The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District is finalizing their compliance plan for the new ag rules in the valley

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The board heard the first draft of the plan at its monthly meeting, but won’t decide whether to adopt it or how to set fees until its Sept. 15 meeting. The rules are being sought by State Engineer Dick Wolfe to ensure that improvements like canal lining, sprinklers and drip irrigation do not increase consumptive use. They are primarily aimed at avoiding future claims by Kansas that Colorado is violating the Arkansas River Compact…

The Lower Ark is developing a compliance plan that would provide water to make up deficiencies when they occur and would allow payment to farmers when they save water by changing structures…

[Heath Kuntz of Leonard Rice Engineering] made suggestions for fee schedules that would require $500 per farm unit to sign up and $25 per acre-foot for replacement water, based on estimates that it would cost $131,000 to sign up 100 farms and replace water in the first year. That also includes a $75,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board to get the program off the ground. The fee would be adjusted in subsequent years, because the Lower Ark board wants the program to be revenue-neutral. Enrollment would begin in November, assuming the rules are adopted, and be finalized in January. There would be additional fees for late signups or for re-entering the program after dropping out.

More Arkansas Valley consumptive use rules coverage here.

Summit County: USFS — ‘Respect the River’ program update

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Julie Sutor):

Through a program called Respect the River, the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest is restoring disturbed riparian zones (areas flanking rivers and streams) and teaching campers, hikers and riders to protect these invaluable lifelines…

When people camp, park or drive alongside streams, the soil becomes compacted and vegetation is disturbed, turning once-rich ground into hard, dry dirt. And plant root systems that once held stream banks in place wither, leaving streamsides ripe for erosion. Without vegetative cover, a thunderstorm can rip right through an area, sending thousands of pounds of sediment into the river over the course of a summer. “The biggest problem is increased sediment in the water and increased turbidity. If there’s too much dirt in the creek, it can cause damage to gills, fish can’t forage as well, and they leave the area. That’s a stress on them,” Lewellen said. Furthermore, when sediment covers clean, gravely stream bottoms, it interferes with fish reproduction. Local fish, including the threatened greenback cutthroat trout and the sensitive Colorado River cutthroat trout, deposit their eggs in gravel. But fish won’t do so if the gravel is coated in sediment. When sediment covers eggs that have already been deposited, they lose their oxygen supply and die…

The Forest Service is beginning a two-pronged plan to combat recreation’s impact on riparian habitat.

First, crews are conducting restoration work in the areas that have seen the worst damage. They bring in dozers to rake compacted soil, loosening and aerating it, and then scatter native grass seed for revegetation. Some riverside campsites and roads are fenced off. In other places, crews construct water bars to reroute runoff away from disturbed soil, thereby preventing sediment from ending up in the stream. And White River National Forest officials are taking a fresh look at dispersed camping to consider what changes may be in order for existing regulations.

Second, Lewellen and others in the Dillon Ranger District are launching a public education campaign to make outdoor enthusiasts aware of potential impacts to rivers and streams. Signs are going up in popular spots, urging people to camp, drive and park no closer than 100 feet from the edges of streams and rivers.

More restoration coverage here.

Aspinall Unit Operations meeting September 2

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

The next Aspinall Operations meeting will be held Thursday, September 2nd at the Blue Mesa Reservoir Elk Creek Visitors Center starting at 1:00 p.m. We will be discussing past and future operations, hydrologic forecasting and other activities related to the Gunnison River. Elizabeth Brown, invasive species coordinator for the Colorado Division of Wildlife will be giving a presentation on mussel monitoring, inspections, and control. We hope to see you there. If you have any questions or suggestions for the meeting please reply to this email or call Dan Crabtree at 970-248-0652.

Current releases from the Unit are about 1,600 cfs. Flow in the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge is 600 cfs and is anticipated to stay in that range through September.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here and here.

Nonstationarity, Hydrologic Frequency Analysis, and Water Management Workshop Proceedings Available

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From email from Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

The Proceedings for the “Workshop on Nonstationarity, Hydrologic Frequency Analysis, and Water Management” are now available online at
http://www.cwi.colostate.edu/NonstationarityWorkshop/proceedings.shtml

The workshop, held Jan. 13-15 in Boulder, Colo., brought together researchers and practitioners from the United States and international institutions. The workshop was sponsored by the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management, Colorado State University and five federal water agencies involved in the Climate Change and Water Working Group – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Reclamation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency.

An underlying assumption of traditional hydrologic frequency analysis is that climate, and hence the frequency of hydrologic events, is stationary, or unchanging over time. Anthropogenic climate change and better understanding of decadal and multi-decadal climate variability present a challenge to the validity of this assumption. The workshop discussed possible alternatives to the assumption of stationarity in hydrologic frequency analysis and water management.

The workshop objectives were (1) to discuss in detail how water management agencies should plan and manage water resources in the face of nonstationarity, and (2) to form a coordinated action plan to help the agencies move forward. The workshop was organized into several main themes:

• Introduction to the problem nonstationarity poses for water management
• Understanding nonstationarity through data analysis and statistical methods
• Forecasting future hydrologic frequency through the use of climate model information
• Decision making with a highly uncertain future
• International perspectives on nonstationarity
• Summary and conclusions

The workshop program included presentations by five Nobel Peace Prize laureates who were lead authors for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. International participants came from Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Poland, Greece, and Italy. Other information about the workshop including presentations is available on the workshop website at http://www.cwi.colostate.edu/NonstationarityWorkshop.

More climate change coverage here and here.

Water Research Foundation: Water rate hikes help drive conservation

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

At a recent meeting, the Arkansas Basin Roundtable debated how to reduce lawn irrigation demands in urban areas as a way to conserve water.

The [Water] Research Foundation, an international non-profit organization with offices in Denver, surveyed 6,000 residential customers, interviewed water agencies, analyzed billing and reviewed utility literature to measure the effectiveness of conservation communications campaigns in changing customer behavior. The study, Customer Behavior and Effective Communication, released this month also found that many customers feel they are already conserving as much water as they can. Saving money was closely followed by the idea that it’s the right thing to do and water availability as reasons to conserve.

More conservation coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Is Cotter, Corp. going to shutter the mill at the Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

“They are working toward closing the impoundments and have been dewatering (drying out) the impoundments for years,” said Jeannine Natterman, public information officer for the Colorado Department of Health. “They have not officially notified us they are closing the (entire) facility.”[…]

The mill and the neighboring Lincoln Park neighborhood have been part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund clean up site since 1984…

“They have planned to close the impoundments all along and they have been taking old structures down. What the letter means is that they are close to permanently capping the impoundments,” Natterman explained. “Even once capped, the primary impoundment can be used for new, more contemporary operations because it would not have the same material going in. If it is appropriately capped and appropriate materials are used for the cap, the primary impoundment could be used again,” Natterman said.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

In late 2005, Cotter ceased normal operations and stabilized the facility to go into a “stand down” condition. Cotter Corp. executives said the company sought to evaluate operational changes to the mill and assess the feasibility and costs for restart of a re-engineered mill.
Mill operations have released radioactive materials and metals into the environment. These releases contaminated soil and groundwater around the mill and the Lincoln Park area, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health.

The Cotter/Lincoln Park Site was added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List in 1984, making it a Superfund site. Cleanup activities to date have focused on eliminating the mill site as a source of contamination to Lincoln Park, and eliminating exposures to Lincoln Park residents.

Cleanup activities since 1988 have caused the contaminated groundwater plume in Lincoln Park to shrink in size. However, in 2008, Cotter Corp. received a notice of violation from the state health department indicating a contaminated plume of groundwater exists underneath the uranium mill’s neighbor — the Shadow Hills Golf Course, because new groundwater analytical results provide a better definition of the plume of radioactive material north and west of the mill.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Avon: 16th Annual Eagle River Cleanup is September 18

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From the Vail Daily:

This countywide event is organized by the Eagle River Watershed Council. Teams will head out to their pre-assigned stretch of river from 9 a.m. to noon to pick up litter along the banks of the Eagle River. New this year, Gore Creek and possibly Beaver Creek will be added, depending on participation levels. Including the tributaries, this brings the distance cleaned to nearly 70 miles of river. Following the cleanup, volunteers and their families are invited to the Wolcott Yacht Club from noon to 2 p.m. for a barbecue hosted by Beaver Creek Mountain Dining with music, entertainment and awards for the entire family.

Once again, Sue Mott will be the volunteer coordinator. Assemble your team and call her at 970-926-3956 or send an email to the Eagle River Watershed Council at volunteer@erwc.org for your river segment assignment. Volunteers meet on the river at assigned locations on the day of the event, so you must pre-register in order to know where you’re needed most.

More coverage from the Eagle Valley Enterprise. From the article:

Teams will head out to their pre-assigned stretch of river from 9 a.m. to noon to pick up litter along the banks of the river. For the first time this year, the clean up has officially added stretches of Gore Creek and possibly Beaver Creek, depending on participation levels. Including the tributaries, this brings the distance cleaned to nearly 70 miles of river.

Following the cleanup, volunteers and their families are invited to the Wolcott Yacht Club from noon to 2 p.m. for a lively BBQ hosted by Beaver Creek Mountain Dining with music, entertainment and awards for the entire family.

More Eagle River watershed coverage here and here.