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 http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/.

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 (boards@state.co.us) 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 boards@state.co.us.

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.