San Miguel River Wild and Scenic designation

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The Bureau of Land Management is looking over a couple of reaches on the river. The last public meeting is on Thursday in Norwood. Here’s a report from Kathrine Warren writing for The Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:

If designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, portions of the rivers would enjoy certain protections tailored to keep them wild, free-flowing, beautiful or recreationally valuable. The BLM has conducted several public meetings over the past two months concerning the river’s suitability for Wild and Scenic status in an attempt to collect public comment for or against the possibility. The last meeting is this Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Norwood Community Center with a presentation from Roy Smith of the BLM.

This meeting will be the final chance for public comment, but for those who can’t attend, comments can be submitted to the BLM by e-mailing UFORMP@BLM.GOV.

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.

CWCB: Water Availability Task Force meeting recap

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From the Associated Press (Catherine Tsai) via The Colorado Springs Gazette:

Forecasters say this is just the beginning of what could be a two-year La Nina cycle, when the second year is often drier than the first. If that pans out, that could pose problems for farmers already hurting for rain and snow cover this winter.

Still, water planners say it’s too early to be optimistic or pessimistic about water supplies, even just for this year. Colorado typically gets most of its snow in March and April. “If it were a football game, we’d only be in the second quarter,” said Bob Steger, raw water supply manager for Denver Water…

Breckenridge Ski Resort, where at least one trail sign was halfway covered in a snowdrift Tuesday, reported 26 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours…

The storm helped boost the statewide snowpack to 125 percent of the 30-year average Tuesday, but the Upper Rio Grande and Arkansas river basins in southern Colorado are below average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. If the southwest corner of the state hadn’t gotten hit with December storms, it also would be hurting, said NRCS snow survey supervisor Mike Gillespie. Instead, the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basin stands at 120 percent of average, according to NRCS…

In December, moisture from storms that struck California helped the state turn around its snowpack totals, but little of it made its way east of the Continental Divide, said state climatologist Nolan Doesken. In the Arkansas basin, the headwaters are in decent shape, but farmers and ranchers to the east aren’t getting the same moisture, he said.

Summit County: Forest health task force meeting schedule

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Click through for the complete listing from the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjun). Times vary but you can get the inside skinny on the Forest Health Task Force website. Here are a couple that might interest you:

March — Watersheds. It’s a meeting hosted by Denver Water, Aurora Water, Blue River Watershed Group, and should have participation from the U.S. Forest Service…

December — Year-end wrapup. All the key players in environmental protection, watershed protection, youth, communications and education, optimizing future forest conditions, understanding beetles and other forest pests, Forest Service, and more will be invited to the discussion.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin

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Here’s are the notes from the Colorado Climate Center.

Rio Grande Water Conservation District’s quarterly meeting recap

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

When the state pulls the trigger on groundwater rules and regulations, many Valley irrigators could be shut down. Colorado Division of Water Resources Division Engineer for Division 3 Craig Cotten reported during the Rio Grande Water Conservation District’s quarterly meeting on Tuesday that those rules are very close to being completed. State Engineer Dick Wolfe has been working with a large advisory group for the better part of two years to develop regulations that governing groundwater use in the Rio Grande Basin. Well irrigators who are not part of a water management sub-district or who have not completed individual augmentation plans may find themselves out of business when the rules go into effect and the state begins shutting down wells.

Currently, one water management sub-district of the sponsoring Rio Grande Water Conservation District is on appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court, while five or six other sub-districts throughout the Valley are in various stages of development. Because it appears the state’s rules could be in place before the sub-districts, the state engineer’s office asked legislators like State Senator Gail Schwartz and State Representative Ed Vigil to carry legislation adding language to existing legislation that would give folks within a pending sub-district some protection when the bullets start flying.

“We are going to have a situation, I think, where we will have rules and regulations in place. Those rules and regulations are in draft form right now and the rules and regulations will go into effect May 2012,” Cotten said. “If those rules and regulations go into effect we will have sub-districts that are in court but not through the process, so those people in those sub-districts will be stuck … They could be caught in a position where they are going to be shut down and they don’t have any ability to apply for a substitute supply plan.” He said without an augmentation plan, those folks would have to shut their wells off. Cotten explained that the state has had legislation for nearly a decade that provides for temporary or emergency substitute water supply plans to be approved while an official augmentation plan is pending with the courts. “It allows somebody to go forward and do what they are planning on doing, replace their water, as they wait on the court case to get done,” Cotten explained. He said the statute in place right now provides for several different situations but does not specifically mention sub-districts because it was enacted before the Valley began developing water management sub-districts.

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

Pueblo Board of Water Works board meeting recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The water board could save $50,000 to $60,000 annually in costs for powdered fluoride if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lowers fluoride standards for drinking water, Don Colalancia, division manager for water quality and treatment, told the board at its monthly meeting Tuesday…

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency is recommending stricter testing limits for chromium 6. “It’s an oxidized state of chromium,” Colalancia explained, adding that chromium 6 is not likely to be a problem here, but that to be sure it has to be measured…

Right now, the water board tests for total chromium, under EPA standards of 100 parts per billion. Pueblo’s water has less than 4 parts per billion of total chromium. Chromium 6 is probably a small part of the total chromium. California is looking at chromium 6 levels that are 0.06 ppb, a minute quantity which not all labs can measure, so water managers are scrambling to find qualified labs even as prices for testing go up, Colalancia explained.

More Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here.