A private water well on Sugar Loaf Fire Protection District property has tested positive for elevated levels of PFCs

From Colorado Public Radio (Grace Hood):

Sugar Loaf said it drilled the well near Fire Station 1 in March 2017 and voluntarily tested the water in April 2018. It found levels, particularly of PFOS, to be 10 times above the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory levels.

A second sample was submitted to confirm test results, which it expects to have soon.

Boulder County Environmental Health Division Manager Joseph Malinowski said the county notified nearby residents and is in the process of testing well water for PFCs at approximately 10 homes within 1,300 feet of the volunteer fire station.

“At this time it’s difficult to say how far the plume may have spread. It may just be contained to the fire department’s property itself. That’s part of what we’re trying to do is doing water testing to see if we have some other contaminated wells nearby,” Malinowski said.

Boulder County has advised the homeowners not to drink their well water until they see test results.

“We have multiple firefighters that live near the station. We are the community,” said Sugar Loaf Chief Andrew Goldman. “We’re moving as quickly as we can”

[…]

Right now in Boulder County, Van Dyke said that the scope of the contamination remains an open question. Key to the findings will be water well samples taken from the about 10 nearby homes. But it could take weeks to get data.

The latest “E-Newsletter” is hot off the presses from the Hutchins Water Center

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

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS – DUE 6/30

The Hutchins Water Center at CMU will hold the 8th annual Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum on Nov 7-8, with the theme “Bridging Science, Policy and Practice.” In the interest of promoting fresh, lively and informative discussion, we encourage presentation proposals from from water managers, engineers, policy makers, scholars, policy analysts, citizen groups, industry representatives, farmers, water attorneys, graduate and undergraduate students, artists and writers. Please submit by June 30. The Call for Abstracts is here; general information and programs and presentations from past Forums are here.

The Central Colorado Water Conservancy District’s latest newsletter is hot off the presses

Recharge pond

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

Central’s Board Considering Bond Proposal

Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, through its Groundwater Management Subdistrict, is reviewing a potential bond question for voters in 2018. Although the proposal is in its earliest stages, Central’s board and management believe it’s important to start discussing the next steps to secure both water storage and water rights for the region.

Central’s 10-year outlook includes the development of additional reliable water supplies, including storage projects, recharge projects and senior water rights. A portion of the GMS water supply has been leased from municipal water supplies; however, as municipalities grow and can use these excess supplies, GMS will have less and less certainty that these leases will be available in the future. Additionally, as the buy and dry of irrigated lands downstream of the Denver area continue, agricultural water needs from groundwater will increase.

The possible bond projects for GMS may include 5,000 acre-feet of additional reservoir storage—which will increase Central’s holdings by 25 percent—in the Fort Lupton and Greeley/Kersey areas. The bonds may also help construct a very large recharge project near the Weld and Morgan county line named the Robert W. Walker Recharge Project. The Walker Project will divert surface and groundwater at the rate of 100 cubic feet per second from the South Platte and divert those flows to recharge basins as far as five miles from the river. In addition, Central is looking at the purchase of several senior water rights that are becoming available for the district’s portfolio. This includes the purchase of waters currently being leased by Central, which will ensure this water stays in the community to be used by local farms and businesses.

Over the coming months, Central will be reviewing different policy decisions as it builds a potential GMS bond proposal. This process will continue community outreach and communications efforts in order to get critical feedback to understand the public’s support for Central’s water-management efforts. If you have any questions about GMS and this project, please contact the Central offices at (970) 330-4540.

@USBR announces path forward for expanded operational capacity at Fontenelle Reservoir

Fontenelle Dam and power plant. Photo credit: USBR

Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Marlon Duke):

On May 24, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman, together with Wyoming Governor Matthew H. Mead, Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, and Representative Liz Cheney, announced collaborative plans to expand operational capacity at Fontenelle Reservoir. Governor Mead developed the Wyoming Water Strategy in 2015, which highlighted the Fontenelle Project.

For several years, Wyoming has sought to place riprap (rock or other material that protects against erosion) to expand the operating capacity of Fontenelle. The expansion will increase flexibility in operating the dam and reservoir – bolstering the region’s ability to resist frequent droughts in the arid West – all without increasing the footprint of the reservoir. Additional reservoir capacity will also make possible the creation of new water supplies which would be available for contracting and sale.

“Water is Wyoming’s most important natural resource,” said Governor Mead. “It is critically important to not only Wyoming but to our country. We need to address water challenges using all the best tools – like conservation, planning and infrastructure. As a headwaters state we recognize the need to protect and develop our water.”

“I applaud Commissioner Burman’s announcement that the Bureau of Reclamation will increase operational flexibility at Fontenelle Reservoir in southwest Wyoming,” said Senator Barrasso. “For years, I’ve been working to expand storage at Fontenelle. This announcement brings us one step closer to that goal. In order to start construction on this project, we must pass the Fontenelle Reservoir legislation. As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I included this bill in the bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act. I’m confident we will pass this important water infrastructure legislation and make sure that communities in Wyoming have access to a reliable source of water.”

“I am glad that the Bureau of Reclamation and Wyoming are working together to help expand capacity at the Fontenelle Reservoir,” Senator Enzi said. “Water storage projects like this are vital to meet today’s water needs and keep water supplies secure and flexible into the future. I am also hopeful that Congress will act soon and Pass the Wyoming delegation’s legislation designed to help further along the Fontenelle project.”

“I’m pleased the Bureau of Reclamation is moving forward to expand the operational capacity of the Fontenelle Reservoir to help protect one of Wyoming’s most important resources,” Representative Cheney said. “The Fontenelle Reservoir expansion will help combat the effects of drought, help ensure our water infrastructure is properly developed and provide the potential for new commerce and recreation activity by creating new water supplies to be available for contracting and sale. This decision by the Bureau of Reclamation is an important and welcome step for Wyoming.”

Under existing law, Wyoming can apply for project funding under the Colorado River Storage Project Basin Fund Memorandum of Agreement. On April 30, Reclamation concluded that it would consider funding the project under this authority, and invited Wyoming to submit a funding request. Under the MOA, many Western water storage projects have received funding from Reclamation for operation, maintenance, and replacement activities. This federal funding can only be used to improve Colorado River Storage Project facilities and operations.

As an alternative to expanding operational flexibility under MOA funding, Wyoming is seeking Congressional approval to create additional water supply for contracting. Two bills which would authorize this plan, Senate Bill 199 and House Resolution 648, have been introduced by the members of the Wyoming Congressional Delegation.

“Reclamation is pleased to be a partner in the state and the delegation’s efforts to upgrade crucial water infrastructure at the Fontenelle Project,” said Commissioner Burman. “Improving access to reliable water supplies is a key priority for Reclamation and the Administration.”

“This is a great project,” said Governor Mead. “I am pleased to see it move forward.”

Green River Basin

The Southern Nevada Water Authority increases rate for replacing turf with desert landscaping #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Las Vegas circa 1915

From The Las Vegas Review-Journal (Henry Brean):

The authority will now pay residents and business owners $3 for every square foot of thirsty grass they rip out and replace with desert landscaping. The $1 increase, approved by authority board members Thursday, represents the first significant change to the agency’s Water Smart Landscapes Program in three years.

Agency officials hope raising the rebate will spur more participation in the 19-year-old program, which has seen a steady decline in turf conversions over the past decade…

The problem isn’t that the valley is running out of grass to replace, said Colby Pellegrino, director of water resources for the authority.

She said there could be as much as 200 million square-feet of purely ornamental turf still out there, not including the stuff that actually gets used at parks and schools and people’s yards.

Roaring Fork “State of the River” meeting recap

Low flows in the Roaring Fork River just above Rio Grande Park, in July 2012. City of Aspen officials say the Roaring Fork runs below environmentally-sound levels on this stretch about eight weeks of the year now.

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

Warm, dry weather has essentially gobbled the snowpack below 11,500 feet in the Fryingpan Valley, according to Tim Miller, a hydrologist with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation who oversees the vast plumbing system that fills Ruedi Reservoir…

At this time last year, about 79 percent of the 133 square miles of the Fryingpan River Basin had some level of snow coverage, according to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. That produced a mean of 10.3 inches of snow-water equivalent — in layman’s terms, the amount of water in the snow.

This year, only 51 percent of the terrain in the basin has some level of snow coverage. The mean snow-water equivalent is only 2 inches…

Reduced runoff can have broad implications including low streamflows that affect everything from the health of fish to the quality of whitewater rafting and kayaking. There also will be less water available for irrigation.

The dry conditions mean Ruedi probably won’t reach its capacity of 102,000 acre-feet…

The drought was obviously a hot topic last night at the Colorado River District’s Roaring Fork Valley State of the River forum in Carbondale.

Heather Tattersall-Lewin, watershed action director for Roaring Fork Conservancy, said there are spots in local rivers that create special concerns in low-water years. The Roaring Fork River through Aspen is often “dewatered in dry years.” The city government worked on an agreement to put water from the Wheeler Ditch into the river when it drops to certain levels, she said.

The Roaring Fork River also tends to drop to especially low levels just above the confluence with the Fryingpan River in low-water years, Tattersall-Lewin. Pitkin County Healthy Rivers and Streams developed a whitewater park with junior water rights to try to increase the water level in that stretch in lean years, she said.

The low runoff prevented the reclamation bureau from dumping a high amount of water from the Ruedi dam into the lower Fryingpan River this spring.

“We didn’t see a flushing flow go through the Fryingpan this year,” Tattersall-Lewin said.

That could lead to proliferation of a particularly nasty type of algae called Didymosphenia geminate but often just referred to as didymo or rock snot. Roaring Fork Conservancy will monitor the presence of the algae.

The Crystal River, which often is affected by low flows during the summer, faces a tougher than usual year. The snowpack at McClure Pass was well below average all winter long and melted completely out prior to May 1.

Zane Kessler, communications director for the Colorado River District, said snowpack at numerous measuring stations throughout the Colorado mountains have melted out already. Statewide the snowpack is at 30 percent of average, he said.

Far western Pitkin County, including McClure Pass, is considered in severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released by the federal government Thursday. Far eastern Pitkin County, which includes Independence Pass, is considered “abnormally dry.”

Most of Pitkin County is in the moderate drought classification, the second in five classes.

How a Water District South of Denver Reuses Every Single Drop

Your Water Colorado Blog

By Eric Hecox

Meridian Metropolitan District, General Manager

Reusing or recycling water in Colorado can be a tricky business. There are a number of factors that must be considered: whether your water can legally be reused; which method will be employed and at what scale your reuse program will operate.

At Meridian Metropolitan District we continually wrestle with each of these issues. But before we delve into our own story, here’s a bit of a primer on reuse in Colorado.

Remind Me Again, What Water Can Be Reused?

In general, there are four broad categories of water that can be reused:

  • Transbasin water, which is typically brought over from river basins on the West Slope
  • Transferred consumptive use
  • Nontributary groundwater
  • Other decreed reuse supplies

How Is It Done?

Water providers are currently employing or considering a variety of tactics for reusing their reusable water supplies. These include:

  • Direct non-potable systems

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