Colorado Water 2012: Rio Grande Reservoir tour July 14 to celebrate 100th anniversary


From the Valley Courier:

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Rio Grande Reservoir, Water 2012 in the Rio Grande Basin invites everyone interested in the early history of water in the San Luis Valley to take a caravan tour of the historic Rio Grande Reservoir on Saturday, July 14th, 2012.

The tour is co-sponsored by the San Luis Valley Irrigation District, the Colorado Field Institute and the Rio Grande Inter-basin Roundtable. Hosts of the tour include Travis Smith of the San Luis Valley Irrigation District and other special guests.

The theme for the Reservoir’s 100th Anniversary is the past, present and future of Rio Grande Reservoir. A walking tour of the Reservoir and a presentation of the Rio Grande Cooperative Project will be made.

Construction on the Rio Grande Reservoir began in 1912 and was completed in 1914.

The reservoir provides storage for agricultural needs and is used for compact compliance, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, and flood control. Rio Grande Reservoir has been in operation since 1912 as the only pre- compact on channel reservoir on the Rio Grande main stem.

The reservoir has endured many issues during the last 100 years including many facelifts. Rio Grande Reservoir represents the vision and determination of the Landowners of the San Luis Valley Irrigation District.

The tour will begin in South Fork at the Visitors Center. The group will meet there at 10:30 a.m. and caravan up to the Rio Grande Reservoir via Highway 149. The tour will arrive at the reservoir at 11:30 a.m. From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., there will be a walking tour of the reservoir. From 12:30-2 p.m., lunch will be served and the San Luis Valley Irrigation District will give a presentation on the history of the reservoir. Lunch will be provided by the San Luis Valley Irrigation District.

Remember, Rio Grande Reservoir is in the high country (approximately 10,000 ft) please bring a light jacket and a hat.

The tour will be capped at 30 people and all participants must register online at,, or To register, click on “Calendar of Events” , select “July 14th Tour” and follow the registration instructions.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Precipitation news: Flash Flood Watch extended (July 7, 2012) #monsoon

Republican River Water Conservation District meeting July 12


From The Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

The Republican River Water Conservation District will hold its quarterly meeting on Thursday, July 12, at the Phillips County Events Center in Holyoke. It will begin at 10 a.m. and last until about 4 p.m. Public comment will be heard at 1 p.m. State Engineer Dick Wolfe will be giving an update on the State of Colorado’s efforts to obtain approval from the State of Kansas for the compact compliance pipeline. GEI Consultants, Inc. will provide an update on the pipeline construction project. The board will be discussing whether to exercise the option to lease a portion of the Laird Ditch water right owned by the Yuma County Water Authority, for 2013-15. There will be engineering and legal counsel updates. The 2011 audit report will be presented at the meeting.

More Republican River Basin coverage here and here.

Gunnison River Basin: North Delta Irrigation Company tunnel collapse repair will result in increased deliveries


From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

he weeks, now going on months of massive earth moving work by excavators from Beavers Construction of Hotchkiss, achieved a milestone last Thursday when enough material was removed from the tunnel under Cory Bench to allow a four-foot-diameter pipeline to lay on a better grade and increase flow.

Lynn French, irrigation company representative, told the DCI that the excavators were able to lower the pipe about one foot or more. “That was enough to approximately double the water flowing through,” French said, from an estimated 8 cfs to 14 or possibly 15 cfs. “That’s quite an improvement,” he added. Flow volumes are estimates because the water is not measured on the North Delta system in that area, French explained.

The North Delta Irrigation Company has 49-plus cfs that can be taken from its diversion on the Gunnison River near 2100 Road. French explained that future improvements planned for the system will pipe its entire course from 2100 Road to the tunnel section. That will create additional flow head to move greater volume through the pipeline which runs on a virtual flat line grade through the tunnel section.

More Gunnison River basin coverage here and here.

Gunnison River basin: Hartland Dam rehab complete


From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The benefits from the Hartland Dam reconstruction project are several, and important to sportsmen, recreationalists, irrigators, and to environmentalists concerned about native fish habitat.

According to a narrative of the project distributed during the dedication, “The primary purpose of the project was to provide fish passage, but other benefits were considered when designing the project. The Hartland Diversion Dam was an extreme safety hazard to boaters. Addressing those safety issues provided a continuous corridor for boaters and greatly increased safe access to recreation on the Gunnison River.” The dam had been the site of river rafter deaths over the years.

More Hartland Dam coverage here.

2012 Colorado November election: ‘In this November’s election, voters may be asked to destroy Colorado’s system of water rights’ — Craig Green


Here’s an opinion piece in opposition to the Initiatives 3 and 45 writing by Craig Green running on the Independence Institute website:

In this November’s election, voters may be asked to destroy Colorado’s system of water rights. A pair of ballot proposals would confiscate the water rights of cities, water districts, farmers, and ranchers.

The Colorado Constitution has always recognized water as a public resource, subject to claims for private uses. Under our Constitution, water rights can be claimed for beneficial purposes such as irrigation, domestic and city uses. Farmers can own water rights, and so can cities.

The authors of proposed ballot initiatives #3 and #4 propose eliminating the constitutional language which recognizes long-established private claims to water. This change would destroy the water rights of farmers and ranchers, and the water rights of cities and other government entities.

This proposed government takeover of Colorado water rights would be the most extreme confiscation of private property in the State’s history. The amendment would reverse Colorado’s long-standing recognition of senior water rights, recognition that began a quarter century before Colorado became a state.

According to the Colorado Constitution, water that has not been previously appropriated can be claimed for private use. Water rights established by this process, once ratified by a court, are considered to be property rights. This process of claiming water for private use is called “prior appropriation.” It means water rights are ranked by the date at which they were first established.

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs explains: “While the prior appropriation doctrine and western water development has been lampooned and lambasted, no one has made a serious proposal for substitution of a water law system that would better serve the needs of humans and the environment with equal or greater security, reliability, and flexibility – these being the hallmarks of an effective resource allocation system.”

Most water uses return less water to the stream than they divert. This is lawful, as long as a user with junior rights does not deprive a downstream senior user of the water to which he has a right. However, the proposed ballot initiatives would require that a water user return the same quantity of water that he uses. This would be impossible for any user, such as a farmer, who consumes some of the water.

The initiatives explicitly destroy property and contract rights. They would impose the so-called “Public Trust Doctrine,” which makes government control of all water in Colorado “Superior to Rules and Terms of Contracts of Property Law.”

Finally, the initiatives authorize any citizen of Colorado to file a lawsuit against current owners of water rights.

These socialist proposals would devastate irrigation, municipal, industrial and other water uses. Almost all current users would fail the new rule that they must return at least as much water as they take. Almost all current users would be vulnerable to lawsuits from those who oppose human use of natural resources. The result would be the largest confiscation of private property in the State’s history, and none of the victims of the confiscation would receive any compensation.

More Colorado November 2012 election coverage here.