Energy policy coalbed methane: Aguilar town council hears presentation about coalbed methane well produced water

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From The Trinidad Times (Randy Woock):

A presentation at the town council meeting on the water monitoring had been arranged, Pioneer’s Senior Public Relations Advisor, Karen Brown, told the meeting’s attendees, “So you all could hear more about what it is we do to protect the water that is coming off of the discharges CBM production…the intent (of the presentation) is to open the discussion, provide some information about how Pioneer is approaching this, that we want to approach it from a scientific perspective and have documentation to prove that, in fact, water is, in fact, within its permit limits.”

Pioneer has been discharging around the Apishapa River since 2005, though none of its four outfalls are on the Apishapa River’s mainstem. Pioneer is currently discharging at a rate of 1.8 acre-feet of water, or 600,000 gallons, per day. Pioneer has about 2,450 wells in the basin. The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit it has applied for, according to Pioneer’s senior energy environmental advisor, Gerald Jacob, would allow for a maximum surface discharge amount of 999,999 gallons per day.

The discharge permitting process begins with the preparation of a draft permit, of which are considered possible impacts of the proposed discharge levels, measured against the water quality standards as adopted by the Water Quality Control Commission. The standards consider variables like effluent limits based on in-stream water quality, the quality and types of expected effluents coming from the discharge facility and as well as impacts on the stream at extreme low-flow periods…

The three monitoring stations deployed on the Apishapa River — at Lisonbee, Eichler and Nations — were placed and are monitored by the Norwest Corporation, a environmental consulting firm specializing in hydrology. Norwest’s stations monitor in 15-minute intervals water levels and salinity at their deployment points, as well as conducting flow measurements and water quality sampling every two weeks. Processed data and the resultant charts are uploaded to the website,, after several weeks, though each station also contains a direct display that updates every minute. “I really encourage you to use the website, and if you’re concerned and you want to keep track of stuff…we post all the lab data results, we’re comparing it to what we’re finding in the stream…it’s a really useful tool,” Hyrdrologist Angela Welch of Norwest said. “We really are trying to help you guys out by protecting your assets, which is your stream.”

More coalbed methane here and here.

HB 09-1067, Instream Flow Tax Incentives

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From email from the Colorado Water Trust:

On June 4, 2009, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed HB 09-1067 (pdf) into law. This new legislation becomes effective today, August 5, 2009. This exciting piece of legislation creates the Instream Flow Tax Credit program, which provides a tax credit of up to 50% of the value of a water right donated to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (“CWCB”) for use in the state’s instream flow program. This program encourages voluntary water rights donations to preserve Colorado’s streams and lakes. Please note, however, that the amount of annual revenue which the legislature can spend is limited by state statute. The ISF tax credit will not be allowed in years (such as this year) in which revenues are not expected to exceed this limit.

Here’s the link to their FAQ on the legislation.

More 2009 Colorado legislation coverage here.

H.B. 09-1129: Sterling Ranch development hopes to utilize rainwater catchments

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A Douglas County development — Sterling Ranch near Chatfield Reservoir — hopes to incorporate rainwater catchments into the design. Here’s a report from Andrew Simons writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

[Harold Smethills the major investor of Sterling Ranch] hopes Sterling Ranch will be one of 10 pilot residential developments to get statehouse approval for a rainwater collection system for use in the development. The rest of the rain that falls along the Front Range “is lost through evaporation” or is absorbed by native plants, such as field grasses, Smethills says…

Within the development, Smethills plans to install systems that will capture, store and recycle rainwater. These systems, Smethills says, will reduce the development’s consumption of municipal water by 50 percent…

For example, Sterling Ranch planners will install tanks underneath street roundabouts. Roads in the development will be constructed so rainwater will flow into the roundabouts. “This process utilizes tributary water in average or better rainfall years supplemented with storage and Denver Basin water in drought years,” according to the Sterling Ranch website. “This plan maximizes natural stream flows, traditional water storage, and by using the Denver Basin, we will dramatically reduce the water losses from evaporation while ensuring a dependable supply.”

Other water storage systems could include roof capture, where water is directed from a roof through a special gutter system and stored in a tank at the home. According to a study done by Headwaters Corp., a typical residential system where water is stored underground would run about $10,000 to $15,000…

In June, Gov. Bill Ritter signed HB 1129 into law. Getting permits won’t be easy. Prospective pilot projects must ensure water that’s captured in a neighborhood would not otherwise go into streams.

More Coyote Gulch 2009 legislative session coverage here.

S.B. 09-080: Rainwater catchments legislation limited to properties with an ‘exempt well’

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Here’s a look at S.B. 09-080 which allows collection of precipitation for properties that have an exempt well, from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Some of the early news stories on the change were unclear about the change in the law, creating an expectation that this “new” source of water would be widely available. But the new rule is very limited in scope. It doesn’t enable everyone to start catching and using rain water willy-nilly. In fact, the only people eligible are those who have a well permit from the state. “We’re starting to get some calls on this,” said local water commissioner Scott Hummer. “You can only use rain water for the same domestic indoor uses authorized by a well permit.”

In other words, people who get their water from a utility are not allowed to capture and use rainwater. The fundamental premise of state water law is still that every drop of rain needs to flow back into a river or into the groundwater, where it becomes part of a downstream water right owned by someone else who previously claimed it.

The tiny new exception is only for people who use a well for domestic water. And it only allows them to use the water for the same purposes specified by the well permit. In most cases, that means only indoor domestic use. It’s not legal to capture the rainwater and use it on outside plants, and it’s not legal to fill a hot tub with it, Hummer explained.

More Coyote Gulch 2009 Colorado Legislation coverage here.

S.B. 09-080, Precipitation Collect Limited Exemptions

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From the Associated Press via the Aspen Times (Stephen K. Paulson): “It will be legal for homeowners to use rainwater for fire protection, animals, irrigation and household use,” [with an exempt well].

Here’s the New York Times article that got everyone’s attention.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

H.B. 09-1185, Water Rights Applications Documents

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House Bill 09-1185 (pdf) will become state law on Wednesday. The bill allow electronic filing of documents for water rights applications. From the Durango Herald:

House Bill 1185 allows people filing paperwork for water rights to e-mail the application instead of mailing four paper copies to state regulators. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, were the sponsors.

•SB 80 allows homeowners with a well permit to collect rain and snow from their rooftops for use in the house, to water a garden and for stock watering. Isgar and Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, were the sponsors.

Here’s the link to the new streamlined water court rules also slated for their debut on Wednesday.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Colorado Conservation Voters: 2009 scorecard

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Here’s the link to the Colorado Conservation Voters 2009 Scorecard. They’re pleased overall with the 2009 legislative session.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.