Colorado Springs: The Tenth Annual Convention of the Ditch & Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA) – ‘Are Your Water Rights in Jeopardy?’ February 23-24

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From the Pagosa Daily Post:

During the two-day conference, a wide variety of speakers will discuss their views on timely subjects facing ditch and reservoir companies. The presentations will include topics on the recent United FRICO change case, administrative issues, and keeping the next generation on the farm. Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs will address the ditch and reservoir group on “Prior Appropriation: Does it Still Meet Changing Needs?”

DARCA will be having three concurrent workshops on the morning of Friday, Friday 24. The workshops are: What Directors and Officers Need to Know, Water Quality Issues, and Managing the Ditch Company.

DARCA will present Is Your Great-Grandpa’s Dam Ready for the 21st Century, the pre-convention workshop, on Wednesday, February 22, from 9:00am to 4:00pm…

For information regarding convention registration as well as sponsorship or exhibitor opportunities please visit the DARCA website or contact John McKenzie at (970) 412-1960 or john.mckenzie@darca.org.

More water law coverage here.

U.S. farmers enjoy a banner year — depending on geography and crop choice, of course

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From the Associated Press (Jim Suhr) via The Denver Post via Twitter:

While much of America worries about the possibility of a double-dip recession…[some]…U.S. farmers enjoy their best run in decades, thanks to high prices for many crops, livestock and farmland and strong global demand for corn used in making ethanol.

Farm profits are expected to spike by 28 percent this year to $100.9 billion, and the amount of cash farms have available to pay bills also is expected to top $100 billion—the first time both measures have done so, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. All the while, crop sales are expected to pass the $200 billion mark for the first time in U.S. history, and double-digit increases are expected in livestock sales.

“We’re just experiencing the best of times,” said Bruce Johnson, an agricultural economist at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. “It’s a story to tell.”

That’s not to say that everyone is sharing in the good fortune. Near Gardner, Kan., a short drive south of Kansas City, a lack of rain and nagging winds conspired to leave Bill Voigts with about half of the soybeans he expected. His harvest of corn was worse, coming in at about one-third of his normal production. Even with insurance, he didn’t quite break even on the 2,400 acres he farms—most of them rented. “Had it not been for insurance in his area, it’d be a disaster. That’s the only thing that saves us,” said Voigts, 66.

But he noted that the drought plaguing farmers like him helped drive up prices for commodities like corn, soybeans and wheat, benefitting those fortunate enough to get a good crop. “At the expense of some farmers, other farmers become wealthy,” he said. “That’s really the whole story. That’s not the government’s fault, it’s nobody’s fault. That’s just the way things happen.

Final EIS for Windy Gap Firming Available to Public

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

The project’s key feature, construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir southwest of Loveland, would increase the reliability of the existing Windy Gap Project, which started delivering water to Front Range municipalities in 1985.

The Windy Gap Firming Project is a regional collaboration among 13 growing Northeastern Colorado water providers (Platte River Power Authority, Broomfield, Erie, Greeley, Longmont, Louisville, Loveland, Superior, Central Weld County Water District, Evans, Little Thompson, Louisville, Loveland, Superior, Central Weld County Water District, Evans, Little Thompson Water District, Lafayette and Fort Lupton) who in 2050 face a population totaling more than double what it was in 2005, according to Northern.

Water demand projections for the participants show a storage of 64,000 acre feet in 2030 and 110,000 acre-feet by 2050. Northern Water’s Municipal Subdistrict is coordinating the review on behalf of the providers, who will pay for the estimated $270 million project.

Chimney Hollow would be just west of and slightly smaller than Carter Lake and would be part of Larimer County’s Open Lands Program, with non-motorized boating, fishing and trails.

“We put a lot of time and effort into developing these plans, and we’re proud to say that they will make conditions on the Colorado River better in the future than they are today,” said Jeff Drager, project manager of Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, in statements released this week.

More Windy Gap coverage here and here.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is considering oil and gas exploration and/or production at St. Vrain State Park

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):

Officials are looking at the best — and least harmful to the environment — way to tap mineral resources under the state park before a private company beats them to the well. “The resources are going to be drilled anyway,” said Theo Stein, spokesman for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission. “Resources can be reached from outside the state park.”[…]

St. Vrain State Park is located just off Interstate 25 at Colorado 119 on the site of former gravel mines. The 604 acres boast ponds, fishing, wildlife and camping. And underneath the land is oil. Unlike other state parks, the state actually owns 439 acres of mineral rights below the park, giving it the opportunity to tap that resource and make an estimated $400,000 per year. The money, according to project staff, would help an already strapped state parks and wildlife system. But, according to the wildlife commission at a meeting in Fort Collins this week, the proposal is about more than the money. It is also about drilling in the least harmful way to the environment because officials say if the state doesn’t drill, a private company will. The resources could be accessed from neighboring land, and if that happened, the state would have no say on when or how much or how to mitigate environmental issues.

The process itself, however, could cause some environmental concern. The horizontal drilling procedure the state is looking at entails fracking — a practice the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday may have caused groundwater pollution.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.