Clear Creek County scores $90,000 in flood relief so far #COflood

Evergreen Colorado Flooding September 2013 via Business Insider
Evergreen Colorado Flooding September 2013 via Business Insider

From the Clear Creek Courant (Ian Neligh):

[Clear Creek County Commissioner Tom Hayden] told Hickenlooper that some private driveways that were washed out remain out of service.

“But they’ve received, thanks to you, the (financial) assistance through FEMA for not only individual assistance, but now we’ve got public assistance, so if it is a county road, we are able to go in with some of that public assistance,” Hayden said.

[Clear Creek County Commissioner Phil Buckland] added that the Federal Emergency Management Agency assisted county residents quickly after the flooding.

By the end of September, FEMA had awarded $90,000 to 130 households with flood damage in the county.

Hickenlooper said he was amazed by the amount of restoration work that had occurred throughout the state in five weeks.

Gov. Hickenlooper announces a roadway reopening, funds for water systems and a benefit concert

Governor Hickenlooper, John Salazar and John Stulp at the 2012 Drought Conference
Governor Hickenlooper, John Salazar and John Stulp at the 2012 Drought Conference

Here’s the release from Governor Hickenlooper’s office:

Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced several significant improvements and resources for communities recovering from the historic September floods: the Colorado Department of Transportation will reopen a section of US 34 to residents; the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will offer grants to repair flood-damaged water and waste systems and water quality testing and the Colorado Water Conservation Board will provide low-interest loans for water systems repairs; and a benefit concert on Sunday, Oct. 27 with several of Colorado’s favorite musicians for flood recovery efforts.

“We are leveraging all available resources from the federal government, local businesses and communities to repair and rebuild Colorado after the historic September flooding,” Hickenlooper said. “We want to thank everyone involved in helping impacted communities recover quickly. We have more work to do across the state, but our resolve is strong.”

US 34 Road Recovery
Significant progress has been made on US 34 to reestablish access for residents only between Estes Park and Drake. As of noon Sunday, Oct. 20, US 34 will open from Estes Park to Drake for canyon residents to come and go at any time. Access to Drake is being restricted to residents only.

As of today over 80 percent of roads damaged by the September floods are open and CDOT is on pace to have all damaged roads open by Dec. 1. CDOT has completed inspections of the 411 state owned bridges impacted by the floods and the inspectors determined that 120 bridges are in need of repair and no bridges were destroyed. CDOT continues outreach to residents in other corridors to discuss progress on roadway construction.

Water Systems Recovery
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will facilitate $2 million in grant funding provided by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority to help communities in FEMA-designated flood counties that sustained damage to drinking water and waste water systems. The Water Quality Control Division at CDPHE will review submitted applications and work with the Authority on the grant awards. The application provides grant criteria and the deadline is Nov. 8.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board will make available $15 million for low-interest loans and $1.65 million in grants to help water providers start repairing flood-damaged systems. The loans carry a 30-year term with 0 percent interest the first three years. Click here for more information.

Colorado Rising Benefit Concert
A benefit concert, Colorado Rising, has been organized by some of Colorado’s best-known musicians to raise money for flood relief efforts. The Sunday, Oct. 27 concert will be at 1stBank Center in Broomfield. Musicians scheduled to perform include Dave Matthews, The Fray, Big Head Todd and The Monsters, DeVotchKa, Nathaniel Rateliff and members of The Lumineers.

All proceeds from the concert will go directly to, which was formed by United Way chapters across Colorado to help people affected by last month’s deadly and devastating floods. Rival concert promoters AEG Live Rocky Mountains and Live Nation announced the concert, which is being presented by radio station KBCO and TV station KCNC.

About ColoradoUnited
Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Jerre Stead, executive chairman of Englewood-based IHS Inc., to be the state’s Chief Recovery Officer. The Recovery Team is working to make Colorado more innovative, safer and resilient in its infrastructure, individuals, economy, community, ecosystem and environment. The recovery effort is guided by ensuring health and safety as a priority, responding to all “asks for help”, being transparent and open in communication, planning for winter, containing costs and demonstrating fiscal responsibility. Go to for more information.

H.R. 3189: Water Rights Protection Act — Garfield County adopts resolution in support (NSAA vs. USFS)

Copper Mountain snowmaking via
Copper Mountain snowmaking via

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

The bill, if passed, would prohibit the U.S. Forest Service and BLM from conditioning permits on the transfer or relinquishment of privately held water rights, or requiring water users to apply for a water right in the name of the U.S. government, instead of the purchaser, as a condition of the permit approval.

In doing so, “Federal land management agencies are using coercion to acquire private water rights,” according to a resolution recently passed by the governing board of Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC).

“These and related actions constitute a federal taking of private property without just compensation,” the AGNC resolution states.

Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson said during Monday’s regular commissioners meeting that it’s important for the county, as an AGNC member, to lend its individual support to the bill also…

According to the AGNC resolution, the practice of asking permittees to give up water rights violates state water law, and, “these actions have already had a negative impact on local ski businesses, which are important contributors to our regional economy.”

Municipal, agricultural and energy-related operations that have water storage facilities similar to ski resorts could also be negatively impacted, it said.

Tipton’s bill “would protect communities, businesses, family farms and other stakeholders in northwest Colorado that rely on privately held water rights from having these property rights taken by an agency of the federal government,” the resolution concludes.

More NSAA vs. USFS coverage here. More water law coverage here.

Springs’ City Council hopes to kickstart a stormwater department, public meetings planned by El Paso County

Flooding in Colorado Springs June 6, 2012
Flooding in Colorado Springs June 6, 2012

From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

In a letter to Mayor Steve Bach, City Council asserts its budgetary authority under the City Charter and code, saying, “It is what the Charter expects us to do and what the citizens of our city have elected us to do.”

In the past City Attorney Chris Melcher, hired by Bach and approved by Council, has said Council has very limited power to override a mayoral veto involving the budget.

Besides asking Bach to produce more detail for his proposed 2014 budget, the three-page letter, signed by all nine members of Council, also states two major changes that Council plans to introduce:

— Council will be proposing a Stormwater appropriation department dedicated to stormwater operations and maintenance.
— Council will be proposing a supplemental budget appropriation ordinance out of the 2013 fund balance of $2 million dollars to the Stormwater appropriation department to begin work during this fiscal year on some of the stormwater issues from the 2013 summer flood.

Council also asserts its authority to adopt specific line items, which Melcher has said isn’t allowed unless they pertain to “major legislative budget determinations.”

Meanwhile the El Paso County stormwater task force is holding public meetings about the stormwater issue. Here’s a report from Pam Zubeck writing for the Colorado Springs Independent:

Three public meetings are being hosted by the Stormwater Task Force, a regional panel, that’s been meeting for more than a year on the topic. The meetings, in collaboration with the Colorado Springs City Council and the El Paso County Board of Commissioners, will seek feedback on stormwater management and discuss recent management proposals.

The format for the meetings will be oriented toward group discussion, the task force says in a news release, to try to get as much input as possible.

The meeting schedule:

Thursday, Oct. 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Conservation and Environment Center, 2855 Mesa Road

Wednesday, Oct. 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Leon Young Service Center, 1521 S. Hancock Expressway

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 W. Cheyenne Road

More coverage from J. Adrian Stanley writing for the Colorado Springs Independent. Here’s an excerpt:

Many area leaders and volunteers gathered at City Hall following the meeting to lambaste the mayor’s plan. Among the gripes were that it: would create debt; wasn’t vetted through a public process; wouldn’t fund stormwater regionally; and would only address the problem in the short-term. Proponents of the regional plan stressed that stormwater should be treated differently than other capital needs because “water knows no boundaries.”

“We don’t have any desire in the county to take power away from the city,” County Commissioner Amy Lathen said.

Following the meeting, though, Bach explained to the Independent that he was concerned with more than power. He believed his plan would more holistically address the city’s capital needs, since his proposed bonds would also help beautify parks, fix roads and bridges, and replace police cars. And, he noted, it would do so without a tax increase.

“To me that’s the last resort,” he said. “We may get there, [but] I believe we can bridge this over the next half-decade and demonstrate that we can be efficient and effective redeploying existing dollars so that then, if we need to ask for a tax, we’ve got the confidence of the public.”

Lathen countered that Bach was being unrealistic.

“I don’t want [a tax or fee], either,” she said. ” … We’ll look at absolutely any possibility out there, including what [Bach] has proposed. But we have to be honest about what we’re looking at, and we have to be honest about the scope of this problem and our responsibilities. … We have identified over a half billion dollars in issues, in this case, in the city alone. We don’t have that in our budgets. We don’t have it.”

More stormwater coverage here and here.

San Luis Valley Advisory Committee Meeting October 24

Artesian well Dutton Ranch, Alamosa 1909 via the Crestone Eagle
Artesian well Dutton Ranch, Alamosa 1909 via the Crestone Eagle

Click here to go to the Division of Water Resources website to view the agenda and draft rules.

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

Greeley’s wastewater treatment plant wins awards for energy efficiency

Wastewater Treatment Process
Wastewater Treatment Process

Here’s the release from the City of Greeley:

Greeley’s Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) recently received statewide recognition for sustainability and energy reduction from the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program and the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge. The awards ceremonies occurred on October 17 in Denver.

For its energy reduction programs, the WPCF received the Partner of the Year award from the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge (CIEC). The wastewater plant reduced energy use from 2011-2012 by 11.5 percent. Greeley received the top honor and only six other organizations were recognized. The program acknowledges achievements in energy efficiency for large industrial facilities with more than $300,000 in annual energy costs.

The second award is from the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program (CELP).The WPCF received a Bronze Award for its efforts to reduce energy use at the wastewater treatment plant. The CELP is a voluntary program that encourages and rewards superior environmental performers that go beyond the requirements of environmental regulations and move toward the goal of sustainability.

The WPCF has recently implemented several projects that have contributed to the decrease of energy use. The 2011 installation of high-speed turbo blowers improved aeration at the plant, increased energy efficiency, and lowered energy costs. In 2012, 2,106 solar panels were installed making it the largest solar farm in Weld County. Greeley’s Water and Sewer Department will continue to find ways to make the WPCF and other facilities more energy and cost efficient.

Greeley recently scored some grant money from the state. Here’s the release from the City of Greeley:

Gov. John Hicklooper announced today that 21 municipal wastewater and sanitation districts throughout Colorado will receive a total of $14.7 million in state grants to help with the planning, design and construction of facility improvements to meet new nutrient standards. The City of Greeley’s Water Pollution Control Facility will receive a total of $80,000 for planning and $1 million for design and construction.

“Greeley is in the forefront of water quality and water management. This grant simply helps the City do its job with less cost to residents,” stated Greeley Mayor Tom Norton.

Excessive nutrients harm water bodies by stimulating algae blooms that consume oxygen, kill aquatic organisms and ultimately lead to smaller populations of game and fish. While nutrients are naturally occurring, other contributors include human sewage, emissions from power generators and automobiles, lawn fertilizers and pet waste.

“Coloradoans in rural and urban areas will benefit from these new water standards that improve and protect our water,” Hickenlooper said. “This grant funding will help communities offset the costs of bringing their systems into compliance. In addition, the grants announced today will help ensure safe and healthy water for wildlife, agriculture, recreation and drinking water purposes.”

The state’s Water Quality Control Commission adopted new standards in September 2012 to help prevent harmful nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, from reaching state waters. The new regulation requires certain larger domestic wastewater treatment facilities to meet effluent limits for nutrients.

The Nutrient Grant Program will help wastewater facilities with the costs of planning for, designing and implementing system improvements. Funding for the program was made available through HB13-1191 “Nutrient Grant Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant,” sponsored by Reps. Randy Fischer and Ed Vigil and Sens. Gail Schwartz and Angela Giron.

There are about 400 municipal wastewater systems in Colorado. The new nutrient standards apply to about 40 systems and will have the greatest impact on the waters of the state.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

October 21 is the anniversary of the approval of the Mancos Project

Jackson Gulch Dam photo via USBR
Jackson Gulch Dam photo via USBR

Click here to visit the Bureau of Reclamation Mancos Project website.

More Mancos River Watershed coverage here and here.

Arizona Central: The history of Glen Canyon before the dam #ColoradoRiver

From Arizona Central (Ron Dungan):

In May of 1869, a one-armed explorer named John Wesley Powell set off on an expedition to explore the Colorado River. Powell, who had lost an his arm during the Civil War, began the journey with a crew of nine men in four wooden boats crammed with full of supplies.

Most of the crew, Edward Dolnick writes in “Down the Great Unknown,” was a bit bleary.

“As a farewell to civilization,” they had “done their best to drink Green River Station’s only saloon dry,” and they departed with “foggy ideas and snarly hair.”[…]

Most early attempts to settle the West did not result in neat grids of farmland, but in land speculation, fraud, wealthy land barons, failed crops and empty homesteads.

Powell recommended modifying the Homestead Act by forming irrigation districts rather than promoting individual homesteads. But much of the water in the West had already been claimed, and Congress was reluctant to challenge the status quo. It certainly did not want to fund large irrigation projects.

“Powell did his best: Here’s a rational plan for managing the water. Here’s a rational plan for managing the forests,” Fowler said.

“He ultimately got ran out of the USGS because of what he was trying to do. They cut his budget until he resigned.”

Powell left the Geological Survey in 1894, though he stayed with the Bureau of Ethnology until he died in 1902.

By that time, Congress had begun to think differently about water-reclamation projects. New technology made it easier to build big dams, Fowler said, and it was possible for them to generate alternating-current electricity that could be transmitted long distances. That would pay for the projects, and “that was how they sold it to Congress,” Fowler said…

Perhaps the most permanent residents were Pueblo Indians, who built small villages and planted crops. When work began on Glen Canyon Dam, archaeologists began to search the area for artifacts from these early residents. Fowler was among those scientists.

“I was there the day they started pouring the concrete.”

He got to Glen Canyon in the fall of 1957, when the blasting began. He watched the dam grow, and saw Page, which did not exist prior to the construction, slowly take form.

Bill Lipe, professor emeritus of anthropology at Washington State University, was a crew chief for the University of Utah from 1958 through August 1960, and came back to work in the summer of 1961.

“It was very hot,” Lipe said. The crews spent their summers digging and their winters writing reports.

“It was a logistically difficult place to work in, because of the lack of roads…. We spent a lot of time just getting around and surviving,” Lipe said.

The work was the largest salvage-archaeology project of its time, Fowler said…

On Sept. 13, 1963, the last bucket of concrete tipped 583 feet above the Colorado River, spilling both prosperity and perpetual controversy. Glen Canyon Dam was completed, and the newly plugged Lake Powell was on a 17-year rise toward 9 trillion gallons.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.