Basin Roundtable Summit recap

A picture named jacksonlake.jpg

From The Crested Butte News (Alissa Johnson):

“There was good representation among the nine roundtables across the state, and the Gunnison Basin Roundtable in particular was well represented,” [Frank Kugel, Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWD) board general manager] said. Ten Gunnison Basin Roundtable members attended the summit, just one indication of many that momentum is building around water issues—particularly since the Statewide Water Supply Initiative of 2010 suggested that every waterbasin in Colorado will face water shortages by 2050…

According to UGRWD board member Steve Glazer, discussion highlighted the complexity of the issues at hand.
“It was an interesting dynamic in that there were a lot of water professionals that are on the roundtables… and there were volunteers. There was a noticeable [difference in] knowledge as a result. It was educational, and it was affirmative and contradictory all at the same time,” Glazer said. “Some of the less informed people need a lot of education because they’re not as aware of the intricacies and details.”[…]

“In some circles, especially on the Front Range, people want to see new water projects built,” Kugel continued, “but there are many of us on the Western Slope who believe that we need to address other approaches before we go to new water supply projects.” Some studies, like a report released last week by Water Resource Advocates, suggest that conservation could fill much of the water supply gap. But as Steve Glazer points out, conservation is no easy topic either.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Snowpack/Lake Mead news

A picture named snowpackcolorado03112011

From the Las Vegas Sun (Dylan Scott):

The [Bureau of Reclamation] reported in January that increased snowfall in the Rocky Mountains — more than 30 percent above historical levels — could lead to more water for the lake if Lake Powell’s water level rose to 3,643 feet by April 1. That would trigger the release of an extra 3.13 million acre-feet of water into Lake Mead, officials said, pushing the lake’s surface level up 20 feet or more. Earlier this week, the agency updated its projections and estimated there is a 97 percent chance that Lake Powell will reach the 3,643-foot threshold. In January, the bureau had projected a 76 percent chance. Only a historic plunge, 2.1 million acre-feet, in forecast water volumes for Lake Powell would prevent the extra water from flowing, officials said.

Energy policy — coalbed methane: Las Animas County producers implement substitute water supply plans for produced water

A picture named purgatoireriver.jpg

From The Trinidad Times (Randy Woock):

Las Animas County’s four largest gas companies — Pioneer Natural Resources, El Paso E&P Company, XTO Energy and Red River Ranch Holdings — have implemented SWSPs in order to continue gas production in the about 3,068 CBM wells operating within the central Raton Basin. Industry activities in the area discharge from CBM wells a combined total of about 10 million gallons of produced water per day. The SWSPs were approved by the State Engineer’s Office through March 31, 2011 and are nearing the end of their first approved year of implementation. The SWSPs call for replacement water to come from, “a lease with the City of Trinidad to supply up to 50 acre-feet of fully consumable water from the city’s storage account in Trinidad Reservoir.”[…]

A summer 2009 decision by the Colorado Supreme Court in the Vance v. Simpson case determined that the groundwater produced during CBM drilling production, previously considered a waste by-product, was of “beneficial use,” and thus had to undergo permitting and comply with Colorado groundwater laws. The state then passed an authorization for the State Engineer’s Office to approve alternates such as SWSPs in place of augmentation plans. That authorization for alternates extends from March 31, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2012 in order to provide energy companies in Colorado with extra time to integrate CBM wells that withdraw waters considered tributary and that impact “over-appropriated” streams into the state water court’s adjudication process.

Colorado Division of Water Resources Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte told The Times Independent that the Division had turned down initial requests by the companies to utilize the non-tributary water component of the CBM produced water as a replacement source. “The concern that we have is the native tributary water supply that water rights along the Purgatoire (River) depend upon are not diminished by the withdrawal of groundwater,” Witte said. “The initial proposal was that, of the water that they withdraw from the coal beds, they determined that a portion is tributary and a portion is non-tributary, and they thought that they would simply rely on the non-tributary water as a replacement for the stream depletions that were calculated.

More coalbed methane coverage here and here.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: New plant planned for Carter Lake

A picture named hydroelectricdam.jpg

From the Loveland Connection (Bobby Magill):

PVREA will receive up to 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity from the Carter Lake hydropower station annually, enough to power about 1,000 homes. “We’re tapping onto an existing (water) outlet, so nothing changes at Carter Lake,” said Northern Water project manager Carl Brouwer. “We don’t change the operation. We don’t change the outflow from the reservoir.”

Today, water flowing from Carter Lake tumbles through a valve, and the energy is dissipated. “What we’re going to do is create electricity out of that instead,” Brouwer said.

The project will include two 1,200 kilowatt turbines, a 2,000 square foot powerhouse and connections to the existing Carter Lake Second Outlet and the St. Vrain Supply Canal.

From International Power & Dam Construction Magazine:

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 through its Hydro Water Activity Enterprise. It will include two 1300kW turbines supplied by Gilkes, a 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 new outlet to make energy.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Green Mountain Reservoir operations update

A picture named blueriver.jpg

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Tomorrow morning at 8, Friday March 11, we will increase releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue River by 25 cfs. By noon, the Lower Blue should be flowing at about 300 cfs. The reason for the change is Denver Water will be increasing their releases from Dillon Reservoir to the Blue River. Because releases from Dillon Dam flow straight to Green Mountain, we are accommodating the additional water by increasing our own release.

More Green Mountain Reservoir coverage here.