Gilcrest: High groundwater levels affect residents

HB12-1278 study area via Colorado State University

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

More than three years after water began seeping into Gilcrest and surrounding residents’ basements — the result of record high groundwater levels — the problem is spreading, impacting new homes.

Joanne Maes, a former Gilcrest town trustee, is one such resident. She doesn’t have more than a dozen sump pumps installed in her basement like a resident in 2014. She has one, and she and her husband did the work themselves, spending about $1,000 on materials.

Maes first noticed the problem a month ago. After 12 hours of continuous shop vac use, the family installed a sump pump, which runs automatically as water seeps in. Every 20 minutes or so, a PVC pipe in the backyard of Maes’ 12th Street house gurgles out water.

The same is true for a number of homes in Gilcrest, and Maes led the way around the quiet Weld County town Tuesday, pointing out more PVC pipes, connected to more sump pumps, dotting the front yards of more residents. An extra green patch of grass is another tell-tale sign.

Maes and her neighbors now, as residents did in 2014, blame the fact that farmers aren’t allowed to pump groundwater to water crops. She even testified before the Colorado Water Conservation Board, along with others from the area a couple weeks ago.

Residents here have largely given up hope anything will be done. And so, the sump pumps drone on, the water gurgles out of PVC pipes and residents hope things don’t get any worse.

Voters approve the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District’s bond issue

irrigation.jpg

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

Randy Ray was “pumped” after voters of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District overwhelmingly approved a pair of water measures he says will “significantly” help farmers.

With votes cast by about 87 percent of Weld County’s eligible, active voters, 66.25 percent of those who live in Central’s boundaries had checked “yes” on Measure 4A. Measure 4A approves a $60 million bond issue to pay for three of Central’s endeavors. “This is so huge for us,” said Ray, executive director of Central.

Central, based in Greeley, is one of 15 water providers looking to take part in the proposed Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project, a $184 million undertaking that would provide an additional 2,849 acre­feet of water to some of Central’s users. Central Water officials also are considering the construction of gravel pits for an additional 8,000­9,000 acre­feet of storage, and buying 1,000 acre­feet of senior water rights with the bonds. Taxpayers within Central Water’s boundaries will now pay an additional $1.13 each month per $100,000 in property value for the next 25 years, Central officials estimate.

About 65 percent of Central voters approved Measure 4B, which allows Central’s Groundwater Management Sub­district to accept state and federal grant funding to construct projects.

Central’s district is mostly in Weld County, but its boundaries also stretch into Adams and Morgan counties. Central voters in Morgan County supported 4A by a 25­16 margin, and 4B by a 17­6 margin. Numbers for Adams County alone on the issues were not available as of press time.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

Vote!

Vote-now.jpg.jpg

Please remember to vote today — if you haven’t already voted early — put up with the delays, have your voice heard! Send me email if you want some coaching about the issues or candidates. 🙂

The Central Colorado Water Conservancy District is asking voters to approve a $60 million water bond issue

southplattealluvialaquifer.jpg

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

Fall is always a hectic time of the year for Randy Knutson, but the LaSalle­area farmer has spent more time away from home during this harvesting season than probably any other.
In addition to rounding up matured crops in his fields and also managing operations for Zabka Farms near Greeley, Knutson in recent weeks has been trekking across the area to convince fellow producers and other residents that approving a $60 million bond issue is in their best interest.

His long hours are well worth it, as far as he’s concerned.

Without the bond issue and the water that would be purchased with the millions of dollars, harvests of future autumns could be minimal in Weld County, he says, with the local economy suffering as a result.

Knutson and others are asking taxpayers of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District to approve Measure 4A — the $60 million bond issue that would be used for more water storage and buying water rights.

Residents in Central’s district will vote on that measure as part of next week’s election. “Without the water, you’re going to see agriculture go away in Weld County,” said Knutson, who serves on the board of directors for Central and serves as chairman of the voluntary Yes For Water group that’s been promoting and raising funds for Measure 4A. “And now is the time we need to be going out to get the water we need.”

Central oversees two subdistricts that provide augmentation water to farmers in the LaSalle and Gilcrest areas and other parts of southern Weld County. The two subdistricts — the Groundwater Management Subdistrict (GMS) and the Well Augmentation Subdistrict (WAS) — also stretch into Adams and Morgan counties.

Augmentation water is needed to make up for depletions to the aquifer caused by pumping water out of the ground. All together, Central’s two subdistricts provide augmentation water for more than 100,000 acres of irrigated farmground, according to Randy Ray, executive director of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District. The additional augmentation water is needed since many of the wells in Central’s subdistricts were either curtailed or shut down back in 2006, when the state determined the pumping of those wells was depleting stream flows in the South Platte River Basin. As part of those decisions, the state made augmentation requirements more stringent. Many farmers haven’t been able to use their wells since then because they haven’t had the necessary amount of augmentation water to do so.

Knutson, himself, has three wells he still can’t use. Those wells are needed in dry years like this one, when flows in the rivers are low, bringing little water to irrigation ditches, Knutson said.

Also, Knutson said, cities in the region are growing rapidly and need more water, causing supplies to get tighter and more much expensive. For example, one unit of water from the Colorado­Big Thompson project, one of the largest water projects in the region that supplies supplemental water for municipal and agricultural uses all over northern Colorado, now costs about $10,000. It was only about $7,500 three years ago, according to Brian Werner, a spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

“It’s only gong to get more expensive the longer we wait,” Knutson said. Knutson, Ray and others say the additional water and the bond measure are needed because Central Water relies heavily on leased water from cities to supply its farmers, and, as Front Range cities grow, those cities will lease out less water.

The $60 million in bonds would pay for three of Central Water’s endeavors.

The district is one of 15 water providers looking to take part in the proposed Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project, a $184 million undertaking that would raise the Denver­area lake by as much as 12 feet and provide an additional 2,849 acre­feet of water to Central Water. Central Water officials also are considering the construction of gravel pits for an additional 8,000­9,000 acre­feet of storage, and buying 1,000 acre­feet of senior water rights.

If the bond measure is approved, taxpayers within Central Water’s boundaries would pay an additional $1.13 each month per $100,000 in property value for the next 25 years, Knutson said.

The district recently sent out a survey to about 18,000 residents, which it said showed about 75 percent of respondents favored the bond issue. The district encompasses nearly 20,000 households.

There’s no organized group opposing the project, but some have questioned why they need to pay additional taxes for water they couldn’t personally use.

“To be completely honest, I still don’t know which way I’m going to vote,” said Dave Dechant, a Weld County farmer.

Public meetings on the bond issue held this summer grew heated at times.

In response to those residents, Ray said he hopes they’ll still support the project, since the additional water would go toward strengthening the local agriculture economy, which benefits the entire area. Ray said Central Water also might lease some of the water to residential or other users.

Some who would benefit directly from the additional water also expressed frustration at the meetings because they’ve been paying taxes to the district for several years and have yet to see any additional water. Ray said those previous taxes have paid for the legal and engineering fees that have now given Central rights to 68,000 acre­feet of additional water.

The $60 million bond issue would pay for the infrastructure to finally put some of those water rights to use, Ray explained.

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.

Where do the Presidential candidates stand on funding for infrastructure?

presidentobamatransformerdeckhooverdam092012usbr.jpg

From the Associated Press (Jason Keyser) via The Denver Post:

President Barack Obama has favored stimulus-style infrastructure spending plans, talking up highway, bridge and rail repairs as job creators, and pushed for innovations like high-speed rail and a national infrastructure bank to finance projects with the help of private capital. But Republican opposition to increased spending and taxes has blunted many such plans.

Mitt Romney favors less involvement by the federal government in infrastructure, preferring to let states lead the way. Romney shuns the idea that public-works spending is a good way to jumpstart the economy, saying decisions on worthy projects should be based on need and potential returns. Romney also wants to privatize Amtrak by ending federal subsidies for the money-losing passenger rail system. He’s OK with borrowing to pay for megaprojects if there’s a revenue stream to pay the money back, like tolls or port fees.

More infrastructure coverage here and here.

I’ll be live-blogging the Presidential debate tonight on the Denver Post website

presidentobamatransformerdeckhooverdam092012usbr.jpg

Update: Here’s the link where our posts will show up: http://www.denverpost.com/politics

The Denver Post has recruited bloggers to cover the debate. My sources tell me that there will be a link from the Post home page later today. Please come by while you’re watching the debate.

I believe that the Twitter hashtag for tonight is #denverdebate. You can also check out the hashtag #zingerwatch.

More 2012 Colorado November Election coverage here.

2012 Colorado November election: 3rd District candidates Pace and Tipton square off at the Club 20 summer meeting

Click here to read The Denver Post (Lynn Bartels) recap.

Joe Hanel (@joehanel) — who writes for The Durango Herald — live-Tweeted from the meeting using Twitter hashtag #copolitics.

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.