Republican River Basin: Kansas still saying no to the compliance pipeline

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From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Judy Debus):

An update on the progress of the Republican River Water Conservation District was given by Greg Larson, the Logan County representative on the Board of Directors whose term is up for renewal. He noted that Colorado and Nebraska support the proposed pipeline that is currently awaiting approval; however, Kansas does not due to issues with the South Fork.

More Republican River Basin coverage here.

Paonia: Backwash recovery system back on the drawing board for treatment plant

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From the Delta County Independent (Kathy Browning):

The recovery system was to capture the backwash from the filtration system. It would recycle the waste, filter it and recycle it through. [Trustee David Weber] said the engineer told him 10 gallons a minute could be lost without the recovery system. That equals 439,000 gallons for a month, the equivalent of about 55 taps. “So, by making this engineering change order, we’re essentially throwing away 54.6 taps of town water,” Weber said. “That’s a significant amount of water. If those taps were sold out-of-town that would represent over $800,000 in income.”

Weber questioned whether the town could afford to throw away that amount of income. In fact the impetus to initiate the change order to remove the recovery system was to save $69,000…

Now with the $285,880 in stimulus funds from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority received in the form of a principal forgiven loan, the project can go ahead.

More water treatment coverage here.

Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project money trail

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The Colorado Independent’s Scot Kergaard details some of the money trail for Nestlé’s project to move 200 acre-feet or so of water from the Arkansas Basin to the company’s Denver bottled water facility. From the article:

Early to cash in was Frank McMurry, who back in May 2007 sold Nestle 111 acres for $860,000, even though the land, known as Big Horn Springs, is not being used by Nestle. The company had originally planned to bottle some water from this site but environmental concerns ultimately convinced the company to withdraw this site from their permit. The company has made a verbal promise to place a conservation easement on the property.

McMurry is a former Chaffee County Commissioner, a member of the committee that OKd the Nestle deal.

In December 2009, Steve Hansen, owner of Gunsmoke Liquor, sold his store and 1.41 acres in Johnson Village to Nestle for $1,120,000. Nestle tore down the store to build its loading station, where it will fill trucks bound for Denver. Hansen retains the liquor license and is expected to rebuild.

A day after Hansen sold to Nestle, Harold and Mary Hagen hit the jackpot, selling 11 acres to the company for $2,850,000. The former Hagen property is the site of the springs that Nestle is tapping– the Ruby Mountain Spring and onetime Hagen Fish Hatchery. Since the Hagens were unable to sell Nestle sufficient water rights for its purposes, Nestle had to look elsewhere to augment its source…

Aurora took up the deal, agreeing to lease the company 65 million gallons of water per year for 10 years, with an optional 10-year renewal. The first year payment is $160,000. The price will rise 5 percent a year. Aurora can cut the deal off in any year that it needs the water for its own purposes.

More Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project coverage here and here.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board unveils new website

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From email from the CWCB (Ben Wade):

The portal to the CWCB’s mission, programs and activities – its website – has once again been updated and completely redesigned. Following recommendations from marketing analysis and survey results obtained over the last several years, the website has been designed to be more user-focused and has taken on a completely new organizational structure, based on topical categories rather than the agency’s internal sections. Furthermore, the IBCC website content and basin roundtable information has been merged into this new site, creating a more comprehensive water information resource for the state…

Please visit the new site at


More CWCB coverage here.

Arkansas Basin Roundtable talks conservation

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

SeEtta Moss, who heads the Arkansas Valley chapter of the Audubon Society and represents environmental interests, and some other roundtable members have been working with a group from the Gunnison Basin Roundtable to come up with a statewide proposal encouraging conservation in order to preserve water for wildlife and recreation. The group decided to take a small step, by requesting a requirement that any state project get a variance before installing or renovating any patch of turf more than 1,000 square feet. “This is to get the state to take the lead in conservation,” Moss said…

She showed a photo of the vast lawn in front of the Territorial Correctional Facility on U.S. 50 in Canon City, where she lives, as an example of a wasteful irrigation system. “There are 50,000 square feet in front of the prison, and that one facility probably has 100,000 square feet,” Moss said. “There’s no functional reason to have the state money and water going into this. It’s inaccessible to the public.”

Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, said an array of urban conservation measures need to be considered, and providing incentives to install drip irrigation systems could also be effective. “People still want to see a green Colorado and there are ways to do it,” Winner said…

Reed Dils, a member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said the state is developing a thick urban conservation manual and already requires conservation plans for some types of funding. The roundtable agreed to hear a presentation on that effort at its September meeting. “If this is a local control issue, it’s dead in the water,” said Gary Barber, chairman of the roundtable. “You’ll get my support if it’s not a top-down mandate.”

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Colorado River Basin: Lake Mead’s water level is at a 54 year low

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From the Arizona Republic (Shaun McKinnon):

Drought-stricken Lake Mead has dropped an additional 10 feet since last summer, and now, Arizona and other Colorado River users are scrambling to keep the reservoir full enough to avoid water rationing. Before year’s end, the lake will likely sink to within 9 feet of the level that would trigger the first round of restrictions – and the first such restrictions ever on the river. They begin with a reduction in water deliveries to Nevada and Arizona, where farmers would be affected first…

Lake Mead water levels determine drought status on the river under a set of guidelines adopted in 2007 by the seven Colorado River states: Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. If the lake reaches the first drought trigger, measured at an elevation of 1,075 feet above sea level, water deliveries below Lake Mead are reduced by a little more than 10 percent. Additional cutbacks would occur if the lake continued to drop. The reservoir is now at an elevation of 1,087 feet above sea level – its lowest level since 1956 – and is projected to drop an additional 3 feet this year, which is why water users are trying almost everything short of hauling water in buckets…

One provision of the 2007 agreement allows the bureau to release extra water from Lake Powell if winter runoff is plentiful, raising Lake Mead levels faster. The four upper-river states are uneasy about letting extra water flow downstream, but the rules are clear, Gray-Lee said. No extra water was released from Lake Powell this year because precipitation runoff into the upper Colorado through July was 73 percent of average.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Powertech’s Richard Clement says that proposed uranium in situ mining rules would be, ‘fatal to any serious potential in situ recovery project’

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The state is in the process of finalizing rules that will govern how the law is implemented and how Powertech will be able to extract uranium at the Centennial Project site in Weld County. A revised version of the proposed rules was issued in July, and Powertech’s response minced few words. “This results in an obvious ‘Catch 22,’ which would be fatal to any serious potential in situ recovery project,” Clement and Powertech’s attorney, John D. Fognani, wrote to Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety officials Aug. 6.

The rule in question would allow the state to force Powertech to test groundwater quality before the company could begin prospecting for uranium. Under the new law, Powertech is required to test the groundwater before mining begins to determine “baseline” water quality. The in situ leaching process is expected to stir up at least some contaminants in groundwater beneath the mining site; but once Powertech finishes mining, it has to return the underground water quality to baseline contamination levels.

Powertech objects to the revised rule allowing the state at its discretion to force the company to test for baseline water quality prior to prospecting, the process Powertech uses to determine whether the uranium ore underground is economically feasible to extract. “As Powertech and others have explained throughout this rulemaking process, it will be economically and technically impracticable at best – impossible at worst – for in situ operators to gather the necessary data for a baseline site characterization until after conducting time-consuming and expensive prospecting activities,” Clement and Fognani wrote. “It would be impossible for a potential prospector to gather this information without conducting prospecting work, and DRMS would have it that prospecting work cannot begin until the information is gathered.”[…]

“If a company is serious about mining and serious about engaging with the local community, they would be more than willing to agree to this baseline data collection prior to prospecting,” [Jeffrey Parsons, attorney for the environmental group Western Mining Action Project] said.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

2010 Colorado elections: Scott Tipton vs. John Salazar

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

[Salazar] now a member of the important House Appropriations Committee and has a legislative record on land and water issues that is tailored to Southern Colorado.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Ruedi Reservoir update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

This afternoon [August 11], we will bump up our releases from Ruedi Dam to the Fryingpan River by 60 cfs. This increase will result in about 326 cfs at the Ruedi Dam gage. The reason for the increase is the Fish and Wildlife Service has requested additional water for the 15 Mile Reach of the Colorado River.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.