San Luis Valley Advisory Committee meeting May 13

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From email from the Colorado Division of Water Resources (Kathryn Radke):

Please note, the next meeting of the SLV Advisory Committee will be held on May 13, 2011 at the Adams State College, Room 309 of the Student Union Center. There will be a public meeting about the Irrigation Season Policy from 9AM – 10AM. The SLV Advisory Committee will meet from 10AM – 3PM. Lunch will be provided…

We will send out the next draft of the Rules and a draft Statement of Basis and Purpose in the next few weeks.

These documents will also be posted on our website in the next day or so at:
http://water.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/RulemakingAndAdvising/SLVAC/Pages/default.aspx

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here.

Finalists named for the annual ‘Leopold Conservation Award’

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From the Ag Journal:

In celebration of Earth Day, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), the Sand County Foundation, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., and Peabody Energy will present the Leopold Conservation Award to a landowner in Colorado. Each of these organizations believes in working lands conservation as it yields measurable conservation enhancements that benefit livestock production as well as wildlife species and habitats.

The Leopold Conservation Award, named in honor of world-renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is comprised of a $10,000 cash award and an Aldo Leopold crystal. The award is presented annually in eight states to private landowners who practice responsible land stewardship and management…

The 2011 Leopold Conservation Finalists are: The Fox Ranch; Wineinger-Davis Ranch; Pipe Springs Ranch; and the, Wagon Wheel Ranch…

The 2011 Leopold Conservation Award recipient will be honored Tuesday, June 21st at the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention in Steamboat Springs, Colo. The 2011 CCA/CCW/JCCA Annual Convention will be held at the Steamboat Sheraton in Steamboat Springs, Colo., June 20th-22nd. Individuals may register for this “must attend” event by referring to the April issue of Cattle Guard, visiting http://www.coloradocattle.org

More conservation coverage here.

Larry Small hired to lead the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Larry Small, a former board chairman, was hired Friday as executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District…Small will receive a monthly stipend of $2,500 — half of what interim director Gary Barber was paid. Barber resigned earlier this year for budgetary reasons…

In other action, the board:

– Agreed to administer a regional stormwater solutions white paper by Summit Economics. The district opted not to pay any of the $38,000 study itself, after Chostner maintained it is an El Paso County issue. Cities in El Paso County will bear the cost.

– Approved upgrades to a power line for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association because one of the towers is in the Fountain Creek flood plain. District committees determined there would be no impact to the creek.

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs is revising the city’s rules on development in the Fountain Creek floodplain, according to Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

[Dan Bare, senior engineer with the Colorado Springs stormwater department] spoke to the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District at its monthly meeting Friday. The district’s technical advisory committee, developers and other interests have been working with Bare for two years in rewriting the drainage manual for Colorado Springs. When complete, it could be applied throughout the watershed to provide uniform protection to Fountain Creek through land-use policies.

One key idea is to build smaller, more effective drainage detention ponds, rather than more costly large basins that quickly fill with sediment, Bare said. “The developers are aware of what we’re doing and are pleased with the concept,” he said. Detention ponds would be designed to be multipurpose and more natural. “What we’re doing today just isn’t working.”

The new regulations also would provide for low-impact designs on new development that do not increase runoff into Fountain Creek. “What this does is change the way we develop so we don’t have the problems we do today with Fountain Creek,” said Dennis Maroney, stormwater consultant for the City of Pueblo.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: Small scale hydroelectric installations are growing in popularity in Montrose County

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Dick Kamp):

from Montrose to Ridgway, and from Ouray to Telluride, the number of hydro projects are growing. Mike Berry, general manager of Tri County Water, hopes to build a hydro-project on Ridgway Dam. And he’s not alone; the area’s hydro-proponents also include renewable energy engineer Jim Heneghan of Delta Montrose Electric Association (DMEA); Kurt Johnson of Telluride Energy, and Eric Jacobson of Telluride’s Hydrowest power.

Jacobson owns the century-old Ouray and Telluride hydro-generating stations as well as the defunct Montrose Bullock power plant. He worked with Kurt Johnson to recently build the Ouray City hot springs hydro plant with used equipment.

Johnson is working with Tri-County in designing and promoting the Ridgway dam project. Johnson and Jacobson often work with Ouray attorney and Friend of the River activist Ben Tisdel of Ouray on hydro issues.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil shale: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has three hearings about exploration and production on public lands scheduled, Salt Lake (April 26), Rifle (May 3) and Denver (May 4)

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From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

The Denver hearing will be held May 4 at the Denver West Marriott, 1717 Denver West Blvd. in Golden at 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. The series of seven hearings will begin Tuesday in Salt Lake City. A hearing will be held May 3 in Rifle.

More oil shale coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: BLM forum on hydraulic fracturing showcases polarized opinion

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Industry leaders, state oil and gas regulators, and environmentalists aired their concerns about or enthusiasm for the process Monday in Golden during a U.S. Bureau of Land Management public forum about fracking in Colorado…

[Dave Cesark of Mesa Energy in Grand Junction] said there is little risk of groundwater contamination from fracking because the industry is heavily regulated and drilling companies are careful to prevent leaks. But, he said, the risk is not zero.

But Cathy Purves of Trout Unlimited said the industry appears to give total disregard to the public’s concern about possible contamination from fracking. If fracking is “no more harmful than household products, there’s a disconnect from the public about why the industry won’t disclose what those household products are,” she said.

David Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said his agency has studied thousands of water wells across the state and has never found evidence that fracking fluid has contaminated groundwater in Colorado.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: The Pueblo County Commissioners vote 3-0 to deny approval for the proposed electrical generation plant

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With the nuclear disaster in Japan still underway the timing for a new plant in Pueblo County couldn’t have been any worse. It looks like a nuclear wedge as part of the solution for Global Climate Change is going to be hard to get in place. The commissioners cited concerns over water needs as the driving force. Here’s a report from Peter Strescino writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

After the vote, [local lawyer Don Banner] said he would not appeal the decision but “respectfully disagreed” with it. Banner said people were “stirred up” over headlines from Japan, where that country’s nuclear energy program took a hit from a giant earthquake and resulting tsunami last month. “I think the decision (by commissioners) was made independently of that,” he said of the Japan tragedy. “People know these plants are now as safe as they humanly can be, but they get stirred up, don’t do research and just react to headlines.”[…]

Commissioner Anthony Nunez said he was all for economic development, but that new nuclear production has essentially stopped and the cost associated with the plants caused coal to be a more efficient way to produce energy. “And how much water would be needed just to run the plant, never mind if there was an emergency,” he said.

Commissioner Jeff Chostner, who is a friend of Banner’s and has been associated with him in legal practice, called Banner a fine man who has the public’s interest at heart. Chostner then gave a brief rundown of the country’s wars over oil and said too much blood and treasure has been wasted on the diminishing resource.

“But (his reason for voting no) is water,” Chostner said. “From an operational need to emergencies there are differing figures (about how much will be needed). We say we have enough water for a city of 350,000, but these energy uses (including the current power plants here) bring that down to enough for 300,000 people. That’s a chunk to take out of agriculture. And the last resort if we needed water for an emergency would be the Pueblo Reservoir. The county does not own a drop of that water.” Chostner continued, “I think we need to race to find alternative energy sources. At some place, at some time, we need to make nuclear energy appropriate.

More coverage from Abbie Burke writing for the Colorado Connection. From the article:

“It was a hard decision to make,” said Anthony Nunez, Commissioner, Chair Pro Tem, District 1. “I always kept in mind the water that it would take to cool these reactors down, that was paramount for me,” he said.

Nunez said agriculture is his number one priority and questioned what would happen to agriculture if Pueblo experienced a drought. “When I looked at those two things (water and agriculture) it’s what helped me to decide that I couldn’t go with it at this time,” Nunez said…

“They’re as safe as can humanly be made safe,” said Banner. “We send people in satellites to the moon and back and for the most part they do it safely, we can build nuclear power plants in this country safely.” Banner said Southern Colorado missed out on a great economic opportunity. “I think Southern Colorado’s economy would have been greatly bolstered as a result of this, if we would have passed it and it would have come to fruition,” he said.

More nuclear coverage here and here.