Snowpack news: Middle Park — about 75% of average, statewide — 71%


From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

“I do recommend a snow dance,” said Mark Volt of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Kremmling. In this year’s first measurement of high-elevation snowpack on Feb. 1, the high country above Middle Park has about 75 percent of the 30-year average snowpack. Although this measurement is slightly better than the rest of the state, “the longer we go, the more storms it will take to make it up to normal,” Volt said…

The snow density is averaging 22 percent, meaning for every foot of snow contains about 2.6 inches of water…

So far, no low-snowpack records have been set this season in Colorado, he said.

Here’s a list of snowfall totals from the big storm last week, from The Denver Post.

Action 22 Summit: Governor Hickenlooper — ‘I’m very concerned about the risk of climate change’


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

The governor backed Interbasin Compact Commission recommendations for water conservation that some have challenged as over-reaching, and he said climate change can’t be ignored. “I’m not going to go out and say the sky is falling and that climate change is happening, but I’m very concerned about the risk of climate change,” he said. “That many smart people are that worried, that I’d be a fool not to be concerned.”

While Colorado can’t control the climate, it can control its water consumption, Hickenlooper said. A shift in that direction, such as the IBCC recommendations, would be beneficial, he said. “We need to get rid of the bluegrass in people’s backyards and be a lot more efficient in how we have toilets that flush,” Hickenlooper said.

More conservation coverage here.

Rocky Ford: The Farm/Ranch/Water symposium drew a diverse crowd


From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Bette McFarren):

Of special interest to Lower Arkansas Valley fruit and vegetable producers was the presentation by Tracy Vanderpool, the section chief of fruit and vegetable inspection for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The incidence of food contamination is not actually higher, said Vanderpool, but is more noticeable because of the ease of communication through not only conventional media but also social networking. Also, as the percentage of the population in the elderly range increases, weaker immune systems react more drastically.

“Many producers do not schedule audits in a timely manner, and it is a pleasure to talk with people who do,” said Vanderpool. The valley farmers have a good history of safe produce and safe growing practices. “You’re already doing it [using safe growing methods]; you will only have to document what you are already doing.”[…]

Heath Kuntz reported on progress of the pilot project for the Super Ditch, which is currently under way on the Catlin Canal. The Super Ditch is a process by which a measured amount of water is sold to a municipality, but the farmer retains his water rights and fallows only a quarter of his land at time, returning that land to production on a rotational basis. Kuntz was a leader in developing the engineering plan known as Rule 10, which not only helps producers who have adopted more efficient irrigating practices such as sprinklers be in compliance with state law, but also enables the Super Ditch to measure the water for the project. Many of the concepts for the successful operation of the Super Ditch concept are now in a physical trial mode.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

2012 Colorado legislation: Two bills have been introduced that would add regulations to hydraulic fracturing operations, another on the way


From Bloomberg (Jennifer Oldham):

Proposed drilling on a former bombing range that contains unexploded munitions and a landfill prompted Colorado lawmakers this week to introduce a bill that would require rules for fracking near toxic-waste sites. “This is quite immediately a public health and safety issue,” said State Senator Morgan Carroll, a Democrat who co-sponsored the measure [Senate Bill 12-107: Protect Water Oil Gas Operations Fracking]. “The room for error here is limited.”[…]

In January, the Colorado State Land Board signed a tentative $137 million agreement with ConocoPhillips to lease oil and gas resources underneath 21,048 acres on the bombing range, said Davy Kong, a ConocoPhillips (COP) spokeswoman…

Carroll’s bill would require Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to establish rules for hydraulic fracturing near radioactive materials and Superfund sites. Carroll’s measure would also require oil companies to document the quantity of water needed to horizontally drill a well and to test the quality of water wells within a half mile of a rig before and after drilling.

It joins a second bill introduced in the Colorado House that would require the conservation commission to adopt rules mandating that oil wells that are hydraulically fractured be set back at least 1,000 feet from a school or residence.

A third bill that would clarify existing law with regard to how cities and counties can regulate fracking is expected to be introduced in the Colorado House sometime this month, Chris Kennedy, chief of staff for State Representative Matt Jones, a Democrat, said in an interview.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.