CWCB Water Availability Task Force February 16 meeting presentations now online


Here’s the link to the Water Availability Task Force presentations from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Here’s the link to the executive summary.

More CWCB coverage here.

Colorado Geological Survey unveils new website and Facebook page


From the new Colorado Geological Survey website:

The Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) is a state government agency within the Department of Natural Resources whose mission is to:

– Help reduce the impact of geologic hazards on the citizens of Colorado,
– Promote responsible economic development of mineral and energy resources,
– Provide geologic insight into water resources,
– Provide avalanche safety training and forecasting, and
– Provide geologic advice and information to a variety of constituencies.

By providing sound information and new knowledge, the Colorado Geological Survey contributes to economic growth and improvement in the quality of life for Colorado’s citizens.

Here’s the link to their Facebook page.

Silverthorne: Colorado Basin Roundtable non-consumptive needs workshop March 15


Here’s the announcement from the Colorado Basin Roundtable (Jacob Bornstein):

What: The Colorado River Basin Roundtable (CBRT) is soliciting projects for environmental and recreational water needs. Funding for these projects is from the CWCB Water Supply Reserve Account. As much as $2M may be available for competitive grants statewide. Although there is no limitation to grant requests, typical grants are about $200,000. CBRT hopes to identify 3 to 5 projects for near term funding and implementation, other projects may be considered for long term prioritization.

The CBRT is sponsoring an informal workshop to help potential project applicants in the Colorado River Basin determine if their project is appropriate and guide them through the application process.

How: Parties interested in apply for these grants should prepare a short summary of their project and bring it to the workshop. The summary should briefly address the criteria that will be used by the CBRT to select projects, see attachment A.

When: The CBRT Project planning workshop is March 15, 10:00 to 12:30. Projects will be approved for funding by the CWCB in September, 2012. Complete project applications must be approved by the CBRT 60 days prior to the CWCB meeting.

Where: The Blue River Room in the North Branch Summit County Library, 651 Center Circle, Silverthorne 80498.

For More Information: Contact Jacob Bornstein, CWCB (303-866-3441) or Lane Wyatt, CBRT (970-468-0295 ext 116).

Colorado Agricultural Cluster and Value-Chain Analysis Begin as Part of Statewide Economic Development


Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Coleman Cornelius):

CSU and the Colorado Department of Agriculture are teaming up to provide a new look at Colorado’s critical agricultural industry with a study that maps economic relationships among sectors tied – perhaps unexpectedly – to farm and ranch production.

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the project Thursday during the annual Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture at the Renaissance Denver Hotel. The agriculture project is part of the Colorado Blueprint, the state’s bottom-up approach to economic development.

Called the Agricultural Value-Chain Analysis, the new study will illustrate linkages within Colorado’s broad agricultural industry. It will highlight sectors many Coloradans might not immediately associate with agriculture, including biotechnology, finance, ag tourism, and the food and beverage sector.

Colorado agriculture annually contributes an estimated $40 billion in sales to the state economy. Depicting the industry’s economic connections is a key step in shedding light on critical issues, common challenges, emerging policy needs and opportunities for growth in agriculture.

The Agricultural Value-Chain Analysis will support work of the newly forming Colorado Agricultural Cluster, one of the broad-based industry clusters working with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to develop the Colorado Blueprint. These groups are forming to help spark innovation, national and global competitiveness, ongoing prosperity, and sustainable job growth in Colorado.

Tom Yulsman: ‘We are taking more water out of the Colorado River basin than actually flows out of the Colorado River basin’


From the Boulder Weekly (Jefferson Dodge):

Tom Yulsman, co-director of CU-Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism, co-authored a two-part article with journalism master’s student Brendon Bosworth called “Running Toward Empty” [ed. Part One and Part Two] in early 2011. One of the questions they asked was whether last winter’s heavy snowpack made a dent in reversing the effects of a decade-long drought that has created “bathtub rings” at shrinking Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Their response was, yes, but it was a small dent, and most signs point to the problem getting worse, not better.

“We are taking more water out of the Colorado River basin than actually flows out of the Colorado River basin,” Yulsman tells Boulder Weekly, adding that “savings banks” like Mead and Powell have been the only thing keeping the lower reaches of the Colorado from drying up even more.

Click through and read the whole article including an interview with Jennifer Pitt Colorado River Project director for the Environmental Defense Fund. Here’s an excerpt:

Boulder Weekly: For those here in Boulder County who may not be intimately familiar with the water management challenges that we’re facing on the Colorado, would you give a quick snapshot of what you’re working on right now?

Jennifer Pitt: From a basin-wide perspective, I think there’s been a recent realization that demands on the river for water actually have been exceeding supply. That’s in part caused by the fact that we’ve been in an 11or 12-year drought.

But drought notwithstanding, especially if demands keep rising, we’re at the point where use of the river’s water is unsustainable. Everybody believes that the region will continue to grow, there’s a great quality of life in the mountain West, in the Southwest, and people are attracted to this region for a variety of reasons. And there’s no reason to think that’s going to stop or that it’s not going to pick up as the economy improves.

That will cause water demands to continue to increase, and there’s a lot of concern that climate change will cause supply to decrease, possibly because of decreased precipitation in the region, but certainly because of increased temperatures that will increase evaporation rates and demands for water.

BW: So it’s kind of like a perfect storm where supply is dwindling and demand is increasing.

JP: Exactly. So that’s the essence of the challenge. Every institution and agency that is a stakeholder in the river and the river’s water is concerned about it. From the environmental perspective, we are concerned that because there is no inherent right to water for the river itself, and because of historically how the river has been managed — where the environment usually gets last dibs — if we are not proactive, there will be bad outcomes for the river. We have the first look at that kind of outcome in the delta of the Colorado River down at the U.S./ Mexico border.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Colorado Foundation for Water Education: Learn, Tour, Share! March 9 Climate & Water Workshop


From email from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education:

Get a glimpse of Colorado’s crazy climate and Antarctic adventures at an annual workshop of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education…

On March 9, 2012 at the Denver Federal Center, educators, consultants and researchers will spend a day learning about climate science and the related impacts on water resources and the environment. The workshop includes an exclusive tour of the National Ice Core Lab, distinguished speakers and hands-on teaching tools. Space is limited so sign up today!

View the agenda here.

Directions, fees and registration here

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here.

Montrose: Ag energy/water workshop March 1


Here’s the release from the Delta-Montrose Electric Association and Colorado State University via the Delta County Independent:

Are you looking for ways to improve energy efficiency on your farm, ranch, or small acreage? Are you looking to enhance your soil health with a new tool for your irrigation management toolbox?
If so, then you might want to register for a free workshop focused on ag energy and the local agricultural weather station network.

The workshop is from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, in Montrose with a complimentary lunch from Camp Robber for all who register by Monday, Feb. 27.

The workshop — co-hosted by Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) and Colorado State University (CSU) — will be held in the DMEA’s classroom at 11925 6300 Rd, near the airport just north of Montrose. Staff of both DMEA and CSU will outline local and statewide programs that can improve efficiencies with energy and water use, and provide a foundation for a more profitable and sustainable agricultural operation.

Included in the program is a visit from state climatologist Nolan Doesken, whose enthusiasm for all things weather has helped raise the profile of water — particularly in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail — on both sides of the divide.

Recently Doesken was in western Colorado advancing his campaign to place a rain gauge in every school around Colorado. Now he’s back to engage with local producers and promote CSU’s imminent upgrades to the Colorado Agricultural Meteorological (CoAgMet) network. CoAgMet is a network of about 65 weather stations around the state that provide accurate crop water use and disease pressure data for farmers and ranchers. Doesken describes CoAgMet’s importance to the irrigation community as “the primary source of local and accurate crop water use information.”

Troy Bauder, the state water quality specialist at CSU, adds, “This information is one tool we’d like to get in the hands of irrigators that are interested in more precise irrigation scheduling, particularly those who might have a newer system and want to fully utilize its capabilities to deliver water according to crop needs.”

Indeed the entire afternoon session of the workshop will provide local irrigators a golden opportunity to become more familiar with CoAgMet, learn how CSU intends to make it work better, and to provide much needed feedback to Doesken, Bauder, and CSU staff on the upcoming improvements.

Jim Heneghan of DMEA and Abbie Brewer with the Governors Energy Office at DMEA (Fore Alliance), along with Cary Weiner, clean energy specialist with CSU Extension, will be hosting the morning session. Weiner will be discussing the benefits of on-farm energy audits, while Heneghan and Brewer will outline DMEA initiatives such as progress with the South Canal micro-hydro feasibility study, and the Business Energy Assessment Team (BEAT) program available to business owners and managers in the Delta-Montrose area. Heneghan — who also farms near Olathe — explains his support for the workshop, “DMEA is very interested in smart energy products for its service area. We believe that helping local residents understand where the opportunities lie for energy savings can help them be more successful with their agricultural operations, businesses, and home maintenance.”

If you are interested in attending the workshop (remember the workshop and lunch are free — please register in advance), or learning more about DMEA and CSU’s programs please contact Jim Heneghan at DMEA: 240-1269 or e-mail jim.heneghan@; or Denis Reich (CSU water resources specialist) in Grand Junction: 201-8467 or e-mail

More Uncompaghre River watershed coverage here.

Sterling: New water treatment plant startup is one year out


From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Judy Debus):

In September 2008, an enforcement order was issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The order identified specific tasks the city would have to perform within a specified compliance schedule and identified civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance. Sterling is the largest system of 32 communities across the state to receive the high uranium and TTHM’s rating. After looking at various technology for primary (the uranium, TTHM’s and nitrate) and secondary standards (total dissolved solids, sulfate, manganese and hardness ) treatment, a reverse osmosis (RO) with blend stream filtration was the selected method to mitigate the problems. Demis noted that the selection removes those primary and secondary contaminants, is the lowest overall water cost impact to the average Sterling citizen and provides the best overall water quality.

To dispose of the concentrates that are filtered out, a deep well injection system was selected. The well injection is approximately 7,000 feet deep, is permitted through EPA Region 8 and is the least costly alternative, Demis said…

Noticeable changes will be in taste (less salty), less gastro-intestinal discomfort for visitors, less metallic taste, and a reduction in hardness, lessening the need for in-home softening.

Hatch Mott MacDonald Company is the architect/engineer of the project and contractor is Hydro Construction Company.

More water treatment coverage here.

BLM Announces Public Meetings on Potential Environmental Impacts of Oil Shale and Tar Sands Development


Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (Megan Crandall):

The Bureau of Land Management announced today that it is hosting public meetings in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming to answer questions about and solicit comments on its oil shale and tar sands Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft PEIS). The meetings will be held at 7 p.m. at the locations and dates listed below:

Monday, March 12, 2012
BLM Colorado River Valley Office
2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, Colorado
7:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Westin Plaza Hotel
1684 West Highway 40, Vernal, Utah
7:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Grand America Hotel
555 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah
7:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 15, 2012
BLM Rock Springs Field Office
280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, Wyoming
7:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

BLM officials will be on hand to take written comments and assist with the commenting process. The Draft PEIS is being prepared by the BLM to assess a range of management alternatives for future oil-shale and tar-sands activities on public lands. The Notice of Availability of the Draft PEIS was issued in the Federal Register on February 3, 2012. A 90-day public comment period began that day and will close on May 4, 2012.

Written comments on the Draft PEIS should be submitted by May 4 using an online comment form on the Draft PEIS Website at This is the preferred method for commenting. Comments may also be submitted by regular mail to: Oil Shale and Tar Sands Draft Programmatic EIS, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, EVS 240, Argonne, IL 60439.

From The Rifle Citizen Telegram:

The Bureau of Land Management will host meetings in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to answer questions about and solicit comments on its oil shale and tar sands Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft PEIS). The Colorado meeting will be held from 7-9:30 p.m. on Monday, March 12, at the BLM Colorado River Valley Office, 2300 River Frontage Road, in Silt.

More oil shale coverage here and here.

The March Colorado Water Conservation Board Meeting is in Denver on March 20-21


From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

Notice is hereby given that a meeting of the CWCB will be held on Tuesday March 20th, 2012, commencing at 8:30 a.m. and continuing through Wednesday, March 21st, 2012. This meeting will be held at the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority offices located at 1580 Logan Street, Ste # 620, Denver CO.

More CWCB coverage here.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: Was last week’s FERC application dismissal a fatal blow to Aaron Million’s plans?


From The Salt Lake Tribune (Brandon Loomis):

Wyco Power and Water Inc. downplayed the denial as a glitch that it can address by submitting a better application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), but opponents say it effectively kills the pipeline until the company gets environmental permits and secures the water — approvals they doubt are coming. “We think that’s going to be impossible,” said McCrystie Adams, an Earthjustice attorney who represented the Sierra Club, Utah Rivers Council and other groups that intervened to oppose the federal permit…

A FERC official ruled Thursday that the route was too uncertain and the application premature. Although Wyco’s application maps show only federal rights of way, FERC Office of Energy Projects Director Jeff Wright wrote in his decision, the pipeline would also have to cross state, county and private lands. “Until some certainty regarding the authorization of the pipeline is presented,” Wright wrote, “Wyco will not be able to gather and obtain the information required to prepare a license application for a proposed hydropower project.” He also noted that the hydropower stations on which the application is based require water from a pipeline that doesn’t exist, and the application provides no timeline for seeking other agencies’ authorizations to build it…

The proposal has drawn criticism from a number of sectors, including Wyoming’s governor, environmentalists opposing trans-basin diversions, Utahns fearing effects on their state’s water supply, advocates for the Green River’s endangered and sport fish, and those who question private control of 200,000 acre-feet of scarce Colorado River Basin water…

Million insisted Thursday’s decision just means he needs to fill in more details before resubmitting a FERC application. Gaining permission to cross lands on the map isn’t an issue, he said, given that water projects are entitled to condemnation rights…

Identifying an exact route means getting permission from other federal agencies more suited to studying water projects, said Adams, the Earthjustice attorney. The Bureau of Reclamation likely would not consent, she said, because there’s insufficient water at its Flaming Gorge Reservoir, and endangered fish would suffer downstream.

More coverage from The Salt Lake Tribune via Power Engineering. From the article:

Million has said the water is there and, if not, Utah’s plans for a Lake Powell pipeline likely are doomed. In fact, he said he modeled his proposal after Utah’s project, which also is before FERC because it includes hydropower production. FERC’s decision on the Flaming Gorge pipeline may indicate the agency learned a lesson after approving an initial permit for study of the Lake Powell pipeline, Harris said. Maybe the energy regulators will no longer take the lead on projects that are primarily about supply. A FERC spokeswoman did not respond to a question about whether the Powell project was more complete.

Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council, said Utah’s proposal to supply water to St. George likely carries more weight with federal regulators than does Million’s “speculative” concept. Still, he was surprised FERC shot down the Flaming Gorge proposal before even granting a permit for further study. “They give those out like candy,” he said.

Gov. Gary Herbert has said he would not stand for the Green River project if it threatens Utah’s supply, but he did not intervene in the FERC application as Wyoming’s governor did.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

Eagle: Presentation about the Colorado River on Wednesday at the Dusty Boot


From the Vail Daily:

Join the Eagle River Watershed Council and Chris Treese from the Colorado River District on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Dusty Boot in Eagle to hear a free presentation about where Colorado’s water history is taking us…

The Colorado River flows through Eagle County for nearly 60 miles. The county’s Open Space Fund has recently acquired public access points on the Colorado for recreational use. The section of the Colorado River in Eagle County is being considered for federal “wild and scenic” designation. Colorado’s Water Conservation Board recently approved a motion to appropriate in-stream flow rights — the first ever legal protection designed to ensure a minimum amount of water is maintained in the river to sustain healthy fish populations. The Eagle River Watershed Council is initiating a science-based study with CSU of Eagle County’s section of this little studied river. The Eagle River is one of the Colorado’s principal tributaries.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District will discuss asking voters to approve a mill levy for the creek on April 27


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District on Friday agreed to discuss the timing of a mill levy for the district at its April 27 meeting, when it expects to review a comprehensive report on stormwater and related issues being developed by Summit Economics. The stormwater study was suggested after Colorado Springs City Council eliminated its stormwater enterprise fee in 2009, saying it was the will of voters. It is being paid for by El Paso County communities along Monument and Fountain creeks…

“We should have a discussion of the scope (of district funding) and what the mill levy should be,” said Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner, who serves as president of the Fountain Creek board. Chostner has said the mill levy is the district’s top priority this year…

Under the legislation that formed the district, it may levy up to a 5-mill tax with voter approval. While its primary responsibility is the flood plain of Fountain Creek, it is also charged to make drainage recommendations throughout the entire watershed. All of Pueblo and El Paso counties are included in the district for property tax purposes, however.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

DARCA Annual Convention: Justice Greg Hobbs — ‘We [Colorado Supreme Court] said the obvious, that this water right arose from beneficial use of water on actual ground’


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“The courts are taking a harsher look,” Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs told the Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance last week. “We are seeing a doctrine of scarcity and an effort to fix the time, place and use of water.”[…]

The amount of consumptive use depends on past weather conditions, crop yields or temporary transfers of water that might have taken land out of production, [attorney Jeffrey Kahn] explained. Hobbs put a sharper point on it, saying that while the state constitution states that a water right shall never be denied and sets beneficial use by historical priority, the water must actually have been used to retain a water right’s place in line. “The one true water right is water put to beneficial use. Conditional use is a place-holder in that system,” Hobbs said…

In 2005, the court upheld a decision by Pueblo District Judge Dennis Maes that ruled against a change on the Fort Lyon Canal sought by High Plains A&M. “A group of investors bought one-third of the Fort Lyon Canal and sought to market it to 21 counties,” said Hobbs, the only justice who specialized in water law prior to appointment. “We said the obvious, that this water right arose from beneficial use of water on actual ground.”

Hobbs also mentioned 2007 and 2009 decisions on Pagosa Water and Sanitation District v. Trout Unlimited ruling that cities must show reasonable needs for water in a specific time period before in order to claim a conditional water right…

“When you market a water right, it’s a double-edged sword,” Hobbs said. “It’s limited to consumptive use and needs to be quantified.”

More water law coverage here.