Cotter closing their mill near Cañon City depends on state and federal coordination of superfund designation, radioactive materials license and the court consent decree


From the Cañon City Daily Record (Rachel Alexander):

There must be a termination of the radioactive materials license, the court must close out the consent decree for the remedial action plan and the site must be deleted from the National Priorities — Superfund — List…

[Steve Tarlton, radiation program manager of the hazardous materials and waste management division of CDPHE] said there are four general things that need to be taken care of: the facility; the impoundments; the contaminated soil and the contaminated water…

The department is developing a “roadmap” of what the termination process with look like beginning with a determination of what is known and where the holes are. Tarlton said that characterization would become a public document. The next step will be to define possible remedies and their feasibility, with additional public comment. Then comes the choice of remedies, which includes more public input. Finally, the chosen remedies will be implemented…

The cleanup process for the Superfund site will include the groundwater contamination in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Tarlton said the contamination in the groundwater there includes molybdenum and uranium, “not in very high levels but above drinking water standards.”[…]

Once the work is done, the impoundment sites will be turned over to the Department of Energy for long-term care.

More Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill coverage here and here.

Snowpack news: Statewide snowpack drops to 72% of the thirty year average, Upper Colorado = 69%, South Platte = 76%


It’s not shaping up to be a good year for diverters. We’ve had it easy the past three water years in the South Platte basin and storage is still very good. With all the warm and windy weather folks are starting to talk about the possible sublimation of the snowpack. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the latest snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):

The amount of water in the snow, as of Monday, is 70 percent of average in the Upper Colorado basin and 73 percent of average in the South Platte basin — the two basins that affect Northern Colorado.

From the Boulder Daily Camera (Laura Snider):

On the eastern side of the Continental Divide, where Boulder draws the majority of its water, conditions are slightly better. In the South Platte River Basin, which encompasses Boulder County, the snowpack total is at 79 percent, and in the much smaller Boulder Creek Basin, the snowpack is 104 percent of average. Most towns in Boulder County, including Boulder, draw some of their water from the South Platte River Basin and pump some of their water across the Continental Divide from the headwaters of the Colorado River, where the snowpack is 71 percent of normal…

At the end of March 2002, the snowpack in the Colorado River Basin was 68 percent of average for that time of year, and the snowpack in the South Platte River Basin was just 52 percent of average. The snowpack in the Boulder Creek Basin was 50 percent.

From the Cortez Journal (Reid Wright):

Water officials are optimistic that McPhee Reservoir will fill this spring, possibly offering the chance for a water release for rafters and ecological efforts on the Lower Dolores River. As of last week, measurements of high altitude snow in the basin feeding the reservoir indicated snow levels at 84 percent of average. “The reservoir will fill this year,” said Mike Preston, general manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District. “I’m feeling pretty confident about that. But it’s a question of what we’re going to have in the way of rafting flows. If we stay in this 84-85 percent realm, we could have a pretty decent spill.”[…]

“What was a little spooky about this year, in the early season we weren’t getting much snow,” Preston said. Snowpack lingered at dismal levels below 50 percent of average until storms in February brought snow levels back up to near-average…

Combined with 141,000 acre feet already stored in the reservoir, the snow melt forecast adds up to a full reservoir in the spring.

“We’re sitting 16,000 acre feet higher than we were this time last year,” Preston said. “So our reservoir is really in good shape.” McPhee Reservoir provides drinking and irrigation water for much of Montezuma and Dolores counties…

While Preston emphasized it is not set in stone, the current forecast indicates a spill worthy of 10 days of whitewater boating that fluctuates between 900 and 2,000 cubic feet per second. “Right now, we’d like to do 2,000 cfs over Memorial Day,” he said. “The nice thing about 2,000, is it’s a brisk raft trip. Quite a few people can fit on the river when it’s flowing like that. And it’s pretty comfortable. It covers up the big rocks and makes for smooth sailing.”[…]

More up-to-date information is expected to be provided at a McPhee Reservoir and Dolores Project operation meeting, currently set for 7 p.m. March 21 at the Dolores Community Center. Topics of discussion will focus on anticipated water releases to the lower Dolores River and an overview of the Dolores Project.

Wiggins: Full speed ahead for new treatment plant, pipeline and augmentation ponds


From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

The augmentation ponds the project requires are basically done, although a water flow monitoring system needs to be installed and the rest of the land should be seeded to prevent weeds, said Tim Holbrook of Industrial Facilities Engineering, the company directing the project, during Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Wiggins Board of Trustees. Footings are in place for the water treatment plant building, which will sit over the wells which are already drilled. Work is being done on walls and a water tank, and equipment for the treatment is expected in two to three months, he said…

Another part of the augmentation plan is to buy a structure from the Orphan Wells of Wiggins which will allow the town to send water to the river to offset depletion of groundwater by the new town wells…

Board members also approved an extension on the closing date for buying nine more shares of water rights from Tom and Donna Deganhart and gave Mayor Mike Bates authority to OK another extension if needed. Board members also approved a funding ordinance, which was necessary for buying the shares, said Wiggins Town Attorney Melinda Culley. Buying the shares is contingent on the approval of the Weldon Valley Ditch Co…

The town needs monitoring wells to determine how much the augmentation ponds impact their area’s groundwater levels. At least one neighbor has complained that he feared that the ponds might hurt his crops and buildings if the water level rises too high, Rogers said. It is important to get that done before the ponds begin to fill, said Public Works Director Jon Richardson. Monitoring wells could go in during the next week, Rogers said, and water could begin flowing in the Weldon Valley ditches very soon.

More Wiggins coverage here and here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: Northern’s sale of pool water nets $644,142, reservoir combined storage = 75% of capacity


From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):

The regional water provider, which distributes all Colorado-Big Thompson Water, sold 25,000 acre-feet of water — roughly enough for 50,000 urban households — on Friday because reservoir levels were high enough. The sealed bids brought in $644,142 for the cities and districts that had excess water beyond what they can carry over. The price paid for the water differs among bidders, but the weighted average is $25.77 per acre-foot with the lowest bid at $11.13 per acre-foot and the highest $40…

Even with the sale, there will be plenty of water stored to handle farmers’, cities’ and districts’ needs this spring and summer, said Brian Werner, spokesman for Northern Water.

“We’ve got a good savings account going with storage,” he said.

All the reservoirs that store Colorado Big-Thompson water, including Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir, are sitting at a combined 75 percent of capacity, which is 125 percent of the average amount of water in storage, according to Werner.

More Colorado-Big Thompson coverage here.