Voters ask for policy changes from Parker Water and Sanitation Board

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From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

Tracy Hutchins (2,714 votes), Bill Wasserman (2,572) and Kelly McCurry (2,591) were all voted to the water district’s board of directors May 8. Hutchins and Wasserman have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the board’s way of doing business.

Kelly McCurry, who has been in the water and sanitation industry for 22 years, believes his expertise could help guide the agency into the future, but also says that spending could be reined in. He said water bills could potentially be lowered through a change in oversight. McCurry said he is frustrated with the seeming lack of transparency while he tried to conduct research…

“We are really going to work on governance and accountability to the customers,” Hutchins said. “We’re going to do a top-to-bottom analysis of the organization as a whole and do same thing on the financial side.”[…]

Wasserman, who got involved in a recall election when the district tried to raise rates by 28 percent in 2009, said public input will be a large part of going forward. “Looking at the election results last night, it was a clear mandate from the populace: they want change,” he said.

More Parker coverage here and here.

San Luis Valley Wetlands Focus Area Committee hosts free workshop ‘Managing Wet Areas on Agricultural Lands’ June 14

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From the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust via The Mountain Mail:

The San Luis Valley Wetlands Focus Area Committee will host a free workshop, “Managing Wet Areas on Agricultural Lands,” for San Luis Valley landowners and land managers, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 14 at the Rio Grande County Annex Building, 925 Sixth St., Del Norte. Participants will learn and share ideas about how to best manage wet areas and river and stream corridors for optimal agricultural productivity, wildlife habitat and other economic benefits. The event includes lunch and an afternoon field trip.

Space is limited and reservations may be made before June 6 by calling the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust at 719-657-0800 or at http://www.riograndelandtrust.org.

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here and here.

McPhee Reservoir operations update:

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From the Cortez Journal (Reid Wright):

“Everybody can rest assured that we’re going to meet all our allocations this year,” said Mike Preston, manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District. Due to a good amount of water being stored from last year, Preston is confident there will be enough water for irrigation, drinking and industrial use this year.

Now the focus is shifting to the coming winter and the 2013 water year. Preston said a below average winter this year could lead to shortages next year. An average winter this year would barely meet allocations, while an above average winter would be required for a whitewater boating spill on the lower Dolores River…

As of Thursday, the reservoir elevation stood at nearly 6,915 feet, compared to a full elevation of 6,924 feet. This translates to 190,187 acre feet of active capacity water compared to a maximum active capacity of 229,182 acre feet…

Up-to-date information on reservoir levels, river flows and canal flows is available on DWCD’s website: http://www.doloreswater.com/

More Dolores River watershed coverage here.

A report from Protect the Flows pegs the Colorado River recreation industry at $26 billion and a quarter of a million jobs

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From the Colorado Independent (Scot Kersgaard):

The study — commissioned by Protect The Flows and performed by Southwick Associates — only looked at the money spent by residents of the six-state Colorado River Basin. It did not consider money spent by people from outside these states.

The study contends that nearly 80,000 Coloradans owe their livelihood to the river and that river-related retail sales alone generate more income than agricultural production in Colorado.

Of the six states studied, which included Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico, Colorado was by far the leader in terms of jobs generated and money spent. Direct spending in the region amounts to just over $17 billion a year, with just under $6.4 billion of that spent in Colorado. California was left out of the study because by the time the river reaches California it has lost most of its recreational value.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Colorado River Basin: Will the Mississippi River become a water source for the West?

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Here’s the second installment in their series “The fight for water” from the Deseret News (Amy Joi O’Donoghue). Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is nearing the final stages of a study that for the first time in more than 40 years is charting projected supply and demand “imbalances” of Colorado River water — which was over-allocated some 90 years ago through a water-sharing agreement among Utah, six other Western states and Mexico. A draft of the study is slated to be released next month, with a final report scheduled for July.

An early analysis by the federal agency predicts that large-scale deficits of water in the river system — greater than 3.5 million acre-feet — are likely over the next 50 years. It translates into an inability to meet the needs of millions of households, businesses or agricultural operations unless solutions can be found to cut use or increase supply. The grim scenario is especially plausible given the volatile impacts of climate change, leading the agency for the first time to incorporate how weather changes will play out in specific impacts to the seven states that depend on the river. “This is a pretty careful scrub of how water demands will unfold over the next couple of decades,” said Dave Trueman, the bureau’s division chief over resource management…

In the Mississippi River scenario, 675,000 acre-feet of water would be diverted from the nation’s largest river downstream of where it meets up with the Ohio River. From there, the water would be conveyed via tunnel, canal and a monstrous pipe 775 miles long and 144 inches in diameter to dump into the Navajo River in southwestern Colorado. The Navajo would then deliver that water to the San Juan River, a tributary of the Colorado River, for use by agricultural users in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Those users would then be taken off the Colorado system and the savings in water would flow downstream to other cities that need to grow in the future.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Reclamation is hosting a tour of Ruedi Dam on May 23

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From Reclamation (Kara Lamb) via The Aspen Times:

The Basalt-based Roaring Fork Conservancy will host a May 23 tour of the Ruedi dam at Ruedi Reservoir, giving participants a chance to learn about the reservoir’s role in the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project and its importance for western Colorado water storage. The current operations plan for this summer also will be discussed. The tour, scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m., will be led by Kara Lamb, of the Bureau of Reclamation, and conservancy staff. Registration in advance is required; go to http://www.roaringfork.org/events. The tour is free to conservancy members and $7 for nonmembers. Tour participants will meet at Basalt Town Hall and carpool to the dam site. Call 970-927-1290 for more information.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Snowpack/drought/runoff news: No watering restrictions in Fort Collins this summer

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Click on the thumbnail graphics for the current Colorado statewide snowpack graph from the Natural Resources Conservation Service along with the Little Dry Creek and 64th avenue (Adams County) 7 Day Hyteograph from the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District. We saw some beautiful rain in the Metropolitan Denver area over the weekend.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

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…

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…

The city has a policy for imposing watering restrictions based on conditions and supplies. Mandatory restrictions are not likely to be needed even if exceptionally dry conditions persist, [Donnie Dustin, the city’s water resources manager] said in an interview.