EPA recognizes Colorado Springs Utilities as WaterSense Partner of the Year

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Here’s the release from the EPA (Molly Hooven/Patrice Lehermeier):

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored Colorado Springs Utilities as a 2012 WaterSense Partner of the Year. The water provider, which serves more than 210,000 people, earned EPA’s recognition for its exemplary commitment to encouraging water efficiency in the Colorado Springs area. Thanks to their efforts, along with over 2,600 other WaterSense partners nationwide, WaterSense-labeled products have helped Americans save 287 billion gallons of water and $4.7 billion in water and energy bills.

“WaterSense is proud to partner with these champions of water efficiency who share our mission to protect the future of our nation’s water supply,” said Nancy Stoner, EPA’s acting Assistant Administrator for Water. “The 2012 WaterSense Partners of the Year were exceptional in their efforts to support innovative approaches to help people and companies save water and money on utility bills nationwide.”

In 2011, Colorado Springs Utilities engaged consumers and local businesses in the water efficiency movement by offering them personalized ways to get involved. The organization’s YOUtilities YouTube video contest inspired customers to document the ways in which they save water and energy at home. The contest, which aimed to create consumer advocates for water-efficient products and practices, produced a number of informing and entertaining videos for the community to enjoy.

In 2011, a team effort led by Colorado Springs Utilities, along with local builder Wayne Intermill, EnergyLogic, Inc., and 2008 WaterSense Retailer Partner of the Year Ferguson Enterprises, resulted in the first WaterSense-labeled home in Colorado located in the Gold Hill Mesa neighborhood. During the three-week 2011 Parade of Homes, 5,000 visitors explored the WaterSense-labeled home, which also became the first home in Colorado to receive LEED® for Homes certification, ENERGY STAR® qualification, and the WaterSense label. Also last year, Colorado Springs Utilities issued more than 4,500 water-efficiency rebates to customers, resulting in a savings of 23,078,060 gallons of water.

The utility also helped hundreds of commercial kitchens save water by offering them free, water-efficient pre-rinse spray valve nozzles for cleaning dishes. The commercial retrofit program helped facilities save more than 20 million gallons of water in 2011, or one-third of utility’s annual water savings goal.

More conservation coverage here.

Arkansas Basin: The Arkansas Groundwater Users Association accuse the Lower Ark of competing for the same supplies

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A well augmentation group thinks the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District is “picking winners and losers” in providing supplemental water.

Lower Ark manager Jay Winner says that’s not the case. The district is trying to protect all water rights — surface or groundwater — in the Lower Ark Valley.

“We have to scrape water together wherever we can,” said Scott Lorenz, manager of the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association. “We operate with the other two groundwater groups with mutual respect, and we don’t go after each other’s water.”

AGUA, the Colorado Water Protective and Development Association and the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association provide replacement water for well owners under 1996 rules, called Rule 14 plans.

The Lower Ark district operates a Rule 10 plan under 2010 surface irrigation rules.

AGUA fears the Lower District is attempting through its ongoing negotiations with Colorado Springs to lock up one of its main sources of replacement flows — return flows from the city. The fears stem from last year’s five-year lease from Pueblo Board of Water Works at more than double the going rate for one-year leases.

“We rely on that water,” Lorenz said. “I oppose taxpayer funds being used to pick winners and losers.”

Winner said negotiations with Colorado Springs will not create competition with the well groups for supply.

“My goal is to get the Rule 10 guys on surface water rights . . .

to be able to use their own water for replacement water,” Winner said.

Like the well groups, the surface irrigators have to pay for management of the program and the cost of water. While state grants helped set up the Rule 10 program, local taxes are not being used.

“It’s all pass-through costs,” he said.

The Lower Ark district provided more than 10,000 acrefeet of water to make up stateline deficits for overuse of water by wells in 2005-06. Otherwise, the burden would have been on well users, Winner added.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here and here.

Junction City: The annual meeting of the Republican River Basin Compact Administration is October 16

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From the Associated Press via the Salina Journal:

Officials from Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska meet later this month to discuss water-related issues and activities within the Republican River basin.

The Republican River Compact Administration’s annual meeting is Oct. 16 in Junction City. Among the topics up for discussion is compliance with the compact. A work session is also planned Oct. 15.

Both meetings are open to the public.

More Republican River Basin coverage here and here.

Drought news: Some relief but all of Colorado remains in drought #CODrought

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Click on the thumbnail graphics for the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map along with the September 20, 2011 and October 12, 2010 maps for some insight into the progression of the current drought.

From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

Next year’s outlook is uncertain, and water managers are being conservative about putting further pressure on reservoirs. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association decided to cut off water deliveries two weeks early to keep more water in storage for the 2013 growing season.

Reservoir storage levels around the state are low, and more extreme conservation measures are likely next year if winter storms fail to significantly refill them. Grand Valley domestic water providers have warned that another dry winter could lead to mandatory restrictions and higher water rates. According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service, reservoir storage levels at the end of August for some of the state’s major river basins were as follows:

• Colorado River Basin: 64% of average, and 63% of capacity. At the same time in 2011, the basin’s storage levels were at 111% of average.

• Gunnison River Basin: 63% of average, and 52% of capacity. At the same time in 2011, the basin’s storage levels were at 108% of average.

• South Platte River Basin (includes Denver and the northern Front Range): 71% of average, and 44% of capacity. At the same time in 2011, the basin’s storage levels were at a whopping 121% of average.

• Arkansas River Basin (includes Colorado Springs and Pueblo): 63% of average, and 19% of capacity. At the same time in 2011, this basin was already beginning to experience drought, and had storage levels at 85% of average.

Drought conditions and reservoir storage levels on Front Range matter to Western Slope water users, and vice versa, because of the extent to which Front Range water users rely on trans-mountain diversions. On average, about 500,000 acre-feet per year flows from Western Slope headwaters streams (mostly in the Colorado Basin) into the South Platte and Arkansas River Basins to irrigate crops and provide water to cities. An acre-foot is about enough to supply 2-3 households’ domestic water needs for a year.

Drought news: Snowy and windy in the Denver area #CODrought

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Click on the thumbnail graphic for the Super Doppler Radar map from ThorntonWeather.com.

Here’s the current (5:30 AM) forecast from the National Weather Service:

Today: A chance of rain and snow, mainly before 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. North wind 5 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Tonight: A slight chance of rain and snow before 1am, then a chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 28. East northeast wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Saturday: A chance of snow before 1pm, then a slight chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 43. North northeast wind 5 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

I’ll be riding into the wind and snow this morning to get to work. Since I’m a diverter in my day job, I love it.

Arkansas River Basin: The Palmer Land Trust honors organic farmer Dan Hobbs for ‘Innovation in Conservation’

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Here’s a report from Hal Walter writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Palmer Land Trust honored Avondale area farmer Dan Hobbs with its 2012 Innovation in Conservation Award on Wednesday evening.

Hobbs was recognized for his achievements in strengthening agriculture in the Arkansas River Valley, particularly in the areas of building organic farming alliances and farmto- table infrastructure, as well as securing financial investments and technical assistance for the local farming community.

He farms near Avondale, raising a variety of certified-organic vegetable and seed crops on his Hobbs Family Farm.

The award was presented before an audience of 320 at a Colorado Springs hotel following a local foods dinner featuring vegetables from Arkansas Valley Organic Growers, which Hobbs founded in 2006.

“Things are getting exciting out in the countryside,” said Hobbs in accepting his award. “There is an unprecedented level of synergy and momentum in the Arkansas River watershed. I’m not just talking about a set of neat projects, but thoughtful, long-term thinking, planning and implementation.”

He noted that 10 years ago the audience likely would not have enjoyed a local food dinner at such an event. In fact, vegetables served to the audience were from his and other Arkansas River Valley farms.

Hobbs was nominated for the Award by Jay Frost, who farms and ranches along the Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

Other award recipients included Friends of Open Space Award to the Gold Belt Tour and San Juan Skyway National Scenic Byways; and The Stewardship Award to the Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

The Stuart P. Dodge Award for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to Dale Lasater for his dedication to conservation through his Colorado Springs area family ranching operation, Lasater Grasslands Beef.

The Palmer Land Trust celebrated its 35th year of conserving public open, spaces farms and ranches and critical habitat and scenic vistas in 2012. This was the trust’s third annual conservation awards.

Back on April 1st the Chieftain quoted Hobbs, “Our goal [Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association] is to protect farmers from patent infringement charges by Monsanto when their organic crops are contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically altered seed.”

Here’s a post from May, where I published a poem written by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs, about about his son’s organic operation. Here’s the poem:

Organic Garlic Offering

Pick a spot of Colorado
sun below the ditch

October morning
plant them firm,

To root your hopes
set them loose

But turn
some water in

July’s the harvesting,
Purple Glazer, Silver White

Music Pink, Romanian Red,
Chesnok Inchelium, California Early,

Heirloom pungent, easy peel
good for salsa, pestos

Eating fresh and clean
saving this good farmland

Reprinted, with permission, from Living the Four Corners: Colorado Centennial State at the Headwaters by Justice Greg Hobbs. Click here to order the book from Continuing Legal Education Inc.