San Luis Valley irrigation season ends on November 1

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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

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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

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Here’s the agenda for the meeting.

More Flaming Gorge Task Force coverage here.

The EPA launches new webpage for nutrient pollution information

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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

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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

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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

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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.