Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Event to honor builders of Ridgway dam and reservoir

Ridgway Reservoir during winter
Ridgway Reservoir during winter

Here’s the release from CPW:

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the construction of the Ridgway dam and the establishment of Ridgway State Park. A special event to recognize those who worked on the construction project is scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 8 at the park.

Did you work on the project? Or do you know someone who did? This includes former or current employees of the Bureau of Reclamation or other government agencies, construction workers, and municipal and county officials who assisted with the project. If so, please send your contact information via e-mail to:, or call her at 970-626-5822, ext. 11. You’ll be contacted about the event.

Planning for the Dallas Creek Project, as it is called formally by the BOR, began shortly after the end of World War II. Construction eventually started in 1978 and the reservoir filled completely for the first time in 1990. The dam stores water for agricultural, municipal and industrial uses for the Uncompahgre Valley in western Colorado.

One of Colorado’s premier recreational facilities, Ridgway State Park offers camping, hiking, bicycling, boating, fishing and swimming. More than 300,000 people visit the park every year.

For more information about Ridgway and all of Colorado State Parks, see:

More Uncompahgre River watershed coverage here.

Saguache rancher hopes to export water from the San Luis Valley to the Front Range

San Luis Valley Groundwater
San Luis Valley Groundwater

From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Saguache County rancher Gary Boyce may be planning another water export project. Although Boyce has not yet filed any documents with the water court, he has met with representatives of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD), and that board held a special meeting to discuss Boyce’s proposal. The board unanimously voted not to support Boyce in any potential water export project.

During Wednesday’s Alamosa city council meeting, Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero read a letter from RGWCD Board Member Lewis Entz who shared initial information about the project.

Entz related in the letter that in mid-June RGWCD Attorney David Robbins and RGWCD General Manager Steve Vandiver met with Boyce and Boyce’s attorney. At that June 14 meeting Boyce informed Robbins and Vandiver that he planned to file an application to withdraw 35,000 acre feet per year from the confined aquifer on his Saguache area property and export it to the Front Range where it would be sold as a permanent renewable water supply. According to Entz’s letter read at the city meeting, Boyce told RGWCD representatives his application was imminent. With the RGWCD’s blessing, he would create a SLV assistance fund of $150 million that would be distributed to local governments and schools as well as the water conservation district.

On June 18 the RGWCD board held a special meeting to discuss Boyce’s proposal , and the board voted unanimously to reject Boyce’s proposal.

Entz’s letter that Lucero shared with the council stated that so far Boyce has not filed anything in water court, so the RGWCD board does not know what the application would look like, who would be providing financing and what Front Range water users would be receiving the water.

“It seems like the water wars are going to start again,” Mayor Lucero said.

On Thursday, Vandiver confirmed that Boyce had met with Robbins and him, and the board had held a special meeting during which it voted unanimously not to accept Boyce’s offer of money from his potential project and not to support his project.

“We haven’t heard another word from him,” Vandiver said.

Vandiver added that two years ago Boyce also talked about another export project , but nothing was filed then or followed through, so he did not know if Boyce would actually move forward on this proposal or not.

“We have not seen any filings and so we don’t know if Gary was trying to see if we could get bought.”

Vandiver said he did not want “to get in front of the train” at this point, since Boyce has not filed anything .

“There has been nothing concrete or in writing that it’s going to happen,” Vandiver said. “We are hoping it’s just some pipe dream.”

More Rio Grande River Basin coverage here.

10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Grand Canyon #ColoradoRiver

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

USGS: Distinguishing Natural Climate Variability from Anthropogenic Climate Change

Hockey Stick based on Mann & Jones 2003
Hockey Stick based on Mann & Jones 2003

Here’s the release from the United States Geological Survey:

An important question in climate change research is whether we can distinguish the human fingerprint on climate from natural climate variability. Solar activity, volcanic emissions and greenhouse gases, including those from human activities, all affect the radiation and energy balance of the Earth. Variations in the energy balance lead to changes in the distribution and patterns of air temperature, rainfall, hydrology, polar sea ice and glacier mass. Internal modes of climate variability, such as ENSO and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) can cause large year-to-year and decade-to-decade changes in temperature and rainfall.

Distinguishing human-induced climate change associated with carbon emissions and land use change from natural climate variability requires integrated research efforts that rely on climate modeling and paleoclimate reconstructions based on data from analyses of tree rings, ice cores, marine and terrestrial sediments, glaciers and instrumental records. In essence, this research aims to sort out the contributions from natural radiative forcing and internal climate processes from those caused either directly or indirectly by human activity. There is general and widely held scientific consensus that the observed trends in atmospheric and ocean temperature, sea ice, glaciers and climate extremes during the last century cannot be explained solely by natural climate processes and so reflect human influences.

Projects conducting research on Distinguishing Natural Climate Variability from Anthropogenic Climate Change:

Arctic Paleoclimatology
Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain Climate Variability
Cryospheric Studies
Geologic Records of High Sea Levels
Holocene Climate of the Pacific Coasts
Holocene Hydroclimate
Impacts of Climate Change on Coastal and Eolian Landscapes
Pacific Ocean Climate Variability
Paleoclimate Variability of the American Southwest
Radiocarbon Dating

Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill and Assets Set to Be Sold for $2 Million

More nuclear coverage here.

Rifle: Bids for new water treatment plant blow budget

The water treatment process
The water treatment process

From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Mike McKibbin):

Rather than wait up to another year and risk even higher costs, Rifle City Council unanimously rejected two bids on a new $25 million water treatment plant and decided to proceed under a “sole source” approach.

At a special June 25 meeting, the council also approved nearly $150,000 in project expenses, an application for a $2 million state grant to help purchase filters and equipment for the plant and the return of a $600,000 grant that was to help build a new main waterline connection to South Rifle.

The action came after two bids for the project came in $8 million to $11 million higher than the city engineer’s estimate and the funds available to build the plant. Alder Construction, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, submitted a base bid of $33.1 million and PCL Construction, located in Phoenix, Ariz., with an office in Glenwood Springs, submitted a base bid of approximately $36.5 million.

The city received a $25 million low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, to help pay for the plant. Two years ago, Rifle voters approved a 3/4 cent sales tax increase to help repay the loan.

Mayor Randy Winkler said the city had underestimated the cost of the new plant.

“All building costs seem to have gone up greatly just in the last year,” he said. “So we were forced to really take a hard look at this project.”

The project was originally designed to include improvements to the city’s raw water pump station, a new 24-inch raw water pipeline to the new 40,000-square-foot plant, a radio tower at the existing Graham Mesa water plant for remote data transmission of information about the city’s water system to the pump station and then by cable to the new plant, and connections to water transmission and main lines.

City officials have said the Graham Mesa plant is aging, undersized to serve projected population growth and unable to meet possible tougher federal water quality standards in the future. Construction work was expected to last up to two years.

More Rifle coverage here.

Runoff news: Ruedi fills, 1480 cfs in the Blue River below Green Mountain

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Ruedi Reservoir has basically filled. It hit its water level high mark on July 2. Since that time, we’ve seen inflows to the reservoir start to back off a little. As a result, tomorrow [July 8] we will curtail the releases from the dam to the Fryingpan River by about 50 cfs. We will make the change around 10:00 a.m. After, flows past the Ruedi Dam gage should be about 265 cfs.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Earlier today [July 7], we reduced releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue River. We have seen the inflows start to back off a bit. As a result, the Lower Blue is now running at about 1480 cfs.

Ten Southwest and San Luis Valley Counties Receive Drought Disaster Designations from USDA #CODrought

Here’s the release from US Senator Michael Bennet’s office:

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued disaster designations for ten Southwest and San Luis Valley counties due to severe drought conditions. The designations make farmers and ranchers in these counties eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency.

“Drought conditions continue to plague many parts of Colorado, and our producers’ crops and livestock are suffering,” Bennet said. “These designations make crucial assistance available to our farmers and ranchers that are dealing with losses due to the severe weather. This is why we fought hard to get a full, five-year Farm Bill signed into law so our producers have a safety net to help them through tough times like these.”
Producers in the following counties are eligible for assistance: Archuleta, Conejos, Dolores, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mineral, Montezuma, Rio Grande, San Juan, and San Miguel [ed. emphasis mine].

Producers in counties designated as primary or contiguous disaster areas are eligible to be considered for FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for assistance. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers and ranchers with additional information.

Take a look at spin-cast lining technology for water pipe repair

A former colleague of mine, Terry Baus, is showing off technology for lining pipe. Here’s his pitch:

The YouTube video that follows shows a pipe lining demonstration performed by TW Summit Corporation at the May 29, 2014 American Water Works Association Rocky Mountain Section Water Distribution Committee Workshop hosted by the City of Westminster. The spin-cast lining technology provides a permanent, structural, non-toxic, hydrophilic (can be applied to a wet surface), fast-drying, trenchless solution for reconstructing, rehabilitating and renewing potable and no-potable water conveyance systems. The lining will provide “a new pipe”, prevent exfiltration and infiltration and take the “next step” in addressing a technology void providing another much needed tool for repairing Colorado’s and the nation’s aging and leaking water infrastructure. To coin a phrase: a picture, in this case a YouTube video, is worth a thousand words. Please watch and assess for yourself how this technology may further assist us all in sealing and providing for permanent structural repairs in Colorado’s water infrastructure systems.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Pueblo: Rates are a complex question

Orr Manufacturing Vertical Impact Sprinkler circa 1928 via the Irrigation Museum
Orr Manufacturing Vertical Impact Sprinkler circa 1928 via the Irrigation Museum

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Other cities in the West ration water, use block rates to discourage water waste and even pay property owners to rip out sod. Pueblo does none of those things, and a couple of people who attended last week’s state water plan meeting at Pueblo Community College wondered why.

“It’s driven by economics,” said Terry Book, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works. “Using less water drives up rates. That puts more of a burden on poorer customers. It’s a complex question.”

For years, the Pueblo water board has seen a decrease in water use that began after the city put outdoor watering restrictions in place following the 2002 drought. A 2007 study found customer attitudes had fundamentally changed. Instead of dragging hoses to water the lawn in the hottest part of the day, more Puebloans chose to set up automated sprinkler systems to run in the morning or evening. The water board also promotes Wise Water Use online and in its outreach programs. At the same time, Pueblo has kept its water rates the lowest on Colorado’s Front Range.

One woman wanted to know why homeowners are penalized for not watering their lawns. There is a difference between xeriscaping and simply letting the weeds take over, Book said. Again, it’s the poor who suffer because redoing a landscape with drought tolerant plants and reducing the square footage of bluegrass can cost thousands of dollars. Many lawns in Pueblo have been lost because of the choice to cut back on the water bill, he said.

At one point in the meeting, Book said Pueblo has a water supply for 220,000- 225,000 people — but the water board has learned that severe drought can stress even that supply. In most years, the water board has extra water to lease, mostly to farmers. Recently, the water board increased its rate on longterm contracts as a way to generate more revenue in order to keep rates low. By contrast, growth in El Paso County to the north will put pressure on other water resources in the Arkansas River basin, and water comes at a higher price.

While Pueblo’s supply seems ample for now, the water board already has taken steps to provide water for future generations by buying water rights on the Bessemer Ditch. For now, the water is being leased back to farmers at a low cost. This decision was questioned by farmer Doug Wiley, who came to the meeting and suggested fallowing urban landscapes in times of drought to provide more water to farms.

Both Wiley and Book agreed, however, that the quality of water in Pueblo is better than the Lower Arkansas Valley and so the water resources in this area should be preserved. Dissolved salts, selenium, radionuclides and minerals increase along the Arkansas River as it flows to Kansas.

“The quality of water is the issue as you move down the Arkansas Valley,” Book said.

More conservation coverage here.