Durango: City to expand water and sewer service north of town

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From The Durango Herald (Gavin Wisdom):

Developer Wessman Holdings LLC will renew its contract with the city to continue with the original Utility Service Agreement, which expired in July 2010. “A few years ago, it was smart to do, and it’s smart to do it tonight,” Councilor Doug Lyon said…

City Planner Greg Hoch said the city has no intentions of annexing Riverside, and the city’s primary reason for extending its services is to avoid placing septic tanks along the Animas River. Hoch said 64 septic tanks lined up just off the bank of the Animas would be a hazard to a portion of the city’s drinking water, which is drawn only a few miles south of the development at 29th street. The developer also agreed to reserve 78 acres for open space in exchange for the Utility Service Agreement.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Whitewater business news

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From the Aspen Daily News:

According to the annual “Commercial River Use in the State of Colorado” report issued by the Colorado River Outfitters Association (CROA), commercial rafting companies in the state hosted 507,392 user days during the 2010 season, up 16,500 user days, or 3.4 percent, from 2009. A “user day” is defined as a paying guest on a river for any part of a day. The visitor figures have exceeded a half-million for four straight years from 2005-2008 before taking a temporary dip in 2009 during the heart of the national downturn. The rebound was warmly welcomed…

As the CROA report indicates, every user day contributed much-needed revenue to state coffers and local businesses. The combined economic impact of commercial river rafting in 2010 was $150.3 million, up 4.9 percent, or $7 million, from 2009. That was the second-highest total since CROA began tracking these statistics in 1988, trailing only the banner year of 2007.

Over a season that runs from April to September, CROA’s outfitters collectively raft more than 20 rivers across eight major basins. The Colorado and Arkansas rivers saw the largest increases from 2009 to 2010 and still have excess capacity to allow for more visitors. Many other rivers in the state have limits to increased use and therefore have seen their numbers stabilize. Overall, notes Cantamessa, the diversity of opportunity means that most Coloradans – and many in neighboring states – are within an easy day’s drive of a rafting vacation that suits their tastes.

More whitewater coverage here.

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District board meeting recap

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From the Pagosa Daily Post (Bill Hudson):

The meeting began with a thoughtful and well-researched presentation by former Pagosa Post magazine editor Glenn Walsh, about the possible future of the [Water Resource Fee] — still under moratorium until April 1. Using input from the Water Supply Community Work Group (WSCWG), Mr. Walsh proposed at least three possible approaches to the WRF, including eliminating it entirely.

The WRF — a new fee charged against all new construction projects in the PAWSD district — was created in 2006 as, supposedly, the primary funding mechanism for a proposed 35,000 acre-foot reservoir in the Dry Gulch valley. As the Archuleta County construction industry began fading into a mere ghost of its former self, starting in 2007, the construction and real estate industries began pointing an accusing finger at the WRF and other PAWSD fees on new construction as one of the culprits in that decline.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here.

Chaffee County: Pueblo West asks commissioners to wave 1041 regulations for waterworks projects

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From The Mountain Mail (Jessica Wierzbinski):

Proposed structures include an infiltration basin on the Frantz Ditch near U.S. 285 and three water level and/or flow measurement systems. The measurement systems would be installed on Gas Creek Ditch, at Willowdale Ditch headgate on Chalk Creek and on the Pioneer Ditch in Mesa Antero subdivision. The structures are required to allow Pueblo West to use water rights from the Hill Ranch. Pueblo West bought the rights in 2001 from Western Water Rights, LLP who acquired them from Hill Ranch owners in 1986. Commissioners directed Chaffee County personnel to review 1041 regulations to determine applicable requirements.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: Accuracy of Pitkin County’s streamflow data in question

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From The Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):

Boulder firm AMEC Earth and Environmental, hired by Pitkin County, found that the city may have overestimated stream-flows by as much as 30 percent at the diversion points where water would be taken out of Castle and Maroon creeks to feed the hydroplant. “If such an error exists and is ignored,” wrote Tim McFlynn, who has been organizing the mediation effort, “hydropower and revenue generation would be overestimated and healthy bypass flows in streams would be similarly impacted.”

The closed-door mediation session was scheduled for Feb. 8 in an attempt to bridge the gap between supporters and opponents of the project. But comments from the panel of experts hired by the county’s Healthy Rivers and Streams board for $50,000, which were submitted to the city two weeks ago, have prompted facilitators to take a time-out.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Huerfano County: Two Rivers Water Company acquires Orlando Reservoir storage and surface flow rights

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Here’s the release from GlobeNewsWire.com:

Two Rivers Water Company (“Two Rivers”) (OTCBB:TURV), a company focused on acquiring and developing water and farming operations in Colorado, announced today it has acquired the Orlando Reservoir and associated surface flow water rights in Huerfano County, Colorado.

The Orlando Reservoir has an absolute decree to store 3,117 acre feet of water per year and the associated senior surface flow water rights have absolute decrees permitting the diversion of 9 cubic feet per second, or approximately 2,500 acre feet per year, from the Huerfano River for irrigation purposes.

John McKowen, Chairman and CEO of Two Rivers said, “The acquisition of the Orlando puts in place the final piece of the original large storage and surface flow system that was developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s to farm 20,000 plus acres of irrigated farm land. Two Rivers expects to acquire additional strategic water assets in 2011 to further expand its water portfolio in Huerfano County. Our best use of this water is within Huerfano County, to the extent that is available, and we are committed to restoring the historic uses of these rights.

“We love farming and we love irrigated farm land. We like the grain markets as a hedge against US dollar inflation. We also like grains because of the increased demand for protein from the emerging markets, such as China. We don’t see the recent increases in grain prices as a short term phenomenon. We see long term sustainable growth in demand for grains as a basic component of the world’s food supply. The United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of grains. In the United States we grow grain crops better than anywhere else on the planet.

“The plains of Colorado provide a warm dry climate with excellent soils and renewable snow melt for irrigation. When renewable snow melt is also combined with reliable sources of ground water, a more balanced, sustainable and consistent environment for irrigated grain production is created. At Two Rivers, we have taken this opportunity to reassemble the historic Huerfano-Cucharas irrigation system and reintroduce its water in appropriate amounts back onto excellent farmland. That system, because of its potential 70,000 acre feet of storage capacity, allows us to time our irrigation of grain crops more efficiently. Additionally, because the system is advantageously located in the foothills of the Colorado Front Range, we are able to work with local communities and help balance their municipal water needs with our farm production.”

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.