2015 Colorado legislation: Last minute effort to save HB15-1259 (#RainBarrel) fails in Senate 18-17

Rain barrel schematic
Rain barrel schematic

The latest Eagle River Watershed Council newsletter “The Current” is hot off the presses


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

Watershed Wednesday:
State of the Fisheries

Wednesday, May 13th
5:30 pm @ Minturn Anglers shop
102 Main St, Minturn

Come learn first-hand from Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) Aquatic Biologist Kendall Bakich about a variety of topics regarding the status and management of the Eagle and Upper Colorado River fisheries.

“This is an important meeting and we hope to see a good turnout,” said Bakich. “We want to give the public an opportunity to hear how their local fisheries are doing directly from the people who manage them.”

Bakich will present her most recent survey data regarding the variety of fishes and populations currently found in the Eagle and Upper Colorado Rivers.

“Whether you are an avid angler, guide, local restaurateur, hotel owner or you just want to hear about fish, this is a great opportunity to discuss our local fish communities,” added Bakich. “The fish in Eagle County are not only an incredibly important resource for the area, they are one of the most outstanding resources in Colorado.”

More Eagle River watershed coverage here.

Larimer County is looking at alternatives to ban on development in floodplains

Cache la Poudre River
Cache la Poudre River

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

Larimer County is going ahead with a pilot study of potentially tying rebuilding rules in the floodway to the level of hazard instead of a blanket ban.

County Engineer Mark Peterson updated the commissioners at a public meeting Tuesday that the pilot portion of the study will focus on two stretches of the Poudre River and look at ranking the hazard based on depth and velocity.

Based on a recommendation of the flood review board, the county will look at three different levels of measurement, all which are higher than the measurement used by the city of Boulder, which has a similar ranking system.

That portion of the pilot study should be complete by July, then the county will look at erosion hazards in the same two areas of the Poudre River.

The data is expected to reveal to the county how such a system would work and allow the commissioners to decide whether it is an option they would like to pursue.

The floodway is the area closest to the river within a flood plain, and currently, county rules prohibit rebuilding of any structures that are destroyed or more than 50 percent damaged within that area. The ban applies to flood damage as well as destruction from fire, earthquakes, tornadoes and other disasters.

Residents have complained that the rule affects their property values and ability to sell their homes and asked the county to repeal the ban altogether and allow them to rebuild as long as they elevate the structure to state and federal standards.

More Cache la Poudre River coverage here.

Lower Ark nets 800 acre-feet this season from a recalculation of pond seepage

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):

A recalculation of the seepage rate of ponds used to feed irrigation sprinklers means farmers will have to repay less water than originally calculated this year under 2010 surface irrigation rules.

The savings amounts to about 800 acre-feet (260 million gallons) for Rule 10 plans operated by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, a 40 percent savings.

The Lower Ark’s 2-year study still is not complete because of technical glitches. The Colorado Division of Water Resources accepted results for only some of the more than 20 ponds studied, and the state has asked for additional study in some areas.

But the results altered the basic formula for the Irrigation System Analysis Model. An interim seepage calculation method has been adopted as a result.

“(The division) does believe that the limited amount of pond study data from ponds where inlet and outlet meters were verified to be accurate are more comprehensive than what was used to derive the original seepage method in ISAM,” the state’s report noted.

Under the previous ISAM formula, the state estimated losses from the more than 145 farms covered by Lower Ark’s Rule 10 plans would create about 1,947 acre-feet of deficits. Under the interim method, the deficits total 1,137 acre-feet.

The 2010 rules were written to cover farms that have installed sprinklers or drip irrigation systems fed by ponds as well as other improvements in order to prevent increased consumptive use and potential litigation with Kansas over the Arkansas River Compact. Similar rules, written in 1996, already cover wells in the Arkansas Valley.

More Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District coverage here.

San Luis Valley: Dick Wolfe okays groundwater Subdistrict No. 1 augmentation and pumping plan for this season

Artesian well Dutton Ranch, Alamosa 1909 via the Crestone Eagle
Artesian well Dutton Ranch, Alamosa 1909 via the Crestone Eagle

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

State Engineer Dick Wolfe gave his approval Friday to a plan to mitigate the impacts of groundwater pumping this year in the north-central San Luis Valley.

Wolfe’s approval, issued at the close of business Friday, confirms Subdistrict No. 1 has sufficient water to cover the depletions caused by the 3,412 wells inside its boundary.

The subdistrict, which must get annual state approval for its plan, must replace an estimated 3,655 acre-feet in depletions that well pumping is expected to cause to the Rio Grande this year.

Those wells are projected to pump 238,000 acre-feet of groundwater this year, which impacts surface water given that the two are hydraulically connected to varying degrees around the valley. The subdistrict has a pool of 20,115 acre-feet it can use to replace depletions, drawing off transbasin diversions coming into the basin, reservoir storage and a federal reclamation project that pumps groundwater on the east side of the valley.

The subdistrict also has nine forbearance agreements with ditch companies that will allow it to pay for damages in lieu of putting water in the river.

While mitigating the harm to surface water users is a court-ordered priority, the subdistrict’s other aim is to reduce groundwater pumping through the fallowing of farm ground.

This year, through a federal conservation program, just under 4,000 acres will be taken out of production, a savings to the aquifer of roughly 7,800 acre feet.

Unlike previous years, the subdistrict will no longer have a financial guarantee by its parent organization — the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, which draws property tax revenue from five of the valley’s six counties.

Instead, the subdistrict has placed $3.85 million in escrow to ensure well depletions are replaced in the event the subdistrict dissolved.

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.