Public Invited to Open Houses on Plan for Glen Canyon Dam Operations

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Here’s the release from the National Park Service (Barry Wirth/Maureen Oltrogge):

Public Invited to Open Houses on Plan for Glen Canyon Dam Operations

Beginning Nov. 7, the public will have an opportunity to attend public meetings on the development of a long-term plan that will determine the timing and volume of water flows from Glen Canyon Dam. Those flows affect hydroelectricity production, beach recreation, native fish and other river-related plants and animals, as well as archeological sites in Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The long-term plan will address routine operations as well as “experimental” flows that provide additional scientific information about how to protect endangered fish and lessen the effects of dam operations on downstream ecology and other resources. The plan will ensure that regulated flows on the Colorado River meet the goals of supplying hydroelectricity and water for communities, agriculture and industry at the same time they protect the ecologies of the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon.

The meetings, to be held jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service, will take place in:

– Phoenix, Arizona: Monday, November 7, 2011, 6 to 8 p.m., Sheraton Crescent Hotel, 2620 W. Dunlap Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85201.

– Flagstaff, Arizona: Tuesday, November 8, 2011, 6 to 8 p.m., Radisson Woodlands Hotel Flagstaff, 1175 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

– Page, Arizona: Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 6 to 8 p.m., Courtyard Page at Lake Powell, 600 Clubhouse Drive, Page, AZ 86040.

– Salt Lake City, Utah: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 6 to 8 p.m., Hilton Salt Lake City Center, 255 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101.

– Las Vegas, Nevada: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 6 to 8 p.m., Ramada Las Vegas, 325 East Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89169.

– Lakewood, Colorado: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 6 to 8 p.m., Sheraton Denver West Hotel, 360 Union Boulevard, Lakewood, CO 80228.

– Web-based meeting: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 1 to 3 p.m. Mountain Time. For specific information about the web-based meeting and how to participate, please refer to the project website at: http://ltempeis.anl.gov.

Work on the new plan, known as the Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP), is the first comprehensive review of Glen Canyon Dam operations in 15 years. The purpose of the LTEMP is to use current and newly developed science to improve and protect resources of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Canyon National Park, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area while also complying with the Law of the River, the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other applicable laws.The LTEMP process will determine the need for future modifications to Glen Canyon Dam operations, and whether to establish an Endangered Species Act Recovery Implementation Program for endangered fish species below Glen Canyon Dam.

Changes to dam operations and other actions taken by the Department of the Interior (DOI) will be evaluated as “alternatives” in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will document and evaluate impacts of the alternatives.

The public meetings announced today are part of the “public scoping” phase of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Public scoping gives interested individuals and groups the opportunity to comment on a proposed action, recommend alternatives, and to identify and prioritize the issues to be considered in the EIS analyses. Scoping is the earliest, but not the last, opportunity for people to provide input on the Glen Canyon Dam LTEMP EIS.

Each public scoping meeting will include a welcome and project overview session (15 minutes) and opportunities for the public to review exhibits, informally discuss issues, and ask questions of technical experts and managers.

More information on the meetings will be announced through local media, newsletters, and the project web site: http://ltempeis.anl.gov.

The public can submit comments by the following methods:

Website: http://ltempeis.anl.gov. (the preferred method)
Mail: Glen Canyon LTEMP EIS Scoping, Argonne National Laboratory, EVS/240, 9700 S. Cass Avenue, Argonne, IL 60439.

Reclamation and the NPS will accept comments that are received or postmarked by Friday, Dec. 30, 2011.

To have your name added to the mailing list for future information, visit the Glen Canyon LTEMP EIS website listed below or contact Beverley Heffernan, Bureau of Reclamation, Upper Colorado Region, Attention: UC-700, 125 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84138-1147; facsimile (801) 524-3826.

Additional information, including a full copy of the Notice of Intent published yesterday in the Federal Register is available at the project web site: http://ltempeis.anl.gov.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

CWCB: The City of Trinidad has applied for a loan to help offset the cost of the North Lake Dam rehabilitation project

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From The Trinidad Times (Steve Block):

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable filed a $739,000 request for funds derived from a mineral severance tax levied to enhance the state’s ability to bring water to urban areas. The roundtable will contribute $50,000 to the project.

The state engineer’s office recently mandated the water level in the lake, Trinidad’s primary water source, be reduced by five feet to relieve pressure on the dam 30 miles west of the city.

Jim Fernandez, city utility superintendent and roundtable board member said the dam has been leaking for several years and that the board’s approval for a grant request was a lengthy process. “We’re making progress and that’s always a good thing,” Fernandez said. “It took a long time before this request came before the board…

The existing dam will be reinforced with massive amounts of soil from a nearby borrow pit and the spillway will also be rebuilt. The city has spent $847,000 to design and build a new concrete outlet works and drain system and committed $389,000 to the project. Trinidad has applied for a low-interest construction loan of $739,000 with the state water conservancy board.

Using the dam to produce hydroelectric power is under consideration by the city engineering department. Fernandez said there isn’t much water flow at the lake in the winter, making consistent power generation a potential problem.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

The Castle Pines Metropolitan District nixes participation in the WISE project

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From the Aurora Sentinel (Sara Castellanos):

In a letter sent Oct. 12 from Paul Dannels, district manager of the Castle Pines Metropolitan District, to Rod Kuharich, executive director of the [South Metro Water Supply Augthority], Dannels said the board of directors decided not to proceed with the project. “Simply stated, the high cost of the Project and the uncertainty of water delivery do not make sense for the District at this time,” Dannels wrote in the letter. “We wish you great success with the Project which appears more feasible for larger users. They can deal better with both the uncertainty of water availability and the high Project costs than smaller users such as the District.”[…]

Greg Baker, spokesman for Aurora Water said the project, dubbed the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership, doesn’t require that all 15 entities of the SMWSA take deliveries for the project to be successful. Roxborough and the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District have already indicated that they had other resources they could develop and wouldn’t take water from the WISE partnership, Baker said. “Each member of the SMWSA must assess the value of participation in relation to their individual systems and needs,” Baker said. “SMWSA has indicated that the commitments from many of the other members have already met or exceeded the initial 10,000 acre-feet provided for by the proposed delivery agreement.”

More Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership coverage here.

McPhee Reservoir water year 2011 report: The Dolores Water Conservancy District’s 50th anniversary celebration will be November 12 in Dolores

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From the Cortez Journal (Reid Wright):

“We’re in as good of shape as we have ever been,” [Dolores Water Conservancy District] Manager Mike Preston said. “We had 63 percent of active capacity in the reservoir. And that means that we’re carrying a good supply for next year.”

After a relatively dry winter, spring precipitation arrived later than usual, resulting in a full reservoir and prolonged dam spill for recreational boating on the Lower Dolores River. After the spill, a hot and dry summer resulted in heavy irrigation, Preston said, which was alleviated at the end of the irrigation season by fall storms.

As of Wednesday, the McPhee Reservoir stood at an elevation of 6,903.6 feet with an active capacity of 145,045 acre feet of water. The reservoir has a 229,182 acre foot maximum active capacity…

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released the September-end status of Jackson Gulch Jackson Gulch reservoir, which serves Mancos and the surrounding area, at a live content of 3,938 acre-feet with a 9,977 acre-feet maximum capacity and a 4,576 acre-feet average (1971-2000) end-of-month content. At Jackson Gulch, a daily maximum/minimum of 43/0 cubic-feet-per second was released into the Mancos River, and 29 acre-feet were released for municipal purposes.

This year marks DWCD’s 50th year in operation. The public is invited to a celebration scheduled for 12 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Dolores Community Center, 400 Riverside Avenue in Dolores. Call 565-7562 to RSVP.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here and here.

Denver: ‘Charting New Waters’ sponsors hear from state water officials about how Colorado is dealing water and growth issues

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread hosted a meeting attended by top state water officials at the Denver Botanical Gardens in an effort to learn how Colorado is dealing with water and growth issues. “We wanted to learn about some things that are working well in Colorado to inform a national population dealing with water issues, perhaps not in the same way,” said Lynn Broaddus, environmental program director for the foundation…

Charting New Waters stressed water conservation, sharing water and watershed protection as major strategies toward meeting the needs of growth with a reliable fresh water supply.

Speakers at Tuesday’s meeting included representatives from the Family Farm Alliance, Farm Bureau, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Denver Water and Aurora. Water managers and advocates from other states also spoke. More than 100 attended the meeting.

“I think they’re having a conversation about what we can do about water and population growth, and it’s a great opportunity for people from other states to compare notes,” said John Stulp, IBCC chairman and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s water policy adviser. “I think their goal is to provide leadership and not wait for a crisis to happen.”

2012 Colorado legislation: Proposal to mandate water saving toilets defeated in the Water Resources Committee along party lines

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Rep. Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, joined fellow Republicans in their reluctance to support a government-mandated type of toilet. He said conversations with a representative of the Pueblo Regional Building Department led to other objections. Swerdfeger said he has no doubts that toilets with 1.28-gallon flush capacities are basically as effective as the 1.6-gallon models that are the present flow limit, but he worries that the lower flow would not sufficiently move solid waste through below-ground sewer lines.

“The technology’s good, the intent is good, but we also have some unintended consequences below the toilet,” Swerdfeger said. He expressed concern that costly, premature replacement of sewer lines could result.

“We have some research that really disputes that,” said Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo…

She said Republicans ignored the work of the Interbasin Compact Commission, which last year — after years of development — released a far-reaching strategy aimed at meeting the state’s agricultural and urban water demands in the future. The commission’s recommendations included elements as basic as low-flow toilets and water-conserving shower fixtures and as ambitious as massive water storage projects…

Jay Winner of Pueblo, who serves as the Arkansas River basin’s representative on the IBCC, shared Giron’s frustration. Resistance from Republican lawmakers who represent agricultural areas baffled him. He said the 20,000 acre-feet of water that the measure is estimated to conserve is that much less that will be available for agricultural use.

Winner characterized the Republican opposition to the toilet restriction as dismissive of the IBCC’s work and recommendations. “Toilets are an easy step toward conservation. What happens when we bring a tough project like storage forward?” Winner said. “Is this just a waste of time for the IBCC? This vote does not give the IBCC a vote of confidence. I think it’s a blow to the IBCC.”

More coverage from Joe Hanel writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

The panel shot down two bills Tuesday that sought water savings from toilets. Republicans expressed concerns about increased regulations and the effects on rural communities that depend on generous flushing from Front Range cities to fill eastern Colorado rivers.

The vote was a setback for the Interbasin Compact Committee, a group the Legislature created in 2005 to find a peaceful solution to the state’s West vs. East water wars. The IBCC last year endorsed strict statewide plumbing standards for a variety of appliances. The bill that failed Tuesday focused only on toilets, setting a 1.28 gallons-per-flush standard for new toilets sold in stores, tighter than the national standard of 1.6 gallons.

IBCC member Taylor Hawes urged legislators to vote “yes” to send the IBCC a message that its work matters, especially because the panel is proposing other options that are even more politically unpalatable. “This is the easy path. We have much, much harder choices in front of us,” Hawes said.

The bill failed on a 5-5, party-line vote Tuesday in the Water Resources Review Committee, with only Democrats supporting it. Had the bill succeeded, it would have received a powerful endorsement from the committee in January, when the Legislature begins its 2012 session…

The committee also turned down a bill to allow people to use “graywater” – domestic water that already has been used once in the house – for toilet flushing. [Sen. Ellen Roberts] sided with Democrats and voted for the bill, but the 6-4 tally was short of the supermajority the bill needed to get the water committee’s endorsement.

More 2012 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: Reclamation is gearing up for fall maintenance

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Now that it is fall, we are into our annual maintenance schedule on the east slope of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. That means there will be some changes across our reservoirs and canals.

The first update is actually a schedule change at Pinewood Reservoir. Previously, I had let you all know that Pinewood was going to be drawn down considerably in November. That is no longer the case. With the changes in place, Pinewood will now be full by October 28 and stay relatively high until the week of Thanksgiving. During that week, testing at the Flatiron power plant below will begin and the water level at Pinewood will slowly drop for about three weeks. At this time, we are anticipating the water level at Pinewood will start going back up in the middle of December.

While the test is going on at Flatiron, the contractor will be busy on the Pole Hill Canal box culvert project. With Pole Hill, Pinewood, and Flatiron under maintenance, it is very likely we will wind up running some water down the Big Thompson Canyon, releasing from Olympus Dam on Lake Estes. After October 28, flows in the canyon could be as high as 350 cfs. They could stay at that level into November.

Meanwhile, pumping to Carter Lake is scheduled to end on October 28. Currently the reservoir water level is slowly rising at a rate of about a tenth of a foot a day.

When pumping to Carter stops, delivery of water to Horsetooth will come back on. Water released from Lake Estes and sent down the Big Thompson Canyon will be recaptured at the Dille Diversion (just upstream of the Dam Store) and sent north to Horsetooth. That means that Horsetooth Reservoir’s water elevation will likely stay above 5400 feet–a very unusual situation. All boat ramps will be in the water all year.

We will likely keep water going to Horsetooth until mid-November.

The second update has to do with C-BT facilities in Estes Park. Annual maintenance at the Marys Lake Power Plant, dikes and related system will draw Marys Lake down to dead storage in the middle of November. While Marys is down, the water level at Lake Estes will fluctuate very little. Marys Lake will start going up again the middle of December, once maintenance work concludes.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.