Longmont calls hydraulic fracturing time-out for 120 days

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From the Longmont Times-Call (Scott Rochat):

“Decisions on hydraulic fracturing are too important to be rushed,” resident Judith Blackburn told the council. “We tonight have a window of opportunity to do the prudent thing.” TOP Operating of Lakewood has plans to establish five consolidated drilling sites near Union Reservoir and Sandstone Ranch, but no application had been put forward yet.

State law does not allow a city to completely ban drilling within its boundaries, though it can set standards on how and where the operations are conducted. It has been about 10 years since the city drafted its own regulations, which senior planner Brien Schumacher said would rate only a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. Schumacher noted that several communities have begun tightening their own laws on the issue — including requirements on water monitoring — displaying a columned chart showing X’s for each community’s restrictions.

More coverage from The Denver Post. From the article:

Longmont’s vote follows votes by Colorado Springs and El Paso County governments placing temporary limits on fracking. Commerce City on Monday agreed to take 30 days to study a proposed six-month moratorium on fracking within city limits. Aurora has drafted a six-month moratorium, but the ordinance has not yet been introduced.

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

Longmont currently has 12 producing wells within its city limits, Leal said via email.
But the council took action for two primary reasons, he said.

• It’s anticipating more applications from the oil and gas industry in the future, and

• There’s lots of public concern over environmental impacts.

Longmont plans to use the 120-days to update its existing oil and gas rules, which were put into place in 2000. City planner Brien Schumacher gave the existing regulations “only a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1 to 10,” according to the Longmont Times-Call.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Leadville: The Parkville Water District is raising rates ten percent starting January 1

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From the Leadville Herald Democrat:

Parkville board members and management unanimously agreed to the rate increase at the Dec. 8 board meeting. The largest single reason for the increase is to help finance the construction of a new well, pump and pipeline to bring water from the Canterbury Tunnel into the Parkville system, said Greg Teter, general manager. Estimated cost of this project is more than $2.5 million dollars. Although several significant grants were secured for the project, the bulk of the money will be in the form of a low-interest loan, Teter said. During 2011, Parkville also had several other equipment failures that required capital spending. The pump station at the Elkhorn shaft had to be completely rebuilt this past summer after 60 years of service, at a cost of more than $50,000. One of the main pumps at the Arkansas Wells also failed and had to be replaced. All of these projects will help reduce the number of frozen water lines in the winter by providing additional groundwater that is much warmer than the surface water in Evans Creek. “Also Parkville will not be facing the annual water shortages in late winter that we have had to deal with every winter since the Canterbury Tunnel caved in,” Teter explained.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Jim Pokrandt: ‘The River District’s [motion to intervene] also cites the [Flaming Gorge pipeline] as speculative with relatively small demands’

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From email from the Colorado River District (Jim Pokrandt):

Update: Here’s the release from the Colorado River District website.

The Colorado River District is opposing a proposed Flaming Gorge Reservoir pipeline project through a motion to intervene with a federal regulatory agency that is reviewing the plan to pump water from the Wyoming reservoir to the Front Range of Colorado.

Fort Collins, Colo., businessman Aaron Million is proposing a 560-mile pipeline, the Regional Water Supply Project (RWSP), which would carry up to 250,000 acre feet of water. It is under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its power-generating aspects. The River District’s motion to intervene says, “The volume of water at issue would adversely impact existing users of Colorado’s entitlement to the waters of the Colorado River, and could usurp the remainder of the state’s compact allocation.”

Although the water would be taken out of the Colorado River system from the Green River, a tributary with Wyoming headwaters, under the Colorado River Compact of 1922, the amount still counts against Colorado’s limited ability to use the river.

The River District’s motion also cites the RWSP as “speculative” with “relatively small demands – nowhere near the volume claimed by the RWSP. Moreover, none of the projected water users have demonstrated the ability to pay for the enormous cost of the project.” The RWSP also threatens the ability of the Colorado River District, the state of Colorado and other public entities to plan for the development of the state’s remaining entitlement to the Colorado River in a “responsibly conservative matter,” the motion states.

Other objections include:

– The need first for the Colorado Water Conservation Board to complete its Colorado River Water Availability Study;
– The need for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to complete is Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study;
– The need for Colorado’s West Slope to finalize its own consumptive and nonconsumptive studies; and
– The need for there to be interstate and intrastate agreements on how the water would be managed under the Prior Appropriation System.

More coverage from the Associated Press via The Billings Gazette. From the article:

Colorado River District officials are telling regulators the cost for the pipeline, which would stretch more than 500 miles, will be “enormous.” They also say the proposal could cause Colorado to use up its allocation of Colorado River system water under a multistate compact and hurt existing users of that water. Million contends there’s enough water available for his proposal. Federal and state studies on Colorado River water availability aren’t complete yet.

More coverage from Ken Green writing for the Denver Examiner. From the article:

The Center for Biological Diversity said that “online action alerts” issued by it and another environment advocacy group, Earthjustice, prompted the flood of public comments to the Regulatory Commission from members of the public who oppose construction of the 500-mile pipeline they claim would be “disastrous” to the ecosystem of the Green River, including the Colorado pikeminnow, the humpback chub and razorback sucker, as well as damage the communities whose economy is based on the river…

The current proposed project would require Wyco to construct natural-gas fired pumping stations (“at least nine”, said the Center) to pump the water over the Continental Divide. The Center claims that even Wyco officials acknowledge that the energy needed to pump the water over the divide would be greater than the project might create through hydropower

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

According to the River District’s motion, the project is speculative and, thus far, none of the projected users have shown an ability to pay for the expensive project…

“The volume of water at issue would adversely impact existing users of Colorado’s entitlement to the waters of the Colorado River, and could usurp the remainder of the state’s compact allocation,” the River District wrote in its motion to intervene. Although the water would be taken out of the Colorado River system from the Green River, a tributary with Wyoming headwaters, under the Colorado River Compact of 1922, the amount still counts against Colorado’s limited ability to use the river.

The River District also said the pipeline threatens the ability of the Colorado River District, the state of Colorado and other public entities to plan for the development of the state’s remaining entitlement to the Colorado River in a “responsibly conservative matter.”

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.