The CWCB and the Bureau of Reclamation are finished hammering out the Animas-La Plata purchase agreement

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Here’s the release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Tim Feehan/Ted Kowalski/Todd Hartman):

This week the State of Colorado and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation finalized a contract that allows the state to purchase of a portion of water from the Animas-La Plata (A-LP) Project in southwestern Colorado. This contract represents the completion of almost two years of intense negotiations, cooperation, and hard work on the part of Colorado Water Conservation Board staff and other stakeholders.

The Animas-La Plata Project was built to fulfill a water rights settlement between the federal government and two Indian tribes that live in southwestern Colorado: the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. But the project also has auxiliary benefits for other water users in the region as a much-needed municipal and industrial water source and reservoir for long-term storage in Lake Nighthorse. The state’s allocation of 10,460 acre-feet will go a long way toward securing a water supply for water users in the southwestern portion of the state.

In 2010, the General Assembly authorized the expenditure of up to $36 million towards the purchase of the State’s 10,460 acre-feet allocation of A-LP project water. This Bill appropriated the first $12 million installment, which was available on June 30, 2011. Subsequent legislation appropriated the remaining $24 million, which will be available July 1, 2012. After the contract was signed and executed, the State made its first payment of $12 million to the Bureau.

After July 1, 2012, the State will pay the final installment to the Bureau, retaining enough of the General Assembly’s appropriation for future operation and maintenance costs. The execution of the contract also grants membership to the State in the Animas-La Plata Operations, Maintenance and Replacement Association. Over the next few months, the State will work with other members of the Association to address issues such as engineering, modeling, water administration and protocol.

For more information or background on the Animas-La Plata project, visit http://www.usbr.gov/uc/progact/animas/ or the CWCB website at http://cwcb.state.co.us.

From the Associated Press via The Colorado Springs Gazette:

Colorado lawmakers had authorized paying $36 million for the state’s allocation of 10,460 acre-feet from the water storage and delivery project in southwest Colorado. Money for the final payment will be available after July 1. The contract announced by the state Wednesday makes Colorado part of a group that will operate and maintain the project.

More Animas-La Plata Project coverage here and here.

Western Resource Advocates Releases First Detailed Study on Water Requirements for Hydraulic Fracturing

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The analysis, presented Wednesday by the Boulder-based consultancy Western Resource Advocates, determined that the amount of water pumped into the ground for drilling wells and for hydraulic fracturing to coax out oil and gas is between 22,100 and 39,500 acre-feet each year. That’s enough for up to 296,100 people — or to meet most needs in Douglas County. “We’re already having trouble meeting our demands. Especially in a dry year like this, if this water is going to go into oil and gas wells, there’s going to be a loser,” said engineer Laura Belanger, author of the study. “Where’s this water going to come from? Municipalities? Agriculture? Are we going to have to make new diversions from rivers on the Western Slope?”

State regulators have estimated that fracking requires 13,900 to 16,100 acre-feet a year. State officials and industry advocates compare this with total water consumed in Colorado and emphasize it is less than 1 percent — due to the huge amount used to produce food. But drilling’s share is growing rapidly and now exceeds water diverted for ski area snowmaking.

More coverage from Kirk Siegler writing for KUNC. From the article:

For perspective, according to the group, 20-40 thousand acre feet is similar to the amount of water consumed in a year in a city the size of Fort Collins.

“In dry years like this one, and overtime as our populations grow, fracking water use will compete with municipal use,” said Laura Belanger, the report’s author.

Some cities in booming Weld County have been leasing their excess water to fracking companies; a move that’s generated hundreds of thousands in revenue in some areas.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System: Reclamation is testing the newly constructed North Outlet Works at Pueblo Dam

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Flows ranging from 5-1,100 cubic feet per second will be released from the new outlet works during the tests. It’s the first time the outlet has been used since construction.

The Arkansas River has been fed by releases from flood gates in the central portion of the dam during construction. River flows have been in the 400 cfs range below the dam recently.

The first test occurred Wednesday afternoon, and more tests are planned Friday and Tuesday, said spokeswoman Kara Lamb.

The Y-shaped outlet is being constructed by Colorado Springs Utilities as part of the Southern Delivery System. It will connect to a 90-inch diameter pipeline leading to a Pueblo West tap and the Juniper Pump Station, which will be constructed near the dam. The other pipeline will serve as the river outlet.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.