Energy policy — oil and gas: Open house to be held August 31 for Castle Rock area residents to learn about the Niobrara shale play

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From the Castle Rock News Press:

The Development Services Department is beginning to draft regulations regarding oil and gas drilling within the Castle Rock town limits, and the public is invited to learn more. The public is invited to attend an open house from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 31 in Town Hall Council Chambers, 100 N. Wilcox St…

“We’ve had two inquiries thus far from oil companies,” added [Development Services Director Bill Detweiler], “There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this subject and we want to be out in front with our local regulations.” The Town will draft regulations surrounding site plan approval, emergency access and access roads. The proposed regulations will go before the Planning Commission in October and then to Town Council in November.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

The Grand County Mutual Ditch and Reservoir Company is buying Vail Ditch shares to keep the water in the upper Colorado River watershed

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

The shares are being sold by private landowners and individuals within the Grand County Irrigated Land Company, which historically has had access to 850 acre-feet of senior Vail Ditch water from Meadow Creek and Strawberry Creek, stored in Meadow Creek Reservoir for irrigating ranchlands. The reservoir is located at the northernmost extension of the collection system used to convey water through Denver Water’s Moffat Tunnel…

According to [Grand County Mutual Ditch and Reservoir Company’s president Bruce Hutchins], purchase of the shares preserves how the water is being used today, which is mainly for growing hay, vegetables and for irrigating pastures. The partners would likely lease the shares back to their original owners, he said. “As they come up for sale, we feel it’s better to keep them than to let them possibly go to the East Slope,” he said…

The Vail Ditch was originally built to supply water to the Granby-area mesa for the Great Western Head Lettuce Co. The Vail Ditch Company formed in 1911 when the water right was filed.

Partners with interest in benefiting streamflows for river health and human use from Winter Park on downstream formed The Grand County Mutual Ditch and Reservoir Company in 2005 as a means to purchase shares. In 2008, the Company purchased 85.5 shares using a $1.5 million state matching grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board through the Colorado River Basin Roundtable.

More Fraser River watershed coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Colorado Department of Local Affairs executive director sees econmic opportunity in proposed Piñon Ridge Mill

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From The Telluride Daily Planet (Matthew Beaudin/John Lopez):

“The potential of the Piñon Ridge mill is a regional issue. Depending on where you stand and who you are, it is either the best opportunity for economic development in half a century or an environmental disaster,” [Reeves Brown] said. “I think the reality is, done right, it can be a huge boost for not only the regional economy, but for the economy statewide. There are potential environmental hazards and … the rules of the game and how they are applied are much different than five years ago, much less 50 years ago. I think there is huge opportunity there to develop that resource in a responsible manner.”

Brown, a familiar name on the Western Slope, was in Telluride and spoke to media on Wednesday morning. He was named to the DOLA post by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper when he took office in January. Brown had served as the executive director of Club 20, an organization representing Colorado’s 22 western counties, prior to moving to DOLA.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Cotter Corp, Inc. cited for spill at the Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials charged with overseeing a Superfund cleanup at the site issued the notice of violation because Cotter’s operating permit requires properly functioning equipment. But because Cotter notified department officials as required, documented the problem and fixed the broken equipment, “no further enforcement actions are anticipated,” health department spokeswoman Jeannine Natterman said. The uranium-tainted water will not add to the contamination that in the past reached groundwater in neighborhoods near Cañon City, Natterman said. An underground clay barrier installed in the 1980s and the pumping system will contain toxic material, she said.

More coverage from Tracy Harmon writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The accident happened when the lid to a vault containing pumps for the “pumpback” system was inadvertently left open overnight, causing the flange to freeze and rupture. The problem was discovered the next morning by Cotter personnel and corrected…

“This condition on the Cotter license is more strict than at any other uranium recovery facility and is not required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or Colorado regulations,” Tarlton explained. Cotter employees maintain a pumpback system to capture contaminated groundwater and pump it back to the primary impoundment for evaporation. This system prevents groundwater contaminated by pre-1978 operations from further contaminating the neighboring Lincoln Park groundwater.

More nuclear coverage here here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: Horsetooth Reservoir is as full as it has been since 1999

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From the Loveland Connection (Bobby Magill):

The surface elevation of Horsetooth Reservoir, which stores water from the Colorado River on the Western Slope, is at 5,419 feet, about 11 feet below full pool of 5,430 feet.

The Colorado-Big Thompson Project, of which Horsetooth Reservoir is a part, set an all-time record for in-flows from the Colorado River, he said. Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Lake and Grand Lake all received 430,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River, more than 75,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 355,000 acre-feet, he said…

Horsetooth and other area reservoirs are full enough to put water managers in a good position to deliver plenty of water to irrigators next year regardless of how snowy the winter is, [Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District spokesperson Brian Werner] said. We’re in good shape,” he said. “We can get by with average or below average winter snows this year and be fine next year.”

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

A June agreement between the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Aurora may pave the way for the expansion of Pueblo Reservoir

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“I think this [June agreement] has opened the door for success in the Arkansas basin,” Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board on Thursday. Aurora would not be included in any federal legislation to enlarge Lake Pueblo under its agreement with the Lower Ark in June meant to settle the Lower Ark’s 2007 federal lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation over a 40-year contract that allows Aurora to store and ex- change water in the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project…

Now that Aurora has removed its demand to be included in the federal legislation, the district could move ahead in seeking the legislation. No new PSOP bill has been introduced. While there are 27 intergovernmental agreements that “put a fence” on Aurora’s future activities in the Arkansas Valley, the new Lower Ark agreement does other things to prevent Aurora from taking even more water from the Arkansas River basin, Winner said. One of those is stopping Aurora’s ability to build new infrastructure to move water out of the valley. “It’s cheaper to build infrastructure in 2011 than 40 years from now,” Winner said. “This stops Aurora.”[…]

“I think this agreement can open the door for more storage in Pueblo Reservoir, which this basin needs,” Winner said. “It is very protective of the Arkansas basin.”

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Arkansas River basin: Water year 2011 has yielded the second largest import of water through the Boustead Tunnel since project water started moving in the 1970s

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Fry-Ark Project has brought over 98,640 acre-feet of water this year, about 4,500 more acre-feet than was projected in May, when allocations were made…

Fort Lyon Canal, the largest ditch in the valley, will get an additional 1,700 acre-feet. The water comes on top of nearly 60,000 acre-feet already being delivered to farmers through the Fry-Ark Project. Late runoff and a heavy snowpack contributed to the second-largest import of Fry-Ark water since diversions through the Boustead Tunnel began in the 1970s…

Because Arkansas River flows stayed above 700 cubic feet per second through Aug. 15, no Fry-Ark water was needed to maintain the Upper Arkansas voluntary flow program, Vaughan added…

Basinwide, more than 200,000 acre-feet of water has been imported this year through transmountain tunnels and ditches, well above the average of about 136,000 acre-feet, said Pat Edelmann, of the U.S. Geological Survey. Twin Lakes has imported about 62,000 acre-feet and continues to move water. The Homestake Project has brought over 32,000 acre-feet.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.