Conservation: Greeley ‘Fix a leak week’ March 14-20

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From The Greeley Tribune:

The city of Greeley will mark Fix a Leak Week March 14-20 with two interactive workshops on March 15. Greeley Water Conservation will be at the Water and Sewer Department, 1100 10th St., Suite 300, for both half-hour sessions at 12:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, Fix a Leak Week is meant to encourage water conservation by repairing home pipe leaks.

More conservation coverage here.

Interbasin Compact Committee appointments

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From the Purple Mountain Politics blog at The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):

[Governor] Hickenlooper re-appointed all six people chosen by former Gov. Bill Ritter to serve on the Interbasin Compact Committee, which is supposed to hash out a first-ever statewide water strategy…

Monday’s (re)appointments include Eric Kuhn of Glenwood Springs, Taylor Hawes of Lafayette, Wayne Vanderschuere of Colorado Springs, Melinda Kassen of Boulder, T. Wright Dickinson of Maybell and Peter Nichols of Carbondale. Each of them has deep experience in water issues, and they have gotten to know each other the past six years as the IBCC has made a tour of what seems to be every budget hotel conference room in the state.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Energy Fuels, Inc. scores their license for the proposed Piñon Ridge Mill

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From the Associated Press via the Telluride Daily Planet (Matthew Beaudin):

The company hoping to build the hotly debated mill 60 miles west of Telluride leapt another major hurdle this week when state regulators issued a final radioactive materials license for a uranium mill that would be the country’s first in more than 25 years. The license allows the mill to process up to 700 short tons of uranium ore on a given day but only an annual average of 500 short tons per day. The health department has to approve engineering plans for the mill before construction begins.

From the Denver Business Journal:

The mill will process up to 500 tons of uranium ore a day. While the state permit was the final regulatory hurdle, the project still is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance.

More Piñon Ridge Mill coverage here. More nuclear coverage here and here.

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

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Here are the notes from this week’s webinar.

Snowpack News/Rio Grande Roundtable meeting recap

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Matt Hardesty, assistant division engineer for Colorado Division of Water Resources Division 3, told attendees of the Rio Grande Roundtable meeting on Tuesday that the water office is receiving requests to start the irrigation season before April. Division 3 Division Engineer Craig Cotten is considering those requests right now and should make a decision before the end of the week, Hardesty added…

As of Tuesday, the Upper Rio Grande Basin on the west side of the Valley was sitting at 98 percent of average, based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s SNOTEL measurements. Wolf Creek Summit measured 105 percent of average, as did the Upper San Juan SNOTEL site, while Lily Pond and Upper Rio Grande SNOTEL sites were 71 percent and 88 percent of average, respectively. Hardesty pointed out that the Sangre de Cristo Mountain on the east side was not looking as healthy in its snowpack, with a total of 77 percent of average as of Tuesday. That percentage averaged in the high points at North Costilla and Whiskey Creek, both over 100 percent of average, with low points such as Apishapa and Wesner Springs, both around 50 percent of average. “Keep in mind these are based on high sites,” Hardesty said. “We still have concern about low and intermediate snowpack.”[…]

Based on a March 3 forecast, the Rio Grande could produce about 440,000 acre feet this year, with 137,200 acre feet obligated downstream. Given how much water has passed downstream already this year and what is expected for the rest of the year, irrigators could face a 12-percent curtailment right out of the starting gate this year to meet the compact, Hardesty explained…

On the Conejos River system, the initial forecast is 243,000 acre feet, of which 88,600 acre feet would be obligated downstream, resulting in a more than 21 percent curtailment “based on streamflow projections right now,” Hardesty said.

More IBCC – basin roundtables coverage here.

2011 Colorado legislation: HB 11-1083 (Hydroelectricity & Pumped Hydro) passes state Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Sens. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, and Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, presented HB1083 to the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee as a job-creating measure and a logical complement to Colorado’s existing renewable energy portfolio.

TransCanada Corp. is in the early stages of exploring the South Slope project, a possible $800 million hydroelectric station near Penrose that could create up to 300 temporary jobs during its construction and 30 permanent positions. “We’re excited about the opportunity to pursue this project.” Bart Jones from the power development division of TransCanada testified. “A company like us will only undergo a project like this if we have support.”[…]

Currently, the Public Utilities Commission is required to consider clean energy and energy-efficient technologies when reviewing applications for electricity acquisition. Solar, geothermal, biomass and methane are some of the modes of energy that fall under that umbrella. Under HB1083, hydroelectricity and pumped hydroelectricity would be added to the list. “This goes a long way toward getting the PUC to look at pump storage in a little different manner,” Jones said…

The bill is structured to protect senior water rights downstream from hydro stations. Engineer Jonah Levine testified that ongoing water consumption would not be a concern under a model like the proposed South Slope project. “A facility should be able to do a one-time fill,” Levine testified. He said evaporation and seepage would represent the only water losses.

Groups that tend to eye hydroelectric projects skeptically, like Trout Unlimited and the Audubon Society, support HB1083 because it would allow the PUC to consider the impact on aquatic life by proposed projects.

More HB 11-1083 coverage here. More 2011 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Arkansas Basin Roundtable update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The roundtable is working with the Colorado Water Conservation Board on a report of its activities since 2005 — a task every roundtable is undertaking as part of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative. Those reports will go to Gov. John Hickenlooper in June…

In 2009, the roundtable listed its most pressing consumptive and nonconsumptive needs, as well as highlighting major activities. The report also listed how Water Supply Reserve Account funds were spent and detailed the roundtable’s preferences for future water supply projects or activities. Essentially, the roundtable is being asked to polish that report and add what it’s learned since the 2009 report, Barber said…

The [Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District] board last year sponsored a “tipping point” study that provided a framework for gauging the impact of transferring water out of a rural economy. That study has the potential for building on an earlier roundtable template for considerations that should be made when water is moved out of rural communities. Maintaining agriculture in the Arkansas Valley plays into a larger, statewide need for food security in the future, Brown said. The need for water for nonconsumptive uses for wildlife or recreation was voiced by SeEtta Moss and Reed Dils, who represent those interests on the roundtable. Both said they were encouraged by Hickenlooper’s remarks at last week’s Roundtable Summit in Denver…

Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works and Dils’ replacement on the CWCB, took that opportunity to remind the roundtable of plans to study the enlargement of Lake Pueblo and Turquoise Lake, which have become mired in a decade of controversy…

Former State Engineer Jeris Danielson, now a water consultant living in La Junta, said the roundtable should consider looking at old storage instead. As state engineer he put restrictions on dams that were no longer safe, and more have been limited since then.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.