Denver Water asks the General Assembly for legislation that would set tough standards for low-flow toilets

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

They’ve asked lawmakers to consider setting a statewide toilet standard of 1.28 gallons per flush. Toilets account for about a quarter of household water use, and the new standard could save 44,000 acre-feet of water a year by 2050…

New toilets sold today use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush, in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency limits set in the 1990s. But in Denver, an abundance of homes still have old-style fixtures that use an average volume of 3.14 gallons per flush, according to Denver Water’s latest “end-use study.”[…]

State Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, said the proposal will be considered along with other water-conservation measures that have become a top priority for Colorado. “This not only saves water consumption overall, but it also provides an opportunity to reduce the amount of water sent to wastewater treatment,” she said. “If consumers can save money and also work toward saving water, I think this might be popular.”

Toilet manufacturers backed the measures because they are eager for more people to buy new products. Plumbing Manufacturers International “drove” the passage of flush limits in California and Texas, PMI executive director Barbara Higgens said. “People typically only replace a toilet when something goes wrong,” she said. “We really like them to embrace the new technology, just as they would a computer or cellphone.”

More 2012 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Dillon Reservoir starting to drop

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

…the reservoir has once again been dropping slowly, down to an elevation of 9,016.26 feet on Sept. 7, or about nine inches below the lip of the spillway as of late last week. Last year, the reservoir was about three feet lower on the same date, at 9,013.33 feet.

Last winter’s big snowfall is still reflected by runoff numbers. The combined flow of the Blue River and its tributaries totaled 323 cubic feet per second on Sept. 7, almost triple of the inflow on the same date in 2010 (111 cfs). Currently, flows in the Blue River below the dam are at 126 cfs, with 230 cfs going out through the Roberts Tunnel and into Denver Water’s South Platte storage system.

The Roberts Tunnel will be shut off around Thanksgiving, but the tunnel will remain full to enable Keystone to use the water to supplement flows in the Snake River based on snowmaking use.

More Denver Water coverage here.

Greeley Tribune book review: ‘Cowboy in the Board Room’

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The book is about northern Colorado legend W.D. Farr. Here’s the review from Eric Brown writing for the The Greeley Tribune. Here’s an excerpt:

Tyler’s newest book, “W.D. Farr: Cowboy in the Boardroom,” examines the Greeley resident who was a key figure in the development of large Colorado water projects, served as president of the National Cattlemen’s Association, was an adviser to the U.S. Department of Agriculture under three U.S. presidents and was appointed by President Richard Nixon to the Environmental Protection Agency…

But in piecing together Farr’s biography during the last three years, Tyler, who is retired and now lives in Steamboat Springs, became more familiar with the leadership qualities Farr possessed, characteristics that made his foresight — visions of bringing more water to residents of northern Colorado and improving standards and practices in the beef industry — a reality for himself and those who would reap the benefits.

“In writing this book, it further confirmed to me what an exceptional leader he was,” Tyler said. “So many characteristics contributed to that; his willingness to learn from others who knew more than him on a particular topic, his thinking ahead, his interactions with people.

“He’s just a great example of what can be accomplished with great leadership. I think that’s what this book highlights more than anything; how effective he was because of his leadership.”

More coverage from Bill Jackson (former Tribune journalist) running in The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

W.D. early on also recognized the need for more water and, with Greeley Tribune publisher Charles Hansen as a mentor, would help develop the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, a trans-mountain diversion that brought Colorado River water to northern Colorado. Hansen was considered the “father” of the C-BT and W.D. its oldest son. W.D. was quoted in the book as saying, “Probably, Charlie Hansen contributed more to the city of Greeley than any other man I have ever known.” Farr always referred to the C-BT as a second Poudre River for northern Colorado. As a member of the Greeley Water Board, which he started, and a 40-year member of the board of directors of Northern Water, W.D. was instrumental in assuring a future water supply for the city and area.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: The CWCB will discuss funding today for the Flaming Gorge Task Force

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Click on the thumbnail graphic for the image of the billboards on display in Grand Junction this week. The Colorado Environmental Coalition, Save the Colorado [ed. be careful clicking on this link at work] and Western Resource Advocates are hoping to influence the vote. The photo is from Peter McBride and is of the dry Colorado River estuary in Mexico. The Colorado River is now an ephemeral stream at its terminus.

Here’s a report detailing the state of the battle over moving water from the Green River basin to slake the thirst of the Front Range, from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is meeting Sept. 13 in Grand Junction to decide whether to spend $150,000 in taxpayer dollars on a special task force to further study the feasibility of the project, projected to cost as much as $9 billion to construct.

One big goal of the billboards is to raise public awareness. In the past, many major water projects received little public scrutiny in the early stages. By the time formal public comment periods are announced, the projects have already taken on a life of their own.

“At a time when government budgets are in deficit and we need to create jobs, it makes no sense to spend $9 billion on a pipeline that will hurt our economy,” said Bill Dvorak, owner of Dvorak Expeditions. “If we drain billions of gallons out of the Colorado River basin, fewer people will come out here to fish, boat and hike – businesses like mine will suffer and the West Slope will lose jobs.” Dvorak’s company leads boating expeditions on the Green River, which is a tributary of the Colorado River, and other rivers in the region.

Colorado Environmental Coalition, Save the Colorado and Western Resource Advocates joined forces to unveil the billboards, which display an image of a dried-up river bed with the message, “This will only cost you $9 billion.”

More coverage from NBC11News.com (Scott Aldridge):

…the chairman of the Colorado Wyoming Coalition, Frank Jaeger says he doesn’t know where they are coming up with those numbers, because their initial studies aren’t even done yet. “As far as numbers that others have thrown out there or published, I can’t speak to that…Right of way is going to be of immense concern, cost of pipeline, cost of pumping, electrical cost, all of these things are going to be reviewed in a study that we’re proposing to get those answers to…All of those issues have to be answered before you can put numbers on the table.”

Yet the Colorado Environmental Coalition is convinced the impacts would be devastating to Western Colorado. “Many aquatic habitats being devastated, all the great fishing on the green river would be hugely impacted.” Argues Wedemeyer.

“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of this community, we use it for our winery’s, we use it for tourism, for rafting, fishing, it’s the most important thing to our economy, and protecting water on the Western Slope is crucial to our livelihood.” Says Claudette Konola with Western Colorado Congress of Mesa County.

But Jaeger asks, how can critics cite these problems if the proposed study to find problems hasn’t even been done yet?

“Well it’s premature in that when we started this process two and a half years ago we went immediately to the Bureau of Reclamation first to find out if there’s adequate water. We are still waiting to determine that because the Bureau of Rec started a study to determine what the hydrologic amount of water would be on the reservoir, we don’t have that information yet…Until you’ve done a full investigation of a project how can you tout the pros and con’s if you don’t have the answers? I mean it’s kind of nonsensical to me for people to sit on the outside and say this is bad or that is bad, they don’t know what all the issues are.”

More coverage from KJCT8.com (Honora Swanson):

[Save the Colorado’s Gary Wockner] says the pipeline would cost between seven and nine billion dollars, making it the most expensive water in Colorado’s history. He says instead of a pipeline, the state should pursue conservation and recycled water.

More coverage from Alan Prendergast writing for Westword. He’s linking to Joel Warner’s in-depth piece from 2009 about the proposed pipeline. Here’s an excerpt Mr. Prendergast’s article:

The Colorado Water Conservation Board has pegged the cost of the pipeline at somewhere between $7 billion and $9 billion, up to triple the cost of Million’s own estimates. Despite that daunting figure, the CWCB is looking into spending $150,000 on a task force to study the project.

When board members arrived in Grand Junction to take part in that discussion, they were greeted by three billboards erected by a cadre of conservation groups, including Western Resource Advocates, Save the Colorado and the Colorado Environmental Coalition. The signs feature the dried-up, parched delta where the Colorado River supposedly (but only rarely) reaches the Sea of Cortez and refer viewers to an online petition at a website address — which, according to WRA spokesman Peter Roessmann, shut down at midnight last night after collecting 21,300 signatures protesting the plan.

More Flaming Gorge Task Force coverage here.

Energy policy — coalbed methane: The state of Colorado and the Southern Ute Tribe are considering their options in light of Judge James Hartmann’s ruling last Thursday

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

The judge last week upheld rules by the state engineer that allowed some oil and gas wells in the state to be exempt from getting water well permits for their operations, but he also said the rules shouldn’t apply within the Southern Ute reservation because it is unclear who has jurisdiction over water…

Despite the ruling last week upholding the rules, [Colorado First Assistant Attorney General John Cyran] told The Durango Herald (http://bit.ly/qrNKDV) the state was considering whether to ask the judge for a clarification of part of the ruling that said the state engineer’s rules should not apply within the Southern Ute reservation. “I don’t think there was any problem with us passing that rule because I do think we have authority there,” Cyran said.

More coalbed methane coverage here and here.