AWRA Colorado Section summer field trip recap: What happens when you dig a 40 foot hole in the ground?


Coffee and bagels at Denver Water just before heading to Pueblo Dam

Every now and again you sign up for the right water tour. The American Water Resources Colorado Section tour of the Southern Delivery System — which is slated to move Fryingpan-Arkansas Project water to serve several Arkansas Valley communities — turned out great.

First off, we visited the valve house for the project at the base of Pueblo Dam.

Valve house north outlet works Pueblo Dam, August 2013

Folks from Colorado Springs Utilities and USBR detailed much of the design and proposed operational facts about the outlet works. The release to the Arkansas River was engineered for 1120 CFS. One of our hosts smiled as he said, “You can feel a vibration when it’s open.”

Valve test north outlet works Pueblo Dam via MWH Global

We also visited the site where CSU is building a new treatment plant out by the Colorado Springs airport. That’s where the MWH Global project manager explained that they had spent most of the week pumping stormwater out of the 40 foot hole that they dug in the wind blown sand soil at the site. It seems that one of those monsoon storms dumped an inch or so of precipitation in 30 minutes. They had accomplished pouring one section of the slab base for the plant that day.

New CSU water treatment plant site, August 2013

Converstion on the bus between stops ranged from the cultural differences between white europeans and the native american tribes to the announcement earlier in the day from Reclamation of a 24 month operating plan for Lake Powell that would reduce deliveries downriver to Lake Mead.

We heard about Castle Rock’s plans to move to 75% renewable supplies from their director, Mark Marlowe.  They’re hoping to eventually only use their wells  to get through a drought.

We also heard some roadside geology from one of the folks at the Colorado Geological Survey. He explained a bit about the Denver Basin Aquifer System and hydraulic fracturing in the Niobrara.

More Southern Delivery System Coverage here and here.

Grand Junction: The Colorado River District’s Annual Seminar will take place September 13 #ColoradoRiver


Click here to read the latest newsletter from the Colorado River District (Jim Pokrandt). Here’s an excerpt:

What: The Colorado River District’s Annual Water Seminar — “Shrinking in Supply, Growing in Demand” — where in one day, you can learn about the latest news and programs related to the Colorado River and its challenges to meet the needs of man and nature in the arid West.

When: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13, 2013;  check-in starts at 8:30 a.m. Greg Pederson, the lead author of the U.S. Geological Survey study that confirms snow- pack is falling victim to warmer spring temperatures.

Where: The Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, Colo.

Cost: $30 for adults with advance registration by Friday, Sept. 6, 2013; $10 for students. Includes lunch. $40 after Sept. 6.

Who are some of the speakers?

  • James Eklund, the new director of the Colo- rado Water Conservation Board who will dis-
    cuss the two-year deadline to create a Colorado Water Plan and what that means
  • Klaus Wolter, the Climate Diagnostics Center researcher for NOAA who is the go-to expert for predicting seasonal weather
  • A panel discussion on how the Roundtables will inform the Colorado Water Plan with their findings and plans to meet their water supply shortages
  • Beorn Courtney, an engineer for the Headwa- ters Corp. who will discuss how the Sterling Ranch development in the South Denver Metro Area will employ water conservation through house design, landscaping, clustering and water capture
  • A discussion on what the low levels at Lake Powell portend reduced water releases to Lake Mead and the Lower Basin states and a decla- ration of a shortage ….. and more
  • Information and questions: 970-945-8522 or

    More education coverage here.

    Denver: 28th Annual Watereuse Symposium will take place September 15 – 18


    Here’s the pitch:

    There is still time to register for the 28th Annual WateReuse Symposium!

    Join us September 15-18 at the Denver Marriott City Center in Denver, CO for 111 technical presentations, seven panel and roundtable discussions, networking events, and a popular Exhibit Hall.

    Click here to register.

    Filling the East Slope Municipal Water Supply Gap: A Joint Statement of the [eastern slope] Roundtables #ColoradoRiver


    Click here to read the draft. Here’s an excerpt:

    Purpose of the Statement

  • The cities, towns, and rural neighborhoods on the eastern slope of Colorado are projected to be
    between XXX, XXX, and XXX,XXX acre-feet short of water supply by 2050. This is 70 [check] percent
    of the projected statewide municipal supply gap.
  • The eastern slope has 80 percent of the state’s population and provides 80 percent of the state’s economy and tax base and a large portion of the agricultural, recreational, and tourism sectors of the state’s economy. Eighty percent of the state’s population and job growth will be on the eastern slope. With the regional interdependence of the state’s economy, it is critical to Colorado’s prosperity that the supply gap be filled throughout the state.
  • Cities along the Front Range are national leaders in water conservation and reuse and will continue to make the most efficient use of their supplies.
  • These cities are struggling to obtain permits for small expansions to their water systems despite the environmental mitigation and enhancements these projects offer.
  • Colorado lacks a plan for meeting east slope municipal water needs. Beyond conservation, reuse, and the small expansion projects mentioned above, the default plan for our state is the dry-up of hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural land on the east slope, some of Colorado’s most productive land. We reject this default plan…
  • Here’s a report from the recent Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

    Placing more value on agriculture, tying water to land use and ensuring that growth pays for itself should be ingredients in the state’s long-term recipe for water use. “I guess we’re just not hungry enough yet to see that we ought to be pledging a limit for water to stay in agriculture,” Beulah rancher Reeves Brown told the Arkansas Basin Roundtable last week.

    The roundtable was reacting to a statement drafted last month at a joint meeting of the Arkansas, South Platte and Metro roundtables. “Filling the East Slope Municipal Water Supply Gap” rejects the “default plan” of drying up agriculture to fill city needs.

    As alternatives, the statement lists conservation, reuse, current projects, ag-urban water sharing, more storage, protection of Colorado River imports and new projects using Colorado River water when needed.

    The elements within the statement received 70-80 percent approval of roundtable members at the July meeting.

    But some lingering doubts surfaced last week at the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, particularly because the Arkansas Basin is the most vulnerable to future ag dryups, permanent or temporary, in order to quench the thirst of cities. “We’re depreciating our interest in future water use,” Brown said. “The paper solidifies the fact that in 2016, there will be water disappearing from the Arkansas Valley for the benefit of upstate use. I don’t think we’re going to get the point made that ag water is valuable.”

    Several roundtable members supported Brown, pointing out that efforts to make agriculture sustainable, preserving land to grow food in the future and the quality of food are all important considerations.

    The roundtable is sponsoring activities that promote looking at the value of ag water — a Colorado State University-Fort Collins study and a conference for policy makers in October. But those efforts are taking longer to reach a conclusion than is called for in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s push to get a state water plan by December 2015.

    Click here to read the joint meeting summary.

    Land use planning and policy is at the heart of the water problem. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

    Agriculture isn’t the only issue Arkansas Basin Roundtable members have with a joint statement adopted last month by Front Range water interests. The statement fails to ask the state to confront land use planning head-on, some say. Much of the state’s land use regulation is at the city or county level. Water supply is sometimes disconnected from the process, even though decisions in one part of the state can affect others.

    “Land use regulations and water supply plans have to go hand-in-hand,” said SeEtta Moss of Canon City, who represents environmental interests on the roundtable. “The message should be, ‘You can’t do everything you want because you might be hurting the rest of the state.’ ”

    Dave Taussig, a Lincoln County attorney, advocated a stronger statement about the need for new growth to pay its own way, rather than sticking current Colorado residents with the bill.

    Mannie Colon, a Canon City farmer, said the statement is short-sighted in limiting future water supply to the Colorado River basin, given the dependency of so many people on the basin already. The Missouri River could be more promising for a major project, he said. “We’re being asked to think outside the box,” Colon said.

    More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here and here.