From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):
The last time the community funded a Yampa River management plan, in 2004, it was all about balancing the health of the town stretch of the Yampa with recreation. More than a decade later, plans are underway for a new river management plan, and this time, there is more emphasis on protecting the health of the river to help ensure ample water for the community in times of drought.
“In part, this is an update of the 2004 plan. But it’s more of a streamflow management plan, where we’ll be looking for target flows that support aquatic life and water quality,” city of Steamboat Springs Water Resources Manager Kelly Heaney said Tuesday after meeting with Routt County officials. “It’s almost like a drought resiliency plan for the river.”
And the new study will take in a longer stretch of the river — from the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area downstream to the city’s wastewater treatment plant west of town.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to earmark $5,000 in its 2017 budget for a contribution toward a 50 percent local match of a $51,875 grant to fund the new management plan. The grant is part of $1 million allocated to the Colorado Water Conservation Board in accordance with one of the measurable objectives in Colorado’s landmark 2015 state water plan…
The [Colorado Water Plan] set the goal of covering 80 percent of a list of locally prioritized rivers with new stream management plans by 2030.
Heaney told the BOC that, with this grant, the Yampa will be among the first in the state to be the subject of such a study.
There is a plan underway on the Crystal River (upstream from Carbondale), Aspen and Pitkin County have begun work on a plan for the Roaring Fork and plans are in the works for the Colorado River and the San Miguel on the western side of the San Juan Mountains, Heaney reported.
“We’re kind of like pioneers, along with them,” she said.
Heaney said the Colorado Water Trust, which has, in the past, facilitated efforts to secure supplemental summer flows for the Yampa in drought years such as 2002 and 2012, will participate in the study. In 2002 and 2012, Colorado Parks and Wildlife placed a voluntary ban on fishing on the town stretch of the Yampa, because the shallow flows were too warm to hold desirable levels of dissolved oxygen for trout.
Water temperature and dissolved oxygen will be a part of the new river study, which will include a streamflow management plan meant to manage for target flows that support both aquatic life and water quality, Heaney said.
“We’re working with the Colorado Water Trust to get us to a place where we have a sustainable plan,” Heaney said.
The Water Trust will undertake a legal analysis of the city’s water rights and advise on different strategies to make the best use of them, she said. For example, strategies could include securing storage contracts, stream improvement projects and re-timing flows through wetlands.
2016 Annual Symposium
The Colorado Section of AWRA and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education Present:
Water in the 21st Century West: The Times They are a Changin
Friday, April 22nd
7:30 am to 5:30 pm
Mount Vernon Country Club
24933 Club House Circle
Golden, CO 80401
Mike King, Denver Water
Senior Water Judge Gregory J. Hobbs
AWRA 2016 Symposium Schedule
7:30am – Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30am – Introduction and Welcome
Katie Melander, AWRA CO President
Laurna Kaatz, AWRA CO President-Elect
8:50am – Colorado Foundation for Water Education
9:0am – KEYNOTE PRESENTATION
Mike King, Director of Planning, Denver Water
9:45am – Break
10:00am – Morning Session
Title: Water Planning in the West
Moderator: Laurna Kaatz, Denver Water
Collaboration is Key: The Arkansas Basin Watershed Health Process – Gary Barber
Connecting Silos: Land and Water Use Integration in Colorado – Kevin Reidy, State Water Conservation Technical Specialist, CWCB
Integrated Water Supply Planning in Colorado – A Tale of Two Cities – Enrique Triana, MWH
When Water Gets Murky – Esther Vincent, Water Quality Specialist, Northern Water
11:45pm- Buffet Luncheon
12:00pm – LUNCHEON PRESENTATION
Justice Gregory Hobbs, Former Supreme Court Judge
1:00pm – Stepping Through Time: Colorado’s Climate, Water Resources, and Technology – Nolan Doesken, State climatologist
Afternoon Session A
Title: Technology and the West
Moderator: Dave Colvin, Leonard Rice Engineers
1:30pm – Scholarship Presentations
Measuring and Monitoring Our Snow-Water Resource – Noah Molotch, University of Colorado at Boulder
Improving Customer Satisfaction Using GIS – Robert Stansauk and Phillip Segura, Denver Water
Water Management Tools: Do You Know Where Your Water Is? – Dale Trowbridge, New Cache La Poudre Irrigation Company
Afternoon Session B
Title: The Colorado Frontier
Moderator: Bill Battaglin, USGS
1:30pm – Scholarship Presentations
Complying with SB-212, Rebuttable Presumption for Storm Water and Infiltration Facilities – Paul Hindman, Director of UDFCD
Nutrient trends in the Nation’s rivers and streams since 1972: Where does Colorado stand – Lori Sprague, USGS
Floodplain Development Permitting in Boulder County: A post-Flood Perspective – Harry Katz, Environmental Planner and Certified Floodplain Manager at Boulder County DOT
3:00pm The One World One Water (OWOW) Center at MSU Denver, and Colorado’s Water Education Legacy – Tom Cech , Director of the One World One Water Center at MSU
3:25pm Lightning Talks
Title: Changes in Water Administration – A Conversation with the Boots that run the Water
Moderator: Karlyn Armstrong, Colorado Division of Water Resources
Brian Romig – Lead Water Administrator, Supervising Water District 44, 54, 55, 56, 57, and lower 58 (Yampa River Basin), Colorado Division of Water Resources
Caren Aguilar – Accounting and Reservoir Administrator, Water Division 1 (South Platte River basin), Colorado Division of Water Resources
Doug Hollister – District 10 Water Commissioner and North Regional Team Leader, Districts 10, 14, and 15 (Fountain Creek, Arkansas River: Portland to Folwer, and Saint Charles River), Colorado Division of Water Resources
4:00pm – Reception / Silent Auction
From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Bette McFarren):
Director of Water and Wastewater Joe Kelley led off Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Utilities Commissioners. The design review on the new Wastewater Treatment Facility continues. “The State thinks there are more issues that need to be addressed before we can get to construction. I think they make this stuff up as they go along,” said Kelley. He referred to the fact that we have not only secured our loan, but are already in the process of paying it back with a rate increase. In addition, our regional efforts to build the Arkansas Valley Conduit now depend on additional federal legislation to allow the use of revenue from storage accounts to pay for state levels loans. “Without this legislation the AVC may not be financially feasible,” said Kelley.
On a smaller scale, the check valve for aeration blower #1 has been rebuilt and is now operational at the wastewater treatment plant. The water crew installed a new fire hydrant at the corner of Sixth St. and Colorado Ave…
The crew has installed a new primary service for the new Dialysis Center, which included new overhead primary, underground primary, vaults and meter pedestal. Service is ready to be energized.
New automated meters have been installed throughout the city. At the present, we are waiting for the next shipment of meters, said City Manager Rick Klein. Crews are reading meters since we currently have no meter reader.
From The Denver Post (Kirk Mitchell):
The Environmental Protection Agency has sued a mining company operating in Mineral County in federal court to recoup hazardous waste cleanup costs.
The U.S. sued Coca Mines Inc. for cleanup of hazardous substances in the Nelson Tunnel and the Commodore Waste Rock Pile Superfund Site.
The superfund site is in the San Juan Mountains less than 2 miles from the town of Creede. Shafts were dug in a series of hard-rock silver mines operated between 1889 and the 1980s tapping the “Amethyst Vein.” Horizontal tunnels also were bored, including the Nelson Tunnel.
The Nelson Tunnel is partially collapsed but continues to drain acid runoff.
The Commodore Waste Rock Pile, just outside the entrance of the Nelson Tunnel, included a water conveyance system that failed around 1995, releasing mine waste containing heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese and zinc into West Willow Creek.
The creek flows into the Rio Grande River 4 miles below the site.
In 2008 and 2009, the EPA conducted waste removal studies at the waste pile site.
The EPA is now in the process of completing a feasibility study of remedial actions for the site.
Through June 30, 2015, the EPA incurred nearly $10 million in costs. Some of those costs were covered by the Asarco Environmental Trust.
The lawsuit says the discharge each day from the Nelson Tunnel into Willow Creek carries 375 pounds of zinc, 1.37 pounds of cadmium and 6.39 pounds of lead. Zinc levels have hit 25,000 parts per billion, hurting fish reproduction for more than 4 miles down to a confluence with the main stem of the Rio Grande, where dilution eases the impact.
From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Pueblo County’s agreement on stormwater control with Colorado Springs comes at an ideal time for the city of Pueblo.
The city is looking at steps it must take to clear the Fountain Creek channel in order to obtain flood plain certification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The agreement would provide an additional $3 million to the city of Pueblo, which could be matched by about $1.8 million in Colorado Springs money now held by the county and $1.2 million from other sources.
So, if it can find another $400,000 annually over three years, Pueblo would be able to complete $6 million in projects. Money could start arriving by the end of May if the agreement is approved.
“It’s not enough to get all the silt out,” said Jeff Bailey, Pueblo’s stormwater director. “We think it would take two or three times that to do all the work. But we could select areas and get the bulk of vegetation and silt out.”
Such critical areas would include the Eighth Street bridge, where Fountain Creek now flows through only two of the five archways because the other three are so badly silted over.
Another spot would be the north end of Fountain Creek, which is still littered with big cottonwood trees that washed down last spring.
“If we can open that up, it would provide more of an area to spread the water,” Bailey said.
A project approved by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable Wednesday would use $250,000 from the local sources and $5,000 in state money to remove debris and sediment between Colorado 47 and Eighth Street in Fountain Creek. The project would be funded by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Pueblo County — each providing $100,000 — along with the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District ($50,000 from Aurora funds through the Lower Ark).
The Lower Ark district would coordinate the project, which is patterned after a similar dredging effort at North La Junta on the Arkansas River.
Beyond the immediate cleanup, the city has hired a consultant to make recommendations for long-term fixes. It is also in the process of meeting with FEMA to determine current flood plain boundaries.
Fountain Creek is a moving target. The largest recorded flood in 1965 would be considered greater than a 100-year flood today. In addition, the increase in impervious surfaces in Colorado Springs to the north would make that same flood more intense by passing a larger volume of water more quickly. The new study will look at the new levels for a 100-year flood.
Another $6 million would help, Bailey said.
“First I would have to find out what kind of restrictions are on the money,” Bailey said. “Then, how soon can I have the money?”
From The Douglas County News-Press (Shanna Fortier):
The Sedalia water tank, which is the sole supplier of water to the town and a historic site, is in the homestretch of receiving much-needed work, which will allow the tank to still be used, rather than replaced.
“This was a much-overdue project,” said Mary Kasal, district engineer for Sedalia Water and Sanitation District. “We’re pleased to get it done.”
Constructed in 1906, the Sante Fe Railway Water Tank stands in an open grassy area northwest of the unincorporated town of Sedalia. Two cottonwood trees stand to the west and a large, high, grass-covered berm traverses along the north between the tank and Highway 85.
The 140,000-gallon capacity water tank sits on a sag foundation and is 24 feet in diameter and 43 feet high. The cylindrical tank is constructed of large sections of steel that have been riveted together.
Historically, the tank was painted in Sante Fe colors, Sante Fe red with the Santa Fe logo in yellow, black and red. Today, the tank is painted metallic silver with the word “Sedalia” in red with a black outline facing Highway 85. Below, in black, it reads, “Elev. 5835.”
The water tank is on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1958, the railroad deeded the system (water tank, pipe and well pump) to the Sedalia Water and Sanitation District.
Today, the tank is still used as a water storage facility, which serves as part of the community’s water supply and distribution system.
But the tank had fallen into disrepair. It was old, rusted and was no longer up to code. New Occupational Safety and Health Administration certified access points had to be installed and new regulations for fresh-water drinking systems needed to be put into place for the tank to stay functional.
With grants from the State Historical Fund, Douglas County Community Development Block Grant and The Edmund T. and Eleanor Quick Foundation, the town was able to recoat the inside of the tank with Ecodur 201, a super green (solvent free, VOC free, BPA free) product from Castagra that uses natural vegetable oil.
“The town people love this tank,” said Matt Cullen of Castagra Products Inc., adding the the residents have been bringing workers food and water throughout the project. “We’re happy to work with the town on this project.”
From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):
The next Aspinall Operations meeting will be on Thursday, April 28th at 1PM.
Location is at the Western Colorado Area Office in Grand Junction at 445 West Gunnison Ave #221.
Topics of discussion will include:
summary of the snow season discussion of runoff forecasts projected spring operations spring/summer weather outlook
From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
It was like putting a dog collar on an alligator.
Everyone in the room agreed it needed to be done, but some were nervous about getting bitten or how you’d take the darned thing for a walk. Yet, even the alligator celebrated the partnership.
That was the tone for Monday’s work session of the Pueblo County commissioners to hear comments on a proposed stormwater agreement with Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs City Council and commissioners are anticipating finalizing the agreement next week.
The deal would require Colorado Springs to spend $460 million over 20 years to slow down water in the city, pay the first $20 million in $50 million for Fountain Creek dams south of the city in nine months and pay $3 million to Pueblo for Fountain Creek dredging, among other provisions meant to protect Pueblo.
Those payments are on top of 1041 permit conditions that must be met in order for the Southern Delivery System (a pipeline between Lake Pueblo and Springs) to be operated. The new agreement is needed because Colorado Springs City Council abolished the city’s stormwater enterprise in 2009.
“(Colorado Springs) leadership has the best intentions, but how vulnerable are the funds?” asked Bill Alt, a Fountain Creek landowner. “It’s going to take years to have an effect on the Lower Fountain.”
Alt, who lives just north of Pueblo, explained that Fountain Creek last year carved three new “canyons” on his property — as much as 60 feet wide, 25 feet deep and 1,800 feet long.
“In the words of Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu over and over and over,” he said.
Others joined his concerns, including Hector Arambulo and Frank Childress, who said Colorado Springs growth has made Fountain Creek’s problems more severe and voters have not supported past stormwater control efforts.
Ray Petros, Pueblo County’s water attorney, said the county has multiple options for enforcing the agreement. The funding is guaranteed through Colorado Springs Utilities payments to the city, the contractual arrangement could be battled in Pueblo District Court, the 1041 permit is still enforceable and the federal government also is taking action to make sure Colorado Springs cleans up its act.
“Could you stop SDS from flowing?” Alt asked.
“The remedies under the 1041 are complicated,” Petros answered. “But suspension of deliveries is one of the remedies.”
Several current and former public officials addressed the issue:
John Singletary, former chairman of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, said the agreement could trigger the type of cooperation the district has sought for years.
“Did we get everything we wanted? Probably not,” Singletary said. “But finally, we’ve found a way Pueblo County and El Paso County can work together.”
Mark Carmel, a member of the Pueblo West Metro District board speaking for himself, was less optimistic and said the deal should be made permanent, not just for the 20-year time span it covers.
“What happens after 20 years?” Carmel said. “It’s not right that developers get profits while our people lose their property.”
Larry Atencio, a Pueblo City member speaking for himself, said the deal should also include support for a dam on Fountain Creek if studies show it would be the best protection for Pueblo.
Aurelio Sisneros, former Pueblo County treasurer and a past member of the Arkansas River Compact Administration, said a dam on Fountain Creek is the ultimate solution.
Charles Garascia, who has lived in Pueblo for eight years, said the county needs to look into flood plains and flood insurance alternatives.
Urging approval of the agreement were Jerry Martin, chairman of the Pueblo West board; Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District; and Roy Heald, general manager of the Security Water and Sanitation.
Martin and Heald said their communities need SDS now. Small said the funding provided in the agreement is crucial for its success.
Tom Strand, a Colorado Springs City Council member, said the agreement would ensure cooperation on stormwater projects and eliminate further stormwater challenges as SDS moves ahead.
“It’s a partnership I’m excited to be moving forward on,” Strand said.
Commissioners avoided saying much about the comments made Monday and agreed to consider approval at their regular meeting next Monday.
“We’re going to take careful consideration of all the comments and questions, as well as any others who want to weigh in,” Commissioner Terry Hart said.
From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):
Pueblo County leaders on Monday heard from residents who mostly favored a deal that would commit Colorado Springs to spend $460 million cleaning Fountain Creek.
That deal, if finalized, would clear the way for Colorado Springs to turn on its $825 million Southern Delivery System to siphon up to 50 million gallons a day of Arkansas River water northward 50 miles from Pueblo’s reservoir.
The deal also would give Pueblo $125,000 for an engineering study for a water supply project of its own: a possible dam along the creek to create another reservoir.
Pueblo has threatened legal action against Colorado Springs’ fouling of Fountain Creek with sediment-laden stormwater runoff.
The 27 or so Pueblo residents at Monday’s forum included nine who spoke in favor of a draft deal reached with Colorado Springs leaders this month. Two opposed it.
Pueblo County commissioners decided to seek legal advice on the deal Wednesday before voting April 25 — two days before Colorado Springs engineers plan to switch on their new siphoning system.
“Getting to this agreement has been an arduous journey,” Commissioner Buffie McFadyen said.
Failure to filter sediment and contaminants out of stormwater runoff that ruined the creek “has been a decades-long problem,” McFadyen said. “It appears the city of Colorado Springs is actually recognizing its issues. I believe it is sincere.”
Building a dam along a cleaner Fountain Creek “has been a suggestion by community members,” she said, adding that no location has been set and that opponents argue a dam would be a massive sediment trap.
“Could it work? That’s what is so important about doing the engineering study.”
From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Billie Stanton Anleu):
A tainted aquifer and busted water pipe are two more reasons the Southern Delivery System needs to be turned on April 27 as planned, water officials told Pueblo County commissioners Monday.
Security has had to close seven of its more than 25 wells because of contamination in the Widefield aquifer, said Roy E. Heald, general manager of the Security Water District.
Perfluorinated compounds, PFCs that could harm human health, were found in the aquifer in February by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Security has resorted to dilution, but the dilution must be stepped up as summer approaches, Heald said.
“So it’s critical to have the Southern Delivery System turned on this month as scheduled,” he said.
Pueblo West is relying on SDS water. Colorado Springs Utilities sprang to the rescue when a major Pueblo West water pipeline burst in February. Utilities bailed the town out last July, too, after a smaller water line broke.
“This (break) may require us to stay on that (SDS) line for a very long time,” warned Jerry Martin, president of the Pueblo West Water Board.
He, too, urged commissioners to sign an intergovernmental agreement with Colorado Springs so the $825 million water project can start pumping 5 million gallons of water a day from the Pueblo Reservoir to Pueblo West, Security, Fountain and Colorado Springs.
The county threatened last year to revoke the project’s 1041 permit, which it issued to Utilities in April 2009.
Back then, Colorado Springs still was using a stormwater enterprise fund to ameliorate problems on Fountain Creek that wreak havoc on downstream users. The then-City Council eradicated the fund that November, though, infuriating Pueblo County officials who had relied on those stormwater efforts when they signed over the permit.
That permit wasn’t the only worry facing newly seated Mayor John Suthers last year, though.
In October, the U.S. Department of Justice warned Colorado Springs that the EPA might file a lawsuit because of the city’s failure to properly provide, maintain and inspect stormwater controls. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment then echoed that threat.
The city and Utilities have been negotiating for 10 months with Pueblo County, as the city has beefed up its stormwater program to fix the problems and fend off the threats of lawsuits.
Colorado Springs proposed a pact last week that would provide $460 million in stormwater projects, maintenance and operations through the year 2035, money that would be spent over and above grants or other funds.
So the county commissioners’ public hearing Monday was set to hear residents’ opinions on the agreement.
Also urging approval was Larry Small, director of the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District.
Calling it the best stormwater management plan he’s seen in 43 years, Small said: “This is better than efforts we were taking as a community to incrementally deal with (stormwater). This is better because it has measurable objectives. It has clearly defined projects, clearly defined funding and a clear funding source.”
And the key element is a requirement that the city and county jointly reassess the projects and process every year, ensuring communication, collaboration and cooperation, he said.
But some Pueblo residents remained skeptical.
“What choices do you have if Colorado Springs reneges? You can go to court. They have more lawyers than they can use,” said resident Bill Alt.
“The stormwater agreement manual says people with detention ponds must abide by these rules. They’ve had rules for years, and they haven’t been abided by. Are there any penalties for someone who violates it?”
Commission water attorney Ray Petros cited four conditions that ensure compliance: Utilities’ guarantee to provide the money if the city fails to do so, contractural enforcement that can be upheld by Pueblo County District Court, potential permit suspension if obligations aren’t met, and the EPA and state health lawsuit threats that underscore the city’s need to comply.
“So we think it’s enforceable,” Petros said.
John Singletary said he’s comfortable with the pact.
“Did we get everything we want? Probably not. But finally we can find a way that Colorado Springs, El Paso County and Pueblo County can work together,” Singletary said. “When I was on the Lower Arkansas (Water Conservancy District), it meant a lot to me to protect people downstream. I feel very comfortable with how this is drawn up.”
The Colorado Springs City Council is expected to sign the accord during a special meeting Wednesday, and Pueblo County’s Board of County Commissioners is to vote Monday – two days before the SDS is scheduled to start operating.
From the Associated Press (Dan Elliott) via The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
A powerful weekend storm dropped welcome snow into the Colorado mountains before the critical spring runoff that determines how much water flows into rivers, reservoirs and farm fields, state and federal officials said Monday.
“From a snow-water standpoint, this storm turned out to be pretty significant,” said Karl Wetlaufer, a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the Department of Agriculture.
April snow levels are closely watched indicators of how much water will drain into the four major river systems that begin in Colorado: the east-flowing Platte, Arkansas and Rio Grande and the west-flowing Colorado.
Federal data released Monday show that snow in the mountains that feed the Arkansas, the North Platte and the South Platte ranged from 94 to 109 percent of average. Southern Colorado’s Rio Grande Basin was only 78 percent.
West of the Continental Divide, the Upper Colorado River Basin was at 103 percent of average while the Yampa and White river basins were at 98 percent.
The Gunnison and Animas-San Juan river basins in southwestern Colorado were still below average, at 75 to 85 percent.
All of state’s west-flowing rivers eventually empty into the Colorado River.
Statewide, the snowpack was at 95 percent of normal, Wetlaufer told state and federal officials who gather monthly to monitor the outlook for water supplies.
The weekend storm brought up to 4 feet of snow to the central Colorado mountains.
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From the announcement:
A Gunnison Basin Ag Producers’ Water Future Workshop will take place on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Delta-Montrose Technical College in the Enterprise Room. The Colorado Water Plan encourages the use of “alternative transfer methods” to keep water in agriculture while addressing the anticipated gap in future water supply given projected population growth. What does this mean for agricultural water users in the Gunnison Basin? Irrigators will hear about opportunities for cost sharing of efficiency improvements, water leasing programs, and concerns about “use it or lose it” at this workshop sponsored by the Colorado Ag Water Alliance with assistance from Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and CSU’s Colorado Water Institute.
Brief presentations will be followed by dialogue in which agricultural producers will have a chance to discuss challenges and barriers to these opportunities. Those presenting include Carlyle Currier from the Colorado Ag Water Alliance, Frank Kugel from the Gunnison Basin Roundtable, State Engineer Dick Wolfe, Perry Cabot from Colorado State University Extension, Aaron Derwingson from The Nature Conservancy, Phil Brink from Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and MaryLou Smith from CSU’s Colorado Water Institute.