Fryingpan-Arkansas Project: Ruedi Reservoir operations update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

After receiving the March forecast, we are planning to increase Ruedi releases again. Like last time, this increase will be small–about 30 cfs–and is in anticipation of what we are expecting will be an above-average run-off season late this spring. The gage on the Fryingpan below Ruedi is currently reading about 102 cfs. After the increase late tomorrow afternoon, it will read about 132 cfs. We are planning to increase releases around 5 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9, 2011.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here and here.

Erie: New wastewater reclamation facility due to go online on April 1

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (John Aguilar):

The town’s new North Water Reclamation Facility, a $22 million state-of-the-art sewage plant located on the northern outskirts of Erie, will go full capacity April 1. The 85-acre complex off of Colo. 52 — equipped with high-speed turbo blowers, the latest in filtration systems and a 1,000-acre-foot reservoir — will churn through 1.5 million gallons of water a day and produce biosolids safe for use in gardens and farmers’ fields.

Jon Mays, Erie’s water and wastewater operations manager, said the town’s decision to treat its residual solids until they resemble potting soil is unusual. “There are very few plants that go to Class A biosolids,” he said Monday. “We’ll use it on our parks and our open areas.”[…]

Mays pointed out thousands of plastic pieces bobbing in the holding tanks. He said the little discs allow bacteria more surface area on which to perform their decomposing duties. At the end of the line is a screw press, a massive cylindrical machine in which waste is heated, dried out and dropped into a pile for composting.

Left over at the end of the process is water — squeezed through microfilters and past ultraviolet banks of light to remove any remaining pathogens — that can be returned to the system it once came from. “And what goes to Boulder Creek will be cleaner than what is already in Boulder Creek,” Mays said.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: New plant planned for Carter Lake

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Here’s the release from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Brian Werner):

Thanks to the recent completion of a power purchase agreement with Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, Northern Water is moving forward with construction on a hydropower facility at Carter Lake. Carter Lake is a reservoir of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project system located southwest of Loveland.

The cooperative arrangement will produce 7 million to 10 million kilowatt-hours of clean renewable energy each year – enough to power approximately 1,000 homes.

“We’re pleased that the C-BT will provide a portion of the green, sustainable energy that Poudre Valley needs,” said Northern Water Project Manager Carl Brouwer.

“The Carter Lake hydro project is an example of PVREA’s commitment to pursue renewable energy resources and make them a part of our generation portfolio mix when the make economic sense and bring value to our membership,” said Brad Gaskill, CEO of PVREA.

“PVREA is excited to be a partner and purchase 100 percent of the energy form this green power project.”

Northern Water’s Board of Directors recently approved a series of resolutions to move ahead with the project, which Northern Water will own, operate and maintain. It will include two 1,300 -kw turbines, a 2,000-square-foot powerhouse and connections to the existing Carter Lake Second Outlet and the St. Vrain Supply Canal. The project will harness the pressure created by existing releases from the outlet to make energy.
Northern Water has ordered the hydro facility’s turbines from United Kingdom-based Gilkes, a company that has been manufacturing turbines for nearly 150 years.

A 600-foot power line will link to Poudre Valley REA transmission system.

The $6 million project received a $2 million low-interest loan through the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. The project will generate about $600,000 a year – money that will go back to repay construction loans as well as help pay for future upgrades.

Construction is set to begin in the fall, with power generation starting as early as mid-2012.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

University of Colorado Law School: CU Alumni awards

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Here’s the release from Law Week Colorado (Ali McNally):

Water is the most essential chemical to life on Earth, and it’s also the focus of the 30th annual alumni awards from the University of Colorado Law School.

Two prominent Colorado water attorneys, as well as a judge and private practice attorney from Denver, will be recognized Wednesday at the school’s annual alumni awards banquet at the Hyatt Regency in Denver in Denver. Anne Castle, Mark Fogg and Larry Naves are this year’s recipients of Distinguished Achievement Awards. Gunnison attorney L. Richard Bratton will receive the William Lee Knous Award, the law school’s highest alumni award.

Bratton, a 1957 Juris Doctor, is the only award recipient this year who doesn’t currently practice in Denver. After graduating, the Salida native moved to Gunnison to practice water law with Ed Dutcher, who was on the Colorado Water Conservation Board under state Gov. Dan Thornton. After Dutcher became a district judge in Grand Junction, Bratton took over his law practice.

Since then, Bratton’s been an active member of the Colorado Water Congress and received in 2009 the President’s Award from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. He’s best known for his longtime work representing the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District.

Public sector recipient Castle, who graduated in 1981, was nominated in 2009 by President Barack Obama as assistant secretary for water and science for the U.S. Department of Interior. She currently oversees water and science policy for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey. Before her appointment, she was a water attorney for 28 years at the Denver office of Holland & Hart.

Fogg, a private practice recipient and 1979 graduate, has a defense practice focused on medical malpractice, medical board matters, anti-competitive claims, hospital-related matters and risk management consulting. He’s a past president of the Denver Bar Association and was inducted in October in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Before joining in 2010 the Judicial Arbiter Group in Denver, Larry Naves was the chief district judge in Denver. He graduated from the law school in 1974 and started his legal career as a state and then federal public defender, later going into private practice. In 1987, Gov. Dick Lamm appointed him to the bench, where he saw high profile cases like the civil trial of CU professor Ward Churchill.

Pourdre River: Next installment of ‘The Poudre Runs Through It’ March 9

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

The next session in the three-part educational series, “The Poudre Runs Through It: Northern Colorado’s Water Future,” will take place Thursday, March 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak St., Fort Collins. This session will address these and other questions: What is Fort Collins’ projected growth and how much more water will that require? Where will that water come from? Are there strategies we could adopt to handle growth with less water?

More Poudre River watershed coverage here.

Summit Forest Health Task Force meeting March 10

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From The Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The upcoming March 10 meeting of the Summit Forest Health Task Force will focus on the critical connection between forest health and water supplies. According to task force organizer Sandy Briggs, the goals of the roundtable are to increase awareness about the importance of forest vitality on local water supply and quality, to encourage discussion on what forest management practices would best achieve water supply and quality objectives, and to promote collaboration and understanding among stakeholders.

The luncheon meeting (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Frisco Community Center) is free and open to the public. To help the task force plan the lunch, RSVP to Howard Hallman at or call (970) 468-9134 or (719) 491-1807.

Energy policy — oil and gas: The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission looks at hydraulic fracturing

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Here’s an in-depth report on the COGCC’s recent activity with respect to hydraulic fracturing, from Randy Woock writing for The Trinidad Times. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s and excerpt:

“The committee stated it couldn’t determine if that had any adverse effects on drinking water supplies because it lacked the information to do so. We’re in the process of reviewing our own records to investigate this subject,” COGCC Director Dave Neslin stated at the commission’s Feb. 22 meeting. “Our regulations do not require operators to report constituents of the fracturing fluids unless we request them to do so under Rule 205 (which governs how the industry may share information on fracing ingredients).”

The larger oil and gas operators in Las Animas County such as XTO Energy and Pioneer Natural Resources, the latter of which alone averaged 160 million cubic feet of gas pumped per day in the fourth quarter of 2010, have informed The Times Independent that neither they nor their contractors have utilized diesel fuel in their fracing operations in the Raton Basin. Pioneer’s Rockies Assets Team Vice President Tom Sheffield, for example, had described the use of diesel in fracing coal seams in the basin as “counterproductive,” stating that diesel use would reduce coalbed methane production by damaging the coal seams.

Gwen Lachelt, Executive Director of southwestern environmental group Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP), called the use of diesel a “huge concern” in the state’s southern drilling regions. She called for additional oversight on fracing, noting that regulators had “really done nothing” toward diesel concerns before the last few months. “Now some members of Congress have said, ‘you’re still using diesel, what the heck?’ and the regulators are throwing up their hands and saying, ‘so what?’” Lachelt said. “Diesel contains (methyl-t-butyl ether – MTBE), and just a few teaspoons of that can contaminate millions of gallons of water…it’s quite hazardous.”[…]

The COGCC also asserted that its current regulations “should have prevented” the diesel or other ingredients in fracing fluids from contaminating of drinking water resources in Colorado. “The fracturing fluids would have been injected into hydrocarbon-bearing formations at depths that often approach 8,000 feet or more, while most drinking water supplies are less than 1,000 feet deep. Rule 317 required the wells to be cased with steel pipe and the casing to be cemented to create a hydraulic seal,” the memo stated. “This should have ensured that any fluids or hydrocarbons flowing back up the well bore did not come into contact with the shallower aquifers. The memo also pointed to additional protections demanded by the COGCC’s 2009 revised regulations — such as cement bond logs, bradenhead monitoring, public water system setbacks, and water well sampling — as further ensuring water resources…

The COGCC reported that it had contacted all 13 service companies and 15 of the “largest operators” in Colorado that it suspected of having provided information to the House Committee regarding diesel use in the state, with “a number of responses” already received and the investigation ongoing. “This information should help us to assess whether this activity had any effect upon drinking water supplies by allowing us to identify and investigate nearby water wells…(i)f no diesel contamination is identified, then this would indicate that the hydraulic fracturing of the oil and gas well in question did not impact drinking water supplies. If diesel contamination is identified, then this could indicate that hydraulic fracturing of the oil and gas well did impact drinking water supplies and we can seek remediation of such contamination and take further action to ensure that it does not recur,” the COGCC memo stated. “Staff believes that if such impacts had occurred, whether due to the use of diesel fuel or other substances, then they would have been identified during our investigations.”

Meanwhile, here’s a report on the potential for radioactive materials being present in produced water in Garfield County, from John Colson writing for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. From the article:

There is little possibility that gas drilling activities in Colorado will result in the kind of radioactive wastewater treatment problems reported to be plaguing gas drilling regions in the Northeast, say state officials. That is because water produced by Colorado drilling activities is not dealt with in the same way as water produced by wells in the Marcellus Shale states, said two state agency directors. “No produced water is treated in wastewater treatment plants,” said Dave Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the agency that regulates gas drilling activities.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Interbasin Compact Committee appointments

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Effective immediately, the members appointed by the governor are: Richard Eric Kuhn, D-Glenwood Springs; Taylor E.C. Hawes, unaffiliated-Lafayette; Wayne Vanderschuere, unaffiliated-Colorado Springs; Melinda R. Kassen, D-Boulder; T. Wright Dickinson, R-Maybell; and Peter D. Nichols, D-Carbondale.

Hickenlooper also appointed Theresa Jehn-Dellaport of Golden to serve a four-year term in a spot reserved for a geologist on the State Board of Examiners of Water Well Construction and Pump Installation Contractors. She will replace Timothy Decker of Montrose.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.