Jerry Forte announces retirement from @CSUtilities

Southern Delivery System map via Colorado Springs Utilities

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Conrad Swanson):

Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte, who oversaw the massive expansion of the city’s water supply and the decision to eventually shutter the downtown, coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant, will retire at the end of May.

Forte, 63, who was earning nearly $450,000 this year, said he told the Utilities board of his plans Wednesday in an executive session.

“It’s something that we’ve worked on, we developed a transition plan and it was just a matter of when the time is right,” Forte said. “And for me, I think the time is just right.”

A Colorado Springs native, Forte was with the municipal utility since 2002. He was the chief operating officer his first four years with Utilities before being promoted to chief executive officer in 2006.

@Ogallala_water: Ogallala Aquifer Summit April 9-10, 2018

High Plains aquifer water-level changes, predevelopment (about 1950) to 2015. Figure 1 from USGS SIR 2017-5040.(Public domain.)

Click here for all the inside skinny and to register.

La Junta: 24th Annual Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, ​April 11 & 12, 2018

The ditch that moves water from Lost Man Reservoir to Grizzly Reservoir and then under the Divide to the South Fork of Lake Creek and the Arkansas River.

Click here for all the inside skinny and to register. From the website:

Each year the Forum Board of Directors recruits a new host community within the Basin to help plan the Forum. This tradition ensures that the Forum broadens relationships throughout the Arkansas Basin, which is spatially the largest river basin in Colorado covering 27% of the State’s area (28,268 sq. mi.). Our goal has been to have the location of the Forum move annually within the Basin.

Cañon City scores $350,000 from GOCO for river corridor projects

Cañon City photo credit DowntownCañ

From The Cañon City Daily Record:

The Great Outdoors Colorado board on Thursday awarded a $350,000 grant to Cañon City to make improvements along the Arkansas River near Centennial Park. The project was one of 14 selected for funding from a pool of 59, with funding requested more than triple what was available.

With the help this GOCO Local Park and Outdoor Recreation grant, Cañon City will make a variety of updates to enhance the experience of residents and visitors when recreating along the Arkansas River. The city will build an outdoor classroom along the river, update the existing Centennial Park play wave and construct a new “Ice House” play wave, designate an in-river play area for children, improve the existing boat take-out ramp, and add a gate system for competitive slalom paddlers.

In-river elements, such as well-placed boulders and jetties, will not only allow river enthusiasts to practice boating skills but will also create new fish habitat. The project will also expand access to water sports for area residents. The new park additions create safe opportunities for everyone to get involved, whether it be tubing, whitewater rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, or just playing in the river. Offering new experiences on the river could also lure new visitors in, helping support the local economy.

Construction on the project is set to begin in October and wrap up in the spring, making the new additions ready for public use in summer 2019. To date, GOCO has invested $4.8 million in Fremont County projects, including the Rouse Park Pickleball courts, Harrison Park improvements, Coal Creek Community Park development, and others.

#Colorado Springs water currently in storage = 3 years of production

Colorado Springs with the Front Range in background. Photo credit Wikipedia.

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

Colorado Springs Utilities says that despite the dry weather of late, its water storage system is at 80 percent capacity, which translates to three years worth of water.

That’s pretty amazing, considering the city doesn’t sit anywhere near a major river, but rather relies on snowpack on Pikes Peak and transmountain water sources.

Here’s a report from Water Resources Manager Abby Ortega, sent to the Independent in an email:

• In June 2015 our storage was at 95 percent of capacity and last year our storage peaked at 93 percent of capacity. It is fairly typical for storage to fluctuate between 15 and 20 percent.

• Our water system storage is above average capacity despite dry conditions locally.

We are always planning for the future to meet our customers’ demand.
We currently have three years of demand in storage.

We are monitoring streamflow, demand and storage to maximize the available water supply.

While an average or better snowpack is always ideal, our system will withstand the current projected drier conditions without any impact to our customers this year.

Our system-wide storage is currently at about 80 percent of capacity.

The Drought Monitor shows areas with dry conditions have continued to increase across Colorado; however, due to our thoughtful planning, we do not anticipate mandatory water restrictions this year.

This year the biggest threat to our water supply is wildland fire. Springs Utilities’ has a volunteer wildland fire team representing all four services, to protect utilities property (pipes, equipment, watershed/reservoirs, etc.).

Please use water wisely. (Officially, the Water Shortage Ordinance is set at Stage 1 Voluntary Restrictions).

March and April are the most critical months for winter watering as this is when new roots are forming in your landscape. Water a couple of times this month and next on days 40 degrees or warmer.

Colorado Legacy Land taking over at Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill

From The Canon City Daily Record (Sarah Rose):

The Cotter Corp. owned the non-operating uranium mill property south of Cañon City for decades before it was sold Friday to Colorado Legacy Land. The [Ralston Creek near Golden] Schwartzwalder Mine also was sold to the company.

Colorado’s State Radiation Program, which is part of Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment, is an agency that reviewed and approved the Radioactive Materials License transfer.

“… The review evaluated Colorado Legacy Land’s decommissioning funding plan and technical qualifications for site remediation, reclamation and closure, as well as routine site maintenance, radiation safety, and occupational and environmental monitoring,” stated a press release from the CDPHE. “The review determined that Colorado Legacy Land and the proposed key personnel are technically qualified to manage the Cotter mill site closure and the radioactive materials license.”

Colorado Legacy Land is a partnership between Colorado Legacy Land Stewardship and Alexco Environmental Group. Colorado Legacy Land was set up to clean the Lincoln Park Superfund Site and the Schwartzwalder Mine, said Eric Williams, president of Colorado Legacy Land Stewardship.

“Alexco Environmental Group is very good at cleaning up contaminated properties around the country but particularly good with mining companies in Colorado,” Williams said, adding that Alexco helped to clean up the Gold King Mine site, which caused the Animas River to be contaminated with mining waste in 2015. “Colorado Legacy Land is a public benefit corporation. Part of our mission is to clean up contaminated properties, as well as putting those back into some productive use, typically going toward eco-friendly uses, like renewable energy or open space recreation, those kinds of things. The directors of Colorado Legacy Land have close to 100 years of experience in dealing with environmental cleanup sites and putting properties back into productive use.”

Colorado Legacy Land first expressed interest in the Lincoln Park Superfund site about a year ago.

“The process in purchasing it took a long time,” Williams said. “This was a very complex transaction because of the regulatory side of things.”

Williams said Colorado Legacy Land will “start immediately” on the cleanup process.

“We are already very much up to speed with the environmental conditions,” Williams said. “Our focus in the immediate short-term is to work with the Community Advisory Board and the regulators to continue the process of planning and the cleanup of the properties.”

Steve Cohen, who was Cotter’s mill manager for the Lincoln Park site, will continue to be the mill manager under the new management.

Cohen said many employees who worked for Cotter will stay at the mill. Cohen said there were some layoffs at the property but didn’t specify how many.

The CAG invites the public to attend its monthly meeting, where members and representatives of agencies overseeing the cleanup, discuss what’s occurring at the Lincoln Park Superfund site. The next meeting will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Fremont County Administration Building, 615 Macon Ave. Meetings are scheduled every third Thursday of the month.

Prowers County Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Hixson Farms

From The Prowers Journal (Betty Civis):

The Prowers County Conservation District held their annual meeting Wednesday, March 7th at the Elks Lodge in Lamar.

Conservation Poster winners were announced and the posters were on display. The theme this year was “The Soil is Alive”.

The Prowers County Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Hixson Farms for their work in controlling land erosion from winds. The award was presented by Steve Shelton and he commented on the fact that all the conservation work that was done by the Hixsons was without government money.

Michael Weber, Staff Engineer, for Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, briefly talked about Fountain Creek and solutions for controlling flooding and the impact on the Arkansas River. He also explained the different accounts that have water stored in John Martin Dam and an additional account that is for future expansion. His third topic involved possible improvements to Adobe Creek including increased water retention.

Water quality in the Arkansas River Basin from John Martin to the State Line was covered in a presentation by Blake Osborn, Water Resource Specialist from Colorado State University. The higher than average levels of Selenium, Uranium, Sulfates, Arsenic and Salt in the Arkansas River Basin are causing concern. Some of the concentration in the water occurs naturally from the underlying rock and soil and some is from the run-off of irrigation and rain water. Blake Osborn, Water Resource Specialist from Colorado State University is preparing a study and ideas to alleviate some of the problem.