Energy policy — oil and gas: Group files lawsuit over exploration in Park County

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From the Associated Press via Bloomberg Business Week:

Two of the parcels in Park County are next to Antero Reservoir, which is owned by Denver Water. The county already has some wells within its boundaries.

The group Be the Change said in a letter Monday to the land board’s acting director that there should be a moratorium on leases in the area until more is known about how drinking water might be affected by hydraulic fracturing, a technique for extracting oil and natural gas.

“This is a runaway train and no one is manning the throttle,” group member Phillip Doe said Thursday.

Board commissioners have a meeting Friday when it could hear public comments, including the request from Be the Change…

A spokeswoman for Denver Water said the utility hasn’t taken a position on the auction. Doe said he’d like to propose having Denver Water pay to keep the mineral rights around Antero Reservoir undeveloped.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Rio Grande Basin Roundtable meeting recap

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Members of the Rio Grande Roundtable, a group representing the Rio Grande Basin (Valley) in part of a larger statewide effort, talked about future water challenges during their meeting this week in Alamosa.

“Really this whole effort is about trying to solve the statewide issues,” said Roundtable member Travis Smith, who represents the basin on statewide water groups such as the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC), comprised of two members from each of the basin roundtables.

“If we do nothing … we will see another 500,000 acres in the next 30 years leave agriculture and go for taps in Aurora,” Smith said. “What does it mean for us as a Valley? Some of these issues are not knocking on our front door, but they are close.”

Smith reminded the group that the roundtables have existed for more than five years now, and the Valley’s roundtable has successfully acquired funding during that time for several important local water projects such as ditch and stream bank repair.

Smith added that last year Governor Bill Ritter asked the IBCC for a report before he left office, so the IBCC compiled a report that outlined some possible water solutions/sources to meet the state’s future needs.

Smith said four areas were suggested: transfers of water from agriculture to municipal and industrial needs, the currently popular method of acquiring water to meet Front Range development; conservation measures; new water supplies, a very controversial water source since “there is no new water in Colorado, in my mind; it’s just a redistribution of water,” Smith said; and “identified projects and processes,” or implementing projects that could help meet future Colorado water demands.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

2011 Colorado legislation: The State Engineer’s office decides against backing bill that was designed to allow the State Engineer to approve groundwater sub-district management plans as substitute water supply plans in the San Luis Valley

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

The measure, which was never introduced at the Capitol, would have allowed groundwater users to apply for a substitute water supply plan, thereby avoiding shutdowns while they await court approval of groundwater subdistricts. A statement issued by the engineer’s office said moving forward with the measure would create undue controversy and possibly result in amendments that hindered the proposal and complicated rule-making efforts for Rio Grande basin well users…

…letting go of the temporary plans could leave some of the valley’s 6,000 groundwater wells vulnerable to being shut down. Wolfe has said the engineer’s new rules, which would require shutting down wells that do not have replacement water, are expected to be in place by 2012. The subdistricts would tax its members to help buy replacement water to make the senior surface users whole, but the first subdistrict remains under review by the Colorado Supreme Court. Other potential subdistricts are awaiting that ruling before they attempt to gain approval from the valley’s local water court. The engineer’s office hopes the issue can be resolved by an advisory committee Wolfe selected two years ago to assist in drafting groundwater rules in regulations

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance 9th annual convention February 16-18

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From email from DARCA (John McKenzie):

Resource Allocation to Enhance Survival

Who: Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA)
What: An In-Depth look at Economics and the study of Resource Allocation
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel in Loveland, Colorado
When: February 16-18, 2011

The Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the needs of mutual ditch and reservoir companies, irrigation districts and lateral companies. This year, DARCA will be holding their Ninth Annual Convention at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Loveland, Colorado.

The Convention, Resources Allocation to Enhance Survival will be held February 16-18th and will focus on economics and resource allocation. This will be a three-day conference with a wide variety of speakers to discuss: water and the Colorado economy; tax and accounting issues; what assets ditch companies own, and the best ways to utilize such assets; on-farm irrigation optimization; and managing the lateral ditch company.

Speakers will include ditch company members, farmers, researchers, economists, and government officials. The Keynote Speaker, John Stulp, is a Special Policy Advisory to the Governor, and Director of the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC). Heather L. Bailey, a State and National Register Historian will be present to discuss issues and concerns with Historical Ditches and the National Register of Historic Places. Day one of the convention, Thursday February 17th, will focus on Laying the Groundwork. Registration and Breakfast will start at 8 a.m. and the day will end with drinks and hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 p.m. The second day of the convention will be Friday, February 18th and will focus on DARCA Business beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 12 p.m.

The Pre-Convention Workshop, Low Head Hydroelectric Opportunities, will be held Wednesday, February 16th from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District in Berthoud, Colorado. This workshop will explore the possibilities to generate hydroelectric power from irrigation ditches, and discuss emerging technological advances that will help enhance this method of renewable energy.

For full schedule of events and more information regarding convention registration as well as sponsorship or exhibitor opportunities please visit or contact John McKenzie at (970) 412-1960 or

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

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Here are the notes for this week from the Colorado Climate Center. Here’s and excerpt:

The northern and central mountains of Colorado received near to above average precipitation, but the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains received below to near average precipitation, ranging from 51 – 110 percent of normal. The northern plains of Colorado received beneficial moisture that ranged from 90 – 200 percent of normal and the southern plains in the Arkansas basin ranged from 71- 130 percent of normal.

Pueblo: Arkansas River levee repairs update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Construction crews started work late last week on moving the river away from the levee in order to place drains at the base of the levee. The drains are needed because when the fish ladder and kayak course were built, river flows changed and water began undercutting the dirt at the base of the concrete wall on the north side of the river. “They’ve been working down in the river since Thursday,” said Gus Sandstrom, president of the Pueblo Conservancy District, which is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair the levee. “They will be using concrete barriers and rock to divert the river. They are also building a construction bridge that will allow trucks to cross the river.” Work started Thursday, was interrupted by snow Friday, continued through the weekend and hit another snag Tuesday as cold, windy, snowy weather came and went.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.