Southeastern water district approves $30 million budget — @ChieftainNews

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District
Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

From Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District via The Pueblo Chieftain:

A $30 million budget was approved Thursday by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board of directors.

The budget is the largest in the history of the district because it reflects spending $12 million in the first phase of a hydropower project at Pueblo Dam. The board is scheduled to consider approval of that project at a special meeting later this month.

“This is an exciting time for the district, with many new opportunities coming to fruition after years of effort by the district board and staff,” said Jim Broderick, executive director. “Every day we are coming closer to fulfilling the vision of those who came before us almost 60 years ago when the district was formed.”

The hydropower project now includes the district and Colorado Springs. The Pueblo Board of Water Works pulled out as partners last month, because it would realize few benefits from the project. When completed, the $20 million project will generate 7.5 megawatts of electric power and become a source of revenue for the district’s Water Activity Enterprise.

The budget’s other large-ticket items include repayment of federal funds for construction of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, $7 million, and Fountain Valley Conduit, $5.8 million.

About $24 million is still owed for construction of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which began in 1965. The project includes Ruedi Reservoir, a collection system in the Hunter Creek-Fryingpan River watersheds, the 5.4-mile Boustead Tunnel that brings water across the Continental Divide, Turquoise Lake, the Mount Elbert Forebay and Power Plant, Twin Lakes and Pueblo Reservoir.

The Fry-Ark debt is repaid through a 0.9-mill property tax in the nine-county area covered by the district.

The Fountain Valley Conduit serves Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security, Stratmoor Hills and Widefield, which pay a special property tax.

The operating fund of the district will be $2.3 million, and is funded by a 0.03 mill levy and transfers from the Enterprise fund. The Enterprise operating fund will be $1.8 million, and is mostly funded by fees and surcharges on water activities.

Other than hydropower, the Enterprise will administer excess-capacity storage contracts for district participants for the first time in 2017. The Enterprise also expects the federal feasibility study for the Arkansas Valley Conduit and an interconnection of the north and south outlets on Pueblo Dam to be completed later in 2017. The feasibility study is the final step that must be taken before construction begins.

@USBR Releases Water Markets Report

watermarketsreportusbr122016

Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth/Martin Doyle):

The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation released a report this week reviewing the role of Reclamation in water markets. For decades, water users in the West have used many different approaches to address water needs particular to their location. In some instances, these approaches have created market conditions in which buyers and sellers voluntarily trade water rights. Such water market transactions can often involve Reclamation facilities.

This new report, “Water marketing activities within the Bureau of Reclamation,” highlights the ways Reclamation has partnered with water users to enable such transactions. The report reviews a series of case studies which illustrate a tremendous amount of locally-led innovation. The cases also illustrate how locally-led transactions have created collaborations and programs that enable greater flexibility in the use of project water or facilities.

Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López said, “States and local water users are quietly solving water resource challenges in the West through market-based agreements. This report will help us identify ways that Reclamation can enable and support continued innovation in the face of increasing pressures on scarce water supplies.”

Reclamation is continuing its role in supporting locally led water markets through a new grant program. Starting in Fiscal Year 2017, the WaterSMART grant program will provide grants to conduct planning activities to develop water marketing strategies to establish or expand water markets and water marketing transactions. Reclamation will make available $3 million for this program. This new funding opportunity is expected to be posted in February 2017.

Going forward, Reclamation will continue to work with states and local water users to promote innovation through water markets in order to provide flexibility, promote conservation and stretch scarce water supplies.

#ColoradoRiver: Inside the Glen Canyon Dam during a high-flow experiment #COriver — #Arizona Daily Sun

The generator building of Glen Canyon hydro power plant in Arizona via Wikimedia.
The generator building of Glen Canyon hydro power plant in Arizona via Wikimedia.

From The Arizona Daily Sun (Taylor Hartman):

In an attempt to restore some natural flow to the Colorado River, high flow experiments are conducted from Glen Canyon Dam. Taking tips from Mother Nature, these experiments mimic natural floods that occurred before the construction of the dam. On Monday, November 7, one such experiment began, freeing a large quantity of water from Lake Powell reservoir over the span of five days.

During the controlled flood, the view from the steel bridge changes: the awakened Colorado River thrashes in the canyon below. Water flows through the hydroelectric generators and erupts from four river outlet tubes, with its roar reverberating off the canyon walls and mist sparkling under the warm November sun. Dazzling white due to immense pressure, 36,000 cubic feet of water bursts from the dam every second. This peak flow is four to six times greater than usual discharge, and lasted for 92 hours.

While the bridge offers an incredible view of the dam, canyon, river and reservoir, tours bring visitors inside the dam daily. From within the cold walls of the dam, the sound of rushing water is accompanied by the rhythm of generators turning at 150 rounds per minute. During the experiment, these generators still produce hydroelectric power, but less than usual. The Bureau of Reclamation says that all power demands will still be met.

The ground floor of the dam tour is at river level, and the 710-foot dam is even more impressive when viewed from the bottom. At this level, the sound of water overpowers all other noise, and wild emerald waves crash against concrete and sandstone. As floodwaters leave the dam and travel through Grand Canyon, sediment is picked up from tributary rivers and suspended in the tumultuous flow. The experiment is timed to follow an influx of sand from the Paria River, enabling the flood to redistribute it throughout the river corridor.

Downstream, the river corridor is cleansed: low vegetation is ripped from riverbanks, beaches are submerged, and sand is suspended and deposited. The flood affects campers and rafters through Grand Canyon. People recreating near or on the Colorado River were encouraged to be on alert, camp on high, stable beaches, and practice leave-no-trace ethics. On the other side of the dam, water level at Lake Powell has dropped more than three feet.

This flood is the latest release in a series of high flow experiments since 1996. Controlled floods have the potential to enlarge sandbars and beaches downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, which could provide ecological and recreational benefits. These benefits include: improving the habitat of native fish such as the endangered humpback chub, reducing erosion of archaeological sites, restoring vegetation, and increasing the size of beaches.

As the flood ramps down, the river returns to its usual controlled flow condition. The promising white blast from the outlet tubes subsides, and the buzzing of the generators recaptures the soundscape at Glen Canyon Dam. Scientists will continue to monitor Colorado River conditions in order to understand how this flow affects downstream ecosystem and resources, and to plan future floods. The Bureau of Reclamation says that the occurrence and intensity of future high flow experiments will depend on weather, sediment influx from tributaries, and other resource conditions.

November 2012 High Flow Experiment via Protect the Flows
November 2012 High Flow Experiment via Protect the Flows

#ColoradoRiver Compact Commission in Santa Fe, November 24, 1922 — @USBR #COriver

On this day in 1922, Federal and State representatives met for the Colorado River Compact Commission in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Among the attendees were Arthur P. Davis, Director of Reclamation Service, and Herbert Hoover, who at the time, was the Secretary of Commerce. Photo taken November 24, 1922. USBR photo.
On this day in 1922, Federal and State representatives met for the Colorado River Compact Commission in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Among the attendees were Arthur P. Davis, Director of Reclamation Service, and Herbert Hoover, who at the time, was the Secretary of Commerce. Photo taken November 24, 1922. USBR photo.

From Wikipedia:

History

The compact was the fruit of several years of negotiations among the states. The seven states had previously formed the League of the Southwest in 1917 to promote development along the river. In 1921, Congress authorized the states to enter into a compact for allocation of the river resources. The agreement was approved by Congress in 1922, the same year it was signed. Colorado River Compact was signed by the delegates from the seven Colorado River Basin states: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico were designated Upper Basin states and California, Arizona and Nevada as the Lower Basin states. This compact determined that the water would be shared equally among the upper and lower basin states. Prior to the compact, the name of the river was standardized along its length. Previously the portion of the river upstream from its confluence with the Green River had been known locally as the “Grand River”. The change was opposed by many local residents in Utah and Colorado, and the new name was enforced locally by acts of the state legislatures in both states in the early 1920s. One of the major concerns both today and back in the 1920’s was the expanding population, and this increased the demand for water, particularly in California. In more recent years, mainly because of Las Vegas, Nevada has been looking for more use of the Colorado River.

Arizona Navy photo via California State University
Arizona Navy photo via California State University

In 1934, Arizona, unhappy with California’s decision to dam and divert the river, called out the National Guard and even commissioned a two boat “navy.” The matter was eventually settled in court.

The agreement was controversial even at the time, however. Arizona, for example, was dissatisfied with the lower basin allotment and refused to ratify the agreement until 1944.[7] The specific allotments were disputed by Arizona until the United States Supreme Court upheld the amount in the 1963 decision in Arizona v. California. The agreement ended many years of dispute, clearing the way for the Central Arizona Project, authorized by Congress in 1968.

Delph Carpenter's 1922 Colorado River Basin map with Lake Mead and Lake Powell
Delph Carpenter’s 1922 Colorado River Basin map with Lake Mead and Lake Powell

The @USBR Releases Two WaterSMART Grants Funding Opportunities for Water Conservation and Energy Efficiency Projects

Photo via the State of Idaho.
Photo via the State of Idaho.

Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation released two WaterSMART Grants funding opportunities including the water and energy efficiency grants funding opportunity and the new small-scale water efficiency projects funding opportunity. These two funding opportunities will help move the West towards resilience in the face of drought and ongoing imbalances between water supply and demand.

The new small-scale water efficiency projects funding opportunity is for small improvements that have been identified through previous planning efforts. Projects eligible for funding include installation of flow measurement or automation in a specific part of a water delivery system, lining of a section of a canal to address seepage, small rebate programs that result in reduced residential water use, or other similar projects that are limited in scope. These projects are eligible to receive up to $75,000 in federal funding. For this funding opportunity, Reclamation has developed a streamlined selection and review process to reflect the small-scale nature of these projects.

Previously, small-scale water efficiency projects were funded through Reclamation’s Water Conservation Field Services Program, which beginning this year will focus on planning and design activities to help lay the groundwork for future improvements. Proposals for this new category of WaterSMART Grants will be accepted, evaluated and selected on a rolling basis with the final application submission deadline on April 27, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. MDT. This funding opportunity is available at http://www.grants.gov by searching for funding opportunity BOR-DO-17-F011.

Water and energy efficiency grants focus on larger scale projects that result in quantifiable and sustained water savings and that may have several components intended to address a significant water management concern. Projects include canal lining and piping, more comprehensive installation of irrigation flow measurement or canal automation improvements, installation of water meters and other similar projects. Projects may also include components that increase renewable energy use and improve energy efficiency, and projects that result in instream flows for endangered species and other fish and wildlife or support water sustainability in other ways.

Applications may be submitted to one of two funding groups:

  • Funding Group I: Up to $300,000 will be available for smaller projects that may take up to two years to complete.
  • Funding Group II: Up to $1,000,000 will be available for larger, phased projects that will take up to three years to complete. No more than $500,000 in federal funds will be provided within a given year to complete each phase.
  • Proposals must be submitted by January 18, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. MST. The funding opportunity is available at http://www.grants.gov by searching for funding opportunity number BOR-DO-17-F012.

    Those eligible to apply for both grants are states, tribes, irrigation districts, water districts or other organizations with water or power delivery authority located in the western United States or United States territories as identified in the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902. Another WaterSMART Grants funding opportunity, for water marketing activities, is expected to be released this winter.

    WaterSMART aims to improve water conservation and sustainability, helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. The program identifies strategies to ensure this generation and future ones will have sufficient amounts of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health. The program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands. To learn more, please visit http://www.usbr.gov/watersmart.

    @USBR Releases Funding Opportunities for #Drought Contingency Planning and Drought Resiliency Projects

    US Drought Monitor November 8, 2016.
    US Drought Monitor November 8, 2016.

    Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation:

    Two funding opportunities are now available from the Bureau of Reclamation for entities to develop drought contingency plans and build long-term solutions to drought. These two funding opportunities are part of Reclamation’s Drought Response Program.

    The drought contingency planning funding opportunity is for applicants to request up to $200,000 to develop a new drought plan or to update an existing drought plan. Applicants may also request technical assistance from Reclamation for the development of elements of the Drought Contingency Plan. States, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, and other organizations with water or power delivery authority located in the 17 Western United States and Hawaii are eligible for this funding opportunity. It is available at http://www.grants.gov by searching for funding opportunity number BOR-DO-17-F009.

    The drought resiliency projects funding opportunity is for projects that will increase the reliability of water supply; improve water management; implement systems to facilitate the voluntary sale, transfer, or exchange of water; and provide benefits for fish, wildlife, and the environment to mitigate impacts caused by drought.

    Applications may be submitted under one of two funding groups for resiliency projects:

  • Funding Group I: up to $300,000 for projects that can be completed within two years
  • Funding Group II: up to $750,000 for larger projects that can be completed within three years.
  • For drought resiliency projects, states, tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, and other organizations with water or power delivery authority in the 17 Western United States or United States Territories as identified in the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902, are invited to leverage their resources by cost sharing with Reclamation. Applicants must also provide a 50 percent non-Federal cost-share. It is available at http://www.grants.gov by searching for funding opportunity number BOR-DO-17-F010.

    The fiscal year 2017 budget request includes $4 million for the Drought Response Program. Applications are due on February 14, 2017, by 4 p.m. MST as indicated in the funding opportunities.

    For more than 100 years, Reclamation and its partners have worked to develop a sustainable water and power future for the West. This program is part of the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART Program, which focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability, while helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use.

    To find out more information about Reclamation’s WaterSMART program, visit http://www.usbr.gov/watersmart, or visit the Drought Response Program at http://www.usbr.gov/drought.

    Flatiron Reservoir, Marys Lake and Lake Estes drawn down for work — Loveland Reporter-Herald

    Colorado-Big Thompson Project east slope facilities
    Colorado-Big Thompson Project east slope facilities

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald:

    Starting Oct. 27, officials from the Bureau of Reclamation turned off the water diversion tunnel from the West Slope to the Colorado-Big Thompson Project that feeds many of the lakes and reservoirs in Larimer County. The reservoir levels have also been lowered through the release of water to storage downstream.

    According to a news release from the agency, the shutdown has allowed for the inspection of dams at Marys Lake and Lake Estes near Estes Park, and Flatiron Reservoir west of Loveland.

    While the reservoirs are at low levels, crews are also looking at the power generation facilities at the Marys and Pole Hill power plants and the Charles Hansen Feeder Canal.

    According to agency officials, the work will continue on the reservoirs and facilities throughout November, with water diversions through the Adams Tunnel from the Western Slope slated to resume in mid-December.