IBCC: Statewide Roundtable Summit March 1

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From email from the Interbasin Compact Committee (Jacob Bornstein):

Register for the Statewide Roundtable Summit, scheduled for March 1st, 2012 from 8 am to 5 pm at the Omni Interlocken Resort, 500 Interlocken Boulevard, Broomfield, CO.

In addition, the IBCC is meeting during the afternoon of February 29th and a welcome reception will follow. Conference attendees are encouraged to attend both events.

Sign up HERE to attend and to get more information!

Registration Closes February 23.

Hotel room block closes on Thursday, February 9.

You can check out the draft agenda here.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education: Winter 2012 issue of Headwaters magazine is hot off the press

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Click here to read the issue online. Click here to find out how to order your own copy.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

DARCA Tenth Annual Convention – Are Your Water Rights in Jeopardy?

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From email from the Ditch and Reservoir Company Association (John McKenzie):

We are only two weeks away from the start of our Tenth Annual Convention – Are Your Water Rights in Jeopardy? – It will take place from February 23-24, 2012, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Colorado Springs. We have compiled our largest list of speakers yet. Thirty-three 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?” We are trying a new format this year and will be having three concurrent workshops on the morning of Friday, the 24th. The workshops are: What Directors and Officers Need to Know; Water Quality and Stormwater Issues; and Managing the Ditch Company. A complete agenda is available on the front page of the DARCA website.

You may be interested in attending the pre-convention workshop, Is Your Great-Grandpa’s Dam Ready for the 21st Century, on Wednesday, February 22, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Please check out the great list of speakers at the DARCA website…

If you need to register you may visit www.darca.org to download a registration form or you may register on-line. You can always call, fax, or email me to register.

It will be good for us ditch people to get together and see what we have all been up to. Look forward to seeing all of you.

EPA: Water and sewer infrastructure needs tally at $300 billion

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From the Associated Press via The Washington Post:

“EPA found that the nation’s 53,000 community water systems and 21,400 not-for-profit, non-community water systems will need to invest an estimated $334.8 billion between 2007 and 2027,” stated the federal Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment, which is updated every four years…

“This is a very serious concern,” said Carolyn Berndt of the National League of Cities. “Many communities have a long-term plan to replace all their underground water infrastructure, but even if they do a couple percentages of pipes a year, it’s still going to take over 100 years for some of them to replace it all.”

Snowpack news: It’s probably too late in the season for the snowpack to recover

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From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

The latest basin outlook report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Lakewood relies on its surveys of the amount of water stored in the snowpack in the combined Yampa, White, North Platte and Laramie river basins, combined with historical data and current weather trends, to conclude there’s only a small chance that the water carried in those river systems this summer will reach average.

“Based on historical data there is a less than 10 percent chance that the snowpacks in these basins will recover to average conditions by the end of the season,” the report issued by state conservationist Phyllis Ann Phillips concluded. “April to July runoff is expected to be well below average at all forecast points except for the Laramie River near Woods Landing, which is expected to be 85 percent of average.”

It went on to say, “A closer look reveals that the Yampa and White river basins are faring a bit worse than the combined basins. These basins measure just 60 percent of average (snowpack) on Feb. 1 while the North Platte and Little Snake basins reported 69 and 67 percent, respectively.”[…]

If there is a bright spot in the snowpack outlook, it’s that area reservoirs contain 120 percent of average water storage. The Web page of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District shows the water level elevation at Stagecoach Reservoir is currently 7,197 feet, compared to 7,204 feet when the reservoir is full. District Manager Kevin McBride said the positive condition of water storage at Stagecoach is attributable to the strong water year of 2011 that still was adding to the reservoir in autumn. The reservoir’s recently expanded storage capacity also is helping. The district added to the height of the dam and filled the expanded reservoir for the first time last year. This week’s level is 7 feet below full but only 3 feet below the old capacity. “It’s still an open question whether we’ll fill, but we could easily fill with 50 percent” of average snowpack, McBride said. “And we’re very close right now to having the water needed to meet our contract obligations. That’s because of the raise” in capacity.

Crawford: Public Works requests water and sewer rate increases

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From the Delta County Independent (Kathy Browning):

The Crawford public works department announced at the Feb. 1 council meeting the town needs a utilities increase totaling $6 a month. If approved, the rate increase would begin in April. The total breaks down to a $2.50 rate increase on the monthly water bill and a $3.50 increase on the monthly sewer bill…

Of the $2.50 water increase, $2 would be reserved for capital improvement and infrastructure needs. That would mean $6,400 would be set aside per year for long term needs and $1,600 a year to counter inflation. The current inflation rate is 3.87 percent.

On the sewer side, $1.50 of the increase would be for future capital improvement and infrastructure needs. That will total $4,824 per year for long term needs and nearly $6,700 a year for current fund shortfalls and inflation…

The Town of Crawford will have a public hearing on the proposed water and sewer monthly rate increases on Wednesday, March 7, at 7 p.m. Public comment is welcome.

More infrastructure coverage here.

U.S. House of Representatives Water and Power Subcommittee: Water Storage Vital to Rural Communities, Job Creation, Economic Growth

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From The Durango Herald (Kelcie Pegher):

The Water and Power Subcommittee spoke Tuesday with constituents from the West to decide whether removing government regulations on water-storage infrastructure would be helpful.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton…used the example of the Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District, which serves Delta County. The board of directors from the district made plans to rehabilitate breached reservoirs in the fall of 2008. They found various regulations stopped their construction, and it has still not been completed. Tipton also made the point that water is being directed in urban districts. He says it leaves rural areas of the West “dried up in terms of farms to feed the people that choose to live in those cities.”[…]

Dan Crabtree from the Durango office of the Bureau of Reclamation said the Animas-La Plata Project’s dam will likely be the last it builds. They are in the business of mostly municipal water, as well as rehabilitating existing dams…

Bill Midcap, the director of the Renewable Energy Center at the Rock Mountain Farmers Union, said his concern is in repairing existing infrastructure as opposed to building new dams and reservoirs.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Jennifer Pitt (Environmental Defense Fund): ‘That a study of the future of the Colorado should include the health of the river itself might seem obvious’

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From National Geographic Water Currents (Jennifer Pitt):

The federal Bureau of Reclamation has started working with the seven states in the basin (AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT and WY) to study the future of supply and demand on the Colorado, and to search for solutions that fill the ‘gap’ between them, as illustrated in the right hand side of the graph above. Stay tuned for great debates about the merits of cloud seeding versus conservation, and desalinization versus re-use.

But what strikes me as most promising is the commitment from Reclamation and the states to consider the health of the basin’s rivers. Their latest report discusses how they will assess the future status of ecosystem health, by looking at projected conditions for endangered species, river-based wildlife refuges, and even for a host of freshwater and riparian habitats on the mainstem and major tributaries…

That a study of the future of the Colorado should include the health of the river itself might seem obvious. Yet the vast system of pipes and canals we’ve built from the top to the bottom of this basin point to the Colorado’s central importance as a water supply to the arid Southwest, and too often we overlook the river itself.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

COGCC: Water use for hydraulic fracturing expected to increase from 4.5 billion gallons now to 6 billion gallons in 2015

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From E&E Publishing (Tasha Eichenseher):

In what many are calling the first attempt to document how much water is required for hydraulic fracturing in the Centennial State, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) released a fact sheet late last month that projected a 35 percent increase from 2010 to 2015 in water use for oil and gas exploration and production. Water demand for hydraulic fracturing in the state is expected to increase from roughly 4.5 billion gallons in 2010 to more than 6 billion gallons in 2015, a jump that could supply more than 160,000 people with domestic water for a year…

The amount of water used depends on the geology of the region and whether wells are drilled horizontally or vertically, according to the COGCC. Horizontal wells require more, as do shale formations located deep underground. COGCC estimates that between 2010 and 2015, barring any major economic, environmental or technological changes, the number of active oil and gas wells in Colorado is likely to remain steady, with much of the expected 1.5-billion-gallon increase in water use linked to an expected swing from vertical oil drilling to new horizontal technologies…

Jon Monson, director of the water and sewer department in Greeley — the Weld County seat — said citizens have expressed concern about the tanker truck water withdrawals. But Greeley, like many Colorado cities, has accumulated surplus water rights over time in an effort to meet its long-term needs and stave off the potential impacts of a temporary shortage. Last year was an “epic water year,” he said, leaving the city plenty of extra to sell. “Once you start explaining it is an annual surplus, and we are not committing to these people long-term,” there is a bit of an attitude change, he said. Last year, Greeley leased $1.5 million worth of water, or around 326 million gallons, primarily to oil and gas companies, as well as almost 9.8 billion gallons to neighboring farms. But the city makes more from the oil and gas deals because the water it sells to those operations is treated and therefore more expensive, according to Monson. The water surplus “can make money for the citizens of Greeley,” he pointed out…

According to COGCC numbers, hydraulic fracturing represented just 0.08 percent of all water used in Colorado in 2010. Hydraulic fracturing used less water than agriculture, municipalities, industry, recreation or thermoelectric power generation. The biggest user of water in Colorado, and the United States in general, is agriculture, usually accounting for up to 70 percent of water consumption. According to the COGCC, farming, ranching and other agricultural operations accounted for more than 4.6 trillion gallons, or 85.5 percent, of Colorado water use in 2010. Municipal and industrial uses combined accounted for about 397 billion gallons, or 7.4 percent.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.