Grand Lake: Town trustees hike base rate for water

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

…water customers in the town of Grand Lake will pay a higher base rate starting April 1, an increase to $98 from $92 for up to 27,000 gallons of water allowance per quarter.

More Grand Lake coverage here and here.

South Platte River Basin: Groundwater study challenges data that led to the shut down and curtailment of wells

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From The Fencepost (Bill Jackson):

The study was done to try to maximize the use of water in the South Platte River Basin for everyone in the state, said Bob Longenbaugh, who has been in the water business for 50 years. He teamed with Halepaska and Associates, a consulting groundwater engineering firm in Littleton, in a study of the South Platte River groundwater for the Weld County Farm Bureau, the Colorado Corn Growers and other organizations. The study focuses on the importance of groundwater when considering the South Platte as an irrigation source. Logenbaugh said 10.5 million acre-feet of water is in the main stem of the river’s alluvial aquifer — below the surface flow of the river. That’s about eight times the amount that flows down the river annually from snow melt, thunderstorms, return flows, releases from reservoirs and other sources. The study measured irrigation wells along the river and found some of the highest historic water levels ever recorded in the fall of 2009. Those levels have not receded since then…

He said the reduction of well pumping not only limits the return of water to the river, but is probably a factor in high water tables along the river from Brighton to Julesburg. In addition, he said, Colorado lost a tremendous amount of water into Nebraska last year, which continues this year. Between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010 — the state designated water year — 610,000 acre-feet of water flowed out of Colorado into Nebraska. From Oct. 1, 2010, to Feb. 28 of this year, another 106,000 acre-feet has left the state on the South Platte, he said. “That’s above what Colorado is required to deliver to Nebraska under the compact. That water belongs to the citizens of Colorado, and Colorado has the right to use that water,” Longenbaugh said…

“(The study) verifies what we have expected for years, that (irrigation) wells don’t have a 50-year depletion of water in the river, and in fact, they recycle and refill annually. That’s why the water tables have come up,” [Bob Winter of Windsor] said. Much of that data has been around since the 1940s, he said, but it’s never been gathered to be analyzed in one place. “We finally have a report with facts, and now there are those who question the facts,” Winter said.

Dick Wolfe is the state engineer and director of the Colorado Division of Water Resources. He said he has reviewed the report completed by Longenbaugh and Halepaska and said there is some misinterpretation of the compact between Colorado and Nebraska. But he agrees with the report that said there is a need for improved management tools.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

Colorado Department of Wildlife: Outdoor Agencies Resume Mussel Mission

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Here’s the release from the Colorado Division of Wildlife:

As the weather warms and boat owners ready for spring, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks are launching the annual effort to protect the state’s lakes, reservoirs and rivers from aquatic invaders. The focus of this year’s efforts will be zebra and quagga mussels, but boat inspectors will also check for New Zealand mud snails, rusty crayfish and other invasive species.

“This will be the fourth year of Colorado’s active boat inspection program and we continue to make the process more efficient, more effective and more convenient,” said Elizabeth Brown, who leads the Division of Wildlife’s statewide invasive species efforts. “Boaters stepped up to help improve this process and educate each other and we truly appreciate their partnership with us.”

Since 2007, officials have stressed the “clean, drain and dry” message to educate boaters on how to make sure their crafts aren’t moving anything from one water to another.

“Boats that are clean and dry will get through these inspections more quickly,” Brown said. “Dirty, wet boats are going to get a longer look and may need decontamination before being able to proceed.”

Specially trained State Parks’ staff will inspect boats entering the water at 29 State Parks. Seven State Parks that are open or will open this week for the 2011 boating season are: Barr Lake, Boyd Lake, Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Highline Lake, Jackson Lake, John Martin and Lake Pueblo.

“Inspections at other State Parks will start as the warm weather thaws the ice and the water is available for boating,” said Gene Seagle, invasive species coordinator for Colorado State Parks. “We have a great boating resource and appreciate the growing understanding of the need for these inspection programs within the boating community.”

Division of Wildlife teams have begun boat inspections at Jumbo and Prewitt Reservoirs in northeastern Colorado’s Logan County. The reservoirs opened for boating Friday, March 11. Douglas Reservoir will open to boating April 1.

Other Division of Wildlife inspection operations will be carried out at waters around the state as boating access becomes available in April and May. The Division of Wildlife offers boat inspections on dozens of lakes and reservoirs.

In just the past two years boat inspectors have intercepted more than 30 boats with mussels attached coming into Colorado. Those boats have been stopped from entering Colorado waters, preventing the spread of these invasive species. Because of the success of these interventions, no new zebra or quagga mussel positive waters have been discovered in the state since 2008.

Boaters who live or are traveling through Denver, Grand Junction or Hot Sulphur Springs also have access to the Division of Wildlife’s permanent boat inspection facilities. Boats inspected at these facilities can be affixed with a seal that will allow the boater to get through reservoir inspections much more quickly.

“A lot of boaters find that it is more convenient to run the boat over to the Division of Wildlife office and get the inspection done a few days before they head out,” Brown said. “That way, when the day of the fishing trip comes around, they can get through the inspection and onto the water much faster.”

Inspection stations at the Division’s Denver headquarters at 6060 Broadway in Denver, Northwest regional office at 711 Independent in Grand Junction and Hot Sulphur Springs area office at 346 Grand County Road 362 are available weekdays during regular business hours.

Colorado State Parks has a series of short videos about the topic available on their website at:
http://parks.state.co.us/Boating/Pages/BoatingProgramHome.aspx

To also help boaters learn more about invasive mussels and to help boaters understand the inspection process, the Division of Wildlife has posted several videos on its website. The videos are available at:
http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos/Mussel.htm
http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos/watercraftinspection.htm

Below are hours for some recently opened State Parks inspection operations. For additional details, see the State Parks website at http://parks.state.co.us/Boating/NewBoatInspection/Pages/BoatInspection.aspx

Barr Lake State Park: inspection hours will be 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekends only in March with expanded hours beginning April 1 (see website for additional information)
Boyd Lake State Park, main boat ramp, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon.-Thur., 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Fri., Sat., and Sun. through May 1, when hours will expand from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
Chatfield State Park: north boat ramp open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. South ramp opens April 1 and hours at both ramps extend May 1 to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Cherry Creek State Park, East Ramp, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily
Highline Lake State Park, main boat ramp, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily
Jackson Lake State Park will open for boating Friday, March 18, inspections 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mon. through Fri. and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sat. and Sun. On May 1, the hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily.
John Martin State Park will open Wed., March 16, inspections 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mon. through Fri. and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Lake Pueblo State Park, main ramp, 5 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily (see website for additional information)

Below are hours for some recently opened Division of Wildlife State Wildlife Area waters. For additional inspection sites and hours, see: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/MandatoryBoatInspections.htm.

Prewitt Reservoir, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Fri., Sat., Sun. and Mon. Beginning April 1, inspections will be seven days a week from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Jumbo Reservoir, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Fri., Sat., Sun. and Mon. Beginning April 1, inspections will be seven days a week from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Douglas Reservoir will open to boating April 1.

More coverage from The Fort Morgan Times.

More invasive species coverage here and here.

Penley Reservoir project update

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

On Tuesday, Penley Water Co. [Chris Fellows] called the reservoir essential for weaning Front Range suburbs from wells, which produce less and less water as underground aquifers are depleted. The proposed $105 million reservoir would inundate about 306 acres west of Sedalia and hold up to 22,500 acre-feet of water. That’s slightly larger than Denver Water’s Marston reservoir.

It would be the second major new reservoir in the Denver area for which little or no water has been acquired. Parker Water & Sanitation District is building the $230 million Rueter-Hess reservoir to store up to 72,000 acre-feet of water…

Building before buying water reflects a need for storage capacity, said Ralf Topper, senior hydrologist for the Colorado Geological Survey. “The available water storage systems on streams and rivers are few and far between, because all the water rights have been previously allocated. So one of the options is to create these off-channel reservoirs,” Topper said. “The challenge is to get water to them.”[…]

State records show 18 pipeline companies have been formed to move water in and out of Penley reservoir. These would connect Penley to Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch and other Front Range locations.

More Penley Dam Project coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Pueblo County D.A. Thiebaut files appeal over the Colorado Water Quality Control Division’s issuance of a water quality certification permit for the project

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Jeff Tucker):

The appeal, which was filed in Pueblo District Court, names Colorado Springs Utilities, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission and Steven H. Gunderson, director of the water quality control division, as defendants. Thiebaut claims their actions to approve a certification for SDS were arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law. He has asked the court to reverse the decisions by the division and commission, and declare they exceeded their jurisdiction or abused discretion in issuing the certification. The appeal also asks the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the water quality division and the commission from taking any action contrary to the court’s order…

It also claims the approval of the certificate by the Water Quality Control Division and its commission failed to comply with public notice requirements and anti-degradation requirements. The division’s certificate and the commission’s affirmation of the permit” was not based on a reliable scientific or quantitative methodology or competent evidence,” the suit stated…

Further, the appeal claims that the determinations SDS would cause no significant degradation to water quality on the Arkansas and Fountain or that water quality standards would be met weren’t supported by any facts, data or analysis in the record…

Finally, the appeal claims the Water Quality Control Division failed to conduct a full analysis of whether SDS would degrade water quality or whether the degradation was necessary to accommodate important economic or social development in the area.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

2011 Colorado legislation: HB 11-1083 passes state Senate

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

The bill passed the Senate by a 33-0 vote. One Senator was absent, and Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, sat out the vote to avoid a conflict of interest. Kopp is managing corporate officer of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association. He said he opted not to vote because his organization may have taken a position on the bill, and it wanted to avoid any possible conflict of interest. After it was adopted, almost every Senator in the chamber signed on as a co-sponsor to the bill. It has enjoyed universal popularity in the Legislature since its introduction, thanks to the work Rep. Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, did to build consensus for the idea even from groups that typically eye hydroelectricity projects skeptically, according to the bill’s other sponsors…

Next, it returns to the House for review of an amendment added by a Senate committee that instructs the PUC to weigh costs and benefits of proposed hydro projects before approving them. If it is readopted in the House, the bill will be forwarded to Gov. John Hickenlooper, whose signature would make it law.

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

Energy policy — nuclear: New plant for Pueblo County?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

With nuclear power being debated around the world, a crowd of more than 200 people turned out Tuesday night to hear local attorney Don Banner try to persuade the Pueblo County commissioners to zone 24,000 acres for the possible development of a nuclear power plant here…

“I want to make you aware that you will receive national attention,” he said, noting that ABC News and CBS News had contacted him about his project. Denying the project would have consequences, he warned. “I think they believe this could be a bellwether of a small town’s reaction to nuclear power. There could be tremendous negative consequences for this community’s image.”

Tuesday’s hearing was just the opening act in the commissioners’ decision because only Banner’s supporters were invited to testify at the four-hour hearing. Opponents, and there are many, will give their side of the argument tonight at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, beginning at 5 p.m. in the ballroom.

More coverage from Peter Strescino writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Although Tuesday night before the Pueblo County commissioners was set aside for Banner and proponents of the plant, there were many opponents in the crowd, who listened politely, without loud comment. People on both sides of the issue nodded in either approval or incredulity at many points the local lawyer gone nuclear salesman proffered. The crowd thinned after Banner’s 80-minute presentation, which included solemn words for Japan’s dead and those threatened by the nuclear problems set off by the giant earthquake and the tsunami that followed.

Lon Stewart said he came to support Banner. “I’m an iron worker and there will be lots of work out there building the plant, 10 years worth of work. I lived near a big power plant in California most of my life and there were no problems with it,” he said…

Jacob ElBekhty said he disagreed with Banner and he’s tired of taxpayers subsidizing energy plants and not doing as much for renewables such as wind and solar. “I don’t believe what Banner says. I don’t believe we’ll get the financial benefits he says. “We already don’t get the benefits from the power plants we have here,” ElBekhty said. “But we get the problems.”

More nuclear coverage here and here.