Clear Creek watershed: Cotter Corp promises to clean up discharges from the Schwartzwalder mine


From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

“Whatever the courts tell us to do, we will do,” Cotter president Amory Quinn said in a telephone interview from San Diego. “We will follow the letter of the law. If they demand we pump and treat, I guess we will pump and treat.” He did not commit to a timetable for that cleanup, though a creek-diversion pipe around the mine should be done by Jan. 31…

“We look forward to seeing Cotter’s plans and financial warranties for complying with the board orders,” Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety director Loretta Pineda said. Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt recently ruled in favor of state mining regulators in one of two lawsuits Cotter filed challenging orders to clean up the Schwartzwalder mine. That decision clears the way for removal of contaminated mine water and the posting of sufficient bond money to protect Ralston Creek, which flows into a Denver drinking-water-supply reservoir.

A decision is expected soon on Cotter’s second lawsuit, which challenges Colorado’s ability to enforce orders. Colorado Department of Natural Resources officials say this decision will help define what the state can do when companies defy legally valid orders.

On Wednesday, Quinn pointed out that Cotter has installed a sump system along Ralston Creek, below the mine. This apparently has reduced the concentrations of uranium entering the creek. Data provided by state officials shows readings ranging from 713 parts per billion in February to 39 in June. In July, the most recent reading available, the level had increased to 89 parts per billion. The state limit is 30 parts per billion. “We’re making that standard periodically,” Quinn said. But low flows in the creek during dry months, he said, result in uranium concentrations that are higher.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

The Cherokee Metropolitan District is buying the Sundance Ranch in northern El Paso County for 1,000 acre-feet of non-renewable Denver Basin aquifer system water


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Cherokee Metropolitan District on Tuesday chose to buy Denver Basin aquifers water rights from the Sundance Ranch in northern El Paso County from the Greenland Basin Pipeline Co. Cherokee will build the pipeline from the ranch, which is roughly 15 miles to the north. The water rights, pipeline and storage for the project will cost about $19.5 million for an annual yield of about 1,000 acre-feet…

A proposal by GP Water, which wants to build a 150-mile pipeline from Lamar to serve the Front Range with treated water, was put on hold but not totally rejected, said Sean Chambers, manager of the Cherokee district. GP Water, a Littleton company associated with C&A Holding Co., proposed a short-term water supply from wells near the Elizabeth area in Elbert County as a short-term solution for Cherokee. Water from the Lamar pipeline would be used to meet greater needs in the future.

“We need to know we wouldn’t be the only ones signing up,” Chambers said. “Forty years is a long term for encumbrance of debt, and we didn’t want to be the only ones at the table.”[…]

The purchase of the Sundance Ranch should tide Cherokee over for 10 years, the term of the bonds that will finance the project, he added. During that time, the district plans to look at its other options, which include the Southern Delivery System now being built by Colorado Springs, and the Lamar pipeline. There could be other possible sources of a new water supply as well — the district recently reviewed eight different proposals before deciding on the Sundance Ranch purchase…

Cherokee wants time to get a better idea of the dry-year yield of the Lamar ditch and sort out issues with the Arkansas River Compact associated with GP’s plan to build the Lamar pipeline, Chambers said. The compact between Colorado and Kansas has a provision against moving water out of the region unless it can be proved that it would cause no depletion in state-line flows.

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here.

Broomfield: The city is asking for input for their conservation plan


From the Broomfield Enterprise (Joe Rubino):

A draft of the plan is available for public review through Dec. 1, and comments are being sought on the plan during that period. The new plan is the first update to the water conservation policies since 1996, though water use has since been addressed in other policies, including the 2005 Comprehensive Plan…

In the plan, the city laid out four action steps it hopes will create the greatest changes in water usage. The steps were created after a review of ongoing conservation efforts, and were spurred by measures the city was required to consider under state statute.

The four steps are:

Realize the full potential of the reuse system. The reuse system supplies approximately 2,400 acre-feet of water and is projected to produce an annual yield of approximately 6,500 acre-feet at build-out, which for the reuse system, is projected to be 2040.

Realize savings from supply-side and demand-side conservation activities over the next 10 years.

Focus selected conservation measures and programs on areas where there are the greatest potential savings. Based on the findings, the focus should be residential use and irrigation.

Continue to work to reduce peak-season and peak-day demands.

“The keystone of Broomfield’s water conservation efforts is the water reuse system,” according to the executive summary of the plan,

The reuse system provides non-potable water for irrigation, Schnoor said. The system recaptures water for second use, which is processed and treated at the wastewater treatment plant.

Right now, Schnoor said the system features 36 miles of pipeline and provides water to 469 acres of public land. If the city chooses to build it to its proposed maximum capacity, more than doubling it’s output, it could supply about 25 percent of the city’s total water needs.

More conservation coverage here.

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable approves a $739,000 grant request for the City of Trinidad’s North Lake Dam rehabilitation project


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The roundtable sent a $739,000 grant request to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The money comes out of a mineral severance tax fund designated to meet the urban water gap projected by the Statewide Water Supply Initiative. The CWCB has final say on the grant. The reservoir is the primary source for the city of Trinidad, and also benefits the surrounding area, said Utility Superintendent James Fernandez…

Trinidad has spent $847,000 to design and build a new concrete outlet works and drain, but engineers estimate another $1.8 million is needed to reinforce the dam and rebuild the spillway. The city also has applied for a $739,000 low-interest construction loan from the CWCB and will put $369,000 into the project…

In other action, the roundtable:

– Elected officers: Chairman, Gary Barber; vice chairman, Jim Broderick and vice chairwoman, SeEtta Moss; recorder, Terry Scanga; Interbasin Compact Committee representatives, Danielson and Jay Winner, with Broderick as alternate.

– Heard a presentation on the CWCB’s portfolio tool, which projects how much of the state’s future water supply would be filled by current projects, urban conservation or reuse, new projects and agricultural transfers. CWCB staffer Todd Doherty said the goal of other roundtables in the state is to minimize the dry-up of agriculture to fill future needs.

– Considered potential appointments to the Flaming Gorge task force, which will look at issues associated with either of two proposals to construct a pipeline from Green River in Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range. Several roundtable members made the point that the task force would provide a template on how to deal with future state projects, and would not endorse a Flaming Gorge project.

More IBCC–basin roundtables coverage here.

Longmont: South Platte Forum Explores Issues Surrounding South Platte River


Here’s a release about the shindig next week in Longmont, from Colorado State University (Jim Beers):

The 22nd annual South Platte River Forum will be held Wednesday, Oct. 19, and Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Plaza Conference Center, 1900 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont. The forum, “Making River Music,” will examine issues such as lower basin groundwater, water economics, energy and its relation to water use, water conservation and water transfers in the South Platte basin. The forum strives to provide an avenue for a timely, multidisciplinary exchange of information and ideas important to resource management in the basin.
Day one of the forum will include an update by John Stulp, water advisor to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, followed by a panel focused on results of the statewide water supply inventory. The keynote luncheon on Oct. 19 will be “A View from Around the State: Global Negotiations,” by Jim Lochhead of Denver Water. The Friends of the South Platte Award will be presented to Tom Cech, former executive director of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.
The afternoon will include a session on economics which will include discussion on how to finance Colorado’s water future and align it with the values of the population.

Day two of the forum includes several presentations on water conservation. The keynote speaker on Thursday will be Bill Ritter from CSU’s Center for New Energy Economy. The afternoon will focus on different sources of energy from within the South Platte Basin and include discussions on oil and gas exploration, hydraulic fracturing as well as hydropower.

The South Platte River begins high in the Colorado mountains near Fairplay. It flows through Denver and continues eastward into Nebraska, joining the North Platte River near the town of North Platte, Neb.

The South Platte Forum is sponsored by Tetra Tech, Colorado State University Extension, Aurora Water, Denver Water, Northern Water, Parker Water and Sanitation District, St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District, Colorado Water Institute, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Deere and Ault Consultants, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey.

Registration is available at the door for $115 per person. For a schedule of events, visit or contact Jennifer Brown at (402) 960-3670 or

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: 247 cfs in the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

A couple things to update you on today [ed. October 12].

First, releases from Ruedi Dam for the Recovery Program on the Colorado River end this Saturday, October 15. As a result, we will be scaling back releases from Ruedi to the Fryingpan over the next few days. Today, around noon, we will cut releases back by 50 cfs. We are currently releasing about 297 cfs. This will put the Fryingpan below the dam closer to 247 cfs.

Second, if you missed our public open house last night in El Jebel, [here are] copies of our display boards. We are currently collecting public comment on the draft Environmental Assessment for the water user’s contribution of 10825 acre-feet of water to the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. One of the overall impacts of these contracts and agreements will be a slight reduction in the amount of water released from Ruedi Reservoir for endangered fish every year. If you would like to submit a written comment, please do so by mailing or e-mailing it to the attention of Lucy Maldonado at:

Bureau of Reclamation
11056 W. County Road 18E
Loveland, Colorado 80537


More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Green Mountain Reservoir operations update: 750 cfs in the Lower Blue River below the dam


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

If you’ve been out on the Lower Blue this morning [ed. October 12], you probably noticed that it’s running a little lower than yesterday. That is because this morning around 6:30, we dropped releases from Green mountain Dam by about 50 cfs. Currently, there is 850 cfs flowing below the dam. We will be making additional changes today. We will drop again at noon today, by 50 cfs, putting the Lower Blue around 800 cfs. Then around 5 p.m. today, we will drop another 50 cfs. By the end of the day, releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue will be around 750 cfs.

The reason for the change is two fold: the 15-Mile Reach of critical habitat for endangered fish no longer needs additional water and the Shoshone Plant has some maintenance work. Reduction in flows will help both projects.

More Colorado-Big Thompson coverage here.