Republican River basin: It’s twilight for Bonny Reservoir after labor day

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From 9News.com (Matt Flener):

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.

Here’s a look at the South Fork of the Republican River from Tony Rayl writing for The Yuma Pioneer. From the article:

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.

Summitville Mine superfund site: Open house Wednesday for opening of new water treatment facility

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

State environmental officials will host an open house Wednesday for the opening of a new water treatment facility at the Summitville Mine Superfund site

The open house will run from noon to 4 p.m. and include a grand-opening ceremony from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Site tours will be offered at noon and 2:30 p.m.

More Summitville coverage here and here.

Colorado Water Congress summer meeting: State Senator Gail Schwartz — ‘There will be a bare-bones level of funding for water projects’

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“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.

More Colorado Water coverage here.

Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway board meeting recap: The district is trying to stretch their seed money until the Southern Delivery System bounty hits in 2016

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“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.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.