The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District is buying Larkspur Ditch shares

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From the La Junta Tribune Democrat (Bette McFarren):

The Larkspur Ditch is a transmountain diversion into the Arkansas Basin which was purchased by the Catlin Canal. The Larkspur, until recently, has been tied to Catlin Canal Shares, but because it produced such a small portion of Catlin’s needs (between 250 and 300 acre feet per year – on 185,650 acres of irrigated ground), had not attempted to divert any of the Larkspur water for a number of years nor maintained facilities on the Larkspur…

The conservancy district assured the county that all acreage that has in the past benefited from Larkspur water will continue to be served by the Catlin Canal. In conjunction with this purchase, the conservancy would like to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with Otero County, rather than going through the Otero County 1041 process. Intergovernmental Agreement is allowed by Section 2.204 of Otero County’s 1041 Regulations. Otero County agrees with the idea, with the assurance that agricultural needs will continue to be met by the Catlin Canal.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

Colorado State University: Drip irrigation primer

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Here’s a primer of sorts on drip irrigation from Curtis Swift, CSU Extension Horticulture Specialist, running in the Delta County Independent:

The drying winds we have been experiencing have been sucking water from plants and soil. Screens used to divert the wind and protect young plants from blowing sand and debris also help reduce this moisture loss.

A layer of mulch placed around the plant also helps maintain soil moisture. If you live in an area where the soil is still cold, a layer of mulch is not recommended at this time as it prevents the soil from warming, delays emergence and can increase potential for root rot problems. Be sure the mulch is not placed against the stem of the plant as this can increase stem disease problems.

Take care to ensure newly planted tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other plants have adequate soil moisture. Until you are sure the frost season is over you should keep an eye on the weather and provide protection as necessary for these warm-season vegetable crops. Walls O’ Water or other season extenders should be considered.

Drip irrigation is one way to provide moisture to your garden. Some gardeners lay leaky hose or sprinkler hose along their rows of vegetables and flowers and in their shrub beds. Some use drip tube (aka dripper line and drip hose) or drip tape while others use PVC pipe through which they have drilled small holes Any of these techniques work as a way to water the vegetables, flowers and shrubs.

The effectiveness of the drip irrigation system depends on the cleanliness of the water, the rate the water is applied, the spacing of the emitters and the distance between the lines of drip tube.

Sprinkler hose, soaker hose or leaky pipe tend to plug even when using domestic water due to the lime that precipitates out of the water and fills the emitters and weep holes. You can avoid this problem by occasionally running acid through the system, but since acid can burn holes through clothing and skin this is not something I recommend. The use of drip tape or drip tube are better options.

Drip tape is made from thin plastic and thus is not as durable as thicker-wall dripper line. Drip tape requires a pressure regulator of no more than 15 psi (pounds per square inch) for the 15 mil tape. Thinner tape requires a lower pressure. Higher pressures blows the drip tape apart. More detailed guidance on the use of drip tape can be found at

Pressure regulators used with drip tube range from 20 psi to as high as 45 psi. With the psi as high as 100 at the pump or faucet, the pressure needs to be significantly reduced to use with drip tape and drip tube. You cannot reduce the pressure by turning down the flow at the faucet. Drip systems are not recommended with irrigation water unless you have very good filtration. You should consider using a filter even when the drip system is attached to domestic water. A 200 mesh filter is needed for drip tape and the 1⁄4 inch drip tube. 150 mesh filtration is adequate for the larger 17 mm drip tube.

The drip tube selected should be based on the infiltration rate of the soil in your garden. The infiltration rate is a measure of how quickly water moves into the soil. Our silty clay loam soils have an infiltration rate of about 0.2 inches of water per hour. When water is applied faster than the infiltration rate, water pools or puddles. This causes soil particles to separate and a crust of silt and clay to cover the soil surface.

This is the same thing that happens when we have a heavy rain. A crust forms on the surface of the bare soil. This crust prevents water infiltration and forms a barrier to emerging seedlings. Applying water at the proper rate relative to the infiltration rate of the soil avoids the formation of this crust. Once a crust forms the soil needs to be raked or broken up to permit water to again enter the soil and for seedlings to emerge. Mulch helps reduce soil crusting but does not increase water infiltration.

Drip tube is available with different application (precipitation) rates. Drip tube with emitters spaced every 18 inches and rated at 0.4 gallons per hour applies water at a rate between 0.21 and .29 inches per hour. This is the proper application rate for our soil. Drip tube rated at 0.6 gallons per hour applies water at a rate of between 0.56 to 0.96 inches per hour. The 1⁄4 inch drip tube is rated at 0.9 gallons per hour and applies water much too fast for our soil. Unless you have a very well drained soil, the 0.6 and 1⁄4 inch drip tube is not what you should use. Lines of the 0.4 gallon per hour drip tube with emitters spaced at 18 inches should be spaced between 18 to 24 inches apart.

Irrigation companies seldom carry the 0.4 gallon per hour drip tube yet this is the one you should consider. They can order this for you. Be sure the emitters in the drip tube are 18 inches apart.

More conservation coverage here.

Pagosa Springs: Community Water Supply Planning Group update

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From the Pagosa Sun (Chuck McGuire):

According to the meeting agenda, the hired facilitator, Maro Zagoras, of Desired Outcomes Inc. (Fort Collins), was to initiate discussions on her specific role, hopeful meeting outcomes, the day’s agenda and equally important, determining a group name and establishing immediate and future ground rules. That was to begin at precisely 4:30 p.m. First, however, Zagoras chose to “train” or educate the panel on proper conduct and procedures necessary in reaching vital decisions relevant to the group’s final charge, which the group itself must ultimately define.

Though the CWSPG has yet to clearly define its true aim — much less name itself, or designate an official group spokesperson — determining the best means of managing PAWSD finances has never been considered its ultimate goal by the 29 additional participants now seated on the panel. Rather, answering whether PAWSD should plan for future water needs and, if so, how, are apparently the questions that drew most volunteers to sit on the CWSPG panel to begin with. Certainly, any future water storage plans will involve detailed financing, in which informed district constituents should play a vital role. However, PAWSD is a complex special district funded by several convoluted enterprise funds, the management of which can’t be taken lightly.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here and here.

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project: Ruedi Reservoir operations meeting Wednesday

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From email from Re clamation (Kara Lamb):

If you are interested in the volume of water releases from Ruedi Reservoir to the Fryingpan River late summer and early fall, then Wed., July 14, 2010, needs to be on your calendar. That day, Reclamation will host the second of two Ruedi Reservoir operations meetings scheduled for this year. The July 14 meeting will be held at the Basalt Town Hall, 101 Midland Avenue, Basalt, Colo. from 7 to 9 p.m.

The meeting will provide an overview of Ruedi Reservoir operations during this year’s spring run-off, as well as projected operations for late summer and early fall, key fishing seasons in Basalt.

As always, the meeting will conclude with a public question and answer session.

For more information, please contact Kara Lamb, Public Information Coordinator for Reclamation’s Eastern Colorado Area Office, by phone or e-mail: (970)962-4326, or, or visit our Website at

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

The Upper Ark’s Terry Scanga is keeping a close eye on Aurora’s leasing operations

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

[Terry Scanga’s] concern is what Aurora does in the years when it has more water than it needs to satisfy its primary service area — the city of 300,000 people. By entering long-term contracts to provide water to others, Aurora is increasing the chances it would have to call for more water from its sources in the Arkansas and Colorado basins…

What really irks Scanga is a deal Aurora reached last year with Nestle Waters North America to supply augmentation water for 200 acre-feet annually, at a cost of about $800 per acre-foot. The contract is for 10 years, subject to availability of water. “Nestle was a double whammy because it also takes water out of the basin,” Scanga said. At the time the deal was reached, the Upper Ark district had been negotiating with Nestle for a higher price, about $1,200 per acre-foot. Ironically, the Upper Ark was involved because the water would be provided by Salida, which through its own decree is restricted to use the water within its own service area — city limits. “Our rates were based on funding something needed in this basin. Salida couldn’t sell it under their decree, and Nestle didn’t have a decree,” Scanga said. “The money would have gone for storage, which would in the long run give Nestle a firm supply. The key was, we were expecting Nestle to come back and negotiate.” Instead, Aurora snapped up the contract, a move that four members of the city’s 11-member council actually opposed. Some said it had little benefit to Aurora. Earlier this year, the Upper Ark district filed comments on the substitute water supply plan Nestle needs to use Aurora’s water, specifically asking the Colorado Division of Water Resources not to allow Arkansas Valley water to be used in the Nestle contract. “The proposed lease of water by Aurora to Nestle has the potential to defeat the purpose of (the 2003) IGA,” attorney Julianne Woldridge wrote in the comments. The state agreed, and restricted Aurora to using Colorado River water in augmenting Nestle depletions in the final March plan…

In late 2009, Aurora and its new partner, Climax Mines, filed for a change of rights on the Columbine Ditch. In that application Aurora seeks to add additional places and types of use for the water in the Arkansas River basin, a move the Upper Arkansas district opposes.

Aurora also entered an agreement with South Metro Water Supply Authority in late 2009 that has the potential to add more uses for water from all three basins to the South Platte area. Aurora already provides water for everything from the upscale community of Roxborough, to gravel pits, to farmers downstream, through its South Platte system.

More Aurora coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections: McInnis profile

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Here’s a long background piece about Scott McInnis from Karen Crummy writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

McInnis, chairman of the House subcommittee on forests and forest health, also brokered a compromise with Grand County commissioners that allowed “historic uses” such as motorized vehicles, mountain bikes and limited logging on the west side of the Continental Divide. He also backed a bill requiring federal agencies to compensate private-property owners for actions taken under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and other laws regarding water rights. “He was conservative when it came to natural resources, which was reflective of his district,” said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli, noting that issues of agriculture, water and mineral extraction all play big roles in the region’s job market…

McInnis pushed for the controversial Animas-La Plata project, a massive dam and diversion effort for the Animas River near Durango, which gives American Indians a reservoir for economic development. McInnis and others said it was the best way to settle old water claims from the Ute tribe, while others argued it was not only too expensive, but that a third of the water would instead help municipalities and local developers…

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Red Cliff: New wastewater treatment plant update

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From the Vail Daily (Sarah Mausolf):

The town’s new wastewater treatment plant should be finished in mid-September, Mayor Ramon Montoya said. “If we had not acted on this, literally the federal government had the abilty to come in and close down the town,” he said. “That’s what I was threatened with when I first became the mayor.”

The current plant has been violating environmental regulations for 20 years, Montoya said. It had been dumping inadequately treated human waste into the confluence of Homestake Creek and the Eagle River…

Grant money will cover the $5.1 million project. R.N. Civil Construction based in Centennial has been working on the treatment plant since September…

Federal stimulus dollars from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded a majority of the project. Western Pipeline Utility Construction, based in Palisade, started work this week on repairing the pipes that transport the waste. The plant should be fully online by Sept. 15, Montoya said.

More wastewater coverage here.