Pueblo Board of Water Works: Shoring up supply

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Here’s a look at current municipal water supply planning from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Click through and read the whole thing, it’s a nice synopsis up and down the Front Range and Arkansas Valley. Here’s an excerpt:

“I think it was my most embarrassing moment professionally. I used to say we were drought-proof,” said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works. “Now we were in the middle of a 350-year drought; 2002 was a wake-up call.”

The water board had a drought plan at the time, based on records that went back to 1874, when it was formed. “Bud (O’Hara) and Alan (Ward) came into my office, but called first and asked me if I was sitting down,” Hamel recalled, talking about a meeting in 2002 with his water resources staff. ”They said our 1874 rights were about to be called out. I asked, ‘For how many days?’ They said, ‘At least six weeks.’ It was a good thing we were sitting down.”

After 2002 and the relatively dry years that followed, the Pueblo water board adopted a new strategy, planning for 100 years down the road. Immediately, the board doubled the amount of water it keeps in storage, and has since increased the amount in order to supply area power plants. Then, it went looking for new water rights, and found them in 2009, when it completed the purchase of more than a quarter of the Bessemer Ditch, Pueblo County’s largest irrigation canal.

More Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here and here.

Secretary Salazar restores wildlands policy for BLM lands

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

[Salazar] contends that Secretarial Order 3310, announced during a press conference at Confluence Park, does both [create jobs and protect the beauty of the land in perptuity]. Salazar pointed to the 6.5 million outdoor recreation jobs held by Americans as an example of an industry that would benefit from his latest action. “Wise stewardship isn’t just the right thing to do,” Salazar said. “It’s good for business and it’s good for jobs.”

The order establishes a third class of protected lands — wildlands — and calls for an inventory of U.S. Bureau of Land Management sites with wilderness characteristics. Already, wilderness areas as designated by Congress and wilderness study areas under consideration for that designation are protected from development uses. Wildlands will enjoy the same protection, but Salazar’s land-use decisions about wildlands will be flexible and take into consideration economic interests and other factors impacting the communities where they reside. “It does not lock up the Western lands across America from other uses, as I am sure some people who will be critics of this order will claim,” Salazar said. The designation is subject to change through the existing public planning land use process, and does not affect lands that are not under BLM jurisdiction.