Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: Granby is releasing about 420 cfs

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Just a quick note to update you all on our facilities across the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. I’ve also updated our webpages. Once on our main page, be sure to check out the menu on the left hand side to see information on our other facilities.

Meanwhile, Granby is releasing about 420 cfs.

Willow Creek is releasing about 77 cfs.

Olympus Dam on Lake Estes is releasing about 125 cfs.

All reservoirs are basically full, with the exception of Lake Estes, Pinewood and Flatiron. These three fluctuate often due to hydro-power generation. Pinewood and Flatiron, in particular, might drop significantly over the course of one day, then rise back up again.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

Pueblo and Glenwood Springs: Reclamation Hosts Public Session on Revenues

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Here’s the release from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Reclamation is hosting two public listening sessions on the crediting of revenues related to the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. The first session will be held in Pueblo at the Pueblo Shrine Club on August 10 at 11 a.m. The second session will be held in Glenwood Springs at the Hotel Colorado on August 11 at 9 a.m.

The purpose of the sessions is to gain public feedback on how revenues from excess capacity contracting should be applied to repayment of Fryingpan-Arkansas Project facilities.

The Pueblo Shrine Club is located at 1501 W. McCulloch Blvd., Pueblo West, Colo. The Hotel Colorado is located at 526 Pine Street, Glenwood Springs, Colo.

The Bureau of Reclamation constructed, owns and operates the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.

For more information, please contact Kara Lamb at either (970) 962-4326 or klamb@usbr.gov.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The meetings will be Wednesday at Pueblo Shrine Club, 1501 W. McCulloch Blvd., Pueblo West. The meeting on the 2009 federal law that requires revenue from excess-capacity contracts to be applied to unpaid debt from the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project will be at 11 a.m. The market-rate discussion will be from 3-5 p.m.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Albuquerque — ‘Resolana: Dr. José Rivera – Acequia Culture International: From Al-Andaluz to the Americas Saturday’, September 24, 2011

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From the National Hispanic Cultural Center website.

A presentation on the role of acequia systems (irrigation ditches) on the Iberian Peninsula, in the Americas and in the Philippines. Over centuries and across continents, irrigation systems have been central to advanced civilization. Many of the characteristics and many of the rituals associated with these irrigation systems find similarities across time and space. In New Mexico more than anywhere else in the U.S., acequias have remained a part of both economic and cultural life of its inhabitants. At a time when sustainable agriculture and life styles are being promoted it is instructive to learn what has come before. Dr. Rivera has studied acequias on several continents and published important works in several languages on the subject.

More Rio Grande basin coverage here.

‘NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin’ and Colorado Drought Status Briefing

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Here’s the link to the presentations from yesterday’s webinar.

Colorado Public Radio series — ‘Thirsty Cities, Dry Farms’

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Here’s the link to the transcript Part 1: Buy and Dry of Megan Verlee’s series. Here’s an excerpt:

REPORTER: [Orville] Tomky still mourns the changes to his county. But John Stulp, the governor’s water advisor, and a farmer himself, says it would be a mistake to see the farmers as victims in this story; for many, being able to sell their water rights is a godsend.

JOHN STULP: “If you do not have sons or daughters who are willing to come back to the farming operation, oftentimes a farmer’s irrigated water rights become their 401K, their retirement fund.”

REPORTER: We’re talking about some big money here. Rights to the most desirable agricultural water can go for more than $10,000 dollars an acre-foot, and farmers often own hundreds of those. Cities are always looking to buy. It’s hard to pin down exactly how much of the state has gone back to grass, or is on its way. because of urban water buys. But best guesses put the number at hundreds of square miles. State Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs is an expert in Colorado water law. He says what happened in places like Crowley county made Colorado officials more cautious about water deals between cities and farmers.

HOBBS: “People realized that the tax base was being affected by these transfers. So the legislature basically adopted what I’m going to call mitigation.”

REPORTER: Now the cities can’t just buy the water and walk away, they’ve got a lot to do before they ever see a drop of it.

HOBBS: “The legislature has provided there must be re-vegetation when water is permanently removed. There are in leiu taxes that must be paid to support the local library and fire district and town, for thirty years.”

Here’s the link to Part 2: Super Ditch of Megan Verlee’s series. Here’s an excerpt:

[John] SCHWEIZER: “I always got tickled at my mother. She didn’t think you should ever gamble. But she and my father farmed all their married life, and if that’s not a gamble, I don’t know what is.”

REPORTER: It’s not farming’s perpetual gamble but its potential one-time payout that has Schweizer worried these days. Over the past few decades, a lot of his neighbors have cashed in their water rights, selling to cities and retiring, along with their farms. We’re not on the road long before we see the effects of that transfer. The land changes from green to brown, weedy fields crisscrossed with the remains of old irrigation systems.

SCHWEIZER: “See, there’s an irrigation canal right there, that indentation.”

REPORTER: Schweizer doesn’t want to see any more farmland dry up around here, so he and other farmers here are working on a different way to meet cities’ water needs. He’s president of what’s called the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch.

SCHWEIZER: “The Superditch is a not a ditch at all. It’s just a combination of the ditches in the valley. I just like the idea of it: leasing part of your water and continuing to own it.”

REPORTER: So instead of individual farmers selling off water rights, irrigators in the valley band together to lease up to a quarter of their total water to cities. The farmers take turns leaving some of their fields bare for a few years, but they all get to stay in business. Schweizer says it might even make it easier for people like his son to continue the family farm.

SCHWEIZER: “If the water’s sold, it’s impossible to ever pursue and fulfil that dream. And with the Superditch concept, and if it becomes a reality, then most of the water stays on the land and they continue to do what they’ve dreamed about doing for generations to come.”

More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here.

Interbasin Compact Committee: Statewide ‘non-consumptive needs’ meeting to be held on October 13

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From email from the IBCC (Jacob Bornstein):

The IBCC nonconsumptive subcommittee requested meeting with members of the roundtable interested in nonconsumptive issues. The meeting is scheduled for October 13th, 2011 from 10 am to 3 pm. We are still working on a location, but please hold the date and time. The goal of the meeting is to understand how to use the available tools, needs assessment, and data to move towards implementation of nonconsumptive projects and methods.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Governor Hickenlooper announces joint before and after hydraulic fracturing water-sampling effort by the state and producers, the hope is to build trust

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From Platts (Eunice Bridges):

Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said the effort was the first of its kind and was needed to build trust with the public and fight doubts and “paranoia” about the effects of hydraulic fracturing operations. “The best way to fight back on that kind of misinformation is to be transparent … to clearly demonstrate beyond any possible doubt that this doesn’t happen,” he told the Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s Energy Epicenter conference in Denver…

The water sampling effort will be a statewide, voluntary (ed. emphasis mine) program where groundwater samples would be collected by a third-party, with oversight and monitoring by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The department would also hold onto all the sampling data, which would allow it to evaluate trends and water quality, Hickenlooper said. Hickenlooper also said many larger drillers, representing 90% of all the wells set to be drilled in 2011, have already signed up for the program. He said he is hoping for near 100% participation.

COGA initially approached the governor with the idea and has been instrumental in getting companies on board, the governor added. The governor also said such water sampling has been taking place in the San Juan Basin for some time because of the number of shallow wells there and concerns of possible water contamination.

Hickenlooper said news reports on fracking — including recent articles in The New York Times — were full of misinformation and distortions of facts, causing a public mistrust and paranoia about the industry. “This is all hyperbole and anxiety being expressed … and no science here,” he said.

More coverage from The Denver Post (Mark Jaffe):

Hickenlooper, speaking at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association annual conference, said the goal was to have a rule in place by year’s end for disclosing hydrofracturing fluids. The regulation would help “restore public confidence” in the industry, he said. Eight states — from Pennsylvania to California — have adopted disclosure rules or are considering proposals. The key issue will be whether Colorado ends up with a strong rule, like Wyoming’s, or a weaker one, like Texas’, said Gwen Lachelt, director of the Durango-based Oil and Gas Accountability Project…

State agencies and the Oil and Gas Association announced on Tuesday a voluntary program to test water quality before and after drilling and fracking.
The program is another response to the criticism that fracking may contaminate water, said Tisha Schuller, president of the association. Under the program, water wells of two neighboring property owners will be tested before and after drilling and fracking. Twenty of the largest drillers in the state — who have accounted for 90 percent of the wells drilled this year — have agreed to participate. Tests will be paid for by oil companies, and results will be kept in a database by the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission. The program will start in the fall, and [David Neslin, the director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission] estimated that it will add about 4,000 wells to the state’s groundwater monitoring efforts — almost doubling the number of wells.

In initial talks with the industry, the governor said some companies, particularly smaller ones, saw the proposed rule as “an intrusion in their businesses…We’ve gone a long way to convincing them,” he said. “More and more of the industry sees this as a good thing.” Industry representatives and environmental advocates cautiously endorsed the Hickenlooper administration move. “We are willing to work with the governor on disclosure,” said the [Colorado Oil and Gas Association president Tisha Schuller].

More coverage from Joe Hanel writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission already requires companies to disclose their fracking formulas to state regulators and doctors if there is an emergency, but the information is not public…

“Everybody in this room understands that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t connect to the groundwater,” said the Democrat and former petroleum geologist. “It’s almost inconceivable that we would ever contaminate, through the fracking process, the groundwater.” He blamed inaccuracies and misinformation in the media – he named The New York Times three times – for public anxiety about fracking…

Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Tisha Conoly Schuller said she will urge that the new rule build on Frac Focus, a voluntary website that many companies are using to publicly report the content of their fracking fluids. Texas, which has one of the country’s strongest public disclosure laws, requires participation in Frac Focus or a similar website.

More coverage from Ryan Grenoble writing for the Huffington Post. From the article:

Colorado passed regulations in 2008 requiring companies maintain a list of chemicals used in their drilling processes. The list must be presented to healthcare workers and state regulators if requested after a workplace incident…

The HuffPost reported on leaked EPA documents in February which indicated high levels of radioactivity in fracking byproducts. These carcinogens then entered water supplies via sewage treatment plants ill-equipped to remove the chemicals.

More coverage from David O. Williams writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

Colorado conservation groups were buoyed by the governor’s announcement at an industry event, although at least one group said it will “reserve its enthusiasm” until a formal rulemaking process is announced. “We appreciate the governor’s interest in this very serious matter and applaud his fortitude,” Frank Smith of Western Colorado Congress said in an email. “It’s about time. Colorado has over 43,000 active oil and gas wells, with thousands more being planned close to communities and water supplies. As drilling encroaches upon more communities and enters more watershed boundaries, it is encouraging to have the governor state such interest.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.