The Colorado Water for the 21st Century Updated Roadmap is hot off the press


Click here for Director Stulp’s memo. From email from John Stulp:

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Two reports back position that hydraulic fracturing can impact groundwater resources


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson) via The Durango Herald:

Both reports were prepared by independent hydrologist Tom Myers, Ph.D., of Reno, Nev., whose clients include government agencies and environmental groups. One report, issued April 30, summed up Myers’ assessment of the Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation into water-well contamination in 2010 and 2011 in the area around Pavillion, Wyo., a region of extensive natural-gas drilling activity…

A second report, commissioned by the National Ground Water Association, concludes that chemicals used in the fracking process would migrate upward toward drinking supplies much more quickly than earlier believed. The association is a nonprofit group that represents scientists, engineers and businesses in the groundwater industry.

The study, published in the April-May edition of the journal Ground Water, concludes that scientists incorrectly have theorized that rock layers between the deep gas-bearing zones and the shallower aquifer zones are essentially “impermeable” and protect against migration of chemicals from one zone to the other. Myers wrote in his report that, based on computer modeling, natural faults and fractures permeate the Marcellus Shale formation that lies under large parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and nearby states. When human-made fractures intersect with the natural fault lines, Myers theorized, “contaminants could reach the surface areas in 10 years or less.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Snowpack/drought/runoff news: Drought preparedness workshop May 15 in Pueblo


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A drought preparedness workshop will be from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 15 at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in the Creative Arts Building, 1001 Beulah Ave. Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. The outlook for water supply, agricultural risk management and managing weeds will be among the topics to be discussed.

More drought coverage from Scott N. Miller writing for the Vail Daily. From the article:

A group of representatives of those businesses — members of the local chapter of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado — gathered Friday at Donovan Pavilion for updates about topics including this summer’s water supply prospects and drought-tolerant plants. When Mike Earl, of Land Designs by Ellison, was putting the May meeting together in February, Diane Johnson, of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, told him she didn’t really want to talk about drought just yet. After Colorado’s driest March on record, it was time to talk about water supplies, Johnson said…

Todd Fessenden, the district’s operations manager, said that for now, the standard outdoor watering regulations are in effect — people water every other day except Monday based on their street addresses. If the district declares a “supply emergency” though, virtually all outdoor watering will be banned, whether in specific areas or across the entire eastern part of the valley.

From the Estes Park Trail (Julie Harvey):

“Our source of water is more than enough,” [Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham] told residents attending the chat at the Art Center last Wednesday. “We’re fortunate because of the water allocation (at) headwater and leases. You’ll hear about that at the next (town) board meeting.”

From (Megan Fitzgerald):

Typically, the snow run off fills up ditches and farmers are able to irrigate their crops, but that’s not the case this year. Farmers say the surface water could run out at any time and their options for taking care of their fields will be limited.

“It’s a huge issue, I consider water more valuable than gold. We can’t survive without it,” Glen Fritzler, a Weld County farmer said.

Fritzler and his family have been farming for generations. He says it’s all he knows and it’s the only job he would want to do. But, now that the surface water supply is running out, Fritzler says his only option is well water. But even that is limited ever since the drought in 2002.

“We cannot operate our wells like we have in the past or like we need to to grow out produce,” Fritzler says.

From the Fairplay Flume (Lynda James):

Drought conditions in the Upper South Platte sub-basin, which includes Park County, harken back to 2002, when Colorado was hit by the largest wildfire in its history, the Hayman fire, which started in Park County. As of May 1, snowpack in the sub-basin – which also includes small portions of Jefferson, Douglas, Teller and Clear Creek counties – had dropped to 19 percent of average and 16 percent of last year’s snowpack on May 1. As of April 1, Colorado as a whole had the lowest snowpack percentage since 2002 and the second lowest in the 45 years data has been collected. In March, the South Platte River Basin, which covers the sub-basin and most of the northeastern part of Colorado, had precipitation that was 17 percent of average for that month, which was the lowest in the state…

Most of Park County is listed as D0, abnormally dry. The northwest and southeast corners of the county are classified as D1, moderate drought…

[Garver Brown, Division 1, District 23 water commissioner’s] email said that on April 1, the snowpack in the Upper South Platte watershed was 49 percent of average for April 1 and 51 percent of last year. This is 6 percent less than the average for the entire South Platte Basin. Brown wrote that on April 29 the snow water equivalent at the six Upper South Platte SNOTEL sites was 25 percent of the May 1 average. Total snow water equivalent for the entire South Platte River Basin using SNOTEL sites was 35 percent. Snow survey sites were measured on April 30. Brown personally collects data from three of the ten Upper South Platte sites. Data is collected at the end of each month from January through April. Brown said the April 30 data from snow surveys will be combined with SNOTEL data to update the May 1 snowpack and snow water equivalent maps. The May 1 maps were not available before press time. Brown emailed The Flume May 1 data for the Upper South Platte – using both SNOTEL and snow survey sites. Snowpack had dropped to 19 percent of average and 16 percent of last year’s snowpack on May 1…

Brown wrote that the river call is affecting irrigation rights in District 23, with nearly all irrigation rights “called out” by this senior call. He wrote that several river calls occur during the summer each year, but an 1871 river call at this time of year is unusual compared to a normal snowpack year. “With such a low snowpack, I would expect senior calls to last during the entire irrigation season absent significant rain events,” Brown wrote. According to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, that 1871 call extends throughout five other water districts, including District 80 in northeast Park County.

Larry Schwartz named to Water Court Division 2


The Pueblo Chieftain has a new format that does not seem to allow deep links. Click here for the online article (Chris Woodka). You can then follow the links through the new online edition. From the article:

Last month, Schwartz was named the new water judge for Division 2. Unlike district courts, which follow county boundaries, the water courts are separated into seven divisions according to the drainage basins of major rivers. Division 2 covers the entire Arkansas River basin. Luckily, Schwartz’s fishing spot is near Crested Butte in the Gunnison River basin — so, no conflict of interest there…

“Water law has always been interesting to me,” Schwartz said, when asked why he applied for the water judge job. “It’s always amazing to look at the technical information and preparation that goes into these cases.”

Schwartz, 56, who studied some oil and gas law at the University of Oklahoma law school, never practiced water law. A graduate of Central High School and the University of Southern Colorado, Schwartz returned to Pueblo after law school and worked in the district attorney’s office for two years before going into private practice. He became a district court judge in 2008. He and his wife, Julie, have three grown children.

More water law coverage here.