An area on Upper Williams Creek, owned mostly by T-Cross Ranches, is a popular location for a terminal storage reservoir

From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

The Norris family, owners of T-Cross ranches, wants to create a water district and build a reservoir on Upper Williams Creek, the same general location eyed by Springs Utilities, the Pueblo Chieftain reported last week.

The family filed an application with El Paso County for Marlboro Metropolitan Water District. (Steve Norris’ father, Bob, portrayed the Marlboro Man in TV ads.) Steve Norris told the Chieftain that the reservoir would hold nearly 30,000 acre feet of water. The Norrises and the State Land Board own the property, located southeast of the Springs.

Norris couldn’t be reached, but from the sound of things, he believes his project would be used by Springs Utilities or another project that needs water storage. He told the Chieftain, “There has been lots of interest throughout the region for creating a regional storage reservoir.”

The reservoir site Norris chose would not require relocation of Bradley Road, as contemplated by SDS, the Chieftain reported, so Norris said his plan might save the city money. Norris and his friend, Aaron Million, who is planning a pipeline from Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River in Wyoming, also envision the site as terminal storage.

But Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel says the Norris reservoir location “appears to conflict” with the city’s site planned as Phase 2 of the SDS project. SDS, an $880 million pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir to the Springs’ east side, will deliver water in 2016 and is causing water rates to rise sharply.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here. More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

‘The Water Leaders Program is an amazing opportunity for water professionals from any number of diverse backgrounds’ — Greg Johnson


From Your Water Colorado Blog:

“The Water Leaders Program is an amazing opportunity for water professionals from any number of diverse backgrounds to learn leadership skills, gain professional knowledge, and network with peers in an open and educational environment,” said Greg Johnson, a recent Water Leader graduate and employee of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Water Leaders is open to mid-level professionals in Colorado who are interested in water resources and career development. All Water Leaders exhibit leadership potential within their own organizations, as well as interest in seeking leadership roles on public boards and commissions. Throughout the course, Water Leaders focus on personal and professional growth —eventually graduating with a better understanding of their strengths, skills and challenges.

“The experience allowed me to reflect upon and appreciate my unique qualities. It gave me the confidence and tools to practice those strengths within the workplace and beyond. I recommend Water Leaders to anyone who is curious about themselves and others,” said Kristin Maharg, manager of the Water Leaders program at CFWE.

More Colorado Foundation for Water Education coverage here and here.

Basalt: New hydroelectric plant complete


From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

The town government teamed with Holy Cross Energy to build a facility that takes advantage of water being piped down from Basalt Mountain to the town’s treatment plant to produce power.

“All we did was plumb this in line,” said Bentley Henderson, Basalt’s public works director, while showing the new turbine and generator used to produce power.

The system will generate roughly 300,000 kilowatt-hours annually, Henderson said. That will power between 30 and 40 houses and reduce greenhouse-gas production by an estimated 500,000 pounds annually, he said.

Councilman Pete McBride, who is nearing the end of a four-year term and isn’t seeking re-election, said he considers the micro-hydroelectric plant one of the town’s biggest accomplishments during his tenure. The project was a partnership that was completed through a creative approach. It produces clean energy from a water source without affecting any streamflow, which he said is important to him.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

2nd Annual Front Range Standards Committee Water Utility Expo, Friday, June 8th, 2012


Click here to download an information packet. From the website:

Gain direct contact with other municipalities and vendors. This event gives you the opportunity to see and talk about the current and the latest products on the market.

More conservation coverage here.

Metro Wastewater Reclamation District inks monotoring contract with US Geological Survey for METROGRO farm’s groundwater quality


Here’s the release from the Metropoitan Wastewater Reclamation District (Steve Frank):

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District has signed a contract with the US Geological Survey for a continuation of the independent monitoring program at the 52,000-acre METROGRO Farm in eastern Arapahoe and Elbert Counties.

This monitoring program was developed based on the current USGS monitoring program, which has just ended. The new monitoring program runs April 1, 2012, through December 31, 2014.

The new program covers monitoring water quality conditions in eight wells on or near the METROGRO Farm. Five wells will be sampled quarterly and three will be sampled annually. With each sample, depth to water, water temperature, specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen concentration, and acid-neutralizing capacity will also be measured.

Stakeholders involved with the Metro District’s biosolids management program also provided input to this plan’s development.
“Based on data collected at our farm for almost 20 years, we have seen no negative effects from using biosolids as a fertilizer and soil amendment,” said Alicia Gilley, director of the Metro District’s Resource Recovery and Reuse Department.

“As in the past, the data we collect will continue to be made available to the public via the USGS NWISWeb database.”

The Metro District is the largest wastewater treatment agency in the Rocky Mountain West. The Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility at 64th and York treats about 140 million gallons of wastewater a day. The service area includes nearly 1.7 million people and encompasses approximately 715 square miles, including Denver, Arvada, Aurora, Brighton, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Thornton, and part of Westminster, together with about 40 sanitation and water and sanitation districts in the metropolitan Denver area.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

Western Resource Advocates: ‘Oil Shale 2050’ report is hot off the press


Click here to download a copy of the report Oil Shale 2050: Data, Definitions, & What You Need to Know About Oil Shale in the West. Here’s an excerpt:

As the debate over potential oil shale development in
the western United States continues, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) has focused on understanding the nature of the oil shale deposits; the state of the technologies companies are trying to advance; the environmental, economic, social, and climate impacts of exploiting these deposits; and what development would mean for our energy demands and goals. This report explores these matters.

This report is largely an educational tool, concentrating on the salient issues central to the ongoing debate over the wisdom and feasibility of producing liquid fuel from oil shale. Many of the issues discussed in this report are framed from the perspective of the year 2050. Why 2050? First, it is a baseline that states commonly use to project water demands. It is also roughly the date by which such companies as Royal Dutch Shell predict they might be in a position to produce large quantities of oil from shale, depending on the results of current research and testing…

By the year 2050, economists, biologists, climatologists, and a variety of other scientists predict huge changes to the West. Their models forecast that there will be less water in the Colorado River Basin, with escalating demand from a rapidly growing population. The population of the state of Colorado is projected to swell by 57% over the next 30 years. Utah, the second-driest state in the nation, anticipates a 105% increase in its population by 2050. Because of this growth, in Colorado alone, municipal and industrial water demands are estimated to increase by as much as 83%.

By 2050, the competition for water will be fierce and will only be compounded by climate change. Decisions we make today about a host of concerns, including whether or not to develop oil shale, will directly impact the amount of available water in 2050. As a result of climate change, water in the Colorado River Basin is projected to decrease anywhere from 5% to 20% by 2050. Current projections conclude that we will rely heavily on water currently used for agriculture to cover growing municipal and industrial demands.

By 2050 we might be less reliant on fossil fuels for planes and automobiles. Alternatives might include electric cars powered by renewable sources, or biodiesel made from algae, or energy sources that researchers are not yet exploring.

More oil shale coverage here and here.

Parker: Rueter-Hess Reservoir is complete, just add water


Here’s the announcement from the Parker Water and Sanitation District website:

What does it take to construct a 72,000 acre-foot reservoir on Colorado’s crowded Front Range during years of belt-tightening and competition for scarce water resources? It takes 25 years of managing complex planning, permitting and construction projects, and more importantly, it takes the vision and tenacity of the water district managers in charge. In Parker, all these elements coalesced to complete Rueter-Hess Reservoir – the first major water storage facility on the Front Range in several decades.

Parker Water celebrated the completion of the massive Rueter-Hess Reservoir project on March 21st with more than 100 contractors, metro water partners and government officials in attendance on the tower of the Frank Jaeger Dam.

John Stulp, special policy advisor on water issues to Governor Hickenlooper, commended Parker Water and its partners in Douglas County for collaborating on a forward-looking project that will be needed as Colorado gains an estimated 4-5 million residents over the next 30-40 years.

Colorado State Senator Ted Harvey read a resolution adopted unanimously by both houses of the legislature the previous day, congratulating Parker Water on its foresight and persistence in planning and constructing Rueter-Hess Reservoir. Senator Harvey said, “We can’t bring in good companies to Douglas County and create jobs if we don’t have the needed resources to serve them. Rueter-Hess is a key part of that.”

The Douglas County Commission also adopted a resolution of congratulations for 50 years of service to customers in Douglas County. County commissioners Jack Hilbert and Jill Repella specifically cited the cooperation that led communities to work together on Rueter-Hess Reservoir.

To culminate the ceremony, the PWSD Board Members in attendance: Mary Spencer, Sheppard Root, Mike Casey and Darcy Beard, activated the release of water stored in the nearby Cherry Creek diversion structure into the reservoir. The crowd applauded as a remote camera captured the water flowing from the outlet into the south side of the reservoir.

Already, Rueter-Hess Reservoir holds some 4,000 acre-feet of water from flows captured in the reservoir beginning in May 2011 – enough water to serve 9,000 homes over the course of a year. The Douglas County water districts partnering in the reservoir, including the Town of Castle Rock, Castle Pines North, and Stonegate, will continue to capture storm runoff and reuse water, and plan to develop additional surface-water sources in the future.

More coverage from Clayton Wouliard writing for From the article:

A completion ceremony was held March 21 by Parker Water and Sanitation, which paid for the construction of the reservoir that can hold 72,000 acre feet of water. The dam for it cost about $135 million, with a total cost of the project at about $200 million, including an environmental impact study, pumps and legal work, according to Jim Nikkel, assistant manager of Parker Water and Sanitation. The project was funded through a general obligation bond approved by voters in 2002.

“It’s the first of a long process of ensuring the area of northern Douglas County has sustainable water for now and in the future,” Nikkel said.

Nikkel said a water treatment plant is currently being built for $50 million that is slated to be finished by summer 2014 and will treat water from the reservoir. Currently, Parker gets its water from aquifers, which are not renewable. The treatment plant construction is being funded through revenue bonds and will process up to 10 million gallons per day, Nikkel said.

More Rueter-Hess Reservoir coverage here and here.

Yampa River basin: Peabody Energy is in the beginning stages of permitting a new hydroelectric power generation station on Trout Creek


From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

“As currently planned, the reservoir would have a surface area of approximately 385 acres and a reservoir volume of approximately 11,720 acre-feet,” [David Merritt, principal water resources engineer with URS Corp] wrote…

“Water stored in the reservoir would be used to generate hydropower expected to average approximately 1 million kilowatt-hours per year. Additionally, the reservoir would support residential development, recreation and fish habitat as well as provide a source of water to support Peabody’s mining operations in Northwest Colorado,” Merritt added…

Routt County Planning Director Chad Phillips said Wednesday that as an industrial facility supporting the operations of an existing coal mine, the proposed reservoir would need to seek a special-use permit through the county planning process.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

SB12-097: ‘Streamline Change Of Surface Water Diversion Point’ sails through the General Assembly, signed by Governor Hickenlooper on March 22


Here’s an analysis of the bill from Amy Huff writing in The Durango Herald. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

Senate Bill 97 creates a new category of water court application – A Simple Change in a Surface Point of Diversion – that enjoys a rebuttable presumption that the change will not enlarge the historic use of the water right and that eliminates the requirements to satisfy “can and will” and the anti-speculation doctrine…

This new less onerous procedure for changing the point of diversion for water right is available only when the change involves a surface diversion and there are no intervening water rights between the decreed point of diversion and the new point of diversion. It can be utilized for either conditional water rights or absolute water rights with respect to a change that has already been physically accomplished or one that is anticipated.

The Applicant for A Simple Change in Surface Point of Diversion, however, still must prove that the change will not result in the diversion of a greater flow rate or amount of water than has been decreed and is physically and legally available at the original point of diversion and that the change will not cause injury to other water rights. Those burdens of proof are consistent with the requirements for any change of water right.

More 2012 Colorado Legislation coverage here.

Snowpack/runoff news: The Rotary Club of Summit County’s Ice Melt Contest ends on the earliest date ever, previous record set in drought year of 2002


From the Summit Daily (Caddie Nath):

It was the earliest ending to the Rotary Club of Summit County’s Ice Melt Contest — a fundraiser which allows the community to bet on the date and time the clock will fall as the lake melts — in the history of the event. Last year, the clock stayed above water until May 23. The thawing of the reservoir, carefully tracked by Denver Water, and the clock’s plunge through the ice, are normally May events. Since 1965, the earliest the lake had ever been declared free of ice was April 28 in 2002, a significant drought year for Colorado. This year, Dillon Reservoir is an alarming two weeks ahead of even 2002.

“We’re moving into the edges of some drought conditions,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Fredin. “Probably not like we saw in 2000 and 2001, but on the dry side.”

The Upper Colorado River Basin, which includes Summit County, has received only 65-70 percent of its normal snowfall this season. The melting snowpack has been reduced to 35-60 percent of average for the time of year.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Jack Bakken):

Ice break-up on Lake Granby happened on Thursday, April 12, the earliest ice free day in the 21st century. And Northern Water Conservancy District officials say they could see no ice between the Farr Pumping Plant and Granby Dam on April 10, the earliest day shown in the records during the Plant’s history. The last remnants of ice were on Arapahoe Bay at the east end of the lake until Thursday morning. Most of the lake was free of ice by Monday afternoon, April 9.

From the Tri-Lakes Tribune (Norma Engelberg):

“The reservoirs are full,” [Palmer Lake Water Trustee Max Stafford] said “We’re done working on the water treatment plant and we completed the dredging at the lower reservoir and most of the cleanup last year. There’s still a little cleanup left to do and, of course, we’ll always be working on infrastructure. The town’s water system is old and there are always maintenance, repairs and upgrades.”

From The Wet Mountain Tribune (Nora Drenner):

A heavy, wet snow Tuesday [April 3] blanketed the two towns with about a foot of the white stuff, with two-feet or more reported elsewhere in Custer County. The snow began falling shortly after 5 a.m. on April 3, and continued throughout most of the day. The snowstorm was good news to ranchers as it raised the snowpack equivalent at the South Colony SNOTEL site in the Arkansas River Basin to 74 percent of average with a snow/water equivalent of 13.6 inches.

The Colorado Legislature intends to pony up $36 million for Animas-La Plata Project water


From the Associated Press (Catharine Tsai) via The Durango Herald:

Colorado’s Legislature has authorized paying $36 million to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for its share of 10,460 acre-feet of water, plus interest on construction costs. But the interest has been building, and the $36 million likely won’t cover everything Colorado owes.

The tribes had proposed that Colorado allow its share of water to revert back to the tribes, which weren’t assessed for construction. The tribes then would sell the water back to the state at what they say would be a much lower price than what the state would pay the bureau.

“When we heard what the state would spend to get water, our first thought was, ‘Why?’” said Peter Ortego, general counsel for the Ute Mountain Ute tribe. “We can make it cheaper for the state. Sure, it puts money in our coffers, but it keeps it in Colorado.”

However, after two years of talking with tribal representatives, the Colorado Water Conservation Board has directed its staff to move forward on contract talks with the Bureau of Reclamation, board director Jennifer Gimbel said.

Gimbel said the board took the tribes’ proposal “very seriously.” However, some board members questioned whether outside parties would challenge the proposal in court. Though legislators already have approved $36 million for project water, some board members also questioned how willing legislators would be in future years to spend on Animas-La Plata Project water.

More Animas-La Plata Project coverage here and here.

The Bureau of Reclamation has released end of year operations reports for McPhee and Jackson Gulch reservoirs


From the Cortez Journal:

Jackson Gulch reservoir live content stood at 3,703 acre-feet with a 9,977 acre-feet maximum capacity and a 4,492 acre-feet average (1980-2010) end-of-month content. At Jackson Gulch, a daily maximum/minimum of 11/0 cubic-feet-per second was released into the Mancos River, and 15 acre-feet were released for municipal purposes.

McPhee Reservoir live content stood at 289,298 acre-feet, with a 381,051 acre-feet maximum capacity and a 270,692 average (1986-2010) end-of-month content. At McPhee, 1,835 acre-feet were released into the Dolores River, and 2,958 acre-feet were released for transbasin purposes. At McPhee, a daily maximum/minimum of 31/30 cubic-feet-per-second was released into the Dolores River.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here and here. More Mancos River watershed coverage here and here.

State of the Rockies Project: ‘It’s so hard to imagine when you look at the river as it passes through Glenwood Springs that it just dries up at the Mexico border’ — Zak Podmore


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

“Where there used to be 3,000 square miles of wetlands in the Colorado River delta, there is now less than 10 percent remaining,” Podmore described. “It’s so hard to imagine when you look at the river as it passes through Glenwood Springs that it just dries up at the Mexico border,” he said. Podmore and Stauffer-Norris, both 23, paddled their kayaks 1,700 miles from the Colorado River Basin headwaters on the Green River to the Gulf of California…

In Mexico, the river turns into a complicated series of canals. Then, much of the final stages of the trek involved hiking through desert farmlands, mud flats and dried-up river beds before they finally reached the beach on the Sea of Cortez. “No hay agua en El Rio Colorado.” Those were the words of a Mexican fisherman they encountered one day late in the journey as they pulled their kayaks from one of the canals. “There’s no water in the Colorado River.”[…]

“The lower river just gets more interesting,” Will Stauffer-Norris said in a phone interview along with Podmore this past week. “Usually rivers get bigger and bigger as you go farther downstream. But the Colorado just keeps getting smaller.

“This big river turns into a creek, then just dries up in the original riverbed,” he said. “It’s pretty eye-opening to see that first-hand.”

Adds Podmore, “You go from some of the best fly fishing in the world in Wyoming, through the gas drilling and industrial areas, then into scenic wilderness canyons and these massive lakes.”

“To see the river the whole way and how it’s used in different ways really makes you appreciate it,” he said.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Northern Water’s new Carter Lake hydroelectric plant is scheduled to be online June 1


From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):

By June, it will be up and running, adding as much as 2.6 megawatts of power to the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association grid, or enough to power 1,000 homes.

The water from Carter Lake drops 120 feet to a feeder canal that distributes it to cities and farmers east of Loveland. The kinetic energy unleashed in that drop will now be harnessed and turned into electric power for the grid, all by a simple detour through two turbines built and imported from Gilkes, a company based in Kendal, England.

The twin turbines weigh 10 tons apiece and are connected to generators that tip the scale at 15 tons — equipment held into place by bolts as large and heavy as dumbbells, shipped to Houston by boat then trucked to Colorado along highways. The special equipment arrived Thursday, and a team from Northern Water, Gilkes and Berthoud-based Aslan Construction have been working every day since to get the equipment in place — within a thousandth of an inch. The team is carefully balancing and placing the equipment to work as efficiently a possible.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Two Rivers Water Company has inked a purchase contract for a farm on the Bessemer Ditch


Here’s the release from Two Rivers Water Company via PR Newswire:

Two Rivers Water Company announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire the operating assets of Dionisio Produce & Farms, LLC, including 150 acres of high yield irrigated farmland and 150 shares in the Bessemer Mutual Ditch Company, a senior water right on the main stem of the Arkansas River. Dionisio Produce & Farms has been producing vegetable crops in Pueblo County, Colorado since the 1930s.

Two Rivers will also lease approximately 170 additional acres of farmland and purchase farm equipment, essentially merging the former operations of Dionisio Produce & Farms into Two Rivers’ farming subsidiary. Russ Dionisio, the third generation owner/operator, will join Two Rivers and continue to manage the farming operations on the acquired and leased land. Two Rivers intends to operate the acquired assets under the Dionisio name, one of the most respected growers under the Bessemer Ditch with well-established produce marketing relationships.

John McKowen, Two Rivers’ CEO, commented, “Acquiring Dionisio Produce & Farms is an important strategic transaction for our company for several reasons. First, Dionisio is a trusted grower of fruits and vegetables for human consumption, which are a higher value agricultural category that compliments the Company’s existing livestock fodder crops. Second, this acquisition brings membership in the Bessemer Ditch, which takes its water by direct diversion from the Arkansas River. Finally, Russ Dionisio’s experience, reputation and proven skill in growing and marketing high value crops add substantially to our farming knowhow.”

The acquisition, which is subject to on-going due diligence, is expected to close by July 31, 2012. Two Rivers has advanced $400,000 into escrow to support Dionisio farming operations during the current growing season. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the Company expects to arrange bank financing for a portion of the acquisition.

Russ Dionisio said, “I am proud of the Dionisio farming tradition in the Arkansas River Valley and pleased to join Two Rivers to help carry on our business. By joining Two Rivers, I will be able to concentrate on farming, the part of the business I love, and rely on the Company’s skilled business managers to handle the finance, insurance and compliance aspects of our integrated enterprise. Two Rivers has demonstrated the skill, capacity and perseverance to redevelop both farmland and water infrastructure to support productive agriculture in Huerfano and Pueblo Counties. I am eager to integrate Dionisio into this dynamic organization.”

As noted, the acquisition includes shares in the Bessemer Mutual Ditch Company. The Company’s President, Gary Barber, noted, “The productive integration of fertile land and reliable water under the Bessemer Ditch is a model the Company is trying to emulate as we build out our farm and water assets on the Huerfano and Cucharas Rivers system. When we finish refurbishing our upstream reservoirs and integrate a drought-proof groundwater component to our system, we expect to replicate the level of water reliability of the Bessemer Ditch that has sustained the Dionisios for more than 60 years, through all hydrological and weather cycles. By integrating the Dionisio business into our own, Two Rivers will gain not only a new source of farm revenue but also experience in growing and marketing the higher value crops that are the long-term future of our Company. This acquisition supports both our existing and our planned water rights and infrastructure, allowing us to manage our resources in conjunction with the Bessemer system.”

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A water development company that plans to restore agricultural ground in Pueblo and Huerfano counties is purchasing a farm on the Bessemer Ditch…

The acquisition will be added to the 4,700 acres Two Rivers already owns in southeastern Pueblo County and Huerfano County. The company has purchased nearly all of the Huerfano-Cucharas ditch, Cucharas Reservoir and the Orlando Reservoir system. The Bessemer Ditch water rights will allow the company to add fruits and vegetable crops to the forage crops it is growing on the other acreage, McKowen said. It also gives the company a direct water right on the Arkansas River, part of the long-term strategy for finding water to fill Cucharas Reservoir…

The purchase of Bessemer shares is the latest in transfers that are changing the nature of the Bessemer Ditch. For years, the ditch was a collection of relatively small farming operations. Pueblo County’s largest ditch flows through Pueblo and irrigates about 20,000 acres, mostly east of Pueblo. It receives its water directly from Pueblo Dam. The Pueblo water board has purchased about 28 percent of water rights on the ditch since 2009 for $10,150 a share, and continues to make purchases. All of its contracts include allowing the farmers to use the water for irrigation for 20 years. The St. Charles Mesa Water District has purchased about 10 percent of the Bessemer Ditch over the years for domestic water service on the St. Charles Mesa.

More Bessemer Ditch coverage here and here.