The Sterling Ranch development signs up for WISE Project infrastructure and water supplies

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From the Castle Rock News (Rhonda Moore):

Sterling Ranch managing director Harold Smethills announced a deal with Aurora Water that will deliver 88 million gallons of water already owned by the development’s provider, Dominion Water. The deal paves the way for Sterling Ranch to begin the plat process with Douglas County as the development moves forward, Smethills said.

At the same time, Sterling Ranch signed a second deal with Aurora Water in a 15-year lease for 186 million gallons of water as a sub-agreement of the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency agreement, said Greg Baker, manager of Aurora Water public relations…

Sterling Ranch aims to begin its development process before year’s end and hopes to enter the market as quickly as possible, Smethills said. He hopes to debut Sterling Ranch, a planned development approved for more than 12,000 homes over its 20-year planned build-out, with as many as 2,000 homes in its early phases. “This gets us in the market years before we could have built our infrastructure because the demand is here now,” Smethills said.

More Sterling Ranch coverage here.

Lake Pueblo: Fryingpan-Arkansas Project 50th anniversary celebration tomorrow

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From The Pueblo Chieftain:

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and others are scheduled to attend a 50th anniversary celebration at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Lake Pueblo State Park Visitors Center, 640 Pueblo Reservoir Road.
The Fryingpan-Arkansas project is a water diversion and storage project constructed to deliver water to families, producers and municipalities throughout the lower Arkansas Valley, as well as to provide supplemental irrigation water.

Slated to join Bennet and Tipton at the event are John Stulp, special policy adviser to the governor for water; Mike Collins, Bureau of Reclamation area manager for Eastern Colorado; Jennifer Gimbel, executive director, Colorado Water Conservation Board; John Singletary, chairman of the board, Parks and Wildlife Commission; and Angela Giron, state senator from Pueblo.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here and here.

CWC Summer Conference: ‘Public Trust’ initiatives and Colorado Water law

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From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

In the 19th century, when Colorado water law was getting established, environmental values simply didn’t figure into the picture — “beneficial use” of water meant taking it out of a stream to do something with it! And whoever got there first had priority.

A pair of proposed ballot initiatives that sought to prioritize stream health and give boaters more access had Colorado’s water community very stirred up earlier this year. There was much concern that the initiatives could throw long-established water rights into question and provide full employment for many, many lawyers.

These initiatives have since been abandoned by their sponsors, due to a lack of success in gathering sufficient signatures, but the water community is well aware that the fundamental questions they raised are not going away. As I write this column, speakers are preparing for a panel discussion on this very topic at the Colorado Water Congress annual conference in Steamboat Springs (Aug. 15-17)…

Water attorney Aaron Clay noted that the greatest strength of Colorado water law is the same as its greatest weakness: The security of the property rights it provides for has led to rigidity. It’s a challenge to accommodate environmental values without running afoul of property rights issues. A challenge, but not impossible — he pointed out that water law and use practices have already adapted to changing values: The law now provides for water rights that can be appropriated for environmental and recreational purposes without taking water out of a stream.

He also pointed out that the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provide examples of how environmental considerations can be brought into decision-making without changing our system of property rights. Furthermore, many water providers are public entities, and their practices can be influenced by the public to whom they are accountable.

CWC Summer Meeting: U.S. Reps. Tipton and Gardner are on board with additional storage projects

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We have to increase the ability to store water in the Western United States,” Tipton told the Colorado Water Congress at its summer convention this week. In Colorado, it’s an issue that crosses party lines. This week Gov. John Hickenlooper sent a letter to President Barack Obama to tell him that more timely federal decisions are needed on storage projects such as Denver Water’s Gross Reservoir Expansion and the Northern Integrated Supply Project…

Tipton advocates timely, “common sense” decisions by federal agencies. Gardner said the federal government needs to be a partner in state decisions, but should not try to control the process.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Arkansas Valley Conduit: The one last big piece of the Fryingpan-Arkansas project yet to be constructed

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

As water is used and reused along the Arkansas River, it picks up and releases salt. By the time the Arkansas River reaches the state line, it can be up to 10 times more saline than at Pueblo. In addition, many of the wells used to supply water to the cities and towns of the Arkansas Valley have radionuclide (a class of atom that exhibits radioactivity) contamination. As state restrictions tighten, they will be forced to either clean the water or turn to a new supply through the conduit. Building the conduit always has been a chicken-or-egg proposition. The population of the valley has never been large enough to afford the conduit, but it is vital for its future growth…

The Bureau of Reclamation is doing an environmental impact study for the conduit — along with associated long-term storage contracts — that should be completed next year.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“It is still a struggle to provide good water to newcomers,” said Bill Long, the conduit’s most tireless advocate…

Long is a Las Animas businessman, Bent County commissioner and president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. His view of the Fry-Ark Project is one in which future generations will enjoy the work going on today.

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.