The City of Boulder is betting on drier and hotter conditions in the future when planning their raw water supply infrastructure

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):

Boulder officials are now fast-tracking funding for water infrastructure projects, including a new water pipeline that will give the city more options for potential water sources and a dam rehabilitation project to enhance the city’s water storage capacity.

Boulder and all of Colorado just experienced the hottest August ever, according to NOAA. So did five other states – New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona – and the average temperature in the United States in August was 3 degrees Fahrenheit higher that the long-term average between 1901 and 2000. Precipitation nationwide was .29 inches below the long-term average.

These statistics will no doubt provide ammo for supporters of two ballot questions in Boulder’s Nov. 1 municipal election asking voters to essentially approve a new municipal electrical utility. Proponents of the plan to kick Xcel Energy to the curb say the state’s largest utility is not shedding coal-fired power quickly enough.

More than half the electricity used in Boulder is generated by burning coal, which spews twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas and up to 100 percent more CO2 than alternative energy sources like wind and solar. CO2 is the main component of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, and Boulder officials have a goal of reducing those emissions to 1990 levels by 2012.

Here’s the link to a new climate change study from the City of Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association that assesses the vulnerability of the city’s water supply to climate change.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Glen Canyon Institute road show stop in Aspen September 27

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From email from the Glen Canyon Institute:

Please join us on Tuesday, September 27th for a special presentation at the Aspen Center For Environmental Studies. The presentation will feature the stunning film, Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West, along with a reading from author Bruce Berger.

Photographer James Kay and journalist Annette McGivney document the reemergence of Glen Canyon in the ground-breaking film Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West. By combining historical video clips of Glen Canyon before the dam along with more than 100 images from the book of the same title, this beautiful film showcases the remarkable reemerging canyons of the Glen while providing a hopeful message for the future of the West and its rivers.

Author Bruce Berger will read from his book There Was a River, where he recounts the last known trip down Glen Canyon before it was dammed.

The event will be held:

Tuesday, September 27th, at 6:00 pm
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
100 Puppy Smith Street
Aspen, CO 81611

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

2011 Colorado State Engineer’s Forum: Colorado Water — How Can Our State Agencies Cooperate?

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From email from the State Engineer’s Office (Pat McDermott):

The State Engineer’s Forum will be held in South Fork, CO at the Biggins Restaurant – formerly the Hungry Logger

Friday, September 30, 2011 (the Public is Invited to Attend)

State Engineer’s Forum “Colorado Water – How Can Our State Agencies Cooperate” from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 3:00 p.m. will feature keynote speaker Mike King, Director of Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

This forum will include speakers from State agencies that regulate, administer, or own water in Colorado. Invited agencies include the Division of Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Colorado State Land Board, Office of the Attorney General, and the Division of Water Resources.

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and your registration fee includes a delicious Mexican food buffet-style lunch.

Question and Answer session with Dick Wolfe, State Engineer and Director of the Division of Water Resources.

Please attend! This forum provides an opportunity for you to learn about how your State agencies regulate water.

Click here for their information form. Registration closes Monday, September 26.

Meeker Wenschhof hydroelectric project is ‘among the first’ to receive a permit under FERC’s new streamlined process

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Here’s the release from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today approved the construction of a hydroelectric project in Colorado, the first issued since FERC and the state of Colorado signed an agreement last year to simplify procedures for the development of small-scale hydropower projects. As a result of the streamlined procedures, the approval of today’s project was completed in two months.

The Meeker Wenschhof hydroelectric project, to be located on an existing irrigation pipeline near the town of Meeker in Rio Blanco County, would consist of a powerhouse containing one generating unit with an installed capacity of 23 kilowatts and an average annual generation of 100,000 kilowatt hours. FERC approved the project in a two-month time span.

In signing the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Colorado in August 2010, FERC said it had seen rising interest among entities seeking to develop small, low-impact hydropower projects. Federal surveys have identified several hundred potential small hydropower projects of smaller than 5 megawatts (MW) in Colorado with a combined capacity of more than 1,400 MW. These projects have the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting Colorado’s energy needs while helping to satisfy Colorado’s new Renewable Energy Standard and create related business opportunities.

“Small hydro is a renewable resource that has tremendous potential,” FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said. “FERC and Colorado have shown their commitment to moving these projects forward knowing that, ultimately, it will benefit consumers and help create jobs. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The MOU signed by FERC and Colorado agreed to the following:

– Colorado will develop a pilot program to test options for simplifying and streamlining procedures for authorizing conduit exemptions and small 5MW or less exemption projects while ensuring environmental safeguards;
– Colorado and FERC will identify a single point of contact for implementation of the pilot program;
-Both parties will hold quarterly teleconferences to discuss the development and implementation of the pilot program;
-Both parties will share and make publicly available all relevant economic, environmental, and technical data.
– FERC will waive certain consultation requirements when all relevant resources agencies agree to do so.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Water for People: Donate to Drink $2M Challenge

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Click here to make a donation. From the website:

To you, getting a drink of water is easy. Turn on your faucet and get a refreshing drink. To one in seven people worldwide, that’s impossible. Getting water is back-breaking, life-threatening work. Every. Single. Day.

They can’t drink, so neither can you. Until you donate.

Reclamation Seeks Comments on Requirements for Water Project Feasibility Studies

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Here’s the release from Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comment on the draft directive and standard for feasibility studies to formulate, evaluate and select project plans for implementation. These updated guidelines establish the responsibilities, requirements and procedures for performing detailed planning studies, including feasibility studies conducted for the purpose of recommending congressional action, including approval, authorization, or appropriations, in accordance with Executive Order 12322.

The requirements in this draft directive and standards provide direction for conducting feasibility level water resource planning studies that are consistent with the Economic and Environmental Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Resources Implementation Studies, commonly referred to as P&G’s.

Changes to the directive and standard include:

– An extended definition of “feasibility level” to establish general expectations for data collection, technical and scientific analysis, design and cost-estimating.
– An independent review facilitated by Reclamation’s Office of Policy and Administration. This policy review process is modeled on existing procedures for DEC reviews and Title XVI feasibility study reviews.
– Criteria for considering and analyzing climate change impacts as directed by Secretarial Order 3289.

The draft directive and standard is available for review at: http://www.usbr.gov/recman/drafts/cmp09-02webdraft.pdf.

Comments or questions may be directed to Chris Perry at cperry@usbr.gov. Comments must be received by Reclamation by 5 PM on October 21, 2011.

More Reclamation coverage here.

Green Mountain Reservoir operations update: 500 cfs in the Blue River below the dam by Friday

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

After the weekly conference call yesterday, it was determined that releases from Green Mountain would increase. We have been releasing about 400 cfs for some time. The change will put 500 cfs in the lower Blue River. The first change was today a 9 a.m. We bumped up 50 cfs. Currently, 450 is being released to the Lower Blue. Tomorrow, Friday, we will bump up another 50 cfs around 8 a.m. By lunch, there should be 500 cfs in the river. This increase will help provide water to the critical habitat of the endangered fish of the Colorado River.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

Wastewater: The Windsor Town Board approves borrowing $3.2 million loan for new headworks and lift station

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From the Windsor Beacon (Ashley Keesis-Wood):

Upgrades to the plant, combined with a new headworks and lift station, are the next big project on tap for the Town of Windsor. The Windsor Town B approved an ordinance on Sept. 12 allowing the town to take out a $3.2 million loan from Colorado Water and Power Authority at a low interest rate to pay for the project. “This loan would address the needs out at the Great Western Industrial Park and the projected population growth,” Windsor Town Attorney Ian McCargar said…

“With this loan, we will not have to raise our existing sewer rates,” Windsor Finance Director Dean Moyer said.

More wastewater coverage here.

Homestake Reservoir is closed until October 2013

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The closure means that no water will be brought over through the Homestake pipeline into Turquoise Lake next year, as work is conducted on the gate. The gate is located in the middle of the reservoir. That should not have a significant effect on the operations of either Aurora and Colorado Springs in the Arkansas River basin. Both utilities have high water storage levels. Homestake accounts for about 15 percent of Aurora’s storage and 10 percent of Colorado Springs’ storage.

“We were 90 percent full as of last week, and we’ll be bringing more water over to keep Spinney, Aurora and Quincy reservoirs more full than usual,” [Greg Baker, spokesman for Aurora Water] said.

Aurora has a 2-3 year supply of water in storage and will rely on its newly completed Prairie Waters Project to fully reuse as much water as possible. Aurora also will be managing its Arkansas Valley water — from rights purchased when farms were dried up in Otero, Crowley and Lake counties — more closely, Baker said…

For Colorado Springs, the situation is different. It relies heavily on the Colorado River basin for the majority of its water, but has sources other than Homestake, including Twin Lakes, the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project and the Blue River diversion. Homestake provides about 14 percent of the annual supply. “We’ll try to bring over water from Homestake when we are able, but, yes, we expect it to be drawn down for a year,” [Gary Bostrom, chief of water services for Colorado Springs Utilities] said.

More Homestake Reservoir coverage here.

The Two Rivers Water Company scores 500 acre-feet per year of irrigation supplies from the Pueblo Board of Water Works

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Two Rivers Water Co., started by Denver businessman John McKowen and managed by Gary Barber, chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, is renovating the Cucharas Reservoir dam, which has been under safety restrictions for the past 24 years. The lease will generate nearly $100,000 per year of revenue for the water board for 500 acre-feet per year. The water will be delivered to the confluence of the Huerfano River at the Arkansas River, where Two Rivers will exchange it upstream…

During many years, such as this one, precipitation in the Huerfano-Cucharas watershed is not sufficient to fill the reservoir to meet the conditions of the ditch’s water rights. Cucharas Reservoir was built in the early 1900s to meet irrigation needs by storing water during wet years. The dam breached in 1987 and storage has been restricted since that time. After repairing the existing dam, Two Rivers plans to build a new dam in the rugged canyon just downstream…

The lease with the water board is for $196.54 an acre-foot, which is lower than the board water sales under municipal and industrial leases, but higher than the water board receives on spot leases to agriculture. The lease would increase at the same rate paid by Pueblo customers.

More Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here.