Snowpack/precipitation/runoff news: A beautiful rain/snow for the northern Colorado plains

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From The Denver Post (Kieran Nicholson):

More than a foot of snow fell in some parts of the mountains and areas in the foothills received several inches of snow as well, said David Barjenbruch, a meteorologist and spokesman with the National Weather Service in Boulder. “The north got lots of great water equivalent that will help minimize fire dangers, at least over the next several days,” Barjenbruch said…

Aspen Springs, in Gilpin County, received 19 inches of snow and areas around Nederland, in Boulder County, received up to 16 inches of snow. Closer to Denver, the Evergreen and Conifer areas, in Jefferson County, received between 4 to 6 inches of snow and Boulder got about 2.5 inches.

From The Telluride Watch (Gus Jarvis):

According to the most recent snowpack percentages provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan watersheds, as a group, are currently at 88 percent of average, while the Upper Rio Grande is at 79 percent. And these two watershed groups are the only two in Colorado reporting average levels of below 100 percent. Statewide the snowpack level is 114 percent of average, with the highest snowpack levels found in the Yampa/White (133 percent of average) and North Platte (138 percent of average) watersheds in northwestern Colorado…

For rivers relying on reservoir storage, Lang said, the data corresponds (to snowpack averages), with reservoir levels statewide at 103 percent of average, and the San Miguel, Dolores and Animas watershed reservoir storage average coming in at 82 percent.

For boaters seeking a trip on the Dolores River below McPhee Reservoir, indications are there will be a release sometime in May, but precisely when is unclear. According to an updated press release issued on April 12 by the Dolores Water Conservation District, the release of 800 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) intended for Memorial Day weekend is now expected to come May 20.

From The Crested Butte News (Alissa Johnson):

…the Gunnison Basin’s snowpack sits at 115 percent of average, according to Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) snow survey supervisor Mike Gillespie. Snowpack has been declining each month since January, when it sat at 158 percent of average…

“We’re forecasting above-average runoff across the northern part of Gunnison Basin, and that is a favorable condition for all water users. Water rights will be met, people won’t be curtailed from receiving water rights, that kind of thing,” Gillespie said. The same north to south transition visible across the state is mirrored in Gunnison Basin. The inflow into Paonia Reservoir is at 131 percent of average, and to the south, Uncompahgre is at 94 percent. Blue Mesa sits right in the middle, at 111 percent of average.

From Steamboat Today (Joel Reichenberger):

The Yampa River has slipped above 700 cubic feet per second twice in the last week, and Wednesday afternoon it was pushing above 650. That’s higher than the April 13 average for the last 100 years by more than 100 cfs, but still less than one-third of what the river runs at in late May and early June. “All the preliminary indicators are that it’s going to be a good season,” said Pete Van De Carr, owner of Backdoor Sports in Steamboat. “We’re psyched.”

From the Longmont Times-Call:

Total rain/snow precipitation amounted to 1 inch…Times-Call weather consultant Dave Larison said the storm brought the most single-storm precipitation since 1.53 inches fell from heavy rains on Jun. 11-13, 2010. Longmont’s year-to-date precipitation is now up to 2.35 inches, still about a half inch below normal to date.

The Bar N-I Ranch Community Service Foundation, Culebra Range Community Coalition, and Purgatoire Valley Foundation are combining resources for a water festival in conjunction with ‘Water 2012’

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From The Trinidad Times (Steve Block):

A water festival would be an outdoor activity for the people of this area and could also attract visitors traveling to the area for their summer vacation, according to organizers of the potential event. The Bar N-I Ranch Community Service Foundation, Culebra Range Community Coalition, and Purgatoire Valley Foundation are combining resources and looking for public support of the water festival idea. The Culebra Range Community Coalition is taking the lead in making plans for the event. Its president, Tom Perry, can be reached at 846-8380…

A Watershed Group Committee is being formed and is working on getting the word out about Water 2012.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Boulder: Boulder Wastewater Treatment Facility employs cogeneration to reduce power costs

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From the Boulder Weekly (Chelsea Long):

…since 1986, the treatment facility has been finding ways to offset that electrical necessity. Back then, it was methane gas. Now, it’s solar power. “For the last 25 years, we’ve been beneficially using the methane gas that we derive from treated solids. As we break down and treat solids, a gas is formed that’s primarily methane,” Douville says. “Methane has a combustion value, and we use a system called co-generation to make electricity.” That system generates an average of 20 percent of the facility’s power needs, and it keeps methane from being released in the atmosphere. “Not all communities do that. We’re on the exception end of things,” Douville says. “Normally what a facility would do is burn the gas, so they’d flare it, ignite it and combust it, and it would go off in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and heat. Boulder made the commitment to produce electricity.”[…]

One of the last steps in decontamination is to rid the water of bacteria and other pathogens that are present in high levels. Currently, the center uses gaseous chlorine to disinfect the water of these pathogens. “It’s very effective but is extremely toxic to aquatic life and a huge safety risk to city staff and residents nearby, if we had a leak or tank rupture. That’s a low-probability event, but still a realistic risk scenario that we face,” Douville says. The center uses a second gas to dechlorinate and remove residual chlorine, so that toxins aren’t released into the stream, but both of those gases will be replaced with a UV disinfection system. “It’s a focused, targeted wavelength of high energy that only takes a matter of seconds to disinfect the wastewater and achieve compliance with our regulations,” Douville says.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

The Cherokee Metropolitan District is suing their former attorneys

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From (Karen Morfit):

The suit alleges the attorneys were profiting at the expense of the water district and its customers. Those former attorneys, James Felt and James Culichia deny the allegations. The lawsuit also includes Felt and Culichia’s law firm, Felt, Monson and Culichia. We’re told the case is still in the early stages and documents are still being investigated.

Among the allegations are that one of the attorneys represented a private client, who later sold water rights to Cherokee for hundreds of thousands of dollars, an apparent conflict of interest. Even the district’s current attorney, Kevin Donovan, says the conflict was presented to the boards’ former manager. “Because there was so much involved, and so much money involved in it. That at least it’s Cherokee’s position now, that unless other evidence comes up that was an un-waiveable conflict,” Donovan said.

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Florence: Public meeting to discuss possible water rate increases May 2

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

With revenue down and costs going up, the water fund started showing signs of a deficit last September, said Dori Williams, Florence city clerk. “City Council is talking about a water rate increase,” Williams said. Council has scheduled a public meeting at 6 p.m. May 2 in the council chambers (600 W. Third St.). “We could do a staged increase because we don’t want a real high rate increase. We don’t want it to go so high people stop watering their lawns and trees and we price ourselves out of a nice-looking city,” Williams said.

More infrastructure coverage here.