Chatfield Reallocation Project update: ‘A re-timing of when water would be flowing downstream’ — Rick McLoud

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Here’s an in-depth look at project proponents’ assurances, from Ryan Boldrey writing for the Highlands Ranch Herald. From the article:

As a public comment period nears its Sept. 6 close, the issues of environmental and recreational impact remain at the forefront of the discussion.

Both the Audubon Society and the South Platte Working Group – which includes officials from the City of Littleton and South Suburban Parks and Recreation District – have expressed concerns. Issues include possible negative effects on animal habitat, potential damage to the South Platte River and loss of trees and recreational amenities.

Proponents say all environmental and recreational impacts would be fully mitigated.

“Change is never easy and we are not going to suggest that it is going to look exactly like it does today,” said Steve Welchert of the Chatfield Water for Life Coalition. “But more water is a good thing, it increases habitat for everybody. The bike paths, hiking paths and marina would all be moved, but not eliminated. Included in the cost of the project is $45 million dedicated to the modification of recreational facilities.”

According to Rick McLoud, water resource manager for Centennial Water and Sanitation District, another $70 million of the total $180 million price tag is dedicated to environmental mitigation…

According to McLoud, the project would take extra water from the South Platte River during high-runoff flow months such as April, May and June and hold it in the reservoir. Sixty percent of that water would then end up being released downstream at points later in the summer during high-drought times.

“In essence we would be doing a re-timing of when water would be flowing downstream,” McLoud said. “We would see stream enhancements and work on the channel configuration to aid the low-flow times, benefitting not just farmers in Weld County and people in the suburbs, but habitat as well.”

More Chatfield Reservoir coverage here and here.

El Paso County Communities stormwater funding falls short

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

At a kickoff event for a stormwater task force on Tuesday, they stressed the need to educate residents about the impact of stormwater on people’s daily lives…

In unincorporated areas of the county that have been built up, such as Security and Widefield, there are no underground storm sewers.

While Colorado Springs has nearly $500 million in unfunded stormwater needs, there are an estimated $100 million more in other areas of El Paso County along Fountain Creek. In addition, a potential $150 million in projects are contemplated by the Fountain Creek Watershed District.

Pueblo has $85 million in identified long-term projects that are being funded through its stormwater enterprise.

More coverage from Daniel Chacón writing for The Colorado Springs Gazette:

“For decades, there have been discussions about stormwater in this area,” El Paso County Commission Chairwoman Amy Lathen said during the so-called Sand Creek Summit, where officials met under a tent next to the creek near Airport Road…

Officials chose Sand Creek for the summit to show erosion problems there that include, among other things, exposed Utilities lines. Various agencies are pooling resources to address the problems there.

A regional stormwater task force that met for the first time last week plans to compile a list by the end of the year of the infrastructure capital improvement needs in the region and how much money each government entity can contribute to address the problem, said City Councilwoman Brandy Williams. The task force’s next meeting is in September.

More stormwater coverage here and here.

Greeley: Water and Sewer Board recommends a 5.4% net rate hike, water up, sewer down

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

A 5.4 percent rate increase for the average single-family home was recommended by the Greeley Water and Sewer Board on Wednesday. The water and sewer board’s 7-0 vote sent a $52.7 million proposed budget to city council members, who, along with City Manager Roy Otto, will consider the measure during the next few months before finalizing the 2013 rates late in the year…

Following revisions during the past month, the proposed budget brought before the board and approved Wednesday includes a 7.9 percent increase in water rates, while sewer rates would drop by 2.2 percent — amounting to an overall 5.4 percent increase for the average single-family home.

Bringing about much of the rate increase for 2013, like other years, are the costs associated with the city’s acquisition of more water supplies, as well as the construction of the city’s new pipeline from the Bellvue Treatment Plant, its participation in the new Chimney Hollow Reservoir and the permitting costs associated with proposed reservoirs.

More Greeley coverage here.

Rifle City Council approves ballot question to raise sales tax for new water treatment plant

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From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Mike McKibbin):

If approved by city voters, the increase will help the city repay a $25.5 million loan from the Colorado Water and Power Development Authority. The loan, on which the city closed on Aug. 14, will fund the construction of a new water treatment plant to replace the current Graham Mesa plant, which is old and in danger of failure, according to city officials.

The sales and use tax hike, if approved in November, would take effect in January and would end once the loan is repaid. It would increase the city’s sales tax rate from 3.5 cents to 4.25 cents and would raise an estimated $1.65 million a year.

More Rifle coverage here and here.

Drought news: This year’s drought could dry up irrigation water leases next season

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We’re still in good shape in terms of having a reserve, but we’ll probably have to throttle back onetime leases next year,” said Alan Ward, water resources manager for the [Pueblo Board of Water Works]. “We may lease very little water or none at all on the spot market next year.”

The water board leases have been an important source of water for farmers on the Bessemer Ditch and for well augmentation groups this year. This year the water board was able to lease 14,000 acre-feet — the equivalent of half the metered water supply for Pueblo.

The situation shouldn’t affect the board’s long-term leases to Aurora, Xcel’s Comanche power plant and other businesses.

More Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here and here.

Drought news: Drawdown of Wolford Mountain Reservoir an opportunity to inspect Ritschard Dam settling

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Here’s the release from the Colorado River District (Martha Moore):

The Colorado River District, which owns and operates Wolford Mountain Reservoir, will take advantage of this year’s drought and resulting low reservoir water levels to further monitor movement at Ritschard
Dam.

As with all earthen dams, Ritschard Dam was expected to settle over time. However, over its 16-year life, the dam has settled nearly two-feet, rather than the estimated one-foot. This year’s dry conditions require drawing the reservoir down lower than most years in order to meet contractual and environmental demands for the stored water. Previous monitoring data suggest the settling rate slows as water levels decline. A major drawdown of the reservoir this year will assist in further assessment of the situation.

“The dam is safe. There is no reason for concern over dam failure,” assures John Currier, chief engineer for the Colorado River District. “There are no leaks; the dam is solid. However, we need to determine the cause of continued settling,” added Currier.

About Wolford Mountain Reservoir:

Wolford Mountain Reservoir is located on Muddy Creek, five miles north of Kremmling. It stores 66,000 acre feet of water when full. The reservoir primarily provides water to west slope contract holders when their water rights would otherwise be called out by more senior water users on the Colorado River. Water is released from the reservoir to protect Western Slope water users and to substitute for water diverted by Denver Water at Dillon Reservoir in critically dry years.

Water releases from Wolford also benefit endangered fish in the Colorado River near Grand Junction to enhance flows in the spring time and in late summer during times of lower flows.

Wolford was built in cooperation with and financing from Denver Water and Northern Water, both Front Range transmountain water diverters.

More coverage from Drew Munro writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

“This year is a really good test,” John Currier told Kremmling Town Board members Wednesday night, explaining that the reservoir will be drawn down 30-35 feet below full by the end of October.

“The reservoir hasn’t been drawn down like this since 2002-2003,” he added.

Currier, chief engineer for the river district, was at the meeting along with other district representatives to allay rumors that Wolford Mountain is being drawn down to prevent it from failing and to present a progress report about the ongoing investigation into why the dam is moving.

He said the reason the reservoir will be drawn down so far this fall is that Denver Water, which holds a lease for 25,000 acre-feet of “substitution water” annually in the 66,000 acre-foot impoundment, will release all its water this year. That, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife will use another 6,000 acre-feet this fall to augment downstream flows for endangered fish, he said.

In a “normal” year, he said the reservoir is drawn down about 10 feet. When that occurs, he said monitoring instruments indicate the rate of settling slows substantially. What engineers will be looking at this fall is whether there is a point at which the settling slows further or stops as the water level falls.

More Wolford Mountain Reservoir coverage here and here.