Denver Water is embarking on an 18 month project to install a new water tank in Lone Tree

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From the Lone Tree Voice (Chris Michlewicz):

Denver Water will begin building a 10 million-gallon water tank on Chaparral Road this June or July. In a letter sent to nearby homeowners, Denver Water said the additional tank is “critical to provide a reliable potable water supply and meet fire demands in the area.” The improvement is also part of a rehabilitation program for the aging system, which would be prone to outages without upgrades. The $10 million project will put a storage tank within feet of an existing water tank just north of Eagle Ridge Elementary School.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: contains information on chemical composition of hydraulic fracturing fluids

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Indpendent (John Colson):

“Hydraulic fracturing in Western Colorado has resulted in ongoing concern and reasonable questions from local communities,” said David Ludlam, executive director of the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association in Grand Junction. “This tool will go a long way to help ease those concerns and clear up some misunderstandings about hydraulic fracturing technology,” he said…

The website is underwritten by the Ground Water Protection Council, a national nonprofit group, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, an industry advocacy organization. “This voluntary ‘disclosure’ site allows authorized members of the oil and natural gas industry to upload chemical information for hydraulic fracturing jobs conducted after January 20, 2011,” according to the website.

As of April 11, the only participant in Garfield County was Williams Petroleum, which listed 10 hydraulic fracturing procedures conducted between Feb. 2 and March 12.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Snowpack news: Has the snowpack peaked?

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From The Denver Post (Scott Willoughby):

According to the April 1 survey from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the statewide snowpack total was 113 percent of average and nearly 30 percent higher than a year ago. Multiple mountain storms since that date have bolstered the figures, which should translate to healthy river flows. But there’s no telling how the water will come down the mountain. A warm, dry spell typically means short, rapid runoff, while lingering cold and precipitation could extend the melt into summer. Already several Western Slope waterways have started showing signs of life, and increasing turbidity as a result…

River basins in the northern mountains, including the Colorado, Yampa, White and South Platte rivers, are looking at the deepest snowpack since 1996. Currently at 138 percent of average, the North Platte River Basin had the highest basinwide total in the state and the highest for April 1 since basinwide totals began to be calculated in 1968…

Meanwhile, the April 1 readings showed snowpack conditions across the southern mountains decline for three consecutive months, placing the Rio Grande and combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins well below average. A late boost of snowfall last week bumped the graph up to 79 percent of average in the Rio Grande basin two days after its April 10 average peak, while snowpack in the combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins climbed to 88 percent of average. Some smaller tributary basins in the Rio Grande basin have dropped to nearly 50 percent of average.

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

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Here are the notes from yesterday’s webinar from the Colorado Climate Center.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Aspinall Unit operations update: Flows through the Gunnison Tunnel to increase to 750cfs today, operations meeting April 21

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users will be increasing diversions through the Gunnison Tunnel this afternoon, bringing Tunnel diversions up to about 750 cfs. This will result in Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge flows of about 1,250 cfs.

Please note, Reclamation will be holding the April Aspinall Operations meeting on April 21st starting at 1:00 p.m. in the Grand Junction Western Colorado Area Office located at 2764 Compass Drive Suite 106. We will be discussing past operations and the upcoming spring runoff operations. Everyone is welcome to attend.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Trace amounts of fallout from the Japanese nuclear disaster found in Denver drinking water

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The radioactive isotope iodine-131 was detected at 0.17 picocuries per liter in Denver on March 30. EPA officials posted the results late Friday. The EPA has not set a specific drinking water contaminant standard for iodine-131. However, iodine-131 is a beta emitter, and the EPA has set a limit for total beta emitters equivalent to 3 picocuries per liter of iodine-131. “We understand that people get concerned when we talk about radiation, but it’s important to understand how these low levels compare to the radiation we experience from natural sources every day,” EPA spokesman Rich Mylott said in a prepared e-mail statement.

“To put this drinking water sample into context, an infant would have to drink nearly 7,000 liters of this water to receive a radiation dose equal to just one day’s worth of natural background exposure. That’s exposure we all experience every day from natural sources, such as the sun and rocks and gases in the earth’s crust.”

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Denver Water releases their Moffat Collection System mitigation plan

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Laura Snider):

…the “Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan” released last week by Denver Water, which says the Gross Reservoir expansion is necessary to meet a projected shortfall of 18,000 acre-feet of water per year for its customers by 2030. The water to fill the newly expanded reservoir would be drawn from the Fraser and Williams Fork rivers — both tributaries of the Colorado River — and pumped across the Continental Divide to Boulder County via the Moffat Tunnel. The Colorado Wildlife Commission now has 60 days to review the mitigation plan, which addresses impacts on both sides of the divide, before providing a recommendation to the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

In Boulder County, the mitigation plan also calls for monitoring the stability of South Boulder Creek’s stream channel above Gross Reservoir, which would carry an increased amount of water if the expansion is approved. Denver Water would also add an extra 5,000 acre-feet of water to the reservoir that could be released in the winter to increase flows in South Boulder Creek below the dam.

The mitigation plan for the Gross Reservoir expansion was released at the same time as a mitigation plan for the Windy Gap Firming Project, which also seeks to bring more water to the Front Range from the Colorado River watershed. The Windy Gap project, which is being proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, would bring more water to some Boulder County towns, including Erie, Superior, Lafayette, Longmont and Superior…

Managers for the two projects also worked together to create an “enhancement plan” for the upper Colorado River tributaries that would address some of the ecological issues caused by low water flow in the area. Enhancements could include narrowing and deepening the river channel in some areas…

“The heavy focus on what they call enhancements — they are fine and good — but they really address past problems,” [Drew Peternell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project] said. “What does this mean about these new projects?” Peternell said he also worries that the plan lacks teeth and clear thresholds for enforcement. For example, Trout Unlimited would like assurances that Denver Water will stop withdrawing water from the upper Colorado River if stream temperatures get too high, endangering fish. And they’re also concerned that spring “flushing flows” — which are ecologically important to the river — won’t be preserved.

Here’s the link to the Colorado Division of Wildlife website for the projects.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here and here. More Windy Gap coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System update: The Colorado Springs city council green-lights condemnation for property owners that won’t settle

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Dave Phillips):

The council voted 7-1 to grant the utility power to acquire four property easements in Pueblo West that are standing in the way of a nearly seven-mile stretch of pipeline scheduled for construction this summer. Councilman Tom Gallagher, a longtime SDS critic, cast the lone dissenting vote. “This is an unfortunate necessity,” said Councilman Sean Paige. “We never want to take this step if we can avoid it.” Utilities has been negotiating with 170 landowners in Pueblo County for permission to bury a 66-inch pipe since September 2009, according to Keith Riley, the head of planning and permitting for the project. So far, 120 land owners in Pueblo County gave permission in exchange for payments roughly equivalent to 90 percent the appraised value of the land. Another 12 properties had liens or judgements against them, so Utilities had to use eminent domain to clear the land titles. Another 12 property owners remain unwilling to accept Utilities’ offers, although negotiations continue. “I’m hopeful we will still reach agreement, but based on how it is going, it does not look like that will occur,” Riley told Council.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Drought news: On the southeastern Colorado plains the grass is not greening up due to little or no soil moisture

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Anthony Mestas):

“A lot of farmers who are working the ground are finding that there’s no surface moisture, no submoisture and the (Arkansas) river is not coming up. The river is just low enough to keep a lot of ditches that normally should be running water right now out of priority,” [Chuck Hanagan, county executive director for the Farm Service Agency in Otero and Crowley counties] said…

“It’s been hot, it’s been dry and the wind is blowing. That puts everybody on edge,” he said.