flows, Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said…

Tempe spokeswoman Kris Baxter-Ging said its unclear how the rubber dam burst, but she said workers were speeding up an already under way effort to replace the dam’s bladders…

The lake has four inflatable dams on both ends and the dam sections were supposed to last for 25 to 30 years.

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District resignations

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From the Pagosa Sun (Chuck McGuire):

As previously reported, Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District Manager Carrie Weiss tearfully announced three staff resignations during last week’s monthly board meeting, including her own. Understandably, following nearly 28 years of devoted district service, it was a particularly poignant moment for her. At the virtual end of a lengthy public session, an emotional Weiss began by first asserting that, “I have some resignations to report.” While clearly struggling to maintain composure, she added, “Um, Lisa Dermody is leaving the district, and Nancy Stahl has, um, agreed to fill her position. It was opened up to the rest of the staff and Nancy was interested and she gladly accepted that. But, it (Dermody’s departure) is a huge loss to the district.” With somber hesitation, Weiss tentatively continued, “… Sheila Berger is leaving … and … it’s time for me to leave the district.”

More Pagosa Springs coverage here.

Conservation webinar sponsored by the Centennial Water and Sanitation District July 29

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From the Highlands Ranch Herald:

Centennial Water & Sanitation District is offering a free online “webinar” entitled “A Healthy Landscape with Less Water” from noon to 1 p.m. July 29. The session will provide information about budgeting water consumption, programming irrigation controllers, making seasonal adjustments and monitoring water usage.

Click here to download the flyer.

More conservation coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections: Cory Gardner makes a stop in Sterling

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From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Callie Jones):

He also talked about why he ran for state legislator, because he felt rural Colorado and agriculture didn’t have a strong enough voice in the legislature. “The people weren’t represented in Denver the way they should be,” he said. “I can see the same thing happening in Washington, D.C.,” Gardner said. “We’ve got to let people understand what it takes to run a business, to live in rural Colorado, to operate a farm or ranch, to have that water that we need that is truly the life blood of this state.”[…]

He also talked about water issues, saying more water needs to be stored on the South Platte River.
“We have got to store more water up and down the South Platte River, so places like Sterling and Logan County can continue in viable farming and agriculture for generations to come,” Gardner said.
He also said NISP (Northern Integrated Supply Project), up near Fort Collins and Greeley, needs to be built “to make sure that we have the water storage necessary to keep the buy up and dry up of farms from destroying agriculture as we know it.” He noted that at one point last year more than 4,000 CFS of water was flowing out of the South Platte River and into Nebraska that legally and rightfully belonged to the people of this state, to put toward a beneficial use. “If we can put that water here, think what we can do in places like Morgan County, Weld County, Adams County,” Gardner said. “Where we can once again allow people to start using their water, to turn on their wells, and make sure that we have those opportunities to keep places like Sterling, Colorado, vibrant for generations to come.”[…]

“I am an ‘all of the above’ energy supporter,” he said “If we are going to grow our economy, if we are going to make sure that families continue to live affordably in the United States and Colorado, we have got to adopt an all of the above energy policy, and that means that we take a look at exploring for new avenues of traditional resources like natural gas, like oil, like coal.”

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board meeting recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District met with FEMA officials and consultants Friday to review FEMA’s plans to release new flood plain maps for El Paso and Pueblo counties. Pueblo County maps are expected in September 2011 and El Paso County maps to follow in October 2011. “The purpose of today’s meeting is to begin to educate the board on the work the Technical Advisory Committee will be doing,” said Gary Barber, executive director of the district.

The work is significant to the district because the FEMA maps will define the area of primary authority the district has — the 100-year flood plain between Fountain and Pueblo. Perhaps more importantly, the maps will allow the district to develop policies and recommendations for future development along Fountain Creek, Barber said.

Colorado Springs is developing guidelines for development that the technical committee would like to apply throughout the watershed…

FEMA undertook its own study, after looking at old maps that estimated peak flows for a 1 percent annual chance, or the 100-year flood, at 93,000 cubic feet per second in El Paso County and 64,000 cfs right across the county line in Pueblo County, Jula said. There are often differences between counties, but FEMA and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which oversees flood plain mapping in Colorado, wanted to bridge the unusually large gap on Fountain Creek, Jula said. The new study shows much lower numbers for a 100-year flood, roughly 39,000 cfs at both Fountain and at the confluence with the Arkansas River. “The gauges do not have consistent and concurrent data,” Jula said, pointing out that data sets from seven stream gauges were used. Not all of the gauges have functioned properly throughout the years. Particularly missing are two of the largest floods on Fountain Creek, in 1921 and 1935. The 1965 flood also is estimated, with a range of 47,000-60,000 cfs at Pinon. Under some estimates, at least on some points on Fountain Creek, the 1921 and 1935 floods were probably larger.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Wiggins scores nine shares of the Weldon Valley Ditch Company

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

Wiggins Town Council members voted unanimously during their monthly meeting Wednesday night to contract with Tom and Donna Deganhart to buy nine shares of Weldon Valley Ditch Co. water at a cost of $720,000. That contract required $20,000 of earnest money, but that will give the town the right to look at records on the water use and a chance to figure out how much water those shares would yield for use by the town. Since the town already bought shares of Weldon Valley Ditch water which should give it 103 acre-feet, and this purchase may yield 150 acre-feet, that might be all the water the town`s water project will need, said Wiggins Town Administrator Bill Rogers.

More Wiggins coverage here.

River call primer

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From The Lamar Ledger:

Because of the water allocation systems in play in Colorado, due to the Arkansas River Compact between Colorado and Kansas, rights to utilize the water in the river are broken into senior and junior water rights, with earlier, or senior claims to water use from the river taking precedence. The River Call states the date of the most junior or recent claim for water use that is eligible to receive water. For example, if the date of the River Call is 3-10, 1889, then those with water rights dating to March 10, 1889 are able to divert water for [beneficial] use.

In 1902, Kansas claimed that Colorado was taking too much of the water from the Arkansas River, making the land dependent on the river in Kansas less valuable. The Supreme Court dismissed Kansas’ petition in 1907 on other grounds, finding that development of land in Colorado had depleted the water in Kansas. The Court invited Kansas to file a new claim if the situation worsened. In 1943, The Supreme Court restrained further prosecution of Colorado by Kansas against Colorado users of the Arkansas River. A settlement was negotiated in 1995 between Colorado and Kansas, creating the Arkansas River Compact and in 2001 a special master ordered Colorado to pay damages to Kansas for use of water in excess of what it was entitled to have from 1969 on. Several ditches in Colorado and Kansas utilize the water. There are six ditches in Kansas, including the Amazon and Farmer’s Ditch. Ditches in Colorado include the Bessemer, Highline, Rocky Ford, Catlin and Amity.

More education coverage here.

Colorado River: Grand Diversion Dam history

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A while back Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs told a crowd in Silverthorne that, “The water ditch is the basin of civilization.” Here’s some history of the Grand Diversion Dam, from Kathy Jordan writing for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Whether driving east or west on Interstate 70, a traveler can’t help but notice the magnificent roller dam spanning the Colorado River about eight miles upriver from Palisade. This diversion dam has supplied the lifeblood of water to farmers in the area since it was completed in 1918.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections: The Pueblo Board of Water Works is taking a hard look at the possible impacts of Amendments 60 and 61 along with Proposition 101

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Amendment 60 would require the water board to pay property taxes. Based on fixed assets, excluding water rights, the board estimated it would have to pay $2 million, meaning a rate increase of 18-20 percent starting in 2011, said Alan Hamel, executive director…

Amendment 61 would limit the board’s ability to borrow funds to 10 years with a vote of the people. The board is currently using financing to buy water rights on the Bessemer Ditch, and has borrowed in the past — and still has debt — in order to make improvements to the city’s water system.

One of the components of Proposition 101 would reduce vehicle fees and could restrict the state’s ability to repair roads and bridges.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Waterborne disease on the rise in the U.S.

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From Organic Authority (Gerry Pugliese):

In states like West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky, rivers and streams are being contaminated with toxic selenium from mining operations. And now it’s being reported that microbes which cause Legionnaires’ disease, cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are turning up in U.S. drinking water.

Presented at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta, representatives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say sickness due to waterborne illness costs the U.S. healthcare system as much as $539 million a year in hospital-related expenses, with much of that coming from direct government payments via Medicare and Medicaid.

The main culprits are bacteria causing Legionnaires’ disease, cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis; many of these microbes are the result of human and animal feces getting in the water – sounds like a Frappuccino from the bowels of hades.

More water pollution coverage here.

Pueblo: Conservation took hold after 2002 drought and continues

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Water use continues to be down this year, picking up slightly during recent hot weather, but nowhere near the levels seen prior to the 2002 drought. “We truly believe our customers have changed their water habits,” said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works.

Prior to 2002, it was common to have a midsummer period where more than 50 million gallons per day were used for days on end. The record one-day use was 63 million gallons. So far this year, there have been only two days above 50 million gallons: July 2, 52 million gallons; and Monday, 50.5 million gallons…

About two-thirds of the water board’s revenues come from metered water sales in this year’s budget, and were only at 40 percent of the anticipated $20.2 million six months into the year…

Spring was wetter and cooler than usual, and it showed in consumption figures. March was 20 percent below average, April 16 percent off and May 9 percent down. By June, however, the average customer was using 17,200 gallons per day — which is typical. Overall, through the first six months of 2010, consumption totaled 3.18 billion gallons, which is 5.27 percent below the past five years.

More conservation coverage here.

Whitewater Standup Paddling

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From Ski Magazine:

Because the technique and the destinations are similar to kayaking, a lot of the first people to pick up the sport have been kayakers. “People who know how to read the river pick it up a little faster because they know the strokes,” Gregg says.

The main divergences between the sports are speed and maneuverability. “The ability to move around on the board is the difference,” Gavere says. “On a standup board you can move up and back quickly. You can get the board to plane quickly and get a lot more speed.”

There is also the reality that you’ll be off your board and in the water a lot. “When I first started I was always in the river. I’d swim 20 or 30 times. Now I’ll do the same thing and not swim at all,” Gavere says.

More coverage from the Honolulu Star Advertiser (Cindy Luis):

SUP has taken off from its birthplace of Hawaii and rode a global wave. One knows its gone mainstream when boards and paddles are being sold at Costco…

As the sport continues to grow in popularity, so it does in visibility. SUP divisions are being added to more competitions, such as the Teva Mountain Games in Colorado and this week’s China Uemura’s Longboard Classic. Last weekend’s Haleiwa Arts Festival had an SUP competition for the first time. “It’s huge and it’s only going to continue to grow,” Prejean said. “Most people pick it up pretty quickly and you don’t have to be a crazy athlete to be able to do it.”

More whitewater coverage here.

The senate bags climate change legislation to focus on reelection

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From Politico (Darren Samuelsohn & Coral Davenport):

Rather than a long-awaited measure capping greenhouse gases — or even a more limited bill directed only at electric utilities — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will move forward next week on a bipartisan energy-only bill that responds to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and contains other more popular energy items. “It’s easy to count to 60,” Reid said. “I could do it by the time I was in eighth grade. My point is this, we know where we are. We know we don’t have the votes [for a bill capping emissions]. This is a step forward.”

Thanks to the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams) for the link.

More Climate Change coverage here and here.

Republican River Water Conservation District quarterly meeting recap

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

The Republican River Water Conservation District is moving forward with the environmental assessment needed for the proposed amendment to the Republican River [Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program]. The RRWCD Board unanimously approved spending up to, but not more than, $51,306.44, which is needed before the amendment can ever move forward approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Action came during the board’s regular quarterly meeting, held last Thursday in the spacious new Phillips County Events Center in Holyoke. TEC Inc. is being used for the study. It was said last week that the USDA always uses TEC for its envirnomental assessments. Based back east, it also has a corporate office in Denver, as well as several other locations…

District leaders explained the federal government always requires the requesting party, in this the State of Colorado, to pay for the studies. The State of Colorado has said it does not have money for the study, so has asked the RRWCD to pay for it. (Technically, it is the state, not the RRWCD, that enters into these CREP agreements with the USDA.) The amendment to the CREP cannot move forward without the environmental assessment…

The board approved another amendment last Thursday, this one dealing with the loan contract from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). The CWCB has granted a $60 million loan at 2-percent interest for the pipeline project. However, the pipeline has been delayed while Colorado tries to convince Nebraska and Kansas to support the project. Therefore, the board voted to extend the completion date for the pipeline project by two years, to December 31, 2012. The CWCB also has approved the extension, or at least has indicated it agrees to it…

Legal counsel Dennis Montgomery and David Robbins updated the board on the pending arbitration trial, which took place earlier this week in Kansas City. (See last week’s Pioneer.) They noted Colorado and Nebraska came to an agreement several weeks ago, in which Nebraska finally agreed to support the pipeline. Among other things, they said Nebraska asked that some water be delivered early in the year and not delivered during the heart of the irrigation season, and then, if more is needed for Colorado to be in compliance with the Republican River Compact, for the rest to be sent late in the year. The lawyers touched on Kansas’ insistence that Colorado cannot make up for shortages along the South Fork by sending extra water down the North Fork. Robbins noted there is a sub-basin test, but there also is a statewide compliance test, as well as other tests, used to determine a state’s compliance to the compact. Robbins said State Engineer Dick Wolfe testified during disposition that the only way for Colorado to meet the South Fork sub-basin test would be to drain Bonny Lake State Park. Robbins said it was significant in that it was the first time a state official has said under oath that Bonny needs to be drained for Colorado to meet compliance on the South Fork.

More Republican River Basin coverage here.

Pueblo County: Pueblo West and the county reach accord on Pueblo flow management participation

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Attorneys for both sides in the case, along with the Pueblo Board of Water Works and Colorado Springs, reached the settlement Friday, Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner said. It still has to be approved by the Pueblo West and Pueblo County boards…

Under the settlement, Pueblo West would drop its lawsuit against Pueblo County, filed last year after Pueblo County required participation in the 2004 Pueblo flow management program as a condition for the Southern Delivery System, Chostner said. The Pueblo water board was involved because it objected to Pueblo West’s plan to pump treated effluent into a wash behind the golf course that empties into Lake Pueblo. Colorado Springs is the lead partner in the SDS project. “It’s good for everyone involved,” Chostner said. “It’s especially good for the City of Pueblo because it maintains flows for the Arkansas River.”[…]

Under the most likely alternative, Pueblo West would agree to use a gravity-flow pipeline down Wild Horse Dry Creek, putting a plan to pump back sewer flows into the golf course wash on hold. Currently, treated flows simply run down the creek, which costs Pueblo West some of the credit it would get from return flows. Pueblo West water is largely imported from the Colorado River basin, so the community is entitled to reuse it to extinction. However, the large transit loss on Wild Horse Dry Creek reduces the yield.

More Pueblo West coverage here and here.

Fort Collins: Water treatment plant receives 10-Year Director’s Award from the Partnership for Safe Water

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

The facility is one of 17 treatment plants nationwide to receive the award this year and among only 32 facilities ever to reach that level of achievement, city officials say. The Partnership for Safe Water is a voluntary program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that encourages members to increase their water quality and safety standards and provide drinking water that surpasses federal requirements. The partnership is sponsored by American Water Works Association, or AWWA, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, National Association of Water Companies and AWWA Research Foundation.

More water treatment coverage here.