Drought news: Add Montrose County to the list of Colorado counties eligible for drought assistance #COdrought

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From the Associated Press via The Denver Post:

Montrose County qualifies because it is adjacent to counties where a natural disaster has been declared because of drought. Those counties include Dolores, La Plata, Ouray, Hinsdale, Montezuma and San Miguel. More farmers and ranchers are eligible for assistance for similar proximity reasons in Archuleta, Mineral, Saguache, Gunnison and San Juan counties.

Several Colorado craft brewers appeal to Governor Hickenlooper better regulate hydraulic fracturing

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Colorado’s brewers — including two Summit County based operations — are flexing a little political muscle and calling on Gov. John Hickenlooper to strike a better balance between energy development and conservation.

Rick Tork, manager of Frisco’s Backcountry Brewery, and Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Brewery owner Annie Holton, signed on to represent Summit County.

In a letter to Hickenlooper, the brewers, 26 in all, cited the importance of Colorado’s image and marketability for craft brewing and the important economic impact of keeping Colorado’s skies and waters clear and clean, saying that the state’s brand and high quality of life “attracts new residents, businesses, entrepreneurs and millions of tourists annually.”

A spokesman at the governor’s office said Hickenlooper recognizes the value of the craft-brewing industry.
“The craft brewing industry is a great economic driver for Colorado and we value our relationship with brewers across the state. We will review the letter and respond appropriately,” said communications director Eric Brown…

Revolution Brewing owner, Gretchen King, of Paonia, CO, said, “I think there is a natural concern from brewers about the oil and gas industry since good clean Colorado water is our most important ingredient in beer.”[…]

The brewers have asked for a meeting with the Governor this summer to discuss the issue. Gov. Hickenlooper and his staff were also invited to have a beer with the brewers to discuss the letter on Friday at Hogshead Brewery in Denver, but the Governor was unable to attend.

Click here to read the letter.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District votes to ask members to pony up dough for solvency

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A district formed to protect Fountain Creek is asking its members to contribute $50,000 in 2014 to keep itself afloat. The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District voted Friday to seek contributions from El Paso and Pueblo County, as well as incorporated cities in the two counties in order to stay solvent. The district will run out of money at the end of this year and has no prospect of reliable revenue until 2017, when Southern Delivery System is scheduled to go online. “We’re trying to figure out ways and perspectives about how we can hold the district together for the next few years,” said Pueblo County Commissioner Terry Hart. “We have to have a short-term plan for the ability to fund projects.”

The Fountain Creek board also voted to ask Pueblo County and Colorado Springs Utilities to pay off an estimated $2.2 million in index funds early in another attempt at funding. The index funds are a form of interest that accrues on the $50 million Colorado Springs pledged to pay the district under Pueblo County 1041 conditions for the Southern Delivery System. Under the March 2009 1041 agreement, Colorado Springs would begin accruing the interest on any payments not made during the first 42 months.

Mark Pifher, a Utilities executive, said Colorado Springs and Pueblo County are still negotiating the formula, and timing for payments and the district’s request could unravel some of those talks.

“Nowhere do we say we’ll take the money right now,” said Fountain Mayor Pro-Tem Gabe Ortega, who chairs the Fountain Creek board.

Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, criticized the plan, saying the district had failed to take full advantage of grant management fees and other potential sources of revenue. He said the Lower Ark has helped fund the district in the past and offered payments from its 2009 court settlement with Aurora that have been underutilized Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek district, dismissed Winner’s comments, saying those options were explored but not adequate to fund the routine operations of the district.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A district formed to fix Fountain Creek likely will wait several years before asking voters for property tax revenues. That’s partly because of an effort in El Paso County to address stormwater that may lead to a 2014 election to fund a solution. Other reasons include a lingering weak economy and the need to show voters accomplishments in the form of successful projects.

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District last week evaluated its long-term strategy following a retreat earlier in the month. “It’s likely the stormwater task force will ask for money in 2014,” said Larry Small, executive director, in his review of the retreat. “We have to look at what’s needed until 2017.” That’s the year the district will begin receiving payments totaling $50 million over a five-year period from Colorado Springs Utilities under its 2009 agreement on 1041 permit conditions with Pueblo County.

The district’s interim strategy is to pass the hat among its member governments to collect $50,000 for administration next year. It also wants an agreement between Pueblo County and Utilities to allow it to collect an estimated $2.2 million in index payments — essentially interest on the $50 million — early from Colorado Springs.

Under the 2009 state law that formed the Fountain Creek District, it can collect up to 5 mills in property tax if voters approve it in Pueblo and El Paso counties. Each mill would generate about $8 million annually in the two counties.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.