— David McGimpsey (@DTM1993) October 14, 2014
Here’s the release from Colorado State University:
The 25th annual South Platte River Forum will be held Wednesday, Oct. 22, and Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Plaza Event Center, 1850 Industrial Circle, Longmont. The forum, “Water and Wisdom,” will examine issues such as flood impacts on stream restoration, fisheries and hydrology, oil and gas exploration, hydraulic fracturing as well as hydropower, and overviews of South Platte River basin projects. The forum strives to provide an avenue for a timely, multidisciplinary exchange of information and ideas important to resource management in the basin.
The first day of the forum includes several presentations on flood recovery efforts, updates and concerns, as well as a history of floods on the South Platte. The Friends of the South Platte Award will be presented to Patricia J. Rettig, Head Archivist, Water Resources Archive, at Colorado State University Libraries. The keynote luncheon on Oct. 22 will be “Proposed Rule: Definitions of Waters of the U.S.” by Karen Hamilton, Chief of the Aquatic Resource and Accountability Unit, U.S. EPA Region 8. Afternoon sessions will discuss oil and gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing, and water education efforts. The day will conclude with a reception and information on water storage projects in the basin.
The final day of the forum will include a presentation on the Colorado Water Plan by John Stulp, special policy advisor to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on water, followed by presentations on South Platte basin water plans, and a panel focused on water quality concerns. The day will conclude with a luncheon presentation on “At the Confluence: The Poetry of Colorado Water” by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr.
Winners of this year’s photo contest will be recognized during the forum and their photographs will be on display.
The South Platte River begins high in the Colorado mountains near Fairplay. It flows through Denver and continues eastward into Nebraska, joining the North Platte River near the town of North Platte, Neb.
The South Platte Forum is sponsored by Deere & Ault Consultants, Inc.,; SP WRAP,; XRI Geophysics; Applegate Group, Inc.; the Consortium for Research and Education on Emerging Contaminants (CREEC); Platte River Recovery Implementation Plan (PRRIP); Riverside Technology; Tetra Tech,and Integral Consulting, Inc. The Forum is organized by Colorado State University Extension, Colorado Water Institute, Aurora Water, Denver Water, Northern Water, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. EPA, U.S. Geological Survey.
Registration is available at the door for $115 per person. For a schedule of events, visit http://www.southplatteforum.org/schedule. For additional information, contact Jennifer Brown at (402) 960-3670 or Jennifer@southplatteforum.org.
More South Platte River Basin coverage here.
From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):
Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 1250 cfs to 1150 cfs on Wednesday, October 15th at 8:00 AM. Releases are being decreased to time with the brown trout spawn. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows have remained relatively high due to the September rains and flows are expected to stay above the October baseflow target for the foreseeable future.
Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1050 cfs for September through December.
Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 800 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 450 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be around 800 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be around 350 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.
From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):
As the first draft of Colorado’s Water Plan nears completion (it’s due in December), many who have participated in its development remain anxious about what will and won’t be in it — particularly in relation to the potential for more West Slope water to be transported east to serve growing cities on the Front Range.
Colorado’s Water Plan, which was ordered by Governor Hickenlooper in May of 2013, is intended to close a projected gap between water needs and developed supplies in coming decades. “Basin Roundtables” of water providers and other water stakeholders in each of the state’s major river basins contributed key building blocks to the plan back in July, when they turned in plans for how to address needs within their own basins.
Now, Colorado Water Conservation Board staffers are scrambling to integrate information from each of the basin plans, as well as their own statewide analysis and public input, into a cohesive document. This would be a big task even if all of the basin plans agreed with each other — which they don’t.
The West Slope basin plans reflect an extremely dim view of additional diversions of West Slope water to the Front Range, citing damage to the environment and river-based recreation and the concern that failure to meet water delivery obligations to downstream states would put both West Slope and Front Range users of Colorado River water at risk. The South Platte basin plan, on the other hand, states that additional Colorado River imports will be needed to supply future urban growth and prevent the dry-up of irrigated land.
At a meeting on Oct. 6, Gunnison Basin Roundtable members asked how this conflict would be resolved in the statewide plan. The answer they got from the basin’s representative to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, John McClow, was that it wouldn’t. He said, as other CWCB representatives have also stated in previous meetings, that the plan will not endorse any particular type of transmountain diversion project. The individual basin plans will stand on their own, without any forced reconciliation.
An early draft chapter of the Colorado Water Plan, however, does contain a draft “conceptual agreement” on how to approach a potential future transmountain diversion. This agreement was hammered out between representatives from all the state’s roundtables and released for comment.
The draft conceptual agreement got a mixed reception at the Gunnison Basin Roundtable meeting. Members welcomed an acknowledgement by Front Range parties that any new transmountain diversion may only be able to take water in wet years, due to existing demands and downstream obligations.
Language about the need for an “insurance policy” to protect “existing uses and some increment of future development” was greeted with much more skepticism, however. There was concern that this meant that irrigated agriculture could be sacrificed to enable continued urban uses, although no one could say with certainty what it really meant. There was also concern that the agreement would go into the December draft of Colorado’s Water Plan without sufficient additional discussion.
Some comfort was provided by the fact that, once the complete draft of Colorado’s Water Plan is released in December, the current timeline allows a full year for additional discussion and public comment before the document is final. You can find all the documents developed to date at http://www.coloradowaterplan.com.
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.
From Westword (Alan Prendergast):
As we reported back in 2012, the long-simmering proposal has set off alarm bells among environmentalists, bird fanciers and many park users because it involves flooding more than 500 acres of the 5,378-acre park and raising the water level by twelve feet. Critics say that will wipe out groves of cottonwood trees, destroy bird habitat, wetlands and walleye spawning areas, and leave an unsightly “bathtub ring” of barren mud flats around the reservoir when water levels are low. The lawsuit claims that the Corps improperly evaluated the project’s impacts and dismissed a number of less damaging alternatives to the current plan.
Chatfield draws 1.6 million visitors a year and hosts 375 different species of birds — fourteen of which are listed as protected by state or federal authorities. Audubon’s attorneys contend that the project will cost the state around $3.4 million in lost park revenues, much of which is used to support less popular parks.
But the most intriguing claim in the suit has to do with whether the project will actually be of much use in boosting water storage for various agricultural and suburban interests. Several of the parties who initially signed on to the project, including the Parker Water and Sanitation District and the City of Brighton, have since dropped out and sought to meet water needs from other sources. Others, including the City of Aurora, “are trying to leave the project or have already left,” the complaint states.
The reason for all those defections? While the project claims an estimated 8,539 acre‐feet of water per year as its average yield, the estimated “dependable yield” is zero. While the project has been presented as a “restoration” of the South Platte, the Corps’ own studies predict that the river’s flows would actually decrease nine months out of twelve after the project’s completion and increase only one month of the year. Much of the water storage is allocated to junior rights holders and may be available only three years out of ten.
“It’s a bad deal for the public and for Colorado,” said Polly Reetz, conservation chairman of Denver Audubon, in an statement announcing the lawsuit.
But the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Water Conservation Board remain solid supporters of the project, and backers insist that the overall effect on Chatfield will be minimal. Denver Audubon and other environmental groups have said they would prefer to see more conservation measures and less drastic storage projects.
More Chatfield Reservoir coverage here.
From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Agriculture has a $1.5 billion annual impact to the Arkansas Valley, but production hinges on the availability of water. So, the Arkansas Basin Roundtable is trying to turn the state’s thinking around from looking at the agricultural “water gap” as a shortage of irrigated acres to prevention of further economic erosion.
“When the state first looked at the agricultural water gap, it came down to the number of acres, but it really had to do more with the $1.5 billion impact of agriculture,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.
“What we have is an augmentation gap.”
A study for the Lower Ark district and the Super Ditch showed that the amount of water needed to fill agricultural augmentation plans — methods to replace loss of return flows from pumping or surface irrigation improvements — could be as high as 50,000 acre feet (16.3 billion gallons) annually by 2050.
At the same time, traditional sources for augmentation water such as Colorado Springs Utilities or Pueblo Board of Water Works leases will diminish as the cities grow into their water supplies.
“A lot of the sources for augmentation water were double-counted,” Winner said.
Agriculture is not the only area that will be shorted. Mountain subdivisions, industrial users and cities are finding themselves under-subscribed when it comes to replacement water, said Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District.
“If growth continues, whether it’s outside or inside the communities, we will continue to see a wider augmentation gap,” Scanga said. “More storage and better use of it can mean an increase in supply.”
The only other ways to find new water will be to continue to take it from farms, for many years the easiest target in the Arkansas River basin, or the much more difficult task of bringing more water across the Continental Divide, he said. But the quest to find more water must be tempered by protecting what is already in place.
In stating its preferences, the roundtable agreed to recommend language in the state water plan that encourages the state to: “Prevent future water supply gaps from increasing by protecting water rights and adhering to the prior appropriation doctrine.”
Meanwhile, the roundtable elected Jim Broderick to lead them for the next term. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:
Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, was elected chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable at its annual organizational meeting Wednesday. But the annual selection of the slate of officers, usually a routine formality, came with a minor ripple.
The roundtable also selected the proposed slate of officers on the executive committee, including vice-chairwomen SeEtta Moss and Betty Konarski, and Interbasin Compact Committee representatives Jay Winner and Jeris Danielson.
The lineup was challenged by Brett Gracely, water resources manager for Colorado Springs Utilities, who pointed out there were no agricultural or municipal representatives on the executive committee.
Three of them, Broderick, Winner and Danielson, are water conservancy district managers. Moss, of Canon City, represents environmental interests and Konarski, a real estate agent, is the El Paso County representative.
“They have been there for several years, and represent one viewpoint, but not all the viewpoints on the roundtable,” Gracely said.
“What action are you proposing?” Broderick replied.
Gracely nominated Mike Fink, Fountain water resources engineer, to serve on the IBCC instead of Winner, whose term ended.
Broderick checked the bylaws and announced that Fink was not eligible to serve on the executive committee because he was not a member of the roundtable.
Colorado Springs Utilities already has a member on the 27-member IBCC, Wayne Vanderschuere, who was appointed by the governor.
Broderick then explained that the same people wind up in the leadership roles because they have the time to attend numerous meetings and the resources to do the work involved.
Winner, who also chairs the needs assessment committee, which screens grants, offered to step down from that job if others were interested in taking on the task.
“It takes a lot of time,” he explained.
Broderick invited other roundtable members to become more active in committees.
More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.
From E&E Publishing (Jeremy P. Jacobs):
The Supreme Court tomorrow will wade into a decades-long water use dispute between Kansas and Nebraska.
At issue is a localized disagreement among the two states and Colorado over an interstate compact that allocates water from the 430-mile Republican River.
The river — which rises in Colorado, crosses the northwest tip of Kansas before crossing into Nebraska, and then re-enters north-central Kansas — travels a sparsely populated area. It drains a nearly 25,000-square-mile watershed, and more than 1.8 million acres of land is irrigated using its water to grow crops like corn, soybeans and milo.
Use of the river has been contentious since the three states sought to create a compact in the early 1940s. President Franklin Roosevelt vetoed the first version, and later signed the congressionally ratified compact in 1943.
The case is narrow in scope and is unlikely to yield a ruling from the justices with broad implications.
Kansas has long claimed that Nebraska is using more than its allotment. The state first took the case to the Supreme Court in 1999, claiming that Nebraska’s groundwater pumping was depleting the river.
That case led to a 2003 settlement that added groundwater to the terms of the compact.
However, by May 2010, Kansas claimed that Nebraska used about 79,000 acre-feet more than its allotment in 2005 and 2006. It again asked the high court to review the case, and the court, for the second time, appointed a federal judge — or “special master,” in court parlance — to resolve the dispute.
The judge’s report found that Nebraska did knowingly violate the compact in 2005 and 2006, but has since taken steps to come into compliance. It recommended requiring Nebraska to pay Kansas $5.5 million, roughly the equivalent of the water Kansas lost plus a $1.8 million penalty.
It also recommended amending how the states administer the compact by changing its accounting procedures to include water entering the basin that is not part of the Republican River’s “virgin water supply.” “Imported water” drains into the basin every year from the Platte River, which sits at a higher elevation to the north.
The original compact did not include water that migrated from the Platte River, and the judge reasoned that use of the imported water should not count against a state’s Republican River allotment.
The judge suggested that the Supreme Court adopt a “five-run solution” proposed by Nebraska and backed by Colorado that more accurately reflects groundwater consumption and imported water.
Tomorrow morning, the justices will consider each state’s exceptions to the report’s recommendations. Kansas, for example, does not want to rewrite the compact’s accounting procedures and is seeking more money from Nebraska for its violations. It is also seeking an injunction to bar Nebraska from taking too much water from the basin.
Nebraska, on the other hand, contests the $1.8 million penalty to be awarded to Kansas and takes exception to the judge’s conclusion that it “knowingly failed” to comply with the compact.
The Obama administration has also weighed in on the dispute and has urged the justices to uphold all of the judge’s recommendations.
“The United States supports the Master’s report,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote in court documents, adding that the government supports “overruling the parties’ exceptions.”
The court will rule on Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado by the end of next June.
From the Kearney Hub (David Hendee):
Nebraska’s regulatory landscape is significantly different now from when the state consumed more Republican River water than allocated in 2006.
So is some of the physical landscape in and around the basin in southwest and south-central Nebraska.
There are stricter regulations on how much underground water farmers may pump to irrigate cropland. Two pipeline projects pour water into the Republican River to supplement flows during dry periods. And there are fewer acres of irrigated cropland.
Nebraska’s biggest challenge under a 71-year-old interstate compact that shares the river water with Kansas and Colorado has been staying within its allotment in dry years. Now the state should never again find itself violating the compact in dry years, said Dean Edson, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts.
“Everything’s in place,’’ he said. “Taxpayers are protected, the aquifer is protected and the irrigated-acre tax base of rural communities in the basin is protected.’’
New state laws, tighter regulations and innovative projects by the Upper, Middle and Lower Republican Natural Resources Districts and the Twin Platte NRD have made the difference since 2007, Edson said.
The estimated 1.1 million irrigated acres in Nebraska’s portion of the river basin represent what is believed to be the largest area of regulated groundwater use in the eight-state region that overlies the Ogallala Aquifer, a vast underground reservoir of fresh water.
No other state has more stringent water-pumping regulations than Nebraska, Edson said. Allocations in Nebraska’s Republican basin have declined to between 9 and 13 inches annually. That’s approximately 45 percent less than allowed in neighboring Kansas, Edson said.
Rules and regulations have helped produce rising aquifer levels in some regions, stabilized levels in others and significantly slowed rates of decline elsewhere, he said. Further reductions in water use are assured by requirements agreed to with the State of Nebraska that groundwater pumping volumes decrease by 20 percent, to 1998-2002 levels. An additional 5 percent reduction is required by 2015.
Nearly two years ago, four Natural Resources Districts bought 19,500 acres southwest of North Platte that lie squarely between the Platte and Republican Rivers. About 15,800 of those acres were irrigated and now are retired from irrigated production.
A six-mile pipeline is taking water from about 30 wells that would have been used to irrigate crops on that land and delivering it to the Republican via Medicine Creek. The 42-inch-diameter pipeline was used for the first time this year to meet Nebraska’s flow obligations to Kansas.
“Without this project, severe and sudden reductions in water allocations might have to have been imposed on irrigators in the basin,’’ Edson said.
Edson said the willingness of landowners to impose a $10 per irrigated acre tax on themselves made the project possible.
“I’ve not met anyone yet who wants their taxes raised, but if we don’t augment stream flows, we’d be looking at the forced shutdown of at least 300,000 irrigated acres, or nearly a third of the irrigated acres in the basin,’’ he said. “It’s pretty doggone cheap compared to what they could lose. It would be devastating.’’
A similar project in the southwest corner of the state retired 3,260 irrigated acres in Dundy County. Water that would have been consumed by crops is sent seven miles through a 24-inch pipeline to Rock Creek for delivery into the Republican River.
From Supreme Court of the US Blog (Ryke Longest):
Origins of the Republican River Compact
The Republican River begins in Colorado on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, then flows through part of Kansas. The river then crosses and into Nebraska before crossing back into Kansas, where it then turns southeasterly. In Junction City, Kansas, it joins with the Smoky Hill River to become the Kansas River, a tributary of the Missouri River.
More than 24,000 square miles of watershed on the Great Plains support the flow of the Republican River. This territory contains rich agricultural soils and relatively abundant average annual rainfall. During the Great Depression, the three states and the federal government planned to use the Republican River for water resource development. This area was at the western edge of the Great Plains Dust Bowl, which experienced horrific dust storms in 1934 through 1935 that carried tons of soil through the air as far as the Atlantic Ocean.
Federal relief programs were mobilized to help the residents respond to the terrible conditions. A devastating flood on the Republican River in 1935 hastened along state and federal planning to create both flood control and irrigation projects. Federal agencies endorsed the need for the projects as well as their feasibility, but the Bureau of Reclamation warned that they should not go forward until the three states entered into a compact.
The states had agreed to terms within a few years, but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt vetoed the first attempted compact in response to objections by federal agencies. On December 31, 1942, on their second attempt, the federal government and Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska agreed to an interstate compact to allocate water flowing in the Republican River. This compact was then ratified by the state legislatures, approved by Congress and signed into law by the President on May 26, 1943. However, rather than resolving all controversy about water allocation between the parties, the compact merely moved the locus of the disputes. Since its signing, disputes between the states over water use focus on the compact’s terms.
Origin of disputes under the Compact
Flows in the Republican River have been declining for decades, with reduced flows in nearly all its tributaries. The reduced flows alarm farmers in all three states who rely on irrigation to keep crops at profitable yields. As the primary downstream users, Kansans look to the compact to protect them from overuse by upstream users. As the state with the largest allocation, Nebraskans look to the compact to protect their farmers from unreasonable demands from Kansans.
When use increases and flows decrease, disputes follow. As the aphorism often attributed to Mark Twain goes, “Whiskey is for drinking, but water is for fighting.” Disputes among users and their political leaders come quickly behind the spread of economic prosperity.
Under the compact, disputes first flow through the Republican River Compact Administration, which consists of one representative of each of the three states. Following ratification, all states needed to change water resource allocation laws within their respective states to ensure compliance with the new compact’s requirements. In 1945, Kansas enacted a statute that combined allocation of groundwater and surface water into a unified permitting system using prior appropriation principles. In Nebraska, allocation of groundwater remained subject to restriction by common law principles of reasonable use within the context of correlative rights as set forth in the 1933 case of Olson v. City of Wahoo. The state codified these principles in 1975 and later adjusted its groundwater law in 1996 with amendments under LB 108, promoted by Nebraska Governor Ben Nelson. Nebraska’s efforts under LB 108 were clearly designed to prevent allocation of groundwater in a way that causes violations of an interstate compact. Yet its critics maintain that these efforts hampered management by putting the fox in charge of the henhouse (local Natural Resource Districts).
Groundwater’s special place
When the compact was signed, one of its key purposes was to remove all causes that “might lead to controversies.” Yet, within its key terms lay the seed of controversy: the term “Virgin Water Supply.” It was defined as the “water supply within the Basin undepleted by the activities of man.” Nebraska interpreted the caveat “within the basin” to exclude groundwater pumping from the scope of activities that deplete the Virgin Water Supply. The compact defines “basin” as the “area naturally drained by the Republican River and its tributaries.” Nebraska’s argument unduly restricted the scope of the Virgin Water Supply by taking the groundwater that drains into the Republican River and its tributaries out of the compact.
In many places, the Republican River is a gaining stream, one where groundwater from alluvial and surficial aquifers seeps into the riverbed. Excluding groundwater from allocation formulas in a gaining stream will always lead to problems unless groundwater pumping from alluvial and surficial aquifers is completely prohibited. In a gaining stream system, these aquifers are just as important sources to stream flow as the surface tributaries. However, these flows are harder to measure, model, and quantify.
Litigation before the Supreme Court: Round I
In 1999, the Supreme Court granted Kansas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint. Kansas complained that Nebraska had violated the compact by allowing proliferation of thousands of groundwater wells that were connected to the Republican River. Kansas’s complaint asserted that Nebraska’s regulatory apparatus failed to prevent the violations into the future, and it asked for damages and a decree commanding Nebraska to meet its delivery obligations under the compact. Nebraska sought leave to file a motion to cismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and presented affirmative defenses to Kansas’s complaint. Nebraska’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion was limited to the question whether the compact applied to groundwater consumptive use within Nebraska. Colorado responded that groundwater from alluvial aquifers was included within the compact but groundwater from the deeper Ogallala aquifer was not. The Court appointed a special master to preside over the hearing, after which the special master’s report recommended that Nebraska’s motion be denied. In June 2000, the Supreme Court denied Nebraska and Colorado’s exceptions and sent the case back. Following a series of memoranda on various issues by the special master, the parties negotiated a settlement stipulation.
Republican River Compact settlement stipulation
The settlement stipulation imposed additional obligations on the parties beyond those required by the Compact itself. All parties waived any claims against each other arising prior to 2002, and the stipulation required a drilling moratorium on wells within the Republican River Basin. It also explicitly recognized that groundwater was a component of the Virgin Water Supply. Beyond that, the parties to the current dispute disagree about significant aspects of the settlement stipulation as well as the special master’s report. While the stipulation established that the scope of covered water was water originating in the basin, there arose a dispute over the method of accounting for “imported water” – water that was originally part of the neighboring Platte River Basin but now percolates into the Republican River. In places, this seeping imported water had raised the water table by ten feet. The special master has proposed changing the accounting procedure so that Nebraska may use water imported from the Platte. Kansas vehemently objects that this change violates the terms of the compact.
Each state will argue objections to the special master’s report. Expect to hear Kansas argue forcefully in favor of the Court strengthening its disgorgement remedies against Nebraska and requesting injunctive relief. Nebraska will argue that the special master’s disgorgement remedy was too harsh. Nebraska also admits that it overused its allocation for the year 1996, but that in so doing it did not violate the compact but took steps immediately thereafter to reduce consumptive use and to pay Kansas for its actual damages. Kansas also objects to the special master’s proposed amendment to the settlement stipulation, a remedy defended by Nebraska.
Colorado will argue that the disgorgement is not allowed for unintentional violations by Nebraska and that the proposed award represents a windfall for Kansas. The Solicitor General will argue that the special master’s report falls within the scope of the broad discretion afforded the Supreme Court in fashioning remedies for breaches of compacts. He will defend the partial disgorgement remedy as protective against efficient breach concerns, but he will also argue against Kansas’s request for injunctive relief. It will be interesting to see whether the Court inquires about injunctive relief as a further protection against efficient breach concerns.
More Republican River Basin coverage here.
From The Pueblo Chieftain (Taylor Edrington):
There truly is no better feeling than stepping into a beautiful, high-mountain stream or river in Colorado on a quest to fool one of its inhabiting trout. It’s a surreal surrounding — with the crisp, clean air, the clean, cool water and the rugged landscapes that make up our playground as an angler in Colorado. I have been exploring Colorado’s backcountry fly fishing opportunities my entire life, and have made it my mission to help other outdoor enthusiasts experience Colorado’s phenomenal trout streams.
As a Colorado business owner, and as a sportsman, exploring Colorado’s Gold Medal trout streams and all they offer is priceless. However, these bodies of water are at an increased risk because of confusing decisions from the Supreme Court about the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
Fortunately, there is a rule being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers that clears the muddied waters and ensures we have rules in place to protect the waters that supply drinking water to nearly three out of four Coloradans. These agencies are in the process of taking input from the public right now on how to improve the Clean Water Act.
I support the efforts to clarify the Clean Water Act because I’ve seen firsthand that healthy headwaters and streams — and our outdoor way of life — depend on clean water. For sportsmen, this proposed rule is critical. In addition to reducing flooding, filtering pollution, and recharging underground aquifers, clean, productive wetlands and headwater streams here in Colorado provide essential habitat for fish and wildlife.
Beyond inspiring aesthetics, outdoor recreation is also big business, contributing over $686 billion to our national economy annually. Here in Colorado, hunting and fishing alone is a $1.5 billion industry, contributing $150 million in state and local taxes each year and employing nearly 19,000 Coloradans. That means this rule also matters to our economy.
Recently I was guiding a group from Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada, on my home water —the Upper Arkansas River in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. We enjoyed a typical day on Colorado’s longest Gold Medal River — plenty of fish to the net, beautiful surroundings, the sounds, the smells, the essential Colorado fly fishing experience. During the day we discussed the recent Mount Polley disaster near their hometown.
The Mount Polley Mine tailings pond dam breached in that crisis, releasing 17 million cubic meters of slurry into the local watersheds. This disaster destroyed all watershed habitats in the nearby area, drinking water sources and much more.
While we were discussing the tragedy, I realized that all too often we take clean water for granted. Properly managing our watersheds requires vigilance, and it starts with a restored Clean Water Act.
Yet, instead of working for clean water, some members of Congress are actively trying to scuttle the EPA’s and Army Corps’deliberative process. I urge our U.S. senators to stand up for the 10,000 miles of streams and 2,000 lakes we have in Colorado that are at risk.
I personally spend countless hours fly fishing throughout Colorado. My business depends on the great resources this state has to offer. Restoring the Clean Water Act is the right thing to do, to protect what we have.
Taylor Edrington is the owner and president of Royal Gorge Anglers Inc., in Canon City.
I have never endorsed a candidate here on Coyote Gulch but this year I’m making an exception and asking you to vote for Mark Udall. You can consider this post a call to arms of sorts.
Like many progressives I was dismayed to see the major Colorado dailies endorsing Congressman Gardner.
I found The Pueblo Chieftain’s endorsement particularly troubling in its focus. Here’s the link (no paywall for this one).
You will see the omission of many of the areas where Congressman Gardner’s positions and record would not carry the day.
No mention of environmental issues, no mention of women’s issues, no mention of immigration, no mention of climate change, no mention of the millions that have taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act, no mention of the pressing infrastructure needs, no mention of the need to control air pollution, no mention of renewable energy or even a sensible energy policy, no mention of gay marriage, no mention of views about economics, no mention of respective records supporting Colorado business, no mention of the Colorado recreation economy, no mention of an understanding of Colorado’s place in the Colorado River Basin, no mention of education, no mention …
I guess if you feel like support for an environmental disaster for Canada and global CO2 (Keystone XL), premature opposition to Clean Water Act rulemaking (“Waters of the US”) instead of participation in the process, and opposition to extending healthcare to more Americans, are the most important positions for a Colorado Senator in 2014, then the congressman fits the bill. That’s the list for the editors of The Pueblo Chieftain.
It really comes down to Congressman Gardner’s campaign and their cynical hope that if you are a voter in the groups that support Senator Udall in the areas listed above you won’t take the trouble to fill out and return your ballot.
I do know that every election comes down to getting out the vote. So when your mail-in ballot shows up please put a checkmark next to Senator Udall’s name.
One final note. The Chieftain also mentions Congressman Gardner’s, “deep roots in the Eastern Plains,” which is a cool story.
Mark Udall’s father and uncle helped shape the current policy and facilities of the Colorado River Basin. Stewart Udall put his mark on wilderness as well. In my book the deep roots contest goes to Udall.
— Mark Udall (@MarkUdall) June 15, 2014
Disclosure: I registered as Republican in 1982 and left the party the morning after Rudy Giuliani’s speech at the 2008 Republican Convention.