#ColoradoRiver Basin: Aspinall Unit operations update

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 1300 cfs to 600 cfs on Friday, October 30th. This reduction coincides with the shutdown of the Gunnison Tunnel. River flows may fluctuate by up to 200 cfs during the day of the diversion shutdown, but will return to the current level afterwards. The current content of Blue Mesa Reservoir is 676,000 acre-feet which is 81% full.

Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the 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 the remainder of the year.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 700 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are 600 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will be down to 0 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon should still be around 600 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.

This scheduled release change is subject to changes in river flows and weather conditions. For questions or concerns regarding these operations contact Erik Knight at (970) 248-0629 or e-mail at eknight@usbr.gov

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin #COriver

Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation October 1 through October 25, 2015
Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation October 1 through October 25, 2015

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

Manitou Springs to rehab 118 year old supply line from French Creek

Pikes Peak with Garden of the Gods in the foreground
Pikes Peak with Garden of the Gods in the foreground

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Matt Steiner):

The city of Manitou Springs plans to take advantage of a much-needed upgrade to an almost 120-year-old deteriorating pipeline and become a bit more environmentally and economically efficient.

A more than $3 million project to upgrade the iron pipe just entered its beginning stages. And city officials already plan to add a small hydroelectric generator to the line that brings water from French Creek on the eastern slopes of Pikes Peak and into the city’s water treatment plant.

The city began plans for the project after heavy rains in September 2013 eroded soil that covers the pipe, which was installed in 1897 and is hidden less than three feet below the Ute Pass Regional Trail.

The line was exposed in multiple places during the 2013 storms that pummeled the entire Front Range, causing roads to wash away, resulting in at least eight deaths, according to Colorado Office of Emergency Management, and leaving some people stranded for days. The pipe sprung a couple of leaks during the torrent. The city temporarily shut off its water main for repairs. And officials became urgently concerned about just how long the three-and-a-half mile pipe will last.

“If it were to fail, there is only a couple days-worth of reserves,” said Sara Hartley, a flood recovery project manager with Manitou Springs. “This is a very high priority project.”

As city council discussed the plans earlier this year, one council woman suggested piggy-backing the hydroelectric generator onto the project.

“Coreen (Toll) brought up the idea that if we were going to replace the pipe, we might as well look into hydro,” said city administrator Jason Wells.

Just last week Manitou Springs received word from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that it will receive a $3.3 million Community Development Block Grant for the pipeline project. Adding a bypass that will send water flowing through a 40-kilowatt water turbine and generate electricity is expected to add about $300,000 to the cost.

Kurt Johnson, a consultant at Telluride Energy LLC, said a pressure-reduction valve would be needed to ensure that water flowing into the treatment plant doesn’t cause damage to the facility and its controls. According to Johnson, the bypass and the water turbine will consume any extra water pressure and make good use of the energy that would otherwise be wasted.

By adding the turbine during the pipeline project, some of the costs for installing the hydro generator will be avoided, Wells said. He and Johnson also talked about potentially designing the new pipeline so it can accommodate multiple future turbines at low cost.

Hartley said that possibility has been discussed by Manitou officials. She said those details could be added to the plans in the design and construction phases of the project.

This isn’t the first time the city has explored potential benefits of hydropower. Manitou Springs did a feasibility analysis in 1990 to see if installation of a hydro generator at the treatment plant would be cost effective, Hartley said.

According to Johnson, it wasn’t until 2013 when the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama, that small hydro projects became economically feasible. Johnson said that prior to 2013, tens-of-thousands of dollars were going toward bureaucratic paperwork and trickling down to consumers. He said the bill passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support and has led to “small hydro innovation,” more grant money for such projects and low-interest loan availability.

Manitou Springs plans to borrow money for the hydropower supplement to the pipeline project. The turbine is expected to generate about 237,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average residential utility customer used just under 11,000 kilowatt-hours in 2014.

The next step for Manitou Springs is to compile preliminary plans and engineering designs and turn them over to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for an environmental review. Upon completion, a “funding obligation date” will be determined. From that date, the block grant guidelines require Manitou Springs complete the pipeline project within 24 months.

Hartley said the city will submit a Request for Proposal next year and accept bids to choose a contractor. She estimates it will be at least 10 months before construction begins on the project.

In the meantime, Manitou Springs must simply wait and hope that the 188-year-old pipe holds up.

“It’s just long overdue,” said Kirk Greasby, the city’s water treatment plant operator.

Denver Basin Aquifer System: Chatfield Acres and Chatfield East subdivisions to get water through IGA

Denver Basin aquifer system
Denver Basin aquifer system

From The Highlands Ranch Herald (Alex DeWind):

Rick Beane, a certified arborist who lives in Chatfield Estates southwest of Highlands Ranch, fills a 350-gallon tank with water from a nearby fire hydrant three times a week. He takes the tank home and uses his cistern to get tap water.

He’s been doing this for the past five years because his well went dry.

“It’s unbelievable considering he lives in south metro Denver,” said Melanie Goetz, a former Roxborough Water and Sanitation District board member.

But Beane’s water troubles may now be solved.

Like many others in the area, he will receive treated water — hopefully by next fall — from an intergovernmental agreement between Roxborough Water and Sanitation District and Centennial Water and Sanitation District.

The agreement will deliver water to residential customers in Chatfield Acres and Chatfield East subdivisions, along with existing businesses in the Titan Road Industrial Park.

“The biggest benefit is that we are going to have good, domestic water,” Beane said. “I think it’s great that the county and two water districts have come to a solution for a 20-year problem.”

Douglas County and its Water Alternatives Program spearheaded the agreement to help communities that owned wells.

Once word was out that the county wanted to help, Douglas County Commissioner Jill Repella worked with Aurora Water to get 150 acre-feet of water supplied through Roxborough Water and Sanitation District, said general manager Larry Moore.

The county then paid for preliminary engineering work to determine if it was possible to get treated water to homes in Chatfield and businesses in Titan Road Industrial Park.

Last November, an election was held for the public with a detailed ballot about the logistics of the new water, including how the project would be financed and the infrastructures needed.

“The results were a pretty good indication that the people wanted this water project,” Moore said.

Aurora Water, Centennial Water —the provider for Highlands Ranch — and Roxborough Water worked together to deliver treated water to about 251 homes.

Centennial will pick up the water from Aurora Water, treat it, store it and deliver it to paying customers in master meters, the volume of public water used by residents and businesses. Roxborough will then measure the master meters to determine how much water its customers will need the following month.

Construction for appropriate delivery infrastructures will start in early 2016. It will take about seven months to complete the project, Moore said. Paying customers will have treated water by next fall.