Steamboat Springs: Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference August 15 – 17


Doug Kemper sent along the Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference detail via email. Click here to download a copy.

‘…we are trending towards an El Niño’ — Brett Anderson (AccuWeather senior meteorologist)


From USA Today (Doyle Rice):

“We’re not officially there yet,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Brett Anderson says, “but we are trending towards an El Niño.”[…]

Anderson says that El Niño will most likely form by September…

Overall, other than a quiet hurricane season, the greatest weather impacts in the USA from El Niño tend to occur in winter, reports Michelle L’Heureux, a meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center. Usually, she says, El Niño produces wetter and cooler-than-average weather across the southern tier of the USA and warmer and drier-than-average conditions across the northern half of the country, which is not good news for the parched upper Midwest.

Plateau Creek: The Dolores Water Conservancy District is moving on a pumpback hydroelectric project


From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

The paperwork filed by the local water district is a competing proposal, a response to a similar application filed by Bellevue, Wash., engineering firm INCA Engineers. DWCD’s permit application, filed on May 10, seeks “municipal preference” for feasibility studies over the out-of-state company, which filed application paperwork with FERC on Nov. 30, 2011.

DWCD hopes its historic water rights and involvement in local water issues will win the day when permits are awarded, according to district manager Mike Preston. “DWCD holds the water rights on McPhee and certainly Plateau Creek is a tributary to McPhee Reservoir,” Preston said. “We want to maintain local control over this issue. We believe we have municipal preference because we are what is call a municipal provider, and we think we are very likely to be granted the permit.”

The local water conservancy district already operates two hydropower plants owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, Preston said.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Douglas County forms a water and wastewater enterprise to fund infrastructure for renewable supplies


From the Castle Rock News Press (Rhonda Moore):

The board of county commissioners on July 10 established the Douglas County water and wastewater enterprise, opening the door to bring money to the table for long-term water development. The enterprise allows the county to issue revenue bonds secured by future revenues from water providers who pass muster, said Lance Ingalls, county attorney. The enterprise, through state statute, allows the county to issue the revenue bonds to qualifying providers on a project-by-project basis, Ingalls said…

The authority was focused primarily on advancing the water infrastructure and supply efficiency project that is pivotal to filling the Rueter-Hess reservoir, said Eric Hecox, authority spokesman…

“This enterprise is opening the door for the county to be a catalyst for partnership to meet our renewable water needs,” Hecox said. “Having a partner as big a player as the county gives us the opportunity to meet our regional long term challenges.”

The strength of the county’s borrowing power bumps the water game up a notch in Douglas County, said Jill Repella, commissioner, District 2. Repella was part of the conversations with providers who made it clear the county’s role is critical to the success of any effort toward bringing long-term water to Douglas County.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Barr Lake: The July August Oasis newsletter is hot off the press, Barr Lake appreciation day July 14


Click here to download a copy of the newsletter. There is a lot going on this summer.

More South Platte River basin coverage here and here.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin #CODrought


Here are the summaries from the Colorado Climate Center. Click on the thumbnail graphic for the precipitation summary from last week’s webinar.

The Metro Roundtable is on board with the Chatfield Reallocation Project


Here’s the resolution of support:

More Chatfield Reservoir coverage here and here. More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Denver District Court Judge Christina Habas dismisses Powertech’s challenge to Colorado’s in situ mining rules


From The Denver Post (Monte Whaley):

Denver District Judge Christina Habas Friday rejected a lawsuit by Powertech, a Canadian-based uranium prospecting company proposing the 7,000- acre Centennial project near Nunn. The lawsuit challenged a list of rules governing the reclamation of mined land and the requirement of public and private comment during the permitting process. Powertech sued the state’s Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board, claiming the rules were “arbitrary and capricious.” Habas ruled Powertech’s allegations were baseless…

Powertech is disappointed in the judge’s ruling, said company attorney John Fognani said. The rules are far outside of the board’s powers, he said. “In addition, we are disappointed we didn’t have an opportunity to argue the decision before the judge,” said Fognani, noting Habas made her ruling on her final day as district judge. Powertech may appeal the ruling, he said,

The company, meanwhile, is postponing its work on the Centennial project as it concentrates operations in South Dakota.

From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

The suit, filed Nov. 1, 2011, argued that Colorado’s Mined Land Reclamation Board overreached its authority when it implemented new rules for mining operations in September 2010. The suit targeted rules governing groundwater protection and public involvement in mining permits…

“We are evaluating the decision and deciding whether to appeal,” Fongnani said. “We are disappointed in the decision because it doesn’t comport with the Administrative Procedures Act and the protections meant to be provided by the act to the regulated community as well as the environmental community.”[…]

“The Colorado uranium mining industry is wrong to keep fighting water quality protections and better public involvement,” Jeff Parsons, an attorney with the Western Mining Action Project who represented local communities that intervened in the case to defend the rules, said in a news release. “The people of Colorado have a right to be heard and will not accept mining projects that cannot protect the water.”

From the Associated Press via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

Powertech attorney John Fognani said Monday the company is disappointed by the judge’s decision.

The company had envisioned having a mine in northern Colorado, where it would pump treated water underground to dissolve uranium and then pump it to the surface. It challenged new state requirements, including that it return the groundwater to its original purity when the process is completed.

Powertech alleged violations of the State Administrative Procedure Act, but a Denver judge on Friday rejected the company’s lawsuit challenging the rules.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

“Centennial is still a viable project,” said John Fognani, attorney for Powertech Uranium…

Jay Davis, a mine opponent and Centennial Project neighbor, said the future prospects of uranium mining in Northern Colorado appear to be poor after the lawsuit was dismissed.

The state’s groundwater restoration requirements make it nearly impossible for companies to mine uranium using a process called in situ leaching, said Stuart Sanderson, president of the Colorado Mining Association.

He said that in situ leaching is very similar to the oil and gas industry’s use of hydraulic fracturing.

“It’s kind of ironic that fracking, which is not completely dissimilar technology, is occurring throughout Northern Colorado, and this one small uranium mining company has had to put the project on hold” because of difficulty seeking a mining permit, he said.

More coverage from Collin McRann writing for The Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:

The ruling holds up different rules and regulations put in place by decades of Colorado legislation. According to Parson, some of Colorado’s stricter mining laws have been influenced by studies and reviews of the Summitville Gold Mine and Superfund site in Rio Grande County. The mine went out of business in 1992 leaving masses of heavy metals and acids in soil and water supplies. The mine was listed as a Superfund site in 1994.

The state’s mining rules and requirements also apply to all types of uranium mines in terms of clean-up and contamination prevention.

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Jessica Maher):

Opponents of the in-situ technique, including the advocacy group Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction, say it threatens groundwater and would have health, environmental and economic impacts on Northern Colorado.

“The Colorado uranium mining industry is wrong to keep fighting water quality protections and better public involvement,” Jeff Parsons of the Western Mining Action Project said in a statement. “The people of Colorado have a right to be heard and will not accept mining projects that cannot protect the water.”

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Precipitation news: Monsoon moisture will hold over Colorado until the end of the week #CODrought #monsoon

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Jeff Tucker):

A bank of scattered thunderstorm brought as much as 0.35-inch of rain to some areas of Pueblo on Monday afternoon…About 0.3 of an inch of rain fell in the Downtown and Central Pueblo neighborhoods. The Downtown area also saw very small hail with the storm.

Drought news: U.S. drought nearing epic droughts of the dust bowl years and 1950s #CODrought


From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Across the country, June was the third-driest in the 118-year record, and the month ranked among the top-10 driest for 11 states, including Wyoming, which reported its driest June ever. Nationally, more of the U.S. is experiencing drought conditions than at any time in the last half century, and by some measures, the drought is approaching Dust Bowl proportions. According to the National Climatic Data Center, 55 percent of the U.S. is in some stage of drought, “the largest percentage since December 1956, when 58 percent … was in moderate to extreme drought,” according to the NCDC’s monthly drought update

During the last three months, drought has expanded rapidly in Colorado, but it has not reached the magnitude of the 2002 record drought, according to the national drought monitor, in part due to the abundant moisture last year. About 66 percent of the West is experiencing drough, with only the Pacific Northwest seeing above-average rain during June.