Going in the Twin Lakes Tunnel

H2O Radio interviewed Glenn and Kim Schryver, the caretakers of Grizzly Reservoir, just east of Aspen, who access their home through a 4-mile water tunnel under the Continental Divide. Full story: http://h2oradio.org/TwinLakesTunnel.html

University of Oregon-led research maps major shifts in #ColoradoRiver history #COriver

Mouth of the Colorado River, March 2017 photo Ron Reiring via the University of Oregon.

Here’s the release from the University of Oregon (Jim Barlow):

Geologists have long debated how and when the Colorado River made its first connection to the ocean. In a new study, a team led by the UO’s Becky Dorsey has helped pull the river’s story together.

The river did not, as many thought, simply roar down out of the Colorado Plateau and pour into the Gulf of California.

In a paper published in the journal Sedimentary Geology, Dorsey’s team proposes that lower stretches of river were influenced by shifts in underlying bedrock and changing sea levels. The river experienced a series of stops and starts between roughly 6.3 and 4.8 million years ago.

The clues emerged from examining layers of sediment exposed in rocks along the river, along with detective work to identify fossils found in the layering. Integrating that data opened a window on “the different processes that controlled the birth and early evolution of this iconic river system,” Dorsey said.

“The birth of the Colorado River was more punctuated and filled with more uneven behavior than we expected,” said Dorsey, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences. “We’ve been trying to figure this out for years.”

The team studied the southern Bouse Formation from near present-day Blythe, California, to the western Salton Trough. That area is north of where the river now trickles into the Gulf of California. The Bouse Formation and deposits in the Salton Trough have similar ages and span both sides of the San Andreas Fault, providing important clues to the river’s origins.

Last year, in the journal Geology, a project led by graduate student Brennan O’Connell, a co-author on the new study, concluded that tidal currents had left sediments along the river near Blythe. The Gulf of California, it was argued, extended into that region, but the age of the deposits and tectonic and sea level changes at work during that time were not well understood.

Analyses by Kristin McDougall of U.S. Geological Survey, also a co-author on the new paper, found that those deposits were laid about 6 million years ago when tiny marine organisms could have lived together in the water. About 5.4 million years ago, however, conditions changed.

Global sea level fell, but the bay’s water level, instead of declining, increased as tectonic activity lowered the bay’s bed. Materials left by marine organisms were covered by clay and sand brought downstream by the river.

About 5.1 million years ago, a tug-of-war lasting 200,000 to 300,000 years began when the river stopped delivering sediments from upstream, probably the result of earthquake activity. The delta retreated. Seawater and marine sediments returned. At about 4.8 million years ago, river-delivered sediments again returned and rebuilt the delta.

Today’s delta, however, reflects human-made modern disturbances.

To meet agricultural and drinking-water demands, Hoover Dam was constructed to form Lake Mead during the 1930s. Glen Canyon Dam, completed in 1966, formed Lake Powell.

“If we could go back to 1900 before the dams that trap the sediment and water, we would see that the delta area was full of channels, islands, sandbars and moving sediment. It was a very diverse, dynamic and rich delta system. But manmade dams are trapping sediment today, eerily similar to what happened roughly 5 million years ago,” Dorsey said.

The research, Dorsey said, provides insights that help scientists understand how such systems change through time.

Mindy B. Homan, a former UO doctoral student and now a geologist with Devon Energy in Wyoming, was a co-author on the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, Society for Sedimentary Geology and Geological Society of America.

@USBR Announces WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program Funding Opportunity for 2018

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

This funding opportunity announcement provides funding to develop a watershed group, fund an existing watershed group, complete watershed restoration planning activities, and design watershed management projects

The Bureau of Reclamation has announced its 2018 funding opportunity for Phase I of the Cooperative Watershed Management Program. This funding opportunity is seeking proposals for activities to develop a watershed group, complete watershed restoration planning activities, and to design watershed management projects.

Applicants must submit their proposals by Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. MST. To view this funding opportunity, please visit http://www.grants.gov and search for funding opportunity number BOR-DO-18-F005. Up to $100,000 in federal funds may be awarded to an applicant per award, with no more than $50,000 made available in a year for a period of up to two years.

States, tribes, local and special districts (e.g., irrigation and water districts), local governmental entities, interstate organizations, and non-profit organizations, including existing watershed groups, within the 17 western states are eligible to apply.

The Cooperative Watershed Management Program contributes to the Department of the Interior’s priorities to create a legacy of conservation stewardship and to restore trust with local communities by providing funding to local watershed groups to encourage the development of collaborative solutions designed to address water management needs among Reclamation’s diverse stakeholders. By providing this FOA, Reclamation leverages federal funding to support stakeholder efforts to stretch scarce water supplies and avoid conflicts over water.

To learn more about the WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Phase I grants for fiscal year 2018, visit http://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/cwmp.

Donald Rosier is taking over at Sterling Ranch

Photo via the Colorado Independent

From Sterling Ranch via The Wheat Ridge Transcript:

A fifth-generation Coloradan has been named general manager of the Community Authority Board in Sterling Ranch, 3,400-acre mixed-use master-planned walkable community in Douglas County projected to have 12,000 residences and approximately 33,000 residents once the community is fully built out in 20 years.

Donald Rosier, who grew up in Arvada, now serves as a Jefferson County commissioner. He was elected in 2010 and again in 2014. His term ends in 2018, but Rosier will resign as commissioner to begin his general manager post in January.

Rosier graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in civil engineering, and he brings cross functional and cross industry experience to his new position.

“I am both excited and humbled to have been offered this amazing opportunity. Throughout my career, I have accomplished a track record of success in managing complex design projects, acquisitions, entitlements, land development and construction projects,” Rosier said. “Accepting the position of general manager for the Sterling Ranch Community Authority Board equates to a city manager’s position in a medium-sized town with all of the oversight that goes with it, but much more forward-facing to our residents, which is the most important asset we have.”

Rosier serves or has served on 15 boards and coalitions in a variety of capacities while a commissioner including being involved with the planning, design and ultimate completion of the Jefferson County Parkway. He is probably best known for forming and chairing the WestConnect Coalition, bringing former adversaries together for the completion of the western beltway, which has been fought over for almost 25 years.

“Don’s ability to approach issues in a manner of respect for all parties and with professionalism while listening to the concerns and creating new strategies to solving problems was a key trait we looked for in our new general manager,” said Diane Smethills, principal of Sterling Ranch and community authority board member.

In his position, Rosier will work with contractors, homebuilders, home buyers, residents and staff.

Rosier’s 25 years of private sector experience includes civil engineering design, project management, acquisition, entitlement, land development, construction and management with companies such as Metropolitan Homes, Neumann Homes, Sunrise Colony Company, Alliance Commercial Partners, Davis Partnership and Mueller Engineering.

He also oversaw the largest multi-use infill development executed on a former 2,000-acre Air Force Base in Colorado, including the design of an entirely new water system, sanitary sewer system, storm water drainage system and drainage plan.

“Don understands the hydrology of water and land planning design to execute and will execute the communities’ rainwater-harvesting plan and maximize the efficiency of the Sterling Ranch robust water system,” said Harold Smethills, managing director of Sterling Ranch and a pioneer in the way of development utilized water. “As chairman of both the Colorado Clean Water Coalition and the Chatfield Watershed Authority, he brings with him policy experience and the respect of the water community.”

Lake County water rights change case targeting augmentation

Leadville

From The Leadville Herald (Rachel Woolworth):

Lake County is moving towards a domestic water solution. On Nov. 15 the Board of County Commissioners, Planning and Zoning Commission and Water Advisory Council met to discuss the future of Lake County’s newly acquired water rights.

Lake County has owned the three irrigation ditches on Hallenbeck Ranch, whose construction dates back to the 1800s, since 1998.

The county recently quantified the water right associated with Derry Ditch No. 3 and changed its use from agricultural, to commercial and residential, through legal process.

The Colorado Division Two Water Court approved Lake County’s augmentation plan on Jan. 9, 2017, after approximately 6 years in water court.

Derry Ditch No. 3 provides Lake County with the right to 74 acre-feet of water; 23 acre-feet are currently leased to Mount Massive Golf Course and 17 acre-feet will go to the City of Aurora. This leaves 34 acre-feet of water to Lake County’s will.

Currently, Lake County businesses and homeowners who live outside the Parkville Water District are dependent on individual groundwater wells. Residents must buy augmentation rights on the open market, an extremely difficult and expensive task said Mike Bordogna, Leadville Lake County Economic Development Corporation.

Under the proposed augmentation plan, businesses and residents within Lake County’s augmentation area would be able to buy affordable water rights from the county itself. “Water equals growth,” said Bordogna.

Lake County established a water enterprise, the legal mechanism by which the county can lease water rights, last January. So far, the county can only lease to the Mount Massive Golf Course and for the evaporative loss of Hayden Meadows Reservoir.

Though the Derry Ditch No. 3 water rights have been available to Lake County much of this year, a lot needs to happen before the water can be leased.

For one, Lake County needs to build a flume to measure water flow on Corske Creek. To do so, the Forest Service must clear out several beaver dams and fallen trees.

Lake County must also find a place to store the newly acquired water. Though there are a multitude of storage options on the table, they are far off in the future.

Lake County has a right to 20 percent of Box Creek Reservoir’s operational capacity; a project funded by the City of Aurora with a 2035 completion date.

Lake County has also won the right to store up to 49.7 acre-feet of water at Hayden Meadows Reservoir starting in 2021…

Lastly, Lake County has the initial permitting to build a reservoir at Birds Eye Gulch, an area that sits on Bureau of Land Management land north of town. The county has five years left, out of a seven year permit, to get the ball rolling.

The BOCC also discussed setting aside money in the 2018 budget to hire an administrative contractor and will start engaging in conversation with parties interested in leasing water.

The BOCC, Planning and Zoning Commission and WAC will meet quarterly to keep the water augmentation plan moving forward.

News on Tap: Upgraded storage for the water down below

From Denver Water (Jimmy Luthye):

$100 million Hillcrest project concludes a decade of improvements to underground reservoirs and pumping stations.

When it comes to storing water, Denver’s picturesque mountain reservoirs get all the glory.

Less visible, but just as important, are the 30 underground storage tanks in 18 locations around the metro area, each storing anywhere from 2.5 million to 25 million gallons of water, delivered from one of Denver Water’s three drinking water treatment plants.

In 2011, Denver Water embarked on a decade-long transformation project that began with the expansion of the Lone Tree underground storage site. Three projects later, those efforts will culminate in 2020 when we complete a $100-million overhaul of the Hillcrest water storage facility in southeast Denver.

Hillcrest was born in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Denver Water built a state-of-the-art storage and pumping facility to replace several small, temporary pumping stations.

Much has changed in 50-plus years, and with increased water demands from the ever-booming Denver metro area, particularly southeast of town, it was time for a makeover.

The existing pumping station at Hillcrest was completed June 19, 1964.

Since early-2016, Denver Water has worked to replace Hillcrest’s two existing 15-million-gallon rectangular storage tanks with three 15-million-gallon, circular, “post-tensioned” concrete tanks…

The new tanks will sit slightly south of the existing tanks and will be buried up to their roofs, which will be visible.

In addition to the new tanks, the Hillcrest pumping station — one of 22 in the Denver Water distribution system — is getting its own upgrade.

Beyond Hillcrest, Denver Water plans to spend $1.25 billion on 143 capital improvement projects throughout the water system over the next five years.

Those projects include a $400 million state-of-the-art water treatment plant north of Golden, upgrades to the dam at Ralston Reservoir and replacement of a major water delivery pipeline in Jefferson County.

News on Tap: Your water bill is going up (slightly). Here’s why

Wood stave pipe installation on May 14, 1910. Photo credit — @DenverWater

From Denver Water:

That small increase helps us make big system upgrades, ensure water reliability and plan for future needs.

Nobody likes to pay a bill.

No matter how much you like a service or how essential it may be, handing over your hard-earned money to somebody else — particularly if that bill often increases from year to year — is never fun.

But when it comes to your water bill, the simple fact is the cost of running a complex water system continues to rise. Your bill helps to maintain and upgrade a vast infrastructure that allows us to collect, treat and deliver safe, reliable water, while also providing for essential fire protection services.

You’ll see some slight increases in your water bill starting March 1, 2018.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Farmington: #GoldKingMine advisory group meeting Monday, November 27, 2017 #ColoradoRiver #COriver

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]

From The New Mexico Political Report (Laura Paskus):

The New Mexico Gold King Mine Spill Citizens’ Advisory Committee will meet Monday evening in Farmington.

According to the New Mexico Environment Department, the committee includes 11 citizen volunteers from northern New Mexico, including the Navajo Nation, and works with New Mexico’s Long-Term Impact Review Team to monitor and understand the long-term impacts of the 2015 Gold King Mine accident…

Monday’s meeting will include a presentation on the area’s hydrogeology and geochemistry and provide an opportunity for public comment.

In May, the team released a long-term monitoring plan for the Animas River.

In addition to monitoring the impacts of the Gold King Mine spill, the work scientists are doing will help people understand how waste runoff from other mines affects surface and groundwater resources in the area. The work will also help identify how any future releases from abandoned mines might affect the Animas watershed.

To read the plan click here. You can also find an associated, peer-reviewed study from the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources here.

Monday’s meeting will begin at 5:30 and be held in the SUNS Room at San Juan Community College in Farmington. For more information: http://www.NMEDriverwatersafety.org or http://NMENV-Outreach@state.nm.us

The orange plume flows through the Animas across the Colorado/New Mexico state line the afternoon of Aug. 7, 2015. (Photo by Melissa May, San Juan Soil and Conservation District)

#Drought news: Uncertainty for folks in the Grand Valley #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Colorado Drought Monitor November 21, 2017.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Erin McIntyre):

Much of western Mesa County is in a “moderate drought” according to the updated U.S. Drought Monitor released this week, which reflects the change for several counties in western Colorado and eastern Utah…

Forecasters are expecting the majority of precipitation to fall in the northern mountain ranges of Colorado in the near future, as the La Nina weather pattern seems to leave the southern half of the state in a drier situation.

“It’s very uncertain what will happen,” Bolinger said. Last year, the winter season started out bleak, with lagging snowpack until December, when a few hard-hitting storms dumped precipitation on the mountains. “You’re right in an area where it could go either way but with the dry conditions that are occurring already I wouldn’t be surprised to see that pattern persist.”

While it’s early in the season to be considering snowpack data and streamflow information, other indicators led experts to recommend labeling a strip of western Colorado with moderate drought conditions, one step further than “abnormally dry.” The amount of water in reservoirs is in good shape, Bolinger said, but snowpack is beginning to lag in the southern part of Colorado compared to other years.

The Climate Prediction Center is expecting a warmer-than-average winter in Colorado, and if the jet stream brings windy, fire-prone conditions.

@amwater: We Care — Corporate Responsibility Report 2015-2016

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

The only way to do business is to do it responsibly

This is American Water’s fourth biennial Corporate Responsibility Report. It was published in October 2017, and covers our corporate responsibility performance for the 2015 and 2016 fscal years, which ran from January 1 to December 31.

The data contained was generated using systems audited by our internal staff. The report has been created in reference to Global Reporting Initiative G4 guidelines.

Preparing this report is a valuable opportunity for us to assess and improve upon our corporate responsibility progress and performance. To continue to do so, we welcome your feedback.