Cache la Poudre River: Will the Arapahoe snowfly end up on the endangered species list?


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that the snowfly is worthy of protection under the Endangered Species Act, but the agency’s other priorities preclude it from doing so immediately.

Instead of being listed as an endangered species right away, the species will be added to the list of possible species to be added to a queue of species waiting to be considered for endangered status, something that will be reviewed each year.

The snowfly was first discovered in 1986 in Young Gulch in Roosevelt National Forest, one of only two places on earth the snowfly is thought to exist. The other is Elkhorn Creek, about five miles from Young Gulch.

Scientists consider the snowfly an “indicator” species, the health of which is a sign of the overall health of the Poudre Canyon ecosystem…

[Colorado State University entomology professor Boris C. Kondratieff] said if the species is listed, the entire Young Gulch and Elkhorn Creek watersheds would have to be protected, but how that would be done would require more study.

More coverage from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice:

The species was first discovered in 1986 in Young Gulch, a small tributary of the Cache la Poudre River in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

It is a small, dark‑colored insect with both a body length and wing length of about 0.2 inches. In 1988, it was identified as a new species. It was also found in a second tributary, Elkhorn Creek, approximately five miles from Young Gulch.

No other populations have been found in searches of nearby tributaries, and numerous visits to Young Gulch since the species’ discovery in 1986 have failed to locate additional specimens. Thus, the Service believes the species is extirpated from Young Gulch and currently only occurs in Elkhorn Creek.

The status review identified threats to the species including the potential present and future threat of habitat modification caused by climate change; the lack of adequate regulatory mechanisms to protect the species from impacts due to climate change; and its small population size (only one known population with few individuals documented).

More Arapahoe snowfly coverage here.

Sand Creek: Metro Wastewater is concerned that Suncor’s groundwater contamination could affect timeline for secondary treatment structure


From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The Metro Wastewater project is designed to remove ammonia and nitrates from Denver’s treated wastewater before it is discharged back into the South Platte River — part of $1.2 billion in improvements at the plant. CDPHE’s water-quality division has required the improvements to meet standards set by the federal government by 2015. Metro Wastewater must construct a large aeration basin structure where secondary treatment can be done. Metro excavation crews have dug out more than 130,000 cubic yards of dirt, pumping groundwater from the emerging hole. Construction crews have begun to build up the new structure.

The toxic plume appears to have approached the excavated area but has not entered it, Metro Wastewater spokesman Steve Frank said. “What we want from Suncor is to continue working on solving this problem,” Frank said. “We intend to do everything we can to remain in compliance with our discharge permit. Compliance is the norm for us.”

Suncor officials on Thursday said they will comply. “We’re meeting with Metro and are working with Metro to understand their construction plans and make sure we do everything we can to allow them to effectively do their work and meet their timelines,” Suncor vice president John Gallagher said. “This is really a potential problem rather than a problem.”[…]

The CDPHE notice to Suncor orders:

• A detailed map of the plume showing where benzene and other contamination exceeds state standards under the Metro Wastewater property.
• Monitoring of the groundwater outside the current extrapolated boundaries where the plume is believed to be — in areas where there’s no current contamination.
• New test wells and a groundwater monitoring plan within 30 days.
• A cleanup work plan, within 60 days, specifying how Suncor will reduce the contamination that has spread from its oil refinery under neighboring property.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Combined Metro, Colorado, Arkansas, Gunnison and South Platte roundtables meeting recap: East Slope conservation was a hot topic


From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

With the state’s population predicted to nearly double to about 10 million people by 2050 — the bulk of that on the Front Range — “basin roundtables” of stakeholders around the state are trying to reach consensus on a statewide plan to meet this new water demand. How much should come from agriculture? How much from the Colorado River system? And how much from conservation?

Conservation was the focus of a four-hour meeting in Montrose Monday night between members of the Gunnison, Colorado, Arkansas, Metro and South Platte Basin Roundtables. Western Slope roundtable members have been making the case for ambitious Front Range conservation strategies in order to minimize losses to agriculture and the Colorado River system, while Front Range representatives have expressed reluctance to build high yields from conservation into planning scenarios…

Some key informational points set the stage for the discussion:

• Per capita water use is expected to decline significantly due to replacement of old, worn-out appliances with newer, more water-efficient ones.

• Front Range cities, spurred into action by the 2002 drought, spend more and employ more people on their conservation programs than Western Slope communities — but efforts are building on this side of the hill, too. Measures include rates that increase with increasing use; leak detection programs; and education.

• Since the 2002 drought, Front Range water providers have seen per capita demand decline about 20% — but they don’t fully understand why and if this will persist.

• Despite per capita savings from conservation, population growth is expected to lead to additional aggregate demands, requiring the development of additional supplies.

Participants aired the following views (among others):

• We should all use water wisely: East Slope and West Slope — not just drinking water providers, but all water users.

• We need a statewide conservation ethic that outlines a reasonable and achievable level of conservation for the whole state.

• What is “reasonable” depends on the level of crisis perceived — actions that seem too expensive now could seem like a bargain in 20 years.

• Colorado headwaters communities are already paying a steep price for trans-mountain diversions, in the form of damaged fisheries and curtailed development. Is that fair?

• High conservation scenarios may not be achievable without regulatory action. Regulations may not currently be feasible or desirable, but a crisis could change this picture.

More IBCC — Basin roundtables coverage here.

Snowpack/drought/runoff news: Southeastern approves 65% of Fry-Ark imports for irrigators this season




Click on the thumbnail graphics for the current statewide snowpack map along with the Basin High/Low graphs for the South Platte and Arkansas river basins from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The allocation committee of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District on Thursday voted to recommend that about 65 percent of the water from the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project go to farms this year. The district board will consider the action next week…

The bad news: There isn’t much water. The Bureau of Reclamation’s May 1 projection for Fry-Ark imports from the Colorado River basin was 12,400 acre-feet, about one-fourth of average. So far, about 4,000 acre-feet have moved — and moved earlier than usual…

In the end, the district staff estimated about 9,900 acre-feet will be available for allocation this year, after evaporation, transit loss and obligations are accounted for. Of that, about 3,500 will go to municipal use, and nearly 6,400 acre-feet to farms. The ag allocations are spread out under a formula that incorporates eligible acres among nine canals and 15 smaller ditches or farms.

There will be a ripple effect because of smaller than projected return flows, which well groups rely on for part of their augmentation water. However augmentation plans are likely to be rewritten as farmers scale back operations to match conditions.

From the Leadville Herald-Democrat:

The latest snow surveys conducted by the NRCS show that most low- and mid- elevation-measurement locations have little or no snow, and the higher-elevation sites are well-below average and rapidly melting. The May 1 statewide snowpack report reflects this; measuring just 19 percent of average. For the second month in a row, statewide snowpack conditions match those recorded during the record-setting drought year of 2002. In the Arkansas River Basin, snowpack is at 25 percent of average and 22 percent of the amount measured at this time last year.

From The Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):

This year’s runoff throughout the Colorado River Basin is expected to be about 50 percent of average. No one is predicting flows of 870 cubic feet per second in the lower Fryingpan River below the Ruedi Dam this year (it was flowing at about 120 cfs Thursday), but Ruedi Reservoir could be employed to help ease late-summer drought conditions on the Western Slope, according to Don Meyer, senior water resources engineer for the Colorado River District. The reservoir might not fill this summer but could inch above 100,000 acre-feet under the most optimistic projections, according to Tim Miller, of the Bureau of Reclamation. The reservoir is considered full at 102,369 acre-feet…

The reservoir might send very little water to the Front Range this year through the Fry-Ark transmountain diversion, Miller added. On average, 54,000 acre-feet are sent from the upper Fryingpan drainage to the far side of the Continental Divide. Last year, 98,000 acre-feet went east, but this year, about 12,430 acre-feet are expected to be diverted…

Between drought mitigation and other calls on Ruedi, flows could bump up to the 300-cfs range on the lower Fryingpan come August, which is not unusual, giving a boost to the Roaring Fork below its confluence with the Pan. The upper Fork, however, could see low flows and high enough water temperatures to harm the fishery if dry weather persists, Meyer said. The Roaring Fork at Glenwood Springs hit about 1,100 cfs last weekend, according to Meyer, and could do the same this weekend. A peak of about 1,500 is projected, he said…

The Colorado at Glenwood hit about 3,500 cfs last weekend and could do so again in the next couple of days, matching what is predicted to be the peak this season, he said. The high water is about a month ahead of last year’s peak.

From the Fort Collins Coloradodan (Kevin Duggan):

Drought conditions and historically low snowpack levels are not expected to translate into mandatory water-use restrictions this year in Fort Collins…

Supplies are strong enough that [Fort Collins] likely will be able to “carry over” up to 8,000 acre feet of water in local reservoirs for next year’s use. An acre foot of water is enough to meet the needs of two American families of four for a year…

Fort Collins’ main water sources are the Poudre River, where the city holds senior water rights, and Horsetooth Reservoir through the Colorado-Big Thompson system administered by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Because of the dry conditions, the district has agreed to provide a high amount of water this year to share owners. With its strong supply and limited storage capacity, the city plans to rent 5,600 acre feet of water to area farmers.

The City of Pueblo files diligence application for their whitewater park instream flow right


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The city obtained a conditional recreational in-channel diversion right in 2006 for the kayak course built as part of the Arkansas River Legacy project. A filing in Division 2 water court seeks to make the right absolute for eight gates on the kayak course, as well as maintaining a conditional right for a ninth gate to be built at Moffat Street in the future. The first eight gates begin at the water intake for the Downtown power plant and continue to the Union Avenue bridge. The RICD right includes minimum flows for recreation that vary from 100-500 cubic feet per second, depending on conditions and the time of year, with an appropriation date of 2000…

The city also has asked the Colorado Water Conservation Board to pursue a 100 cfs in-stream flow right for the reach of the Arkansas River from Pueblo Dam through Pueblo.

More water law coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: ‘Colorado Springs remains in compliance, and is in regular contact with Reclamation’ — Kara Lamb via the Chieftain


Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. [ed. The link does not take you to the article in the Chieftain’s new format as of 5:11 AM. I had to scroll through the online paper to find it.] Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado Springs remains in compliance, and is in regular contact with Reclamation, spokeswoman Kara Lamb said this week. “Reclamation has not issued a permit. We are not a regulating agency,” Lamb explained. “What we have done is enter into a series of contracts with Colorado Springs Utilities and the other SDS participants.

“The contracts are based on the environmental compliance measures outlined in the final Environmental Impact Statement and associated record of decision and permits issued by other entities which do have regulating authority.”

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.