Restoration: Colorado Parks and Wildlife have relocated 300 or so Rio Grande Cutthroat trout from Medano Creek to Placer Creek

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Biologists wanted to preserve the genetics of the Medano Creek cutthroats, so they captured 300 of the wild fish, and after testing them in an aquatic lab, restocked them in Placer Creek, a stream off La Veta Pass. “It’s one of our core conservation areas for Rio Grande cutthroat trout,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Josh Nehring, explaining that the cutthroats are protected from other trout by a fish barrier. Nehring said he’s planning to visit the stream in the near future to see if the cutthroats have started reproducing naturally in their new home. Some of the adults that were transplanted have been spotted by biologists doing other work in the area, he added.

Cutthroat are the most diverse trout species in North America, with a historical distribution covering the broadest range of any stream-dwelling trout on the continent. As they evolved in remote drainages, that isolation gave rise to 14 different sup-species, including four in Colorado: The Colorado River cutthroat trout in drainages west of the continental divide, Greenback cutthroat trout in the South Platte and Arkansas River drainages, and the Rio Grande cutthroat trout in streams that drain into the San Luis Valley.

In addition, the yellowfin cutthroat trout was historically found in Twin Lakes at the headwaters of the Arkansas drainage. Unfortunately, this predator that grew to more than 10 pounds, is now extinct.

More restoration coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Department of Energy Naturita public meeting hears from uranium miner claiming that the agency was forced into the current review by ‘environmentalists’

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From The Norwood Post (Ellen Metrick):

The reasons given for the sudden concern [performing an EIS on a lease that was renewed by the DOE in 2007] were simply that it’s a good time to do an EIS due to the lack of activity in the mining leases, the fact that the Piñon Ridge Mill is not yet built, and the dip in the economy, said Laura Kilpatrick, the DOE’s Uranium Leasing Program manager.

During Thursday’s public comment session, Richard Craig, a Nucla resident and Nucla Town Board member, said, “The DOE was forced into this by the environmentalists, and we’re gonna force you to make a good honest study so we can get on with our business.”[…]

The DOE will accept public comment through Sept. 9, 2011. Written comment scan be sent to Laura Kilpatrick, U.S. DOE, 11025 Dover ST., Suite 1000, Westminster, CO 80021. Comments may be submitted online at http://ULPEIS.anl.gov or by e-mail to ulpeis@anl.gov. The website will be updated as more information is available.

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

In Montrose, near where a Canadian company hopes to build the nation’s first new uranium processing mill in decades, the Montrose Daily Press reported a DOE meeting “generated impassioned responses from its defenders and detractors.”

In the nearby ski town of Telluride, according to the Telluride Daily Planet, the DOE “received a sharp mandate from Telluride residents: Any mining is too much, and its leasing program should be disbanded.”[…]

Some residents of remote western Montrose County welcome a revival of the uranium mining industry that provided jobs in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Critics, many from the nearby resort town of Telluride and surrounding San Miguel County, fear a return to the industrial mining days that left a toxic legacy in the region.

Opponents not only want the DOE to reject new uranium mining in the area, they also want past contamination cleaned up.

“Instead of promoting mining when DOE has plentiful uranium stockpiles, the public has requested DOE turn its focus to the environmental and economic benefits that would flow from requiring the immediate and comprehensive reclamation of 13 of the leased tracts,” said Hillary White of Sheep Mountain Alliance. “This would require no federal monies as the reclamation responsibilities must be met by the private companies who leased these tracts.”

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Denver Water is closing a section of the Sand Creek Regional Greenway, along Havana Street from Florence Way to the Smith Road trailhead, August 22 to September 3, for work on their non-potable recycled water supply system

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Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney):

A small section of the Sand Creek Regional Greenway along Havana Street from Florence Way to the Smith Road trailhead in Denver will be temporarily closed from Aug. 22 to Sept. 3. A Denver Water contractor will be installing a recycled water line that will serve irrigation water to Stapleton and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is a nearly 14-mile stretch of public land connecting the High Line Canal in Aurora with the South Platte River Greenway in Commerce City.

In addition to serving recycled water to the Stapleton area, the installation of this recycled water line is the final step in completing the Arsenal’s wildlife restoration program. Denver Water’s recycled water program is a part of the utility’s future water supply planning, which rests on three strategies: conservation, recycled water and new supply.

More Denver Water coverage here.

Southern Delivery System update: Colorado Springs Utilities is hosting a party at the Pueblo Dam Friday to celebrate the start of construction

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Daniel Chacón):

Friday’s celebration will include multiple speakers, including Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, former Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera, Fountain Mayor Jeri Howells and John Cordova, chair of the Pueblo County Board of Commissioners, among others.

Children from Colorado Springs, Fountain, Pueblo West and Security will contribute to a time capsule for the project, Rummel said. Their participation is meant to “signify that this is what the project is all about,” she said…

Friday’s ceremony starts at 9:45 a.m., but people are encouraged to show up by 9:30 a.m. It will be on the east side of the reservoir, south of the State Park entrance station, according to a news release.

More coverage from Pam Zubeck writing for the Colorado Springs Independent. From the article:

In any event, given the difficulty in obtaining environmental approvals and securing water rights in these water-tight times, SDS might be the last major water project built in Colorado for years to come. The pipeline, Utilities officials say, will ultimately deliver 96 million gallons per day to partners Colorado Springs, Pueblo West, Fountain, and Security.

The first phase, which will include a 60-mile pipeline, several pump stations and a treatment plant, is expected to create an annual average of 786 regional jobs and result in $127.6 million in earnings to El Paso County residents and $35.5 million to Pueblo County residents, the city said in a press release. The first phase is to be finished by 2016. The second phase would include a storage reservoir and an exchange reservoir and expanded pumping and treatment capacity.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Hispanic leaders form ‘Nuestro Rio’ to focus attention on the Colorado River

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From the Nuestro Rio website:

Beginning at 10,175 feet, the Colorado River flows 1,450 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, through seven states and Mexico before emptying into the Gulf of California. Along the way, it irrigates 15% of the nation’s crops and feeds 13% of the nation’s livestock, including the Imperial Valley, which provides 80% of the country’s winter vegetables. The Colorado River also provides drinking water for our communities and recreational opportunities for our children.

The river is critical to our way of life, yet the river today is threatened by climate change, chronic drought and increasing pressures from development. In the past decade, we’ve used up nearly half of the Colorado River water now in reservoirs. Those reservoirs, including Lake Mead, are now almost half empty—risking the water supply to our urban and rural communities, agriculture, and small businesses across the region.

From the Associated Press (Catharine Tsai) via the Albuquerque Journal:

As western U.S. cities propose water projects to claim their share of scarce river water, Nuestro Rio, which is Spanish for “Our River,” wants to make sure Hispanic voices are heard. “This is what’s important,” said Nita Gonzales, president and chief executive officer of Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de Estudios in Denver. “Oftentimes we are not at the table around environmental issues.”

The group has received some funding from the Western Conservation Foundation but describes itself as a grass-roots effort, according to Nuestro Rio event organizer Amber Tafoya. Tafoya, also executive director of the Latina Initiative in Denver, said the river’s health might not be as high a priority for Hispanics as jobs, health care and immigration policy, but the availability of water affects all three issues. “If you don’t have water, you’re forced to migrate. If you don’t have water, you are not in good health. Jobs are hard to do without access to water,” she said…

“We’re so excited to have Latino leadership saying we need to be part of that conversation and part of the action,” Gonzales said.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Arkansas Valley Superditch update: Three year pilot program will move 500 acre-feet annually from the Caitlin Canal to El Paso County

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Under the three-year program, 500 acre-feet of water would be sold each year under a lease agreement to Fountain, Security and Widefield at a cost of $500 per acre-foot. The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District has paid the legal and engineering bills for the Super Ditch so far, and heard an update on the proposed program at its meeting Wednesday. The Super Ditch board, made up of representatives from seven canal companies, heard the proposal earlier this week.

Under the plan, 400 acres of the 1,200 acres enrolled in the program would be dried up, earning an average of $945 per acre. The Catlin Canal irrigates more than 18,000 acres. Water would be taken at the Catlin headgate and either exchanged to Lake Pueblo during high-flow periods or placed into recharge ponds along the canal, consulting engineer Heath Kuntz explained…

A dozen farmers will set aside 100 acres each and fallow one third of that ground each year to refine engineering questions about the ditch. The rest would be farmed as usual, but farmers would have the opportunity to make improvements on the fallowed ground. So far, all of the participants have indicated they would rotate acreage, although Kuntz would like at least one to fallow the same ground for three years, for the sake of the engineering study. Some of those in the program own more shares than are needed to irrigate their acreage, while others are water short. Flood irrigation, sprinklers, drip irrigation and even some who mix well and surface irrigation sources have signed on. The amount of water credited to dried up ground varies from farm to farm, according to the shares per acre, cropping pattern and method of irrigation. Farms were chosen to represent as many scenarios as possible…

The water would be exchanged or traded into Lake Pueblo under a substitute water supply plan, rather than a court decree, during the pilot program. The Super Ditch plans to get approval for the plan by December. Exchanges would likely be available only during a few weeks during spring, and the Super Ditch could also move water through trades with other water users who have storage accounts in Lake Pueblo. All of the water used in the program would first flow through the Catlin Canal headgate and allowed to pass through the ditch, if it is being traded or exchanged, or moved into recharge ponds. The recharge ponds would slowly release water back to the Arkansas River over several years, mimicking the way return flows make their way back into the system. Flows that are exchanged can be measured at augmentation stations.

More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here and here.

The Front Range Water Council plans to spend $600,000 to study Colorado River basin supplies

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Front Range Water Council is planning to hire Grand River Consulting Corp. for $600,000 over two years to work on Colorado River issues that affect the state’s largest water providers. The Pueblo water board’s share will be $36,000 each year, or $72,000 total. The board approved the contract at its Tuesday meeting.

The council represents Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Twin Lakes Reservoir & Canal Co., the Northern Water Conservancy District and Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Denver and Northern — the largest water providers — would pay 20 percent of the costs of the contract, while the others each have a 12 percent share. Combined, the groups provide municipal and industrial water to 80 percent of the state’s population, using about 6 percent of the total water supply. Agriculture still uses most of the water in Colorado…

Up until now, the council members have been relying on their own staff to provide input to state planning on Colorado River issues, but the tasks have grown so much that full-time staff is needed to work on the issues, said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo water board…

Among the projects of the group are:

Day-to-day management of a technical work group among the members of the council.

A water bank study to look at how to prevent curtailment of municipal diversions in the event of a Colorado River call.

Input into nonconsumptive needs studies of the Colorado River, which are primarily driven by the state roundtable process.

Working with the Bureau of Reclamation on its Colorado River basin supply and demand study. The study is looking at water availability in all seven states.

A strategic plan for the Front Range Water Council.

Coordinating work with the CWCB, including the state’s ongoing Colorado River water availability study and compact compliance study.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.