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.

Pitkin County: ‘Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund’ projects update

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From the Aspen Daily News (Andrew Travers):

The seven-member board is spending a little under $100,000 to hire a consultant to study the Roaring Fork’s streamflow from the Salvation Ditch through Aspen to where it meets Castle Creek. Due to diversions, that most visible bend in the river is often quite low in the summertime. The study will assess what levels of flow are healthy for the Roaring Fork’s ecosystem year-round.

On the Fryingpan, near Basalt, the board is asking for bids from contractors to assess the economic impact the river has on the midvalley. Officials haven’t yet put a ballpark price on that study, Pitkin County attorney John Ely said. They’re seeking an all-encompassing view of the river economy — taking into account not only tourist spending on rafting, fishing and recreation, but also its toll on real estate prices, and how a flowing river may affect home sales.

Those are the first two on-the-ground projects for the board, which was founded with a promise to maintain and improve water quality and quantity, riparian habitats, and protect county water rights from Front Range diversions. The Roaring Fork and Fryingpan projects emerged after the board did a cursory analysis of all rivers and streams in the county.

More Roaring Fork watershed coverage here and here.

Aspinall Unit update

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

The most recent Colorado Basin River Forecast Center April through July runoff forecast is 495,000 ac-ft., down 25,000 ac-ft from the July 1st forecast. As dry as things have been, the final number is more likely to end up around 487,000 ac-ft. (Remember, the May 1st forecast was 560,000 ac-ft). In order to maintain storage and extend decent flows through the summer, releases from the Aspinall Unit will be reduced by 50 cfs tomorrow, July 22nd. Flows in the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge will then be about 600 cfs and, depending on hydrology, will be maintained through September. Flows will be further reduced to 500 cfs sometime in October and carry through December. At this time, Reclamation projects an end of December Blue Mesa elevation of 7488.6, which is 1.4 feet below the normal December target. Please contact Dan Crabtree at 970-248-0652 or reply to this email with questions.

As a reminder, the next Aspinall Operations Meeting will be held on Thursday, September 2nd in the Elk Creek Visitor Center on Blue Mesa Reservoir, starting at 1:00 p.m. We will be discussing past and future operations, as well as other activities within the Gunnison Basin.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

CWCB: July board meeting recap

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Update: From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

Highlights of the board’s second day in Salida included a presentation about the new “Guidebook of Best Practices for Municipal Water Conservation in Colorado,” a tool to help water providers implement effective water conservation measures. Brenda O’brien, project manager for Colorado WaterWise, said the board-funded guidebook will be available by the end of the month and can help conserve significant amounts of water, up to 63 percent for outdoor residential use, for example…

Board members also

• heard a report about the benefits of the Community Rating System, which rewards communities for flood mitigation measures;

• received an update on passive water conservation, which is expected to reduce water use in the Arkansas Basin by up to 39,400 acre-feet per year by 2050;

• heard a report about reallocation of water storage in Chatfield reservoir;

• received an update about potential wild and scenic rivers designations;

• heard updates on several cases;

• convened an executive session for the attorney general’s report and legal briefing.

Board members will meet again Sept. 14-15 in Grand Junction in conjunction with the Colorado River District Water Seminar on Sept. 16.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Executive Director Jim Broderick updated the CWCB on the status of the Arkansas Valley Conduit. The board has approved a $60 million loan toward the $300 million project. The conduit received a $5 million appropriation this year and could get as much as $6 million next year, “Thank you for that approval. Without that, there would be no federal appropriation,” Broderick said…

In another matter, the board approved a $33,600 grant toward a $42,000 study by the Southeastern Water Conservancy District of how water flows are managed in the Upper Arkansas River. The study will be done by Paul Flack, a former hydrologist for Colorado State Parks, who is now a consultant. It grew out of a meeting last year among Upper Arkansas stakeholders who disagreed about how water is moved during certain times of year…

The board also:
-Looked at progress on a decision support system for the Arkansas Valley, which will provide information on cumulative impacts of water projects.
– Received a presentation on the Arkansas Basin Roundtable’s needs assessment from Jay Winner, general manger of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.
-Heard an update on the Upper Arkansas Conservancy District’s data collection system, which added gauges on streams and at reservoirs.
– Looked at the Upper Ark district’s water basin study.
– Received a progress report on the Arkansas Basin Data Collection and Assessment that has grown out of more than a decade of studies by Colorado State University.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The board approved a list of prequalified loans — but not the actual loans — that included a plan to rehabilitate the Cucharas Reservoir Dam. John McKowen, who has purchased three-fourths of the Huerfano-Cucharas Ditch, wants to rebuild the dam in Huerfano County in order to restore irrigation on farmland in Pueblo County. About 500 acres of farmland is growing dryland wheat, irrigated wheat and corn under a pilot project this year and, McKowen eventually intends to put 10,000 acres back into production. “We’ve spent about $4 million so far,” McKowen said. The dam was restricted in 1988 after a breach was discovered. The existing reservoir was engineered to hold 50,000 acre-feet of water. It is the largest reservoir in the state under restriction…

Reed Dils, the Arkansas River basin representative on the CWCB, asked whether other uses of water are being anticipated, such as creating home sites on the shores of the reservoir. “Nothing like that is planned,” McKowen said. “It’s never going to be a permanent reservoir.”[…]

State Engineer Dick Wolfe raised several questions about water rights and the ability to fill the reservoir.
McKowen acknowledged his direct flow rights are junior, but the storage right is relatively senior, dating back to the early 1900s.

More CWCB coverage here.

Buena Vista: Supply options discussed by town board

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From The Chaffee County Times (Kathy Davis):

Town engineer Rachel Friedman said the town has 2,270 available taps. There are 1,490 existing taps, leaving 780 additional taps the town’s existing water rights can support, she said. The town has a commitment of an additional 500 taps for infill on town lots. The projected number of taps needed for proposed subdivisions and other proposed development is 976 taps. The total projected demand is approximately 1,476 taps. Friedman said the average water usage is 400 gallons per tap per day. This is a high average, she said. In some places, the average usage is 200 gallons per tap per day…

Regarding new water sources, the town has been measuring for a dry-up on 63 acres in the big meadow on Crossman Avenue. The dry-up is required by the water court decree for the town to convert Leesmaugh Ditch agriculture water rights to municipal use. If the town completes the dry-up of the meadow, it could get an additional 120 to 200 taps, town engineer Patricia Flood said. A maximum dry-up of the meadow could take another two years, she said. Trustee Jerry Steinauer asked if there were a way to hasten the dry up. Drains could be installed, Flood said.

Also discussed was an exchange of water proposed by the John Cogswell, developer of the Villages at Cottonwood Meadows, a proposed subdivision in the meadow on Crossman Avenue. Town administrator Sue Boyd said it would require Cogswell’s commitment to paying the fees for analysis of the exchange…

The town needs to think about additional sources of supply to meet needs, Covell said. The town’s water master plan recommends acquisition of additional water from a new well on the Arkansas River. Other recommended sources would be from the town’s well, well #3, and the purchase of additional water rights.

More infrastructure coverage here.

CWCB: Sterling Ranch rainwater catchments project first to be approved under HB 09-1129

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Update: From INDT (John Rebchook):

The Colorado Water Conservation Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to name the 3,400-acre Sterling Ranch as the state’s first rainwater harvesting pilot project. Sterling Ranch’s innovative water conservation plan currently calls for using just one-third the water traditionally required in Douglas County—without relying on rainwater collection. With the rainwater pilot designation, Sterling Ranch will develop a new water source to be used for outside irrigation that could result in even more water supply savings. “We are very excited about this pilot project,” said Geoff Blakeslee, chairman of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, at the board meeting held in Salida…

Sterling Ranch estimates that at least half of the community’s outdoor irrigation demand can be met by capturing rainwater from storm drainage systems and rooftops in underground storage tanks or retention ponds. After being collected, it can be recycled to water the community’s lawns, gardens and open space.

From the Denver Business Journal (Paula Moore):

The proposed, $4.3 billion Sterling Ranch community in Douglas County will get the state’s first rainwater harvesting pilot project, ranch developers said Wednesday. The Colorado Water Conservation Board in Salida unanimously picked Sterling Ranch, which includes 3,400 acres, to have one of 10 such projects. The ranch will collect rainwater, from storm drainage systems and rooftops, and keep it in underground storage tanks or retention ponds. The water will be recycled for lawns, gardens and open space at the community. “This is a giant leap forward for water conservation,” Harold Smethills, principal at Sterling Ranch LLC and the project’s managing director, said in a statement. “It combines forward-thinking rainwater harvesting with Sterling Ranch’s vision for innovative water conservation…

The rainwater pilot project is part of the 2009 Colorado Legislature’s House Bill 1129, signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter last June. The legislation permits 10 rainwater collection systems to be developed.

More conservation coverage here.

Runoff news: Hot and dry weather causes streamflows to drop in the San Luis Valley

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Colorado Division of Water Resources Division III Engineer Craig Cotten announced a zero curtailment for irrigators on both Rio Grande and Conejos River systems beginning Wednesday, primarily because no water is flowing and the state’s obligation to downstream states has been adjusted accordingly. He said he has lowered the projected annual index for the Rio Grande to 530,000 acre feet, 5,000 less than the projection at the beginning of this month and considerably less than the 575,000-acre-foot June 1 forecast. Of the new 530,000-acre-foot projection, the Rio Grande must deliver 137,200 acre feet or about 27 percent to downstream states through the Rio Grande Compact. The Rio Grande has already delivered nearly 100,000 acre feet to downstream states, and the additional required delivery will likely be met through current return flows, Closed Basin Project water and winter flows in November and December, Cotten said. “So we won’t need much at all during the irrigation season,” he said.

Cotten also decreased by 5,000 acre feet the projected annual index on the Conejos River system, which is now forecast at 290,000 acre feet. At the beginning of June the forecast was 315,000 acre feet. Of the 290,000 acre feet projected annual index, the Conejos River system must deliver 102,200 acre feet downstream, or about 35 percent. The river will have no problem meeting that requirement. In fact, it will likely over deliver this year, Cotten said. “We don’t need anything through the rest of the irrigation season to the bottom end of the Conejos,” he said. “However, that is also anticipating we are going to get 2,800 acre feet out of the Closed Basin Project.”[…]

Cotten explained that stream flows on the Rio Grande and Conejos were tracking average until about June 10, when they dropped significantly. “It just cratered, dropped real hard and we are continuing to drop,” he said. On the Conejos River system, he said, “We are significantly below our average stream flows on almost all of our gauging stations right now.” He said the low river levels are an indication of the lack of precipitation the Valley has received so far this summer.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

As of July 19, about 375 cubic feet per second were being diverted under the Continental Divide to the South Platte drainage. “It’s been really hot in Denver,” said water resource project manager Dave Bennett, “Demand is up.” Bennett said about 800 acre feet of water so far have been withdrawn from Dillon Reservoir, leaving it a few inches shy of its highest elevation…

Little said about 109 cfs is flowing out through the dam and into the Lower Blue, still well above the minimum 50 cfs level set by state rules to protect trout. The total combined inflow for all the Blue River and all its tributaries flowing into the reservoir was only 177 cfs on July 19. Blue River water commissioner Scott Hummer said most local streams, notably the Snake River, are flowing near historic lows after the snowpack quickly vanished in June. Making an educated guess, Hummer said some local streams could drop to the levels of the historic drought in 2002, when some streams reached all-time record low flows.

The good news is that all the reservoirs in the state are full or nearly full, giving water managers a buffer to work with…

Summer rains in the Denver area could reduce the demand for water from Dillon Reservoir, Bennett said, explaining that operations of the Roberts Tunnel are weather-dependent. Cool, wet weather in Denver could lead to a reduction in diversions through the tunnel.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs Utilities briefs the utilities board about storage negotiations with Reclamation in Lake Pueblo

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Eileen Welsome):

“We’re seeing movement and I’m encouraged by that,” John Fredell, SDS project manager, said during a presentation Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Utilities Board. The municipally-owned utility and the federal government have held three public negotiation sessions this summer on the contracts needed for the 62-mile pipeline, which will transport water north from the reservoir to Colorado Springs. During the sessions, CSU’s negotiating team has succeeded in whittling the roughly $200 million that the Bureau has been demanding to about $82 million. Utilities contends that’s still too much and would like to see the figure decline by another $40 million or so. The next round of talks are scheduled for late August…

Mike Collins, the leader for Reclamation’s negotiating team, said through a spokesperson that he also was hopeful. “While we have not yet reached agreement on all of the proposals exchanged in the last session, I am optimistic that agreement can be reached.”[…]

During the most recent round of talks, Reclamation suggested charging the utility $41.56 per acre foot of water for the excess capacity storage contracts. By contrast, CSU argued that it should be charged $25.31 per acre foot…The two sides also disagree about other costs, including an agreement that would enable the utility to do “paper” exchanges of water held in the reservoir with water in other facilities, as well as how much credit the Utility should receive for building a $30 million outlet in the damn that will transport water to the SDS pipeline and can be used by other water providers.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project: The Waterkeeper Alliance delivers cease and desist letter to the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy over use of the trade name ‘Save the Poudre’

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Update: From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The same day Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District officials said they wouldn’t print anymore “Save the Poudre, Store it in Glade” bumper stickers after environmentalists cried foul, Northern Water announced Friday that the Western Slope’s largest coalition of local governments, Club 20, threw its support behind Glade Reservoir.

From The Denver Post (Monte Whaley):

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District recently printed 500 bumper stickers that read: “Save the Poudre: Store it in Glade.” The bumper stickers were produced for about $2.50 each, paid for by the 15 cities and water districts funding the reservoir project, said district spokesman Brian Werner…

Waterkeeper Alliance sent a cease-and-desist letter Wednesday to the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, saying “Save the Poudre” is a protected trade name. It was registered by Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper with the state and should not be used by the district, said Gary Wockner, director of Save the Poudre. “We’ve been using the name for four years on our website, press releases and printed literature. We’re the only ‘Save the Poudre’ in the world, and we’ve recently filed for service-mark protection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” Wockner said. “That this public agency stole our name and is using it against us is reprehensible.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.