SMWSA: South Metro Denver on Path to Sustainable Water Future

Here’s the release from the South Metro Water Supply Authority:

  • SMWSA Master Plan shows tremendous progress transitioning to renewable water
  • South Metro region now a state leader in conservation, efficiency and reuse
  • Hecox: ‘More to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path’
  • The South Denver Metro region has made tremendous progress securing a sustainable water future over the past 12 years thanks to aggressive efforts to conserve water, maximize efficiency and invest in renewable water supplies, according to the results of the 2016 South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA) Master Plan Update.

    “A remarkable transformation is happening in the South Metro region,” said James Eklund, director of the state’s water agency and architect of Colorado’s Water Plan. “Colorado’s Water Plan calls for innovative water management and this study demonstrates how this important region is transitioning to a more sustainable water supply.”

    South Metro Water Supply Authority boundaries
    South Metro Water Supply Authority boundaries

    The report, produced by SMWSA and its technical consultant, CH2M, is the most definitive study of water demand and supplies of the region in nearly a decade.

    “The study confirms our region’s tremendous progress toward securing a sustainable water future,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of SMWSA. “There is more to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path.”

    Historically many communities in the region relied on nonrenewable groundwater from the Denver Basin Aquifer system for much of their water supply. For some, it was their only water supply as recently as 12 years ago. The significant decline in groundwater levels was unsustainable and threatened to undermine the region’s economic vitality and overall quality of life.

    Recognizing the challenge, water providers joined forces in 2004 to create SMWSA and develop a plan. The result of that work to date is outlined in the Master Plan update:

  • Transition to renewable water: In 2004, less than half of the region’s water supply came from renewable sources. By 2020, more than three-fourths (78 percent) of the region’s water supply will come from renewable water supplies, according to the study. This marks a significant transformation of the region’s water supply. By 2065, a full 85 percent of the region’s supplies will come from renewable sources, according to the study. Notably, this progress is being made despite a projected 130 percent increase in total water demand over the same period.
  • Investment in renewable water projects: This transition to renewable water is the result of a number of regional projects that communities throughout the region have invested in, including WISE, the Chatfield Reallocation Project, Reuter Hess Reservoir, the ACCWA/ECCV Northern Project, Castle Rock’s Plum Creek Water Purification Facility and many more.
  • Leading in conservation: The South Metro region has established itself as a leader in conservation and water stewardship with some of the strongest and most effective conservation efforts of any region in the state. Per capita water demand in the region decreased by 30 percent since 2000. The region now boasts among the lowest consumption rates in the state.
  • Maximizing efficiency: SMWSA and its members are maximizing water efficiency by reusing water to the fullest extent possible. “This is tremendous progress given the immense water challenges the region faced just 12 years ago,” said Mike Fitzgerald, president and CEO of the Denver South Economic Development Partnership. “We are on a path to a secure and sustainable water supply, which is critical to maintaining our region’s excellent quality of life and economic vitality for future generations.”
  • More Work Ahead

    While the region is on track to meet projected demand as far out as 2065, more work is needed to ensure that happens, Hecox said.

    Future possible projects and plans include adding new supply and storage, groundwater management, conservation and efficiency.

    “We must execute on current plans, continue our conservation efforts, build our renewable supplies and maximize what we have through reuse,” Hecox said. “If we continue the course, we will deliver on our promise of a secure water future for the region.”

    Bear cub pals around with rescuer

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    #AnimasRiver #GoldKingMine roundup from The Durango Herald

    The Durango Herald has been all over this story for a year now. Click here for their roundup of articles.

    This image was taken during the peak outflow from the Gold King Mine spill at 10:57 a.m. Aug. 5. The waste-rock dump can be seen eroding on the right. Federal investigators placed blame for the blowout squarely on engineering errors made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s-contracted company in a 132-page report released Thursday [October 22, 2015]
    This image was taken during the peak outflow from the Gold King Mine spill at 10:57 a.m. Aug. 5. The waste-rock dump can be seen eroding on the right. Federal investigators placed blame for the blowout squarely on engineering errors made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s-contracted company in a 132-page report released Thursday [October 22, 2015]
    A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 -- photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin
    A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 — photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin
    On April 7,  2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear. Eric Baker
    On April 7, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear.
    Eric Baker

    July 2016 ranks as 14th-warmest on record for U.S.

    Summit County Citizens Voice

    asdf Nearly every state in the lower 48 reported well above-average temperatures for the first seven months of 2016, according to NOAA’s State of the Climate report.

    Year to-date is third-warmest, according to monthly climate report

    Staff Report

    The July temperature across the lower 48 states was 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, with month ending up ranked as the 14th warmest on record, according to NOAA’s monthly state of the climate report for the U.S.

    The year-to-date is the third-warmest on record for the contiguous 48 states, and continues to track toward the warmest ever for Alaska, federal climate trackers said in the new report.

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    Colorado River District Seminar: #ColoradoRiver Waves of the Future – Fitting the West to the River’s New Normal

    tworiversconventioncenter

    Click here for all the inside skinny. From the Colorado River District website:

    The Colorado River District’s popular one-day Annual Water Seminar is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main Street, Grand Junction, Colo..
    The theme is: “Colorado River Waves of the Future: Fitting the West to the River’s New Normal.” Cost, which includes lunch, is $30 if pre-registered by Friday, Sept. 9; $40 at the door. For information, contact Meredith Spyker. at 970-945-8522; seminar registration form 2016
    Speakers will address the Lower Basin living within its water means and dealing with its “structural deficit,” how the Upper Basin is planning to deal with low levels at Lake Powell, sorting through the confusing programs addressing ag fallowing, a discussion of Use It or Lose It myths and a panel addressing what comes next after the Colorado Water Plan, especially with declining financial resources — plus more.

    Draft agenda:

  • Temperatures Matter: Brad Udall, Colorado Water Institute, Colorado State University
  • How the Lower Basin is Attacking the Structural Deficit: Speaker invited
  • How the Upper Basin is Attacking Low Water Levels at Lake Powell: Eric Kuhn, Colorado River District
  • Sorting through the Demand Management Weapons: Water Banking/System Conservation – who’s doing what: Dave Kanzer, Colorado River District
  • Lunch Program
  • Use it Or Lose It – Separating Truth, Myth and Reality: Justice Greg Hobbs
  • Colorado’s Water Plan – What now? Panel Discussion with Colorado Water Conservation Board’s James Eklund; Colorado Legislature Rep. Don Coram, Anne Castle, Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment
  • NISP update: Galeton Reservoir North?

    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.
    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

    From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

    The latest change to plans for NISP would be potentially moving the location for Galeton Reservoir about two miles to the north and a little bit west of its previously planned site northeast of Greeley, according to Fort Morgan Water Resources/Utilities Director Brent Nation.

    This would be due to all the oil wells that have sprung up recently on the site originally planned by Northern Water for Galeton, which would be the part of NISP that held Fort Morgan’s 9 percent stake in the overall water storage project.

    “We as participants have been well aware of the possibility of needing to move the Galeton Reservoir site,” Nation said. “That’s been in all of the applications, it’s been in all of the engineering work. The original site that was selected for that is now, basically, it looks like a large oil field. There’s well sites all over it.”

    But Northern Water (aka Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District) has found another possible site for Galeton, and it’s not very far from the original plan, making much of the work done on studying and understanding the proposed location still useful, Nation said.

    “As they were drilling more and more, it became obvious that they needed to maybe look into an alternative site,” he said. “And so they’re literally identifying a piece of ground that’s two miles further north. It’s in the same draw, it’s got the same formation. None of the characteristics really change, other than a little bit of pipeline length to get the water there and (some pumping to) get the water out.”

    “We have found a site in the same vicinity as Galeton and believe it makes sense to make this move,” stated Carl Brouwer, project management manager from Northern Water.

    Northern Water is doing more studies on the proposed new location for Galeton, but the district’s officials do not expect any problems with that site, according to information Nation provided to the Fort Morgan Times from both Brouwer and Northern Water General Manager Eric Wilkinson.

    “We are doing ‘due diligence’ on Galeton North and have contacted parties that own land within the Galeton North Reservoir basin,” stated Wilkinson. “We have not found a fatal flaw associated with Galeton North. … The site will require two miles of additional pipeline, as it is further north, and (a) small amount of additional pumping. However, these additional costs appear to be more than offset by the additional costs associated with plugging and re-drilling the oil wells within the existing Galeton Reservoir footprint.”