Yampa River Flow Survey closes April 6

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Here’s the post from American Whitewater. From the article:

To take the survey, CLICK HERE.

We have developed this survey so individuals can help American Whitewater represent recreational interests in deciding what the future of the Yampa and White Rivers will look like. Our goal is to utilize information from the survey to help us quantify flow preferences for whitewater boating, which will identify the range of flows necessary to provide whitewater recreation experiences, from technical low water to challenging high water trips. The information will provide us with the data necessary to describe flow-dependant recreation experiences and to protect and manage flows for river-based recreational opportunities.

American Whitewater is working to identify the range of flows that support the full range of boating opportunities for the main stem and tributaries of the Yampa and White Rivers. As part of our Yampa River Project, we are working with the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Yampa-White roundtable to identify and define flows needed for whitewater boating throughout the basin. Results of our assessment will inform future negotiations over water supply planning, and resouce management actions.

More Yampa River basin coverage here. More White River basin coverage here.

Metro Roundtable Summit: John Stulp — ‘It doesn’t mean we all agree. It just means we’ve gotten to the point where we can sit in the same room and talk’

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From the Associated Press (Catherine Tsai) via Westport News:

“We’re in year six now and we haven’t gotten there,” said Metro Roundtable Chairman Rod Kuharich, also executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “The state needs to step out in this process and begin supporting water projects in an environmentally and economically sound way.”

Kuharich was among water officials at a public reception Thursday on whether there’s enough water for Colorado in the future. The event was hosted by the Metro Roundtable and Colorado Foundation for Water Education.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s special water policy adviser, John Stulp, said before Kuharich spoke that it’s important for the roundtables to continue their work and that the roundtables are making some progress. “It doesn’t mean we all agree. It just means we’ve gotten to the point where we can sit in the same room and talk,” he said…

Water planners developing reservoir and pipeline projects face funding challenges but also have to balance water needs of populated cities, the environment, wildlife and Colorado’s robust recreation industry, all of which draw tourism dollars. “These projects take years and years to develop and get going,” Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Jennifer Gimbel said. “We need to be planning now.”

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Lake Pueblo excess capacity contracts require Corps of Engineers waiver in order to avoid spilling non-project water

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

for the second consecutive year the problem has been avoided by a waiver by the Army Corps of Engineers to leave water in the reservoir a little longer, rather than vacating the flood pool by April 15. “This isn’t a blanket to do this every year, and the mode we’re running in is spilling,” Jim Broderick, executive director, told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District last month. “The way we’re managing reservoirs has shifted. In my opinion, we’ve been fortunate to get the two waivers.”

After dealing with the question of scarcity for years, the Southeastern district is bumping up against the limits of storage contemplated in its 1990s studies that led to the controversial Preferred Storage Options Plan.

“The 2002 drought provided a wake-up call for all of us in the valley, and in particular the Pueblo Board of Water Works,” said Alan Hamel, executive director of the board. “It pointed out that relying on historical records was not sufficient, and we had to triple the amount of water we had in storage to work between the wet and the dry years.”

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Glenwood Springs: Governor Hickenlooper pow wows with west slope water leaders — ‘Shoshone is a small drop in their [Xcel’s] bucket’

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Heather McGregor):

Western Slope water leaders who are negotiating a “global” water agreement for Colorado met Thursday with Gov. John Hickenlooper, who agreed with their view that water is a statewide resource. “There’s a legitimate argument to say it’s in the best interests of Denver to use as little water as possible, and to keep every drop we can in the river,” Hickenlooper told members of the Colorado River District board…

Hickenlooper, the former mayor of Denver, said he has received calls from Denver residents with large lawns who complain that conservation efforts by Denver Water have forced their water bills up by thousands of dollars a year. “They’re irate, and they tell me Denver has the senior water rights, and ask why they have to cut their use,” Hickenlooper said. “My response is that legally it is Denver’s water, but it’s Colorado’s water, too. You know, what makes Denver special and unique is because it’s in Colorado. And part of what makes Denver ‘Denver’ is the Western Slope economy — its ski resorts, the ranches and fruit orchards — and the Eastern Plains,” the governor said. So he tells Denver constituents that key values of the city are enhanced by preserving the natural beauty of the whole state, including healthy rivers — which means limiting new transmountain water diversions…

The River District, Denver Water, Summit County, Grand County and water interests in Eagle County are negotiating what is being called a “global agreement” on those transmountain diversions and related water management. “We appreciate your appointments to Denver Water, and we are looking forward to the rollout of the agreement,” said Grand County Commissioner James Newberry. He said the agreement should be ready for release in late April.

Meanwhile, the River District is also involved with negotiations on the Shoshone hydroelectric power plant, which holds a critical senior water right for the Colorado River that protects river flows above and below Glenwood Canyon. The plant and the water right are owned by Xcel Energy. River District Board President Tom Sharp, of Steamboat Springs, asked Hickenlooper for help in getting Xcel involved in the discussions aimed at protecting the Shoshone water right. “Shoshone is a small drop in their bucket,” Hickenlooper said. “They’ve got no reason not to do it.”

“Or, they’ve got no reason to do it,” Sharp replied.

“Oh, but if they do, they will get to the top of my ‘Most Cherished Persons’ list,” Hickenlooper said.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Salida: Colorado water law workshop recap

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From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

Sponsored by Colorado Water Trust, water lawyers Marcus Lock and Kendall Burgemeister presented an overview of Colorado water law. Lock discussed the doctrine of prior appropriation, which provides the basis for Colorado water law, and provided an overview of state and federal laws that affect water rights…

Burgemeister provided an overview of methods for enhancing water supplies and optimizing water use, including changes of water right, which must be adjudicated in water court…

Terry Scanga, Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District manager, offered an overview of events that have influenced water use in the Arkansas River basin. He spoke about the 1948 Colorado-Kansas Compact, the 1969 Administration and Adjudication Act, the 1985 Kansas v. Colorado lawsuit, the voluntary flow management program and trans-mountain diversions. Scanga said 126,748 acre feet, about 20 percent, of water in the Arkansas basin comes from trans-mountain diversions.

Kaylea White, senior water resources specialist with Colorado Water Conservation Board, discussed the Colorado In-Stream Flow Program. Amy Beatie and Zach Smith, Colorado Water Trust executive director and staff attorney, respectively, discussed “hot topics,” including the Breem Ditch in-stream flow project near Gunnison and abandonment of water rights.

More water law coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: BLM To Hold Regional Forums on Hydraulic Fracturing in Natural Gas Production

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Here’s the release from the Bureau of Land Management (Matt Spangler):

Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey today announced that the BLM will hold a series of regional public forums in late April to further discuss the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques to stimulate natural gas production on Federal lands. The sessions will be held in Bismarck, North Dakota; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Denver, Colorado. These locations will help to highlight increased regional interest in natural gas development on Federal lands and other areas where the BLM has responsibility for mineral leasing.

“These forums will help inform BLM as we work closely with industry, the states, other Federal agencies and the public to develop a way forward on natural gas so that the United States can safely and fully realize the benefits of this important energy resource,” Director Abbey said. “The Interior Department has a responsibility to study the potential impacts and to identify commonsense, best management practices that should be used in fracturing operations on public lands to ensure that this development is carried out in the right way and in the right places.”

The regional forums will build upon a forum the Department of the Interior hosted in November 2010 in Washington, D.C. on best practices for hydraulic fracturing and will provide a more in-depth, technical review of natural gas development practices on public lands. The meetings are part of the Department’s proactive efforts to ensure that oil and gas development is taking place on public lands in a responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.

Topics to be discussed will include best management practices, disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids, well construction and integrity, production wastewater management and other techniques for protecting drinking water resources. Panelists will include experts from Federal and state governments, industry, and environmental organizations that have been engaged in natural gas development issues.

Safely harnessing the nation’s abundant natural gas resources is a vital component of America’s energy portfolio and has the potential to power the U.S. economy for decades to come and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Natural gas development on Federal lands has more than doubled over the last 20 years, from 1.2 trillion cubic feet in Fiscal Year 1991 to nearly 3.0 trillion cubic feet in Fiscal Year 2010. In Fiscal Year 2010, about 14 percent of domestically produced natural gas came from onshore public lands.

The BLM issues leases for natural gas development on lands managed by the BLM as well as lands managed by other Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service. The BLM also manages the subsurface mineral estate in a number of areas where the surface is privately owned. The use of hydraulic fracturing in these areas has similarly increased in recent years.

Meanwhile, Governor Hicklooper backs hydraulic fracturing according to TheDenverChannel.com. From the article:

Gov. John Hickenlooper is backing hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas drilling. But he said companies should disclose what chemicals they use in their fracturing fluids. Hickenlooper made the comments Thursday during a visit to Glenwood Springs.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: Interest in pumped hydro project near Penrose gets a boost from HB 11-1083

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

Jim and Mark Morley of the Morley Cos. have been working for years on a proposed plant on land they own near Brush Hollow Reservoir. The developers have piqued the interest of energy giant TransCanada, as well as state lawmakers, who passed a bill — signed Tuesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper — to encourage this and other such projects.

Instead of a traditional hydroelectric plant powered by flowing water, the Morleys want to build the third pumped hydroelectric storage plant in Colorado. It would work by pumping water uphill to a reservoir when demand is low and letting it run down to power turbines when electric use is high or other parts of a system, such as solar or wind, are not generating much power. The water is used over and over. This form of production doesn’t impact aquatic life by warming water or acting as a barrier to fish like many traditional hydro plants. “Pumped storage is somewhat of a unique energy asset, because it provides not only energy storage but significant benefits to the transmission system,” said Kyle Nenninger with Chicago-based Energy Advisory Partners, who is assisting the Morleys on the project.

The proposed plant would have the capacity to generate 432 megawatts — a megawatt powers 750 to 1,000 homes at any given time — and employ 300 workers during construction and provide 25 to 30 permanent jobs, Nenninger said. He said the reservoirs above and below the plant probably would not be open to public recreation. There are many uncertainties, including who would provide a one-time sale of 13,000 acre-feet, or 4.2 billion gallons, of water — to be piped from the Arkansas River — to run the plant…

The other pumped storage hydroelectric plants in Colorado are also in rural areas: Xcel Energy’s 300-megawatt Cabin Creek plant near Georgetown and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s 200-megawatt Mt. Elbert Powerplant at Twin Lakes.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.