The snowpack news for Colorado is all bad — statewide = 21% of avg #CODrought




Click on the thumbnail for the current map from last Thursday, the map from November 8, 2011 and the map from November 19,2010, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Some areas of Colorado did OK with the weekend storm and that is not reflected in the current map.

November 12-18 is Get Smart About Antibiotics Week

Colorado-Big Thompson Project: Boulder queues up to spend $800,000 on proposed Carter Lake to Boulder Reservoir pipeline


From the Boulder Daily Camera (Joe Rubino):

After four years of planning, Northern Water — leading the project on behalf of Boulder, Left Hand Water District, Longs Peak Water District and the town of Frederick — is ready to begin acquiring the land needed along the pipeline’s proposed future alignment, the memo said.

Design and construction plans likely won’t come before the City Council until 2015 or later, but city staff members indicated that property values are expected to escalate 9 percent each year acquisition is delayed, adding up to $60,000 a year to Boulder’s $800,000 contribution.

“Right now, we are basically going to try to preserve our option for the future by moving ahead with right-of-way and easement acquisition,” said Bob Harberg, Boulder’s utilities planning and project management coordinator. “If … we decide to move forward with this project, we won’t have to contend with the difficulties of land acquisitions.”[…]

As needs have increased, Boulder and its partners in 2007 began looking at a new pipeline that would trace the path of the old pipeline before veering off and eventually delivering water to Boulder Reservoir, according to the staff memo. The new project does not grant participants the right to draw more water from the system than is already allowed…

The enclosed pipeline will provide water year-round — as opposed to seasonally, as is the case with the canal system — and will better protect the water from contamination, leading to more consistent drinking water quality, according to the staff memo.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

Wiggins new water system still not online


From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

During a special meeting of the Wiggins Board of Trustees Wednesday, Public Works Director Jon Richardson said he talked with a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about whether or not a proposal for putting the town’s pipeline through its flood levee was acceptable. He was told he would hear one way or another this week, but he had not heard yet, he told the board. He planned to call again at the end of the week.

Industrial Facilities Engineering — which is overseeing the water project — said it was still waiting on a company to figure out what it would cost Wiggins to adapt its new water treatment plant to blend water with its existing wells and its new water source, Richardson said. Blending is necessary, because the town does not have enough new water to fill its needs. Richardson said he expects to know how much it would cost next week.

More Wiggins coverage here and here.

Eagle County: Beavers are impacting Brush Creek mitigation ponds


From the Eagle Valley Enterprise via Vail Daily (Derek Franz):

The storm ponds are the main concern, however. They are a filtration system for water going back into Brush Creek from the Eagle Ranch development. By flowing from one pond to the next, pollutants such as fertilizers and petroleum are strained from the water before it goes into the creek.

“The beavers had raised the water level of the ponds a little more than a foot over the weekend,” Boyd said last week. “I noticed that some sticks and debris from the bottom of the pond were piled over the grate (where water drained from one pond to the next).” The beavers were damming the outlets of the last two ponds. The final pond is only separated from Brush Creek by a narrow berm.

“At that rate, it wouldn’t be long before the pond water washed out the berm and went straight into the creek,” Boyd said.

The final pond is very clean, but it wouldn’t be that way if the pond above it washed out, as well.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

Produced water from coalbed methane wells could be an adjunct to supplies according to oil company data


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Hundreds of coal­bed methane wells in Las Animas County could produce water that could be used for other purposes in the Arkansas River basin, a study shows. A two­year waterquality monitoring program is showing the “produced water” — water that must be removed from coal seams to extract natural gas — is within limits for harmful contaminants like dissolved solids, conductivity, chloride, sodium, boron and iron, Julie Vlier, of Tetra Tech told the Arkansas Basin Roundtable Wednesday.

“Based on the collection data of the last two years, the quality is quite good,” Vlier said. “Concentrations in the Raton
Basin are lower.” The water ­quality question is important to companies like Pioneer Natural Resources and XTO Energy, which otherwise would have to spend more to inject the water back into the ground. The companies funded the study, which began in 2010. Pioneer alone has about 2,300 gas wells in the Raton Basin, said Jerry Jacob, environmental advisor for the company.

If the water can continue to flow freely into tributaries leading into the Purgatoire River west of Trinidad, it could increase the yield of existing water rights or even improve Colorado’s position in the Arkansas River Compact. Vlier also said the water could help in drought planning or fire mitigation.

The energy companies have state permits that would allow the release of up to 14,000 acre­feet — or 4.5 billion gallons — of water annually. Not all of it would likely reach the Purgatoire River, but it could be used to enhance existing water supplies.

Not everyone on the roundtable agreed with the rosy assessment for produced water.

“They’re taking water out of the same formation as Petroglyph,” said Al Tucker, a member of the Majors Ranch Environmental Committee, who represents Huerfano County on the roundtable. Landowners in Huerfano County say their wells were adversely affected during Petroglyph’s operations, which ended in 2011. In addition to contamination of groundwater, the company may have taken water out of priority, Tucker said.

“There are always bad actors,” Vlier told him.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.