Charting New Waters: A Call to Action to Address U.S. Freshwater Challenges

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Say hello to Charting New Waters: A Call to Action to Address U.S. Freshwater Challenges. Click here to sign up for your copy. From the report:

[Recommendation]: Convene a U.S. Freshwater Resources Commission

We believe the nation would greatly benefit from a diverse, multi-stakeholder commission to clarify and streamline the responsibilities and roles of agencies at different levels of freshwater governance. We recommend that an appropriate entity convene a high-level freshwater resources commission with a focused mission, an explicit timeline with a clear start and end point for the completion of its work, and clear guidelines for reporting its findings. The overarching goal of the commission should be to propose solutions that increase the integration and efficiency of the existing patchwork of jurisdictional authorities overseeing management of the nation’s freshwater resources. Potential convening models that would impart authority and credibility to this crosssector effort include a Presidential commission, a Congressional commission or a commission spearheaded by a private foun- dation or trust.

More…

[Recommendation]: Water Utilities Decouple Revenues from Volume of Service

Water utilities servicing municipalities typically recoup fixed costs based on volume of water sold. The more water sold, the greater the net revenue. As a result, there is an institutional disincentive for utilities to promote water conserva- tion. Decoupling water utility costs so that fixed costs are fully recouped, but are not spread across a declining base of sales, would motivate utilities to proactively and aggressively promote water conservation and efficiency among their customers. Decoupling would allow utilities the flexibility to fully cover costs while also rewarding customers for conservation rather than raising rates to compensate for decreased revenues resulting from conservation. We recommend that water utilities work with municipalities, and their respective public service commissioners and customers, to adapt existing models for decoupling revenues to the water and wastewater sectors such that they can develop water pricing schemes that promote conservation. In the near term, while more sophisticated accounting and pricing mechanisms are under development, we recommend that water utilities consider existing models for incentivizing advantageous consumer behavior, such as seasonal block rates employed by cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe and San Antonio, where the price of water increases for each unit used during dry months.

Thanks to Loretta Lohman for the link.

Animas-La Plata Project: The Bureau of Reclamation is going to pony up some dough for recreation plan at Lake Nighthorse

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From the Cortez Journal (Dale Rodebaugh):

Mark Chiarito, resource management specialist for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, told Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District board members that his agency can help finance the planning of recreation at Lake Nighthorse…

The water district was saddled with the job of bringing recreation to the lake 18 months ago when state parks department officials said they had no money. The district, rebuffed by La Plata County and the city of Durango, put up $25,000 and, with an equal amount from the Southwestern Water Conservation District, hired a consultant for initial planning. A boat ramp – paid for with oil and gas tax money and funding obtained by then-state Sen. Jim Isgar – has been installed. A recreation blueprint will cost $150,000 to $200,000, while development for hiking, horseback riding, camping, boating and fishing will cost $20 million to $25 million. Ongoing operations and maintenance would be extra. After months of uncertainty about the funding for all this, recreation proponents have finally gotten some good news. The National Park Service placed a recreation planner at their disposal for two years for free. The city’s attitude has softened, too. On Wednesday, members of the parks and recreation commission, under chairman Duane Smith, were scheduled to visit Lake Nighthorse to look at possible recreational opportunities.

More Animas-La Plata Project coverage here and here.

Breckenridge: New Upper Blue Sanitation District wastewater plant construction update

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From the Summit Daily News (Robert Allen):

Construction has been under way since summer 2009, and the project has been financed through tap fees. It is to expand the district’s treatment capacity from 2 million to 5 million gallons per day to meet the demands of growing communities in and near Blue River, Breckenridge and Farmer’s Korner. The contract has the project finishing by Dec. 31, 2011, but Carlberg said it may be complete by July…

The building structure is to arrive in early October. Carlberg said it’s anticipated the expansion area will be sealed dry from outside conditions by December. The plant is under construction next to the Farmer’s Korner Waste Water Treatment Facility, which opened in the mid-1970s. That building could get upgrades to its exterior to help its appearance match the new one. Like the existing facility, the plant is to treat incoming liquid before mixing it with water from the nearby Blue River. The mixture is released into Dillon Reservoir at an area near the highway.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

Greeley: Leprino to use wastewater stream to generate renewable energy

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From The Greeley Tribune:

The Greeley Planning Commission approved the facility, which will include an anaerobic digestion system, a process used as a renewable energy source. The system produces methane and a carbon dioxide-rich biogas that is suitable for energy production, and will also reduce the amount of organic matter that would otherwise have to be processed through the city’s treatment system.

More wastewater coverage here.

Rio Grande Basin: First groundwater sub-district assessments to start in 2011

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

On order of Chief District/Water Judge O. John Kuenhold, the board of managers for the San Luis Valley’s first water management sub-district of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD) this week established fees that will be assessed sub-district irrigators next year. The sub-district board plans a public meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 7:30 p.m., with the location to be announced, to review and possibly adjust the fees it set this week.

Although the sub-district’s management plan is still on appeal before the Colorado Supreme Court, fees for the Valley’s first water sub-district will go on the tax rolls next year.

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

2010 Colorado elections: Proposition 101, Amendment 60 and 61

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Concerns about the fallout from Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 were shared Thursday at the [Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District] monthly meeting by Executive Director Jim Broderick.

Proposition 101 would have the greatest impact on operating revenues of the district by rolling back specific ownership taxes on motor vehicles. The tax would be decreased to $2 for new vehicles and $1 for used vehicles over four years, among other provisions of the ballot question. The Southeastern District gets between $600,000 and $700,000 in revenue annually through the tax. Those revenues fund staff and programs of the district, as well as repaying the federal government for parts of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.

Amendment 60 could require the district to pay property taxes, and would have some impact, Broderick said.

Amendment 61 would limit the ability of the district to acquire new debt, and the definitions of what would qualify as debt would have to be hammered out if the amendment passes, he added.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections

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Here’s an in-depth look at the gubernatorial candidate’s solutions for Colorado’s economy from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

On the issue of water, Hickenlooper said conservation can be attained by following the examples of Colorado’s dryland farmers and city dwellers in Denver, both of which have cut their consumption considerably. He said defending against out-of-state water grabs and finding more storage capacity also are key.

Maes said a willingness to stand up to Washington to keep Colorado’s water here is needed from the next governor. Tancredo agreed that keeping water management out of the federal government’s hands is important.

Tancredo pointed to Pueblo as ground zero of the water issue in Colorado, because it’s a rare community that has a surplus. “We’ve got Aurora, Colorado Springs and Pueblo fighting over that,” he said. “Somebody needs to end that battle.”

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.