Creede: The second annual High Country Hustle — a run/walk for water April 17

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From the Mineral County Miner:

The Second Annual High Country Hustle, a 6.6K Run/Walk for Water, will be held on April 17 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Creede. The 2011 High Country Hustle is an opportunity for the community and state to come together to raise awareness about water issues and raise funds for river restoration activities on the Rio Grande.

  There is a $25 event fee, which will include an event t-shirt, a gift bag and post-run/walk refreshments. All monies raised will go toward the event organizers’ goal of raising $10,000 and will be donated to the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project. The Mission of the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project is “to restore and conserve the historical functions and vitality of the Rio Grande in Colorado for improved water quality, agricultural water use, riparian health, wildlife and aquatic species habitat, recreation and community safety while meeting the requirements of the Rio Grande Compact.”

More restoration coverage here and here.

NRCS: The April 1 Basin Outlook Report for Colorado is hot off the presses

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Here’s the link to the April 1 report. I like to keep track of the outlook for the Dolores River. From the report:

The combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River basin snowpack took another hit during March dropping to 86 percent of average on April 1. This is 85 percent of last year’s snowpack at this time. This is the seventh time that the April 1 snowpack has been below average in the last ten years. Given that the basin reaches its average peak snow water content on April 7, barring some record breaking event, there is virtually no chance that the snowpack will reach that level.

Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District annual spring water users meeting recap: Expansion of Halligan and Seaman reservoirs still ongoing

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

Nancy Koch, a water acquisition specialist with Greeley, and Cliff Hoelscher, project manager for Fort Collins, gave updates at Thursday’s spring water users meeting of Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District of where each are with expansion plans of Greeley’s Milton Seaman Reservoir and Halligan Reservoir, which Fort Collins owns and operates in conjunction with the North Poudre Irrigation Co…

Greeley has owned Seaman Reservoir since 1943. It is just north of the Poudre River and holds 5,000 acre feet of water. Greeley’s plan is to expand that to 53,000 acre feet, which Koch said will help the city maintain use of existing water and help meet future demands. It is the city’s intent, she said, to have that expansion completed by 2030.

Halligan Reservoir will expand from its present 6,400 acre feet of storage to 22,500 acre feet. It was originally owned and operated by the North Poudre Irrigation Co., but that company and Fort Collins reached an agreement in 2003 that gave the city ownership and joint operational duties with the irrigation company. It is north of Seaman Reservoir. Its expansion is proposed to be completed by 2016.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here.

Irrigation and ditch company primer

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Here’s a primer of sorts about irrigation and the operations of ditch companies, from Nancy Argo writing for The Durango Herald. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

Because the arid West does not receive enough natural rainfall each year to adequately grow crops, agricultural landowners began to control water from rivers and reservoirs for irrigation. The Colorado Constitution provides that the waters of every natural stream are the property of the people of the state of Colorado who have the right to divert the unappropriated water of any natural stream to beneficial use, thus creating a “water right” that may be decreed by a court. Because lands where water is used are often located away from streams and rivers, ditches may be constructed to carry the water to agricultural land.

Energy policy — oil and gas: FracFocus.org debuts today

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From NBC11News.com (Cecile Juliette):

Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis has been in the oil and gas business for 20 years. He’s also a chemical engineer. Commissioner Meis says that this website may not be very helpful to citizens who aren’t familiar with the fracking process. He says, “the chemical names are going to be relatively unknown to most people.” But he adds that the website will at least offer disclosure in case people are interested in doing the research into the fracking process.

Tara Meixell is author of “Collateral Damage,” a book about the oil and gas industry. She’s also working with MIT on the “The Extr ACT Project.” It’s a Wikepedia-based project for public-information sharing on gas and oil development impacts and resource issues. It also includes input from citizens in affected areas. Meixsell also served as consultant on the movie “Gaslands,” a film about the impact of natural gas extraction. She says the new website is, “a good first step in providing the public information on hydraulic fracturing chemicals and processes. However, voluntary participation can’t and won’t take the place of state and federal regulations.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

U.S. Representative Cory Gardner: ‘No technological advancement has ever had the singular power to transform society and economy like the application of water to dry land’

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Here’s a guest column from Representative Gardner running in the Sterling Journal Advocate. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s and excerpt:

While new technologies have transformed the agricultural and urban landscapes over the past 100 years, no technological advancement has ever had the singular power to transform society and economy like the application of water to dry land. Visionary Coloradans Wayne Aspinall and W.D. Farr took leadership roles to create the infrastructure that waters our state today. Their work has stretched well beyond a generation, but as populations grow and demands increase, that work is now stretching thin. It is time for our generation to pick up the mantle and provide the water leadership for our future.

Here’s guest column about the Northern Integrated Supply Project, from Eric Doering the mayor of Frederick running in The Greeley Tribune. Here’s an excerpt:

[The Northern Integrated Supply Project] is an integral part of the long-term health of our community and the other participants involved. It is the most proactive partnership to be seen by the communities and water districts and will result in an ability to meet the long-term needs of our population both current and future…

Growth will continue in the Front Range communities along the Interstate 25 corridor. We must be poised to meet those growing demands of primary employers and others who desire to have their workforce live, work and play in the community in which they establish their businesses. The NISP participants are gathering support for this project from a varied group of individual and business leaders, as well as chambers of commerce and agricultural interests. To date, the participants have spent more than $9 million to work through review and design processes, and it is now with the U.S. Corps of Engineers to review and indicate whether the project can move forward. Many political leaders from both parties are supporting this project.

Most of the largest communities along the North Front Range were foresighted many years ago to ensure their water portfolio and participated in projects similar to NISP. It is now time for Frederick, Erie, Firestone, Windsor, Dacono and other communities to have that same shared vision and commitment to adequate and reliable water for future use.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Snowpack/drought news: San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins sitting at 82 percent of average

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From The Telluride Daily Planet (Ellen Metrick):

Last week, when [Jim Boyd] and his co-worker John Lestina of Dove Creek measured the local snowpack, they came up with a below-average average over four sites. North Mountain, near Miramonte Reservoir, is at 98 percent of average snowpack, but Trout Lake area measured at 74.6 percent, and in the town of Telluride, the snowpack moisture content is at 67 percent. The fourth site, on Lizard Head Pass, is close to 85 percent. Overall, the snow water equivalent for the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins measure at 84 percent. The highest in the state — the Laramie and North Platte River Basin — is at 138 percent of average, while the lowest — the Upper Rio Grande Basin — is at 75 percent. In addition to the moisture content of the snow, other factors come into play, as well — spring winds can suck the moisture out of the snowpack, and above-average temperatures could melt it more quickly, reducing the amount of water available later. In the Norwood area, where water storage is limited and spring “natural-flow” irrigation is a common event, a fast run-off can be a concern.

From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

The problem, [Karen Rademacher, a senior water resources engineer for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District] said, is there’s only room enough to store about 215,000 acre-feet of water. As a result, Northern Water will start spilling water out of Granby Reservoir, the main collection point of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, before that runoff starts next month. The Colorado-Big Thompson brings a supplemental water supply to the northeast part of the state from the Colorado River. While that means there will be a lot of water flowing down not only the Colorado, but the Big Thompson, Poudre, St. Vrain and South Platte rivers as well this spring, while the eastern part of the state remains in the grips of a moderate to extreme drought. Rademacher said the most recent outlook calls for those drought conditions to continue into the spring months. “The water equivalent of the snowpack is spectacular. It’s the biggest year we’ve seen since 1986, but at the same time, we’re seeing conditions on the eastern plains that are similar to what we saw in the drought of 2002,” Rademacher said…

As a result of those conditions, Dave Nettles, division engineer with the Colorado Division of Water Resources in Greeley, said there already have been calls for irrigation water along northern rivers, such as the South Platte, which have come a little earlier than normally expected. At the same time, the major reservoirs along the South Platte and its tributaries, are at near capacity, he noted. But Nettles also said there have been below-average flows on the South Platte and other rivers since July and August of last year, noting the majority of the water coming from this year’s snow melt will be used along the Front Range by senior water right holders.