Silverthorne and Basalt finish first and second in taste test


From the Aspen Business Journal (Bob Berwyn):

“Like a party in my mouth,” one of the judges wrote next to sample identified only as “G.”

The testing went through three rounds, with the top two samples from each round making it to the finals. In the end, Silverthorne prevailed, while Basalt took second place and Aurora Water came in third after winning the competition last year.

“We have the benefit of using the water before anyone else does,” said Silverthorne public works director Bill Linfield, giving Mother Nature most of the credit for the victory.

From the Summit Daily News (Paige Blankenbuehler):

Silverthorne’s water comes from six different wells called the Blue River Alluvium, which sits at a lower elevated valley near Silverthorne, according to Kevin Batchelder, Silverthorne town manager. “We’re at the top of the food chain for clean, safe water,” Batchelder said. “We’re very lucky to have natural filtration and pristine, snow melt water.”[…]

Ranking behind Silverthorne, in its first-ever entry into the competition, Basalt took second place with Aurora Water coming in third…

As the winner, Silverthorne will represent Colorado in a national water-tasting contest later this year.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

Colorado River District’s annual conference recap


From (Courtney Griffin):

The Colorado River District celebrated its 75th birthday Thursday by holding an annual conference at the Two Rivers Convention Center…

With the small amount of snow and rainfall Grand Junction has had this past year, officials say without more precipitation this winter, it could mean stricter water conservation methods. “It’s a mindset more than anything else and it’s an appreciation for the ethics of water, the values of water and conservation is kind of a natural consequence,” said Chris Treese, external affairs manager for the Colorado River District.

Officials are also discussing how to preserve fish populations, how to keep dependent agriculture businesses thriving and how to deal with decreased water supply.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Douglas County: Sun Resources (Phil Anschutz) plans to mine 15,000 acre-feet a year from the Denver Basin aquifer system


From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Rights to the water were acquired by billionaire Phil Anschutz last year, and one of his companies, Sun Resources, is building wells that could pump as much as 15,000 acre-feet of water per year from Denver Basin aquifers. That’s enough water to sustain 30,000 houses, though Sun Resources chief executive Gary Pierson characterized the drilling as exploratory.

“We have not made any arrangements for the water at this point,” Pierson said…

Two production wells — 1,450 and 1,800 feet deep — were nearing completion this week. A 2009 document obtained by The Denver Post proposed 35 production wells and shows water being moved to cities and communities through pipelines, including one leading to Sterling Ranch, a planned $4.3 billion, 12,050-house development south of Chatfield State Park…

State water authorities this year issued permits allowing Sun Resources to drill two production wells under the Greenland open space. A 1995 water-court decision established rights to 1.5 million acre-feet of water under the 7,640-acre Greenland Ranch. Anschutz acquired those rights last year in a purchase of assets from the Gaylord family of Oklahoma…

South-metro water providers relying on finite underground sources have declared a mission of shifting to renewable water from snowmelt and rivers, said Eric Hecox, director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “That doesn’t mean they have to be 100 percent off the Denver Basin aquifer water,” Hecox said. “What we would like to do is use the Denver Basin in a different way, as a drought supply.

More Denver Basin Aquifer system coverage here and here.

The Water Center at CMU is hosting a water law seminar and a tour of the Uncompahgre Valley


From Colorado Mesa University (Hannah Holm) via the Grand Junction Free Press:

The Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is pleased to announce two exciting opportunities to learn about water in our region: An eight-hour “Water Law in a Nutshell” class Sept. 21, and a water tour of the Uncompahgre Valley Sept. 25. Both events are open to the general public.

• “Water Law in a Nutshell” – Friday, Sept. 21, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Do you have some understanding that senior water rights have priority over junior water rights in Colorado, but get a bit confused when people start talking about augmentation plans and conditional water rights? Are you a little fuzzy on the difference between a ditch share and a water right? And would you like to understand all of this a whole lot better? If so, then this course is for you.

The Water Center at CMU will host “Water Law in a Nutshell,” presented by Aaron Clay, attorney at law and former 26-year Water Referee for the Colorado Water Court, Division 4. This seminar will cover all aspects of the law related to water rights and ditch rights as applied in Colorado. Subject matter includes the appropriation, perfection, use, limitations, attributes, abandonment and enforcement of various types of water rights. Additional subject matter will include special rules for groundwater, public rights in appropriated water, federal and interstate compacts and more.

This seminar is open to all interested persons. Fee is $89; $113 for .5 graduate in-service credit. The course has also been pre-approved for eight hours of Continuing Legal Education credit. For more information or to register, see or call the Water Center at 970-248-1968.

• Uncompahgre Valley Water Tour – Tuesday, Sept. 25, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Over 100 years ago, a tunnel was drilled from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to carry water from the Gunnison River to the Uncompahgre Valley. The water flowed, and a rich diversity of farms flourished.

In an all-day tour Sept. 25, you can learn about this fascinating history and see how the valley is responding to newer challenges: The opportunity to develop hydropower from canals, the need to control the levels of salt and selenium leaching from farmland into the Uncompahgre and Gunnison rivers, and the need to get more precise with irrigation when water supplies dwindle.

The tour will start and finish at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center at Confluence Park in Delta, and is being co-hosted by the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, the Delta-Montrose Electric Association, and the Water Center at CMU.

The tour will begin with a presentation on the history of water development in the Uncompahgre Valley by Steve Fletcher, manager of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association. Stops will include the South Canal hydropower project, which is currently under construction; the Ironstone diversion on the Uncompahgre River; a ditch lining project on the EC lateral; Randy Meeker’s farm; and David Harold’s farm. Meeker employs sprinkler irrigation, and Harold uses a drip system.

The tour is open to anyone who is interested. The $40 fee includes transportation, breakfast and a picnic lunch at the Mountain View Winery near Olathe. For more information or to register, see or call the Water Center at 970-248-1968.

More education coverage here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: 61 cfs in the river below Olympus Dam


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

[September 13] Late tonight/early tomorrow morning, we will be cutting back releases from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson River. Currently, flows are around 215 cfs. By early tomorrow morning, September 14, they should be under 100 cfs.

Starting last weekend, we began bumping up releases from the dam to the river in order to deliver Colorado-Big Thompson Project water to water users while a section of the Charles Hansen Feeder Canal was down for inspections. Now that the work is wrapping up, we can begin moving C-BT water back through its system again, reducing the amount of water down through the canyon.

This time of year, releases from Olympus Dam typically reflect inflows to Lake Estes. Whatever the Big T brings into Lake Estes, we pass through Olympus Dam down the canyon. Inflows to Lake Estes are currently about 61 cfs.Unless we have a significant rain event, it is likely releases from Olympus Dam will be around 61 cfs by tomorrow.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: Reclamation is bypassing Ruedi Reservoir inflows to the Grand Valley


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

We have a couple of adjustments coming to our release from Ruedi Dam to the Fryingpan River. Today, 9-13, at 5 p.m., releases will increase to 241 cfs. Tomorrow, around noon, they will increase to 266 cfs. The total increase in releases is 50 cfs.

Today’s change is due to the senior water right call down on the Colorado River near Grand Junction. That call requires us to pass the inflow to Ruedi on downstream. Inflows went up with the recent rains, so to meet this water right, we increased 25 cfs today, 9-13.

Tomorrow’s change is per the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on behalf of the endangered fish and their critical habitat in the Colorado River. The Colorado, like the rest of the state, saw a very hot and dry August.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Fountain Creek: Uncontrolled Colorado Springs stormwater funneled to Pueblo


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

New rule of thumb: An inch of rain in Colorado Springs equals a foot rise for Fountain Creek in Pueblo. And corresponding demands for stormwater control.

“It’s one big funnel,” said Jay Winner, manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District. “Because Colorado Springs is unable to control its stormwater, it all flows very quickly into that narrow area we call Fountain Creek. Geographically, it’s a tight funnel that fills up very fast.”

Sites throughout Colorado Springs received anywhere from 0.7 to 1.4 inches of rain that fell throughout the city, heaviest over the Waldo Canyon burn scar, which increases the amount of mud. About 12 hours later, Fountain Creek changed from a meandering stream to a full-blown dirty river in Pueblo, with the level increasing by one foot.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.