San Luis Valley irrigation season ends on November 1


From email from the Division of Water Resources (Matt Hardesty):

The Division Engineer for Division 3 of the Colorado Division of Water Resources has announced that the irrigation season will end on November 1, 2012 for irrigation structures within the following water districts: Water District 20, which is the drainage area of the Rio Grande; Water District 25, which is the drainage area of San Luis Creek; Water District 26, which is the drainage area of Saguache Creek; Water District 27, which is the drainage area of La Garita and Carnero Creeks; and Water District 35, which is the drainage area of Trinchera Creek. The irrigation season will end on November 9, 2012 for irrigation structures within Water District 21, which is the drainage area of the Alamosa and La Jara Creeks and Water District 24, which is the drainage area of the Culebra Creek.

This announcement is to comply with the State Engineer’s policy number 2010-1 regarding the setting of an irrigation season in Division 3.

Future announcements will be made regarding the end of the irrigation season for the Conejos River drainage area.

If you have any questions, please contact the Division of Water Resources at (719) 589-6683.

More Rio Grande River Basin coverage here and <a href="

Denver Water receives award for exceptional performance


Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney/Travis Thompson):

Denver Water was one of four water utilities from around the nation to receive the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies gold award for exceptional utility performance. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in implementing nationally recognized attributes of effective utility management.

Denver Water received the award for its commitment to delivering a high-quality product, operating with excellence and efficiency, developing employees’ skills and using specific metrics to track performance.

The association also noted other achievements that attributed to the gold award, including Denver Water’s comprehensive watershed protection efforts and asset management programs. Denver Water uses scenario planning to evaluate potential water supply futures and collaborates with federal, state and local officials to prevent, prepare for and recover from emergencies.

Additionally, Denver Water partners with regulatory agencies to ensure it uses practical approaches to protect public health and the environment. And, the utilities financial position is strong, with solid cash reserves and excellent credit ratings.

The award is another mark in demonstrating Denver Water’s commitment to delivering safe, clean water to every customer.

More Denver Water coverage here.

Glenwood Springs: The next meeting of the Flaming Gorge Task Force is October 30


Here’s the agenda for the meeting.

More Flaming Gorge Task Force coverage here.

The EPA launches new webpage for nutrient pollution information


Click here for the website.

More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.

San Luis Valley: Groundwater sub-district #1 trial update: Use of closed basin water still a sticking point


From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

When the afternoon was concluded, objectors and supporters had agreed in concept to the 2012 annual replacement plan (ARP) for the sub-district and the underlying methodologies and technologies used to develop that plan. That made one of the remaining motions to strike expert witnesses and their reports a moot point because there is now no longer the need for a number of witnesses to present extensive testimony.

Proponents now plan to call only three witnesses, Rio Grande Water Conservation District Manager (RGWCD) Steve Vandiver, RGWCD engineer Allen Davey and Colorado Division of Water Resources State Engineer Dick Wolfe.

This first sub-district, which was designed to repair injurious depletions from well pumping to surface water rights and reduce the draw on the aquifer, operates under a management plan that is effectuated each year through an annual replacement plan. The annual plan spells out how depletions will be replaced…

The sponsoring water district approved the annual plan, as did the state engineer. Objectors challenged it and asked the judge to prohibit wells from pumping in the sub-district boundaries until those challenges were resolved this year. She denied that motion.

Objectors subsequently asked for their claims to be withdrawn and the October trial to be vacated. Judge Swift told objectors they could either withdraw their challenges to the 2012 replacement plan on the condition they could not bring those challenges back again or withdraw them with the opportunity to re-file them only if they paid the supporters’ costs for preparing for trial. They chose the first option, except for Schwiesow whose client the Costilla Ditch Company chose not to withdraw its claims.

One issue still remaining for trial is the use of Closed Basin Project water as one of the sources to replace depletions. Davey in particular will testify to that issue next week. He will also testify about augmentation wells, another issue still pending before the judge…

One of the controversial topics before the judge on Wednesday revolved around the possibility of challenging sub-district water plans in the future. Proponents said they would like some definitive rulings from the judge regarding the foundation of the water plan so they would not have to go through all the time and effort they did this year every year to defend the sub-district’s plan.

“We want the court to be in a position to be able to make factual determinations about the adequacy of the replacement plan because it was so broadly challenged,” [David Robbins, attorney for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District ] said.

[Attorney for the objectors Tim Buchanan] said the objectors raised broad issues “because we didn’t want to be foreclosed in the future from raising those issues.”

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

Paonia Reservoir: Look out Northern Pike, Rotenone is on the way


Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will take advantage of the extremely low water levels this fall to restore the fishery at Paonia Reservoir.

When the reservoir starts filling again next spring, the reservoir will be stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout.

The reservoir, which is primarily used for agricultural irrigation, was drained significantly this summer. In late October the reservoir will be lowered further and the water will be treated with Rotenone, an organic chemical that will kill all the fish remaining in the reservoir. The chemical — derived from the root of a tropical plant — is fast acting, works only on aquatic species, leaves no residue and degrades quickly in the environment. Parks and Wildlife agency biologists will then neutralize the chemical through application of an oxidizing agent.

No water will leave the reservoir until it has been determined that it is free of the chemical.

“Rotenone is widely used in Colorado and throughout the nation for fisheries management projects,” said John Alves, senior aquatic biologist for the southwest region of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “It is a safe and effective chemical.”

Paonia Reservoir is a poor fishery because of the extreme annual fluctuation of the water level. Northern Pike are present in the reservoir in small numbers and they are small in size. The species holds little appeal to the majority of recreational anglers. Also, pike pose a substantial threat to native fish that live downstream in the Gunnison River.

“The reservoir will be managed for angling recreation, and the majority of Colorado anglers prefer fishing for trout,” Alves said.

Paonia State Park is located on the south side of the reservoir and attracts anglers, campers and day-users.

The treatment of the reservoir is planned for the week of Oct. 29.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation board meeting recap: Total expenditures in the draft budget = $1.3 million


From the Pagosa Sun (Lindsey Bright):

During the meeting, the board reviewed the 2013 draft proposed budget for the first time during a regular meeting. This was an initial discussion on the budget, and no action was taken.

The General Fund total revenue in the 2013 draft proposed budget is $968,490, down from $991,102 in 2012.

The total expenditures in the draft budget is $1.3 million, up from $1.25 million in 2012. This increase is due to several incremental climbs in a variety of line items as well as the addition of three line items: Transportation Equipment, $18,000; Office and Administration Equipment, $11,500; and Administrative Building Remodel/SCAN Network, $50,433.

In the Water Enterprise Fund, the total budgeted revenue for 2013 is $4.54 million, down from $4.7 million in 2012. The total expense for Work in Progress in 2013 is $1.3 million, up approximately $500,000 from 2012. The areas where it increases most are: reservoirs/watersheds, $220,000; water treatment plant upgrade, $75,000; and distribution system upgrades, $703,772.

Total maintenance is proposed to be $151,959 in 2013, and total administration is proposed to be budgeted at $371,691.

Debt Retirement and Transfers is $1.07 million.

In the Wastewater Enterprise fund, the total revenue for 2013 is budgeted at $2.2 million, down nearly half from $4.1 million of the 2012 amended budget.

The biggest increase for the Wastewater Enterprise is in the Work in Progress category, where the Pagosa Springs Sanitation General Improvement District Pumping Project is budgeted at $1.24 million.

Total Wastewater Treatment for 2013 is budgeted at $401,000 with the biggest increase seen in line item Operator Salaries, rising to $82,623 from $38,200.

Total WasteWater Maintenance is budgeted at $73,444 for 2012, only a slight increase from the $68,946 in the 2012 amended budget.

More San Juan River Basin coverage here and here.

Drought news: Sparcity of irrigation water has dried up some open space ponds in Boulder County #CODrought



In Boulder County, hundreds of ponds and lakes that are part of the open space network are about half full on average. Teller Lake has nearly gone completely dry.

Each pond and lake is unique with water levels varying greatly depending on the streams and ditches that feed it. Another determining factor is how much of that water goes to local farmers and growers for their crops.

“Everywhere the water has been lower. Not just the ponds and lakes but all the streams and the creeks. It’s definitely noticeable,” said lake visitor Liz Negrey…

The lake drained drastically in the past month, leaving the fish that live in the lake to slowly die in shrinking pools of water. The herons and sea gulls feasted on the dying fish…

The lake ran dry after there wasn’t enough water running in the ditch that feeds it. Most of the water was used for emergency irrigation to help nearby farm land.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

The Colorado River District’s Jim Pokrandt confirmed in an email Tuesday that [Wolford Reservoir] on Muddy Creek, which flows off the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass, is at its lowest point since 2002 and well beneath its capacity of 65,872 acre-feet. The water behind the dam now stands at about 26,000 acre-feet, still above the 20,000 acre-feet low point it reached in the drought year of 2002…

It would be difficult for travelers on their way from Steamboat to Silverthorne or Denver to fail to notice how low the reservoir is.

Pokrandt said irrigators from the Grand Valley near Grand Junction were making calls on water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir right up until Tuesday.

Pokrandt said a major factor in the drawdown of the reservoir is its mission of offsetting water taken by Denver Water out of Dillon Reservoir near Frisco.

Denver Water controls 40 percent of the water in Wolford Mountain Reservoir, or about 28,000 acre-feet, Pokrandt said. It has an agreement to augment the amount of water stored in Green Mountain Reservoir to offset water it holds back from the Blue River before it can reach Green Mountain farther downstream.

The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program also called upon 5,600 acre-feet of the 11,412 acre-feet it controls in Wolford this summer, Pokrandt said.

From Reuters (Carey Gillam):

Roughly 61.79 percent of the contiguous United States was suffering from at least “moderate” drought as of October 23, down from 62.39 percent a week earlier, according to Thursday’s Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists.

The portion of the United States under “exceptional” drought – the most dire classification – held steady at 5.84 percent and was mostly in western Kansas and Nebraska.

In the High Plains, which include Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, severe or worse drought levels covered 84.90 percent of the region, improved from 87.42 percent the prior week. An estimated 27.44 percent of the region was still in the worst level of drought, unchanged from a week earlier.

Nebraska is the worst hit state in the country, with fully 77.58 percent of the state classified in exceptional drought, unchanged from a week earlier. Winter wheat farmers who have planted or are wrapping up planting their new crop will need significant rainfall and/or snow to provide enough moisture to grow a healthy crop.

In Kansas, the largest hard red winter wheat producing state, “extreme” drought, the second-worst level, held steady at 77.80 percent of the state, while the worst level held steady at 39.68 percent of the state.

Areas that saw good improvement over the last week included Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa, due to a slow-moving rainstorm through the Midwestern region.

Good rains were also seen in the west, over northern California, the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies.

Some of the heaviest rain and snow fell in areas that were already drought free, although precipitation chipped away at dryness and drought in a few areas, according to the Drought Monitor report. Meanwhile, dry conditions prevailed across the southern half of the West, the report said.

Colorado River: Say hello to the Grand Valley Riparian Restoration Collaborative #coriver


From the Grand Junction Free Press (Shannon Hatch):

The Tamarisk Coalition is excited to announce the formation of a new partnership to protect and improve habitat along rivers and streams in the Grand Valley of western Colorado.

Participants in this partnership include: Mesa County, City of Grand Junction, Town of Palisade, City of Fruita, Grand Junction Audubon, Colorado Riverfront Commission, Water Center at Colorado Mesa University, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Watershed Assembly, Mesa Land Trust, Clifton Sanitation District, Western Colorado Conservation Corps, Bureau of Land Management, US Bureau of Reclamation, and private landowners.

Although it is still in its infancy, the Grand Valley Riparian Restoration Collaborative (GVRRC), as it is informally being called, already has a number of projects on tap for the coming year. Thanks to generous funding from the Colorado Basin Roundtable and Statewide Water Supply Reserve Account, administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the GVRRC will be implementing five on-the-ground projects in 2013…

Specific on-the-ground projects that the collaborative will be working on in 2013 include:

• Bank stabilization and revegetation work at Riverbend Park in Palisade.

• Cottonwood fencing from beaver predation and wildlife browsing at the Ela Preserve, managed by Grand Valley Audubon.

• Tamarisk and Russian olive removal, secondary weed treatment, and revegetation at several different areas, including the Jarvis Property, Watson Island, and Las Colonias Park, owned by City of Grand Junction; Redlands Parkway property, managed by Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction; and Connected Lakes State Park, managed by Colorado Parks & Wildlife…

More information about the collaborative can be found at the following website:

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.