Drought/runoff/snowpack news: Statewide snowpack at 7% of average, South Platte = 8%


From the North Platte Bulletin:

Temperatures have been as much as 6-10 degrees hotter than normal fom more than a month in many places, particularly eastern Colorado, the manager of the Colorado Water Conservation Board Office of Water Conservation and Drought Planning said May 17. Snowpack is 7 percent of normal, which means low stream-flows. More than half the state has officially been proclaimed in drought, said a Denver CBS television station.

An estimated 4 million acres of trees have been killed by beetles, which many view as a natural cycle, but the deadwood creates highly flammable fuel for wildfires.

Click here to go to the Colorado Water Conservation Board website for the presentations from the May 22 Water Availability Task Force Meeting.

I live-tweeted the meeting using hash code #cwcbwatf.

From the Arvada Press (Sara Van Cleve):

The City of Arvada has enacted voluntary water restrictions this summer to help conserve the city’s supply. Jim Sullivan, director of utilities, said the city’s water supplies are in good condition, but residents should still conserve for future dry spells. “We’re in a dry period, but we planned for this kind of dry period,” Sullivan said. “The issue would be if it continues into future years.”[…]

The most effective way to save water is to reduce sprinkler use by following the city’s watering schedule and guidelines found at www.arvada.org/about-arvada/voluntary-summer-lawn-watering-guidelines.

San Luis Valley groundwater sub-district plan garners nearly a hundred pages of objections from surface water users


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

…opponents have said the plan fails to show the work leading to its conclusions.

The filings argue that it lacks data and used a faulty methodology in producing a groundwater pumping estimate of 308,000 acrefeet for the upcoming season. Nor does the plan detail recent adjustments to a state computer model designed to project groundwater use and depletions to surface water. Moreover, the objectors request an explanation of how the projected injury to surface water users was reduced from 5,016 acre-feet in a draft of the plan to 4,706 acre-feet in the final version.

Opponents of the subdistrict also argued in a Friday filing that the standard of review adopted by the court requires the implementation of the subdistrict’s plan be delayed until objections are resolved.

Also, without a plan in operation, the objectors argue that groundwater wells that injure the rights of senior surface users must be curtailed, a move that would break with nearly a century of unregulated groundwater use in the valley.

A status conference in the case has been set for Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

Peru Creek basin: Summer restoration work will include opening the Pennsylvania mine for a look-see


From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

One part of the planned work involves moving some of the waste rock from the mine away from running water, a technique that has proven successful in other remediation projects. A collaborative task force including local, state and federal stakeholders have been grappling with the pollution for years, as cost estimates for a cleanup have soared.

This summer, the various parties collaborating on the cleanup will also try to enter the old mine itself to try and figure how water moves through the shafts and tunnels. That may help the experts figure out if they can permanently block the water coming out of the mine with a bulkhead, according to Lane Wyatt, a water expert with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. “That’s the big thing, is opening up the Penn Mine … that’s kind of exciting, going in see what’s going on in there. That might help us develop some remedial options based on more than just guessing,” Wyatt said.
Other potential remediation options include a water treatment facility, or perhaps even trying to block or divert water before it gets into the mine.

“The Forest Service has been involved in looking for ways to clean up the Penn Mine for many years. This is a great step forward,” said acting Dillon District Ranger Peech Keller.

More Snake River watershed coverage here and here.

Sand Creek: Benzene levels have stabilized but the long-term mitigation schedule is cloudy for Suncor groundwater plume


From The Denver Post (Karen E. Crummy):

Current data show that surface-water levels of benzene at the point where the creek meets the South Platte River are still much higher than standards for drinking water, but remain stable. And the source of the leak — a pipe within the refinery — is fixed. But one health department official says a “mass of contamination” continues to dissolve into the groundwater, and isolated pockets of pollution — much of it underground — are spread over large areas within the refinery and off-site, making it difficult to locate.

While the state health department has tapped various methods of remediation, officials say it will take another two months to determine their effectiveness. Walter Avramenko, head of the state’s Hazardous Waste Corrective Action Unit, said it took two decades to study and remedy historical contamination at the refinery, part of a 75-year-old industrial site, and come up with a long-term management plan. “It took only a short period of time to reverse all those gains, and we’re not planning to wait another 20 years to fix it. We’re pushing the refinery very hard,” Avramenko said. “This is a very difficult, complex hydrogeologic environment for which there are no easy solutions.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Colorado Water Trust: Riverbank event is June 5


From the Colorado Water Trust website:

Join us at the 4th Annual RiverBank Fundraiser for both live and silent auctions, appetizers, an open bar, good company, and the inaugural presentation of The David Getches Flowing Waters Award. Come celebrate our successes over the past year and help us raise funds for our future efforts. We hope to see you there!

More instream flow coverage here.

Next IBCC meeting May 31 in Breckenridge, next Flaming Gorge Task Force meeting May 30 in Silverthorne


From email from the IBCC:

Below are the links to the meeting notice and agenda for the May 31 IBCC meeting taking place in Breckenridge and the minutes from their February 29th meeting.

Meeting Notice


February Minutes

Here are the meeting minutes from the last meeting of the Flaming Gorge Task Force via email from Heather Bergman. One of the topics for discussion were water rights for the pipeline.

The Committee’s next meeting is in Siverthorne on May 30.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Glen Canyon Dam Long Term Experimental and Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement schedule released


From email from Reclamation/NPS:

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the National Park Service have announced the current schedule for drafting the Glen Canyon Dam Long Term Experimental and Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement (LTEMP EIS). This schedule is intended to help interested parties plan for key involvement periods. The letter announcing the schedule is available in PDF format at the location below.


More Colorado River basin coverage here.