San Miguel River: Proposed minimum instream flows for certain reaches dividing residents

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From the Associated Press via the Sky-Hi Daily News:

The proposal by the Bureau of Land Management and Colorado wildlife officials would affect a stretch of the river about three miles west of Nucla. The proposal includes a minimum stream flow of 325 cubic feet per second during the spring runoff period from April 15 to June 14. Some conservation groups and outfitters say the plan would improve habitat for three fish, including the roundtail chub. Montrose County commissioners and Farmers’ Water Development Co. have questioned whether there is enough water to fulfill the plan.

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.

2011 Colorado legislation: HB 11-1300 — Conservation Easement Tax Credit Dispute Resolution

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Under HB1300, easement donors whose claims are being disputed by the Colorado Department of Revenue could forego hearings before the Department of Revenue and take their cases straight to court in a jurisdiction close to home. The bill includes a provision that would remove the surety bond requirement that is presently necessary to take a conservation easement case to court. The prohibitive sum of those bonds has been a barrier to challenging easements in dispute for some landowners in the past…

One aim of HB1300 would be resolution of easement challenges that are pending. To that end, it calls for suspending interest and penalties against donors who willingly participate in resolution of their cases through district court. The bill’s primary sponsors are Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, and Sens. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, and Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk. Its first hearing will be in the House Committee on Finance.

More 2011 Colorado legislation coverage here.

CWCB Water Availability Task Force: Monster snowpack across the northern basins, southern basins not so much

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Here’s the summary of the meeting from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Here’s the executive summary:

La Niña conditions are forecasted to weaken into June, which is expected to bring dry conditions for the eastern plains and southern Colorado, while recent average to above average moisture in north western Colorado may linger despite this overall set-up. The Yampa, Gunnison and Colorado basins snowpack remains well above average. Conversely, the southern portion of the state has seen a reduction in precipitation over the last few months, with the Southwest and Rio Grande Basins reporting below average snowpack. Streamflow in the northern half of the state is forecasted to be above average. The streamflow forecasts in the southern half of the state are average or below average, and recent dust on snow events in the Rio Grande may accelerate runoff. Statewide reservoir storage is above average statewide but some water providers have reported strong demand already. Recent April precipitation will not make up for a dry March but should curb the wildfire danger in the short term.

To download the presentations click here.

More CWCB coverage here.

The Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s fourth annual Conservation Auction April 26

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From the Tri-Lakes Tribune (Norma Engleberg):

“We do love to fly fish but for the last 25 years we have worked on numerous watershed conservation and restoration projects,” [Erik Heikkenen, president of the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited] said. “We’ve concentrated most of our work on the South Platte in Eleven Mile Canyon on the Trees for Trout project. We use trees taken from the Hayman Fire burn area and use them to stabilize the banks. Some of the timbers are placed in the stream bed to provide more trout habitat.”[…]

Coming up is the fourth annual Conservation Auction at 5:30 p.m. April 26 at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post. There will also be a series of monthly “Happy Hours” as local micro-breweries throughout the summer. A members-and-their-families-only fishing day is planned on June 4 at Rainbow Mountain Falls. “Anyone who becomes a member before that date can come out for the fishing and barbecue and the $150 rod fee will be waived,” Heikkenen said.

For more information about Cheyenne Mountain Chapter projects, visit http://www.cmctu.org.

More restoration coverage here.

USGS: A comparison of recharge rates in aquifers of the United States based on groundwater-age data

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Here’s the link to the publication. Here’s an excerpt:

An overview is presented of existing ground- water-age data and their implications for assessing rates and timescales of recharge in selected unconfined aquifer systems of the United States. Apparent age distributions in aquifers determined from chlorofluorocarbon, sulfur hexafluoride, tritium/helium-3, and radiocarbon measurements from 565 wells in 45 networks were used to calculate groundwater recharge rates. Timescales of recharge were defined by 1,873 distributed tritium measurements and 102 radiocarbon measurements from 27 well networks. Recharge rates ranged from<10 to 1,200mm/yr in selected aquifers on the basis of measured vertical age distributions and assuming exponential age gradients. On a regional basis, recharge rates based on tracers of young groundwater exhibited a significant inverse correlation with mean annual air temperature and a significant positive correlation with mean annual precipitation. Comparison of recharge derived from groundwater ages with recharge derived from stream base-flow evaluation showed similar overall patterns but substantial local differences. Results from this compilation demonstrate that age-based recharge estimates can provide useful insights into spatial and temporal variability in recharge at a national scale and factors controlling that variability. Local age-based recharge estimates provide empirical data and process information that are needed for testing and improving more spatially complete model-based methods.

More groundwater coverage here.

Colorado River District general meeting today and tomorrow

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You can get the details from the Colorado River District website.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Loveland: ‘Water, Jobs and the Economy Rally for NISP’ May 19

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From The Fort Morgan Times:

A “Water, Jobs and the Economy Rally for NISP” (the Northern Integrated Supply Project) is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 19, 2011at the Ranch Courtyard at Budweiser Event Center, 5290 Arena Circle, Loveland…The event is sponsored by NISP participants, Northern Colorado’s chambers of commerce, regional economic development organizations, business and agriculture organizations.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

Vail: Water system upgrades underway

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Here’s the release from the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District:

Eagle River Water and Sanitation District will begin construction on April 18 on upgrades to the Vail public water system. The project includes installation of additional piping, remote water quality analyzers, and upgraded equipment at seven sites throughout Vail and is required to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Ground Water Rule regulations…

The Ground Water Rule applies to more than 147,000 public water systems throughout the United States that use ground water. The Environmental Protection Agency anticipated the Ground Water Rule would result in increased costs to public water systems and States. Implementation of the Ground Water Rule in the Vail public water system is funded via an existing monthly debt service rate. Construction at the various sites will continue through November.

More infrastructure coverage here.

The American Water Works Association will release their new publication ‘The Future of Water: A Startling Look Ahead’ on Earth Day

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From the American Water Works Association via Water Online:

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) announced today the publication of The Future of Water: A Startling Look Ahead. As sweeping and transformational changes are heading our way in the not-too-distant future, this ground-breaking book takes a serious look at how the world will soon value water, use water, and access water.

Using his extensive experience in the water industry, Maxwell presents likely scenarios for the broad trends that will have a significant impact upon future water challenges worldwide–population, economics, energy, climate, and pollution. He discusses how the actions of individuals, investors, water utilities, industries, and nations can actually change the future of water.

“The Future of Wateris sobering and exhilarating at the same time. It’s sobering as Maxwell and Yates detail just how water touches so many aspects of modern life, and how dire the situation might be if nothing changes. However, this book is also exhilarating in the fast-paced way it examines the future of water from our own kitchen sinks to massive dams in China.”—Bill Owens, former governor of Colorado.

More Colorado Water coverage here and here.

Snowpack/runoff news: Reclamation is drawing down Ruedi Reservoir

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If you click on the thumbnail graphic to the right you’ll see a good representation of this winter’s La Niña effects on Colorado’s snowpack. Monster snowpack north drier conditions south. Here’s a reportfrom Scott Condon writing for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. From the article:

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation boosted its releases earlier than usual from Ruedi Reservoir in anticipation of the tub filling. The reclamation bureau wants to avoid a scenario like last year when the reservoir filled quickly in June and threatened to send water into the dam’s spillway…

The snowpack in the Upper Fryingpan Valley was 118 percent of average yesterday, with another snowstorm barreling down on the Colorado mountains. The upper snowpack is showing little sign of melting — the inflow to Ruedi was 105 cubic feet per second on Monday. During peak runoff in early June last year it surged to between 1,200 and 2,000 cfs…

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center foresees an impressive runoff for the Roaring Fork drainage this year. Its April 1 forecast indicated there was a 50 percent chance the flow of the Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs will exceed 7,400 cfs and a 25 percent chance peak flow will exceed 8,400 cfs. The average flow is 6,150 cfs. Last year the river peaked at 8,710 cfs in Glenwood Springs on June 11. It was an unusual year: unseasonably warm temperatures in June melted out the high country snowpack in a hurry, creating an intense but brief peak…

About a quarter of the automated Snotel sites operated by the federal agency that measures snowpack logged record levels in the Upper Colorado River region, Kanzer noted. Heavy snowpack translates into ample runoff. The forecast is for reservoirs to receive 110 to 130 percent of average runoff, he said.