Drought news: Colorado Springs watering restrictions will start April 1 if City Council agrees #codrought


From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

If City Council approves, watering restrictions would begin April 1, just when grasses and plants are spreading their roots and need plenty of moisture.

So how will it work?

The plan being put forward by Colorado Springs Utilities would limit residents to two days of watering a week, even-numbered addresses one day and odd-numbered addresses another day, and only before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to limit evaporation. Plants and shrubs — but not grass — could be watered any time with drip irrigation systems or hand-held hoses with a shut-off nozzle. Cars could be washed on a designated watering days and Saturdays and Sundays.

So, it might not be the best year to plant a lawn, but residents still can try. They would be required to buy a $50 “establishment permit” from Utilities and show a receipt that they have bought four cubic yards of a soil amendment such as mulch for every 1,000 square feet of new lawn.

So, how do you police watering in a city of 426,000 people?

With utility bills.

Utilities uses a tiered rate structure, with customers paying more for using more water. Rates would stay the same for the lowest tier, those using 999 cubic feet per billing cycle. The ceiling of the second tier of rates would be lowered from 2,500 to 2,000, meaning anyone who uses more than 2,000 cubic feet would pay double for that water only.

USACE: Moffat Project Final EIS to move toward completion


Here’s the release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Margaret Oldham):

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, has announced a tentative date for the release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement for Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System Project. With federal and state agency and the applicant, Denver Water’s concurrence, the Corps anticipates that the projected Final EIS will be released in February 2014. At that time, the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the Final EIS, which will in turn be considered prior to final decision-making by the Corps.

The Final EIS and public comments will serve as a basis for the Corps’ decision on whether to issue or deny a Section 404 Permit for the enlargement of Gross Reservoir, located in Boulder County, Colo. The Corps’ regulatory program is authorized by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to regulate certain waterways-related activities. As the lead regulatory agency for the Moffat Project EIS, the Corps is charged with the responsibility of impartially reviewing Denver Water’s proposal to ensure compliance with environmental and other federal laws.

“We are confident that our latest schedule gives us a path forward toward an expeditious conclusion to the federal permit evaluation process,” said Omaha District Commander Col. Joel R. Cross. “Everyone involved with the project is committed to working together to fulfill the requirements of a Final EIS, which will bring us closer to making a final decision on Denver Water’s project.”


The state of Colorado is proactively seeking solutions for meeting its future water needs while ensuring the health of its rivers and streams. Through the Moffat Collection System Project, Denver Water proposes to meet its water supply obligations and provide a more reliable supply infrastructure, while advancing its environmental stewardship. The project intends to enlarge the existing 41,811-acre foot Gross Reservoir to 113,811 AF, which equates to an expanded water surface area from 418 acres to 818 acres. Using existing collection infrastructure, water from the Fraser River, Williams Fork River, Blue River and South Platte River would be diverted and delivered to Denver’s existing water treatment system during average and wet years.

In June 2012, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the president use his authority to coordinate federal agencies to bring an expeditious conclusion to the federal permitting process for the project. The Corps, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Division, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Grand County have worked together to meet Federal requirements for the Final EIS while satisfying state and local concerns.

To remain up-to-date on the progress of the final report, please visit our Web site at: http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/RegulatoryProgram/Colorado/EISMoffat.aspx

Or, email us at: cenwo-web-regulatory-co@usace.army.milto be added to our email distribution list.

Here’s a statement from Jim Lockhead (Denver Water) about the Corps release:

“We are pleased to see the state and federal agencies come together to commit to a sound timeline for the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System Project next February.

We’re in the second year of a severe drought. If the Moffat Project were in place today, we would have been able to store more water during the high flow runoff two years ago that we could now use. In a dry year like this one, we would not be diverting additional water under this project.

Moreover, under the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, we would actually be giving water back to the environment in this dry year.

As a result, Denver Water’s Moffat Project would be a win-win for this state: it would make possible our ability to benefit the environment in dry years like this one, and it would bring additional water for our metro area, which we desperately need in this drought.”

Here’s a statement from Colorado Trout Unlimited (David Nickum):

“We’re pleased that the Army Corps of Engineers is taking more time to evaluate the impacts of the Moffat expansion project on the Fraser River, a great trout river cherished by generations of Coloradans and crucial to the economy of Grand County.

The draft EIS was badly flawed, in that it failed to adequately address project impacts on the river. It’s more important to do this permit right than to do it fast. We urge the Corps to take these additional months to correct those deficiencies and ensure that the Fraser receives adequate protection.

Denver Water’s 2011 Cooperative Agreement with West Slope water users was a great step forward in addressing current impacts on the Fraser caused by diversions -but as TU, Grand County officials and others noted at the time, the agreement did not address the future impacts of the Moffat expansion on the Fraser. That’s why it’s critical that the EIS thoroughly documents the expected project impacts so that appropriate protections can be designed.

From day one, we’ve pointed to several protections that need to be included with this project: preventing elevated stream temperatures, providing adequate flushing flows, and using monitoring and adaptive management to deal with future uncertainty about the project’s impacts and the river’s health.

Without these additional protections, the Fraser River could be diverted to death. Denver residents and Denver Water customers want healthy rivers-and they’re looking to Denver Water and federal agencies to protect this magnificent resource.”

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

“We had projected a date of January 2013 … It was not intended to be a firm date, but it got presented as a firm date,” said Tim Carey, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulatory office.

“I would not say this is a delay … We’re really trying to make certain that we have adequately studied and addressed the impacts,” Carey said, adding that the new release date is also tentative at this point.

Once the final environmental impact statement is released, there will be another opportunity for public comment before the Corps decides whether, and under what conditions, to permit a Section 404 Permit for the enlargement of Gross Reservoir, in Boulder County.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.

Forecast news: Fast-moving storm should exit the state today leaving widespread snowfall #codrought #cowx

The Pikes Peak Regional Stormwater Task Force hopes for a regional solution


From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Bob Stephens):

The group’s goals are to prioritize stormwater projects and identify funding to pay for the $906 million estimated cost of projects in the region.

Absent from the meeting were Colorado Springs city staffers, some of whom were scheduled to present information.

“This is a difficult, fairly charged issue,” said county commissioner Amy Lathen, who led the meeting along with Colorado Springs City Council member Brandy Williams. “We’re going to barrel on through.”

The event drew 50 people, including business representatives, county politicians, military officials, and officials from Manitou Springs and Fountain.

Williams said she’s excited about the task force moving forward with a regional approach and with representatives from across the community.

The task forces estimates that Colorado Springs needs nearly $687 million in stormwater work — 76 percent of the region’s stormwater problem.

Mayor Steve Bach has said his idea to pay for stormwater projects is to have public-owned Utilities shoulder the brunt of the $687 million.

More coverage from Barbara Cotter writing for The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

There might be uncertainty about whether Colorado Springs will sign on to participate in a regional stormwater plan, but Public Works Director Helen Migchelbrink makes it clear the city isn’t waiting to tackle some high-profile projects this year. “The (regional) study is sort of a global look, but while we’re looking at everything globally, we still have to keep working on projects,” she said this week.

So, look for about $8.5 million in stormwater work to take place soon, including replacement of a decrepit drainage channel near Union Boulevard and Lexington Drive that crumbled during a heavy rainstorm in July, sending concrete chunks flying in the air. The stormwater flooded the basement of one home, and threatened a cluster of nearby townhomes in the Preserve at Briargate…

The Mirage Channel project is estimated to cost about $1.7 million, and will be paid for out of a $2 million appropriation from the general fund that City Council approved for critical stormwater needs for this year. The final design should be completed by May, and work could begin in early summer.

Other projects include:

• Beefing up a “drop structure” on Cottonwood Creek near La Madrina Lane. Drop structures are typically created with grouted boulders and are designed to slow the speed of water. The cost is $250,000.

• Bank stabilization at Cottonwood Creek near Vincent Drive and the Greencrest channel at Austin Bluffs Parkway, just west of Academy Boulevard. Each received a $3 million federal grant for pre-disaster mitigation. The Greencrest embankment is unstable, and erosion is threatening a nearby business and parking lot, Ross said.

• Installing two “debris racks” in the Waldo Canyon burn area near The Navigators headquarters, north of Garden of the Gods. Migchelbrink said the city is working with The Navigators to put in the “state of the art” devices to catch debris when it rains. The project is expected to be finished by the end of March.

The scheduled projects are not part of the 280 stormwater needs the regional Stormwater Task Force identified for the city.

More stormwater coverage here and here.

The Town of Silt’s wastewater treatment plant has been selected as Wastewater System of the Year for 2012


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

“The Town of Silt’s wastewater treatment plant has been selected as Wastewater System of the Year for 2012 by the Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA),” boasted a written statement from Town Administrator Pamela Woods.

The award was presented during the CRWA’s annual conference in Colorado Springs on Feb. 13, Woods stated, adding, “The team at Silt’s water and wastewater plants strives to provide excellent service to their community.”[…]

According to Woods, the prize is handed out to one of 2,800 licensed systems around the state, and the selection criteria include: No regulatory violations; a maintenance system that keeps the facilities in “excellent condition;” provision for employee advancement; training and recognition; maintaining a strong budget within budgetary guidelines; producing safe, clear effluent water year round; and being held in high esteem by the community it serves,” among other qualities.

Silt’s wastewater treatment plant, built in 2003 at a cost of approximately $4 million, operates under an “Aero-Mod” system involving activated sludge with biological nutrient removal, Woods reported. She said the town’s water plant was built at about the same time, at a cost of $2.1 million. The bio-solids produced by the system are dewatered using a belt press and sent to a composting facility north of Delta.

Utilities director Jack Castle, who has been with the town for eight years and is in charge of the plant’s operation, said the award was a welcome surprise.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

Colorado River Basin: Recent study by the Bureau of Reclamation highlights future supply problems #coriver


Here’s a guest column running in The Denver Post, written by Allen Best, that gives an overview of the current state of the Colorado River. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

Tow icebergs from Alaska? Pilfer from a tributary of the Yellowstone River in Wyoming? Or, even sneak water from the Snake, boring a 6-mile tunnel from a reservoir near Jackson Hole to the Green River? While it’s sure to make Idaho’s spud farmers cranky, it would help Tucson, Los Angeles and that parched paradigm of calculated risk, Las Vegas.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and everybody else with a megaphone has carefully branded these ideas as improbable or worse. Only slightly more credible is the idea of a pipeline from the Mississippi River. It could originate near Memphis, traverse 1,040 miles and, if reaching Castle Rock, rise 6,000 feet in elevation. Pumping would require a steady 800 megawatts of electricity, or a little more than what the Comanche 3 power plant in Pueblo produces.

In theory, this 600,000-acre feet of muddy Mississippi would replace diversions from the Colorado River headwaters between Grand Lake and Aspen. Those diversions range between 450,000 and 600,000 acre-feet annually. That would leave the creeks and rivers to the whims of gravity and geography, at least until arriving at Las Vegas and other places with growing thirst.
Cheap water? Not exactly: It would cost $2,400 per acre-foot for this Memphis-flavored sludge, assuming the idea isn’t grounded by protests from barge and riverboat operators. (Sometimes they, too, say they need more water.)

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.