Aurora City Council approves $9.5 million water lease for oil and gas production and exploration

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From The Aurora Sentinel (Sara Castellanos):

The deal, which some Aurora residents heavily criticized at the meeting, was approved on a vote of 8 to 3 with council members Debi Hunter Holen, Renie Peterson and Molly Markert opposed.

About 35 residents from Aurora and surrounding cities attended the meeting to condemn Aurora council members for selling water to the company, and many of them spoke at the meeting. Four people spoke in support of the deal.

Several people who disapproved of the agreement between the city and Anadarko have also spoken against hydraulic fracturing within city limits. Before council members voted, they said they were concerned about the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, and thought the city’s water should be kept for its residents in times of need.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

The Central Colorado Water Conservancy District may ask voters to approve a $60 million bond issue for new supplies and storage

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From KUNC (Nathan Heffel):

The district, or CCWCD, is exploring the possibility of asking voters to approve the $60 million bond measure this November to fund future water storage construction and acquisition of additional water rights…

Conservancy staff say the measure could help sustain the region’s strong agricultural economy and would cost residents in the district roughly $1.26 a month per $100,000 of a home’s market value for the next 25 years. That works out to around $15.48 per year.

At times, the public meeting at the Evan’s Community center was heated. Some in attendance were concerned about paying additional taxes without knowing what direct benefit they would see.

One farmer says he had been pumping water for over 45 years before his pump was shut off by the state.

“We need to know before we vote what the allocation is going to be. We still haven’t been able to pump for six or seven years.”

Conservancy president Gary Harman says an answer to that question isn’t known. However, he did give a dire prediction if voters failed to approve the bond initiative.

“If we don’t build these structures, believe me the [larger] municipalities will. And we will lose the opportunity to capture all of this water. And this is strictly your decision. And the things we can do here is help keep that water here in our area, and use in our communities, and use in our farms, and keep businesses in small towns in businesses, like in main street Greeley we can help that.”

More South Platte River basin coverage here and here.

Drought news: Rainfall last weekend helped reduce consumption #CODrought #monsoon

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

With rains that left anywhere between 0.6-1.25 inches of rain over Pueblo on Sunday and Monday, stressed lawns and gardens got a much-needed drink. It’s also affected the amount of water being pumped through sprinkler systems. During last week’s hot spell, with no appreciable rainfall, the Pueblo Board of Water Works pumped an average of 52 million gallons per day. With rain and cooler temperatures, the number dropped to 38 million gallons per day for the first two days of this week…

The Sunday-Monday rain roughly averaged about 0.8 inches over the approximately 30,000-acre area served by the Pueblo water board. By that standard, the clouds dumped about 650 million gallons (2,000 acre-feet) of water on the city.

Meanwhile, the drought is still with us. Here’s a report from Chad Abraham writing for the Aspen Daily News. From the article:

The [Roaring Fork] river on Thursday was running through town at 23 cubic feet per second (cfs), below the state’s recommended instream flow of 32 cfs, and well off the 115 cfs average, according to a Roaring Fork Conservancy report.

Besides the drought, the level is so low because holders of some rights are allowed to take water and drop the river below the recommended instream level, which was implemented in the 1970s by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The holders can do that because their rights are senior to the state’s.

“It’s depressing, but senior water rights often trump instream flow rights,” said Rick Lofaro, the conservancy’s executive director.

State recommended instream flows, also called state instream water right levels, are related to preserving the environment to a reasonable degree, according to the water conservation board website. There is some debate about what is reasonable, said Tim O’Keefe, education director for the conservancy.

He said some local water rights date back to the 1880s and were related to mining; other rights are for agriculture. The city of Aspen also has a “pretty old water right,” he said…

The Roaring Fork near Aspen on Thursday hit 68 degrees, the state standard for a healthy ecosystem, O’Keefe said. Anything above that affects dissolved oxygen in the stream to the point that fish get stressed; insects are also affected. If the temperature rises to 72 degrees, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division can shut down stretches of rivers to fishing.

From the Gunnison Times (Matt Smith):

And now those concerns have hit home, as Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) implemented this week a “voluntary” closure of Tomichi Creek. The decision follows suit with at least four other streams on the Western Slope. With water temperatures reaching the mid-70s in recent weeks, the health of trout populations in Tomichi Creek is the main reason for taking extra precaution.

U.S. House Agriculture committee passes farm bill, Tipton amendment increases access to dough for rural water

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The committee passed the 5-year, $500 billion bill 35-11 Thursday, but no decision has been made on full House consideration. The Senate passed the bill last month.

“My amendment seeks to expand access to private financing options for rural communities to build new water infrastructure or rebuild the existing water infrastructure. Once in effect, this will ensure clean, safe and reliable water supplies for rural communities, and create needed jobs in the process,” Tipton said. Tipton’s amendment would direct USDA to encourage lenders to finance rural water and waste disposal projects…

It also encourages the USDA to focus its own resources on the neediest communities.

More infrastructure coverage here.