New free online lessons available to household well owners to protect water quality — La Junta Tribune-Democrat

Typical water well
Typical water well

From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat:

our new, free online lessons are available to household water well owners at the National Ground Water Association website, the Association announced today.

The lessons were developed by NGWA with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Well owners can register by going to or going th the following sites:

· Arsenic in Well Water: What Is It and What Do You Do? —
· Bacteria in Well Water: What Is It and What Do You Do? —
· Nitrate in Well Water: What Is It and What Do You Do? —
· Radon in Well Water: What Is It and What Do You Do? —

Other online well owner lessons previously made available cover what to test your water for, how to get a test and interpret the results, and the basics of water treatment. Well owners also can access two recorded webinars on water testing and water treatment.

NGWA Public Awareness Director Cliff Treyens encouraged household water well owners to take advantage of these new resources, as well as the toll-free Private Well Owner Hotline at (855) 420-9355 and the free monthly emailed Private Well Owner Tip Sheet. Subscribe to the tip sheet by going to

“It’s never been easier for well owners to get the basic information they need to be good water well and groundwater stewards,” Treyens said. “These resources will help well owners to improve and protect their water quality.”

More groundwater coverage here and here.

The #ColoradoRiver District board meeting summary is hot off the presses @ColoradoWater #COWaterPlan

New supply development concepts via the Front Range roundtables
New supply development concepts via the Front Range roundtables

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

A potential “New Supply” project from the Colorado River continues to be a “big issue” as the Inter‐ basin Compact Committee (IBCC) and the Basin Roundtables discuss the makeup of “Colorado’s Water Plan.”

By Gov. John Hickenlooper’s executive order, Colorado’s Water Plan is to be delivered in draft by the end of 2015, thus culminating what will be eight‐plus years of discussions by the IBCC and Roundtables on how to close a water‐supply gap created through the projected doubling of Colorado’s population by 2050.

At the October meeting of the Colorado River District Board of Directors, General Manger Eric Kuhn, an IBCC member as a governor’s appointee, reported that “in the last several years, new supply as a concept has evolved into a New Supply project from the Colorado River Basin and in the view of some on the Front Range, a large new transmountain diversion from the Colorado River system.”

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Evans: Floodplain changes force mobile home park out of business #COflood

Evans Colorado September 2013 via
Evans Colorado September 2013 via

From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

The owner of a flood-ravaged mobile home park in Evans has announced he is suing the city over a change in floodplain rules that he says will keep him from reopening the park. Keith Cowan, owner of Eastwood Village Mobile Home Park, was led to believe that Evans would purchase his property through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, but city officials reneged, and the city’s new floodplain rules mean it would be too costly to reopen Eastwood, Cowan’s lawyers said in a news release on Thursday.

Cowan in his lawsuit said he was relying on the FEMA hazard mitigation grant, and delayed any debris removal in anticipation of the outcome. After Evans chose not to pursue the grant and passed its new flood ordinance, Cowan said it would not make financial sense to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to clear the property, only to spend another several million to meet the city’s new code.

News of the lawsuit follows a plea for help from Evans officials earlier this week, who said time is running out before the 208 destroyed homes at Eastwood and Bella Vista Mobile Home Park, which is next door, pose a threat to public health. Evans officials said they asked the owners of the two parks to remove the sewage-contaminated debris, household hazardous waste, mold and other materials before warmer weather comes in the spring, but the property owners have not complied.

Cowan’s lawsuit, filed in Weld District Court in December, states that according to state law, the city cannot pass a regulation that leads to a property’s demise if the city allowed it to be there in the first place. Attorneys with Stinson Leonard Street LLP, a Greenwood Village law firm representing Cowan, argue that by imposing the floodplain regulations, the city of Evans overtook his property. Even so, the city continues to insist that he clean up the property. The new floodplain rules, finalized in January, move Eastwood into the city’s 100-year floodplain instead of a 500-year floodplain, and require the mobile homes to be elevated. The flood boundaries were crafted by FEMA.

Evans City Attorney Scott Krob said the city’s actions were lawful and simply adopt federal flood boundaries. He said the city council added the elevation measures to ensure this same disaster doesn’t happen again.

Sheryl Trent, Evans’ director of community and economic development, said earlier this week that the FEMA hazard mitigation grant would cover 75 percent of the cost for the city to purchase the mobile home parks at pre-flood prices and remove the debris, but nothing could be built on that land afterward. Trent said the city decided not to pursue the grant because it could not get the funding before spring, and it wouldn’t be a prudent use of taxpayer money to invest in land that can’t be developed.

Evans is in the process of appealing a different FEMA grant that would reimburse the city for private property debris removal. FEMA denied the city’s first application, saying the threat to public health and safety is not immediate or widespread enough to qualify.

Evans Mayor Lyle Achziger spoke at a news conference to bring attention to the looming health hazards at the two mobile home parks, and wrote a letter to the Governor’s Office and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs requesting help.

On Thursday, a smattering of state officials — including Stephanie Donner, executive director of the Governor’s Recovery Office, who responded to that letter — were in Evans to present a plan to dole out $62.8 million in federal disaster funds announced in December.

Two programs in the plan were crafted specifically with Evans in mind, Donner said. One would give financial assistance to the city and the other would give money to the mobile home park owners for removing the flood debris.

But all of the programs presented in the plan on Thursday must get approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before applications are available, Donner said.

She said she is hoping to hear back from HUD around April, but Achziger said after the meeting that will still be too late.

“I want to be proactive on this, instead of reactive,” he said.

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald:

People in Colorado communities affected by the September 2013 flooding will have opportunities this week to comment on the state’s plan to spend $62.8 million in federal funding.

In November, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the community development block grants for disaster recovery.

The state will use the money to address needs not covered by other sources of federal assistance, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to a press release from the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The meetings will take place:

• 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, Manitou Springs Memorial Hall, 606 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs.
• Noon-2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, Estes Park Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Ave.
• 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Houston Room, 1750 33rd St.
• 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, Evans City Hall, Cottonwood Banquet Room, 1100 37th St.

Public comments also will be accepted at

‘But the train is going down the track pretty fast here’ — Doug Monger #COWaterPlan

Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer's office
Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer’s office

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

If December 2015 sounds like it’s in the distant future, consider that the first deadline for the combined Yampa, White and Green river basins to produce their initial draft is July. A final draft plan is due by December, allowing another full year before the final plan must be on the governor’s desk. So the work is underway, and the clock is ticking on a plan that will affect future generations of Coloradans.

“The deadlines are a little disconcerting for us,” Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger told an audience of about 100 people Thursday night in Steamboat Springs. “We’ve been in the process for eight years. We’ve plotted out sections of rivers and streams and what characteristics they have. But the train is going down the track pretty fast here.”

When Monger uses the pronoun “we,” he is referring to government leaders and citizens serving on the Yampa, White and Green River Basin Roundtable. He also is a member of the roundtable and recently filled a seat on the board of directors of the Colorado River District.

Steamboat Springs attorney Tom Sharp previously was on that board.

This week’s meeting was one of several more to come seeking public input about the complex challenge of how to provide enough water in an era of declining precipitation and reservoir levels across the semi-arid West even as population projections are on the rise…

Gallagher said it’s not unlikely that basins will identify what he called “low regret water projects” that will boost available water supply in the future as Colorado learns to do more with less water.

It’s also likely that a variety of basins will be covetous of unappropriated water in the Yampa River Basin.

“The real questions is how we would cover a shortfall if we don’t have enough water supply,” even with new water projects and processes in place, Gallagher said.

He observed that in recent years, Colorado’s urban corridor has addressed shortfalls by purchasing water transfers from agricultural rights holders. The resulting reduction in ag land under production is sure to become a topic of discussion between now and December 2015, he said…

And that is the the challenge that faces Colorado together with Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California and parts of New Mexico and Arizona in the next few years.

“We have a burden and the necessity to develop the water,” Monger said. “Not only are we a highly at-risk (basin) because we are probably the least populated, but we’re the last to settle. We’re the last in appropriations. We have very few pre (1922) compact rights versus a lot of the other areas” of Colorado.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Wiggins trustees approve hitching up with the Northeast Colorado Water Cooperative…augmentation credits

Augmentation pond photo via Irrigation Doctor, Inc.
Augmentation pond photo via Irrigation Doctor, Inc.

From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

The Wiggins Board of Trustees voted to buy a share of the Northeast Colorado Water Cooperative during its monthly meeting Wednesday night. That will cost $2,000.

On any one day, an individual or group with an augmentation plan might have more water credits than the person or group can use or less than it needs, and having the option of sharing credits could help those who are part of the cooperative, said agricultural producer Mike Groves. As it is, if a person or group has excess water credits, the individual or group has to just let it go down the river without use, but the cooperative may change that, he noted.

“It’s something that’s never been done before, but I get sick and tired” of seeing water lost because it cannot be used, Groves said.

Members could transfer water credits to help out those who need them, he said.

Even a little bit of water can make a difference at times, Groves said.

The copperative became official as of Jan. 1, after about seven years of work to put it together, he said. So far, a number of people and groups have become members, said Joe Frank, general manager of the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District. There are two kinds of members: voting and non-voting, which cost $2,000 or $1,000 respectively for shares. That money becomes capital, and would buy one share of cooperative stock, just like other agricultural cooperatives, Frank said.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

‘The issue becomes who’s got the most water and what priority…ag users’ — Kathleen Curry #ColoradoRiver #COWaterPlan

Mount Sopris via the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
Mount Sopris via the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Hannah Holm):

The Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side conservation districts host the annual event. This year’s theme was water in the Colorado River basin, with a message that increasing demand, limited supply and less water throughout the state could be devastating to agriculture. Issues included water rights protection, water shortages and the smart-, or mega-ditch, a water conservation method used on an irrigation ditch near Carbondale.

Curry and Meyer led a discussion about the state water plan, which has to be finalized in six months. Afterwards, Curry said she is worried.

“Between the shortage on the Front Range due to the growth that they’re facing, and then watching the levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead drop over the last couple of years, it hit me that we’re looking at not enough water to go around,” she told The Citizen Telegram.

Something will have to give, Curry added.

“The issue becomes who’s got the most water and what priority, and that always takes you back down the trail to the ag users,” she said…

Curry believes the long-term viability of Colorado agriculture is already at risk for a variety of reasons, and that the looming water gap could add to the pressure.

“It’s not a very profitable business because it’s very work-intensive and labor-intensive,” she said. “And if the commodity markets aren’t strong and [farmers and ranchers] don’t make much money that year, then you add this to it? It just becomes too much weight for them to carry.”

Another part of the problem is that there are fewer and fewer young ranchers to help carry that weight.

Carl Day, 30, has been with the Colorado Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers program for about a month. The program involves Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18-35 that wish to become effective leaders in the ag industry, and learn more about being successful on their own farms and ranches.

Day is the third generation to raise sheep at the Open Heart Ranch, near Harvey Gap Reservoir. He said that young people are leaving agriculture because the hours are long and the pay isn’t very good.

“[Agriculture work] pays way below the minimum wage,” he said. “You work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the summer and, in winter, you work an 8-hour day repairing stuff.”

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.