An agreement to use reservoirs on the Holbrook Canal to recover flows from the Pueblo flow management program has been renewed for another five years. The partners in a 2004 intergovernmental agreement have used the Holbrook system since 2005 to recover flows that are either released or foregone to benefit recreation and wildlife on the Arkansas River through Pueblo.
The program’s goal is to meet target limits of 100 cubic feet per second in winter, ramping up to 500 cfs in summer to support the fishery and the Pueblo Whitewater Park.
The board approved its share of a $282,000 effort to look at a variety of water quality concerns stemming from water supply and land use decisions throughout the entire basin.
The work began last year with a review of past studies in an attempt to identify areas that need further investigation by the U.S. Geological Survey. It grew out of concerns from the Regional Resource Planning Group, which was formed in 2003 under the Southeastern’s agreement with Aurora. The studies also could help shape a decision support system being developed for the Arkansas River basin by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
Under the funding agreement, USGS will contribute $122,000, and local partners $160,000. Aurora and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, through an agreement reached last year, will jointly contribute $75,000. The Pueblo Board of Water Works, Southeastern and Colorado Springs will each chip in $25,000. The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District will add $10,000…
The Southeastern board also approved a $42,000 program to assess how water releases in the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project affect recreation, agricultural and municipal activities in the Upper Arkansas River. The program will be funded through a $33,600 CWCB grant approved by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable earlier in May, and $8,400 in local contributions.
The study will be conducted by Paul Flack, of Resource Based International, who was formerly a hydrologist for Colorado State Parks.
It will look at optimal water releases that could be made within the constraints of water rights law during wet, average and dry years in an attempt to reduce tensions over how releases have been made in the past.
To avoid a Granby Reservoir spill, which would mean increased flows running in the stretch of the Colorado River downstream from the dam project, the Bureau, working with the Northern Water Conservancy District, is diverting water to store wherever available until later this week, at which time it may cut back, depending on the continuance of warm weather and the volume of public need on the Front Range.
In the meantime, the agencies may raise the Granby spill gate one-tenth of a foot so that the elevation that triggers a spill is 8,279.80 rather than the protocol standard of 8,279.50, Lora said. The reason, he said, is to not lose “project water” for the “benefit of the public in Colorado.” If the spill does occur, “it will probably be very little,” Lora said. “It’s not going to affect anyone downstream; all the runoff is dying off.”
From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):
We are nearing full at Green Mountain Reservoir. With the snowmelt run-off finally slowing down and with operations out of Denver Water’s Dillon Reservoir going east, we are seeing inflow to Green Mountain decrease. As a result, we continue to curtail our releases. We will decrease releases to the Lower Blue later [Thursday] afternoon by 100 cfs, putting the Lower Blue at about 800 cfs. [Friday] afternoon, we will decrease again by another 100 cfs, putting the Lower Blue at 700 cfs. We will maintain the 700 cfs into the Fourth of July weekend, but it is possible it might drop some more. Please be sure to check the gage before you head up.
The problem is particularly acute in the spring when pine needles steep in the melting snow and runoff, creating something of an organic tea, high in acidity and organic carbon. These compounds (leachate and fulvic acid) are difficult to remove through traditional treatment methods and can be carcinogenic (cancer causing) when combined with chlorine, the most common chemical used to treat water.
Kremmling’s 30-year-old water treatment plant recently failed to meet Environmental Protection Agency standards for the removal of these “total organic carbons” from its water supply. While the town has temporarily solved the problem, and the water in Kremmling is safe to drink, according to the town’s Public Works Director Doug Moses, Kremmling will have to continue reporting its violation every quarter for the next 12 months.
Plant managers will also continue to research alternative ways to deal with the problem, including a possible reclassification of the treatment plant that would eliminate the testing requirement…
Trees, like anything that isn’t mineral in nature, are made of organic carbon, Moses explained. As the trees and their leaves or needles decay, the deteriorating organic matter is released into the environment. “With a healthy forest, there is always some shedding,” Moses said. “But, in the beetle kill forest, all that organic mass has to get back into environment somehow. Unless it burns, in which case the carbon is released into the atmosphere and comes down with the rain, it decomposes into the soil and water.” The water soluble organic compounds that result from the decay of deciduous leaves are easier to remove through the traditional water treatment process than the compounds from coniferous trees. Moses stressed that the level of acceptable total organic carbon in the Kremmling water supply was exceeded by only a tenth of one percent, yet that was enough to trigger the violation…
Kremmling’s water supply comes primarily from Sheep Creek, which flows out of the Gore Range, Moses said.
Windsor Public Works Director Terry Walker presented details about that plan and the steps needed this year to the town board during last Monday night’s work session. “We’ve completed the meter replacement program, and now we’re working on the leak detection program,” Walker said.
The water conservation plan was implemented in 2008 and designed in conjunction with Clear Water Solutions. The plan will allow the town to apply for low-interest loans from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority for projects like the Northern Integrated Supply Project. Windsor’s share of the NISP costs will end up being about $33 million or $34 million. Up until now, the town has paid its share from its cash reserves each year. However, the cost to help build NISP will escalate, with the biggest single year payment toward the project for Windsor being 2012, at $5.4 million.
The water conservation plan calls for a total reduction of 12 percent water consumption, or about 268 acre-feet over a three-year period. Broken down, the goal is to reduce consumption during that time period by 8 percent for residences, 15 percent for businesses, 6 percent for industrial users, 11 percent for public use, 16 percent in landscaping use and 3.5 percent in unaccounted loss.
For 2010, the town budgeted $7,000 to cover the leak detection program. “We’re doing this now, so hopefully we catch leaks when they’re still small and before the pipes freeze in the winter,” Walker said. “We’ll go over the town in pieces, and then start over.”
The 28 objections were filed in February, March and April on the application by the Super Ditch and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, which sponsored the formation of the Super Ditch. Most say the Super Ditch plan is speculative, and other common concerns call for protection of water rights, the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project and the Arkansas River Compact with Kansas.
Among the many claiming the Super Ditch exchange may be speculative was Attorney General John Suthers, filing on behalf of State Engineer Dick Wolfe and Division Engineer Steve Witte…
The Super Ditch is negotiating with the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority to supply water to El Paso County water users, but no final agreements have been announced. Among those potential users is the city of Fountain, which made the point in its application that Super Ditch should be subject to the same restrictions of exchange through Pueblo that other water users face under the 2004 intergovernmental agreement that created the Pueblo flow program…
Most of the ditch companies that would be involved in the Super Ditch filed objections: the High Line, Holbrook, Fort Lyon, Catlin and Oxford ditch companies.
While most used lawyers to express those objections, one ditch company president put his statements into his own words: “The Oxford Ditch Co. feels this application should be denied. Water rights from the Lower Arkansas River to Lake Pueblo and leased to Aurora of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority will de(p)lete the flow of water in the river,” wrote Oran Ray Smith, president of the Oxford Ditch. “Once this water is removed from the river, there will be a direct effect on the amount of water and water quality to the major ditches in the Arkansas Valley.”
The High Line Canal, along with the city of Aurora, has a similar exchange application pending in water court that would allow a permanent exchange modeled on a 2004-05 lease program. High Line’s objection is one of the most detailed, raising more than 30 points. Other valley ditch groups filed objections, including the Colorado Canal, mostly owned by Colorado Springs and Aurora; the District 67 Ditch Association, below John Martin Reservoir; Excelsior Ditch; and the Arkansas Valley Ditch Association. Three counties, Otero, Bent and Chaffee, filed objections. The Southeastern Colorado and Upper Arkansas Water conservancy districts both filed objections. Southeastern also has an exchange application pending in Water Court, and is primarily concerned about using Fry-Ark facilities mentioned in the Super Ditch application. Two well users groups, the Colorado Water Protective and Development Association and Lower Arkansas Water Management Association objected. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Public Service Co., both of which have purchased substantial ditch rights in the Arkansas Valley, filed objections. The city of Pueblo, Pueblo Board of Water Works, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Pueblo West Metropolitan District and St. Charles Mesa Water District are municipal interests who raised concerns about the application.