The National Ground Water Association is sponsoring two short courses on groundwater remediation in October

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From email from the National Ground Water Association (Mark Jones):

I would like to inform you of two short courses that the National Ground Water Association is sponsoring. The first is entitled, Site Characterization in Support of Fractured Rock Remediation Projects, and will be held October 17-18 in Denver, Colorado. The second course is titled, Environmental Geochemistry of Metals: Investigation and Remediation, and will be held October 31-November 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah…

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.

More groundwater coverage here.

The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, Pueblo Water Works, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Salida, Buena Vista, Cañon City, Florence and others are in prelimary talks about forming a coalition to develop storage closer to the point of use

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From The Mountain Mail Joe Stone:

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.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Woods Lake Native Trout Project Scheduled

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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.

To learn more about efforts by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restore native trout, see: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Research/Aquatic/CutthroatTrout/Pages/CutthroatTrout.aspx

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

Meterologist Brian Bledsoe cautions ranchers and farmers that La Niña could set up again leading to more drought until July-August 2012

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From Lamar 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.

Colorado Water Congress summer meeting: Message to legislators — lets see if the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch ag transfers work

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

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.

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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.