Upper South Platte River: Slow recovery from sedimentation after the Hayman burn

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From The Denver Post (Scott Willoughby):

“How is that poor, mutilated stream doing these days?” [Former Denver Post outdoors editor Bob Saile] queried upon reading the success story of the river through Eleven Mile Canyon last week. “Maybe another follow-up is in order on what is surely going to be a long, long recovery for what used to be the most important section of trout stream in the state.” Like most of the South Platte River, the Deckers section below Cheesman Canyon has seen its share of ups and downs. Along with the upstream reaches of Eleven Mile Canyon profiled on these pages last Wednesday, this downstream segment of the river is on the upswing these days. But a full decade after the fire, it still has a long way to go.

“I thought maybe after 10 years that the sediment would pass, but it’s nowhere near where it needs to be,” said Jeff Spohn, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist for the region. “The lower (Cheesman) canyon is holding up pretty well. But once you get down into that Deckers reach — below Wigwam Creek and Horse Creek — there’s still a lot of sediment coming down. It’s definitely making progress, but if you look at the fish data pre- and post-fire, it’s nowhere close to what it was.”

The most telling statistics relate to brown and rainbow trout size. In 2001, the year before the Hayman Fire, CPW biologists measured the biomass, or pounds of fish per acre, at 216, with 89 fish measuring greater than 14 inches. In 2010, the biomass fell to 88 pounds per acre, 24 fish longer than 14 inches.

The greatest impact is being felt in the lower portion of the 8-mile unit, where the river flattens out. Upstream, from Cheesman Reservoir down to Deckers, the fishery is rebounding, benefiting in part from trophy trout escaping from the privately owned Wigwam Club separating the two reaches.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

Arkansas River Basin Water Forum: Alan Hamel receives the Bob Appel Friend of the River Award

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Alan Hamel was honored for his 50+ years serving the rate payers of Pueblo Board of Water Works. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Arkansas River Basin Water Forum gave Hamel the Bob Appel Friend of the Arkansas award Thursday at the culmination of a two-day event at Colorado Mountain College. “I’m humbled,” Hamel said. “I’ve been blessed to work in the field of water.”

Hamel is retiring in August as executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works, and in an April 22 Pueblo Chieftain opinion piece he tried to get people excited about tap water for the Water 2012 celebration.
Must have worked.

Actually, his accomplishments in water circles have gone far beyond the water board’s mission to provide safe, reliable drinking water for Pueblo. Hamel currently serves on the Colorado Water Conservation Board and is the governor’s appointee to the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. He also has represented the Arkansas River basin on other state water panels, including the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority and the Interbasin Compact Committee.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Arkansas River Basin Water Forum: One of the takeaways from the conference was the need to protect ag water and ag production

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“I’m surprised we don’t protect our agricultural resources like it was our only child,” said Mike Bartolo, who has a small farm east of Pueblo and is manager of the Colorado State University Research Center in Rocky Ford. Water is the front line of defense, and needs to be incorporated even in urban water planning, he said. “Are we willing to say no to a particular industry to protect agricultural?” he asked, while discussing urban economic development. “How does locating a water-intensive business in a municipality affect agricultural water users 50-60 miles downstream?”

Bartolo said the Arkansas Valley’s climate and soil make it an ideal place to grow fruits and vegetables, and urged city-rural partnerships to encourage farming.

Young farmers need to be encouraged with financial help to get started in agriculture.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

San Miguel River: New storage on the river is a long way off

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From the Montrose Daiy Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

In support of water rights it has filed against an instream flow, the county earlier this week released expert reports prepared by Deere & Ault Consultants Inc. and related documents from GEI Consultants and Economic & Planning Systems. Montrose County wants to secure water rights to meet future anticipated needs in the West End. It has identified six possible sites where reservoirs could be built to capture the water. But securing the rights — a bid that is contested by Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance and other objectors — would be only part of the battle.

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.

The Water Center at Mesa State University current newsletter is hot off the press

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Click here for a copy of the current newsletter from The Water Center at Colorado Mesa University. Don’t forget to sign up for the May 2 State of the Rivers public meeting.

The Summit State of the River is May 8.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Broomfield is set to review rates from stem to stern

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From the Broomfield Enterprise (Megan Quinn):

Broomfield will hire a private company to assess the fees residents pay for water, sewer and reclamation water systems. In the past few years, costs have continually risen for water treatment supplies, electricity costs and the cost of buying water. Yet there has not been an increase in water and sewer fees since 2008, said City and County Manager Charles Ozaki.

“We need to conduct this study to determine the appropriate rates going forward,” he said.

Public Works Director David Allen said the city will likely have to raise water rates, because it has been more than three years since rates were adjusted to reflect current costs. Yet the report also might look at better ways to conserve water and provide better rate equity for past, present and future residents.

Staff initially proposed raising water license fees several years ago, but City Council members were hesitant to raise fees before doing a full assessment to see if the water operations were operating at maximum efficiency. They asked for a two-part study to examine both the city’s operations and water rate structure, Allen said.

The first part, which examined operations, was completed late last year. The report showed the city was close to maximum efficiency, Ozaki said. The water rate and fee study is a second part to the assessment.

The report, set to be complete in October, could change the way residents are charged and billed for their water and wastewater usage, because the city has not done a full assessment of the rates since 1996.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Weather news: Aspen sets records with a 75 degree day April 23

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From the Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):

The temperature hit 75 degrees Monday afternoon, setting not only a record high for the date but a record high for the month of April, according to local weather blogger Ryan Boudreau, who maintains the local forecasting website aspenweather.net along with Cory Gates. The previous record for April was 73 degrees, according to data maintained at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, he said. The weather records date back to 1945…

In Grand Junction, the high hit 89 degrees on Monday afternoon, setting a new daily record for the date and tying the record for the month, according to the National Weather Service. It hit 89 degrees in Grand Junction again Tuesday, a record for the month first set in 1992, according to the weather service. The weather service said Denver International Airport hit 88 degrees Tuesday afternoon, breaking the previous record for April 24 of 85 degrees, set in 1949. Pueblo had a high of 92 degrees Tuesday to break the old mark of 89 degrees, set in 1996.