2014 Colorado legislation: First #COflood bill HB14-1004 makes it out of committee

Here’s an excerpt from The Denver Post article (Kurtis Lee):

At its core, [HB14-1004] makes changes to the way emergency management functions are administered, allowing the governor to make a disaster declaration independent of one at the federal level.

The change, say the bill’s sponsors, will allow the state to move more quickly to extend aid to individual victims of future disasters. Current law authorizes the governor to provide financial assistance to individuals and families affected by a major disaster, only if the president has declared that such a disaster exists.

Millions of state and federal dollars have been doled out to communities across Colorado after September’s floods, which spanned 24 counties and killed 10 people. Moreover, millions of dollars were distributed in the aftermath of wildfires that ravaged much of the state last summer.

The measure is one of several flood related bills presented since lawmakers reconvened last week. Among those measures are bills that address infrastructure, how local communities can use money in recovery efforts and tax credits for businesses impacted by a natural disaster. Many of the measures stem from a bipartisan flood recovery committee that met numerous times in weeks prior to the session.

“I’m pleased we’re getting the flood bills into the pipeline,” said Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, who is the sponsor of HB 4, along with Rep. Steve Humphrey, R-Severance. “We have strong bipartisan support for actions to ensure the fullest possible recovery in our flood-damaged communities.”

More 2014 Colorado legislation coverage here.

5.8 MW hydroelectric generation station under design for the North Outlet Works at Pueblo Dam

The new north outlet works at Pueblo Dam -- Photo/MWH Global
The new north outlet works at Pueblo Dam — Photo/MWH Global

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A small hydroelectric generation project at Pueblo Dam is moving into a preliminary design phase. The proposal would create a 5.8 megawatt hydroelectric generator at the recently completed North Outlet Works, which was constructed as part of the Southern Delivery System. It would generate about 21 million kilowatt-hours annually, said Kevin Meador, an engineer with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District at the board’s meeting Thursday.

“We started this process in February 2012, and we have to finish the application by August,” Meador said. “We’ve got the pedal to the metal and we’re pushing to get these tasks done.”

The Southeastern district has partnered with Colorado Springs Utilities and the Pueblo Board of Water Works in an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation to build the hydro plant.

Power likely would be sold to Black Hills Energy and then to other users. Details are being negotiated.

Right now, the district is working through planning, permitting and technical issues, Meador said.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Restoration: ‘I have been a full-time student of water and fish as far back as I could remember’ — Shannon Skelton

Boulders placed to enhance habitat via CFI Global Fisheries Management
Boulders placed to enhance habitat via CFI Global Fisheries Management

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Ryan Maye Handy):

“I have been a full-time student of water and fish as far back as I could remember,” he said in early January. In college, he spent most of his year guiding flying fishing trips on private ranches. “And on some of these private pieces that kind of led me to saying, ‘You know, ranch owner, this could be a lot sexier.’ ”

As he guided clients on riverfronts damaged by decades of cattle grazing, all Skelton could see was room for natural improvement.

“Sexier” for Skelton means bigger fish, deeper pools, more insects and lush riverbanks. Skelton’s job is to put them all there, changing the river flow or seeding riverbanks.

In 1997, he founded CFI in Fort Collins and made “playing God” on the river a profession. In 2012, CFI garnered national attention when a private equity fund, Sporting Ranch Capital Management, hired Skelton’s team of seven employees to restore a few miles of river on private ranches in Colorado and Utah.

Sporting Ranch paid CFI $2 million in 2013 for its river work. The going rate for a mile of river restoration can be about $250,000, Skelton said.

With drought and a changed economy, working ranchers are embracing stream enhancement for anglers as a potential moneymaker. In the past four to five years, Skelton has seen an increase in interest in enhancement projects as “there has been more of a push toward land and habitat stewardship,” he said. In Colorado, where real estate investors can purchase stretches of riverbed, stream enhancement boosts the prospects of an already lucrative real estate deal.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.