The November 1 snowpack is above average in the South Platte, Colorado, Arkansas and Rio Grande river basins

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It’s that time of year again when water suppliers and irrigators keep one eye on the sky (and the NRCS snowpack reports). Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the October 31 snowpack chart from the NRCS. It’s too early to forecast the entire season.

May your water rights always be in priority during the year.

West Slope stakeholders are voicing concern about releases from Ruedi Reservoir for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Some stakeholders in Eagle and Pitkin counties said they are concerned that the planned releases from Ruedi Reservoir could threaten the economically valuable trout fishery in the Roaring Fork.

But if the various stakeholders can make all the pieces fit together, it could be a win-win, with less water coming out of Ruedi and some additional flows from Granby Lake and Green Mountain Reservoir, according to Dave Nickum, director of Colorado Trout Unlimited.

Most trout species (with the exception of cutthroats) are not native to Colorado, but angling has become a huge part of the recreational economy. As such, the plan to recover the native fish sets up an interesting conflict between protection of endangered native species and potential impacts to non-native fish that are a big part of the culture and economy of the West Slope. Learn more about the recovery effort at this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

At issue are the Colorado pikeminnow, the bonytail and humpback chub and the razorback sucker. The four species are native to the Colorado River, but dam-building and diversions reduced their habitat to just a few pockets.

Under a 1999 programmatic biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that addresses impacts to the four endangered species, Front Range and West Slope water users agreed to provide equal amounts of water for the recovery effort.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here and here.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation commission starts up rulemaking process for hydraulic fracturing disclosures

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Here’s the order from the COGCC. Here’s a report from the Associated Press (Catharine Tsai) via the Columbus Republic. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A rulemaking hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5…An outside group called STRONGER, or the State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, has commended Colorado’s rule requiring well operators to disclose the fracking chemicals they use to state or health officials upon request. But Texas has gone further. This year it passed a law requiring drillers to publicly disclose those chemicals.

More coverage from Mark Jaffe writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

The audit [ed. by STRONGER], requested by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, identified areas in which the state could improve its oversight:

• Set a minimum amount of surface casing for a well to protect groundwater. Colorado does not have a requirement.

• Include details of fracking fluids as part of the well-completion form a driller files with the state.

• Evaluate the chance of fracking fluids falling under the disposal requirements for “naturally occurring radioactive waste.”

• Evaluate available sources of water for use in hydraulic fracturing. “Given the significant water-supply issues in this arid region, this project should also include an evaluation of whether or not availability of water for hydraulic fracturing is an issue,” the audit said.

More coverage from Cathy Proctor writing for the Denver Business Journal. From the article:

“Overall we’re pleased with the recommendations; it was a positive review,” said David Neslin, COGCC’s director, in an interview. COGCC has already met with state public health and water resources officials to work on recommendations made in the report. The agency also will hold a stakeholder meeting to review the report, Neslin said. The review panel met in Denver on June 23.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin

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Here’s the link to the presentations from the Colorado Climate Center. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the precipitation summary and maps.

Restoration: Project on Kerber Creek is two-thirds complete according to BLM project director

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From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

Aarón Mohammadi, Kerber Creek Restoration Project coordinator with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said the project focused on private land lower reaches of the watershed. Project success, he said, is the result of collaboration among 40 landowners and 16 entities – including federal, state and local, and nonprofit groups including Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Southwest Conservation Corps…

In 1994, American Smelting and Refining Company initiated cleanup of the main stem of Kerber Creek. By 1998 they had completed riparian restoration of the most heavily contaminated areas in upper segments of the creek. During the same time, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment removed three waste piles from the watershed. Initial cleanup improved water and soil quality in the upper watershed but left 17 miles of contamination in the lower watershed and impaired stream channels throughout the drainage.

In 2005 a collaborative initiative focused efforts on the lower watershed.

The project website, www.kerbercreek.org, indicates goals are to “reduce metal mobility in soils, increase sinuosity, reduce the channel width, improve depth, increase density of aquatic life, increase vegetation cover and stabilize stream banks.”

More Kerber Creek coverage here and here. More restoration coverage here.