Idaho Springs: Clear Creek Watershed Festival September 17


From email from the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation (Christine Crouse):

Join us at the 3rd annual CLEAR CREEK WATERSHED FESTIVAL on Saturday, September 17, 10am – 3pm, creekside at Courtney-Ryley-Cooper Park in Idaho Springs.

Learn what a watershed is; what makes the Clear Creek Watershed so unique; and how we impact the watersheds we live, work, and play in.

Participants receive a WATERSHED PASSPORT and reusable tote bag to collect give-aways from 33 environmental education PASSPORT STATIONS. Learn about water and mineral resources, water quality, sustainable development/living, alternative energy and transportation, mining history, mine remediation, ecotourism, wildlife/habitat, and more.

Upon completion of the passport circuit, watershed explorers are rewarded with a cool color-changing water bottle, BBQ lunch, and ice cream. The festival is free of charge, but participants have to earn their passport stamps, prizes, and food coupons by engaging in the activities. There will be fly-tying and fishing, live music, goldpanning, facepainting, snow making, a model wind turbine, and much more!

The festival offers an out-of-the-classroom learning opportunity and the information lends itself to interesting family and class discussions/lessons on watersheds, natural resources, water science, and sustainable living.

More Clear Creek watershed coverage here.

The Bureau of Reclamation is increasing releases from Ruedi Reservoir for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Program


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Tonight [ed. September 6] at 5 p.m., releases from Ruedi Reservoir to the Fryingpan River will increase. We will be increasing by about 50 cfs. The reason for the change is that flows in the Colorado River through the 15 Mile Reach of critical habitat for endangered fish species have dropped. As a result, the Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting additional water. Currently, the Fryingpan is flowing around 260 cfs. After the change, it will be closer to about 312 cfs.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here and here.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin


Here are the presentations from this week’s webinar, from the Colorado Climate Center. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the precipitation summary.

The City of Montrose is hoping that Montrose County will pitch in some dough for a whitewater park on the Uncompahre River


From the Montrose Daily Press (Katie O’Hare):

“We have a lot of requests this year, but we can put it in with the other requests in preparing for our budget season,” Commissioner David White said.

City officials are seeking the county’s help to build a proposed white water park on the river. White said he was leery about allocating the money to the white water park after the county just recently completed it fairgrounds master plan, which includes several capital improvement projects…

Although the park is projected to cost between $600,000 to $900,000, Erickson said the annual economic benefits the area would realize would be far greater.

More whitewater coverage here.

Forbes: Peter Gleick discusses the concept of ‘Peak Water’ in a guest column


From Forbes (Peter Gleick):

Peak Renewable Water. Most water resources are renewable, in the form of flows of rainfall, rivers, streams, and groundwater basins that are recharged over relatively short time frames. Renewable, however, does not mean unlimited. When human demands for water from a watershed reach 100% of renewable supply, we can’t take any more, and we reach “peak renewable” limits…

Peak Nonrenewable Water. In some places, water comes from stocks of water that are effectively nonrenewable, such as groundwater aquifers with very slow recharge rates or groundwater systems damaged by compaction or other physical changes in the basin. When the use of water from a groundwater aquifer far exceeds natural recharge rates, this stock of groundwater will be depleted or fall to a level where the cost of extraction exceeds the value of the water when used, very much like oil fields…

Peak Ecological Water. Water supports commercial and industrial activity and human health, but it is also fundamental for animals, plants, habitats, and environmentally dependent livelihoods…

The good news, however, is that the assumption that a growing population and economy require ever growing amounts of water (or other natural resources) may be false. Indeed…the U.S. has continued to expand our economy and meet the demands of growing populations, with less and less water, through smarter technology, regulations, education, improved water pricing, and water conservation and efficiency programs…

Peak water may be a reality, but it doesn’t have to be a constraint on our well-being.

Colorado Supreme Court to hear San Luis Valley groundwater sub-district rules appeal September 28


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

The valley’s local Water Court signed off on the plan of management for Subdistrict No. 1 in May 2010, but three parties made up largely of surface irrigators have appealed that ruling. They argue that the management plan does too little to protect the owners of senior surface water right from injury caused by the pumping of the subdistrict’s roughly 3,000 irrigation wells…

The appellants include two groups — The San Antonio, Los Pinos and Conejos River Acequia Preservation Association and Save Our Senior Water Rights which are represented by Arvada attorney Tim Buchanan. Richard Ramstetter and Peter Atkins have joined as individual appellants, who are represented by Alamosa attorney Stephane Atencio.

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

Colorado Springs Utilities tells the state legislature Water Resources Review Committee that the Southern Delivery System is a regional economic stimulus project


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

“It’s our own regional stimulus project,” John Fredell, SDS program director, told the Water Resources Review Committee.

Already $330 million of the anticipated $880 million sum the project is expected to cost has been committed. Colorado Springs Utilities’ customers will pay for the project with 12 percent rate hikes annually from now through the project’s completion in 2016. Fredell said SDS was parceled into several efforts in order to spread the wealth between Southern Colorado contractors. He referred to a Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce study of the economic impact of the project that estimates construction of SDS will generate 780 jobs a year. Fredell said Colorado Springs Utilities hopes that the water it is securing through the pipeline to Pueblo Reservoir will yield fruitful economic development that transcends the immediate construction jobs.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here.

Lamar pipeline: Arkansas River basin roundtable members had many questions for Karl Nyquist yesterday


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Questions about cost, economic impact, water quality and whether the project is speculative greeted Karl Nyquist, a partner in GP Water, which is proposing a 150-mile, $350 million pipeline from the Lamar Canal to northern El Paso County and other points along the Front Range. Up to 12,000 acre-feet of water annually could be delivered…

“You’ve said the water template [ed. ag water transfers template developed by the Arkansas basin roundtable] would be used as a guide, how does it get enforced?” asked Dave Taussig, an attorney from Lincoln County.

Nyquist responded that a change case in Water Court, when it is filed, would protect other water rights in the Arkansas Valley. The socioeconomic concerns identified in the roundtable report could be addressed in the Prowers County 1041 land-use process, he added…

Others wanted to know if GP Water was merely a water speculator. “We own the water and won’t go to court until we have end users in mind,” Nyquist said.

During his presentation, he said GP has bid for water service to Cherokee, Castle Rock, Bennett, the district it controls in Elbert County and others. Nyquist said the plan had come to light through media reports before it was fully formed…

The project includes a reservoir, underground storage and treatment plant near Lamar in Prowers County, which Nyquist said would more than offset the loss of agricultural jobs…

GP submitted a proposal to the Cherokee Metropolitan District in Colorado Springs to provide up to 4,000 acre-feet annually for $7 per 1,000 gallons. That works out to about $9 million per year for about one-third of the projected supply…

GP plans to reduce its storage costs by using underground reservoirs, which will cut down on water losses from evaporation. Water quality is better during high flows when GP would store the water, Nyquist explained…

About 40,000 acre-feet of underground storage is available under the ground GP owns. GP estimates its water rights would yield an average of 8,000-10,000 acre-feet annually to move from the Arkansas River basin.

Brine from the treatment plant — which Nyquist said would be about 3-5 percent of the total water supply — would be injected 4,000-8,000 feet underground into formations that are already watered, Nyquist added.

More Lamar pipeline coverage here.