Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: Reclamation plans to start filling Mary’s Lake on December 26

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

As we near the Holidays, we near the wrap up of annual maintenance on the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Immediately following Christmas, we will begin bringing water back through the east slope of the C-BT system.

Marys Lake, which has been drawn down for annual maintenance at the power plant, will begin to fill again starting December 26.

Operations at Lake Estes, which has maintained average water level elevations through most of December, will be unchanged.

Next week, the Pole Hill Canal, which helps bring water from Lake Estes to the C-BT’s southern power arm, will start to water up again, in stages. Our contractor on that project has finished work early and we will be testing the canal the last week of the year. Check out the news release announcing the project’s completion.

As Pole Hill Canal waters up, the water level at Pinewood Reservoir will slowly start to rise.

The water elevation at Carter Lake has continued to slowly drop as we have run Unit #3 in reverse to generate hydro-electric power and also send water down the canal towards Horsetooth. Next week, Unit #3 will be on and off as a power generating unit. On December 30, however, we have scheduled to switch back to pump mode and water will once again pump up to Carter Lake.

A little bit of water will continue going to Horsetooth Reservoir via the Charles Hansen Feeder Canal. Horsetooth is still high in water elevation for this time of year. It is currently at an elevation of about 5408 and did not drop below 5400 in 2011. That is unusual.

Broomfield water history

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From the Broomfield Enterprise (Joe Rubino):

The Turnpike Land Co. launched development on Broomfield Heights, a precursor to incorporated Broomfield, in 1955 along the north side of the recently built Denver-Boulder Turnpike, completed in 1952. The city’s water originally came from a pair of lakes on the family farm land of Adolph Zang, ditch water rights and three large wells, according to local historian Silvia Pettem’s 2001 book, “Broomfield: Changes Through Time.”

By May 1955, work had begun on a water main from nearby Great Western Reservoir, which was fed by Clear Creek through the Church Ditch. It would be Broomfield’s main source of water for its first decade as a city.

In 1970, as Broomfield’s population grew to more than 7,000, the city, under the leadership of a then recently hired City Manger George Di Ciero, used federal funding to purchase an 11-million-gallon-per-day allotment from Denver Water. According to Pettem’s book, a Daily Camera article that ran in 1970 referred to the purchase as “all the water (Broomfield) will ever need.”

That proved short-lived, as it was just three years later that radioactive contamination was first found in Great Western Reservoir. The terrifying revelation that the nearby Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant had leaked contaminants into city drinking water sent many locals running out to buy bottled water, Pettem wrote.

After a 1989 FBI raid on Rocky Flats, Broomfield spearheaded regional efforts to protect area water supplies and eliminate Great Western Reservoir as a primary water source. In 1989, Di Ciero dispatched crews to dig a diversion ditch to prevent water from Rocky Flats from getting into the reservoir. Those efforts were joined by surrounding downstream cities, such as Westminster and Thornton.

“That was a monumental effort and Broomfield, I would have to say, took the lead on it,” Joyce Hunt, Thornton assistant city manager, said of the diversion ditch and ensuing battle to curb pollution form Rocky Flats.

After that, with the support of Colorado Rep. David Skaggs and $52 million from Rocky Flats manager, the U.S. Department of Energy, Broomfield sold some of its water rights and bought an allotment of Windy Gap water from Boulder. After the construction of a pipeline from Windy Gap storage spot Carter Lake and a new water treatment facility near West 144th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard, Broomfield at last had a clean, safe water supply.

“The new water supply was key to securing water for our future,” [Kirk Oglesby, Broomfield’s code enforcement manager and unofficial town history resource] said.

While Broomfield is always looking for ways to firm up its water supply, the drought that struck Colorado in the mid-2000s demonstrated the city was prepared to handle shortages, Oglesby said. While neighbors Lafayette and Louisville were forced to stop lawn watering in the city limits or fall back on Boulder for support during the drought, Broomfield’s supplies held firm, Oglesby said, and the city “didn’t experience much difficulty at all.”

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

The U.S. Forest Service declines to impose a moratorium on new rule designed to keep ski area water with the land, lawsuit in the wings

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From The Denver Post (Jason Blevins):

The ski industry plans to sue the U.S. Forest Service to stop a new water-rights clause in ski-area permits that resorts argue is a federal taking of tens of millions of dollars in private water rights. “This was inevitable,” said Michael Berry, president of the 121-resort National Ski Areas Association, speaking of the lawsuit. “We have worked very hard to avoid it, but there hasn’t been a willingness on the part of the (Forest Service).”[…]

The industry and a consortium of legislators, including U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both Colorado Democrats, and Rep. Scott Tipton, a Colorado Republican, have urged the Forest Service to suspend implementation of the controversial new clause. The agency this week declined to issue a moratorium.

More water law coverage here.

Cloud-seeding: Frank Kugel — ‘There’s no other place to find water for $11 an acre-foot’

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From The Denver Post (Jason Blevins):

“Even if we see 10 percent increased snowfall that the consultant has projected, it’s an incredibly beneficial investment,” [Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District district manager Frank Kugel] said. “We took a long, hard look, but in the end my board felt the bang for the buck was worth it. There’s no other place to find water for $11 an acre-foot.”[…]

Water districts in Nevada, Arizona and California have joined eight districts that make up the Front Range Water Council and a few ski areas in funding Colorado’s cloud-seeding program in a widespread effort to load passing winter storms with moisture-wicking silver iodide molecules.

The 111 cloud-seeding cannons — or ice nuclei generators — positioned across the state are today powered by a wider-than-ever array of interests. In previous years, cloud-seeding efforts were driven largely by the state’s two thirstiest entities, Denver Water and Colorado Springs Utilities. This year, Aurora Water, the Northwest Colorado Water Conservation District, the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co., the Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Pueblo Water Works have joined the state’s water-slurping heavyweights under the Front Range Water Council banner to support cloud seeding…

“They are primarily interested in . . . reducing the potential for Compact curtailment,” said Maria Pastore, whose Grand River Consulting Corp. in Glenwood Springs is administrating the new cooperative program, replacing Denver Water in the supporting role for Colorado cloud- seeding programs. Since 2006, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the California Six Agency Committee and the Central Arizona Conservation District have funded about half of the state’s cloud-seeding efforts, matching the nearly $1 million the Colorado Water Conservation District has paid since launching its formal cloud-seeding grant program in 2004.

“I think the (district) boards down there are impressed,” said Joe Busto, who manages the state’s cloud-seeding operation for the Colorado Water Conservation Board, or CWCB. “The strategy there is to try to boost the low three-year averages on the Colorado River. It’s a tool to intentionally keep the flows up and stay out of conflict with other users.”[…]

Newer, more-efficient machines — designed by Nevada’s Desert Research Institute and funded in part by the CWCB — were installed this fall in the Fraser River Valley on the Grand Mesa and in the southern San Juans. The new, remotely controlled generators seed silver iodide at a much heavier rate, sending up as much as 28 grams of the molecules an hour versus a typical six grams an hour. And the new machines — two of which are positioned around Winter Park ski area, which is paying $22,000 of the new machine’s $59,000 cost — are located at higher elevations, enabling easier seeding of passing clouds.

More cloud-seeding coverage here and here.

R.I.P. Senator Fred Anderson

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Here’s the obituary from the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman). Here’s an excerpt:

Anderson was instrumental in integrating ground and surface water rights and restructuring the state water laws in 1969, which Eric Wilkinson, general manager of Northern Water, called “a milestone in Colorado history.” He also helped achieve in-stream flow water rights, which affect water supply in Colorado today. “There are 8,000 miles of streams in Colorado protected by that,” said Wilkinson.

Anderson, whom his wife called Freddie, was a fourth-generation Lovelander…

Services will be held 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 27, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 33rd Street and Duffield Avenue, in Loveland. A second memorial service will be held in Denver next month.