Pueblo Water renews pact with Colorado Springs — The Pueblo Chieftain

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Pueblo Board of Water Works Tuesday agreed to renew a 25-year agreement with Colorado Springs Utilities to work together on water issues of mutual concern or benefit.

The agreement was first drafted in 1990 and renewed for another 25 years on Tuesday.

“In 1990, we executed an agreement with Colorado Springs on exchanges and storage space,” said Terry Book, executive director of Pueblo Water. “The new agreement eliminates some provisions that no longer apply or weren’t as straightforward as we thought.”

“How much water is involved?” asked board member Jim Gardner.

“It’s the spirit of the agreement,” replied Alan Ward, water resources manager. “It says (things such as) we’ll share storage when it’s available, but it doesn’t say how much.”

Among provisions of the agreement:

  • The right to use each other’s reservoir space if it is available.
  • Contract exchanges, which allow water to be traded between reservoirs.
  • Cooperation to maximize opportunities for exchange and reuse of water.
  • Right of first refusal for long-term contracts of exchange opportunity by either party.
  • The agreement grew out of legal cases during the 1980s which set priorities among Pueblo Water, Colorado Springs Utilities and Aurora Water for exchanging water into Lake Pueblo. Pueblo has the first priority for exchanges.

    All three entities use exchanges to maximize water rights that either bring water into the basin from the Colorado River system or, in Aurora’s case, take it out of the Arkansas River system.

    The new agreement incorporates more recent changes, including:

  • Intergovernmental agreements in 2004 that establish Arkansas River flow regimes through Pueblo.
  • A recovery of yield program associated with those agreements.
  • A 2009 low flow program that was adopted as part of Utilities’ Southern Delivery System and Pueblo Water’s purchase of Bessemer ditch shares.
  • Pueblo Dam
    Pueblo Dam

    Snowpack news: Rio Grande hits average, it’s still early

    Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the Natural Resources Conservation Servicel.

    Hickenlooper accepts water #COWaterPlan, downplays diversions — Aspen Journalism

    Photo via Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen journalism
    Photo via Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen journalism

    From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith):

    After accepting Colorado’s first-ever water plan at a press conference in Denver on Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper downplayed the prospect of future transmountain diversions of water from the Western Slope to the Front Range.

    “What comes through loud and clear again and again in that water plan is that there ought to be ways to make sure that we have sufficient water to satisfy the growth along the Front Range without diverting the water across the mountains,” Hickenlooper said.

    The need for more water from Western Slope rivers to meet growing population needs between Fort Collins and Pueblo has dominated much of the discussion among various river-basin roundtables in Colorado over the last two years as the water plan was developed.

    Colorado has more than 25 such transmountain diversions in place today, including in the headwaters of the Colorado, Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers, and up to 600,000 acre-feet can be moved east in a given year.

    But a number of Front Range water providers want to leave the option for more Western Slope water to meet their increasing demands, as they see the continued “buy and dry” of ag lands in eastern Colorado as the otherwise “default solution.”

    “There is nothing in here that is trying to take someone’s private property or saying they can’t do this or can’t do that,” Hickenlooper said about potential future diversions. “But what we are trying to do is create a system where that is the last possible use and in most cases, if we are successful in going through this water plan, will not be necessary. We’ve addressed storage, conservation, you go down the list of all the approaches here, our goal from the very beginning was trying to make sure that where the water is, the water stays, but within the realm of the legal system that we operate in.”

    The governor’s remarks seemed to please representatives from American Rivers and Western Slope Resources on Thursday, as they sent tweets quickly noting the governor’s take on diversions.



    Differing views

    Thursday’s press conference came during a break in a regular meeting of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which is charged with managing the state’s water supply and whose staff has worked intensely hard on developing the water plan, which was due on the governor’s desk by Dec. 10.

    At the CWCB meeting after the press conference, Joe Stibrich, the water resources policy manager of Aurora Water, and a member of the Metro basin roundtable, offered to the board members a different take on the future than the governor, and did so through something of a manifesto from Front Range water interests.

    “I’ve had the privilege of working with CWCB staff, and other roundtable and other Interbasin Compact Committee members, in the collaborative, and I’d say often spirited, discussions that has lead to Colorado’s Water Plan,” Stibrich said. “These discussions have taken place since 2005 over the course of literally hundreds of meetings.

    “And I believe these discussions have lead me, and I hope the other participants, to a deeper understanding of the water-related needs for all river basins and for all beneficial uses of Colorado’s water resources, and also the solutions to address those needs.

    “The Metro roundtable represents water interests in the Denver metro area, but within the S. Platte basin. While those interests are predominantly municipal and industrial, or M&I, our membership also includes agricultural, environmental, recreational and other interests. This has given us the opportunity to learn from each other and work toward common goals.

    “Once development of the basin implementation plans began as part of the roundtable role in Colorado’s Water Plan, the Metro and S. Platte realized that a basin implementation plan (BIP) for the combined roundtables and the entire S. Platte basin made sense, as we had many common interests and that successfully meeting the needs of the basin could only occur if we worked together.

    “We especially recognized that without a unified BIP, agricultural buy and dry would continue as the default solution to addressing the basin’s M&I gap. The S. Platte BIP identified areas of focus whose successful completion will be integral to meeting the basin’s gap and ensuring that Colorado’s future needs are met.

    “These are predicated on finding balanced solutions that equally promote conservation and resource, development of identified projects and processes, agricultural transfers, and preserving the ability to utilize Colorado’s entitlement under the Colorado River compact for the benefit of entire state. The development of additional storage was also identified as an essential tool for implementing these balanced solutions.

    “The Metro roundtable will concentrate its future efforts on implementing its BIP, prioritizing balanced solutions. And in doing so, we fully expect to continue working collaboratively with the S . Platte basin roundtable.

    “The IBCC offered us all an opportunity to identify issues and concerns that went beyond geographic and political borders. We openly discussed potential solutions, identified no-and-low regret alternatives that should be pursued in the interest of the state, and explored and developed the framework for exploring and discussing the potential development of future transbasin diversions.

    “Frankly, the members of the IBCC faced criticism among many members of their respective roundtables, with many believing that their representatives went to far in implying any agreement to this framework. But I believe the framework is an important piece of the plan. It protects the ability of the state to develop our compact entitlement on the Colorado River, providing a balanced approach to meeting the state’s overall needs.

    “We obviously still have many challenges ahead. While the plan provides an overall approach to move forward, we need to recognize that the many and varied water interests in this state will not stand still waiting for someone else to address their futures.

    “For example, buy and dry is still the least expensive and only viable option for many smaller water providers, and without additional help from others, including support from the state, they will continue as they have in the past.

    “Another challenge we face is meeting the M&I gap in a meaningful way, while recognizing the vital importance of preserving the quality of life associated with the urban landscape.

    “Benefits from urban landscape range from better air, surface water and groundwater quality … providing surfaces for leisure activities, to enhanced aesthetics and improved mental health. Solutions that compromise the valuable contributions of these benefits to our local and state economy need to be considered cautiously.

    “Slow but significant progress was made by the IBCC and basin roundtables since the year 2005. Frankly, I think this was set back some by the deadlines imposed by the executive order to develop Colorado’s Water Plan in a short time frame. And it caused many of the parties to pull back to earlier positions that were more directed toward protecting their own interests rather than moving forward with collaborative solutions.

    “The plan did force us all to realize that we have a way to go to truly address the state’s need on a statewide basis. But now that the plan is final, I believe we can now move forward again with the cooperation and support of the state to develop and implement solutions using the plan as a guide that will address Colorado’s needs,’ Stibrich said.

    The goal of “preserving the ability to use Colorado’s entitlement under the Colorado River Compact to the benefit of the entire state” is one way referencing the future ability to use more Western Slope water on the Front Range.

    And Joe Frank, the chair of the S. Platte River basin roundtable, told the CWCB board that members of the S. Platte and Metro roundtables wanted to see “a balanced program to investigate, preserve and develop Colorado River supply options.”

    “We truly believe that we need to solve our issues not just as a basin, not just as a Metro and S. Platte basin, but collectively as a state,” Frank said. “We take an “all-of-the-above approach,” he added, “including storage, which we believe holds all of the other solutions together.”


    Now go to work

    While the publication of the Colorado Water Plan clearly did not end the conversation about the possibility of moving more water to the Front Range, the plan does list eight primary goals, or “measurable outcomes,” that give something for every water professional in Colorado to work on.

    “Now we all share the responsibilities of implementation,” Hickenlooper told the crowd of over 100 people gathered on Thursday at History Colorado for the release of the plan.

    A screenshot from the website for Colorado's Water Plan.
    A screenshot from the website for Colorado’s Water Plan.

    The top goal is eliminating a projected 560,000-acre-foot gap between water supply and demand, and doing so in large measure by setting a goal of “400,000 acre-feet of municipal and industrial water conservation by 2050.”

    The plan also calls for the development of 400,000 acre-feet of water storage, saying “Colorado must also develop additional storage to meet growing needs and face the changing climate.”

    Another goal, relating to land use, is that “by 2025, 75 percent of Coloradans will live in communities that have incorporated water-saving actions into land-use planning.”

    The plan also includes an environmental goal to “cover 80 percent of the locally prioritized lists of rivers with stream management plans, and 80 percent of critical watersheds with watershed protection plans, all by 2030.”

    And it seeks to “investigate options to raise additional revenue in the amount of $100 million annually” in order to help pay for new water projects.

    Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism is collaborating the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times on coverage of rivers and water in Colorado. The Times and the Post Independent published this story on Friday, Nov. 20, 2014.

    #COWaterPlan: State crafts historic plan to manage water — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

    Coloradans have spent years in discussion and in many cases debate about what should be in the state’s first-ever water plan.

    And they’ll have years to wrangle over how to implement it.

    But on Thursday, for a day anyway, residents on both sides of the Continental Divide took a break to simply celebrate the completion of the historic document.

    “I think this is a moment that we should relish, savor,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said at a press conference.

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board unanimously approved the plan, and immediately presented it to Hickenlooper, who had ordered its creation.

    He declared, “We now have a plan with measurable objectives, concrete goals and detailed critical actions, all driven by our statewide water values, our system of how we think about water.”

    James Eklund, director of the CWCB, said in an interview, “It’s a big deal because it demonstrates a new paradigm, a new way forward and certainly a heck of a lot of work.”

    The plan looks at potential gaps between supply and demand in future decades and addresses conservation, reuse, storage and other means of filling those gaps. A key, and controversial, component of the plan provides a framework for discussing possible further diversions of more Western Slope water to the Front Range.

    Those involved in the plan say it is the product of the largest act of civic engagement in the state. Roundtable groups from individual river basins held numerous meetings on the plan, which also elicited more than 30,000 comments submitted by the public.

    Carlyle Currier, a Mesa County rancher who sits on the Interbasin Compact Committee, which addresses state water issues, said the plan’s completion is “certainly” historic.

    He said it represents “a lot of years of work coming to, I shouldn’t say coming to fruition, because I think as someone would say it’s the end of the beginning, not the end. The work really starts now.”

    Hickenlooper also spoke at length about the work ahead, including the need for “the Legislature’s help to make sure we have the right funding in the right places.”

    The plan sets goals including 400,000 acre feet of water saved by urban conservation, and 400,000 acre feet of new storage, by 2050. It also calls for identifying 50,000 acre feet of agricultural water for voluntary alternative transfers that don’t permanently dry up farmland, and for having management plans cover 80 percent of locally prioritized streams and watersheds by 2030.

    Jim Pokrandt, who works for the Colorado River District and chairs the Colorado Basin Roundtable, notes that the plan doesn’t back any specific project. Rather, it creates a plan for addressing a future with millions of more Coloradans in it, and with climate change expected to result in increasing drought.

    The first low-hanging fruit from the Colorado River Basin’s perspective is urban conservation, which mostly means conservation on the Front Range, where most Coloradans live, he said.

    “The Western Slope’s going to have to participate, but the big numbers (in terms of population and potential for conservation savings) are on the Front Range, no doubt about it,” he said.

    One of the points of contention in recent months during the plan’s finalization has regarded whether the Front Range should cut back more on its watering of lawns and parks, and what that might do to quality of life.

    Jim Lochhead, chief executive officer of Denver Water, said at Thursday’s press conference that his utility has reduced water use 20 percent over the last decade despite 10 percent growth in population in its service area.

    “We can go a lot lower without sacrificing quality of life. We can still have landscaping, we can still have trees through efficiency and use.”

    The prospect of further transmountain diversions also has dominated discussion this year, with Front Range water agencies saying more diversions must remain a possibility and many on the Western Slope saying the Colorado River has no more water to give.

    The plan’s framework for transmountain diversion discussions says in part that any new diversions would occur only in wet years, environmental and recreational needs would be addressed in conjunction with any new diversion, and future Western Slope needs would be accommodated.

    Hickenlooper said the state’s water rights law must be respected, but by addressing things like conservation and storage, the goal is to create a system where diversions are the last possible approach.

    “Our goal from the very beginning was to try and make sure that where the water is the water stays, but within the realm of the legal system that we operate in,” he said.

    Currier said he thinks no one is entirely happy with the plan, but it represents a lot of collaborative thinking and compromise.

    “I think it provides a very good base from which to build on from here,” he said.

    He believes the roundtable and Interbasin Compact Committee processes that date back a decade, to when Russell George pushed for their creation while director of the state Department of Natural Resources, have been important in that they forced people to talk and recognize the importance of various stakeholders. These range from agricultural, to municipal and industrial, to recreational and environmental interests.

    “There are things that must be protected and we need to work in a way that we can to meet the future needs of a wide variety of stakeholders in the future,” said Currier, who believes the process has led to an increased appreciation of agriculture’s role in the state.

    Eklund believes that through the roundtable process, “people have learned how to listen to each other in a greater capacity that I think no one thought possible.”

    Eklund straddles both sides of the Continental Divide because of his job in Denver and his family roots in Collbran. He believes a lot has been learned in the planning process about the economic and other connections between the Western Slope and the Front Range. A lot was said during the water plan process about the importance of the Western Slope’s tourism and recreation economy to the state, and that economy’s reliance on water that fills rivers and irrigates scenic valleys.

    “It’s really the Western Slope that’s a big, big part of our brand as a state,” Eklund said.

    The Yampa River flows through the Carpenter Ranch. Photo courtesy of John Fielder from his new book, “Colorado’s Yampa River: Free Flowing & Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green.”
    The Yampa River flows through the Carpenter Ranch. Photo courtesy of John Fielder from his new book, “Colorado’s Yampa River: Free Flowing & Wild from the Flat Tops to the Green.”

    Path forward is murky in Hickenlooper’s final #COWaterPlan — The Colorado Independent

    James Eklund and Governor Hickenlooper roll out the Colorado Water Plan, Thursday, November 19, 2015 via The Colorado Independent
    James Eklund and Governor Hickenlooper roll out the Colorado Water Plan, Thursday, November 19, 2015 via The Colorado Independent

    From The Colorado Independent (Marianne Woodland):

    Gov. John Hickenlooper has made public Colorado’s first statewide water plan. Though the document is intended to save the state from a looming water crisis, neither he nor state lawmakers have any specifics on how to implement it.

    With only one generation until Colorado’s water supply is projected to fall short, the administration set out two years ago to craft a strategy, which Hickenlooper had hoped to start putting in action immediately.

    But, as the effort has taken shape, critics have blasted it as a plan without a plan — more of a snapshot of Colorado’s water woes than a blueprint for long-term fixes. The first draft promised a chapter on legislation recommendations, but that chapter was left blank. The second draft proposed “critical action items” that, although replete with goals, lacked concrete steps for real action.

    In touting his final draft — a 560-page document that’s as thick as a phone book — Hickenlooper assured the crowd at his press conference Thursday morning that Colorado now has “a plan with measurable objectives, concrete goals and detailed critical actions, all driven by our statewide water values.”

    But what the plan doesn’t have, still, are specifics on how the state will be able to quench its many water thirsts by 2050, when water demand is projected to vastly exceed supply. What it doesn’t say is who’s responsible for making sure the plan’s “goals and critical actions” move from paper into reality. In response to criticisms that earlier drafts lack substance, the administration went heavy on the term “measurable objectives” in its final draft. Problem is, there’s no strategy for how to meet those objectives.

    Members of Hickenlooper’s water team say the plan is a guide for moving forward, even if it doesn’t exactly lay out just how to get there.

    Water Conservation Board member Russell George, who served as executive director of the Department of Natural Resources in Gov. Bill Owens administration, has been looking at the state’s water shortages since the 2002 drought and played a major role in helping create “water roundtables” whose suggestions form the heart of the plan. George lauds the effort, even though he acknowledges the plan offers no actionable solutions for living within the state’s water means.

    “It shouldn’t,” he said. “That’s a political decision. This is not a political document. This is a collaborative, almost scientific document, including social science and hydrology.”

    As George tells it, Coloradans shouldn’t expect an actual plan in the water plan as much a “foundation to begin having the political conversation.”

    Surrounded Thursday by dozens of people from across the state who worked on the document, Hickenlooper emphasized that the plan is only the beginning, saying all Coloradans must share in its implementation and make sure the work is “transformed into meaningful action.”

    “Time is of the essence, and we have to get right to work,” he said. “Now’s the time to prepare bipartisan, collaborative legislation that will allow us to make progress on the plan’s measurable objectives, and to do so in the upcoming session.”

    Asked what’s on his 2016 legislative agenda for water planning, he demurred, saying, “I’ve learned not to come up with specific requests until I’ve had a chance to talk to legislative leadership.”
    The session is less than seven weeks away and lawmakers are already hurrying to submit legislation by December 1, the first of two deadlines for bills for 2016.

    Critics point out that the plan is heavy on thinky concepts, but lacks specifics such as a list of water projects, funding mechanisms and hard-set requirements for water users. In a September 30 letter to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, who chairs the state’s interim Water Resources Review Committee, summarized public concerns voiced in a series of meetings held throughout the state this summer.

    “The committee heard strong support for including more specifics in the plan that would explain how the state will help implement” solutions, she wrote. Roberts said the plan should address how the state will fund the estimated $20 billion it will cost to pay for the water needed to make up for the projected shortfall.

    The final draft doesn’t come much closer to addressing her — and the public’s — concerns.

    Among the goals that don’t have concrete solutions: conserving 400,000 acre-feet per year by 2050. (One acre-foot of water is 352,851 gallons, about the amount of water used by two families of four per year). It’s what the administration calls a “stretch goal,” meaning it’s merely aspirational, with no requirements behind it and no details on how to achieve it on a volunteer basis.

    Another goal without a solution: 400,000 acre-feet of water that should come from new or expanded reservoirs. There are several already in the works, including two new reservoirs planned for the Poudre River, expansion of two reservoirs in Grand County and Chatfield reservoir in Jefferson County. James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which drafted the plan, told The Colorado Independent that these projects alone could bring in 300,000 acre-feet of water. But, for reasons the administration hasn’t explained, these projects are mentioned only briefly in the water plan, and are absent in the chapter on water storage and what the regional water groups would do about it. Eklund indicated that listing projects in the plan, especially ones not in the works, would give ammo to those who oppose them.

    Business leaders have complained that the plan, in previous drafts, doesn’t ask enough of agriculture, which uses 89 percent of the state’s water. No matter how many low-flow toilets you install or how much you cut back on watering lawns in the cities and suburbs, they point out, it’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket.

    Those criticisms are scoffed at by some in agriculture, including state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, who chairs the Senate’s powerful Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. In his view, the plan doesn’t do enough for Colorado’s farms and ranches and gives merely “lip service” to agriculture. Instead of avoiding “buy and dry” — the practice of buying and fallowing agricultural land for its water rights — the plan embraces vague, conceptual new ways to do it, such as through temporary transfers of water rights that would cut the amount of productive agricultural land.

    The plan estimates a cost of up to $20 billion to implement all its goals, but again, without a sense of where that money would come from. And, although Hickenlooper spoke Thursday of the need to address funding issues to implement it, he didn’t say whom he has in mind to foot the bill — or how. He said there are laws currently on the books that are counterproductive to the plan, but either couldn’t or wouldn’t specify which ones.

    Hickenlooper’s office long has stayed mum about its water strategy, deferring questions to Eklund, who points to the plan’s list of 185 to 200 proposed “actions,” many of them legislative, but won’t say which, if any, he has in mind to push this session.

    Alan Salazar, the governor’s chief strategist, told The Independent Thursday that the administration may have to rush to form a legislative agenda on water, given that lawmakers already are well in the process of figuring out what bills they want to carry in 2016.

    Salazar noted that members of the legislature — specifically those on the House and Senate agriculture committees and the Interim Water Resources Review Committee, which takes the lead on water legislation each year — have been kept informed of the plan all along. The governor has asked them to “get behind the plan, see where you view opportunities.”

    “We’re not trying to impose bills,” Salazar said. “The purpose of the plan is not to have a legislative blueprint. It’s to show the state’s collective vision for the next 50 years.”

    “The governor is trying to be very diplomatic. The worst thing he can do is say, ‘Here’s the plan, and I already have a legislative agenda to implement it.’ That won’t work well with legislators,” especially with split control between the House and Senate, he added.

    Some critics see Hickenlooper’s diplomatic approach as a cover for inaction.

    Jim Lockhead, head of Denver Water — Colorado’s biggest municipal water agency — said this week that it’ll take leadership from the governor to unite “West Slope, East Slope, agriculture, municipalities and environmentalists – putting aside our individual interests and coming together to do what’s best for Colorado.”

    Given the bitter divisions between those water users, some at the Statehouse want to see Hickenlooper use his political clout and status as a lame-duck to actively move the plan forward. Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland, vice chair of the water resources review committee, told The Independent that Hickenlooper will need to take an active lead on bridging long, deep divisions between water users on both sides of the Continental Divide.

    Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, told The Independent Thursday that the water plan isn’t likely to get major traction in the 2016 session, and that it’s more likely it’ll be more of a focus in the 2017 General Assembly. As she sees it, lawmakers will need time to “unpack” the plan, learn what’s in it, and figure out their role in implementing it.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t have any major bills” on the plan this session, Guzman said.

    That would leave Hickenlooper, who’s term-limited out of office in three years, two legislative sessions to solve some of the state’s most longstanding, contentious and perplexing problems, including how to balance water usage between the West Slope farmers and ranchers who have first legal rights to water and the growing Front Range communities and businesses that can’t survive without it.

    Some say the governor has done his job simply by ordering the state water plan and now needs to step back.

    “Conservation and storage targets, funding, watershed health, they all sound pretty good on the surface,” said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress, a statewide association of more than 400 member organizations. The real work of building water projects, setting rules for conservation and otherwise implementing the plan will fall mostly to a host of regional water groups and water providers, not to the state, he argues.

    “Colorado is fiercely decentralized, and that includes water,” added Chris Treese of the Colorado River District. He calls the water plan a positive step forward, but he also hopes the governor remains true to the plan’s bottom-up approach, which is to let local officials who sit on water roundtables in Colorado’s eight river basins and in Metro Denver take charge of implementation.

    Said Sonnenberg, whose ag committee will take the lead on reviewing water bills tied to the plan: “It’s a great idea if we can figure out how to make it work.”

    PAWSD refinancing saves district money; draft budget discussed — The Pagosa Sun

    Pagosa Hot Springs
    Pagosa Hot Springs

    From The Pagosa Sun (Casey Crow):

    Last month, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) refinanced its 2006 enterprise revenue and improvement bonds through the issuance of series 2015 enterprise revenue refunding bonds. The refinancing is slated to save the district $528,000 in interest payments over the next nine years.

    According to Assistant Manager Shellie Peterson, PAWSD took advantage of interest rates that have dipped to historic lows to refinance the bonds, which total $5.26 million. With the refinancing, PAWSD will be paying an average true interest cost of just under 1.94 percent.

    In addition to the savings over the next nine years due to the refinancing, PAWSD will also shorten its outstanding debt service payments by two years.

    According to Peterson, the savings from the refinancing are realized directly by the district’s ratepayers.

    Draft budget

    PAWSD is currently working to finalize its 2016 budget. The district began budget talks in October, holding a public hearing on Oct. 15.

    The draft budget was published online prior to the hearing. Some changes were made during budget talks in October, and changes will continue to be made until the budget is adopted in December.

    The calculations are made based on the anticipated 2015 revenues and expenditures as compared to the projected 2016 revenues and expenditures.

    BLM issues proposed plan for drilling, recreation around Roan Plateau — Denver Business Journal

    From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Protor):

    Nearly a year after settling long-running legal battles over oil and gas drilling on the Roan Plateau in western Colorado, the federal government on Tuesday issued a draft plan for how to manage recreation and drilling in the area.

    The federal Bureau of Land Management issued a new plan to implement the agreement and announced it would be published in the Federal Register on Nov. 20, which will kick off a 90-day public comment period.

    The document is called the “Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Roan Plateau Resource Management Plan Amendment.”

    “For many years the Roan Plateau was a symbol of conflict in the American West,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze, in the BLM’s announcement.

    Kornze credited local groups, state and industry representatives, as well and environmental and wildlife advocates for working to create a new future for the plateau.

    “This draft document moves that vision forward and protects some of the state’s most important fish and wildlife habitat while also allowing for oil and gas development in places where it makes sense,” Kornze said.

    Last year’s agreement canceled 17 of the 19 existing oil and gas leases that allowed drilling on top of the plateau, and refunded about $47.6 million that Denver’s Bill Barrett Corp. (NYSE: BBG) had paid for those leases.

    The remaining two leases on the top of the plateau, as well as 12 leases around the base of the plateau, would remain in place.

    Following the outline of last year’s agreement, the new plan bars drilling on top of the plateau, while retaining the others, the BLM said Tuesday.

    The new draft plan also included two elements — “more robust” air quality analyses and an analysis of the request by nearby communities to require natural gas buried under the plateau to be accessed via wells started on private land or areas below the plateau. The second element was part of a 2012 order from federal district court…

    Sportsmen’s groups said they were reviewing the draft EIS, but they hailed the BLM’s designation of last year’s settlement as its “preferred option” to manage the plateau’s resources.

    “This keeps us moving toward a balanced, fair solution to protecting the Roan Plateau,” said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited, in a statement.

    “We’re hopeful that the final management plan will preserve last year’s settlement, which protects the Roan’s best hunting and fishing habitat while allowing careful, responsible development of its energy reserves. Done right, we can meet both goals,” Nickum said.

    This plan can protect the roan for all Coloradans,”

    Pete Maysmith, the executive director of Conservation Colorado, said in a statement that the plan could protect the plateau “for all Coloradans.”

    “We were very happy to reach a settlement last fall and seeing this plan move forward is a highly anticipated and encouraging next step to protect this amazing area,” Maysmith said.

    The BLM said it plans to hold two public meetings in January 2016 to answer questions and accept written comments…

    Public comments on the Draft SEIS need to be received by February 18, 2016.

    #COWaterPlan: Water plan gives boost to ‘project, projects, projects’ — Glenwood Springs Post Independent

    Basin roundtable boundaries
    Basin roundtable boundaries

    From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Brent Gardner-Smith):

    While the Colorado Water Plan does not contain a list of water-supply projects endorsed by the state, the plan’s adoption still gives a boost to at least $2 billion worth of potential projects, as recently prioritized by regional water-supply planning committees, or basin roundtables.

    “The old truck is on its way, and we’ve shifted a gear today,” said Russell George of Rifle, who represents the Colorado River basin on the Colorado Water Conservation Board, after the water plan was approved Thursday by the CWCB board.

    “It’s projects, projects, projects,” George said of the CWCB’s new “gear.” “And our job here is keep the resources coming for the projects, because that answers need.”

    The roundtables, through their “basin implementation plans,” have identified 880,000 acre-feet worth of new water supplies that could be developed across 91 projects, according to chapter 6.5 of the water plan, which focuses on water-storage.

    The Yampa/White’s basin plan identified the potential to develop the most of any basin, with 317,316 acre-feet of new water supply from 12 projects.

    The South Platte/Metro’s plan identified 191,980 acre-feet that could be developed from 23 projects, the Arkansas 166,500 acre-feet from 17 projects, and the Gunnison 139,406 acre-feet from 21 projects.

    The Southwest basin identified 30,354 acre-feet of developable water from eight projects, the Colorado River basin 24,082 acre-feet from three projects, the North Platte 11,993 acre-feet from five projects and the Rio Grande 6,030 acre-feet from eight projects.

    For a sense of scale, Ruedi Reservoir uphill from Basalt holds about 100,000 acre-feet of water.

    The three potential water-supply projects in the Colorado basin plan include expanding Hunter Reservoir near Grand Junction to 1,340 acre-feet; expanding Monument Reservoir, near Collbran, to 5,255 acre-feet; and building Kendig Reservoir on West Divide Creek south of Silt, which could hold around 18,000 acre-feet of water.

    Implementation of, yes, the basin implementation plans, or BIPs, is now a major theme of the water planning process in Colorado.

    Consider that the first item in the water plan’s vaunted “critical action plan” says that the state will “support and assist the basin roundtables in moving forward priority … projects … in their basin implementation plans through technical, financial and facilitation support when requested by a project proponent and pertinent basin roundtable.”

    After the water plan was approved Thursday, the CWCB board heard from representatives of various roundtables, including Michael “Sandy” White, a water attorney who represents Huerfano County on the Arkansas roundtable and is the group’s new chair.

    “From our viewpoint, the Colorado Water Plan is, in the Arkansas basin, the basin implementation plan,” White said. “We are just beginning to implement it.”

    “I know from your vantage point here, what happens at the state level is very important, and that’s where your focus will be,” White told the CWCB board. “But I encourage you not to forget that the basins are the locations of where the action will be. And we need your help in implementing the BIPs.”

    James Eklund, the director of the CWCB, suggested after presentations from representatives of the Arkansas and Gunnison basin roundtables that Coloradoans could become fans of various water projects.

    “Just like we had baseball cards, maybe we need to have water-project cards that show people where these projects are, how long they’ve been in the works, why they are important and what the stats are on them,” Eklund said.

    And after hearing from all of the roundtable representatives, Russell George again put an emphasis on projects.

    “I think we heard, as the representatives of the basins talk, it’s projects, projects, projects, and that’s as it should be,” George said.

    Another sign of the rising importance of the roundtables in Colorado’s water-supply process is that they are now moving from groups of volunteers lightly overseen by CWCB staff to groups that can hire contractors to work on, yes, implementing their specific plans.

    For example, on Wednesday the CWCB approved a three-year $150,000 grant for a part-time public relations coordinator for the Arkansas basin roundtable who will “undertake a structured public relations effort” to generate public acceptance of new water projects and “move these projects forward toward implementation.”

    The Arkansas roundtable plans to focus on three projects a year.

    “In the first year, identified projects will be chosen that focus on storage, multi-purpose storage projects and meeting the ‘gap’ in the Arkansas basin,” the roundtable said in its grant application.

    When roundtable representatives do come forward to seek assistance for new water-supply projects from the CWCB, they will be expected to show that their projects are consistent with the newly adopted Colorado Water Plan.

    George suggested to his fellow CWCB board members that “anyone that comes to CWCB asking for assistance ­— and we’ll continue to have many, many customers and we want to serve them — they will now be expected to research the state water plan and tell us where their project fits in the plan.”

    Applicants seeking support for new storage projects will have find plenty of language in the Colorado Water Plan to work with.

    “Colorado will require the implementation of many identified projects, storage, other infrastructure and methods to meet future municipal, industrial and agricultural needs,” the plan states, for example, in chapter 6.5.1.

    Aspen Journalism is collaborating with the Post Independent and The Aspen Times on coverage of rivers and water. More at http://www.aspenjournalism.org.