Energy policy — oil and gas: The State Land Board pulls 3 tracts from lease sale

A picture named marcellushydraulicfracturing.jpg

From The Fairplay Flume (Jason Douglas):

Two of the tracts are adjacent to southwestern Park County’s Antero Reservoir, a major source of water for Denver and a gold medal trout fishery. The third tract is adjacent to the South Platte River – also a gold medal trout fishing location and part of the Denver watershed. The action was made at the request of the Denver Water Board, which owns Antero Reservoir…

The Land Board currently leases out to others somewhere between 65 and 70 mineral leases on a total of about 30,000 acres in Park County, according to Mark Davis, the Land Board’s mineral director. Davis said that about 100 tracts go up for auction each quarter and that this quarter, none of the tracts up for auction are “virgin,” or never- before-leased land…

Matt Bond, a community relations spokesman for Denver Water, said that Denver Water’s board asked the Land Board to remove tracts 66 and 67 in Township 12 south 76 west because it is concerned that oil and gas development there could have an adverse effect on water quality, not only from hydraulic fracturing fluids but also from runoff that could be created by platform and road construction. According to Bond, Antero has a dam that is more than 100 years old, and no one knew how it might have been affected by nearby oil and gas development.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Boulder: City council approves expanded authority for city manager in times of drought

A picture named dustbowl.jpg

From the Boulder Daily Camera (Heath Urie):

The city’s drought strategy calls for reducing the overall amount of water that Boulder uses — including residential, commercial and government uses — by up to 40 percent during the most extreme water shortages. A “moderate” drought, the lowest level of an official drought declaration, calls for citywide water reductions of 8 percent. Allowing the city manager to reduce water budgets during a drought is designed to be an easy way of reducing overall water consumption citywide. Other regulations that are still in the draft stages would impose additional fines on customers who repeatedly go over their water budget during a drought.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

Pagosa Springs scores $4 million for wastewater treatment plant

A picture named wastewatertreatmentprocess.jpg

From the Pagosa Sun (Jim McQuiggin):

Last Thursday, the Town of Pagosa Springs received notice from the USDA that it would receive the funds for the construction of the facility. The money includes $3,145,000 in loans (at 2 percent interest) and $787,000 in grants. Along with other funds secured two years ago (a $2 million loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority and a $1.25 million grant from the Department of Local Affairs), the Town of Pagosa Springs has just over $7 million to construct the plant. “I’m relieved that we’re finally moving forward,” said Phil Starks, supervisor for the Pagosa Springs Sanitation General Improvement District. According to Starks, the town would most likely break ground on the project in May…

…timing for the funding award was more than mere providence: the town’s current wastewater treatment system occasionally exceeds ammonia levels in its discharge during the winter months, and also risks hydraulic problems and violations during the spring when snow runoff can overload the system. Those violations not only got the town sideways with the CDPHE (which in turn answers to the EPA), but put the town at risk of further sanctions at the state and federal level, severely hampering badly needed economic development in the area…

With the award of over $4 million in USDA funds, the Town of Pagosa Springs can breathe easier, not just in regard to meeting CDPHE mandates, but also in the knowledge that it will soon treat one of its most valuable resources — the San Juan River — with much-improved respect.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

Snowpack news

A picture named snowpackcolorado02172011

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Snowpack in the Upper Arkansas River basin is above average, particularly above 10,000 feet, but is far below average in the southern mountains. In the Colorado River basin, which provides supplemental water for the Arkansas River, more good conditions exist. “In the Colorado basin, we’re looking at 80-90 percent of the peak, which is good for this time of year,” [Pat Edelmann, head of the Pueblo office of the U.S. Geological Survey] said. Snow and streamflow forecasts are good in the Upper Arkansas.

Not everything is so rosy, particularly in the Purgatoire River basin and Lower Arkansas Valley. “NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is indicating the drought through April is likely to persist or intensify,” Edelmann said.

Southern Delivery System update

A picture named sdspreferredalternative.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Pueblo West landowners who are unhappy with offers for easements as part of the Southern Delivery System have been unable to reach settlements with Colorado Springs. Next week, Colorado Springs Utilities is expected to report to City Council on the progress in dealing with holdouts on 15 of 133 properties it must acquire to build SDS…

Colorado Springs City Council told utilities to make another attempt to negotiate with Pueblo West property owners last month, and is scheduled to review progress at its meeting Tuesday. The city has offered residents payments for easements across part of their property. Landowners say the amount is too small for the inconvenience they expect to endure as SDS is being built…

Colorado Springs committed to use eminent domain only as a last resort in obtaining property or easements for SDS under its 1041 land-use permit with Pueblo County in 2009. Utilities wants to begin building the water pipeline from Pueblo Dam soon in order to meet a projected completion date in 2016. Last month, Dan Higgins, SDS construction delivery manager, said Colorado Springs will continue to work with landowners even if condemnation actions begin in court.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.