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

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Click here for a copy of Henry Reges’ notes from last Tuesday’s webinar.

Arkansas Valley: Enforcement of priority below John Martin Reservoir is causing expenses to increase for some farmers

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“Most all of us have had it running since 1890 or ’95. It’s been running for 114 years, and now the state’s shutting it off and sending it into the mainstem of the river,” Reed said. Reed farms off the Wiley Drain of the Fort Lyon Canal, which historically carried its flows through the Wiley area into the Amity Canal, later to be returned to the Arkansas River. The drain is fed by tile drains in fields along the way, return flows not fully used by crops. About two years ago, he was told by the state Division of Water Resources that his diversion points were in the wrong places and that he was taking water out of priority. Once he fixes those problems, at his own expense, he’ll get less water than he has in the past.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

Gunnision River Basin: The Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Colorado Water Trust close on Breem Ditch water for instream flow program

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From the Sterling Journal Advocate:

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and the Colorado Water Trust closed on the purchase of up to 5.45 cubic feet per second of water under the Breem Ditch water right for instream flow use to preserve the natural environment of two highly visible water-short streams — Washington Gulch and the Slate River, and to improve the natural environment of Washington Gulch. The June 28 acquisition was the CWCB’s first water purchase using funds authorized by the General Assembly in 2008 for instream flow water acquisitions. The CWCB purchased a portion of the water using those funds, and the Colorado Water Trust donated a portion of the water to the CWCB. “This is a great example of the benefits CWCB’s Water Acquisition Program can provide to our state’s streams through creative partnerships with water users,” said Jennifer Gimbel, director of the CWCB.

The Breem Ditch water acquisition is the result of a unique, collaborative approach by the CWCB, the Colorado Water Trust, the Skyland Metropolitan District and Verzuh Ranch, Inc., a local development company owned by Billy Joe Lacy and Dan Dow. Despite sometimes water-plentiful summers, irrigation diversions into the Breem Ditch would cause Washington Gulch to completely dry by the middle of July and reduce flows in the Slate River as well. The purchase of the Breem Ditch will allow Washington Gulch to flow year-round, even during dry summers, and will help fix flow shortages to the Slate River.

Under Colorado’s Instream Flow Program, the CWCB will protect the water decreed to the Breem Ditch on Washington Gulch and about two miles of the Slate River downstream of the confluence with Washington Gulch. Below this reach, the water will be available for Skyland Metropolitan District’s system, which from 2002 to 2004 — Colorado’s most severe recent drought period — was in danger of impairment.

More instream flow coverage here.

Water pollution: The argument for removing pharmaceuticals from wastewater effluent

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From Denver Westword (Michael Roberts):

“Where we have very large domestic populations, we’re either excreting or dumping a lot of chemicals down the drain, and a number of them are estrogenic in nature. They get into wastewater treatment plants, which aren’t constructed in a way to deal with chemicals in the very low concentrations of these chemicals, [said CU-Boulder professor David Norris]”[…]

…in Boulder, Norris says, the situation improved dramatically “after the wastewater treatment plant went from a trickling filter process to a more efficient system, called activated sludge. This was something mandated by the EPA, because they weren’t meeting standards for some of the other chemical requirements for effluents. So it wasn’t related to what we were studying. But it had a side benefit.”

The team is still analyzing some of the data from tests conducted after the new plant was up and running. But this time around, Norris points out, “we had no demasculinizatoin of fish over a 28 day period, and we only saw a slight feminization — and we didn’t see that until somewhere between day fourteen and day 28. So a modest upgrade of the plant reduced a lot of these chemicals.”

More water pollution coverage here.

Larimer County: Planning Commission hearing for proposed metropolitan district July 21

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From the North Forty News:

The primary purpose of the district, according to Seaworth’s proposal, would be to “provide water and sanitary sewer service within the service area.” Owners of property within the service area include Richard Seaworth, Troy Seaworth, Sandra Seaworth, R.E. Seaworth and Sons, and Seaworth AG Enterprises Inc.

Currently, water within the service area is supplied by the Northern Colorado Water Association or by nontributary wells requiring water treatment. The proposal also states that the metro district and Wellington could form a water authority through an intergovernmental agreement. The water authority would sell potable water to residential water users that could include customers within the district, the town of Wellington and other water customers in the future. Potable water within the district would initially come from a 100-foot alluvial well and a reverse osmosis treatment plant. Both would be installed by Wellington and the metro district, in concert with Wellington Water Works.

Wellington Water Works, a partnership involving Richard Seaworth, has a plant that treats oil well water before discharging it into the Boxelder Creek drainage.

Sewer service within the district would be provided by individual sewage disposal systems or by a centralized sewer system provided by the district, the water authority or a separate sewer authority.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Larimer County: Coal Creek Flood Mitigation Project update

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From the North Forty News (JoAn Bjarko):

Residents from the Indian Creek drainage east of Interstate 25 turned out for a June 15 open house sponsored by the Larimer County Engineering Department. Area residents were invited to look at the latest plans to reduce potential flooding in the region and to offer comments. Phase I of the Boxelder Regional Stormwater Improvement Project is called the Coal Creek Flood Mitigation Project. Coal Creek and Indian Creek are tributaries of Boxelder Creek.

Criticism of a three-government plan to reduce the region’s 100-year floodplain dates back more than a year to when local residents found out they would be assessed annual fees to pay for the work. The first phase, estimated to cost $3.9 million, will get $2.9 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In June, residents near Indian Creek contended that the first project, for which they are being assessed a fee, has no benefit for them and may even aggravate flooding conditions. Fees for rural residential properties in the Boxelder Basin have been set by the county between $62 and $97 per year, depending on the size of the property. Wellington town residents and Fort Collins city residents are also paying into the fund through monthly stormwater fees.

More stormwater coverage here.

Runoff news: Cache la Pourdre peak is highest since 1999

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From the North Forty News:

Two big peaks occurred this spring, one at 4,340 cubic feet per second on June 8 and the second at 4,670 cfs on June 12 after heavy rains. High water threatened some homes in the LaPorte area on June 12. The average spring peak at the mouth of the Poudre River is 2,960 cfs, according to river commissioner George Varra. Last year’s peak was just 1,930 cfs. The ’90s saw some very high peaks along with flooding, notably the 1997 flood that killed five people in Fort Collins. Peak flows included 4,732 cfs in 1995, 3,308 cfs in 1997 and 5,822 cfs in 1999. A historic low was recorded in 2002, just 880 cfs.

Invasive mussel prevention procedures update

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From the Crested Butte News (Seth Mensing):

The threat of invasive zebra and quagga mussels isn’t gone from Western Slope watersheds, even though none have been found in the region this year. And local agencies like the Colorado Division of Wildlife and National Park Service are continuing work this summer to keep the mussels at bay. Gunnison County’s Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water, is ground zero for the DOW’s containment effort. Superintendent Rudd says, “We’re doing a grid sampling across the lake twice a month. That takes us a couple of weeks to get to all of those spots. And we’ll be continuing with double time sampling. As of now we’re still mussel free and this is good news.”

Motor boaters on the lake this summer can expect an inspection before entering the water and after taking their boats out. To speed the process Blue Mesa has installed a second large decontamination station for big boats, or those that need a thorough cleaning. “It seems that people are being pretty responsive to our asking folks to dry and clean their boats when they come to the launch sites,” DOW spokesman Joe Lewandowski says. “I think that’s a big part of the reason we haven’t had [any new populations of mussels] in Colorado this year.”

From the Canyon Courier:

Beginning July 1, all boats launched in Evergreen Lake must be inspected for zebra or quagga mussels, which are tiny freshwater mollusks that arrived from the Black and Caspian seas on ships traveling internationally. All boats and floatable devices, including canoes, kayaks and belly boats, are subject to inspection. A boater pass costs $4 a day or $30 for the season. The inspections are free but mandatory, and are available during business hours seven days a week, as part of a statewide mandatory testing program now in effect.

More invasive species coverage here and here.