CWCB: Colorado River Water Availability Study mapping tool should be ready at the end of December


From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ray Alvarado):

The CWCB has been demonstrating a prototype of presenting StateMod modeling results as part of CRWAS…The final version will be available, along with all data results at the end of December.

Here’s a report about the prototype demonstration at last week’s Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The interactive map also lets users know what kinds of data are available at any of 2,200 points throughout the watershed, said Ray Alvarado, of the CWCB staff. He demonstrated a model for the Arkansas Basin Roundtable last week. “Using the historical data, it can give you scenarios out to 2040 or 2070,” he said.

The information is important to water users in the Arkansas River basin who rely on imports of water from across the Continental Divide. Each year, about 130,000 acre-feet of water is imported to supplement municipal and agricultural supplies in the Arkansas River basin…

The model allows predicted changes in climate to be applied to historic river operations for similar years to understand how much water might be available, Alvarado said. The problem is that the climate models show a wide range of results, particularly as precipitation levels increase. While most of the climate models agree that temperatures will rise and snowpack will decrease over the next 50 years, they are uncertain about the additional amount of precipitation from rainfall and how a longer growing season would affect natural water consumption.

“I see this as working with the portfolio tool,” Alvarado said, referring to the Interbasin Compact Committee’s attempt to understand how supply projects, conservation and alternative agricultural transfers can work together to meet urban water needs.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

IEA: ‘Without a bold change of policy direction, the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system’


More from the release:

…”Growth, prosperity and rising population will inevitably push up energy needs over the coming decades. But we cannot continue to rely on insecure and environmentally unsustainable uses of energy,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “Governments need to introduce stronger measures to drive investment in efficient and low-carbon technologies. The Fukushima nuclear accident, the turmoil in parts of the Middle East and North Africa and a sharp rebound in energy demand in 2010 which pushed CO2 emissions to a record high, highlight the urgency and the scale of the challenge.”

In the WEO’s central New Policies Scenario, which assumes that recent government commitments are implemented in a cautious manner, primary energy demand increases by one-third between 2010 and 2035, with 90% of the growth in non-OECD economies. China consolidates its position as the world’s largest energy consumer: it consumes nearly 70% more energy than the United States by 2035, even though, by then, per capita demand in China is still less than half the level in the United States. The share of fossil fuels in global primary energy consumption falls from around 81% today to 75% in 2035. Renewables increase from 13% of the mix today to 18% in 2035; the growth in renewables is underpinned by subsidies that rise from $64 billion in 2010 to $250 billion in 2035, support that in some cases cannot be taken for granted in this age of fiscal austerity. By contrast, subsidies for fossil fuels amounted to $409 billion in 2010.

More coverage from James Herron writing for The Wall Street Journal. From the article:

To prevent long-term average global temperatures rising more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels—seen as the maximum possible increase without serious climate disruption—immediate, drastic changes to energy and industrial policies are needed, the IEA said in its World Energy Outlook.

Such a shift looks unlikely given current global economic problems and the move away from low-carbon nuclear power in some countries after the recent nuclear disaster in Japan, the IEA said. Promises to invest to curb carbon dioxide emissions have in many cases failed to acquire legislative urgency.

Meanwhile, Science Daily reports that 99.5% of conservation scientists that participated in a recent survey are concerned about the imminent massive decrease of species biodiversity on the horizon. From the article:

“As with climate change the large level of investment needed if loss of biodiversity is to be stopped will result in an increase of public and political scrutiny of conservation science,” said study author Dr. Murray Rudd from the Environment Department at the University of York. “That makes it important to show how much scientific consensus there is for both the problems and possible solutions.”

583 individuals who had published papers in 19 international journals took part in Dr Rudd’s survey via email. The survey sought to gather opinions on the expected geographic scope of declining biological diversity before posing 16 questions to rank levels of agreement with statements that explored authors’ values, priorities, and geographic affiliation and their support of potential management actions.

“The survey posed the key questions facing conservation science: why people care, how priorities should be set, where our efforts should be concentrated and what action we can take. Scientists were also asked about a range of potentially controversial statements about conservation strategies to gauge shifting opinions,” he said.

The results revealed that 99.5 per cent of responders felt that a serious loss of biological diversity is either ‘likely’, ‘very likely’, or ‘virtually certain’. Agreement that loss is ‘very likely’ or ‘virtually certain’ ranged from 72.8 per cent of authors based in Western Europe to 90.9% for those in Southeast Asia.

Tropical coral ecosystems were perceived as the most seriously affected by loss of biological diversity with 88.0 per cent of respondents who were familiar with that ecosystem type gauging that a serious loss is ‘very likely’ or ‘virtually certain’.

More climate change coverage here and here.

The Greenway Foundation scores $1.7 million from the Natural Resource Trustees of Colorado


Here’s the release from the Greenway Foundation:

The Natural Resource Trustees of Colorado recently announced that they have awarded $1.7 million in natural resource damage funds to The Greenway Foundation on behalf of the Overland Park Neighborhood Association to help restore water quality, habitat and riparian areas along a two-mile stretch of the South Platte River in south Denver.

The planned improvements will result in a vastly improved riparian and wildlife ecosystem corridor along this section of Denver’s South Platte River as well as create new boat launch sites, fishing platforms, nature trails, and enhanced access points to the River.

The award of the funds will be contingent on The Greenway Foundation procuring matching funds for its projects at Grant Frontier Park, Pasquinel’s Landing and Overland Park. The construction of the various improvements, planned in conjunction with Denver Parks and Recreation and Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, is expected to be initiated in 2013.

“The Greenway Foundation is honored to be the recipient of these funds,” said Jeff Shoemaker, Executive Director of The Greenway Foundation. “We are excited to move forward with the efforts to obtain the needed matching funds. This is just one of several collaborative efforts between the Foundation and the City of Denver to fund and construct the recommendations within this section of the River Vision Implementation Plan.”

“This really shows the strength and commitment of our dynamic community,” said Councilman Chris Nevitt, District 7. “The Overland neighbors tirelessly pursued this opportunity and the entire area will benefit from their efforts. The South Platte River Greenway serves as a recreational highway in our backyard, leading to miles of trails and parks in all directions. This funding will go a long way in continuing to make the Southern Platte Valley THE place to live, play and work.”

“One of the features that makes this project so attractive is the way it connects with a larger and still-expanding network of greenway and riparian trail corridors along the South Platte River and its tributaries,” said Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “This endeavor further leverages the great work of The Greenway Foundation and others over many years in linking Coloradans to the natural beauty right outside our doors.”

Colorado received $1.5 million when it settled its natural resource damages case against the Shattuck Chemical Company in 2002. Since that time, the money has earned nearly $200,000 in interest, bringing the total amount available for restoring natural resources near the Shattuck site to $1.7 million.

The Colorado Natural Resource Trustees are the Attorney General, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources or their designees. The trustees are responsible for litigation of the state’s natural resource damages claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or the Superfund law) and administering funds received from such litigation.

Cheyenne: The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Annual Convention, November 18-19


From email from the RMFU (Mick McAllister):

This year, the RMFU Annual Convention will be at Cheyenne Little America. The convention opens at 8 a.m. on Friday, November 18, and continues through Saturday afternoon when election results will be announced.

This year’s convention program features keynote speaker Bill Patrie, an internationally recognized leader on cooperative development, who will speak Friday morning on the convention theme, The Power of Cooperation. In keeping with the theme and in recognition of the approaching International Year of Cooperatives ~ 2012, RMFU will present its first Cooperative Achievement Award to James B. Dean, distinguished attorney and advocate for cooperative businesses.

Friday afternoon panels will address forming state Health CO-OPS in accordance with the Affordable HealthCare Act, producer strategies for direct marketing of local foods, conservation challenges in estate transition planning, and the successes and plans of the RMFU Foundation, home of the Cooperative Development Center, the Renewable Energy Center and the RMFU Education Center.

All events are open to registrants and the press.

Urban residents do not want future water supplies to be taken from agriculture, according to CSU study


From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown) via Windsor Now!:

Referring to a study conducted by students and peers last year, [James Pritchett an] associate professor of agriculture and economics at Colorado State University told the crowd that taking water from farmers is the last thing residents of the Western United States want to do in efforts to secure their water futures. That survey was based on responses from 6,250 individuals with varying backgrounds and living across 12 states. During his “Irrigated Agriculture in the South Platte Valley in 2050” presentation Thursday at Randy’s All-American Grill, Pritchett said buying water from farmers finished far behind other water security alternatives, like constructing pipelines, requiring in-home conservation, limiting growth of cities, building reservoirs and reusing water in private homes and on private lawns and public landscapes. Municipalities have frequently bought agriculture land for water rights in efforts to meet their future needs, as Pritchett mentioned during his presentation…

That same study showed that people were also willing to also pay an extra monthly fee to fund efforts that would help keep water in agriculture, with respondents saying, on average, they’d pay $16 more per month for that cause. “I think that myself, and probably many others, always believed that people in cities were saying ‘go out and get more water for us and we don’t care how you get it,’ ” said Weld County Farmers Union president Ray Peterson. “It was good to hear that people are actually thinking about where their water is coming from.”

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is hosting a discussion of oil, gas, and water issues November 15 in Elizabeth


From email from the RMFU:

The Elbert/Lincoln Farmers Union and FUSA Insurance agents Teri Coulter, Kyle Bradley, and Ian Kean invite interested public to participate in a discussion of the effect of oil and gas development on water rights and quality.

The gathering will be on Tuesday, November 15, at the Creekside Community Church, 36100 County Road 13 in Elizabeth. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m. Special guests will be Colorado Representative Marsha Looper and Jill and Jim Duvall, coordinators of the Elbert Oil and Gas Interest Group.

The meeting is open to the public.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

2012 Colorado legislation: The State Legislature’s Water Resources Review Committee approved five bills and one resolution for committee sponsorship during the 2012 legislative session


From the Colorado Water Congress’ current newsletter:

he Water Resources Review Committee approved five bills and one resolution for committee sponsorship during the 2012 legislative session. Bills are identified by letter until formal introduction after the session is convened January 11.

Bill A eliminates the requirement for drinking water treatment facilities to obtain a certificate of designation from local government as a solid waste site.

Bill B exempts water taken up by plants from calculation as part of a hardrock mine’s augmentation requirement.

Bill C extends until 2015 the requirement for replacement of stream depletion due to pumping from the Dawson aquifer and replacement for pumping from Denver basin aquifer only if necessary to compensate for depletions causing injury.

Bill D consolidates various funds within the Water Resources Division to provide for flexibility and efficiency in administration.

Bill E eliminates the three year waiting period to obtain replacement of a lost share certificates in mutual ditch company and allows a lienholder of a share certificate to request replacement.

Resolution A calls upon the legislature to avoid diverting severance tax revenues intended for water infrastructure to balance the state budget and to instead use the money for its statutorily intended purpose.

For a copy of the Interim Committee Bills click here.

Proposed bills on requirements for low-flow toilets, graywater re-use, and medication disposal failed to receive sufficient committee votes for interim committee sponsorship; however it is likely that those bills may be introduced by individual legislators once the session convenes.

More 2012 Colorado legislation coverage here.

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District October 17 board meeting — lots of questions about the JV Ranch purchase


Here’s the link to the Q&A session at the meeting. Here’s an excerpt:

Why did the Board decide on revenue bonds instead of voter-approved general obligation bonds?

Through several meetings with the JV Ranch sellers, the District and the Sellers negotiated the terms and conditions of the contract. Throughout that process the District determined that the Sellers would not enter into a contract with Woodmoor if the sale was contingent on a general obligation bond vote. Ultimately, the Board has the authority to issue revenue bonds and set rates to repay those bonds. The Board, when presented the merits and value of the JV Ranch, decided to proceed with revenue bonds in order to finalize the purchase of this unique asset for the District.

What is the timeline and current cost estimates for delivery of the JV Ranch water?

Phase I of Woodmoor’s Renewable Water Plan is to acquire the renewable water asset. Until the District is ready to embark upon construction of the delivery infrastructure, the JV Ranch will continue to operate as a cattle ranch. It is critical for Woodmoor to own and control its renewable water rights, and acquiring senior renewable water rights has always been the Board and staff’s first priority.
After the District closes on the JV Ranch water rights and completes the necessary water court processes, the water rights will be available for the District to use. The District will continue to refine all available options for the infrastructure portion of its Renewable Water Plan. These options include pump stations, pipeline and water-treatment facilities. This infrastructure can be viewed as Phase II of our plan.

The District staff anticipates updates to the Long Range Planning documents in 2012 that will continue to explore and evaluate all options and alternatives available for delivering the JV Ranch water to our customers. Some of the alternatives to be evaluated will include continued discussions with neighboring water districts and entities including Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to share in the cost of water delivery, storage, and treatment facilities or the potential to utilize CSU infrastructure for water delivery instead of Woodmoor constructing the necessary infrastructure on its own.

Cost estimates for water delivery have ranged from $30 million to over $100 million. At this point, it would be premature to assign any further cost estimates to Phase II. Every option that is evaluated during current and future planning processes will have specific costs, benefits, and drawbacks. The Woodmoor staff will perform the same level of diligence for this planning as it did on the JV Ranch water rights to ensure that District customers are provided with the most cost effective and reliable option for its renewable water infrastructure. Current estimates for when Phase II would be needed indicate sometime between the years 2020 and 2030.

What happens if the water court does not approve the transfer of water from agricultural use to municipal use?

Changes of water rights have been denied by the water courts only if the applicant does not have actual end users for the water or if the water rights proposed to be changed have not been historically used for their decreed purposes. The District has end users for the water – its customers – and the District’s due diligence has confirmed that the JV Ranch water rights have historically been used for their decreed agricultural purposes. In addition, the historical use of the majority of the JV Ranch water rights has already been quantified in previous water court proceedings. Under these circumstances, it is not likely that the water court would completely disapprove the transfer of the water rights from agricultural use to municipal use. However, if that were to occur, the District would take the steps needed to remedy any deficiencies noted by the water court and then file another application to change the water rights.

What is the reliability and quality of the water from JV Ranch?

The JV Ranch water is diverted from Fountain Creek, south of Colorado Springs. The District and its water quality consultants have reviewed the water quality along Fountain Creek and have determined that treatment technology is available to treat this water to meet all State and Federal drinking water regulations.

More Denver Basin aquifer system coverage here and here.

The Larimer County Agricultural Advisory Board unanimously supports findings on the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP)


From a release from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Brian Werner):

The Agricultural Advisory Board to the Larimer Board of County Commissioners has reported that the Northern Integrated Supply Project will not dry up farms in Northern Colorado as represented in the Save the Poudre’s “Farm Facts” report. The AAB’s general conclusion was that NISP will help slow down the rapid and accelerated dry up of farms throughout Northern Colorado.

In an October 26 memo to the Board of County Commissioners (see link to memo in Reporter-Herald story), the AAB said, “It’s better for agriculture for future municipal and domestic water supplies to come from the combination of conserved water and from new stored supplies (such as NISP) derived from available undeveloped water rather than from additional agricultural dry-up. Population growth will occur with or without NISP. Water conservation alone will not provide adequate future water supplies.”

The County Commissioners thanked the AAB for their input and study of NISP and it’s agricultural related impacts. As reported in the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Commissioner Steve Johnson said to the three board members who attended the elected board’s meeting, “You guys are the ones that are experts. You are the ones dealing with this every day. It’s not just debate. It’s your livelihood.”[…]

The AAB memo disputes the Save the Poudre claim that free river opportunities will be greatly diminished if NISP is built. “Currently, this undeveloped water is leaving Colorado without being beneficially used within the state … water for NISP will not be diverted unless and until all water rights senior to NISP have been fully satisfied,” the AAB report said. The report added “Glade will not curtail in any way the rights or the abilities of ditch companies to fully utilize their senior ditch water rights…”

Save the Poudre’s “Farm Facts” were also disputed by Alamosa rancher and Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft last April. In a press release Shawcroft said, “Save the Poudre does not speak for Colorado agriculture, an industry forthright and vocal in its support for NISP. Colorado farmers and ranchers support the NISP project. If we support the development of a water project, you can bet it will help keep irrigated farmers on the land.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.