CWCB: It’s been a good water year for storage so far

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The August Water Availability Task Force (WATF) meeting has been canceled due to favorable precipitation and storage conditions throughout most of the State. The next WATF meeting will be held September 27th at 9:30am at the Division of Wildlife.

Should you like an update on current conditions throughout the Colorado River Basin we encourage you to join an online webinar hosted by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) on August 31st at 10am. Additional information on this webinar, including log in details, can be obtained by contacting Wendy Ryan at

Thank you for your continued participation in the WATF—see you in September.

More CWCB coverage here.

Palisade scores a $4 million loan and a $3.8 million grant through the USDA Rural Development Water and Environmental Program designated for wastewater improvements

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

“The Recovery Act is meeting a huge need in Colorado by funding critical water infrastructure projects that we haven’t been able to fund,” Gov. Bill Ritter said. “Now, Palisade can move forward with this large-scale project that will improve the quality of life for its residents.”

More coverage from Mike Wiggins writing for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Palisade’s lagoons can’t remove enough ammonia from wastewater before it’s discharged back into the Colorado River to comply with new, heightened federal standards. Those regulations have to be met by 2013. The town intends to build a lift station and construct a three-mile pipeline to hook into Clifton Sanitation District’s new treatment plant. The town could have built its own plant for the same money, but officials believe that option would have cost more long-term in maintenance. [Palisade Mayor Dave Walker] said the town will chip in another $750,000 of its own money for a total project cost of $8.55 million. The project will spike the bills of Palisade sewer customers. Town officials have estimated a single-family residential bill will jump from $21.85 a month to $40 to $50 a month to generate the revenue needed to account for the town’s share of the bill.

More wastewater coverage here.

EPA Develops Innovative Software to Secure Nation’s Water Supply / Canary software enhances detection of hazardous contaminants in drinking water systems

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Here’s the release from the EPA (Latisha Petteway):

Scientists from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have collaborated in developing innovative water quality software that enhances a water system’s ability to detect when there has been intentional or unintentional contamination. The Canary software can help detect a wide variety of chemical and biological contaminants, including pesticides, metals, and pathogens. Once contamination is detected quickly, a water utility can issue a “Do Not Drink” order to prevent customers from ingesting the water.

“This cutting-edge technology helps to protect all Americans and secure our nation’s water supply from threats,” said Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The new software also improves our drinking water systems and allows water utilities to quickly advise customers when their water is not safe to drink.”

Drinking water utilities use the software in conjunction with a network of water quality sensors to rapidly detect contamination and to more accurately assess when and how they need to respond. The software helps to distinguish between natural variation in water quality measurements and hazardous contamination, and sends an alarm to indicate when water utilities should take steps to investigate and respond to potential contamination. In addition to achieving homeland security goals, Canary can be used to enhance day-to-day water quality management, and ensure the safety and security of water for all consumers.

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works is the first utility to pilot the software and has been using Canary to assist in detecting and managing contamination incidents since 2007. The software is currently being evaluated in four other U.S. cities — New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco — and in Singapore.

EPA and DOE received a 2010 “R&D 100 Award” from R&D Magazine for developing Canary. The R&D 100 awards recognize the top high-technology products of the year.

As a free software tool, Canary is available worldwide to drinking water utilities striving to provide safe water to their customers. The software has been accessed by more than 600 users in 15 countries.

More information on Canary:

More information on EPA’s Water Security initiative:

More water treatment coverage here.

Drought monitor: August 3, 2010

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Click on the thumbnail graphic to see this week’s map.

Here’s a report from Cattle Network. From the article:

The Southwest: Another surge of monsoonal moisture dumped widespread 2 to 4 inches of rain on the eastern three-fourths of Arizona, the western two-thirds of New Mexico, southern Utah, and most of Colorado, allowing for a general one-category reduction of drought in New Mexico, southern and central Arizona, and a small portion of southern Colorado. Arizona July precipitation exceeded 150 percent of normal at many central and eastern locations, and the majority of the Mogollon Rim has been wet, with many locations indicating one of the top 5 wettest Julys ever. Even northeastern Arizona (northern Navajo and Apache Counties) received 1.5 to 2 inches of rain this week, resulting in the residual D2 area to be shifted farther west and shrunk (now in northeastern Coconino and northwestern Navajo Counties). Improvements were made to areas with more than 2 inches of rain for the second consecutive week. In southern Colorado, although 1 to 3.5 inches of rain fell, only minor improvements were made since the Water Year-to-Date (since October 1, 2009) and 3-month percentiles justified D0, especially in San Juan, Hinsdale, and Huerfano counties. Farther west, however, the moisture failed to reach most of western Arizona, southeastern California, and southern Nevada, and D0 slightly expanded westward. The AH impact line was modified in northwestern Arizona (to H) where showers made it into eastern Mohave and western Coconino counties.

Great Basin and Rockies: Light showers (0.2 to 0.7 inches) fell on the eastern Great Basin and Rockies, not enough to warrant removal of D0, but adequate enough not to degrade conditions. In the western Great basin, seasonable dryness maintained D0-D2, with unseasonably cool weather in California and along the Pacific Coast. The exception to this was in west-central Colorado where 1 to 3 inches of rain alleviated D0 in Grand, western Summit, and northern Eagle Counties where surpluses exist out to 6-months.

Salida: City Council approves watershed protection district

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From The Mountain Mail (Audrey Gilpin):

City attorney Karl Hanlon said the district would encompass territory occupied by the city waterworks and all reservoirs, streams, trenches, pipes and drains from which water is taken for 5 miles upstream from the city intake point at Pasquale Springs and various intakes on the South Arkansas River. Cognitive of the agriculture community and drafted from the Steamboat Springs model, Hanlon said the district would ensure clean water in the watershed and allow city personnel to monitor if and when there are pollutants in the water.

Bill Schuckert, U.S. Forest Service district ranger for Pike and San Isabel National Forests, said, “The agency supports protecting Salida’s watershed, but we’re concerned the city could potentially be overstepping boundaries in forest service jurisdiction.”[…]

Under the ordinance, new industries or businesses wanting to “engage in potentially damaging activities” would be required to obtain a permit from the city. Activities requiring a permit would include excavating, grading, timber harvesting, drilling, mining, discharging any pollutant into any watercourse and using pesticides and herbicides within 100 feet of a watercourse, he said. Permits would be valid two years. “Normal” farming and ranching activities, road maintenance by government entities, construction or maintenance of farm or ranch roads, noxious weed or insect control and removal of diseased trees wouldn’t require a permit. The full ordinance, list of permitted and non-permitted activities and a map of the watershed protection district is available at city hall.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

Roaring Fork Valley: New whitewater park for Basalt?

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From the Aspen Daily News (Andrew Travers):

Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers and Streams board voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward on the development of a water park on the Roaring Fork River in Basalt. The Pitkin County commissioners, in turn, asked their staff to research it further and apply for a state grant to help fund it…

The proposal would make a permanent whitewater wave on the Roaring Fork River in Basalt, similar to the popular wave in Glenwood Springs. It could also gain a water right for the county and, in turn, a fuller, healthier Roaring Fork River. Contractor Jason Carey sketched a plan of the park, and estimated moving rocks to create standing rapids there would cost $650,000. The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board fronted $100,000 for the project and Carey’s spec plans, and open space director Dale Will said at the meeting they are “a big enthusiast of this project … . We’d really like to see this happen.” The county is hoping the town of Basalt will chip in as well, and county attorney John Ely said Town Council members have “been very warm if not outright hot” on the idea. Eagle County has also expressed interest, he said, but with no attached dollar amount.

More whitewater coverage here.

Steamboat Springs: City Council is reviewing rate increase recommendations

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From Steamboat Today (Mike Lawrence):

Red Oak’s draft study states that the rate increases through 2019 and higher tap fees for new construction would fund more than $70 million worth of water and wastewater improvement projects, including new infrastructure on the city’s west side and repairs to, or replacements of, aging sewer pipes through Steamboat Springs’ downtown core. The City Council could conduct the first reading of an ordinance to implement the new water and sewer rates Sept. 7. A second and final reading could occur Sept. 21, to allow implementation of the rates in 2011 to be included in the city’s budget for next year.

City Council members asked Giardina and Red Oak senior consultant Andrew Rheem to explore rate increases that occur as gradually as possible during coming years, to lessen the impact on residents and businesses. But there is little to no doubt among city staff and council members that the improvements are necessary and that rate increases of some kind are unavoidable.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Routt County: Wastewater plant upgrades for Milner?

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From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

The Routt County Board of Commissioners agreed Monday to seek a $45,000 loan from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to make mandated improvements to Milner’s wastewater treatment facilities. The overall cost of the project is $150,000. The balance of $105,000 would be covered by an energy impact grant from DOLA. The $45,000 would be repaid by subscribers living in Milner and would enable the construction of a 1,000-foot extension of an outlet pipe to get the effluent beyond a dry channel of the Yampa River and into the main channel, Routt County Environmental Health Director Mike Zopf said…

New federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations governing the discharge of ammonia from waste treatment plants are causing small facilities across the county to upgrade, County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

Milner is an unincorporated community, and its sewage treatment lagoon, serving 95 taps, is operated as an enterprise fund under Routt County ownership but held separately from the county’s general fund.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

2010 Colorado elections: John Hickenlooper stops in Vail

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From the Vail Daily (Lauren Glendenning):

“Long before I ever thought I would run for governor, I had a strong belief that Denver had a responsibility to the rest of the state,” Hickenlooper said. “The better the rest of the state does, the better Denver does.” He pointed to the fact that the board of Denver Water, which he appoints as Denver’s mayor, has reduced the region’s per capita water consumption by 20 percent since he’s been mayor. “That’s Colorado’s water,” Hickenlooper said. “Denver’s dramatic drop in consumption demonstrates that we are active partners. Any solution starts with an ethic of conservation.”[..]

He’s running a campaign touting three main issues — economic development, energy and water.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Arkansas Valley: Holbrook Canal board meeting recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Woodmoor may be buying as much as 1,500 shares on the Holbrook, if the rumors pan out, at a cost of about $2,000 per acre that would be dried up. That’s about half of what farmers who have contracted to sell on the High Line would get if Woodmoor carries through with its contracts. Holbrook’s rights are junior to a large portion of those on the High Line. “It’s a slap in the face to sell water at that price,” said board member Paul Casper. “Our water is worth more than that.” So far, Woodmoor has announced only its intentions to buy 937 shares, but still is talking to some shareholders. It also wants to buy shares on the High Line Canal and Excelsior Ditch, and reservoir sites on the Excelsior in eastern Pueblo County as part of a plan to move water up the Arkansas River, Fountain and Monument creeks to northern El Paso County. The way Woodmoor has gone about lining up sellers is an irritation to the board. A broker began talking to farmers along the ditch about two years ago, but no one really knew who he represented. “Turned out it was Woodmoor,” Hansen said. “They’re mysterious about how they do it.”

The problem with evaluating Woodmoor’s offer, when an offer is finally made, rests in the setup of the Holbrook Canal. While many canals deliver water to laterals for distribution to farms, Holbrook owns all the laterals and delivers water to each headgate. While its rights are relatively junior, its storage in a pair of reservoirs with up to 15,000 acre-feet of storage available allows farmers to irrigate throughout the growing season in all but the driest years. Taking 10 percent of the water out of the ditch could throw things out of balance. “Our main goal is keeping our system whole and protecting our shareholders,” Hansen said. “The bylaws say you can’t take water out of shared ditches, so it depends on where the water is taken from.”[…]

At times, the use of water has been moved from one location to another on the ditch, which required hearings to make sure no one’s ability to irrigate was harmed. A similar hearing would be required for Woodmoor, if it is successful in its bid to buy shares on the canal. The board would require Woodmoor to pay for the engineering and its legal expenses as well.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here. More Woodmoor coverage here.