Precipitation news: Arapahoe Basin is reporting 11 inches of new snow, Loveland — 21 inches.

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From the Associated Press via the Colorado Connection:

Northern Colorado got the most snow. Greeley picked up about a foot and Jamestown, in Boulder County, received 18.2 inches. Between 12 and 16 inches of snow fell at Rocky Mountain National Park…

At the Estes Park Mountain Shop outside the park, at least 8 inches of snow had fallen by midmorning.

Up to 8 inches of snow was expected in the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado…

Two resorts that are already open got fresh snow. On Wednesday afternoon, Arapahoe Basin was reporting 11 inches of new snowfall within the past 24 hours, while Loveland was reporting 21 inches.

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper/Anthony A. Mestes/Matt Hildner/Tracy Harmon). From the article:

Statewide, snow from the first storm of the season knocked out power and heat to thousands of homes and businesses on the Front Range and brought more snow to Colorado’s mountains…

Randy Gray, a weather service forecaster, said the snow in the Pueblo area melted almost as fast as it fell, bringing about 0.3 inches of rain with it. The snowfall amounted to about 9 inches in the Rye area and 7 inches in Beulah…

Wednesday’s heavy, wet snow dropped more than 7 inches of snow in Canon City. The snow was light throughout most of the day becoming heavier about 2 p.m. In Custer County, snow accumulations ranged from 3 to 5 inches on the south end of the county to 10-12 inches to the west end of the county, according to road and bridge officials. In the town of Westcliffe accumulations were about 6 inches and road conditions were slushy and icy…

At Monarch Mountain, about 4 inches of new snow had fallen by mid-afternoon Wednesday, said Greg Ralph, marketing manager…

The storm hit hardest in the San Juan Mountains, where Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 18 inches of snow by early evening…

Walsenburg reported 6-8 inches of snowfall.

Aspen: City Council approves application for a ‘minor water power project license’ from FERC

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From the Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):

City Council on Monday voted unanimously to abandon its application for a “conduit exemption” in favor of a “minor water power project license” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is a more rigorous review process. The city estimates that the change will mean an additional $250,000 in expenses…

Council also approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Colorado Division of Wildlife that aims to protect the riparian environment of the creeks. The MOU requires the city to maintain a minimum stream flow of 13.3 cfs below its existing diversion structure on Castle Creek, which will be used to siphon water for the hydro plant, and a minimum stream flow of 14 cfs in Maroon Creek below the diversion structure there.

The MOU, in trying to get at optimal stream health as opposed to minimum stream flows, also establishes a 10-year monitoring program. If macroinvertebrate population, fish population or biomass decreases, and they can be tied to hydro plant operations, the city will be required to take steps to reverse the damage to the creeks, including scaling back diversions, according to the MOU…

When Maureen Hirsch, who is one of eight plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed last month, suggested that permanent streamflow monitors be placed on the creek and that the monitoring go on for more than 10 years, Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland told her it would be very difficult to work with her and others who are suing the city.

“This is very hostile litigation,” Ireland said, holding up a copy of the complaint. “It’s very aggressive and divisive and I can’t say that I really appreciate it.”

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Telluride: The Sheep Mountain Alliance plans to file a Clean Water Act citizen action against PacifiCorp over acid mine drainage into the Howard Fork of the San Miguel River

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From The Telluride Watch:

Sheep Mountain Alliance has formally notified Oregon-based utility company PacifiCorp and Silver Bell owner Lee Wynne of plans to initiate a citizen enforcement action under the Clean Water Act to stop the pollution of the San Miguel River.

PacifiCorp owns and maintains the Silver Bell tailings remediation site, located near the Ophir Loop, but has, according to SMA Executive Director Hillary White, allowed the site to discharge heavy metals, acidic drainage, and effluent solids into the Howard Fork of the San Miguel between October 2006 and the present.

“Because of the persistent and ongoing nature of these violations, we have every reason to expect that PacifiCorp’s pollution will keep endangering the San Miguel River unless we take a strong stance and make it clear that the site must be cleaned up immediately and all the water quality violations corrected,” said White. “The Silver Bell tailings site at Ophir Loop is vitally important to protecting the health of the Howard Fork of the San Miguel,” she said, and “the site is violating discharge standards with acid discharge, iron, and solids, and that affects drinking water supplies downstream as well as habitat for fish and wildlife.”

PacifiCorp has 60 days to correct the ongoing discharge violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the Silver Bell site, or it could potentially face fines, to be imposed by a federal court, for its past five years of violations.

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.

The Water Center at Mesa State University scores $5,000 from Chevron for Colorado River basin community education program

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From The Denver Post:

The new Water Center at Colorado Mesa University has been awarded a $5,000 grant by Chevron to support the Water Center’s work to help Upper Colorado River Basin communities understand and address emerging water challenges.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

The Agricultural Advisory Board to the Larimer County Commissioners reports that the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) will not dry up agriculture

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From the Loveland Reporter Herald (Pamela Dickman):

The Agricultural Advisory Board, made up of several working farmers, released a report to the commissioners Tuesday saying the Northern Integrated Supply Project reservoirs would not dry up farmland and would not harm productive crops with increased salinity. The report was in response to an April release from Save the Poudre, the environmental advocacy group leading opposition to the proposed reservoirs…

The region will need additional water supply for growth with or without the reservoir projects. NISPwill meet those needs and take pressure off farmers’ water, according to the report.

There is no evidence that shows salinity will increase on farmland despite the fact that eastern Colorado farmers will be receiving effluent water. The dirtier water will be diluted enough that farmland should not be affected.

The water to initially fill, and to maintain the reservoirs, would be extra water above that already claimed from the Poudre River and would not come out of allocations to farmers. The water would be, in essence, extra water during wet years that would flow out of state if not captured.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

Coyote Gulch outage: Power off at Gulch Manor since last night

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Today’s beautiful snow has caused a power outage at Gulch Manor since last night. I just tried to ping my server at home and it is still unreachable (noon, 10/26/2011). A few years ago power was down for 2-3 days from one of these wet storms dumping on trees that still had leaves in an old neighborhood with ancient overhead wires.

Wish me luck.