Ruedi Reservoir: No quaggas in the pipes, so far

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From the Associated Press via 9News.com:

Inspectors at Ruedi Reservoir say thousands of inspections have turned up no signs of mussels that have infested other Colorado reservoirs. The Ruedi Power and Water Authority inspectors near Basalt were looking for zebra and quagga mussels.

More invasive species coverage here.

Grand County: Managing the Influx of Water Quality Data for Healthy Headwaters

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Here’s a release from YSI about efforts to monitor water quality in Grand County:

“Good water quality benefits everyone,” says Jane Tollett, Director of Grand County Water Information Network (GCWIN).

Assessing the health of the Colorado and Fraser Rivers is a tall order for Tollett. There is a limited amount of water, with the Upper Colorado Watershed supplying water to meet both the local needs of residents, ranchers, cold-water fisheries and recreation, along with eastern slope agriculture and the increasing populations along the front range from Denver to Fort Collins.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Interior Secretary Salazar says that water managers that depend on the Colorado River are planning for climate change induced shortages

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From the National Journal (Coral Davenport):

The 10 Western states that depend on the Colorado River and Rio Grande basins will see acute water shortages in the coming years due to the combination of reduced precipitation as a result of climate change and increased demand, Salazar said, speaking to reporters at a breakfast held by the Christian Science Monitor…

“Climate change doesn’t seem to get any traction in Washington. But if you talk to water managers on the Colorado River, many are Republican, many are Democrat, and they know what they will have to do,” Salazar said. “We should be concerned about water shortages. The answer to the water shortages is how we manage a finite water supply.”

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Denver, Aurora and the South Metro Water Supply Authority make the WISE project official

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership between Denver, Aurora and the South Metro Water Supply Authority was announced Tuesday. The partnership could reduce pressure on agriculture in the South Platte and Arkansas river basins and the need for diversions from the Colorado River.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” [John Stulp, water adviser to Gov. John Hickenlooper and chair of the Interbasin Compact Committee] said. “I think it’s a unique way to share water and infrastructure. From what I understand, there is built-in drought protection. There are efficiencies and redundancies that can take pressure off ag communities.”[…]

The WISE partnership will improve South Metro water supplies while maximizing the water resources and infrastructure of Denver and Aurora. The agreement is in a 60-day review period and must be approved by all of the parties. South Metro represents 15 municipal water suppliers in Douglas and Arapahoe counties…

The backbone of the partnership is Aurora’s $659 million Prairie Waters project that allows return flows from treated wastewater in the South Platte River to be recaptured and treated. In Colorado, water from transbasin diversions and some water obtain through water rights transfers can be used to extinction. Aurora has built the first phase of Prairie Waters to treat up to 10,000 acre-feet of water per year, but it can expand to 50,000 acre-feet per year…

There would, however, always be seasonal capacity in the Prairie Waters project to provide additional water for users in the metro area, because the project is scaled to meet peak demands, [Mark Pifher, director of Aurora Water] said. The proposed agreement will sell treated water to South Metro for $5.38 per 1,000 gallons, with minimum guaranteed deliveries of 5,000 acre-feet per year beginning in June 2013. That works out to about $8.76 million annually. After 2020, the amount would increase to 10,000 acre-feet per year. Eventually, systemwide improvements could provide as much as 60,000 acre-feet to South Metro, Pifher said. Denver also would gain a new water supply through recycling its flows through Prairie Waters. In addition, South Metro water users would agree to fund improvements to Denver Water and Aurora infrastructure with $15.4 million over eight years, which is the equivalent to a tap fee. The money would go for interconnections between the Denver, Aurora and other systems. The agreement also includes a $412,000 connection between East Cherry Creek Village and Aurora.

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

The deal, which would pay Denver and Aurora water utilities $17.4 million a year, is one of the first of its kind in the nation. It lets water agencies that often compete for resources share without merging, and sustain more people without diverting more water from over-subscribed Western Slope rivers. Environmentalists and state leaders swiftly praised the emerging arrangement.

“This type of water-sharing agreement is a critical step toward bolstering water supplies in the southern metro area while better utilizing water resources in Aurora and Denver,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said…

Denver and Aurora would funnel as much as 1.6 billion gallons of purified water a year to suburbs by 2013, increasing to as much as 3.2 billion gallons by 2020. Engineers say necessary new pipelines and hook-ups eventually could send as much as much as 19.5 billion gallons — 60,000 acre-feet a year — to the suburbs. Denver Water, Aurora Water and 13 participating suburbs would have to replumb before the first water could be delivered — which could bloat water bills for residents of Castle Rock, Parker and other communities. Those communities already need more than the maximum amount of water deliverable under the current 22-page contract, said Charles Krogh, past president of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, who represented suburbs through lengthy negotiations. “Our demands now are about 70,000 acre-feet annually,” Krogh said. “This proposal allows us to get in the game for renewable water supplies.”[…]

The replumbing would include a $412,000 hookup between Aurora pipes and an East Cherry Creek Valley pipeline and storage of water in Parker’s new Rueter-Hess Reservoir. To receive water, south metro suburbs would have to install additional pipelines “to connect ourselves all up,” at an estimated cost of $80 million, Krogh said…

South suburbs, if they approve the contract, would be obligated not to divert water from Colorado’s Western Slope.

More coverage from Sara Castellanos writing for The Aurora Sentinel. From the article:

Aurora Water, Denver Water and the South Metro Water Supply Authority have developed a water delivery agreement that, if approved, would provide SMWSA with up to 5,000 acre-feet of water per year by June 2013, increasing to 10,000 acre-feet per year by 2020 as additional pipeline and other infrastructure are built. SMWSA represents 15 water providers in Douglas and Arapahoe counties. The amount of water delivered annually could eventually expand to up to 60,000 acre-feet per year…

The new supply of fully treated water from Aurora’s state-of-the-art Binney Water Purification Facility will provide much welcomed relief to SMWSA and its members, who have been looking for ways to reduce their reliance on non-renewable underground aquifers, Baker said in a release. It also will reduce the need for the SMWSA members to pursue agricultural water rights in the South Platte River basin in the near term.

More WISE coverage here.

IBCC: Discussions for meeting Colorado’s future water supply gap should include environmental and future ag needs

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

[The]…major water strategies for meeting a looming gap in state water supply [are]: identified projects, urban water conservation, new projects to increase supply and alternatives to drying up agriculture…

The nine basin roundtables, which feed into the IBCC under a 2005 state law that created both, are just beginning to use the portfolio tool developed for the IBCC in 2010. In one case, the North Platte Basin Roundtable wanted to look at what would happen if no more agricultural land were taken out of production. “The results were that it took a very high level of conservation and a new supply to make up the difference,” [water adviser for Gov. John Hickenlooper. Stulp also chairs the IBCC] said. “Obviously, there is no one silver bullet for a state water solution.”[…]

Stulp believes that as more people become familiar with the tool, they will begin to broaden their viewpoint about water development…

The portfolio tool focuses on the urban water gap identified in the CWCB’s Statewide Water Supply Initiative. It takes into account ongoing passive conservation and the potential water needs for energy development. The portfolio tool makes it possible to look at trade-offs including decreases in irrigated acres, depletions to the Colorado River, the size of alternative agricultural transfers, nonconsumptive water availability and the costs of alternatives compared to the status quo…

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable wants to add agricultural water needs [to the planning tool], or perhaps give it its own seat. A committee led by Beulah rancher Reeves Brown met last week to begin planning a study that will model how different scenarios could affect irrigated agriculture in the Arkansas River basin.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.