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Flaming Gorge Pipeline: Aaron Million still has his eye on the prize #ColoradoRiver

Conceptual route for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline -- Graphic via Earth Justice
Conceptual route for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline — Graphic via Earth Justice

From the Green River Star (David Martin):

The Aaron Million water project continues on in the form of a request to the Bureau of the Interior. Million’s request, as published in the Federal Register Feb. 12, calls for a standby contract for the annual reservation of 165,000 care-feet of municipal and industrial water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir for a transbasin diversion project…

Mayor Hank Castillon, who is a member of Communities Protecting the Green, said he isn’t sure what Million’s plans are with this latest move. Citing his previous denials from the Army Corp of Engineers and FERC, Castillon said the amount Million wants to use has dropped from the initial 250,000 acre feet of water his project would require. Castillon said he expects a battle to occur between the eastern and western sides of the continental divide. Castillon is aware Cheyenne and other cities in eastern Wyoming need water, along with locations in northern Colorado. The problem they need to address, according to Castillon, is the fact that the water isn’t available…

The Sweetwater County Commissioners commented on Million’s proposal Tuesday, voicing their opposition to the idea. Commissioner Wally Johnson said the transfer of water to Colorado isn’t in Sweetwater County’s best interest, saying “it doesn’t matter if it’s Mr. Million or Mr. Disney” making the proposal. Commissioner John Kolb also voiced his opposition, saying opposition to the idea is unanimous between Gov. Matt Mead, the Wyoming County Commissioners Association and the commissioners themselves.

“I’d like to see us not wasting our time on crazy, hare-brained schemes,” Kolb said. “(Transbasin water diversion) doesn’t work.”

More Flaming Gorge Pipeline coverage here and here.

Tougher floodplain rules for Montezuma County

La Plata Mountains from the Great Sage Plain
La Plata Mountains from the Great Sage Plain

From the Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

New floodplain regulations were implemented in Montezuma County Jan. 13 to comply with higher standards established by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Colorado adopted rules to provide increased floodplain management standards in order to help communities prepare, plan for, respond to, and mitigate the effects of future flood damage.

The main change for the county, explained community services director James Dietrich, will be for critical facilities. If in a designated flood plain, those structures must now be built 2 feet above the base-flood elevation instead of the previous 1-foot standard.

Critical facilities include hospitals, schools, nursing homes, daycare facilities, power stations, and government/public buildings.

Building regulations for non-critical facilities in the floodplain did not change from the 1-foot over the base-flood elevation. Also, there were no changes to the county floodplain boundaries.

More Montezuma County coverage here.

The Colorado Water Trust is coordinating and facilitating a number of sessions at CCLT’s Conservation Excellence Conference

Saguache Creek
Saguache Creek

Click here for the pitch, to view the session descriptions, and register. Here’s an excerpt:

The Colorado Water Trust is coordinating and facilitating a number of water sessions at the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts’ Conservation Excellence Conference in Denver in March.

The Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) promotes and supports land conservation at a state level and serves as the collective voice for land conservation in Colorado. CCLT’s annual Conservation Excellence Conference offers conservation professionals opportunities for learning and networking in Denver on March 17, 18, and 19.

Because water is often crucial to the conservation values of conserved lands, the Colorado Water Trust has worked closely with CCLT and the land conservation community over time. We provided general guidance, technical assistance, and educational programming specific to land conservation transactions to help professionals make informed decisions about water rights.

This year, the Colorado Water Trust is coordinating and facilitating a number of sessions and workshops at CCLT’s Conservation Excellence Conference as part of our continuing efforts to assist the land conservation community in understanding water issues.

More education coverage here.

Snowpack (% of normal) news: Upper Rio Grande (85%) inching towards normal #COdrought

From Colorado PBS (Jim Trotter):

There’s so much snow in the South Platte River Basin that water managers there are “holding their breath” for a normal, well-behaved runoff when melting begins in earnest, said assistant State Climatologist Wendy Ryan.

In other words, they don’t want an unexpected streak of 90 degree days that could create a deluge in river channels damaged from last September’s massive flooding.

Elsewhere in the state, conditions range from the mostly positive to the downright worrisome. Snowpack in the San Juan Mountains is 90 percent of average, with drier conditions in the Four Corners. In the Rio Grande and lower Arkansas River basins, however, where drought has persisted in a multi-state region for three years going on four, conditions are less promising.

Snowpack in the Rio Grande is only 74 percent of normal, which could have grim portent for New Mexico and D2 (severe), D3 (extreme) and D4 (exceptional) drought conditions now exist in Colorado’s southeastern corner. Springs storms and a healthy monsoon season could change all of that, of course, but for now – given recent history – there are plenty of reasons to worry.

The southeastern plains received moisture from September’s epic storms, but by that time ranchers had sold off most of their cattle because there was no water and no wheat. What grew from the moisture instead is what Ryan described as an “epidemic of tumbleweed.”[…]

Among other measures followed by the climate center at Colorado State University, is reservoir water storage. There, too, the news ranged from good to not so good. Lake Dillon is standing at 111 per cent of average and 94 percent full, while Lake Granby is 91 percent of average and 47 percent full – good numbers for this time of year. But the massive Lake Powell is only 56 percent of average, 39 percent full.

Dille Diversion Dam: making progress on our facilities in Big Thompson Canyon — Kara Lamb

Learn how to protect your family & home from dangerous spring runoff — Sen. Mark Udall