Sterling Ranch gets another chance in front of the Douglas County Commissioners


From the Our Colorado News (Ryan Boldrey):

The county approved the project in 2011, but a 2012 court ruling by 18th Judicial District Court Judge Paul King stated that the project did not have sufficient water secured to break ground. Plans for Sterling Ranch call for a 12,000-home community on 3,400 acres northeast of Roxborough State Park.

After requests to have the ruling overturned, Sterling Ranch officials submitted a 121-page filing to the county in March stating that it had since met the necessary water requirements for build-out and that it is ready to begin the 25-year development.

“The ruling said that we must have 25 years of water before we can start, so we set about to obtain sufficient water for the entire development, and we’ve done that,” said Harold Smethills, Sterling Ranch managing director, following an agreement to acquire 4,200 acre-feet of water from Dominion Water.

At the time of King’s ruling, Smethills said Sterling Ranch had already purchased 88 million gallons from Aurora Water — enough to meet the needs of the first plat scheduled for the phased development. Plans at the time, he said, called for purchasing or leasing the remainder of the water on a phase-by-phase basis. Now, Smethills says, they have all the water required, and he expects the county to give the project the green light once again.

Jim Kreutz, the attorney who represented the Chatfield Community Association in the suit that halted the development in 2012, said Sterling Ranch’s filing might not satisfy all of the issues they had raised in court. “There may be other unresolved issues, such as transportation and other regulations we didn’t feel that they complied with,” Kreutz said. “The court didn’t address the other issues because they only ruled on the water issue.”

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

Drought news: This past June was the fourth-driest on record for Breckenridge #COdrought


From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

June, the second-driest month in Summit County, ended up especially dry this year, with only 0.26 inches of precipitation at the official National Weather Service site in Breckenridge, and even less — 0.19 inches at the Dillon station. Averages for the two sites are 1.37 inches in Breckenridge and 1.14 inches at Dillon, where there was measurable precipitation on two days, June 18 and June 29.

The sparse total in Breckenridge made it the fourth-driest (tied with 2006) on record, dating back more than 100 years, said weather observer Rick Bly. The driest June ever (0.06 inches) was in 1980, during another notable Colorado dry spell, followed by June 1891 (0.10 inches) and June 2002 (0.24 inches).

Federal money for wildfire mitigation lands in Colorado


From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

Greeley has been reimbursed another $350,000 in federal dollars for mitigation following last year’s High Park and Hewlett Gulch fires, bumping up the city’s total reimbursement to $576,000. It brings the final count for the city’s out-of-pocket expenses to clear Greeley’s water supply of soot and ash to $1.2 million. Eric Reckentine, Greeley’s deputy director of water resources, said that’s the last Greeley will pay. Following Congress’ passage of a bill this spring to fund the protection of threatened water sources in Colorado, the remainder of mitigation will be fully funded by federal dollars, he said.

Last fall, stakeholders in the Poudre Canyon — Greeley, the city of Fort Collins and the tri-districts (North Weld County, Fort Collins-Loveland and East Larimer County water districts) — agreed to share the cost of keeping water supply in the Poudre River clean. They paid a combined $4 million to treat the most-damaged areas, covering about half of what was needed.

This year, the rest of the tab — at a cost of about $7.3 million — will be picked up by the federal government, with Greeley’s $1.2 million used as matching funds for federal grant money, Reckentine said.

Fort Collins and the tri-districts also have been reimbursed by National Resources Conservation Services.

In the mitigation process, mulch and straw is dumped from helicopters to keep soot, ash and debris from slipping off of hills and into the water supply. Reckentine said Greeley will still be responsible for managing some of the mitigation. He said the city hopes to see work on burn areas start in mid-August.

From KUNC (Erin OToole):

Last fall, the three water districts in Weld and Larimer counties, and the cities of Greeley and Fort Collins agreed to share the cost of keeping water in the Poudre River clean. Stakeholders paid a combined total of $4 million to treat the most damaged areas – only about half of what was needed.

This year the rest of the tab – about $7 million – will be picked up by the federal government. Fort Collins and the tri-districts are also being reimbursed.