Rifle: 5% increase for water and sewer rates starting January 1

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From The Rifle Citizen Telegram (John Gardner):

The new flat fee for water up to 4,000 gallons per month will cost a resident $18.29. The user will then be charged an additional $3.54 for every 1,000 gallons, or any part thereof, over the initial 4,000 gallons, in a single month. For single family residential users will be charged $3.81 for every 1,000 gallons over the 30,000 gallons. Whereas, multi-families will be charged $3.81 for every 1,000 gallons exceeding 21,000 gallons in a single month. Water fees will increase 5 percent starting on Jan. 1. However, there is no change in corporate city limits or senior citizens, per the ordinance. Those customers will still see the flat fee increase, but will pay according to the current city code. Senior customers will receive a 20 percent discount, and water customers utilizing city water who live outside the corporate city limits will be charged at the same rate per city code…

Residents will also pay increased sewer rates. The flat fee will increase to $36.92 for sewer up to 4,000 gallons of monthly water use, and an additional $8.27 for every 1,000 gallons over 4,000, or part thereof, used in a single month. Those rates, too, will also increase 5 percent annually starting in 2012. This 5 percent increase is in addition to the $3 base fee increase needed to help increase revenues for the fund in order for the city to meet the requirements of the loan agreement which funded construction of the wastewater treatment plant. The city has not met a provision in that agreement to generate 110 percent of associated expenses for the past two years.

More infrastructure coverage here.

The Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority scores 4,400 acre-feet of ag water from United Water and Sanitation, next up water court for a change of use

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

Arapahoes’s purchases, negotiated over the past couple of years and finalized in September, still leave a couple of major questions yet to be answered. The county must win approval from water courts to use the water for municipal purposes and it must figure out a way to get the water from here to there. According to documents, Steve Witter, water resources manager for the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority, said during a presentation at an authority board meeting in September that 43 percent of the 4,400 acre-feet of water purchased by United Water and Sanitation District — on behalf of the authority — came from the Poudre River, while the other 57 percent came from the South Platte River. In an interview Monday, Witter noted that this marks the first time Arapahoe County — the third-most populous county in the state with nearly 600,000 people and whose municipalities include suburbs of Denver — has purchased water rights from farmers in northern Colorado. Witter said all of the agricultural water rights purchased on behalf of the water authority came from the Poudre and South Platte rivers. The transactions were made between United and individual shareholders of irrigation, ditch and reservoir companies — including 12 companies in Weld County, according to documents obtained by The Tribune…

Front Range municipalities, because of their rapid growth, have been buying agricultural water rights from farmers to secure the future water needs for decades. But because of the ongoing “buy and dry” trend, the 2010 Statewide Water Supply Initiative, compiled by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, estimates that 500,000 to 700,000 acres of irrigated farmland could be dried up by 2050 — a year by which Colorado farmers will also be expected to help feed a state population that will have doubled to about 10 million people, according to some estimates.

More Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority coverage here and here.

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation withdraws water court change case, cites purchase of JV Ranch as reason

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Woodmoor completed its purchase of the JV Ranch near Fountain in late November, and its board last week voted to pull a water court case that sought to deliver water by exchange from three ditch systems east of Pueblo. Woodmoor also has terminated all of the contracts on the Holbrook, High Line and Excelsior ditch systems…

The water court application had been moving toward trial after the Pueblo Board of Water Works refused to settle the case. The Pueblo water board objected to the plan partly because it could involve the removal of water from Pueblo County to another basin. Woodmoor straddles the Arkansas and South Platte basins…

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District also opposed the move, and took steps to help a farmer buy one of the farms Woodmoor was seeking on the High Line Canal, putting it in a conservation easement to ensure continued farming. “We ensured the water will run to the end of the High Line Canal forever,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district…

After dropping its plans for Lower Ark water, Woodmoor opted to purchase the 3,500-acre JV Ranch, which has water rights of 2,500-3,500 acre-feet of water as well as a 70-acre reservoir. The purchase price will be $25 million to $35 million, depending on the historic average amount of water determined when a water rights change case is filed.

More Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District coverage here and here.

Sheep Mountain Alliance Initiates Citizen Enforcement, ‘We filed suit to protect the San Miguel River’

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Here’s the release from the Sheep Mountain Alliance via The Telluride Watch:

Sheep Mountain Alliance (@sheepmtn), a grassroots citizens organization, initiated a citizen enforcement suit against PacifiCorp in federal court last Monday, Dec. 12 that asks the Oregon-based utility corporation to stop discharging pollutants into the San Miguel River and violating the Clean Water Act.

The suit alleges that PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company owned by Berkshire Hathaway, violated the conditions of its federal discharge permit at the Silver Bell tailings site, allowing contaminants to enter the Howard Fork of the San Miguel River for the past five years. PacifiCorp, which owns the Silver Bell tailings site and has financial responsibility for its cleanup, began remediating the site in 1998. Citizens are allowed to file enforcement actions under federal law as a means of holding polluters accountable if their permits are not being enforced by regulators.

“Unfortunately, PacifiCorp has failed to meet the standards of its federal discharge permit at the Silver Bell site, and over the past five years PacifiCorp has repeatedly allowed excessive pollutants to enter the Howard Fork of the San Miguel,” said Hilary White, executive director of Sheep Mountain Alliance. “These problems could have been fixed but they haven’t been, and PacifiCorp needs to be held accountable for these violations.”

The types of pollutants reportedly being discharged into the Howard Fork include acid drainage, suspended solids, heavy metals, and excessive iron. Typically associated with hard rock mining contamination, these pollutants enter streams and wetlands and degrade overall water quality in the San Miguel basin as well as contribute to localized problems that can harm fish and aquatic life.

In October, SMA had notified PacifiCorp that it would file suit in 60 days if the company did not take action to correct the problems at the Silver Bell site. Although the 60-day notice period is intended to provide the responsible company time to address Clean Water Act violations without legal penalty, SMA’s suit alleges PacifiCorp has not fixed the problems.

“The pollution of the San Miguel from this site has been going on for years,” White said. “Sheep Mountain Alliance wants to make sure that PacifiCorp not only complies with the law, but fixes the problem permanently. The health of the San Miguel River is too important to ignore and we have to be vigilant in holding them accountable.”

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.

Opposition to Wyco Water and Power’s Flaming Gorge Pipeline straddles the Colorado-Wyoming-Utah borders and includes the National Park Service

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First up is a release from Western Resource Advocates calling the project a boondoggle:

Western Resource Advocates (WRA) announced that it is filing formal objections today with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding the proposed ‘Flaming Gorge Pipeline.’ The objections are being filed by WRA along with the Colorado Environmental Coalition and the National Parks Conservation Association.

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline has more unanswered questions than a Presidential debate,” said WRA Water Attorney Robert Harris. “The bottom line is that there is no good reason for FERC to contemplate the proposal. The pipeline idea is getting messier by the day, and it’s not going to get cheaper or more realistic in the future.”

Aaron Million, President of Wyco Power and Water, Inc., is seeking a federal permit from FERC to review his ‘Flaming Gorge Pipeline’ (FGP) proposal to pump water more than five hundred (500) miles from the Green River in Wyoming to the Front Range of Colorado.

The objections to a potential FERC permit as filed by WRA focus on four points:

1. Ridiculously Expensive: The Colorado Water Conservation Board estimates that the project would cost $9 billion, which would easily qualify the FGP as the most expensive water project in Colorado history. The 2011 General Fund for the entire state of Colorado is about $7.4 billion.

2. Unnecessary and Illegal Water Hoarding: There is simply no need for the FGP. If it proceeded, the project would be open to charges of water hoarding [ed. speculation], which is against state law.

3. Against the Public Interest: There is no scenario in which the FGP could be completed in an
environmentally-safe manner, and there is widespread opposition to the proposal in both Wyoming
and Colorado. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, among others, has publicly condemned the project.

4. Wyco and Million are Unsuitable Applicants: Mr. Million and Wyco Power and Water have a history of missing deadlines and failing to provide complete information; in July 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers terminated Million’s application for these reasons.

“The real shame of this entire process is that it is a distraction from discussions of much more reasonable and cost-effective water supply projects that Wyoming and Colorado can implement already,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, Energy & Water Policy Analyst at WRA. “If Wyco or any other company wants to go off chasing unicorns, they should do it on their own time and their own dime.”

Becky Long, organizer for the Colorado Environmental Coalition, said: “Citizens across Colorado and Wyoming think this project is a bad idea. Multiple cities and counties in both states have publicly condemned the plan, and a recent survey by the sportsmen’s group Trout Unlimited showed that almost 80% of Wyoming residents opposed the proposal.”

The complete filing from WRA will be available this afternoon on the FERC website and at www.WesternResources.org.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
On September 1, 2011, Mr. Aaron Million of Wyco Power and Water, Inc. applied to FERC for a permit application for the Regional Watershed Supply Project proposal (generally referred to as the Flaming Gorge Pipeline, or FGP). Two months earlier, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers terminated its review of the project, citing Million’s failure to meet required deadlines to provide information. Wyco applied to FERC under the premise of reclassifying the FGP as a hydropower project, but because it is primarily a water-delivery system, FERC only has limited jurisdiction and cannot approve the entire project.

The FERC deadline for public comments and ‘Motions to Intervene’ is December 19, 2011. If FERC eventually decides to consider permitting for the FGP, it would begin a 3-year study period of the project. Before the FGP could begin to be constructed, Wyco would almost certainly need a permit from multiple additional federal agencies, such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. At some point, Wyco would also likely need to resubmit an application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For More Information on the Flaming Gorge Pipeline, go to:
http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/water/pipeline/million.php

To access FERC Submissions/Filings directly, go to:
http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20111013-5035

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Federal authorities deciding whether to grant a preliminary permit for the project proposed by Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million have received more than 170 mostly negative comments on the proposal.

But Million said he’s undaunted. He said he’s talking with energy-industry representatives about using the water for oil and gas production. The pipeline to move up to 200,000 acre-feet of water a year could sustain water-intensive hydraulic-fracturing operations in Wyoming and Colorado, Million said. “We’ve heard rough figures of 15,000 to 20,000 acre-feet annually for fracking needs,” Million said. “If this new water supply helps with the fracking issues, then, without question, we would consider delivering water for the industry.”[…]

“A preliminary permit does not authorize construction or operation of a project,” federal regulatory commission spokeswoman Celeste Miller said. “All it does is give you priority over a site for three years to study feasibility.”[…]

The Colorado Environmental Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association and Western Resource Advocates on Thursday were filing formal objections to the project. Another coalition of 11 environmental groups, including Sierra Club, Wyoming Outdoor Council and Save the Poudre, also objected…

“If (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) takes on this application, they will be using taxpayer dollars and resources to look into the project,” [Stacy Tellinghuisen, an energy and water policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates] said. “This is a totally unrealistic project.”

Writer Bobby Magill posted a link to the City of Fort Collins letter to FERC on his website. Also, according the Magill’s Twitter feed (@bobbymagill), “DOI Comments on #FlamingGorgePipeline: NPS worries lower flows in Green River could hurt Dinosaur National Monument”

More coverage from Brandon Loomis writing for The Salt Lake Tribune. Here’s an excerpt:

A coalition of 10 conservation groups is seeking to intervene in a federal permitting process for a proposed pipeline that would take water from the Green River to Colorado’s Front Range…

Groups, including the Utah Rivers Council and the Wyoming Outdoor Council, formed the Colorado River Protection Coalition to advocate against the project, which they argue would imperil endangered fish and water rights in Utah. “This catastrophic proposal would not only mar these treasures, it would forever alter life in Utah,” said Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.