Southern Delivery System update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

While 118 agreements have been reached in Pueblo West, 15 property owners are holding out, saying the offers made for easements across their land are too low. Colorado Springs City Council last week told Utilities officials to try to reach a compromise with Pueblo West landowners who are not happy with what they’ve been offered so far. “We have written each of the property owners asking them to provide a proposal for counteroffers and information to substantiate the compensation,” said Dan Higgins, SDS construction delivery manager. “We will carefully consider that information once we receive it. New offers will be considered if the property owners can provide information or documentation that would support additional compensation.”

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“They did send a proposal that was laughable, even if we did want to sell,” Walker said. “We’re sitting in limbo, not knowing what they’re going to do. If they cut through the middle of the ranch, I’ll have to move all the cattle over to Turkey Creek.”

Southern Delivery System would follow a route through about 7 miles of Walker Family Ranches, located north of Pueblo West, and west of Interstate 25. “We have had ongoing discussions with Mr. Walker and his attorney,” said Dan Higgins, SDS construction delivery manager for Colorado Springs Utilities.

Walker and his wife Georgia also own the Turkey Creek Ranch to the west. Between the two ranches, there should be about 2,000 mother cows, but he is holding the size to half of that. “It takes years to put together a herd of quality black Angus cattle,” Walker said.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

2011 Colorado legislation: HB 11-1083 — Hydroelectricity and Pumped Hydro

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Morley, along with other investors, has formed H2O HyPro LLC to develop a pumpback hydropower operation near Brush Hollow Reservoir at Penrose. Morley also is involved in Stonewall Springs LLC to develop reservoirs near the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo County. At one time, Morley had connected the two projects as a way to provide storage or water delivery as part of a regional project to move water to thirsty northern cities. Now, he insists, the two projects are separate and he wants to move ahead on the Fremont County plan. “We are no longer proposing any sort of Brush Hollow expansion,” Morley said. “It’s a hydropower project. There are no partnerships with those north of Colorado Springs. It’s me, my brother Jim and a couple of other investors we’ve known for years. There aren’t any mad money people behind it.”

The project has gotten renewed interest from Fremont County leaders and state lawmakers. Rep. Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, along with State Sens. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, and Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, are sponsoring [HB 11-1083, Hydroelectricity & Pumped Hydro]. It would add hydroelectric power generation to the category of new energy technologies that the Public Utilities Commission can consider when authorizing incentives for power companies.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

‘Arctic Oscillation’ primer

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (William Callahan):

…in the 60 years or more of my interest in meteorology, I have never heard of the “Arctic Oscillation.” That’s the term NASA is using to explain the weekly backbreaking snowstorms that have visited the Northeastern United States since Christmas.

New York City has just experienced its snowiest January on record, and Britain and France experienced historic snowstorms earlier in the month. Apparently, this oscillation is in a “negative phase” where there is very high pressure over central Canada and Greenland. This has caused the jet stream, which normally flows from west to east, to dip unusually far to the south. Temperatures were 18 degrees above normal at Nome, Alaska, and about as much below normal in New England and over the Great Lakes most of the month.

RIP Denzel Goodwin

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A Howard rancher and World War II Navy veteran, Goodwin was instrumental in founding the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District in 1979 and led it for 25 years. He also was on the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board for 16 years…

[Terry Scanga, executive director of the Upper Ark district] credited Goodwin, along with attorney Ken Baker, with founding the Upper Ark district by beginning the petition drive in the late 1970s. The district protects water rights and resources in the Arkansas River watershed west of Lake Pueblo.

More coverage from The Mountain Mail (Dick Dixon):

Without personal intention, Goodwin became a principal in evolution of water law and water rights administration. Unknowingly, he shaped thinking of nearly everyone with whom he worked, and thus the future of the river and its users.

The man who called himself “a dumb ol’ cowboy” listened to complex information couched in “lawyer language.” When talking was done, he would say slowly, “OK. But what about …?”

Experience allowed him to cut tangles of information with simple questions unraveling overlooked problems. His object was ensuring fair water use taking advantage of no user, no matter how small. His solutions were unique, frequently simple – angles seen by no one else.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

‘Poudre runs through it’ forum recap

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

Mary Lou Smith, a policy and collaboration specialist with the Water Institute, said the main message of the forum was to get people with diverse opinions about the region’s water future talking together. “The message was it’s important for us to look at the various values we bring to the table when we look at the future of the water supply in this area,” she said. “We said how can we work together? That really set the tone.”[…]

Smith said the purpose of the forum was not to push any particular agenda as to how the region’s future water needs should be met. One ongoing controversial water issue in the region is whether Glade Reservoir – a proposed new storage project- should be built just outside Poudre Canyon. Smith said Glade may or may not be part of the solution. “There’s a whole portfolio of solutions, including storage,” she said. “This isn’t about building Glade – it’s much broader than that. It’s about realizing there are trade-offs and helping the public better understand how water law works and forming educated opinions.”

Three more educational sessions are set to continue the discussion on Feb. 24, March 10 and March 24. All three will be held in the Larimer Courthouse, 200 W. Oak St., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

More Cache la Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation is looking into diesel in hydraulic fracturing fluid in Colorado

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From The Durango Herald (Karen Frantz):

The commission will be reviewing its database and the reports submitted by well operators, and cross-checking them with samples from water wells, said commission director David Neslin. However, he said that even if diesel was used in hydraulic fracturing in Colorado, a number of regulatory requirements are in place to ensure that fracking fluids do not come into contact with groundwater. Those regulations include requiring wells to be cased with steel pipes and the casing to be surrounded by cement to create a hydraulic seal. It also means that well pressure is monitored during hydraulic fracturing. “Even if it turns out that diesel fuel was used for this purpose in Colorado, we believe that our rules would have ensured that groundwater was protected,” Neslin said. “Whenever issues of this sort are raised, we look into them because the protection of groundwater is an important part of our mission,” he said.

The House committee investigation released Monday found that none of the gas and oil companies tracked whether they conducted hydraulic fracturing near underground drinking water sources.

However, the three largest companies, Halliburton, BJ Services and Schlumberger, told the committee they stopped using diesel fuel when breaking up coal-bed formations, which often are closer to water sources. Three smaller companies said they did use a limited amount of diesel-containing fluids in coal-bed methane wells, but they did not say how close those wells were to drinking water sources.

More coverage from David O. Williams writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

Tisha Schuller, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA), said the probe conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was correct in assuming the use of diesel is covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). But she said the EPA never set up any rules for regulating the use of diesel in the overall process of hydraulic fracturing, which is exempted from regulation under SDWA.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Colorado state budget update

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Details of possible budget cuts are coming to light. Here’s a release from the Colorado Ground-Water Association (Ralf Topper):

On January 25, 2011, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) staff prepared two lists of potential actions to balance the FY 2010-11 and the FY 2011-12 budgets, ( JBC staff are not recommending that the JBC take these actions, but listing in and of itself signifies potential future action. Some of these potential actions will significantly impact state agencies that our members, their employers, and clients routinely rely upon.

On January 5th the JBC voted to use the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budget (OSPB) December 2010 forecast and the 4% reserve requirement to produce a General Fund revenue forecast. The OSPB shortfall for this current fiscal year FY2010-11 is $261.8 million, and the shortfall for FY 2011-12 is $450.6 million. The Legislative Council Staff estimate that next year’s shortfall (beginning July 1, 2011) may exceed $800 million.

Potential actions within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) include:

Eliminating the Colorado Geological Survey’s severance tax funding of $2.4 million. THIS IS A WHOLE PROGRAM CUT AND WOULD ELIMINATE THE DIVISION!

Eliminate the Colorado Water Conservation Board severance tax funding of $1.3 million. This funding supports short-term projects and grant requests including: groundwater studies, water conservation facilities, water infrastructure development, flood protection projects, etc.

Eliminate $1.4 million of general funding from the State Engineer’s Office used for programs and implement a water administration fee to cover the lost funding.

Eliminate $2.5 million of general funding from the State Engineer’s Office used for the groundwater management program and increase fees for well permitting applications, substitute water supply plans, and dam design review.
Eliminating the Oil & Gas Conservation Commissions severance tax appropriation of $3.2 million and replace the lost funds with an industry mill levy.

Cuts are also proposed for State Parks, Division of Wildlife, and Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety.

We urge you to please contact members of the Joint Budget Committee and your legislative representatives to voice your opposition of reallocating severance tax funds from divisions within DNR and the elimination of the Colorado Geological Survey.