Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District’s 2017 budget = $1 million

South Platte River Basin via the Colorado Geological Survey
South Platte River Basin via the Colorado Geological Survey

From The Sterling Journal Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District’s executive committee approved the district’s nearly $1 million budget for 2017 Tuesday morning.

At its October meeting the full board authorized the executive committee to move ahead with formal adoption in November after a public hearing. Board Chairman Ken Fritzler briefly adjourned the executive committee meeting Tuesday to hold a public hearing, but there were no public comments. After re-convening, the attending members adopted the budget.

The bottom line of $995,257 includes a beginning fund balance of $250,885, total tax revenue of $244,104, and two grants from the Colorado Water Conservation Board totaling $363,168, which the district will administer. One grant is to help manage the Northeast Colorado Water Cooperative and the other is for the year-long South Platte Storage Study.

The other big chunk of revenue, $146,600, comes from the myriad services LSPWCD provides to water users in the area.

On the expenditure side, the largest portions are personnel costs of $254,450 and a contingency reserve of $215,387. The funds shown on the revenue side for the two CWCB grants also show on the expenditure side, since they are merely pass-through funds.

In other business Tuesday, Manager Joe Frank formally notified the committee that the district has selected MWH Global, formerly Montgomery Watson Harza, headquartered in Broomfield, and Leonard Rice Engineers of Denver as contractors on South Platte river storage survey. The survey is a study of water storage potential in the South Platte River basin. It is the first project in eastern Colorado to result from the Colorado Water Plan that was presented to Gov. John Hickenlooper in November 2015.The study is mandated by HB 16-1266, which is the first legislation to emanate from that water plan.

Frank also told the committee that terms for five seats on the district’s governing board will expire at the end of this year. They include two seats in Logan County, two in Morgan County, and one in Sedgwick County. Board members who want to re-apply for their positions must do so in writing by the end of November.

Questions remain on use of rain barrels — The #Colorado Springs Gazette #coleg

Photo via the Colorado Independent
Photo via the Colorado Independent

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jim Flynn):

At the heart of this [water law] system, and protected by a section of the Colorado Constitution, is a concept called “prior appropriation.” The way this works is that some water users have priority over other water users, with the effect that, in times of scarcity, holders of senior water rights receive their water and holders of junior water rights do not. The seniority of water rights is generally based on a first-to-use-wins concept, meaning the most senior (and therefore the most valuable) water rights go back to the 1800s.

Any upstream activity even remotely threatening to downstream water rights holders is cause for great alarm. This came to light in the 2016 session of the Colorado Legislature when a bill (House Bill 16-1005) was introduced intended to regulate the collection of rainwater in barrels.

What finally emerged, after heated debate, is a new law allowing rainwater running off the rooftop of a residential property containing no more than four dwelling units to be collected in no more than two barrels having a combined storage capacity of no more than 110 gallons. These barrels must have a sealable lid; the water from the barrels can only be used at the property where the water is collected; and it can only be used for outdoor purposes “including irrigation of lawns and gardens.” The water “shall not be used for drinking water or indoor household purposes.” (Whether the water could be used for bathing activities if conducted outdoors is not clear.)

The state engineer, “to the extent practicable within existing resources,” is instructed to provide information on his agency’s website about the permitted and prohibited uses of rain barrels and water collected therein. The state engineer is also given authority to curtail rain barrel usage in situations where it might impair the rights of downstream water users. And the state engineer is required to diligently study whether rain barrel usage is causing injury to holders of downstream water rights and to report back to the Legislature on this issue by no later than March 1, 2019.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also gets into the act. That agency is instructed, “to the extent practicable within existing resources,” to develop “best practices” intended to address nonpotable usage of collected rainwater and issues relating to disease and pest control. When and if such best practices are developed, they are to be posted on the department’s website and on the state engineer’s website. Alternatively, the state engineer’s website can provide a link back to the department’s website.

Finally, knowing the penchant of homeowners living in common-interest ownership communities to fight over almost everything, the Legislature added language to the new law addressing rain barrel usage in these communities. An owners association in a common-interest ownership community cannot prohibit rooftop water collection using rain barrels. The association can, however, “impose reasonable aesthetic requirements that govern the placement or external appearance of a rain barrel.” So, for any of you who have the misfortune of serving on your neighborhood architectural control committee, it’s time to develop design guidelines for rain barrels.

2016 #coleg: Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District will be fiscal agent for water storage survey

South Platte River Basin via Wikipedia
South Platte River Basin via Wikipedia

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The local water district agreed Tuesday to manage the financial aspects of a study of water storage potential on the South Platte River basin. The study is the first project in eastern Colorado to result from the Colorado Water Plan that was presented to Gov. John Hickenlooper in November 2015.

The study is mandated by HB 16-1266, which is the first legislation to emanate from that water plan.

The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District Board of Directors voted Tuesday to allow the district and its staff to act as “fiscal agent” for the $211,168 study, which is to be completed by November 2017. As fiscal agent, the district will assure that the grant money is paid to the appropriate contractors in a timely manner. In return, it will charge a fee of 5 percent, or about $10,500.

The board also got its first look at a revised version of the scope of work for the study. A primary point of discussion Tuesday was just what part of the basin will be studied. Joe Frank, manager for the district, pointed out that while the law authorizing the study specifies that the study is to “Evaluate sites in the Lower South Platte Basin from Greeley to Julesburg,” it also allows for the inclusion of “promising sites in other parts of the Basin.” However, Frank said, it’s doubtful that many promising sites can be found above Greeley because of population density.

“They’re going to have to narrow it down to ten or so sites, because the grant is only so big,” Frank said. “I think they’re going to have to look at the most promising sites between Greeley and Galesburg.”

2016 #coleg: Let it rain (in barrels) in Colorado — The Greeley Tribune

From The Greeley Tribune (Samantha Fox):

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1005 in May, and now it’s up to residents to buy and install rain barrels, as long as limitations are followed.

Most single-family homes and townhomes can use rain barrels to collect water, but homeowners can’t have more than two 55-gallon barrels.

Those who live in residences with homeowners associations shouldn’t buy and install rain barrels right away, though. Like the American flag, an HOA can’t ban the barrels, but it can implement requirements about how they’re used, since the barrels fall under an exterior change. Abby Bearden, office manager and architecture review committee manager for Greeley Community Management, LLC, said rain barrels should be approved prior to installment, that way there are no issues or unforeseen problems.

Once approval is given, rain barrels can be purchased in a number of hardware stores or online. Installation is relatively simple, but TreePeople, a Los Angeles company that disseminates information about rain barrels, said the water catching devices should be installed on a raised surface, attached to a gutter. A downspout will be needed to get downpour directly into the barrel. It’s also important to make sure the barrel is secure, in case of harsh weather.

Once the barrels start collecting rain, the water can’t be used for just anything. The new law allows for outside use on the owner’s property, so watering lawns and plants outside is OK, but greenhouses and indoor uses are not allowed.

Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute, said the barrels should be cleared about once a week during the summer, and should be disconnected during the winter.

It shouldn’t take too many storms before there is plenty of water gathered to use on lawns and gardens, Waskom said.

Waskom said he doesn’t anticipate too many people running out and buying rain barrels, but he said in other states, about 10 percent of the population actually uses them. That figure shouldn’t be enough to hurt water right owners, which is a big reason why the controversial legalization of rain barrels was finally approved.

The way Colorado’s water law works is similar to a first-come, first-serve model. It’s called prior appropriation. The first person to take and use the water for an agricultural, industrial or household reason got the first rights to that water. These are called senior water rights. Those who secured water rights later can use what was remaining after the senior water user took what they were allotted. These are called junior water rights.

There was concern that rain barrels can prevent runoff into the water sources people have rights to, which would hurt the non-senior holders first, but Colorado State University conducted a study that showed rain barrels shouldn’t hurt the water supply.

Not everyone was convinced, like Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling. He said the bill didn’t do enough to guarantee rain barrel users would be responsible in case their use of rain barrels does hurt in senior water rights holders. He was one of three legislators to vote against the bill.

There is a provision in case there is a loss of water due to rain barrels, though. It was written into the bill that there can be a reexamination of regulation if there wasn’t enough runoff water getting to water sources.

“If everyone were to (buy barrels) there are the checks and balances in there so somebody can go back there and look on a regular basis to see if there is, indeed, an impact,” said Northern Water’s Brain Werner in May.

2016 #coleg: Rain barrels in #Colorado – what you need to know — The Colorado Independent

Governor Hickenlooper signed a rain barrel at the HB16-1005 bill signing ceremony. Photo via @jessica_goad and Twitter.
Governor Hickenlooper signed a rain barrel at the HB16-1005 bill signing ceremony. Photo via @jessica_goad and Twitter.

From The Colorado Independent (Marianne Goodland):

Are you ready for rain barrels?

Next Wednesday, August 10 is the first day that most Colorado residents can legally collect rainwater off their roofs into rain barrels.

Mother Nature doesn’t seem to have taken much note of it – the weather forecast for much of the state calls for hot and sunny weather without a hint of rain.

It’s taken years for this state to get there. Colorado is a “first-in-time, first-in-line” state, which means that the person who claimed the water rights first gets to use what they need, and everyone else gets what’s left. Farmers, ranchers and other water users believe that right extends to even the rain that falls from the skies, because that water drips off roofs, onto the ground and eventually into streams, rivers and underground natural storage, known as aquifers.

After a prolonged debate, water-rights holders agreed to accept the legalization of rain barrels, as long as the law acknowledged senior water rights, and the state committed to rmonitoring rain-barrel usage.

The law says you can have up to two 55-gallon rain barrels. The rain barrel must be sealable to prevent mosquitoes from setting up shop. You can only use rainwater for “outdoor purposes,” such as watering your lawn or garden. The rain barrel must be used for collecting rainwater through a downspout that comes off your roof. Rainwater can be used only on your own property, not your neighbor’s.

You can get rain barrels at Home Depot, or online through a number of stores, such as Lowe’s, Amazon, Ace Hardware or through garden stores. BlueBarrel systems offers a recycled rain barrel option. A group called Tree People demonstrates how to install a rain barrel — something you might want to look at before deciding if a rain barrel is for you.

So, how can you use your collected rainwater?

Washing your car? Sure! Washing your neighbor’s car? Only if your neighbor moves it to your property for washing. Theresa Conley of Conservation Colorado points out that you might have some issues with water pressure.

Washing your outdoor windows or siding? Sure!

Putting water in your dog’s outdoor water bowl? Or maybe putting it in your livestock trough? Maybe not. The law says rainwater isn’t to be used for drinking, although that’s generally viewed as a human consumption issue, not animal.

Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University, said there were rainwater bills passed in 2009 that allowed rain barrels for homeowners with domestic well permits, for home use only. Those laws were viewed as not applying to livestock. “The only way you could allow your horse to drink rainwater is if the horse could reach through your window to the sink,” he quipped.

Then there’s the “ick” factor. As Waskom sees it, “if you don’t lick your roof, don’t put it in your mouth.” Meaning, rainwater that comes off a roof isn’t treated and isn’t safe for consumption. Think bird or insect droppings and older roofs with deteriorating shingles that are losing gravel, tar or other bits of debris.

Ick.

One more thing: Rain barrels will be legal for another portion of Colorado residents – but not for everyone. The law applies to people living in single-family residences or a “multi-family residence of four or fewer units.” According to Conley of Conservation Colorado, the law does not allow rain barrels to be used by schools or for homeowners’ associations that have more than four homes connected by a common wall (think townhouses, or townhouse-style condos, which are common throughout the metro area). That said, HOAs can’t ban rain barrels for single-family homes and townhomes with four or fewer units, says Molly Foley-Healy of the Colorado Homeowners Association, which does legal work on behalf of HOAs. An HOA can impose requirements on what the rain barrel looks like and how it’s placed on the downspout, according to Conley, who helped draft the bill.

Top ten ways you can use rainwater

10. Washing your car;
9. Filling your outdoor koi pond;
8. As water for a slip-and-slide, probably okay;
7. Dust suppression – you could use it to water off the dust on your porches and patios;
6. Filling birdbaths;
5. Washing your dog, as long as you do it outdoors;
4. Cleaning outdoor equipment, such as gardening tools;
3. Using it to put out small fires, like in a fire pit. A reminder, though, fire pits are NOT legal in Denver, although they are legal in other counties;
2. Watering your outdoor garden. CSU Extension Service says 110 gallons, the maximum amount that can be collected in two rain barrels, would provide enough water for about 180 square feet, roughly the size of a 15-foot x 15-foot garden. Waskom says you could also water your indoor plants, if you take them outside to do it;
1. Water your lawn or outdoor landscaping. That’s the heart and intent of the new law – to allow Coloradans to water lawns and gardens.

Top ten ways you can’t or shouldn’t use rainwater.

10. Filling your hot tub. Probably not so good for your hot tub’s filtration system, especially if you have an older roof;
9. Filling your kids’ wading pool;
8. Indoor washing – dishes, laundry, yourself or your pets;
7. Cooking;
6. Drinking;
5. Filling the water tanks in your camper or RV, or flushing out the water lines;
4. Bobbing for apples;
3. Filling up your beer buckets for BBQs or other parties;
2. Water balloons for outdoor water fights, squirt guns and other outdoor water toys. Again, kind of an “ick” issue;
1. “Home-Alone”-style stunts, where you could set up a bucket of water on a railing in order for it to fall on somebody. (Yes, someone actually suggested that.)

There will be eyes on Colorado’s new rain barrel law: the state water engineer (yes, we have that) is is required to be involved in the new law. Their biggest job for the August 10 roll-out, according to Deputy Engineer Kevin Rein, was setting up guidelines for rain barrel use, which is now on the Division of Water Resources website.
Under the new law, the state engineer has to determine whether allowing rain barrels has caused injury to those with the first-in-line water claims.

It won’t be easy, according to Rein. The division is currently monitoring a pilot project on rain barrels near Sterling Ranch in Littleton; otherwise, they’re likely to find out about injuries to water users through complaints and other data. “It’s information we’ll pick up,” he told The Colorado Independent Monday. “If someone believes they have been harmed by rain barrel use, we’re counting on them to let us know.”

Even then, Rein said, it will likely be difficult to measure. Rainstorms generate a small amount of runoff from roofs and downspouts, he said, and much will depend on the magnitude of a storm.

If there’s any harm to water users, it’s most likely to come out when the state engineer updates the legislature, but that won’t happen until 2019. The state engineer does have the ability to curtail use of rain barrels if such harm is discovered.

The bottom line on rain barrels: Using two rain barrels to water your garden could save up to 1,200 gallons per year. And Conservation Colorado says it’s a great way to connect to the state’s water supply, because using a rain barrel tunes you into Colorado’s natural rain cycles.

2016 #coleg: Rain barrels soon legal in #Colorado — The Colorado Springs Gazette

Photo from the Colorado Independent.
Photo from the Colorado Independent.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Joan Nusbaum):

With the approach of legal use of rainwater collection on August 10th, Colorado residents are asking a lot of questions. Before you try reading the actual legislation, we’ll cover some of the basics.

New laws allow for the collection and storage of rainwater for use on the property from which it is collected. Specifically, this water is to be used for outdoor purposes, including the watering of lawns, plants and/or outdoor gardens. It excludes human consumption, filling hot tubs, and providing water for animals, along with a few other uses.

Two laws were enacted which establish allowances for the limited collection of rainwater from rooftops of residential dwellings. It’s important to follow the restrictions before you use rain barrels legally in Colorado. These two laws are HB16-1005, which speaks to the city homeowner, and SB09-080, which applies to the rural resident that qualifies for exempt wells. More information about these laws can be found in the publication http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/natural-resources/rainwater-collection-colorado-6-707/.