Although the pipeline would be far away from Southwest Colorado, it involves Colorado River water, so it could complicate interstate agreements that require Western Colorado to leave water in the rivers for use downstream.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board will consider funding the grant at its Sept. 13-14 meeting in Grand Junction.
Environmental groups are urging the board to deny the grant, citing the high cost of the proposed pipeline and the possibility for damage to trout and endangered fish below Flaming Gorge dam.
“The single most important element for those fish to continue is water,” Bart Miller, of Western Resource Advocates, said during a telephone town hall last month. “They’ve got to have water in the spring peak flow. They’ve got to have water in the base flow period when water is a little bit lower on the river. They’ve got to have it all the time.”[…]
The grant at issue before the Colorado Water Conservation Board would not favor either concept.
Instead, it is designed to find solid data to make decisions on the general concept of a Flaming Gorge pipeline, said Rod Kuharich, chairman of the Metro Basin Roundtable, one of the regional groups that submitted the grant request.
“It is not to move forward with the project. It is not to commit the state in any way,” Kuharich said.
Jackson Gulch reservoir live content stood at 8,594 acre-feet with a 9,977 acre-feet maximum capacity and a 7,306 acre-feet average (1971-2000) end-of-month content. At Jackson Gulch, a daily maximum/minimum of 61/49 cubic-feet-per-second was released into the Mancos River, and 22 acre feet were released for municipal purposes.
McPhee Reservoir live content stood at 349,845 acre-feet, with a 381,051 acre-feet maximum capacity and a 335,208 average (1986-2000) end-of-month content. At McPhee, 4,612 acre-feet were released into the Dolores River, and 47,372 acre-feet were released for transbasin purposes. At McPhee, a daily maximum/minimum of 82/74 cubic-feet-per-second was released into the Dolores River.
From Loveland Water and Power via the Loveland Connection:
Steve Adams has been named director of the city of Loveland’s Water and Power Department after serving as interim director for the past three months.
Adams has worked for the city for 17 years. He was chosen over other applicants from across the nation.
Prior to joining the city, Adams worked for the engineering firm CH2M-Hill and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he served in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Adams is licensed as a professional engineer in Colorado and holds two master’s degrees, one in business administration from Boston University and one in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado.
Adams has been interim director since Ralph Mullinix retired from the position in May after serving in the department for nearly 40 years.
Here’s part four in the series from The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh/Lynda Edwards). Click through for the slide show and to read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:
At some points, the complexity of the law, the depth of the bureaucracy and the passions of the opposing sides make reaching a consensus seem unattainably ambitious.
But glimmers of good-faith collaboration are giving those toiling in the trenches reason to hope.
One such glimmer is the River Protection Workgroup, a coalition formed in 2006 as a result of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act approved by Congress in 1968.
Meghan Maloney, a former river-issues coordinator at the San Juan Citizens Alliance, said the coalition has been a model of community participation.
“Everyone who wants to be is part of the process,” Maloney said.
Similarly, the decision whether to declare the area around the Animas River’s headwaters a Superfund site because of leaking mine contamination has sparked controversy but also demonstrated each side’s deep commitment and love for the waterway…
“The notion that Durango and Silverton residents should just accept that the Animas will be polluted is unacceptable,” [Steven Way, on-scene coordinator for the EPA’s emergency response unit] said. “It’s an important river historically and environmentally. OK, Cement Creek is never going to be Gold Medal trout fishing. But I truly believe it is possible to stop the mine contamination or alleviate it enough to protect the Animas and make it cleaner.”
Click here for the webpage with the whole series and many related articles, from The Durango Herald.
It’s no mistake when a group name evokes the memory of the Wilderness Warrior, former President, Theodore Roosevelt. His efforts led to some of the boldest conservation actions in the late 19th and early 20th century. In recent years I’ve come to realize the remarkable job that Roosevelt and those he worked with did in protecting headwaters areas from development and ruin. As the bumper sticker on the Coyote Gulch Jeep says, “Sportsmen were the original conservationists.”
So say hello to the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance. They believe that our representatives in Washington, D.C. should pay a price at the polls if they vote against conservation issues. To that end they’ve funded a billboard in Colorado Springs blasting Doug Lamborn for his vote to zero out the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. What fun. One can only hope that Lamborn and his staffers see the billboard enough times to get the message.
Here’s a look at the Alliance from Chuck Plunkett writing for The Denver Post. Click through to read the whole article and see an image of the advertisement. Here’s an excerpt:
From the Bull Moose presser:
During the U.S. House of Representatives debate of the FY 2012 Interior funding bill, Congressman Lamborn sponsored and introduced an amendment to H.R. 2584 with the stated purpose of zeroing out any Land and Water Conservation Fund monies available to the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Forest Service to protect wildlife habitat and clean water.
In a time where lack of access to quality hunting and fishing opportunities is a reason for declining participation, Rep. Lamborn has proven his willingness to further degrade a unique American legacy of wildlife management and conservation prized by hunters and anglers throughout the nation. According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, nearly half of the nation’s 32 million hunters and anglers conduct a portion of their hunting activity on public lands.
The Land and Water Conservation fund has provided funding for projects and conservation efforts in Congressman Lamborn’s district including the Arkansas River, the Royal Gorge and Ramah Reservoir.
Lamborn’s office counters that the sportsmen are overstating the point, and that current levels of access to federal lands in Colorado won’t be affected.
Meanwhile, Ben Noreen lists some of the congressman’s political miscalculations this year in The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:
The Bull Moose outfit, named in honor of former President Teddy Roosevelt’s last political hurrah, registered its disappointment with a billboard, which bashes Lamborn near the intersection of Platte Avenue and Chelton Road, across the street from Sportsmen’s Warehouse, the outdoor recreation retailer.
“Surprised?” the billboard asks. “Congressman Lamborn voted to gut the Land and Water Conservation Fund, limiting access to hunting and fishing in Colorado.”
The GOP-controlled House reduced the fund drastically, to $62 million. Lamborn’s suggested number: zero.
“I was shocked when I saw the amendment,” said Gaspar Perricone, a Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance spokesman. “It’s contrary to the hunting and fishing community.”
The Bull Moose people meet the definition of a special interest group, but the organization is not anti-Republican. A billboard is going up in Grand Junction, too — to praise GOP Rep. Scott Tipton, who has been supportive of the alliance’s interests.
“We are drowning in debt, and we have to draw the line somewhere. The federal government already owns more than a third of all land in Colorado. The people of Colorado enjoy tremendous opportunities to hunt and fish. Our priority must be on protecting and preserving the lands we already have.
“At a time when Washington is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, there is simply no money for buying new land. My common sense amendment would have saved taxpayers about $51 million.” — Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
From the Lawrence Journal World (Scott Rothschild):
In a recent letter to a Colorado resident, Brownback said the Bonny Reservoir in Yuma County, Colo., which abuts the border of northwest Kansas, is a valuable recreational area for many residents in surrounding communities. He added in the letter to Audrey Hase, who is trying to save the reservoir from being drained, “Because Colorado is a party to this compact, it is named in the lawsuit, but Kansas seeks no relief against Colorado at this time.”[…]
Colorado State Engineer Dick [Wolfe] said Brownback was off base. “I’m not sure what the basis for that statement is,” [Wolfe] said Monday. “We do know that it is wrong,” he said.
The release of water from Bonny Reservoir is necessary for Colorado to make up a water debt it owes Kansas and comply with the 2003 settlement of the 1942 Republican River Compact between Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas, [Wolfe] said…
Wolf said he spoke with Kansas water officials to make sure Brownback wasn’t signaling a change of plans. He said they told him the plan hasn’t changed.
More Republican River basin coverage here and here.
Last week was the culmination of that partnership as more than 310 water advocates and energy leaders came together at the first ever Water and Energy Conference to discuss common challenges and opportunities facing their industries.
“I think we were very pleased,” said Jerry Nettleton of the Colorado Coal and Power Generation planning team. “The Water Congress has their fall meeting here every other year. We looked at it and decided there were a lot of common elements in terms of water and energy and some of the challenges and opportunities they face…
Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress, said his board was pleased with the partnership and is already talking about returning to Steamboat next year.
“We’ve had a tradition of being in Steamboat every other year for about the last 15 years,” Kemper said. “When we’re not in Steamboat, we hold the Congress somewhere in the I-70 corridor. But my board has already asked me to look into bringing the conference and the energy partnership back to Steamboat next year.”
Kemper, who had never visited a power plant or a working coal mine, said the tours of Craig Station and Trapper Mine were the highlights of the conference.
Here’s the release from Select Energy Services via Business Wire:
Select Energy Services, LLC (“Select”), a water solutions, oilfield service and supply company headquartered in Houston, TX, announced today the acquisition of Lone Star, LLC (“Lone Star”), a salt water disposal facility in Weld County, Colorado.
Lone Star currently holds a 37-acre property and salt water disposal facility in Weld County, Colorado, in the heart of the DJ Basin and Niobrara Shale activity. Currently, there are 23 rigs running within a 20 mile radius of the Lone Star property and therefore the new facility should be advantageous for operators in the region due to the current shortage of disposal facilities in Weld County.
“The acquisition of Lone Star will provide Select with a valuable entrance point into salt water disposal services in the Rocky Mountain region and further compliment our current service offerings in the region,” said John Schmitz, CEO of Select. “We look forward to providing a cost effective solution to the region’s water solution and transportation needs.”
This transaction will augment Select’s current position in the Rockies and further bolster its regional water solutions division. The local demand for salt water disposal is robust and growing with the increased emphasis in the Niobrara Shale. Select’s entry into water solutions and transportation in Weld County marks a significant step forward in both Select’s presence and growth potential in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Here’s part three of The Durango Herald’s (Lynda Edwards) series titled The Animas in a Changed Climate. The article takes a look at the future of the river and what Durango water users might face in the coming years. Here’s an excerpt:
[Durango’s 2011 Water Efficiency Management Plan] urges Durango to consider expanding an existing ordinance that restricts some new developments from planting high-water-use trees and plants not grown for human consumption. It also requires low-water-use plants on certain slopes and water-efficient irrigation. The study asks Durangoans to consider expanding and enactingthese restrictions across the city.
The plan also suggests adopting a “green building” ordinance for all new development. The plan does not mention what the ordinance would say.
Sandra Henderson of Project BudBurst, a program that recruits local residents to help document climate change, said: “Doing nothing about environmental problems creates stress. Doing something is empowering. Durangoans can take their city’s future into their own hands.”
Click through for the photos of the installation of a xeriscape garden and drip irrigation.
This week, the San Juan Public Lands Center released a draft environmental impact statement on what is expected to be the next hot spot for oil and gas development in Southwest Colorado. Known as the Gothic Shale Gas Play, the 646,403-acre area located primarily within Montezuma, Dolores and San Miguel counties (with a small sliver of La Plata County) could be home to nearly 3,000 new wells over the next 15 years. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands make up 57 percent of the area, with Paradox Basin and the Dolores River Corridor at the epicenter, accounting for nearly 1,800 of the potential wells.
“It’s a really big deal,” said Jimbo Buickerood, of the San Juan Citizens Alliance. “There are huge resource values that we are concerned about and we know the citizenry is concerned about.”
The gothic shale EIS is actually a supplement to the 2007 San Juan Public Lands Center Draft Land Management Plan, which is undergoing its first major revision since 1985. The 2007 EIS projected only 1,185 new coalbed methane wells for the entire San Juan Lands planning area, much of them overlapping the general area of the Gothic Shale Play. However, the original EIS did not account for the potential of tapping into the thin shale underlayer, which has recently become possible due to technological advances. As a result, land managers went back to the drawing board to revise numbers, adding a possible 1,769 new shale wells to the area on both federal and nonfederal lands…
Of the four suggested alternatives4 (including the requisite “do nothing,”) preferred Alternative B recommends 776 new wells on federal lands, 250 miles of new roads and a disturbance of 2,592 acres. According to the EIS, half of the area is classified as “working forest and rangelands” and has a history of multiple use, including timber harvest, mining, grazing, recreation, and oil and gas development. However, Buickerood said there is concern some development could encroach on the Dolores River, which has been identified as a candidate for Wild and Scenic River status.
“We aren’t saying ‘no natural gas drilling.’ We’re saying ‘Let’s do it right, and here are some ideas,’” said Buickerood, who is heading up a response to the EIS on behalf of several local conservation groups. “The three main factors we’re concerned with are: how many wells, over what area and over what period of time.”[…]
Another major concern is water. Millions of gallons are required to drill a well and in the fracking process. Although some can be re-used, a plan for proper treatment and disposal of the waste water will be needed. The question of where the water will come from for drilling operations is another consideration. Bill Barrett currently pulls water earmarked for municipal and industrial use from the Dolores River Project.
FromThe Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):
Whitney spoke during a congressional oversight field hearing conducted by two Colorado representatives, Scott Tipton and Doug Lamborn, both Republicans serving on the House Natural Resources subcommittee on energy and mineral resources…
The new study is holding back applications for three new leases, limiting the kind of innovation and variety of experimentation that will make oil shale a commercial resource, Whitney said…
Another witness, former Grand Junction Mayor Jim Spehar, called on the committee to support the establishment of an oil shale trust fund or similar mechanism to help communities prepare for and deal with the effects of growth if an oil shale industry is to take shape. A relatively small, 500,000-barrel-per-day oil shale industry could add 50,000 new people to northwest Colorado, Spehar said. “That’s why I’m concerned about getting a head start” on development if and when oil shale development does take place, he said. “Current taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for it.”[…]
Anu K. Mittal of the Government Accountability Office said a study of the potential use of water over the life of an oil shale project can range from one to 12 barrels of water per barrel of the equivalent of oil for an in-situ project, to two to four barrels for an above-ground, retort project. Another analysis offered by the University of Utah’s Institute for Clean and Secure Energy, suggested an average water consumption rate of 2.5 barrels for each barrel of oil from shale, according to Jennifer Spinti, research associate professor at the university.
Here’s Part Two of the four part series about the Animas River from Dale Rodebaugh and The Durango Herald. Mr. Rodebaugh outlines how uses of the river have changed over time, from prehistoric times to the filling of Lake Nighthorse (full on June 29 this year), part of the Animas-La Plata Project. Here’s an excerpt:
Durango’s early exploitation of the Animas was as a conduit to get logs to sawmills, where they were turned into lumber and railroad ties.
Today, most of the water pulledfrom the river is for irrigation and consumption, but the city of Durango in 2007 obtained a decree that guarantees a certain amount of flow for a whitewater park at Smelter Rapid. Several entities have won such rights for recreation since legislation establishing recreation rights was enacted in2001.
Also, a certain amount of water is reserved to protect two fish species in the San Juan River – the Colorado pikeminnow and humped-back chub,which are federally listed as endangered.
Click through for the whole article and the slide show.
Here’s a look at how the USGS measures streamflow, from Dale Rodebaugh writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:
The USGS maintains more than 7,000 gauging stations on rivers and lakes across the country. The Durango office manages 41 stations in La Plata, Archuleta, Montezuma, San Juan, Dolores, San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties.
The station near U.S. Highway 550 and 14th Street went into service in 1895, only six years after the first one ever was installed in New Mexico on the Rio Grande River to help determine whether there was sufficient water for irrigation.
The USGS computerized its gauging nationally in 1983 and first made real-time data available online in 1995.
Click through for the whole article and the video of hydrologic technician Jennifer Dansie at work on calibration chores.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering superfund status for parts of the upper Animas River watershed, according to Mark Esper writing for The Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:
And EPA officials said that while the collaborative approach to water quality in the upper Animas spearheaded by the Animas River Stakeholders Group has been successful, the worsening situation on Cement Creek has compelled the agency to study a possible Superfund listing.
“The problem is worsening water quality,” said Sabrina Forrest, site assessment manager for the EPA in Denver. Forrest explained that while the EPA considers the problem to be worthy of the National Priorities List (NPL) under the Superfund law, local support would be required as well as a sign-off from the governor.
“It’s eligible for listing, but community support is needed for that,” Forrest said. And if the Gladstone sites were to be eventually put on the NPL “the community would still have a huge voice on how this would be done.”[…]
Meanwhile, the EPA is planning a Sept. 16 site tour at Gladstone for those interested in getting a better idea of the situation on the ground up there. Forrest says the EPA hopes it can determine by Dec. 20 if there is enough local support for NPL listing to proceed. Under that timetable, the listing could be made official by March 2012.
The preliminary assessment work focused on a cluster of mine sites at and above Gladstone, including the American Tunnel, Gold King Number 7 level, the Mogul and Grand Mogul and the Red and Bonita mines. Peter Butler of Durango, a steering committee member for the Animas River Stakeholders Group, which was formed as a collaborative approach to water quality issues in 1994, said Cement Creek has seen a steady increase in metals loading since a treatment plant at Gladstone was shut down in 2004. Up to 845 gallons per minute of acid mine drainage is pouring into Cement Creek from just four abandoned mines above Gladstone…
At this point, Butler said possible solutions include various scenarios for a water treatment plant on Cement Creek, bulkheads for the four mines discharging the most, or some combination of that. Then comes the question of who pays. Butler said options include seeking damages from Sunnyside Gold’s parent company, Kinross; luring a large mining company to reopen the Gold King and take on the cleanup liability; taking an incremental approach with a pilot treatment project that could be expanded; invoking Superfund; or a combination thereof.
Todd Hennis of Golden, who described himself as the “unfortunate owner of the Gold King and Mogul mines,” said the EPA has been spinning “fairy tales.” “The problem started in 2000 when water started coming out of the Mogul,” Hennis said. He said that was a result of the American Tunnel bulkheads causing water to back up. The water table has since risen an estimated 1,000 feet, causing acid mine drainage to seep from ever higher points on the mountain. Hennis accused state officials of engaging in “pollution trading” with Sunnyside Gold, with a consent decree letting the mining firm off the hook for water quality problems in the Gladstone area. “The state of Colorado has a huge responsibility for this situation,” Hennis said. “Sunnyside walked out of this district and their $5 million bond was returned.” Hennis said the best solution would be for a mining firm to reopen the Gold King and assume responsibility for the water quality issues. Hennis said he thinks there is $700 million in gold still retrievable from the Gold King mine.
Here’s an article that details the course of the Animas River, including the geology, from its headwaters to the San Juan River, from Dale Rodebaugh writing for The Durango Herald. Here’s an excerpt:
At one time, [David Gonzales, a professor and chairman of the geosciences department at Fort Lewis College] said, gravel impelled by a glacier created a dam to form a lake in the Animas Valley. Later erosion of the debris drained the lake but caused the relatively flat and wide channel. The farthest reaching glacier, which receded about 12,000 years ago, carried gravel as far as 32nd Street, Gonzales said.
“While we are encouraged that the Flaming Gorge discussion sponsored by the roundtables and state of Colorado will attempt to foster agreement on key issues and take a fair look at the project, we are concerned that many groups are engaging in a political attempt to intimidate the participants and bias or terminate the process,” Parker Water and Sanitation Manager Frank Jaeger wrote in a recent letter to key state officials.
Environmental groups last month announced opposition to the study of the project by roundtables…
The [Colorado-Wyoming Cooperative Supply Project] is awaiting U.S. Bureau of Reclamation modeling of the Colorado River basin, expected to be complete later this year, before it wraps up its feasibility study launched in 2010. Since then, the group has further defined its needs: 105,000 acre-feet annually from the project to meet growth estimates to the year 2070…
The Colorado-Wyoming Coalition’s proposed project helps meet several positions taken on water by Gov. John Hickenlooper, Jaeger said. Those include:
– Protecting agricultural water.
– Providing an adequate supply of water to promote a strong economy.
– Helping to fill the municipal water gap identified in the 2010 Statewide Water Supply Initiative.
– Supporting the portfolio of strategies identified by the Interbasin Compact Committee: reuse, conservation, alternative agriculture-municipal transfers, completing identified projects and developing new projects.
More Colorado Wyoming Cooperative Supply Project coverage here.
Here’s the link to part one of Dale Rodebaugh’s four part series running in The Durango Herald. The focus is mining and agricultural runoff. Here’s an excerpt:
In 1978, Lake Emma, under which miners had bored the Sunnyside tunnel, collapsed. The ensuing torrent of water spewed timbers, equipment and tons of debris from the mine. Miraculously, no lives were lost because it occurred on a weekend.
When Sunnyside Mining Co. closed its operations in Silverton in 1991, it was facing an annual expense of $800,000 to treat 1,200 to 1,600 gallons a minute of contaminated waste.
Instead, the company negotiated a court decree with the state to install bulkheads to plug draining adits.
Todd Hennis, who has an ownership stake in a couple of the leaking mines, said that agreement in the mid-’90s was a grievous error because it allowed a $5 million bond to be returned to Sunnyside despite the potential for future contamination.
Later contracts with other companies to treat waste didn’t work out, and since 2004, contaminants have been flowing freely from the mines.
Click through and read the whole article. They’re also running a slideshow and video.
Nebraska, and ultimately Kansas, are about to receive approximately 4 billion gallons of water from Colorado’s Bonny Reservoir in Yuma County, under a decades old agreement between the three states to share water. Bonny Reservoir, which sits on the south fork of the Republican River, holds the best potential to make up a water debt owed to Kansas under the 1942 Republican River Compact, Colorado officials say…
In 2003, Kansas won a Supreme Court battle to force Nebraska and Colorado to make up for water they reserved from the river in violation of the compact. “We have spent four years looking for a better solution than draining Bonny,” Colorado Assistant Director for Water Alex Davis said. “It is really a tragedy that we have to take this step.
The South Fork of the Republican River, which actually is more like a nice creek, still runs in places, but in others it mostly comes to a standstill thanks to a huge amount of cattails and silt. “They’re like one big sponge,” said Fred Raish, supervisor of the Yuma County Pest Control District.
Raish is leading an effort to clean up the cattails and Russian-olives along the South Fork, east and west of Bonny Lake State Park. The hope is eradicating the cattails, which are extremely thick immediately west of the reservoir, will help break loose the water and get it flowing at a higher rate into Bonny and beyond into Kansas. Raish led the same effort on the North Fork in recent years, putting more than $350,000 toward eradication of Russian-olives, salt cedar, and now cattails, over the past four years.
He noted that he grew up in a flood irrigation family in Montrose and La Plata counties with the idea that “if you’re not cleaning up your ditches, you’re not fully utilizing your water.”[…]
“This is not a water project, it’s a restoration project,” Raish said as he drove the bumpy trails along the South Fork where a hired crew is eradicating the Russian-olives west of Bonny. “Water just happens to be a main part of the equation.” He explained that the idea is to restore the river banks to the native species, which in turn helps with the wildlife. There has been $300,000 in grant money put toward the efforts in recent years, along with funds donated by Colorado Corn, Republican River Water Conservation District and W-Y Well Testing, along with wildlife groups, some federal money, and state funds through the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The current project entails cleaning up a two-mile stretch west of Highway 385, as well as a stretch on the east side of Bonny. The east side was cleaned up last year, and the native grasses already have returned where machinery left nothing but dirt a year before. Raish said Landsman Creek, which flows into the southwest corner of Bonny, also needs to be cleaned up to create a better flow. There have been some huge numbers thrown about in regards to how much it would cost to fully dredge and clean up the South Fork, some estimates have been put as high as $35 million.
Here’s the link to a set of photos of the South Fork of the Republican River from The Yuma Pioneer.
More Republican River basin coverage here and here.
“Because of the budget environment, we will continue pulling (mineral severance fund) money away to the general fund,” state Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, told the Colorado Water Congress this week. “There will be a bare-bones level of funding for water projects.” Some projects have continued to receive funding, such as $36 million over three years for the Animas-La Plata development. The state also distributed $6 million last year and has $7 million budgeted this fiscal year for water supply reserve accounts through basin roundtables. Other programs such as satellite monitoring, weather modification and watershed protection have suffered, Schwartz said…
On several occasions at the summer conference of the Water Congress, [State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg] advocated building more storage in order to capture some of the large flows from melting snow in both the South Platte and Colorado river basins this year. Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton, both Colorado Republicans, also stressed the need for more storage and hydroelectric power generation…
Colorado will need to spend $5.32 billion over the next 20 years to maintain municipal water infrastructure and $2.13 billion for wastewater improvements, said Tom Iseman of the Western States Water Council.
“I just want to make sure we can stretch this money as far as we can until 2016,” Executive Director Larry Small told the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway district board Friday. “Financially, we are in good shape.”[…]
When the Southern Delivery System comes on line, scheduled in 2016, the district gets the balance of $50 million, paid by Colorado Springs under its 1041 land-use permit with Pueblo County. Until then, the district will continue to live on $200,000 provided to it through an agreement with Colorado Springs and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District…
Although its operating budget is tiny, the district manages about $500,000 of funds through the agreement with Colorado Springs and the Lower Ark. The Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan will be completed this year, and the U.S. Geological Survey is working on a study of potential dams on Fountain Creek.
From the Grand Junction Free Press (Sharon Sullivan):
At Wednesday hearing in Grand Junction, Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-CO) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO) repeatedly criticized the Obama administration, claiming the administration is hindering the domestic development of oil shale…
The few non-industry witnesses allowed to testify at the hearing mentioned other factors hampering oil shale development: Technological challenges, low oil prices discouraging investment, and concerns about environmental impacts…
“Oil shale has relatively low energy content and companies have yet to demonstrate net gains in energy production. In essence, commercial oil shale production could use more energy than it would produce,” Frank Smith, of Western Colorado Congress, said.
[Anu Mittal director of Natural Resources and Environment Division at the U.S. Government Accountability Office presented a] report [that] focused on impacts of potential oil shale development on water resources. “Oil shale will require large amounts of water — a resource that is already in scarce supply in the arid West where an expanding population is placing additional demands on water,” Mittal said.
Some analysts project that large scale oil shale development in Colorado would divert water away from agricultural and urban development. Companies have acquired significant water rights within the Colorado and White River Basins of Colorado, and may apply for additional water rights in the future.
Another panelist attending the hearing, Jennifer Spinti, a research associate professor at the University of Utah’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Institute for Clean and Secure Energy, mentioned that the public also needs to be aware of “ancillary water use” of oil shale development. Construction and operation of a nearby power plant to provide energy for an oil shale project would consume significant amounts of water, as well as would water needed to control dust, she said. Potential water contamination is also a concern, Spinti said…
Tipton questioned Helen Hankins, Colorado State Director of the BLM, about the need for another PEIS.
Hankins replied: “The industry is in its infancy. Water, sage grouse, and plants are potentially threatened. There was litigation in 2009 challenging the PEIS — that’s why the (Interior) Secretary is taking a fresh look. It does not affect the six existing (research and development) leases.”
Tipton repeated “regulatory uncertainty is a factor in delaying oil shale research.”
Hankins responded again that a new PEIS will not affect companies’ research and development on private lands, or on the existing leases. “We’re yet many years away from environmental approval and commercially viable oil shale development,” Hankins said. “It gives us time to review the rules.”[…]
“Energy development is one of the key priorities of Secretary Salazar,” Hankins said. “Oil shale is one component of energy development. When it is commercially viable, and environmentally proven, it will be a source.
“However, the BLM’s mission is ‘multiple use.’ Land use plans consider a variety of factors — watershed health, wildlife habitat, as well as energy.”
More coverage from Meghan Gordon writing for Platts. From the article:
Representatives Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, both Colorado Republicans, criticized the Department of Interior’s February decision to take a new look at a November 2008 federal rule for commercial development of oil shale. At a field hearing of the House Energy and Minerals Resources Subcommittee in Grand Junction, Colorado, the pair couched the oil shale policy in the same terms House Republicans have approached other energy issues this session, saying federal regulations should not stand in the way of industry creating jobs, reducing oil imports and increasing national security…
“The road to viability for the oil shale industry is reliant on a predictable regulatory structure and an environment in which companies can invest in research and development and create jobs,” Tipton said. “The proper implementation of our environmental and safety regulations already on the books is a far better strategy than adding additional layers of bureaucracy to the process.”[…]
Dan Whitney, Shell’s upstream manager for heavy oil development in the Americas, said the producer understands the importance of water to western states and is committed to using it responsibly. He said the company would address the issue by maintaining a diversity of water rights to give operations the flexibility of multiple sources, developing extraction and processing technologies that need less water and to honing water-management practices such as recycling and storage.
Shell holds three “research, development and demonstration” leases for oil shale development in Colorado.
More coverage from the Associated Press (Catharine Tsai) via The Denver Post. From the article:
Dan Whitney of Shell Exploration and Production Co. said his industry needs a stable regulatory environment and one in which numerous companies can lease public land for research projects.
Researchers noted their need for funding and suggested a specific program focused on Western oil shale.
And Anu Mittal of the GAO said the U.S. Interior Department should be responsible for gathering data on water conditions now, so any potential effects of oil-shale activity can be detected years in the future. Her agency in October had recommended collecting baseline data.
They were among 10 speakers at the Grand Junction field hearing of the House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee. Rep. Scott Tipton and subcommittee chairman Doug Lamborn, both Colorado Republicans, conducted the hearing.
The Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor) is running profiles of 5 Denver area companies that are involved in the design and construction of the project. She lists Reynolds, Inc., Garney Construction Company, CH2M Hill, Northwest Pipe Company and MWH Global.
More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.
I’ve thought for a long time that Aaron Million’s proposal is akin to him driving a tanker truck across the Colorado/Wyoming border — not subject to Colorado water law — and that any water moved would count against the Upper Colorado River Compact. That’s the way the deputy state engineer sees it as well. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
“The state engineer cannot curtail diversions from another state,” Deputy State Engineer Mike Sullivan told the Legislature’s water resources review committee Tuesday. “We can’t go into Wyoming and padlock a headgate.” Sullivan and State Engineer Dick Wolfe told the committee they have concerns about proposals to take water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River in Wyoming and send it through a pipeline to Colorado’s Front Range.
Wolfe explained that such plans could interfere with water rights administration in Colorado, particularly if lower basin states in the Colorado River Compact were to put a call on the river. Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River are both part of the Colorado River basin, which supplies 80 percent of Colorado’s water. Under the compact, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah are required to deliver 75 million acre-feet of water over a 10-year period at Lake Powell. If they fail to do so, Arizona, California and Nevada could demand water, calling out junior rights in Colorado [ed. the compact has a 1922 priority, senior, for example, to the Colorado-Big Thompson Project]…
Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million is claiming a Wyoming water right as the basis for his Flaming Gorge project, which would make enforcing it difficult under Colorado’s priority system. The Colorado-Wyoming coalition, led by Frank Jaeger of Parker Water and Sanitation, plans to work with the Bureau of Reclamation, and could claim the Flaming Gorge priority date. “There’s no authority in place for dealing with Flaming Gorge,” Wolfe told the committee.
Meanwhile, meeting attendees were treated to a discussion of population estimates yesterday. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
The state population grew to more than 5 million in 2010, from 4.3 million in 2000. Colorado grew at a 17 percent rate over the decade, compared with 9 percent for the nation as a whole…
[Elizabeth Garner, state demographer] gave a detailed analysis of counties, showing that the Eastern Plains and San Luis Valley were flat or lost population in the past decade, while the Front Range and Western Slope were the fastest growing parts of the state…
But the picture gets more complicated because baby boomers are getting older. Colorado’s population over age 65 is expected to grow by 150 percent in the next 20 years, which could also contribute to smaller household sizes, changes in water consumption patterns and the tax base. “We are becoming very different,” Garner said. “For the last decade, the largest part of our population has been the most productive . . . In the next 10 years, 1 million people will be leaving the labor force.”
“Our project will continue to move forward, the service plan amendment would have allowed Elbert County to participate in the benefits,” said Karl Nyquist, a partner in GP Water. “The service plan amendment was certainly not necessary for the project as proposed and we will move forward as planned.”[…]
Bill Long, president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, doubts the cost figures that GP has shared so far, and said the pipeline would do little to meet the state’s municipal water gap. “I’m not at all surprised they pulled the Elbert County proposal,” Long said. “My hope is they could get behind a better long-term solution than one which has such a detrimental impact to one small area in a basin that is already water-short. In my mind, they aren’t even close to being a part of the solution.”[…]
The expansion of the authority of the Elbert County and Highway 86 Commercial District, which was formed by the GP partners to provide area water service, would have expedited both water plans and provided additional revenue to Elbert County, but Nyquist said there are other ways to pursue the project.
Hundreds who attended a Wednesday Elbert County commissioners meeting cheered when it was announced that the proposal to expand the district was withdrawn. GP Water hosted two public meetings in the county, but apparently did not convince enough people it was good for the county…
The pipeline would be designed to pump up to 12,000 acre-feet annually, but GP estimates its yield from water rights it owns would be an average of 8,000-10,000 acre-feet annually. Nyquist says treated water will sell for $6-$7 per 1,000 gallons, a competitive rate. Negotiations with several potential end users are under way, including the Cherokee Water District near Colorado Springs. Nyquist said other negotiations are confidential, but focus on El Paso County.
August seems to be upholding its reputation for traditionally being the hottest and driest month in Colorado. As a result, flows in the Colorado River have dipped slightly. In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is calling for water for the identified habitat of the endangered fish.
To meet that call, we are increasing releases from Ruedi Dam to the Fryingpan River by 25 cfs. This will put about 213 cubic feet per second at the Ruedi gage just below the dam.
Members of the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District’s board of directors gathered on the site of a former auto salvage yard at U.S. Highway 85 and Weld County Road 2 ½ to shovel ceremonial clumps of dirt. In doing so, they celebrated what district leaders hailed as a new era in regional water treatment.
Metro Wastewater District Manager Catherine Gerali highlighted the technological advancements the district will utilize at the plant. “We have used this plant as an opportunity to sharpen our vision and expand our practice of sustainable treatment,” she said. “Like our existing facility (in Commerce City), this new, advanced treatment plant will rely on the beneficial reuse of bio-solids and will recycle methane gas, which is a byproduct of the treatment process, to generate heat and power for this facility.”
The new plant, scheduled to go online in 2015, will be spread out over 90 acres of land, which starts at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 85 and Weld County Road 2 (168th Avenue). At the completion of Phase 1, the plant is expected to serve 300,000 residents in five communities and treat 24-million gallons of water a day.
The district’s retreat, which its director calls temporary, was met with loud cheers and whistles from about 1,000 people — the county has a population of about 22,000 — who showed up at the county commission meeting expecting a vote. Instead, a statement of withdrawal from the attorney representing Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metro District was read into the record…
Karl Nyquist, head of GP Water and the district director, said the pipeline is not on hold but didn’t provide any details about how he would proceed without authority to operate across county lines. “Our request to delay the vote on the district service plan amendment is simply to allow more time to educate the public and provide the facts about the project and its benefits,” he said in a news release. “The project will be moving forward in all respects despite this delay.”
The next time around, however, the district may face tougher challenges from county officials, who said they would make changes to the review process and who are facing intense public pressure. “We appoint you,” said Jim Eller, who teaches at Metropolitan State College of Denver, to commissioners Del Schwab and Kurt Schlegel. “You disappoint us, we dis-appoint you.”[…]
Elbert County, which does not have a renewable water source, relies on its aquifers, which are generally being depleted faster than they can be recharged. Many in the community fear that Nyquist will take too much water out or that his plan to store treated Arkansas River water in the aquifers will hurt their water quality. Additional concerns were raised after Nyquist failed to rule out using water for the oil and gas companies, which use millions of gallons for exploration.
More coverage from Barbara Preskorn writing for the Lamar Ledger. From the article:
Nyquist and his firm GP Resources, held a second stakeholder meeting at the Lamar Community Center, Tuesday, August 23 to share his business plan “Southeast Renewable Water Project Initiative: A new vision for Colorado’s water future.” Following the template offered by the Arkansas River Basin Roundtable, Nyquist’s firm is starting the process of obtaining comment from stakeholders about water issues. Several attorneys and water engineers in the firm’s employ were present as well as were representatives of the Lamar City Council, the Prowers County Commissioners and Prowers County Development, Inc. Colorado Springs water attorney David Shohet, retained by the City of Lamar, was also in the packed crowd.
“We are proposing a win-win sustainable business opportunity for Prowers County that will provide the region with a water treatment plant and with water storage in the gravel pit on land that I own. We have engineers studying the possibility of underground alluvial storage. One possibility for disposing of brine would be deep underground injection that is used successfully elsewhere.”
“Construction jobs and permanent operational jobs will be created, property tax will increase on the land where the treatment plant will be located because this is a private and not a government enterprise. We expect that school enrollments would go up as a result of these new jobs.” Nyquist stated…
When asked about how this project might be impacted by future extended extreme drought that this county is currently facing, water engineer consultant, Ken Knox stated that “Periods of extreme drought from the 1950s, 1977 and 2002 have been reviewed and that information is being considered in the GP Group’s plan. Few records exist from the 1930s, but indications are that the 1950’s actually were dryer.”
Jillane Hixson, Hixson Farms, stated that she was “under the impression that according to the Colorado-Kansas Compact agreement, river water could not be transferred from below the John Martin Reservoir.” Nyquist responded “This will be reviewed in water court when the application for change-of-use is filed. We will be able to show that no harm will be caused to downstream users, to wildlife or to the environment.”[…]
Roger Stagner, Mayor, City of Lamar, stated following the meeting “The Lamar City Council is watching this proposed business project very closely, but we do not have enough information yet to form an opinion as to whether this would be beneficial to the community or how much benefit it might bring to the region.”
Joe Marble echoed his statement “The Prowers County Commissioners are waiting to receive GP Resources 1041 permit application. We will then have enough information to review the proposal. We will probably need our own legal expertise to help us in this review process.”
“In Colorado, job creators rely on water and a stable water future,” Gardner said. “If job creators know we are committed to building future water supplies and enacting common-sense conservation policies, it will boost our economy and continue to attract new employers to the state.”[…]
One of the key themes of the summer meeting of Water Congress has been the need for more storage to capture the ample water that flowed out of both the Colorado and South Platte basins this year…
The $400 million Northern Integrated Supply Project, promoted by 15 communities in the Northern Water Colorado Conservancy District, is an example of the type of project that could move more quickly without restrictive federal policies, he said. The storage would benefit agriculture as well as cities, Gardner said, pointing to agricultural losses in Southeastern Colorado this year.
More coverage from Joe Moylan writing for the Craig Daily Press. From the article:
Gardner said he helped pass H.R. 2018, or The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, in July. The legislation preserves the authority of each state to make determinations on its own water quality standards and limits Environmental Protection Agency controls that undermine state and local water authorities concerning water management. “I know that some people oppose this legislation,” Gardner said. “But I just happen to believe that Coloradans know best when it comes to their water.”[…]
Gardner pledged to fight for Colorado by abiding to his three-prong strategy that focuses on water storage, water conservation and creating critical partnerships when necessary, without sacrificing Colorado as the leader when it comes to its own water and economy.
“Because of limited storage, good Colorado water is flowing out of the state,” Gardner said. “This water could have been and should have been stored right here, growing our farms and our businesses.
“And, as (State Rep.) Jerry Sonnenberg said, ‘We didn’t even get a thank you note from Nebraska.’”
More coverage from Allen Best writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:
…Gardner, in his speech at the meeting of the Water Congress, Colorado’s top organization for traditional water providers, said that Colorado and other states should have the right to determine their own water quality. “I just have to believe that Colorado knows what’s best when it comes to their water resources,” he said…
Becky Long, of the Colorado Environmental Coalition…panned the idea of pulling back federal authority. Problems with hormones and petrochemicals persist, and the problem of nutrients creating dead zones isn’t just one found where the Mississippi River pours into the Gulf of Mexico. Grand Lake—the lake, not the town – has the problem too, she pointed out…
Gardner also called for more water storage, a theme of many speakers at this conference. It was, after all, an epic year for water runoff in much of Colorado. A new record for snowfall was set in the state, with Buffalo Pass, located about 8 miles from Steamboat, still having so much snow by late May that there was still seven feet of water content…
Again, environmentalists were not persuaded. “There are different kinds of storage,” observed [Steve Glazer]. Dams to control floods must be kept empty, those to steel communities against drought should be kept full…
As Gardner noted, Aspinall famously noted that when you touch water in the West, you touch everything. But a lot of that stored and diverted water was the result of federal loans and grants–something we aren’t seeing a lot of these days.
Finally, here’s a Tweet from the Colorado River District:
Day1 #ColoradoWater Congress Summer Conf focuses on energy-water nexxus and features Colo Congressmen Tipton and Gardner and state reps
“We have to get Americans back to work and adopt an all of the above energy policy,” Tipton, a Republican who represents the Third Congressional District, told the Colorado Water Congress on Wednesday. “Proven, clean hydroelectric power provides 75 percent of the renewable energy for this country.”
Tipton did not specify projects, but instead said federal regulations on wild and scenic rivers should be replaced by state evaluations, and suggested that wilderness designations should stop at the water’s edge.
More coverage from Allen Best writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:
To get America back to work, Tipton said, it needs an all-of-the-above energy approach. And one of those energies should come from hydropower, which is carbon free. But to achieve that, he said, government regulations should be stripped.
One of his proposals is something he calls a regulatory impact statement. Regulations, he said, are inhibiting job growth and by requiring an impact statement for each new federal regulation, people would at least know the likely effect of a regulation before it is implemented.
The Republican River Water Conservation District (RRWCD) will be holding the groundbreaking ceremony of the Compact Compliance Pipeline Monday, Aug. 29, beginning at 10 a.m. It will be held 12 miles north of Laird on County Road RR near the location of the future pipeline collection tank. Interested members of the public are invited…
GEI Consultants, an engineering firm from Denver, has designed the pipeline and Garney Construction has been selected by the [Republican River Water Conservation District] to be the general contractor. Garney will start construction in mid-September and plans to complete the pipeline no later than mid-July, 2012…
Speakers during the groundbreaking ceremony will be Congressman Cory Gardner; Dick Wolfe, State Engineer with the Colorado Division of Water Resources; Jennifer Gimbel, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board; Colorado State Senator Greg Brophy; and Dennis Coryell, chairman of the Republican River Water Conservation District.
More Republican River basin coverage here and here.
I’m writing this using the Safari web browser while my iPhone syncs with my iMac. In a little while I’ll load up my Macbook Air on the bicycle for the commute to work. I guess you get the idea that I’m a fan of Apple gear.
Click here to watch the commercial that introduced Macintosh to the world.
If you or any of your associates would like to register for a course, you can do so on-line by visiting our website at http://www.ngwa.org or you can contact us at 800-551-7379. Please note that the early registration fee expires on September 19 for both courses.
Terry Scanga, conservancy district manager, said committee members identified several possible options that would support a concept of developing water storage at a variety of locations to benefit multiple Arkansas River basin water users. Because of the cost of developing this type of storage system, Scanga said the project would require collaboration…
Scanga said response to the idea was “enthusiastic.” The concept is appealing, he said, because it would provide flexibility allowing participating entities to store water closer to the point of use instead of in large, distant reservoirs…
As a result of the meeting, Scanga said two committees were formed. One will investigate possible organizational structure for the coalition and another to create a “white paper” outlining things such as mission and principles of the coalition…
He said potential storage sites include reservoirs, gravel pits and alluvial aquifers in which water could be stored underground.
Here’s the release from Colorado Parks & Wildlife:
The first phase of a native Colorado cutthroat trout restoration project at Woods Lake will take place from Sept. 6-12, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced.
The Woods Lake State Wildlife area will be closed during those days, and the public is asked to avoid recreating nearby in the surrounding Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forest during those days. Woods Lake is located in southeast San Miguel County, just off U.S. Forest Service Road 618.
“This is an outstanding area for the native cutthroat,” said Dan Kowalski, aquatic biologist in the Montrose area.”There are only a few spots in western Colorado suitable for restoration. This will help give the cutthroat a long-term foothold in southwest Colorado.”
Woods Lake was chosen as a location because the area is isolated and the waters are pristine. The barrier of the dam at the small reservoir will prevent non-native fish from swimming into the lake and tributaries.
The lake and surrounding small tributaries will be treated with an organic chemical that will kill non-native fish. The chemical, Rotenone, is derived from the root of a tropical plant and is used throughout the world for fish management projects. Rotenone is fast-acting, only affects aquatic species, leaves no residue and quickly degrades in the environment. The lake is expected to be completely free of the chemical and suitable for fish less than a week after the treatment. Native fish will be re-stocked once it is confirmed that all non-natives have been removed, probably this fall. Fish should reach catchable size — 10-12 inches — by summer of 2013.
Until Sept. 6, the area is open for fishing. Licensed anglers can keep all the brook and brown trout they catch–bag limits have been temporarily lifted for these species. Fish must be taken by hook with flies, lures or bait. Netting is not allowed.
Planned for several years, the Woods Lake project is part of a cooperative effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service to restore native cutthroat trout to waters on the West Slope. Due to habitat loss, water quality impacts and the introduction of non-native fish over many years, the Colorado River cutthroat has been eliminated from most rivers and streams in western Colorado. The fish, which has been petitioned for listing as an endangered species, can now be found in only a small percentage of its historic range in Colorado and in the Rocky Mountain West.
FromLamar Ledger (Lola Shrimplin) via The Fort Morgan Times:
La Nina is in effect now, and it leaves a huge footprint in the atmosphere, he said. Drought is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as drought feeds on drought, Bledsoe said…
At a speech in Brighton, Bledsoe said government scientists were saying La Nina had gone and had been replaced by El Nino. “No. Do not listen to them,” he said.
La Nina is typically weaker in the spring and strengthens in the fall, he said. When the government scientists looked at La Nina weakening and said the drought was over, they didn’t take into account historical evidence, Bledsoe said. “This is just a repeat of what happened last year,” he said.
That was the message to the Colorado Legislature’s interim water resources review committee Tuesday from Jay Winner, a member of the Interbasin Compact Committee and general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.
Winner outlined the plan of the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch to sell water from the Catlin Canal, one of seven members of Super Ditch, to El Paso County communities next year under a substitute water supply plan. The three-year pilot program calls for 500 acre-feet to be delivered to Lake Pueblo by exchanges, with recharge ponds on the canal to deliver return flows at the proper time and location to augment depletions. Participating in the program will be 15 farms, each setting aside 100 acres. One-third of the acres from each farm will be fallowed in order to provide the water. The Lower Ark district is providing the Super Ditch with engineering to determine how well the plan works. The district sees the program as a way to avoid the permanent sale of water rights to cities.
“This isn’t just a study, but an actual project to see if this can work,” Winner said…
Winner said the engineering used in the three-year program could point the way to a model that would be acceptable to farmers, the cities and state regulators. Part of the goal is to build trust between farmers and municipal water providers who have historically insisted on owning their source of water.
Meanwhile legislators also heard about the drought in southeastern Colorado. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
About 39 percent of the state still is in drought, despite some relief from spotty summer rains. The most extreme drought is in the Southeastern corner of the state and in the Rio Grande basin…
Pointing to the most recent assessment by the National Drought Monitor, a multi-agency assessment of conditions, [Veva Deheza, of the Colorado Water Conservation board staff] noted that Colorado is only on the tip of a drought of historic proportions covering almost the entire state of Texas and much of New Mexico…
The dry conditions are hard to fathom for much of the state, where the problem has been flooding…
Imports to the Arkansas River from the Colorado River basin totalled more than 200,000 acre-feet, more than 50 percent above average. Deliveries from the Colorado River to Lake Powell brought its level of storage to 76 percent from 43 percent before runoff, said CWCB Executive Director Jennifer Gimbel, making a Colorado River Compact call by lower basin states less likely in the immediate future.
Finally, Governor Hickenlooper is seeking disaster declarations for Elbert and Douglas counties, according to this report from Catharine Tsai writing for the Associated Press (via the Houston Chronicle). Here’s an excerpt:
Hickenlooper’s request for Elbert and Douglas counties is awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Colorado Water Availability Task Force co-chair Veva Deheza told a state legislative committee Tuesday.
The USDA already has approved primary disaster declarations for 17 southern Colorado counties, making them eligible for aid and benefits. Those counties are: Baca, Otero, Crowley, Bent, Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Prowers, Pueblo, Saguache, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Costilla and Conejos. Twelve more counties that are next to them also can receive help…
Some southern Colorado ranchers are choosing to sell livestock while cattle and hay prices are both high, according to the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
Emergency grazing has been approved in Lincoln, Otero, Las Animas, Bent, Kiowa, Prowers, Baca, and Crowley counties on land that was supposed to have been set aside for conservation under the federal Conservation Reserve Program.
More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here and here.
…the August 2011 Drought Update which is a summary of the information presented at the Water Availability Task Force Meeting on August 17, 2011. All of the presentations from the meeting can be found on the CWCB website. If you have any questions regarding the drought update, please email Veva Deheza.
The next scheduled meeting for the Water Availability Task Force is September 22, 2011 at the Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife Headquarters, 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO from 9:30-noon.
The warm summer weather continues to hammer away at the last remaining snowpack at upper elevations around Routt County. The Yampa River’s streamflow has dipped to 237 cubic feet per second at the Fifth Street Bridge this morning. The historic average for today is 134 cfs. The Aug. 22 record is 415 cfs, set in 1957.
“These two men have been committed to the sustainability of our City, while keeping the best interest of our residents and statewide partners at the forefront of their work,” Hancock said. “I believe they have earned the trust of the people and will continue to provide stable leadership during a critical time in Denver Water’s history.”[…]
Gougeon has been a commissioner since August 2004 and was reappointed in 2005. He is president of the Gates Family Foundation and a principal in Continuum Partners LLC, a Colorado-based development company known for mixed use and transit oriented “green” building projects. He also served as chief executive officer of the Stapleton Redevelopment Foundation, assistant to the mayor of Denver, executive director of a charitable foundation and was a research associate at the Denver Research Institute in community planning and natural resource economics.
Tate, once a candidate for mayor in 2003, has been a water commissioner since October 2005. He also is a former state legislator and a shareholder in the Public Finance Group at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig. He has served on the boards for the Colorado Bar Association, State of Colorado Banking Board, Cerebral Palsy of Colorado, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Five Points Community Center and Metropolitan State College of Denver Foundation.
He raised a container of Halliburton’s new fracking fluid made from materials sourced from the food industry, then called up a fellow executive to demonstrate how safe it was by drinking it, according to two attendees.
The executive mocked reluctance, then took a swig.
What he drank was apparently CleanStim, which when Halliburton announced it in November was undergoing field trials…
The Houston company, which has operations in about 80 countries, has said the product shouldn’t be considered edible.
…today shale gas production faces important environmental and safety issues which must be addressed through both voluntary corporate action and appropriate regulation, with business leaders playing a key role in both spheres.
This is a central conclusion in an important, interim report from a panel of experts constituted by the Department of Energy to assess environmental and safety implications of the new technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing which have made the shale gas boom possible.
The report was issued on August 11th, but it was lost amidst stock market gyrations and global economic uncertainty. Yet, the long-term implications of dramatically increasing supplies of natural gas from shale are of first-order significance to the global economic future. And the report — from the shale gas subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board — provides incisive perspective on how to balance economic and environmental issues and on the central part enlightened business leaders must play.
Here’s the link to the report. Here’s the executive summary:
The Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board is charged with identifying measures that can be taken to reduce the environmental impact and improve the safety of shale gas production.
Natural gas is a cornerstone of the U.S. economy, providing a quarter of the country’s total energy. Owing to breakthroughs in technology, production from shale formations has gone from a negligible amount just a few years ago to being almost 30 percent of total U.S. natural gas production. This has brought lower prices, domestic jobs, and the prospect of enhanced national security due to the potential of substantial production growth. But the growth has also brought questions about whether both current and future production can be done in an environmentally sound fashion that meets the needs of public trust.
This 90-day report presents recommendations that if implemented will reduce the environmental impacts from shale gas production. The Subcommittee stresses the importance of a process of continuous improvement in the various aspects of shale gas production that relies on best practices and is tied to measurement and disclosure. While many companies are following such a process, much-broader and more extensive adoption is warranted. The approach benefits all parties in shale gas production: regulators will have more complete and accurate information; industry will achieve more efficient operations; and the public will see continuous, measurable improvement in shale gas activities.
While the unconfined aquifer sits at a higher level than it did during that drought year, Allen Davey, an engineer who monitors groundwater for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, said the decline could pinch growers by the end of the season.”There’s going to probably be some shortage of groundwater for wells,” he told the district’s board at its quarterly meeting Tuesday.
Davey said following the meeting that higher rates of pumping coupled with a below-average snowpack prevented the normal bounce in water levels. “I think the commodity prices are high. Precipitation is low. So we’ve had high pumping rates,” he said…
The unconfined aquifer is typically recharged in late spring and early summer as ditches begin diverting from the Rio Grande and the water is sent to agricultural fields, where it percolates down. As the season progresses, farmers pump that aquifer to finish their crops. In the past six years, the late spring recharge has bumped the aquifer’s level by as little as 100,000 acre-feet and by as much as 200,000 acre-feet.
Update: I failed to properly proofread but the gang at Western Resource Advocates do. I’ve corrected the excerpt below.
Many local governments are developing plans to reduce their energy and water usage. Most often, these efforts are managed separately. However, energy is embedded in all stages of water use, which creates an opportunity for local governments to work toward both of their goals simultaneously. Water requires energy during the pumping, treating, distribution, heating, and wastewater treatment stages. Thus, every gallon of water saved also saves energy.
The development of new water supplies and new water infrastructure can significantly increase a community’s energy demands, and this energy demand should be taken into consideration in municipal water and energy plans. As communities develop and implement their sustainability plans, they have opportunities to find new ways to connect their water and energy programs while meeting their triple (economic, environmental, and social) bottom line. This fact sheet outlines strategies to address energy use in the water sector and highlights some of the Colorado communities that are making the connection today.
Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):
Discussion will include protection methods to control quagga and zebra musselsThe Bureau of Reclamation’s Technical Service Center will be hosting the Corrosion and Protective Coatings Hands-on Training from October 25-27, 2011, in Denver, Colo., to familiarize participants with the issues relating to corrosion of metal and corrosion protection. The course is open to anyone and will cost $1,050.
The course is intended for engineers, technicians, specification writers, technical project managers, and other staff associated with construction and repair of water resource structures.
Students who attend the Corrosion and Protective Coatings Hands-on Training will learn how corrosion occurs and methods to minimize and prevent corrosion to infrastructure protective coatings, cathodic protection, new technologies, and inspection and repair techniques relating to maintenance and repair infrastructure.
The course will also discuss methods to control quagga and zebra mussels, with emphasis on antifouling coating control methods.
Attendees will be provided the opportunity to prepare steel panels, apply coatings, perform destructive and non-destructive testing, inspect coatings and corrosion, and testing of cathodic protective systems.
In seeking a permit from the federal government to begin work on the final 6½-mile stretch of the pipeline, Greeley submitted a biological assessment that concluded the portion of the project would not have any “adverse effects” on the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse — protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act — or the northern leopard frog. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came to a different conclusion this week.
Jon Monson, director of the city of Greeley’s Water and Sewer Department, said the city and its consulting firm — AECOM based in Denver — must now address the issues raised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Those issues, for example, include revegetating areas for the benefit of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and other potentially affected species. Monson described the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ response as “not completely unexpected.” Other city officials expressed frustration at the latest hitch in the project’s schedule…
Monson said he’s hoping to get the needed approval from the federal government in time to proceed with construction plans scheduled for this winter. He added that the current delay won’t cause any additional expenditures since that portion of the project is not yet under construction…
The presence of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is continually an environmental issue in construction projects along the Front Range, but this represents the first time the endangered rodent has caused a delay in the progress of Greeley’s ongoing pipeline project, which was initiated in 2003. So far, construction of the 30-mile pipeline — which will have the capacity to deliver an additional 50 million gallons per day to Greeley, enough to satisfy the projected need of Greeley’s water customers for the next 50 years — has taken place on pasture land not inhabited by the rodent. But the next and final phase of the project will take place where the animal has a presence…
“It’s the quintessential example of the U.S. Endangered Species Act run amuck,” [Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway] said. “It’s cost businesses, municipalities and individuals millions of dollars over the years. It makes you wonder what’s being protected.”
“Why should agriculture, which is already short on water, be the reservoir for the state?” Brown asked. “We need to go forward with a better analysis of the shortage and what is needed to support agriculture.” Brown also is a member of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Arkansas Basin Roundtable, and has often tried to keep the issue in front of those groups…
Earlier this month, the [Arkansas Basin] roundtable formed a committee to address Brown’s concerns. In the process, he hopes to guide the state to a new way of thinking about its water needs. At last week’s Lower Ark meeting, Brown expanded on the need for the committee, which is closely aligned with the district’s goals. “The agriculture industry deserves to be more than the stepchild for water supply in the future,” Brown said…
Water users in El Paso County — Fountain, Widefield, Woodmoor and Donala — have been buying farms and ranches for water in recent years. Large blocks of water have been purchased on the Fort Lyon and Bessemer canals for future municipal use. Half of the Amity Canal was sold to Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association for a future power plant. And there are agricultural operations that easily could turn into municipal supply projects throughout the valley, potentially catching the valley off-guard as GP’s plan did. Large blocks of agricultural water have been consolidated in Pueblo and Otero counties, causing public officials to worry about where the water could be headed…
The Lower Ark board is one of few water agencies in the state that firmly supports a Flaming Gorge pipeline. Last year, it supported Aaron Million’s idea for the 560-mile line from the Green River in Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range because it would develop unused state entitlement in the Colorado River basin and take pressure off Arkansas Valley farms. Million has always insisted that some water from the pipeline be set aside for agricultural and environmental uses. The state’s roundtables have committed to investigating Million’s plan, along with a similar proposal by the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition, as a way of filling the water supply gap…
At a roundtable meeting earlier this month, Fremont County rancher Tom Young asked whether the state should seriously consider importing water from the Missouri River basin in South Dakota, rather than looking for more out of the Colorado River basin from Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
BLM is also working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Trout Unlimited to install a fish barrier in East Fork Parachute Creek as part of an effort to maintain native Colorado River cutthroat trout in this drainage.
The Colorado River cutthroats on the Roan Plateau are considered some of the most genetically pure, but non-native brook trout introduced many years ago into the East Fork Parachute Creek are threatening that drainage’s cutthroat population.
“If we don’t take action now, we expect the cutthroat to be completely gone from the East Fork in one to three years,” said BLM West Slope Fisheries Biologist Tom Fresques.
The concrete fish barrier will be installed near the confluence with Third Water Gulch. It will prevent brook trout from moving upstream, which will allow biologists to begin reclaiming the cutthroat population upstream of the barrier.
“A relatively high volume of water will be released (about 350 cubic-feet-per-second) from Elkhead for four days to support a sustained flow of about 1,000 cfs in the Yampa River at Maybell, downstream of Craig,” Fish and Wildlife officials announced in the release. “The released water will take about 24 hours to reach Maybell, and flows will return to pre-release levels at Maybell by Aug. 24.
“All releases will be made through the dam outlets that are screened to prevent the escapement of nonnative fish.”
The reservoir level is expected to drop 3 feet during the release period and stabilize by the middle of next week, according to the release. There will be no affects to boat or angler access to the reservoir.
At issue is a bill by Diana DeGette, D-Colo., to create additional Colorado wilderness areas, as well as wild lands and wilderness study designations approved by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. The federal legislation has been reintroduced several times without success.
The [Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District] believes any of those actions could prevent water development. “Development of storage or enlargement of existing storage and other beneficial uses of water on streams that are included in these wilderness designations, such as Grape, Badger or Beaver Creeks, will be precluded as a consequence,” Upper Ark chairman Glenn Everett said.
The Southeastern District still has conditional decrees for canals that could serve hydroelectric power generation. The canals haven’t been built, but could be in the future, explained Bob Hamilton, engineering supervisor for the district.
Most board members agreed, except for Reed Dils. “In my mind, considering what’s going to happen to the legislation, we should do nothing at all,” Dils said. “I support wilderness legislation.”
More Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District coverage here.
Substitute water supply plans, which cover impacts from changes of water use that last less than five years, already have been filed on two of three projects that have begun on Fountain Creek. The plans are filed with the Division of Water Resources and can be forerunners of eventual court decrees, as uses continue over longer periods of time…
“We’re pleased (project sponsors) recognize there is a water rights component that needs to be addressed,” Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte said. Plans have been filed on the Clear Spring Ranch and Pueblo North Side wetlands restoration projects. The sediment collector project also would need a plan if it continues beyond a year.
Four hundred acres of the 1,200 acres enrolled in the program will be fallowed. Five hundred acre-feet of water would be sold yearly to Fountain, Security and Widefield at a cost of $500 an acre-foot. The water is to be stored in Pueblo Reservoir.
The area designated for fallowing may be rotated or kept the same for the entire three-year period. Most farmers are electing to rotate the area to be fallowed, said [Heath Kuntz of Adaptive Resources Inc.], in order to do maintenance work on the land. Many intend to laser-level the ground while it is dried up. A cover crop must be planted to prevent wind erosion, but may not be irrigated. Weed control is also required. The pilot program seeks to involve as many farming scenarios as possible. “Better now with 500 acres than later with 5,000 acres involved,” said [Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District] General Manager Jay Winner…
A great deal of oversight is planned for the project. So far, State Engineer Dick Wolfe seems to be favorable to the plan, said Winner. The plan will be managed with administrative tools, not water court. The governor likes the Rule 10 engineering plan, which is the basic tool for measuring the water on the farms. The ISAM plan is agreeable to most parties involved, with modifications as the pilot program plays out. The pilot program should be ready for state approval by December.
More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here and here.