Donala Water and Sanitation water rates to rise January 1

A picture named waterfromtap.jpg

From The Tri-Lakes Tribune (Lisa Collacott):

Customers should expect to see a three percent increase if they use 1-10,000 gallons of water a month. That equals to about $3.40 per billing period. Customers that use 10,000-20,000 gallons of water a month will see a six percent increase or $4.55 per month. If customers use 20,000-30,000 gallons of water per month, they should expect an eight percent increase or $5.25. For 30,000-40,000 gallons of water used customers will see a nine percent increase or $6.60 per month.

There is a significant increase in rates for customers using over 40,000 gallons. They will see a 13 percent or $9.60 increase and for those using over 50,000 gallons of water or more there will be a 14 percent increase or an additional $11 tagged onto their monthly bill.

Donala is trying to get more people to conserve water, especially the high volume users. Duthie said Donala had 660 people go over that 40,000 gallon mark between June and September. “We are trying to get people to understand they need to cut back on water usage,” [Dana Duthie, general manager for Donala] added.

In addition, townhome irrigation rates will be the same as single family homes up to 40,000 gallons. If they go over the 40,000 gallon plateau it will be $8.50 a month and $7.50 for cooperative landscaping. The sewer rates will remain the same at $27 per month. And there is also a monthly minimum whether water is used or not and that is $13 per month. Golf course irrigation rates will be increased accordingly due to usage.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Moffat Collection System Project: The Colorado Wildlife Commission is looking at the possible impacts to the fishery and riparian environment

A picture named grossdam.jpg

From KUNC (Kirk Siegler):

Meeting in Colorado Springs Thursday, state wildlife commissioners got their first look at a proposal by Denver Water to increase the amount of water it sends to the Front Range from the Frasier River and its tributaries in Grand County…

The state wildlife commission has a say though because of concerns about further de-watering rivers, and what that means for trout and the rest of the ecosystem.

Speaking during a public comment session at a hotel conference center, Barbara Green also alluded to economical concerns. Fishing and river guiding is a big business in the central mountains. “The number one concern of the Grand County commissioners, and they said to say this in a very loud voice, is to protect the aquatic environment,” said Green, an attorney representing the Grand County Commission. “That is their number one concern about these two projects,” she said.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here and here.

2010 Colorado elections: Governor-elect Hickenlooper is ‘inclined to support it’ (Northern Integrated Supply Project)

A picture named coloradocapitolfront.jpg

From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

And while the state “needs serious conservation” efforts, the needs of agriculture also have to be met when it comes to water, Hicklenlooper told a crowd of close to 200 at the 2010 Colorado Ag Classic at the Embassy Suites in Loveland. The classic is the joint annual convention of Colorado Wheat organizations, Colorado Seed Growers Association, Colorado Seed Industry Association, Colorado Corn, Colorado Sunflower Administrative Committee and the Colorado Sorghum Producers. Hickenlooper joined Cory Gardner, recently elected to represent Colorado’s 4th District in the U.S. House, as featured speakers. The soon-to-be governor was asked where he stands on the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project, which includes a new reservoir northwest of Fort Collins that would supply 40,000 acre-feet of water annually to 15 water providers in Larimer and Weld counties. “I have seen a presentation, and I think I’m inclined to support it. But I want to see the results of the environmental study first,” Hickenlooper said.

Water will be one of Gardner’s priorities when he joins Congress in January. “We’ve got to store more water,” the Yuma Republican told the group. If that doesn’t happen, the buy-up and dry-up of agricultural water will escalate, he said, noting that the state not only needs to build additional storage but enlarge existing storage facilities where appropriate.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board meeting recap

A picture named lowerarkansasriver.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District adopted a $2.5 million budget Thursday. Nearly half of the budget is designated for water rights acquisition. The district is in the process of buying shares in the Larkspur Ditch from the Catlin Canal. Larkspur brings water from the Gunnison River basin into the Arkansas River basin. The district also owns Twin Lakes shares and has water rights on several ditches. The rest of the budget goes to support its activities, which are aimed at keeping water in the Arkansas River basin and the Lower Arkansas Valley, General Manager Jay Winner said.

More Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District coverage here.

Great Outdoors Colorado grants

A picture named saguachecreek.jpg

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The latest GOCO grants, $24 million overall, drive more than just land deals. A total of 55 projects in 32 counties include town initiatives to cover and renovate an ice-skating rink in Crested Butte, improve lighting and snow-making at Steamboat Springs’ Howelson Hill ski jump, and install an astro-turf soccer field for rural players east of Colorado Springs.

Among the new $1 million-plus land deals in the works:

* Saguache County — Saguache Creek Corridor — 1,970 acres
* Routt County – Smith Rancho – 4,800 acres
* Rio Blanco County — Agency Park Ranches — 1,340 acres
* Jackson County — North Park Ranchland — 2,550 acres
* Alamosa County — Rio Grande Headwaters — 1,300 acres
* Pitkin County — Wapiti Ridge Mountain Park — 930 acres

New metro area open space includes a 223-acre Riverdale Bluffs addition along the South Platte River in Adams County and a 25-acre expansion of the Westminster Hills Open Space east of the former Rocky Flats nuclear bomb factory.

More conservation coverage here.

Snowpack news

A picture named usdroughtmonitor12012010

From The Denver Post (Jeremy Meyer):

[Denver] is on track for one of the driest snow seasons in history, with only 1.5 inches of snow since July. The average snowfall total by this time of the season is 25.6 inches. “It’s way down there,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Fredin. “But the month isn’t over. Goofy things happen.”[…]

Bill Vidal, deputy mayor and manager of Public Works, said the city plans for about 50 to 60 inches of snow every year and up to 16 events. So far, the plows have been idle, with only a 1.5-inch event last month.
“But you can never be too sure,” he said. “I always tell people to stop wishing for a white Christmas.”

Republican River Water Conservation District board special meeting December 16

A picture named republicanriversouthfork.jpg

From The Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

The future of the proposed compact compliance pipeline could be hanging in the balance when the Republican River Water Conservation District Board of Directors holds a special meeting in Yuma next Thursday, December 16. It is a fairly short meeting for the RRWCD Board as it is set to last only two hours, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Public comment will be heard at 2:15 p.m.

The meeting will be held at Quintech, 529 N. Albany St. The agenda consists of “consideration of whether to proceed with the Compact Compliance Pipeline to comply with the amendment to the CWCB loan contract and to ensure the availability of loan funds.”

More Republican River Basin coverage here and here.

Gunnison County: Mt. Emmons mine conditional water rights filing update

A picture named crestedbutte.jpg

From The Crested Butte News (Mark Reaman):

District Court Judge Steven Patrick issued a ruling on November 23 dismissing a motion seeking the dismissal of water rights associated with the proposed mine. The High Country Citizens’ Alliance, the Crested Butte Land Trust and the Star Mountain Ranch Homeowner’s Association claimed that water rights for the mine should be dismissed on the basis that U.S. Energy Corp. had failed to file a plan for mining by an April 2010 deadline established in the company’s conditional water rights. HCCA executive director Dan Morse said the organizations feel the judge’s ruling is “flawed.”

The groups opposing the water rights had argued that the correct deadline for submission of a mine plan was April 2010. The court found that the deadline for the filing of a mine plan is instead April 2013 based on interpretation of the water right decree and related legal proceedings. Morse said that in its ruling declaring that 2013 is the mine plan deadline, the court did not evaluate whether or not U.S. Energy had met requirements of its water rights with documents submitted to the U.S. Forest Service prior to April 2010.

“The Forest Service has been consistently clear that the 2010 deadline is the correct deadline,” Morse said. “So we feel Judge Patrick incorrectly interpreted that deadline. We are looking for recourse but we are not yet sure what form that will take.”

Morse said he thinks it is possible to appeal Patrick’s ruling through the courts but is not sure how that would be accomplished…

The water rights at issue in the case involve water that would be taken from Slate River and Carbon Creek as well as potential reservoir sites in the Carbon Creek, Ohio Creek and Elk Creek drainages. Morse commented, “We are pursuing this case in order to protect river flows, riparian resources and other uses of these creeks. Water right holders in Colorado have certain obligations for the use of water and our motion to dismiss these rights was intended to ensure that state water law was properly applied.”

Ann Johnston, Crested Butte Land Trust executive director agreed. “The Slate River Valley contains a remarkable concentration of high quality wetlands, the protection of which is very important to our community. These wetlands provide habitat for birds, fish and mammals, as well as important water quality functions,” she said.

More Gunnison River basin coverage here.

Trout Unlimited and the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District agree to settle Dry Gulch lawsuit and have worked out the terms for a proposed decree

A picture named glencanyonconst.jpg

From the Pagosa Sun (Randi Pierce):

The local chapter of TU brought forth litigation in 2004 over concerns that the then 35,000 acre-foot reservoir and accompanying rights for diversion and refill amounted to a water grab on the part of PAWSD. Six years later, the [Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District] and SJWCD[San Juan Water Conservancy District] boards voted to allow their lawyer, Evan Ela, of the Denver law firm Collins Cockrel & Cole, to prepare a final decree to be submitted to and approved by District Court Judge Greg Lyman, hopefully closing the case.

The two boards made the decision following an executive session with Ela and water engineer Steve Harris at a joint meeting held on Dec. 1. Following the executive session, the boards made the decision and voted to release a letter between Ela, Sen. Bruce Whitehead and Trout Unlimited’s attorney, Andrew Peternell, which outlines the terms of the agreement…

Though litigation with Trout Unlimited should soon cease, it is still unclear whether or not Dry Gulch Reservoir will be built, when or by whom.

More Dry Gulch Reservoir coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: What are the effects from living near uranium operations?

A picture named olduraniumsitesincolorado.jpg

From The Telluride Watch:

Unlike studies of the past that tended to focus directly on the impacts to uranium miners and others in the industry, the newer studies are beginning to look at what might happen to wider sections of the population as a result of genetic and reproductive defects developed after living in proximity to the industry. “It’s at least enough to be concerned that something similar might happen in humans,” [Doug Brugge, PhD, an assistant professor of public health and community medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston] said…

A 2007 study at Northern Arizona University, one that actually gave small doses of uranium to mice in order to mimic the comparable levels found in drinking water on the Navajo Nation, discovered that uranium is a potentially estrogenic compound. At the lowest levels, exposure appeared to cause similar defects to diethylstilbestrol – or DES – a synthetic estrogen originally prescribed between 1938 and 1971 for women who experienced miscarriages or premature deliveries. While it was initially believed to be safe for both mother and child, it was later discovered to increase the mothers’ risk for breast cancer and the risk for a rare vaginal cancer in her female offspring, and non-cancerous testicular cysts in male offspring. “To find that uranium did something [in mice] very similar [to DES], I think is particularly concerning,” said Brugge…

Studies in Nambia and India in the mid-1990s found increases of chromosomal aberrations in workers in uranium mines, as did a 1995 study in Texas that also looked at nearby communities. “[That study] suggests the potential for genetic damage is not just to the miners but [also] for people living . . . in the immediate proximity,” said Brugge…

One unpublished study done on the Navajo Nation may suggest a correlation between proximity to uranium mines, or tailings, and hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease. “I think there’s growing evidence for kidney effects,” said Brugge. “There’s growing evidence around reproductive harm, especially if this estrogenic thing plays out. It’s a significant concern.

More nuclear coverage here and here.