Water supply, Front Range development, and tap fees

From The Denver Post (Aldo Svaldi):

Embedded in the price of every new home and apartment built along the northern Front Range are some of the highest water infrastructure costs in the country.

Some factors behind those high costs are intractable: a scarcity of available water and the fact that most Coloradans live on one side of the Rocky Mountains and obtain their water from the other.

But another contributor is the upfront fees local utilities charge to connect water and sewer lines to homes and other buildings. In and around Denver, a chorus of developers, water-efficiency advocates and others say, those charges can add thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs to houses, apartments and condominiums.

Those higher costs, known as impact or tap fees, quietly get passed on to consumers in the form of heftier new-home prices and apartment rents…

“Developers want least cost, and we want the most adequate supply,” said Cindy Marshall, manager of treated water planning at Denver Water. “There is a place we can meet in the middle.”

Denver Water, the largest water provider along the northern Front Range, uses these long-standing models, which require a water connection to be big enough to handle every water-related appliance simultaneously without a critical loss in pressure…

The Metro Wastewater District, which is separate from Denver Water, charges $92,600 to connect a building with a 2-inch tap versus $22,240 for a building with a 1-inch tap…

Colorado has a complex system of water rights, which adds to costs. Also, the bulk of residents in the state live east of the Continental Divide, while the bulk of the water supply is to the west, necessitating expensive diversion projects.

The latest “THE CWCB CONFLUENCE” newsletter is hot off the presses @CWCB_DNR

Crystal River near Redstone via Wikipedia Commons

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

CWCB Projects Bill Approved and Signed By Governor Hickenlooper
The General Assembly approved the CWCB Water Projects Bill, which provides $164 million for implementation of Colorado’s Water Plan, water storage, watershed health, flood control programs, monitoring of streams, water supply forecasting, Federal cost sharing grants, preserving agriculture, feasibility studies, water loss control methodology training, and other programs and projects. Included in this, is $30 million for a Loan Guarantee Fund that will provide financing options for regional project participants.

This also includes $25M for Water Plan Implementation Funding, which breaks down into $10M for WSRF supplemental funding; $5M for the Watershed Restoration Grant Program; and $10M for Water Plan Implementation Grants/Funding. Read more about it in the May Implementation Fact Sheet.

#Runoff/#Snowpack news: The Yampa River has likely peaked for season

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

Even though the river where it flows through downtown has already peaked for the season, the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is projecting the final push of the spring runoff will continue into the first few days of June.

The river, which was flowing at below 1,000 cfs the morning of May 24, had already jumped to 1,250 cfs by midday May 25 and is projected to go even higher June 1 to 3 when it will be flowing above 1,550 cfs just in time for the 37th annual Yampa River Festival.

However, hydrologists at the Forecast Center report the river won’t climb as high as it did shortly after 2 a.m. May 14, when the flow peaked at 2,030 cfs for the season. That compares to a peak flow of 3,880 cfs on June 9, 2016.

Karl Wetlaufer, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Denver, suggested Thursday the below-average peak flow in the Yampa correlates with mountain snowpack that peaked atypically early.

“Across the entire Yampa, White and North Platte, snowpack peak was just about a month earlier than normal,” Wetlaufer said. “There were slight resurgences, but it never reached that peak again.”

Typically, Wetlaufer said, snowpack — a term that refers to the amount of water accumulated in the settled snow — peaks in this region on about April 10. This year, snowpack in the mountains peaked March 12…

The Yampa at Deerlodge Park in Moffat County, just above Dinosaur National Monument, was flowing in 4,350 cfs late this week with a boost from the Little Snake River, which drains the northern portion of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Areas, and was flowing at 1,350 cfs.

The Green River, just before it flows out of Utah and into Moffat County, was flowing at 7,100 cfs, as Flaming Gorge Dam operators counteracted high inflows generated by unusually heavy snow in Northwest Wyoming this winter…

The Natural Resources Conservation Service reports that the 8 inches of snow water equivalent — water stored in the remaining 18 inches of snow — on the West Summit of Rabbit Ears Pass May 25 was just 58 percent of median, but that has grown from just 34 percent of median on May 17.

Those figures are even more significant above 10,000 feet on Buffalo Pass where the snow is still 90 inches deep, and the 44.8 inches of water there is 93 percent of median for the date.

Wetlaufer said the benefit of a late surge in snowmelt could be amplified if it also comes with rainfall on the valley floor. That would boost soil moisture, he said, which in turn would satisfy the demands of vegetation and allow more of the snowmelt to make its way into the streams and river.

Metro Wastewater Reclamation District Opens New $417 Million Facility

Photo credit Kuck Mechanical Contractors, L.L.C.

Here’s the release from the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District:

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District today celebrated the grand opening of its Northern Treatment Plant. Planned since 1982, the new $417 million facility is one of the most advanced in the western United States.

Designed to protect the South Platte River and support rapid community growth, the facility is capable of cleaning 24 million gallons per day and will eventually serve up to 750,000 customers across Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City, Thornton, unincorporated Adams County and Denver.

“By investing in critical infrastructure, we are investing in the future of the communities where we live and work,” said Catherine Gerali, District Manager of the Metro District. “Completion of the Northern Treatment Plant ensures safe, reliable and cost-effective water reclamation for the 1.8 million Coloradans who rely on the essential public service we provide.”

Under Budget and on Schedule
Construction of the Northern Treatment Plant was completed on schedule and the $417 million total program cost was nearly $60 million less than original budget estimates. This includes design and construction of the treatment facilities and a nearly seven-mile pipeline that uses gravity – not pump stations – to transport flow to the plant.

“This is one of the largest progressive design-build municipal water projects ever delivered in the U.S.,” says CH2M Chairman and CEO Jacqueline Hinman. “The innovative delivery process allowed for the greatest level of collaboration with all project stakeholders, while maintaining a keen focus on safety. We applaud the Metro District’s foresight in delivering a technologically advanced treatment facility that will make a great difference in our community, protect our environment and preserve critical water supplies for our growing region.”

A Legacy of Environmental Stewardship
The Northern Treatment Plant strengthens the Metro District’s more than 50-year track record of environmental stewardship. The new facility features the latest proven water reclamation technologies to protect the South Platte River, alongside onsite resource recovery for energy generation and agricultural applications.

“Protecting the environment is the very reason for the Metro District’s existence,” Gerali added. “We were formed in 1961 to clean up the South Platte River and the Northern Treatment Plant strengthens our more than 50-year legacy of environmental stewardship.”

A Community Resource
The Northern Treatment Plant provides community amenities with opportunities for public recreation and education. The facility includes more than a mile of riverside trails and seating around a wetland area. Ultimately, these trails are designed to serve as a connection with a regional trail system that is envisioned to extend from Wyoming to New Mexico. The new facility’s Administration Building includes educational exhibits to inform visitors about how water reclamation protects the South Platte River and benefits the environment.

Facts & Figures

  • The Metro District is the largest water reclamation provider in the Rocky Mountain West, serving about 1.8 million people in a 715 square-mile area.
  • The Northern Treatment Plant is one of the most advanced facilities in the western United States and will eventually serve up to 750,000 customers
  • Every day the District collects and reclaims about 130 million gallons of wastewater – enough to fill nearly 200 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • For nine months out of the year, roughly 90% of the water in the South Platte River comes from the outfalls of the District’s Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility.
  • The District makes enough energy onsite to power approximately 40% of its Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility using gas produced during the treatment process – that is enough energy to power roughly 5,000 homes.
  • The District owns and operates a 52,000 acre farm in northeast Colorado. We pioneered wastewater resource recovery for agriculture and have grown crops at our METROGRO Farm for 30 years.
  • For more information, please visit the Metro District’s website at http://www.MetroWastewater.com.

    #Runoff news: Snowmelt Causing High Flows on the Rio Chama — @USBR

    Map of the Rio Grande watershed, showing the Rio Chama joining the Rio Grande near Santa Fe. Graphic credit WikiMedia.

    Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Mary Carlson):

    Flows on the Rio Chama are on the rise as the most robust spring runoff since 2005 continues in northern New Mexico.

    The Bureau of Reclamation is currently releasing 3,000 cubic feet per second from El Vado Reservoir into the Rio Chama in an attempt to keep up with the snowmelt and is moving water at the request of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. The safe channel capacity for this stretch of the Rio Chama is 4,500 cfs.

    Reclamation is being proactive with the release to ensure there is adequate room to safely store the additional water that will be coming into the reservoir as there is still a considerable amount of snow at the higher elevations. As of this week, 25.8 inches of snow-water was being reported at Cumbres Trestle, which is the highest point on the contributing watershed. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s May forecast, there is still approximately 100,000 acre-feet of water to come into El Vado before the end of July.

    The higher flows will provide great opportunities for recreation this Memorial Day weekend, but the public should use caution as water levels are higher and flows are faster than what has become the norm on the Rio Chama in recent years. Recreationists and those traveling along the Rio Chama between El Vado and Abiquiu should exercise extreme caution.

    Those heading out for recreation on or near rivers and reservoirs throughout New Mexico should be aware of changing conditions and fluctuating water levels.

    Castle Rock Water recognized as industry leader for the second year in a row

    Castle Rock and Pikes Peak. Photo credit VisitCastleRock.org

    Here’s the release from Castle Rock:

    Whether it’s paving the way with a long-term water plan, rising to the challenge of having the best tasting water in Colorado, or setting an example for conservation – Castle Rock Water is a leader in the water industry. For the second year in a row, the department is being recognized for its efforts.

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment awarded Castle Rock Water the Gold Award in the Pursing Excellence Program for the department’s push to go above and beyond regulatory compliance. In 2015, Castle Rock Water was the first water provider in Colorado to receive the Gold Tier.

    The award noted the Town’s steps to be a leader in the industry and share best practices with other organizations. The department was also recognized for its operational procedures for source water protection measures, treatment goals and distribution components.

    Additionally, the department was recognized for four other actions:

  • Large meter audit – this audit examined the 5 percent of customers that make up 30 percent of consumption
  • Lateral arm well placement – this plan involves the innovative use of horizontal arms for vertical well production; horizontal arms doubles the production of vertical wells
  • Valve and hydrant maintenance program – with this program in place, repair and emergency budgets are easier to estimate; additionally, customers are better informed of outages
  • Chemical optimization – continually analyzing the chemical solutions used for water treatment to ensure the highest quality water and lowest treatment costs
  • “Castle Rock Water’s faithful commitment to the environment extends to our staff, our customers and to the community in which we operate,” said Castle Rock Water Director Mark Marlowe. “We take our motto, be water wise, to heart, and are committed to being a leader among the water industry.”

    To find out more about everything happening with Castle Rock Water, head to http://CRgov.com/water, or check out the new conservation website http://CRconserve.com.

    @ColoradoWater “State of the River” meetings #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    Yampa/White/Green/North Platte river basins via the Colorado Geological Survey
    Gunnison River Basin via the Colorado Geological Survey
    Colorado River Basin in Colorado via the Colorado Geological Survey