Cherry Creek State Park algal blooms — @COParksWildlife

Cherry Creek State Park. Vic Schendel Spring Summer 2017 via Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks & Wildlife (Jason Clay):

Cherry Creek State Park is experiencing natural algal blooms that may be harmful to dogs and humans as a result of a number of things including warmer temperatures, stagnant waters, and nutrient loading from fertilized lawns.

The park has closed the swim area due to elevated levels of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) growth. The swim area will remain closed until tests provide acceptable conditions to re-open. Blue-green algae has been detected in other areas of the park and caution signs have been placed in visible areas throughout the lake. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recommends the following:

  • Keep kids out
  • No pets in water
  • Do not drink water
  • Avoid contact with algae
  • For more information on blue-green algae, please click here.

    The Dog-Off-Leash-Area stream has been tested and no visible signs of the algae have been observed.

    For more information on conditions at Cherry Creek State Park, please click here.

    DWR job opportunity: District 8 Lead Water Commissioner (EPSTII)

    Click here to view the announcement from the State of Colorado website:

    Description of Job
    This Water Commissioner position exists to ascertain available water supply and distribute, control and regulate the waters in Division 1 Water District 8, including portions of the South Platte River, Cherry Creek, Plum Creek and tributaries, on a daily basis pursuant to water decrees, state statutes, and substitute water supply plans. Additionally, under the direction of the Division Engineer, this position exists to record and compile permanent records of water diversions and use; disseminate and explain information pertaining to water availability and use to the public;; monitor dams for unsafe conditions,; investigate new water rights and change of use applications for potential injury to existing water rights; coordination and administration of transmountain diversions; administration of water rights that include large municipal, industrial and irrigation water users; coordination and administration of several reservoirs including Cherry Creek Reservoir and Rueter-Hess Reservoir, storage and releases; administration of daily exchanges; administration of numerous augmentation plans; and to serve as a guide and authority to water users. This position requires knowledge of the different types of water rights and the ability to disseminate this information as may be required. This position also reviews, creates and operates computerized spreadsheets and databases. Must be knowledgeable of water distribution and regulation, general understanding of Colorado Water Law, Division 1 accounting principles and basic dam safety inspection procedures and techniquest.

    @OmahaUSACE: Annual sediment flushing exercise scheduled at Cherry Creek Reservoir

    Release at Cherry Creek dam during a low flush year. (Photo by USACE)

    Here’s the release from the US Army Corps of Engineers Omaha office (Katie Seefus):

    The annual sediment flushing exercise will be conducted at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.

    Katie Seefus, water manager in the Corps’ Omaha District office, says the exercise involves high releases from each of the five main outlet gates at Cherry Creek Dam, located south of Interstate 225 in Aurora, Colo. “When the gates are opened, the high velocity of the water leaving the reservoir scours the area immediately upstream of the gates and transports sediment with the flow,” said Seefus. This sediment flush is required to allow proper operation of the outlet gates.

    Cherry Creek Dam will begin releasing 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23. The actual flushing exercise will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 11:10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 24 when the release will be set back to normal levels. The travel time from Cherry Creek Dam to the streamgage located at the Champa Street Bridge, is about 6 hours. The following table shows a schedule of the planned releases:

    Omaha District Commander Col. John Henderson asks the public to be aware that the high flows will take some time to reach the downtown channel, and flows from the last gate opened will not reach the downtown channel until late afternoon on Wednesday. The high flows will cause higher than normal creek stages and potential flooding of bike paths and stream crossings. “In the interest of public safety, I urge the public not to attempt to cross the stream during this event,” says Henderson.

    2017 River Sweep recap — The Greenway Foundation

    Photo credit The Greenway Foundation.

    Here’s the release from The Greenway Foundation:

    Volunteers donated over 1,000 hours to 6 parks along the South Platte River. We were able to spread over 70 yards mulch to protect existing trees and plants. Volunteers collected 20 cubic yards of pant debris and 10 cubic yards of trash. Originateve, another local non-profit, sorted through the collected trash and sorted out 400 gallons of recyclable materials!

    Over 30 families joined The Greenway Foundation SPREE Education team for the Publication Printers Family Event at City of Cuernavaca Park. We started the morning with a trash clean up along the South Platte River and removed invasive plants under the guidance of Arborforce staff. Families then came up to the pavilion for lawn games and fun guided nature crafts. We made butterflies out of coffee filters, clay stamps using natural materials, planted seeds, and drew with chalk. Thanks again to everyone who helped us clean up this beautiful park!

    The Greenway Leadership Corp (GLC) team picked up trash along the road and river in City of Cuernavaca Park. We had a great crew helping clean up the park, with a bunch of new faces and some familiar ones as well! We all spent a couple of hours diligently removing trash, and then some of us hung around to eat food and try our hand at giant Jenga.

    Check out the pictures from both events!

    Final decision made for Cherry Creek Dam Water Control Plan Modification Study

    Cherry Creek Dam looking south

    Here’s the release from the Army Corps of Engineers (Katie Seefus):

    In October 2015, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District began studying modifications to the Cherry Creek Dam Water Control Plan. A water control plan outlines predetermined regulation requirements for federally authorized project purposes.

    Historically, Cherry Creek Dam has been regulated as a system with Bear Creek Dam and Chatfield Dam targeting a maximum flow of 5,000 cfs at the South Platte River at Denver, Colorado streamgage to mitigate flood risk in Denver, Colorado.

    The purpose of the Cherry Creek Dam Water Control Plan Modification Study (WCPMS) was to reduce the potential risk of overtopping and failure of Cherry Creek Dam during extreme flooding events by releasing more water from the dam while limiting exposure to potential downstream damages.

    The Cherry Creek Dam WCPMS analyzed the impacts due to six release alternatives and recommended an alternative that requires Cherry Creek Dam releases of 7,000 cfs if the reservoir reaches elevation 5590 feet Project Datum (PD), which is 24 feet higher than the record pool set in 1973.

    Evacuating flood water from Cherry Creek Reservoir at an accelerated rate reduced the risk of overtopping and failure during an extreme rain event and resulted in minimal incremental downstream damage following single rain events that have limited rainfall downstream of the dam. Some risk of additional downstream damage is possible if releasing during subsequent storm events, however, due to the uncertainty in forecasting a thunderstorm’s intensity, duration, and location, the risk is outweighed by the need to release flood water and reduce the risk of Cherry Creek Dam’s overtopping and failure.

    Public and agency meetings were held in January 2016 and again in September 2016 to collect and discuss comments from agencies and the public. All comments were resolved by December 2016 following a comment extension in November 2016. The environmental analysis resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in March 2017.

    Effective April 2017, the Cherry Creek Dam, Chatfield Dam, and Bear Creek Dam water control plans were modified to reflect a 7,000 cfs release from Cherry Creek Dam if the reservoir reaches elevation 5590 feet. Releases from Chatfield Dam and Bear Creek Dam were not increased in the updated water control plans.

    Background: The Cherry Creek Dam project was authorized in the 1940s for the primary purpose of mitigating flood risk to the downstream city of Denver from floods originating on Cherry Creek above Cherry Creek Dam. Cherry Creek Dam and Reservoir is located on Cherry Creek, 11.4 miles southeast of its confluence with the South Platte River in Aurora, Colo.

    The final Cherry Creek Dam WCPMS report and the updated Cherry Creek Dam, Chatfield Dam, and Bear Creek Dam Water Control Plans are available below:

    http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/Water-Information/Water-Control/Cherry-Creek-WCPM/

    Douglas County to developers: Focus more on a renewable supply

    Denver Basin aquifer map
    Denver Basin aquifer map

    From The Golden Transcript (Jessica Gibbs):

    The county held a late afternoon public workshop on Nov. 14 for proposed changes to the county’s water zoning plan.

    Conversation was diligent and thorough, despite a sparsely attended meeting of six people in addition to county staff.

    The exact portion of the plan under review is Section 18A, which helps determine if a proposed development has an adequate water supply, particularly in terms of quality, quantity and dependability. Douglas County’s Board of Commissioners first adopted 18A in 1998, but it has been revised in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013.

    County experts said the regulations are primarily for new housing developments or properties seeking to rezone for reasons like expansion. Additionally, they mostly pertain to unincorporated Douglas County, as most municipalities or other water districts have their own regulations.

    The main changes in Section 18A were to remove about 15 pages of repetitive sections and more clearly explain if a developer would qualify.

    But staff also has proposed Section 18B, an entirely new set of regulations that will act as an alternative to Section 18A.

    As the resolution stands, developers must meet a water demand standard of .75 acre-feet per residence per year.

    A demand standard is an estimate of how much water a household or development will need, said Kati Rider, a planning resource supervisor with Douglas County.

    An acre-foot is how water is measured. One way to think of it, Rider said, is to imagine it as the equivalent to the amount of water that woud spread across an acre of land at one foot deep.

    However, county staff said, the average household uses closer to .40 or .45 acre-feet. The .75 standard is costly for developers and may require them to source more water than necessary.

    “This revision may matter to residents as it may be a way to encourage new development to utilize renewable water resources, rather than groundwater, in all areas of the county,” Rider said.

    Under 18B, developers could propose higher-density developments if they also promise to use less groundwater, rely on more renewable water sources and prove they can accomplish that goal.

    Not more than 50 percent of the water supply could come from non-renewable sources. Although the overall amount of water use might be greater, the hope is to encourage a more environmental approach.

    If the amendments continue to gain traction, they would pass before the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners for final approval.

    Public comment is accepted at http://www.douglas.co.us through Nov. 23. Information aboutthe amendments may be found through the county’s Project Records Online (PRO) online tool.

    Commissioners will schedule a work session to review the input after public comment closes.

    douglascounty

    @OmahaUSACE: Public meetings scheduled to discuss Cherry Creek Dam studies

    Cherry Creek Dam looking south
    Cherry Creek Dam looking south

    Here’s the release from the US Army Corps of Engineers (Eileen Williamson):

    Three public meetings to provide an update on the status of two studies taking place at Cherry Creek Dam are scheduled for the week of September 20.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host meetings to provide a status update on alternatives under consideration to address risks from extreme storm events associated with Cherry Creek Dam including a study to modify the dam’s water control plan.
    The meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 6 – 8 p.m.
    Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church
    Rooms 112/113 (Main Building)
    10150 E. Belleview Avenue
    Englewood, CO 80111
  • Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    Virginia Village Library
    1500 S. Dahlia Street
    Denver, CO 80222
  • Thursday, Sept. 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    Aurora Municipal Center
    City Café
    15151 E. Alameda Parkway
    Aurora, CO 80012
  • The public meetings will include a presentation and an open house to provide the public an opportunity to ask questions about Cherry Creek Dam and the alternatives being presented and considered as part of the Dam Safety Modification Study and Water Control Plan Modification Study.

    Meeting materials will be made available online following the meetings at http://go.usa.gov/cQ7hP.

    Background: Cherry Creek Dam and Reservoir is located in the southeast Denver metropolitan area on Cherry Creek, 11.4 miles upstream of its confluence with the South Platte River.

    In 2005, (post-Katrina) USACE began screening its dams (approximately 700 across the U.S.) to determine each dam’s risk level. Cherry Creek Dam received an elevated risk rating primarily because of the large downstream population and the potential for overtopping during an extremely rare precipitation event.

    A dam safety modification study began in 2013 and is being conducted in accordance with USACE policy as described in Engineering Regulation 1110-2-1156 “Safety of Dams – Policy and Procedures.” An Environmental Impact Statement is also being prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.

    Urban Water Conservation Through Native Landscaping. A Colorado River Day Webinar — Audubon

    Photo via Audubon (Abby Burke).
    Photo via Audubon (Abby Burke).

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

    You Can Help Rivers: Create Habitat!

    Urban Water Conservation Through Native Landscaping. A Colorado River Day Webinar.
    Thursday, July 21, Noon – 1 p.m. MT
    Register here.

    Co-presented by:
    Abby Burk, Western Rivers Program Lead, Audubon Rockies
    Don Ireland, Habitat Hero Award Winner and Volunteer HOA President, Cherry Creek 3

    Did you know native landscaping can save both significant water and money? When we say significant, we mean it! Find out how a neighborhood in southeast Denver saved 15 million gallons of water and $100,000 annually by transforming to native landscaping and incorporating water efficiency into everyday life.

    The Cherry Creek 3 Homeowner’s Association (HOA) won the 2015 Colorado WaterWise Conservation Award for their efforts! HOA Volunteer President Don Ireland will talk about how he and fellow volunteers led this 251-condo development into a new era of water conservation while simultaneously establishing a new landscaping plan that has attracted many new birds and pollinators into the neighborhood. This HOA, without formal training in water conservation but with a burning desire to “do the right thing,” has been a poster child for water conservation and Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero program around the Front Range and beyond.

    Register for this webinar today.

    You may also be interested in these upcoming webinars from Audubon’s Western Rivers Action Network:

  • Wednesday, July 20, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: Lake Mead Structural Deficit and Why it Matters
    Presented by Kevin Moran, Senior Director of Water Programs, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Wednesday, August 7, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: Diversity and Inclusion in Conservation and Advocacy
    Presented by Chandra Taylor Smith, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, National Audubon Society
  • Wednesday, September 21, 1 – 2 p.m. MT: River Funding and Restoration Efforts
    Presented by Jennifer Pitt, Director – Colorado River Project, National Audubon Society and Scott Deeny, Arizona Water Program Lead, The Nature Conservancy
  • High Line Canal Conservancy Launches New Public Planning Initiative to Re-imagine the 71-Mile Trail Corridor

    Highline Canal Denver
    Highline Canal Denver

    Here’s the release from the High Line Canal Conservancy (Suzanna Jones):

    The High Line Canal Conservancy, which is dedicated to preserving the recreational and environmental future of the High Line Canal, today announced the launch of the High Line Canal public planning initiative. The public planning initiative is part of a large-scale planning program to ensure the well-loved Canal trail reaches its potential as an economic, environmental, recreational and social asset along all of its 71 miles. The goal of the public outreach and visioning phase, called “Adventure on the Canal: Charting our course for the next century,” is to develop a shared vision for the Canal that will guide the future planning process.

    “Today begins a region-wide conversation led by the High Line Canal Conservancy to rehabilitate this beloved corridor into a legacy greenway that unifies and celebrates the distinct communities it intersects,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “This project joins a statewide effort to get people outdoors and connect with the beauty of Colorado.”

    Gov. John Hickenlooper will help kick off the public planning initiative at the High Line Canal and Triple Creek Trail connection ribbon cutting and bike ride in Aurora on Tuesday, May 31 at 12:10 p.m. Following the press conference, the Governor will begin a bike ride along the Canal with local children from Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), assisted by Bicycle Colorado, and continue with a small select group of riders for a portion of the trail. The Governor will have an opportunity to see some of the challenges presenting the Canal currently.

    “The High Line Canal Conservancy is thrilled to work with the Governor and other leaders throughout the region to preserve and transform this outmoded water delivery corridor into a legacy greenway that unifies and celebrates the distinct communities along the High Line Canal,” said Harriet Crittenden LaMair, Executive Director of the High Line Canal Conservancy. “We’re thrilled to have Governor Hickenlooper’s help launching the public outreach phase of this project, asking the public to consider how they view the long-term purpose of the Canal.”

    Following the kickoff event, the Conservancy will launch its summer outreach “Adventure on the High Line Canal,” which will include a series of community open houses, events and other engaging activities in various locations across the region. These gatherings will be interactive, fun opportunities where participants can share the reasons they love the Canal and help write a new chapter for the Canal’s future.

    Each series of community open houses includes 3 identical gatherings in various locations along the Canal’s reach and represents an important chapter in the mission to chart the High Line Canal’s course for the next century. Together, the four series follow the arc of a typical story. Chapter One – “Our Journey Begins” will kick off the week of June 6 at Aurora Central Library, the Lowry Town Center and Goodson Recreation Center. At these introductory open house events, we’ll take a journey together along all 71 miles of the Canal, from the foothills to the plains, and you’ll be able to share your ideas and feedback every step of the way.

    Chapter Two – “A Fork in the Road” will be held the week of July 18 at Expo Recreation Center, Eloise May Library and Eisenhower Recreation Center. This set of community open houses will be the second chapter of the story, bringing residents together to focus on the Canal’s future opportunities and challenges. We’ll explore how each of these ideas could impact the Canal’s narrative in the years to come and ask for your feedback.

    Chapter 3 – “Our Story” will be held the week of September 5 at locations to be set in the future. This third chapter will focus on presenting the initial vision reached by residents, the draft shared vision for the Canal, asking the public to share their feedback and input on the shared vision for the Canal.

    Chapter 4 – “Looking Ahead” will be held the week of October 16 at locations to be set in the future. This fourth set of open houses represents the final chapter, the draft action plan, determined by feedback from the public. It will be focused on implementation and next steps, and will continue to rely on feedback from the public about the final preferred vision for the Canal.

    In addition, online surveys will be available in June and July, providing additional opportunities for input. Visit highlinecanal.org.

    Anyone can participate throughout the launch and subsequent events on social media by following @COHighLineCanal and using the hashtag #71Miles.

    Here’s how to stay updated on High Line Canal project updates:

    The High Line Canal newsletter.

    High Line Canal’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).

    Participate in public meetings: http://highlinecanal.org/community

    Take online surveys, which will be active throughout the summer by visiting http://highlinecanal.org/surveys

    Help us spread the word: Please invite your friends and neighbors to participate too!

    ABOUT THE HIGH LINE CANAL CONSERVANCY

    The High Line Canal Conservancy was formed in 2014 by a passionate coalition of private citizens to provide leadership and harness the region’s commitment to protecting the future of the High Line Canal. With support from each jurisdiction and in partnership with Denver Water, the Conservancy is connecting stakeholders in support of comprehensive planning to ensure that the Canal is protected and enhanced for future generations. For more information, please visit http://www.highlinecanal.org.

    @OmahaUSACE: The annual sediment flushing exercise will be completed at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Wednesday, June 1, 2016

    Cherry Creek Dam looking south
    Cherry Creek Dam looking south

    Here’s the release from the USACE Omaha office (Katie Seefus):

    The annual sediment flushing exercise will be completed at Cherry Creek Reservoir, near Aurora, Colorado on Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

    Katie Seefus, water manager in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District office, says the exercise involves high releases from each of the five main outlet gates at Cherry Creek Dam, located south of Interstate 225 in Aurora. “When the gates are opened, the high velocity of the water leaving the reservoir scours the area immediately upstream of the gates and transports sediment with the flow,” said Seefus. The sediment flush is required to allow proper operation of the outlet gates.

    Cherry Creek Dam will begin releasing 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31. The actual flushing exercise will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1 when the release will be set back to normal levels. The travel time from Cherry Creek Dam to the streamgage located at the Champa Street Bridge, is about 6 hours…

    Omaha District Commander Col. John Henderson asks the public to be aware that the high flows will take some time to reach the downtown channel, and flows from the last gate opened will not reach the downtown channel until late afternoon on Wednesday. The high flows will cause higher than normal creek stages and potential flooding of bike paths and stream crossings. “In the interest of public safety, I urge the public to not attempt to cross the stream during this event,” says Henderson.

    Parker Water schedules 2016 election

    Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker
    Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker

    From Parker Water via The Parker Chronicle:

    The Parker Water & Sanitation District is putting out a call for candidates to fill three vacancies on its board of directors.

    The May 3 mail-ballot election will enable district customers to vote on candidates to assume seats held by Kelly McCurry, Bill Wasserman and Dale Reiman, whose terms expire this year. Prospective candidates must file “affidavits of intent” to the Parker Water & Sanitation District by Feb. 29, according to a resolution passed by the current board on Jan. 14.

    If there are “not more candidates than offices to be filled,” district manager Ron Redd, who is serving as the designated election official, will cancel the election and declare the candidates elected, the resolution said.

    For more information, go to http://www.pwsd.org, email rredd@pwsd.org or call 303-841-4627.

    Providers utilizing the Denver Basin Aquifer are moving towards supply security

    Denver Basin aquifer map
    Denver Basin aquifer map

    From the Centennial Citizen (Paul Donahue and Eric Hecox):

    Is our water future secure?

    It’s a question on the minds of many in Castle Rock and the entire south metro Denver region — and for good reason. After all, water is what makes our outstanding quality of life possible. If we want future generations to enjoy our communities as we do, we must ensure they have access to a secure and sustainable water supply that meets their future needs.

    From conversations throughout the region, we know Castle Rock residents and those in the entire south metro area understand the critical role water plays in delivering the quality of life we desire for our children, in addition to supporting property values, job creation and economic growth.

    We know residents are aware the region historically has relied too heavily on declining groundwater supplies and must diversify its supply for long-term sustainability. We know they view water as a top priority for the region and support an all-of-the-above approach that includes conservation and reuse, storage and new renewable supplies.

    We also know Castle Rock residents as well as residents across the south metro area value partnership among leaders throughout the region to get the job done in the most economically responsible manner. Working together to secure water rights, build infrastructure and efficiently use storage space helps spread the costs and the benefits to customers throughout the region.

    The answer to the question on people’s minds is not clear-cut. While our region is on the path to delivering a secure water future for generations to come, this effort is ongoing and will require continued support from our communities to see it through to the end.

    The good news is that we have a plan, and we are executing that plan.

    Thanks to innovative conservation approaches, the region has seen a 30 percent decrease in per capita water use since 2000. That means the typical south metro household or business, including those in Castle Rock, is using 30 percent less water than just 15 years ago. Declines in the region’s underground aquifers — historically the main water source for the region — have slowed considerably in that same time period, a testament to efforts across the region to diversify water supplies and maximize efficiency through reuse.

    At the same time, major new water infrastructure projects are coming online throughout the region that bring new renewable supplies, storage capacity and reuse capabilities. These include the WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) Partnership with Denver Water, Aurora and several other regional organizations including Castle Rock Water, the Chatfield Reallocation Project, Rueter-Hess Reservoir, the Northern Project and Castle Rock’s Plum Creek Purification Facility, to name a few.

    The 13 members that make up the South Metro Water Supply Authority provide water to 80 percent of Douglas County and 10 percent of Arapahoe County. Together, they are partnering among each other as well as with local government leadership and water entities across the region and state to execute their plan to secure a sustainable water future for the region.

    Since becoming a member of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, Castle Rock Water has helped lead implementation of the WISE project, new water storage reservoir projects and other regional renewable water supply efforts. WISE water will be available to Castle Rock residents by 2017 and even earlier for some of the other South Metro residents. A project like WISE represents as much as 10 percent of the renewable water needed for both current and future residents in Castle Rock.

    The members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, including Castle Rock, each have long-term water plans. Through partnerships, these projects are made possible by sharing in the needed investments and other resources when completing the time-consuming task of acquiring additional renewable water and building the required infrastructure.

    This collaboration is supported by the state and is in line with the Colorado Water Plan. This regional support has been critical in providing feasible strategies to ensure water for future generations.

    Is our water future secure? No, not yet. But we’re well on our way to getting there.

    Paul Donahue is the mayor of Castle Rock and has served on the town council for eight years. Eric Hecox is the director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, a regional water authority made up of 13 water provider members that collectively serve more than 300,000 residents as well as businesses in the south metro Denver area. South Metro Water’s membership spans much of Douglas County and parts of Arapahoe County, including Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, Parker and Castle Pines.

    Rueter-Hess dam and reservoir offer hope for thirsty Colorado communities — The Denver Post

    From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

    Colorado water planners facing a projected 163 billion-gallon statewide annual shortfall by 2050 now are aiming to emulate water-stressed Parker (population 50,000), which labored for three decades to build its 185-foot-high Frank Jaeger dam, reservoir and plant. Parker’s leaders were driven by a desire to enable population growth up to 120,000 people without pumping more from dwindling underground aquifers.

    Parker officials began their project in 1985 after anticipating a water shortfall as suburban development exploded. Longtime Parker Water employee Frank Jaeger scouted sites, filed for permits and obtained rights to divert water. Town leaders initially planned a reservoir to hold 16,200 acre-feet of water.

    At first they focused on flooding Castlewood Canyon State Park. Courts rejected this.

    Jaeger then negotiated with landowners for the current site, between Parker and Castle Rock. Environmental studies started in 1997. Designs were done in 2002. Construction began in 2004. In 2008, Jaeger and other suburban officials decided to make it a bigger reservoir, holding 75,000 acre-feet.

    The reservoir was completed in 2012. And an adjacent water-cleaning plant last summer began operating — bringing reservoir water to residents who long have relied on declining underground water.

    Any state push to build reservoirs will require determination and patience, said Jaeger, now retired. “You’ll need state sponsorship,” he said. “And you’ll need somebody who is going to stay around for the whole deal. They’re going to take a lot of heat.”

    More dams and reservoirs likely would cost hundreds of millions and, if off the main stem of a river, require huge amounts of electrical power to pump water.

    Parker installed five grid-powered motors — three 1,250 horsepower, two 500 horsepower. These move water from headwaters of Cherry Creek, at a diversion point near Stroh Road, through a 3-mile, 48-inch-diameter steel pipe that runs up a 250-foot-high hill before it reaches Rueter-Hess.

    Then there’s the matter of obtaining enough water to fill Rueter-Hess, factoring in annual evaporation losses of about 3 percent.

    Parker secured limited junior rights to surface water and, in May 2011, began diverting to fill the reservoir. When senior rights holders call for water in dry times, Parker’s diversions must stop. Today, Rueter-Hess holds 21,000 acre-feet.

    The water treatment plant uses state-of-the-art filtering and chemical treatments to remove algae and minerals such as phosphorus so that the reservoir water is safe.

    As Parker Water’s team formally opened the plant last month, [Ron] Redd said state planners will need to get started soon.

    “It took Parker Water 25 years,” he said. “They’ll probably need more storage than what they are indicating. … You’re never disappointed with more storage.”

    Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility celebrates grand opening in Parker, CO — WaterWorld

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provided regulatory approval for the first-time use of ceramic membrane filters for a drinking water system in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Dewberry)
    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provided regulatory approval for the first-time use of ceramic membrane filters for a drinking water system in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Dewberry)

    From WaterWorld:

    On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility (RHWPF) — located in the town of Parker, Colo., southeast of Denver — officially celebrated the grand opening of tours for the facility.

    The water treatment plant, which serves a community of approximately 50,000 residents, uses new technologies that have enabled the Parker Water and Sanitation District (PWSD) to convert from rapidly declining groundwater sources to a renewable water supply, including surface water, groundwater, alluvial well water, and reclaimed wastewater.

    Designed by Dewberry, the RHWPF is the first plant in the world to incorporate a trio of cutting-edge technologies to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards. The process includes three key stages:

    A coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation chamber using microsand to enhance particle sedimentation while reducing the chamber’s surface area requirements.

    A recirculating powdered activated carbon (PAC) chamber cutting costs by sending used PAC back through the system, increasing the amount of contact time between PAC particles and dissolved organic compounds for a more aggressive and efficient treatment.

    The treated water being pumped through ceramic membrane filters to remove remaining particles larger than 0.1 microns in size and any remaining microsand or PAC.

    In the first such application in a drinking water system in the U.S., the 600 ceramic membrane modules were specifically chosen for their ability to withstand impacts from the abrasive sand and PAC particles used in upstream processes and then be cleaned back to like-new condition. The ceramic membrane filtration system is anticipated to last much longer than conventional polymeric membranes.

    “The ceramic membranes are very durable and can withstand impacts from sand and powdered activated carbon, which is very abrasive,” said Alan Pratt, PE, Dewberry project manager for the design of the RHWPF. “The ceramic membranes can be cleaned back to a new condition, whereas polymeric membranes typically deteriorate over a life of six to 10 years and need to be replaced.”

    The completion of the 10-MGD RHWPF (expandable to 40 MGD) is part of a visionary, multi-phase plan for the water district, where district leaders had long recognized groundwater as a diminishing resource within the rapidly developing area. The new network features a 50-CFS pump station that brings surface water from nearby Cherry Creek and Cherry Creek alluvial wells into the 75,000-acre-foot Rueter-Hess Reservoir, completed in 2012.

    Water stored in the reservoir flows by gravity into the RHWPF. After moving through the two ballasted sedimentation chambers and the ceramic membrane filters, the disinfected water is pumped into the PWSD’s distribution piping network for use by customers. Wastewater is returned to nearby reclamation facilities and then to Cherry Creek for reuse.

    In addition to Dewberry, the project team included Western Summit Constructors, Inc. as the primary contractor, Garney-Weaver for construction management, and Kruger, Inc. for the ballasted sedimentation and ceramic membrane filter technologies. “The ability for us to turn many different water qualities into a high-quality potable water supply has been made possible only with the combined effort of many different companies coming together,” said PWSD District Manager Ron Redd. “Dewberry, Western Summit and Kruger have all worked very hard to make this plant a reality.”

    Parker opens new water treatment plant

    The water treatment process
    The water treatment process

    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Roughly 10 percent of Parker’s water is now going through a state-of-the-art treatment plant near Rueter-Hess Reservoir.

    After a few initial hiccups, including the failure of a pump and issues with the feeding of chemicals used to rid the water of impurities, the $50.7 million treatment plant opened in mid-July following three weeks of testing.

    Soon after, a handful of Parker Water and Sanitation District officials took their first drink of water processed through the sophisticated system of pumps, pipes and filters.

    “We wanted to make sure everything was solid before we sent it out through the system,” said Ron Redd, district manager for Parker Water. “It tasted good!”

    Construction began in 2012 on the treatment plant, which has been billed as an integral part of shifting from a reliance on nonrenewable groundwater in aquifers to renewable surface water. It incorporates many of the newest technologies and eventually will be able to process 40 million gallons per day. The first phase of construction spawned a facility that can churn out about 10 million gallons of treated water per day.

    The new treatment plant processes 1.5 million gallons of the 12-million-gallon average needed to satisfy daily summertime demands, Redd said…

    Four employees are based out of the treatment plant…

    Approximately 20 percent of the total construction costs went toward ceramic filters that are more durable than traditional plastic filters and expected to last from 20-25 years.

    “What’s different about this plant is it’s a fairly state-of-the-art facility,” Redd said. “It’s gathering a lot of attention from across the country and the world because of the technology we’re using. We’re anticipating lots of phone calls and (requests for) tours.”

    Castlewood Canyon Flood August 3, 1933 — Mark Afman

    Click here to go to the History Colorado website for “Where were you when the dam broke?”: Castlewood Canyon Booklet Collects Flood of Memories. Here’s an excerpt:

    On the evening of August 3, 1933, Elsie Henderson’s urgent voice raced down the Sullivan Telephone Exchange’s wires, outpacing Cherry Creek’s northbound floodwaters. Notified by a Douglas County sheriff that Castlewood Dam had burst and that everything along the stream’s path from Franktown to Denver was in danger, the operator told farmers and ranchers to gather their families and head for higher ground.

    At that time, rural telephone customers often shared single wires called “party lines.” The telephone company assigned phone numbers made up of unique ring patterns to each customer (for example, one short ring followed by two long rings). Elsie, one of only two people available to operate the Sullivan switchboard that night, alerted people with one long ring, the universally recognized sound for an emergency. She and fellow Sullivan Exchange employee Ingrid Mosher worked through the night and into the following afternoon, saving lives, livestock, and property. Though five thousand fled the lowlands, only two people died in one of the worst floods in Colorado history.

    In time, Elsie’s deeds might have been washed downriver and forgotten. The story survives thanks to George Madsen, a friend who took the time to answer a 1994 letter from Castlewood Canyon State Park staff requesting personal reminiscences about the flood. Madsen, a former telephone company employee, wrote down his own memories, along with the stories told to him by Elsie and Ingrid years earlier. Dozens of other Coloradans answered the call too, typing their recollections on legal-sized sheets of paper headed by the question, “Where Were You When the Dam Broke?” In 1997 Castlewood Canyon State Park staff members assembled these memories into a compelling book called, The Night the Dam Gave Way: A Diary of Personal Accounts.

    More Cherry Creek watershed coverage here.

    Fishing to be a big part of Rueter-Hess recreation — The Parker Chronicle

    Rueter Hess Reservoir
    Rueter Hess Reservoir

    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Parker Water has begun the first phase of a fish-stocking program that will excite anglers for years to come.

    The district’s initial purpose in stocking the reservoir is to follow through with an aquatic vegetation management plan, required by the district’s environmental impact statement.

    “The reservoir’s volume has now reached a point that we are comfortable with implementing the stocking plan,” said Ron Redd, district manager.

    The approved fish-stocking strategy was developed by Aquatics Associates Inc., with the initial plan being implemented from 2015-19. The recommended phased approach is to first stock the reservoir with forage species, including fathead minnows and bluegill.

    Each stocking phase, at an anticipated cost of $27,000-$29,000, will span four consecutive years, with populations expanding on their own as the reservoir increases with size. Other game fish will be introduced in 2016 or later, including, but not limited to, channel catfish and rainbow trout. Stocking largemouth bass in 2017 will help to maintain a balanced and successful fishery.

    The fishery biologists at Aquatics Associates predict that in future years, the reservoir will be able to support up to 20-pound rainbow trout.

    To find out more about recreation at Rueter-Hess Reservoir, click here.

    More Rueter-Hess Reservoir coverage here and here.

    South Platte Basin: Road de-icer and Cherry Creek

    De-icer application via FreezGard
    De-icer application via FreezGard

    From 9News.com (Brandon Rittman):

    Denver’s Cherry Creek got saltier over the past decades, with chloride levels on pace to pose a danger to fish in the city’s iconic tributary of the South Platte River…

    Cherry Creek’s winter average rose closer to that threshold, measuring 174 mg/l between 2006 and 2010, which is up from a wintertime average of 122 mg/l during the 1990 to 1994 seasons – a jump of 43 percent.

    The USGS says as more areas become urbanized, the use of rock salt on roads and sidewalks increases, making its way into streams.

    More importantly, the data shows the problem compounding year over year because stream systems are not able to flush out all of the salt during the warm months.

    The effect is a higher baseline of salt content each year, allowing the levels to inch upward each cold season in urban areas.

    Salt compounds like magnesium chloride and rock salt are highly effective at decreasing the hazards of icy surfaces.

    “Deicing operations help to provide safe winter transportation conditions, which is very important,” the study’s lead author Steve Corsi said in a press release. “Findings from this study emphasize the need to consider deicer management options that minimize the use of road salt while still maintaining safe conditions.”

    There are few true alternatives to road salt, and other treatments can come with their own pollution problems. For instance, applying sand to roadways can cause air pollution when cars grind the material into dust.

    The USGS study found similar increases over the time period in other areas of the country, with the most severe chloride pollution levels measured in midwestern cities like Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland.

    Salt applied in winter is a concern year-round. The study concludes, “elevated chloride concentrations in these streams through all seasons have implications on long-term exposures to chloride for aquatic organisms.”

    The average summertime chloride level in Cherry Creek rose from 62 to 101 mg/l during the time periods in the study.

    By contrast, the study found streams in less-developed areas of Wisconsin and Oregon were able to maintain average chloride levels measurable in single digits.

    More water pollution coverage here.

    The Special District Association of Colorado recognizes Parker Water and Sanitation for collaboration

    Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker
    Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker

    From the Parker Chronicle:

    The Parker Water and Sanitation District is one of three special districts to be given a collaboration award this year.

    The award was given by the Special District Association of Colorado during an annual conference Sept. 10-12 in Keystone. The collaboration award is given to districts “that have effectively and efficiently partnered with other entities and local governments” to benefit water users, according to a news release.

    The PWSD joined with the Rampart Range and Sierra Ridge metro districts on a sewer system for the RidgeGate development in Lone Tree, which is served by Parker Water. The joint effort resulted in reduced infrastructure costs for citizens and an award for all three districts.

    Ann Terry, the executive director of the Special District Association, said the project is a “true testament to the success that can be achieved through partnerships.”

    More Parker coverage here and here.

    Castlewood Canyon State Park “Dam Day” August 2

    From Colorado Parks and Wildlife via the Parker Chronicle:

    Castlewood Canyon State Park will mark the 81 anniversary of Denver’s second worst flood with “Dam Day” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 2.

    The failure of Castlewood Dam on Aug. 3, 1933, caused the destruction of bridges, and pastures and croplands were wiped out. Logs floated all the way into the lobby of Union Station in downtown Denver and a man named Tom Casey lost his life.

    Dam Day activities will be at the visitor center, Event Facilities Shelter No. 1, on the east side of the park, and near the remains of Castlewood Dam on the park’s west side.

    At the visitor center, children can experience what it was like on that dark and stormy night. They will get a glimpse at what the dam caretaker, Hugh Payne, felt and saw as he tried to walk out on the dam to open the valves to release the water and save the dam. It was 1:30 a.m. during a thunderstorm and he only had a kerosene lamp.

    At EFS No. 1 kids can build candy dams mortared with frosting (a word to the wise — do not follow the design of Castlewood Dam, it lasted only 43 years). There will be a model of the canyon and dam. They can also fill the Castlewood Reservoir with water and see the effects rushing water can have on the canyon.

    At the base of the dam, visitors can speak with Margaret Lucas, an area homesteader portrayed by a Castlewood volunteer, about her experiences that frightful night. Payne will be portrayed by another volunteer and explain the events that led up to the failure. The two will have pictures from 1933 that show the turmoil and damage caused by the water to Speer Boulevard and downtown Denver.

    Friends of Castlewood Canyon State Park will be serving a Dam Good Lunch at EFS No. 1. It is a fundraiser to obtain funds to give Castlewood Canyon State Park a 50th birthday present of more land this year.

    Programs are free, however, all vehicles entering the park must display a valid Colorado state parks pass. For more event information, call the park at 303-688-5242.

    More Cherry Creek watershed coverage here.

    “…we have a lot of communities on a diminishing aquifer” — Eric Hecox

    rueter-hessplans

    From The Denver Post (Steve Raabe):

    The shimmering surface of Rueter-Hess reservoir seems out of place in arid Douglas County, where almost all of the water resources are in aquifers a quarter-mile under ground.

    Yet the $195 million body of water, southwest of Parker, is poised to play a crucial role in providing water to one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S.

    As recently as a few years ago, developers were content to tap the seemingly abundant Denver Basin aquifer to serve the thousands of new homes built each year along the southern edge of metro Denver.

    But a problem arose. As homebuilding in Douglas County exploded, the groundwater that once seemed abundant turned out to be finite. Land developers and utilities found that the more wells they drilled into the aquifer, the more grudgingly it surrendered water.

    “Now we have a lot of communities on a diminishing aquifer,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, a consortium of 14 water suppliers that serve 300,000 residents.

    As water pressure in the Denver Basin steadily declines, developers and water utilities that rely on the aquifer are being forced to drill more wells and pump harder from existing wells.

    Enter Rueter-Hess. The massive storage facility — 50 percent larger in surface area than Cherry Creek reservoir — aims to help developers wean themselves from groundwater by shifting to other sources.

    The reservoir anchors a multifaceted water plan for the south metro area that includes the purchase of costly but replenishable surface water, reuse of wastewater and a greater emphasis on conservation.

    Douglas County, long a magnet for builders enticed by easy access to Denver Basin aquifers, is taking the water issue seriously.

    A new proposal floated by the county government would give developers density bonuses — up to 20 percent more buildout — for communities that reduce typical water consumption and commit to using renewable sources for at least half of their water.

    “In the past, the county had not taken an active role in water supplies because groundwater was sufficient,” said Douglas County Commissioner Jill Repella. “But we understand that we cannot continue to be solely reliant on our aquifers. What we’re doing today will help us plan for the next 25 years.”

    Parker Water and Sanitation District launched construction of Rueter-Hess in 2006 and began gradually filling the reservoir in 2011, fed by excess surface and alluvial well flows in Cherry Creek.

    Partners in the project include Castle Rock, Stonegate and the Castle Pines North metropolitan district. Parker Water and Sanitation district manager Ron Redd said he expects more water utilities to sign on for storage as they begin acquiring rights to surface water.

    The chief source of new supplies will be the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership, or WISE, in which Denver Water and Aurora Water will sell an average of 7,250 acre-feet a year to 10 south-metro water suppliers beginning in 2016. Most of them are expected to purchase storage for the new water in Rueter-Hess. An acre-foot is generally believed to be enough to serve the needs of two families of four for a year

    Parker Water and Sanitation also is exploring ways to develop recreational uses at the dam — including hiking, camping, fishing and nonmotorized boating — through an intergovernmental agreement with other Douglas County entities.

    Even three years after opening, the reservoir’s stored water has reached just 13 percent of its 75,000-acre-foot capacity. Yet Rueter-Hess is the most visible icon in Douglas County’s search for water solutions.

    At stake is the ability to provide water for a county that in the 1990s and early 2000s perennially ranked among the fastest-growing in the nation. The number of homes in Douglas County has soared from 7,789 in 1980 to more than 110,000 today, an astounding increase of more than 1,300 percent.

    The building boom slowed after the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009. Growth rates that had reached as high as 10 percent to 15 percent a year during the 1990s ratcheted down to about 1 percent to 2 percent.

    But as the economy has begun recovering, Douglas County is once again “seeing high levels of demand” for new residential development, said assistant director of planning services Steve Koster.

    One of the biggest Douglas County projects in decades is Sterling Ranch, a proposed community of 12,000 homes south of Chatfield State Park.

    The 3,400-acre ranch sits on the outer fringes of the Denver Basin aquifer, making it a poor candidate for reliance on the basin’s groundwater.

    As a result, the project developer will employ a mixed-bag of water resources, including an aggressive conservation and efficiency plan; surface-water purchases from the WISE program; well water from rights owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz; and a precedent-setting rainwater-collection program.

    Sterling Ranch managing director Harold Smethills described the Rueter-Hess concept as “brilliant,” even though his development has not yet purchased any of the reservoir’s capacity.

    “You just can’t have enough storage,” he said.

    More Rueter-Hess Reservoir coverage here and here. More Denver Basin Aquifer System coverage here.

    Parker diverts 240 acre-feet of water so far into Rueter-Hess under free river

    Rhode Island Hotel 1908 Parker via Best of Parker
    Rhode Island Hotel Parker (1908) via Best of Parker

    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    The Parker Water and Sanitation District is taking advantage of the wet weather by using its diversion dam on Cherry Creek near Stroh Road. In the last two weeks, it has helped redirect 240 acre-feet of rainwater into Rueter-Hess. That’s 78,204,342 gallons, courtesy of Mother Nature. It’s among the few upsides to the soaking rains that have resulted in historic floods, displacing thousands in the north metro area, decimating roads and homes and taking eight lives along the way…

    The PWSD, for the first time this year, raised its diversion structure and pulled off as much as 10,000 gallons per minute during the peak of the first day of storms. Then, just as the weekend was approaching, Cherry Creek was “called out” — in other words, those with downstream water rights declared their privileges to the flows, said Ron Redd, district manager for the PWSD. “We were pulling quite a bit off for a while,” he said. “When they put the call out, it was frustrating with all of that flooding.”

    The district worked with a local water commissioner, who grants requests from water rights owners, and was able to lift the restrictions the following day. “We’ve been pumping ever since then,” Redd said.

    Some of the rainwater has entered Rueter-Hess through Newlin Gulch, the drainage channel into which the reservoir was built. But much of the work has been done with the diversion dam, which was finished in 2006. It has gotten little use in recent years because of the low water level in Cherry Creek; the PWSD, however, captures alluvial flows from the creek.

    The reservoir is a tool for the district to store excess flows, but if there is a call out on the river, the district must release that water, as it did last summer after heavy rains deluged northern Castle Rock, Franktown and areas south of Parker.

    More Rueter-Hess coverage here and here.

    Parker signs on to the WISE project for future supplies

    parkerrhodeislandhotel1908bestofparker.jpg

    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Parker Water joins nine other members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority that have signed on to WISE, or the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency agreement. The June 13 approval by the PWSD board of directors adds another source of water for the area’s long-term needs, said district manager Ron Redd.

    Parker Water pulls much of its water supply from the Denver Basin Aquifer, but it also captures an average of 5,000 acre-feet annually off Cherry Creek. The WISE agreement will have Parker piping 12,000 acre-feet of recycled water from Aurora and Denver every 10 years for an indefinite period of time.

    Water rates will likely go up 1 percent to 2 percent incrementally because of WISE, although any increases will not occur until a thorough rate analysis is conducted, Redd said. The results of the analysis will be released in mid-2014.

    The PWSD will start receiving the first trickles of water in 2016 and get full delivery of 1,200 acre-feet starting in 2021. The district hopes to use an existing pipeline along the E-470 corridor to transport the water and is in the process of negotiating with the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District. If an agreement is not reached, the district would have to build its own infrastructure at a steep cost…

    The supply coming from Denver and Aurora is water that has been used and treated. The district will again reclaim the water, meaning the average of 1,200 acre-feet coming in each year will actually measure close to 2,400 acre-feet, Redd said, adding there is a possibility that Parker Water might purchase more WISE water in the future…

    Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which the PWSD built for storage, contains around 6,000 acre-feet. By the time the new water treatment plant off Hess Road opens in 2015, the reservoir will contain 15,000 to 20,000 acre-feet. It has the capacity for 72,000 acre-feet.

    More Parker coverage here and here.

    Fountain Creek: There is potential for damage to water quality from the Black Forest Fire

    baseballandblackforestfirefrompetermcevoyontwitterviacbs.jpg

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    Damage to water quality in the Fountain Creek watershed from the Black Forest Fire is not expected to be as great as from last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire. ”There are going to be some water quality issues, but what they are, we don’t know yet,” said Carol Ekarius, executive director of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. “At this point in time, we would not expect the same level of issues. Right now, it’s too soon to tell.”

    CUSP earlier this year finished an assessment of the Waldo Canyon Fire damage for El Paso County and Colorado Springs.

    The Black Forest Fire, now 100 percent contained, burned about 16,000 acres, killed two people and destroyed more than 500 structures. Like other large fires, it could have lingering impacts on water quality.

    Burned areas are more susceptible to increased flooding because vegetation has been removed, and in some cases because the soil structure has been disrupted. Debris from the fires and more sediment could flow into streams.

    The Black Forest Fire straddled the Fountain Creek watershed, which flows south through Pueblo, and the Cherry Creek watershed, which flows north into the Denver area.

    But the terrain of the Black Forest Fire consists of plains or rolling hills, while Waldo Canyon burned in steep canyons that are more prone to serious erosion problems, Ekarius said. A preliminary report also shows that damage was less severe in the southern part of the Black Forest burn area because of previous fire mitigation efforts.

    The Natural Resources Conservation Service will spend the next two weeks evaluating the level of damage by the Black Forest Fire.

    Waldo Canyon was of more concern to Colorado Springs Utilities because it threatened infrastructure, reservoirs and pipelines, while there are no water lines serving the Black Forest area, said Gary Bostrom, chief of water services for Utilities. Colorado Springs is spending more than half of its $46 million budget for stormwater projects this year in the Waldo Canyon burn area.

    More Fountain Creek Watershed coverage here and here.

    Parker Water and Sanitation District board is evaluating joining with Aurora and Denver in the WISE project

    parkerrhodeislandhotel1908bestofparker.jpg

    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    The Parker Water and Sanitation District board of directors will hear a presentation later this month from new manager Ron Redd, who will recommend that the district enter into WISE, the Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency project. Six members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, including Pinery Water and Wastewater, the Cottonwood Water and Sanitation District and Stonegate Village Metropolitan District, committed to WISE by signing intergovernmental agreements in late March. The agreements will bring nearly 7,000 acre-feet of recycled water to the south metro area…

    The Parker Water and Sanitation District board asked Redd to examine the possibility of buying 500, 1,000 or 1,500 acre-feet through the WISE project. He was expecting to receive the results of a cost analysis on April 5 to determine the possible financial impacts. Any rate hikes on customers would likely be implemented incrementally and equate to about 2.5 percent to 3 percent per year, Redd said, cautioning that those figures are preliminary. The cost of WISE water increases annually over an eight-year period.

    It would be relatively easy, Redd said, to move the reclaimed WISE water from Aurora to Parker if the district can come to an agreement to use a pipeline along E-470 owned by East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District. If the board gives approval, the intergovernmental agreement would be signed by late May…

    Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which contains 5,700 acre-feet of water and was built to store 70,000 acre-feet, will be paid off by the time the Parker Water and Sanitation District takes on more debt to build pipelines to transport the water that will be needed for the future.

    Meanwhile, Centennial has inked an IGA with the WISE Partnership. Here’s a report from Ryan Boldrey writing for the Highlands Ranch Herald. Here’s an excerpt:

    Centennial Water and Sanitation District was one of six members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority to sign an IGA this past week committing to more renewable water by way of the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency Partnership. Through the agreement, Aurora Water and Denver Water will provide roughly 7,000 acre-feet of fully treated water annually to participating SMWSA members and deliver it in phases, starting in 2016. As part of the IGA, the participating South Metro WISE entities have agreed to fund new infrastructure that will move the water from Aurora’s Binney Water Purification Facility to its end locations. “A region-wide water solution makes more sense than having each water entity fending for themselves to source, treat and deliver renewable water to customers,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of SMWSA. “We’re excited about the progress we’re making through WISE towards transitioning the region from nonrenewable groundwater to renewable water.”

    Hecox said that the agreement helps provide SMWSA with about a third of the necessary water that participating entities will need long-term. From here, work will continue on the Chatfield Reallocation Project as well as of other options and alternatives to bring more water to the region…

    For Centennial Water specifically, it’s another step toward cementing a long-term supply and not relying as much on groundwater or leased water. “We’ve got many years of full supply, but some of that full supply comes from leases that are not long-term,” said Centennial Water and Sanitation District General Manager John Hendrick. “We want to add to our portfolio with long-term or near-permanent surface water sources…

    Other SMWSA members committing to the project at this time are Cottonwood Water, Meridian Metropolitan District, Pinery Water, Rangeview Metropolitan District and Stonegate Village Metropolitan District. Hecox said he expects Dominion, Inverness, Castle Rock and Parker water districts to sign the IGA by the end of April. SMWSA members not expected to take part in the IGA include: Castle Pines Metro, Castle Pines North, East Cherry Creek Valley, and Arapahoe.

    More WISE coverage here.

    Castle Rock still wants WISE Partnership water but there are worries about rates

    castlerock.jpg

    From the Castle Rock News-Press (Rhonda Moore):

    Castle Rock’s utilities department on Feb. 19 updated councilmembers on the Water and Supply Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency agreement for the purchase of water from Denver and Aurora. The agreement is a partnership with 10 members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. Castle Rock in January selected WISE as one of two solutions for its long-term water supply. WISE has been on the map since February 2008, when the WISE partnership signed an intergovernmental agreement with Denver Water and Aurora Water.

    Since the town began its analysis, rate increases from Denver and Aurora prompted Castle Rock to order another rates and fees feasibility study. The rate structure in the WISE agreement is one of the greater considerations, said Heather Beasley, water resources manager. Since 2011, the WISE delivery rate has increased about 20 cents per thousand gallons, Beasley said. Aurora also added a temporary surcharge between 17 and 51 cents per thousand gallons, Beasley reported. “It sounds small, but we could be talking (potentially) millions in increase for our residents,” said Mayor Paul Donahue. “We are concerned about being able to control that rate.”[…]

    Other factors impacting WISE are negotiations among Western Slope providers, who must sign off to allow Denver and Aurora to sell the water to the WISE partners; targeting the pipeline infrastructure to get the water from Aurora to the south metro service area; and meeting the terms of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit amendment requirements to store the water in Rueter-Hess.

    More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

    Parker: ‘They don’t go dry out there’ — Ken Wright

    parkerrhodeislandhotel1908bestofparker.jpg

    Back when Governor Hickenlooper was first on the scene as Mayor Hickenlooper he hosted a series about water at the Museum of Nature and Science. Ken Wright was on hand to introduce Frank Jaeger, the General Manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District.

    “They don’t go dry out there,” said Wright. That’s the ultimate compliment for a water provider.

    Mr. Jaeger is now officially retired. Here’s report the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    “I’ve always understood that I had a reputation, a sort of toughness. It intimidated people, and I let it intimidate some people when it was necessary for the benefit of the district,” he says. “If people want to denigrate me for that fact, I don’t care.”

    Despite departing earlier than expected — Jaeger frequently pledged to retire when he died, but was forced out after a change in board leadership — the 67-year-old is leaving with his head held high. He said he never compromised the integrity of the position and has “done all I can do for Parker Water.”

    At the recommendation of a neighbor, Jaeger joined the board of directors for the fledgling, financially troubled PWSD in 1981. He soon became its manager and was instrumental in turning around a district that was headed in the wrong direction. Since that time, Jaeger has slowly built up the district’s infrastructure, received permission to divert excess flows from Cherry Creek, and got public authorization to build Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which at the time was the first federally approved off-stream reservoir in more than 20 years.

    Jaeger, of Elizabeth, plans to enjoy his retirement by golfing (without keeping score), hunting, fishing and taking vacations with his wife, but will continue to offer guidance on water issues that affect Colorado. He is a lifetime member of the Colorado Water Congress and will regularly visit the Capitol to review the merits of proposed legislation.

    “They know I won’t be silent and will give honest opinions,” he said.

    More Parker coverage here.

    Castle Rock: The town council recently reviewed the long-term water plan

    castlerock.jpg

    From the Castle Rock News-Press (Rhonda Moore):

    During one of their last meetings of 2012, councilmembers had their final public meeting with former utilities director Ron Redd, with word that Redd’s efforts of the last year could begin to take shape in 2013. Those efforts are designed to help Castle Rock wean itself from its underground water sources and, within the next 20 years, transition to a 75 percent renewable source. The proposed solutions include a series of 11 wells in Adams County’s Box Elder Farm, projected to provide up to 3,000 acre-feet of water, and the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency regional partnership, projected to provide up to 1,000 acre-feet of water for Castle Rock residents…

    The WISE agreement, which involves the participation of 11 water providers in an effort to purchase return flows from Denver and Aurora, remains in draft form as the partnership works out a number of issues, Redd said. Among the issues are agreeing on a reasonable solution to set long-term water rates; how to address impacts from climate changes; purchasing the pipelines to move the water from Aurora to Rueter-Hess reservoir; meeting the demands of the Army Corp of Engineers for permission to store the water in Rueter-Hess; and awaiting final approval from eight Western Slope entities to permit Denver and Aurora to sell the water to the WISE partners. Councilmembers can expect staff presentations within the first three to six months of 2013 for terms of the agreements necessary to secure a long-term water supply, Redd said…

    Next steps in Castle Rock’s water acquisition:

  • WISE water delivery agreement with Denver and Aurora.
  • WISE participation agreement among 11 South Metro water providers.
  • WISE transmission pipeline agreement.
  • Stillwater Resources brokerage agreement to represent Castle Rock in Box Elder Farms negotiations
  • Box Elder Farms purchase and sale agreement.
  • Various augmentation supply purchase term sheets or agreements.
  • More infrastructure coverage here.

    Missouri River Reuse Project from Reclamation would water the Front Range and help the Ogallala aquifer

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    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    A pipeline from the Missouri River to Colorado’s Front Range has the potential to bring water to two states — and into the Arkansas River basin — but has not been on the table in Colorado water discussions.

    The Missouri River reuse option is being considered as one of about 100 proposals that would relieve pressure on diversion of water from the Colorado River basin. The Bureau of Reclamation began the study in 2009 to assess future supply and demand along the Colorado River and a final report should be coming out this month. Pueblo and other Front Range communities import water from the Colorado River basin each year, so new supplies could reduce that demand. The reuse would provide water to depleted aquifers across Kansas through diversion of up to 600,000 acre­feet annually from the Missouri River near Leavenworth, Kan. A description of the project on file with Reclamation indicates some of the water could reach the Arkansas River basin, north of Colorado Springs. It’s unclear from the documents available if the proposal has a sponsor.

    The project would cost billions of dollars and likely face political hurdles. Although water would have to be pumped 600 miles and 5,000 feet uphill from Leavenworth in order to reach Denver, Reclamation rates the project as “technically feasible.”

    Although specific plans to move water from Flaming Gorge and the Mississippi River, as well as more general options from the Missouri River, have been debated, the Kansas­Colorado plan has eluded discussion within Colorado.

    “No, we have not talked about it,” said Gary Barber, chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. Barber also represents the roundtable on the Flaming Gorge Task Force, which has not reviewed the idea.

    “We’ve gotten monthly reports on the Colorado River basin study,” said Alan Hamel, who represents the Arkansas River basin on the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “There has not been any discussion of this particular proposal.”

    More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

    Bureau of Reclamation officials on Tuesday said the “Missouri River Reuse Project” will be evaluated for feasibility following the release in coming weeks of a federal government study on water supply for the West.
    “The state of Colorado has not taken a formal position on the pipeline or any of the options,” Colorado Department of Natural Resources spokesman Todd Hartman said…

    The Missouri diversion described in Bureau of Reclamation documents would require a pipeline across Kansas, with water used to fill surface reservoirs and recharge depleted aquifers along the way to metro Denver.
    It would convey 600,000 acre-feet of water a year depending on Midwestern needs. An acre-foot has been regarded as enough water to sustain two families of four for a year.

    “Water would likely be stored in Front Range reservoirs such as Rueter-Hess, Carter, Barr and Chatfield,” a project summary said. “Colorado may choose to construct new reservoirs or enlarge existing reservoirs for the project.”

    Some water could also be directed to the headwaters of the Colorado River Basin through pipelines and tunnels when there is great need to relieve drought in the basin, the summary continued…

    The options for importing water reflect widening worries about future shortages. The Colorado River Basin, which spans Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, is the source of water for 30 million people. The government’s three-year Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study has found that within 50 years, the annual water deficit will reach 3.5 million acre-feet.

    Bureau of Reclamation officials said their primary purpose was to define current and future imbalances in water supply and demand. They asked stakeholders and agencies across the seven basin states to submit ideas to prevent shortages. States have agreed to consider a Missouri River diversion. Other ideas are destined for an appendix.

    Here’s the pitch from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation:

    The Missouri River Reuse option is a diversion of up to 600,000 AFY of water from the Missouri River for reuse within the Missouri River Basin of Kansas and Colorado. Water would be diverted from the Missouri River only when flows to support navigation and municipal water diversions along the river from Leavenworth, Kansas to Saint Louis, Missouri, are not impaired.

  • 1. Within Kansas, the water would be used to fill surface reservoirs and recharge depleted aquifers in the upper and lower Republican River Basins, Solomon River Basin, and Smoky-Hill/Saline River Basin as determined from assessment of need and feasibility by the Kansas State Water Office in cooperation with the Kansas Division of Water Resources, Army Corps of Engineers, and the States of Colorado and Nebraska. In particular, the water would be used for irrigation and municipal, commercial, and industrial use and to recharge the Ogallala aquifer in western Kansas. Each of these basins (including the Ogallala aquifer in northwest Kansas) is tributary to the Missouri River. The Ogallala aquifer discharges into the Republican River in northeast Colorado and northwest Kansas. Kansas may choose to construct new reservoirs or enlarge existing reservoirs for the project.
  • 2. Along the Front Range of Colorado, the water (totaling 500 cfs or more as Colorado determines)
    would be used for municipal, commercial, and industrial use with return flows allocated for agricultural irrigation use within the South Platte River Basin (a tributary of the Missouri River). Some water could be used to recharge the bedrock aquifers of the Denver Basin. In eastern Colorado, some water could be used for irrigation and municipal use and to recharge the Ogallala aquifer. Water would likely be stored in Front Range reservoir such as Rueter-Hess, Carter, Barr, and Chatfield and in designated alluvial storage along the South Platte River. Colorado may choose to construct new reservoirs or enlarge existing reservoirs for the project.

  • 3. Some water may be available for use outside the Missouri River Basin, particularly that portion of the water in the Missouri River which is non-native (originating as transmountain diversions from the
    Colorado and Arkansas Rivers in Colorado and nontributary Denver Basin ground-water withdrawals). Some of this water could be directed to the Arkansas River in western and central Kansas and in eastern Colorado beginning near Colorado Springs. Some water could also be directed to the headwaters of the Colorado River Basin through pipelines and tunnels when there is great need to relieve drought in the basin provided the navigation and municipal supply flows in the Missouri River are plentiful and other water needs of western Kansas and eastern Colorado are being reasonably satisfied.
  • The location of the Missouri River diversion point is in Leavenworth County, Kansas near the City of Leavenworth. The water would be treated and disinfected at a large treatment plant to be designed and constructed, as necessary, for subsequent conveyance and use. End-user treatment, such as water softening for municipal, commercial, and industrial use, is anticipated.

    Conveyance of water across Kansas and eastern Colorado would be through single or parallel largediameter pipelines located more or less adjacent to I-70. Infrastructure would include a series of highcapacity pumping stations (to be located, sized, and designed). The water conveyance infrastructure (pipeline and pumping stations) would be owned and operated by the Kansas Water Office in cooperation with the Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Kansas Division of Water Resources, Colorado Division of Water Resources, Colorado Water Conservation Board, and various public and private stakeholders. The diversion rights would owned by a Kansas entity

    The Missouri River Reuse Project is technically feasible as evidenced by other large diversion projects in the western United States including, but not limited to: (a) the numerous transmountain diversion projects in Colorado that bring tens of thousands of acre-feet of Colorado River and Arkansas River water to the Front Range through numerous tunnels; (b) the Colorado River Aqueduct that brings water from the Colorado River at Parker Dam to Southern California; (c) the Los Angeles Aqueduct that brings water from Owens Valley to Los Angeles; (d) the Central Arizona (canal) Project that brings Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson, and (e) the State Water Project of California that provides irrigation water to farms in the San Joaquin Valley, and is a major source of supply for cities in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties and other parts of southern California. Many of these projects involve the Bureau of Reclamation, Corps of Engineers, and numerous state water resources agencies.

    A similar serious project has been proposed that would divert surface water from the Mississippi River and pump it west into the Colorado River Basin. Another large project has been proposed that would divert about 300,000 of acre-feet of surface water from the Green River at Flaming Gorge Reservoir in southwest Wyoming, pump the water across southern Wyoming along I-80 to Cheyenne and then south into the Denver Basin. Moreover, private energy and pipeline companies have constructed thousands of miles of interstate pipelines that pump vast quantities of natural gas and petroleum products across the United States.

    Legal, engineering and construction costs need to be determined for numerous possible options. Construction costs will likely be in the billions of dollars and would be borne by the various end users — water providers and irrigators in Kansas and Colorado with some participation by the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation. Operating costs must be affordable for irrigators and municipal users for the project to be feasible. In exporting water out-of-state to Colorado, Kansas could charge and collect a reasonable severance tax, as well as the State Water Plan fee.

    The historic 2007 multi-state agreement among the seven Colorado River Basin States governing the future management of the Colorado River provides for the introduction and recovery of non-Colorado River system water and non-Colorado River system water exchanges. The Front Range of Colorado uses about 345,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water each year and releases that water into the South Platte River Basin, which is tributary to the Missouri River. According to the 2004 Colorado Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) report, the South Platte River Basin will need an additional 409,700 acre-feet of water by 2030 due largely to forecasted population increase. Bringing Missouri River reuse water to the Front Range provides an opportunity for Colorado to exchange all or a portion of this water for other water in the Colorado River Basin originating in the State of Colorado (such as from the Yampa, White, and Green Rivers) to the Lower Basin states. This exchange of water would engage the States of California, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico in helping to pay for the project. The federal government would also have a financial interest in the project because of the Colorado River treaty with Mexico.

    The Missouri River Reuse Project could have major interstate impacts on regional and local water supply. Congressional and state legislative approvals will likely be needed with an accompanying environmental impact statement under NEPA. A 404 permit will be needed from the Corps of Engineers including numerous state approvals. Water rights for the diversion will have to be obtained from the Kansas Department of Water Resources and will be held by a Kansas entity.

    Even though the water will be used in Kansas and Colorado, the reuse project will likely have profound and unprecedented positive impacts on the Colorado, Republican, and South Platte River compacts affecting Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and the Colorado River treaty with Mexico. The reuse project could also positively impact the North Platte and Arkansas River compacts involving Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The State of Missouri will need solid assurance that the flows in the Missouri River will always be sufficient to support navigation and municipal water diversions in the state. A benefit to the states of Missouri and Kansas and Kansas City area water providers is the possible reduced risk of damage from flooding and river degradation.

    The project has numerous options that can be considered in terms of design, construction, operations, and costs. Each of these options needs to be fully explored, which will take time and money. The possible source(s) of funding need to be determined and evaluated. The project is large and will need to engage the cooperation (buy-in) and participation by numerous states and their respective water resources agencies and water providers, the Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and various Missouri River stakeholders. Other federal agency cooperation will be needed from the Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, US Department of Commerce, US Energy Department, US Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Considerable risk and uncertainty exists when seeking approval and consensus from such a cadre of stakeholders.

    Historic flows in the Missouri River demonstrate that the river it a reliable source of supply for navigation, irrigation, and municipal supply. Flows vary annually and seasonally. The main stem of the Missouri River is managed by the Corps of Engineers pursuant to an annual operating plan that is focused on flood control, navigation, municipal water supply, recreation, and habitat for fish and wildlife. The historic Missouri River flood of 2011 caused significant river-bottom degradation from Atchison, Kansas to Kansas City, Missouri, breached numerous federal and private levees, and considerable damage to public and private property. A large diversion from the Missouri River would provide another means for the Corps of Engineers to control flooding of the Missouri River in the Kansas City reach. During periods of low flow, projected river diversions would be reduced or suspended. Subsequent water stored in reservoirs west of the diversion point could be released as needed to ensure adequate supplies of water for municipal use, such as along the Kansas River.

    The amount of electrical energy required for operations would be substantial and needs to be determined based on consideration of reasonable design alternatives. Power supply to the pumping stations would be provided by a combination of existing and expanded coal-fired power plants and wind energy as determined most appropriate and feasible by objective engineering and economic analyses.

    Additional water for Kansas and Colorado reservoirs will positively support reservoir recreation activities. The reuse project would likely have a positive affect on the riparian habitat of the lower South Platte River basin, particularly for whooping cranes and other waterfowl in northeast Colorado and southwest Nebraska. Potential impacts on endangered and protected fish and waterfowl along the Missouri River would need to be determined.

    Project alternative studies, engineering, design, construction, legal support, and operations would be a significant economic benefit to the States of Kansas and Colorado in terms of employment and population growth. A large diversion works, treatment plant, and pumping station would likely employ hundreds of skilled workers and engineers in Leavenworth County, Kansas. Pipeline and booster pumping stations would likewise employ hundreds of skilled workers across Kansas and eastern Colorado. Severance tax revenue for state of Kansas from the export of water to Colorado would also be significant. The economic benefit could be similar to the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to the United States or nearly any of the aqueduct projects in California. The project could also yield substantial volumes of new water to the Lower Colorado River Basin states under the Colorado River Compact.

    More Missouri River Reuse Project coverage here.

    Ron Redd named as the new manager for the Parker Water and Sanitation District

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    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Ron Redd, the longtime utilities director for Castle Rock, was named during a meeting Nov. 15 as the replacement for Frank Jaeger, who has served as district manager for more than 30 years. Redd was present for many of the water district’s most recent notable accomplishments, including the opening of Rueter-Hess Reservoir and Dam. Redd was among the main players in Castle Rock’s agreement to purchase $40 million worth of water storage space in Rueter-Hess, making the town the PWSD’s largest partner on the expansion of the reservoir…

    Wasserman pointed out that certain perks that have come with the district manager’s position in the past will no longer be in place, such as free gas. Jaeger drives a GMC Denali that’s owned by the district, one of the points of contention when the new board members were elected. Redd, who starts his job in early January, will get a $500-a-month auto allowance, along with his $150,500 annual salary.

    Will Mr. Redd take over Mr. Jaeger’s duties with the Colorado Wyoming Cooperative Water Supply Project?.

    More Parker coverage here and here.

    Douglas County: Sun Resources (Phil Anschutz) plans to mine 15,000 acre-feet a year from the Denver Basin aquifer system

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    From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

    Rights to the water were acquired by billionaire Phil Anschutz last year, and one of his companies, Sun Resources, is building wells that could pump as much as 15,000 acre-feet of water per year from Denver Basin aquifers. That’s enough water to sustain 30,000 houses, though Sun Resources chief executive Gary Pierson characterized the drilling as exploratory.

    “We have not made any arrangements for the water at this point,” Pierson said…

    Two production wells — 1,450 and 1,800 feet deep — were nearing completion this week. A 2009 document obtained by The Denver Post proposed 35 production wells and shows water being moved to cities and communities through pipelines, including one leading to Sterling Ranch, a planned $4.3 billion, 12,050-house development south of Chatfield State Park…

    State water authorities this year issued permits allowing Sun Resources to drill two production wells under the Greenland open space. A 1995 water-court decision established rights to 1.5 million acre-feet of water under the 7,640-acre Greenland Ranch. Anschutz acquired those rights last year in a purchase of assets from the Gaylord family of Oklahoma…

    South-metro water providers relying on finite underground sources have declared a mission of shifting to renewable water from snowmelt and rivers, said Eric Hecox, director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. “That doesn’t mean they have to be 100 percent off the Denver Basin aquifer water,” Hecox said. “What we would like to do is use the Denver Basin in a different way, as a drought supply.

    More Denver Basin Aquifer system coverage here and here.

    Parker Water and Sanitation: ‘To cut from the budget without understanding what they’re doing is short-sighted’ — Mary Spencer

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    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Mary Spencer, who was elected to the board of directors in 2006, sent a resignation letter to district manager Frank Jaeger June 29 that highlighted her growing frustration with the board…

    When reached by phone July 16, Spencer said she became tired of her colleagues blaming past boards for a range of issues. Dissenters and “two sitting board members have made a disastrous decision to destroy not only the district but the reputations of past board members,” the letter said…

    During the interview, Spencer also sharply criticized a recent decision to fire the water provider’s longtime lobbyists, whom she says have helped kill legislation that would have cost the district, and therefore ratepayers, millions of dollars. Spencer said the $48,000 that was paid annually to the lobbyists was well worth it. She also bemoaned the recent firing of Floyd Ciruli, a public relations specialist and political analyst who was contracted by the PWSD…

    Spencer, whose term was set to expire in May 2014, said the decision to leave was difficult because she still believes in the district’s mission, but it was “not worth the stress” to deal with the fallout from the attempted board recall in 2009 and subsequent conduct that has had a “detrimental” affect on the water district.

    More Parker coverage here and here.

    Douglas County forms a water and wastewater enterprise to fund infrastructure for renewable supplies

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    From the Castle Rock News Press (Rhonda Moore):

    The board of county commissioners on July 10 established the Douglas County water and wastewater enterprise, opening the door to bring money to the table for long-term water development. The enterprise allows the county to issue revenue bonds secured by future revenues from water providers who pass muster, said Lance Ingalls, county attorney. The enterprise, through state statute, allows the county to issue the revenue bonds to qualifying providers on a project-by-project basis, Ingalls said…

    The authority was focused primarily on advancing the water infrastructure and supply efficiency project that is pivotal to filling the Rueter-Hess reservoir, said Eric Hecox, authority spokesman…

    “This enterprise is opening the door for the county to be a catalyst for partnership to meet our renewable water needs,” Hecox said. “Having a partner as big a player as the county gives us the opportunity to meet our regional long term challenges.”

    The strength of the county’s borrowing power bumps the water game up a notch in Douglas County, said Jill Repella, commissioner, District 2. Repella was part of the conversations with providers who made it clear the county’s role is critical to the success of any effort toward bringing long-term water to Douglas County.

    More infrastructure coverage here.

    The Parker Water and Sanitation District board decides to keep Frank Jaeger on the payroll through the transition to his retirement this fall

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    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Even before the Pledge of Allegiance was recited by the approximately 60 people in attendance at the Parker Water and Sanitation District meeting May 31, chairwoman Darcy Beard announced that the board would be retaining Jaeger indefinitely to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership.

    Just two weeks ago, Jaeger said he believed his days as district manager were numbered. Three new board members were elected May 8 after running on a platform that promised a change in spending habits, transparency and planning. At the five-member board’s first meeting May 17, they stripped management of their ability to sign checks, but stopped short of discontinuing Jaeger’s contract for fear of losing the person with the most intimate knowledge of district operations and plans. The tone early on at the May 31 meeting was conciliatory as Beard cited Jaeger’s “dedication and vision” for making the district one of the more respected water providers in the state. Beard also apologized because she was told that Jaeger “felt my criticism was directed to him personally” during comments she made at the May 17 meeting.

    Jaeger, who has been at the helm of the PWSD for 31 years, wrote a letter to the board that expressed his willingness to pass on his knowledge during an “orderly and well-thought-out” transition period. Jaeger said he wants to schedule a full-day learning session to catch the new board members up to speed on reasons behind water planning policies and update them on growing concerns about the cost of treating wastewater.

    More Parker coverage here.

    Parker: Frank Jaeger retires, 9News exposé contributes to board angst over his continued employment

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    From The Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Frank Jaeger, the Parker Water and Sanitation District’s general manager for 31 years, announced his plans to retire at the end of his contract in December, but some of the newly elected directors proposed immediately terminating his contract, just hours after they were sworn in May 17.

    However, following a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of losing the person with the most extensive knowledge of the water district’s history and operations, the board members decided to rescind the resolution to fire Jaeger.

    A special executive session, which enables the board to privately discuss sensitive matters, is tentatively scheduled for May 21. Jaeger, who was reached at his office by phone a day after the May 17 meeting, believes the board will likely terminate his contract…

    But Wasserman acknowledged that the board might have acted too hastily with the proposal to terminate Jaeger’s contract. He commended what he calls Jaeger’s “far-sighted” decision to build Rueter-Hess Reservoir, but says the project got too costly and out of control.

    Jaeger, who makes no apologies for his blunt manner of speaking, said he has been unfairly targeted by the new board, the media and members of the public, despite what he sees as 31 years of devotion to “doing what’s best for our customers.”

    Dozens of people attended the May 17 meeting, including Parker Water and Sanitation District employees, who were curious about what would happen to the man who has served as their general manager and been with the district longer than anyone else. Wasserman said it was “understandable” that they might be concerned and said they have no reason to fear losing their jobs.

    From 9News.com:

    Frank Jaeger has managed the Parker Water and Sanitation District since 1981. 9Wants to Know recently revealed that he and other managers were using government credit cards to pay for vehicle upgrades, numerous lunch meetings, and trips for conferences in places like Las Vegas and Florida. These expenses came as the district raised water rates for Parker residents.

    Thursday night, Jaeger announced his retirement, but the new board members still proposed to terminate his contract, effective on Friday…

    9Wants to Know found he and other managers had expenses like:

    • $892 spent on new rims for the District Manager’s Yukon Denali
    • Among dozens of car washes, sometimes several in a week, $560 was spent on a detail job for the District Manager’s Yukon Denali
    • $6,000 spent on 127 lunch meetings attended by water managers, consultants and lawmakers at places like the Brown Palace Hotel.
    • $20,000 spent on trips to Las Vegas, Florida and Washington D.C. for conferences
    • $1,925 paid to marketing consultants to write board member bios

    Jaeger defended those expenses as the cost of doing business and keeping up a clean image for the water utility.

    I wonder if Mr. Jaeger still plans to be the driving force behind the Colorado Wyoming Coalition’s version of the Flaming Gorge Pipeline?

    More Parker coverage here and here.

    Voters ask for policy changes from Parker Water and Sanitation Board

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    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Tracy Hutchins (2,714 votes), Bill Wasserman (2,572) and Kelly McCurry (2,591) were all voted to the water district’s board of directors May 8. Hutchins and Wasserman have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the board’s way of doing business.

    Kelly McCurry, who has been in the water and sanitation industry for 22 years, believes his expertise could help guide the agency into the future, but also says that spending could be reined in. He said water bills could potentially be lowered through a change in oversight. McCurry said he is frustrated with the seeming lack of transparency while he tried to conduct research…

    “We are really going to work on governance and accountability to the customers,” Hutchins said. “We’re going to do a top-to-bottom analysis of the organization as a whole and do same thing on the financial side.”[…]

    Wasserman, who got involved in a recall election when the district tried to raise rates by 28 percent in 2009, said public input will be a large part of going forward. “Looking at the election results last night, it was a clear mandate from the populace: they want change,” he said.

    More Parker coverage here and here.

    Parker: The quest for a sustainable water supply leads to political fallout over Rueter-Hess Reservoir and water rights purchases

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    From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz):

    Tracy Hutchins, who served on Parker Town Council for eight years, has turned her attention to what she believes is negligence by the water district’s top authorities. She is decrying, among other dealings, the $7.7 million investment in farms and water rights in the Sterling area because she says the district has no way to transport the water back to Rueter-Hess Reservoir, a $105 million project that PWSD officials say is vital for storing water for Douglas County’s future. Instead of relying on underground aquifers that are rapidly being depleted, Parker Water planned Rueter-Hess as a mechanism to store water from wet years for use during times of drought. PWSD customers voted in 2004 to approve a bond issue that would use tap fees from ongoing development to pay for the reservoir construction. Hutchins says many Parker residents don’t know that when the real estate market crashed, the ratepayers were suddenly on the hook for the tab, which now stands at $97 million.

    “In the bond election, we said we would use all means and methods necessary, including a tax increase in the event we could not make payments,” said Jim Nikkel, project manager and assistant district manager for PWSD. The quasi-governmental agency raised its mill levy for the 2011 tax year. Nikkel says water rate increases offset rising utility costs and don’t pay for the reservoir debt.

    Hutchins says poor planning has saddled Parker’s water customers with debt, and the reservoir, which was officially opened in March, has only a puddle of water in it.

    More Parker coverage here and here.

    Parker: Rueter-Hess Reservoir is complete, just add water

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    Here’s the announcement from the Parker Water and Sanitation District website:

    What does it take to construct a 72,000 acre-foot reservoir on Colorado’s crowded Front Range during years of belt-tightening and competition for scarce water resources? It takes 25 years of managing complex planning, permitting and construction projects, and more importantly, it takes the vision and tenacity of the water district managers in charge. In Parker, all these elements coalesced to complete Rueter-Hess Reservoir – the first major water storage facility on the Front Range in several decades.

    Parker Water celebrated the completion of the massive Rueter-Hess Reservoir project on March 21st with more than 100 contractors, metro water partners and government officials in attendance on the tower of the Frank Jaeger Dam.

    John Stulp, special policy advisor on water issues to Governor Hickenlooper, commended Parker Water and its partners in Douglas County for collaborating on a forward-looking project that will be needed as Colorado gains an estimated 4-5 million residents over the next 30-40 years.

    Colorado State Senator Ted Harvey read a resolution adopted unanimously by both houses of the legislature the previous day, congratulating Parker Water on its foresight and persistence in planning and constructing Rueter-Hess Reservoir. Senator Harvey said, “We can’t bring in good companies to Douglas County and create jobs if we don’t have the needed resources to serve them. Rueter-Hess is a key part of that.”

    The Douglas County Commission also adopted a resolution of congratulations for 50 years of service to customers in Douglas County. County commissioners Jack Hilbert and Jill Repella specifically cited the cooperation that led communities to work together on Rueter-Hess Reservoir.

    To culminate the ceremony, the PWSD Board Members in attendance: Mary Spencer, Sheppard Root, Mike Casey and Darcy Beard, activated the release of water stored in the nearby Cherry Creek diversion structure into the reservoir. The crowd applauded as a remote camera captured the water flowing from the outlet into the south side of the reservoir.

    Already, Rueter-Hess Reservoir holds some 4,000 acre-feet of water from flows captured in the reservoir beginning in May 2011 – enough water to serve 9,000 homes over the course of a year. The Douglas County water districts partnering in the reservoir, including the Town of Castle Rock, Castle Pines North, and Stonegate, will continue to capture storm runoff and reuse water, and plan to develop additional surface-water sources in the future.

    More coverage from Clayton Wouliard writing for YourHub.com. From the article:

    A completion ceremony was held March 21 by Parker Water and Sanitation, which paid for the construction of the reservoir that can hold 72,000 acre feet of water. The dam for it cost about $135 million, with a total cost of the project at about $200 million, including an environmental impact study, pumps and legal work, according to Jim Nikkel, assistant manager of Parker Water and Sanitation. The project was funded through a general obligation bond approved by voters in 2002.

    “It’s the first of a long process of ensuring the area of northern Douglas County has sustainable water for now and in the future,” Nikkel said.

    Nikkel said a water treatment plant is currently being built for $50 million that is slated to be finished by summer 2014 and will treat water from the reservoir. Currently, Parker gets its water from aquifers, which are not renewable. The treatment plant construction is being funded through revenue bonds and will process up to 10 million gallons per day, Nikkel said.

    More Rueter-Hess Reservoir coverage here and here.

    Flaming Gorge pipeline: Earthjustice, et al. to FERC — ‘No’ should mean no to do-over for preliminary permit

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    From the Earthjustice blog (Doug Pflugh):

    Million is back at it again, asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider his application for a preliminary permit. Million’s request comes on the heels of FERC’s dismissal of his preliminary permit. You may remember that Million turned to FERC after an earlier attempt to permit this project was terminated by the Army Corps of Engineers last summer. That’s two no’s in less than one year. Will a third do the trick?

    This week, Earthjustice, representing 10 environmental groups, filed papers with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) objecting to a do-over by FERC. FERC’s decision to deny the permit was right on the money and should have been the end of this scheme. But, with at least $1.4 billion at stake—according to Million—it’s easy to understand why he isn’t giving up easily…

    Earthjustice represents a coalition of ten conservation groups with interests throughout the Colorado River Basin: Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Rocky Mountain Wild, Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Citizens for Dixie’s Future, Glen Canyon Institute, Living Rivers: Colorado Riverkeeper, and Utah Rivers Council.

    More coverage from Mark Wilcox writing for the Wyoming Business Report. From the article:

    Aaron Million’s confidential business plan to annually pump about 81 billion gallons out of Flaming Gorge and the Green River that feeds it has been revealed to the Associated Press, and it is no small wonder he has not taken ‘no’ for an answer. The plan would bring in an estimated net profit of between $1.4 and $2.4 billion. And that’s after construction costs of somewhere between $2.8 billion and $3.2 billion. And end users of the water would pay up to $117 million in annual operating costs based on a “cost plus 20 percent” business model with estimated operating costs of between $70 million and $90 million…

    “Million’s plan is a blatant attempt to transform an important public good into billions of dollars of private profit,” said Earthjustice staff attorney McCrystie Adams in a statement urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission not to rehear Million’s request. Earthjustice represents various conservation clients on this issue. “We know from the developer’s public statements and documents that he’s looking for someone else to cover the millions of dollars of permitting costs that will undoubtedly be associated with what they describe as ‘the largest water infrastructure, pipeline, hydropower and storage project’ in the region.”

    Adams’ statement refers to portions of the plan showing that Million’s Wyco Power and Water Inc. is seeking to raise $15 million through 2015 to get through the permitting process. While the amount raised so far is confidential, $5 million has been spent on the permitting process.

    “It is clear that Million sees the Flaming Gorge Pipeline as his Mega-Millions jackpot and hopes someone else will pay for his tickets,” Adams wrote. “Fortunately, the odds of permitting this boondoggle are similar to winning the lottery.”

    More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

    Flaming Gorge pipeline: Aaron Million files a reconsideration request with FERC in response to their denial of the preliminary application

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    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    Environmental groups promise to fight the project at every turn, while a state task force will hear about Flaming Gorge pipeline proposals next week in Glenwood Springs. Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million on Friday filed for a rehearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for his proposed 500-mile water pipeline from the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range. FERC rejected the application from Million’s Wyco Power and Water Inc. on Feb. 23.

    Million’s response states that FERC made errors in its determination that the application was filed prematurely. The basis was that the water pipeline associated with hydropower projects has not been constructed. “Wyco contends that sufficient information and maps associated with the pipeline alignment have been provided to the commission,” Million stated in an 11-page request for rehearing and clarification. “We’re asking for clarification of why the decision was made, other than political pressure. That shouldn’t be a factor,” he said.

    Million contends FERC has granted preliminary permits to other power projects in their infancy, including the Lake Powell pipeline project in Utah. He said Wyco plans to build the pipeline. Wyco already has issued requests for proposals to manage the project.

    On Tuesday, the Flaming Gorge task force, formed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board at the request of the Arkansas Basin and Metro roundtables, will hear presentations from Million and from Frank Jaeger, whose Colorado-Wyoming Coalition has proposed a similar, but competing project.

    More coverage from Electa Draper writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

    On Feb. 23, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dismissed Wyco Power and Water Inc.’s application for a preliminary permit on the basis it was premature. Officials said there was no purpose in issuing a hydropower permit without information on construction and operation of the pipeline, which Million couldn’t provide. Conservationists hailed the decision as a victory for the environment because, they said, Million’s project, which would divert water from the Upper Colorado River Basin to Front Range cities, would drastically lower the level of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, threaten four species of endangered fish, and further harm ecosystems, wildlife and recreation. “We hope that FERC will reject this appeal, and the project will die a much-deserved death,” wildlife biologist Erik Molvar said in a statement from the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance…

    Million, in a telephone interview from Fort Collins, said FERC had asked for some additional information when Wyco filed the application in September. If there were additional deficiencies in the application, he said, FERC should have told him before accepting the application. However, Million said, Wyco doesn’t need the FERC preliminary permit to keep moving forward with other elements of the project. “We already hold the water filings in the river and for federal water rights,” Million said. “We already hold the priority filings. We’re going to move through the process, regardless.”

    More coverage from Brandon Loomis writing for The Salt Lake Tribune. From the article:

    Utah has used the same rationale in seeking approval for a Lake Powell pipeline to St. George, and Million’s new application questions whether FERC imposed the same requirements in advancing that project. “Wyco contends that it will be counterproductive and cost-prohibitive to secure all necessary permits and authorizations to construct the pipeline without confirming the locations of the associated hydroelectric facilities,” the company said in its filing…

    “FERC certainly got it right the first time,” Earthjustice attorney Michael Hiatt said. “This project would clearly devastate the Green River.”

    More coverage from Troy Hooper writing for the Colorado Independent. Here’s an excerpt:

    Critics say the pipeline would drain 81 billion gallons of water each year from the Green River, a tributary of the already stressed Colorado River, and the state of Colorado projects the pipeline could cost as much as $9 billion to build. The Colorado River Water Conservation District, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, county and local governments in southwestern Wyoming and a multitude of conservation groups are opposing the potential pipeline that Million claims is needed for Colorado to meet its rising demand for water.

    “FERC made the right decision in February,” said Matt Rice, director of the Denver-based chapter of American Rivers. “It is clear this is nothing more than a speculative project that if ever built would severely harm the recreational, economic, agricultural and natural values of the Green River. Mr. Million is grasping for straws. It is highly unlikely that FERC will reverse their decision.”

    Gary Wockner of Save The Poudre added that “Mr. Million seems to think this process is like an Etch-A-Sketch, where he can just keep shaking and redrawing until he finally wears down the federal agencies and the opposition. The Flaming Gorge Pipeline is a fatally flawed concept that would devastate the Green and Colorado River ecosystems — we will fight it at every opportunity.”

    More coverage from Amy Joi O’Donoghue writing for the Deseret News. Here’s an excerpt:

    In a document filed Friday requesting a rehearing before the agency, Million argued that FERC should question if it erred by tossing his application for a permit in February on the basis that it was “premature” or incomplete…

    Million said the agency needs to consider if it let the amount of comments and objections on record by multiple agencies unduly sway the commission. Opponents like the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Forest Service, Sweetwater County and Colorado Springs Utilities — as well as numerous conservation organizations — have asked the commission to legally recognize objections raised.

    When the commission dismissed the preliminary permit application for Million’s Regional Watershed Supply Project, the agency said until the pipeline is built and authorizations are in place, it would be premature move the hydropower project forward. “The commission’s order implies that the final pipeline alignment, all authorizations to construct the pipeline and even the construction of the pipeline should be completed prior to filing an application for a preliminary permit” Million’s rehearing request said. Such a requirement, he added, is counterproductive and cost prohibitive absent knowing where the hydroelectric components would be sited…

    “The developer’s application for a rehearing is a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Michael Hiatt, an attorney with Earthjustice.

    More coverage from Mark Wilcox writing for the Wyoming Business Report. From the article:

    Aaron Million and his company Wyco, first proposed the water project to the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps rejected the application in July of 2011 after two years’s consideration because they said Million failed to provide sufficient information. Million then proposed the Flaming Gorge pipeline to FERC as a power-generating project that would simultaneously quench the Front Range’s thirst in Colorado, and received an initial dismissal Feb. 23. The multi-billion dollar pipeline would transport water more than 500 miles to a reservoir at its final destination in Pueblo, Colo. “As presented in Wyco’s application, these hydropower projects are exclusively dependent on water from the proposed water supply pipeline,” the dismissal stated. “However, this pipeline does not currently exist, and Wyco’s application does not provide any information about the timeline for seeking and obtaining the necessary authorizations for the construction and operation of such a pipeline.”

    Additionally, officials cited a lack of information on the route the pipeline would take through public and privately held lands. “Until…authorizations have been obtained for a specific route or the process to identify a specific route has been substantially completed, Wyco will be unable to prepare “[s]uch maps, plans, specifications, and estimates of cost as may be required for a full understanding of the proposed [hydropower] project,” the order read.

    While the initial government dismissal was based on technicalities, many environmentalist groups are pushing for a more permanent dismissal. “Anyone who tries to divert Wyoming’s Green River over the Continental Divide doesn’t appreciate the value that it provides for native fish and wildlife, local economies and the western way of life,” said Earthjustice attorney Michael Hiatt in a statement. “The Flaming Gorge Pipeline—one of the biggest, most environmentally damaging water projects in the history of the western United States—would irreparably damage the Green and the Colorado River downstream.”[…]

    Another group is now touring the region with a short film and presentation that reflect the damage the pipeline would do to Flaming Gorge and the Green River’s $118 million outdoor recreation economy. Studies indicate the lost water could raise salinity levels in the gorge and river to lethal levels for fish and other marine mammals. Opponents of the pipeline also indicate the potential downsides to mammals of building a 10-foot pipeline over the Continental Divide. “This thing is still on the rails,” said Walt Gasson, Trout Unlimited’s endorsed business director, “And still constitutes — to my way of thinking — to our way of thinking, a clear and present danger to wildlife conservation in Wyoming.”

    More coverage from Steve Lynn writing for the Northern Colorado Business Report. From the article:

    “[Wyco Power and Water Inc] respectfully requests that the commission grant re-hearing of the dismissal of preliminary permit application for the regional watershed supply project and to issue the preliminary permit for a term of 36 months,” the company stated in the document…

    The pipeline would help meet the water needs of Colorado, which faces a water supply shortfall of between 500,000 and 700,000 acre feet in the next two decades, Wyco principal Aaron Million has said. He contends the federal government will take steps to protect river flows for recreation as well as enhance fisheries.

    From the Denver Business Journal:

    The Associated Press reports that Aaron Million of Fort Collins filed the request Friday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…

    FERC’s permission was needed for the pipeline’s water to be used to generate electricity.

    More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

    Parker: Rueter-Hess opening celebration recap, 72,000 acre-feet surrounded by 2,000 acres of open space

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    From the Parker Chronicle (Rhonda Moore):

    District manager Frank Jaeger, who led the charge to build Rueter-Hess, welcomed dignitaries at the March 21 celebration, atop the dam of the 72,000 acre-foot reservoir.

    Originally planned as a 16,000 acre-foot reservoir, the project was expanded with the financial support of Castle Rock, Castle Pines and Stonegate to its present capacity in hopes of serving as a regional storage system, Jaeger said.

    “We started planning for this 27 years ago when we recognized the need for a renewable source of water for Douglas County and this area,” Jaeger said. “You’re now sitting (along) what will be the jewel of Douglas County and what will be the provider for Parker and its partners. This is one step in a long journey.”

    The reservoir project includes 2,000 acres of open space, contingent upon future funding, according to the district. If financing comes through for recreational use, activities could include fishing, hiking, cycling and non-motorized boating.

    Completion of Rueter-Hess, which is owned and managed by the Parker Water and Sanitation District, came the same year that the district is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

    Rueter-Hess Reservoir is about three miles southwest of Parker and, when filled, will have a surface size of 1,140 acres, 50 percent larger than Cherry Creek Reservoir. On grand opening day, the reservoir was filled to a depth of about 57 feet, with enough water to serve 9,000 houses for one year.

    More Rueter-Hess coverage here and here.

    Parker: Rueter-Hess Reservoir celebration this week

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    Parker and other South Metro communities will celebrate the opening of the largest Front Range reservoir since Aurora Reservoir this week. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

    Parker Water and Sanitation has completed Rueter-Hess Reservoir, a 72,000 acre-foot storage facility that will store water for Parker and surrounding communities in the South Denver area. “The project is a significant accomplishment for Parker Water and Sanitation District, its customers and the entire south metropolitan area. Congratulations is due all around,” said Frank Jaeger, manager of the district…

    Rueter-Hess has been in the planning stages for 25 years and under construction for the last eight. It cost $165 million to build, including $56 million from Castle Rock, Castle Pines North and Stonegate, which like Parker are located in Douglas County…

    The other Douglas County communities joined the project in 2008, expanding the capacity of Rueter-Hess by 56,000 acre-feet. The reservoir still must undergo state safety inspections before it can begin storing water. It will collect water flows from wet years for use during summer months and dry years. It is the largest Front Range reservoir to open since Aurora Reservoir with a capacity of 36,150 acre-feet, began filling in 1990.

    More Rueter-Hess Reservoir coverage here and here.

    Colorado Springs Utilities’ Steve Berry: ‘In looking at the numbers in this executive summary, it does not appear that many of our comments were considered’

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    Last week, the day before the Statewide Roundtable Summit, Western Resource Advocates, et. al., released a report titled, “Meeting Future Water Needs in the Arkansas Basin.” Colorado Springs and Pueblo are taking a hard look at the report, according to this article from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Here’s an excerpt:

    There may be a question whether water providers accept the figures used in the reports. “Colorado Springs Utilities was asked to peer review the draft version, and made extensive and substantial comments on it. In looking at the numbers in this executive summary, it does not appear that many of our comments were considered, and many of our suggested changes or corrections were not made,” said Steve Berry, spokesman for Utilities. The largest amounts of water, and presumably the largest conservation and reuse savings, come from Colorado Springs.

    The Pueblo Board of Water Works is also reviewing the final report for accuracy, said Alan Ward, water resources manager…

    The environmental groups say a combination of projects already on the books — conservation, reuse and temporary ag-urban transfers — could provide as much as 140,000 acre-feet, more than enough to meet the needs. Those numbers are being examined by urban water planners, who say the savings might not be attainable. “In general, we were unable to verify or recreate most of the numbers cited in their report, and their estimates for conservation and reuse are significantly greater than what our water conservation experts have calculated as realistic,” Berry said…

    When asked how conservation savings would be applied to new supplies, a practice cities find risky, Jorge Figueroa, water policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates, said they could be put into “savings accounts” for future use. When asked where the water would be stored, he cited the T-Cross reservoir site on Williams Creek in El Paso County that is part of the Southern Delivery System plan…

    Drew Peternell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project, said the group supports [the Southern Delivery System]. Because the project already is under way, the groups look at SDS as a key way to fill the gap. The report also supports programs like Super Ditch as ways to temporarily transfer agricultural water to cities without permanently drying up farmland.

    Meanwhile, here’s a look at a report from the Northwest Council of Governments, “Water and Its Relationship to the Economies of the Headwaters Counties,” from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

    The report, released in January at a Denver water conference, takes a fresh look at the critical importance to the economy of water in West Slope rivers, and why Colorado leaders may want to take careful thought before making future transmountain diversion policy decisions. Visit the NWCCOG website for the full 95-page report.

    “This report makes an important contribution to the on-going dialogue about adverse economic impacts associated with losing water by focusing attention on Eagle, Grand, Gunnison, Pitkin, Routt and Summit counties,” said Jean Coley Townsend, the author of the report. “This has never been done before. The report provides an important counterbalance to earlier studies that show economic impacts of losing water from the Eastern Plains.”

    Balancing the supply and demand of water could be the State’s most pressing issue. The report does not take issue with Front Range municipal or Eastern Plains agricultural water users — all parties have important and worthy concerns and points of view — but is meant as a thorough review of water as an economic driver of headwaters economic development.

    The report provides a balance to the existing solid body of work that measures the potential economic effects of less water on the Front Range and the Eastern Plains and the loss of agriculture in those parts of the state.

    “If we … are going to solve our Statewide water supply shortage challenges there must first be statewide mutual respect and true understanding of each other’s water supply challenges,” said Zach Margolis, Town of Silverthorne Utility Manager. “The report is a remarkable compilation of the West Slope’s water obligations and limitations as well as the statewide economic value of water in the headwater counties of Colorado.”

    More transmountain/transbasin diversions coverage here.

    Aurora informally approves draft oil and gas ordinance

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    From the Aurora Sentinel (Sara Castellanos):

    Council members at the meeting informally approved a draft ordinance regulating oil and gas development amidst growing tensions from the community about the environmental impacts of fracking. City staff members in the coming weeks are slated to meet with major oil and gas developers to discuss the proposed draft, and council members will have to formally vote on the draft at a later date. The draft ordinance puts stricter regulations on oil and gas developers than the city’s current ordinance, but concerned residents still say council should have done more…

    Aurora’s proposed regulations include requiring oil and gas companies to obtain a conditional use permit if they are considering drilling within 1,000 feet from a residential subdivision. Aurora’s current ordinance allows drilling in all zone districts. “This is a recognition that as you get closer to residential (areas) there may be impacts,” said Jim Sayre, manager of zoning and development review for the city. “There may be light, glare, traffic, vibration, noise and things we do look at with industrial activity.”[…]

    The city’s draft also requires the use of best industry practices for water quality monitoring, “green” fracturing fluids and closed-loop systems. Another tenet of the draft requires traffic impact studies and haul routes…

    The draft regulations would also require an emergency response plan to deal with any hazardous spills, which current ordinances do not require.

    Meanwhile, Commerce City has delayed their ordinance again. Here’s a report from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

    The City Council on Monday temporarily shelved a six-month moratorium on all oil and gas drilling in the city — including the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — to allow for more talks with oil and gas interests. The council unanimously voted Monday night to hold off on a moratorium for at least 60 days while city officials continued work on an agreement that could lead to fracking regulation. Council members say the negotiations could reap broader and more effective standards than a simple ban.

    More oil and gas coverage here and here.

    The Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority scores 4,400 acre-feet of ag water from United Water and Sanitation, next up water court for a change of use

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    From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown) via Windsor Now!:

    Arapahoes’s purchases, negotiated over the past couple of years and finalized in September, still leave a couple of major questions yet to be answered. The county must win approval from water courts to use the water for municipal purposes and it must figure out a way to get the water from here to there. According to documents, Steve Witter, water resources manager for the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority, said during a presentation at an authority board meeting in September that 43 percent of the 4,400 acre-feet of water purchased by United Water and Sanitation District — on behalf of the authority — came from the Poudre River, while the other 57 percent came from the South Platte River. In an interview Monday, Witter noted that this marks the first time Arapahoe County — the third-most populous county in the state with nearly 600,000 people and whose municipalities include suburbs of Denver — has purchased water rights from farmers in northern Colorado. Witter said all of the agricultural water rights purchased on behalf of the water authority came from the Poudre and South Platte rivers. The transactions were made between United and individual shareholders of irrigation, ditch and reservoir companies — including 12 companies in Weld County, according to documents obtained by The Tribune…

    Front Range municipalities, because of their rapid growth, have been buying agricultural water rights from farmers to secure the future water needs for decades. But because of the ongoing “buy and dry” trend, the 2010 Statewide Water Supply Initiative, compiled by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, estimates that 500,000 to 700,000 acres of irrigated farmland could be dried up by 2050 — a year by which Colorado farmers will also be expected to help feed a state population that will have doubled to about 10 million people, according to some estimates.

    More Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority coverage here and here.

    Southeast Metro Stormwater Authority celebrates fifth anniversary

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    Here’s the release from the SEMSWA via the Englewood Herald. From the release:

    The Southeast Metro Stormwater Authority has celebrated its fifth anniversary of operations in the southeast Metro Denver area. SEMSWA, formed by a five-party intergovernmental agreement signed in September 2006, is responsible for stormwater management in the City of Centennial and the urbanized unincorporated portion of Arapahoe County. The authority was formed to provide a funding mechanism for the planning, construction and maintenance of drainage and flood control facilities, and to comply with federal environmental regulation to protect and enhance water quality in neighborhood greenways, flowing creeks and Cherry Creek Reservoir.

    More stormwater coverage here.

    Lamar pipeline: The Lower Ark Board listened politely (and critically) to GP Resources’ project preview yesterday

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    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    The board had questions about the projected yield of the project, the problem of brine disposal from a proposed treatment plant and the idea of moving water out of the Arkansas Valley — which goes against the mission adopted by the district after voters formed it in 2002. “I compliment your approach, opposed as I am to any water leaving the valley,” said Reeves Brown, a Beulah rancher who sits on the Lower Ark board. “There’s a limit to what we think agriculture can give up in order to support growth in Colorado.”[…]

    Upon questioning from the Lower Ark board, Nyquist said the only definite use for the water is in Elbert County. The Cherokee Metro District in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock in Douglas County have been approached, but decided on other options, at least in the short term, Nyquist said. “Right now, the pipeline ends at Falcon,” Nyquist said.

    “It’s only a short distance to Reuter-Hess Reservoir (in Parker), which has 60,000 acre-feet of empty storage space,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district…

    GP is looking at either deep injection of brine or a solar heating system that would evaporate the water [ed. by-product of the proposed reverse osmosis water treatment plant]. The heating system, which could also generate steam to power turbines, has not been tested on a large scale, Nyquist said. It would also generate 16 truckloads of salt per week. “It could be used as sidewalk deicer,” Nyquist said. “As a private business, we will figure out another manufacturing opportunity for something that would just be waste.”[…]

    [Karl Nyquist] said the assessed valuation of the ground on which the treatment plant is built would be greater than the value of the ground dried up. The combined wages from jobs at the treatment plant, reservoir and continued farm operations would more than make up for the temporary farm jobs that would be lost as a result of the dry-up, Nyquist said.

    More Lamar pipeline coverage here.

    Douglas County Conservation District presents Rural Water Authority of Douglas County

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    Here’s the release from the Douglas County Conservation District via the Castle Rock News Press:

    The Douglas County Conservation District invites you attend the celebration of over 50 years of service to the Douglas County residence at our Annual Meeting of Landowners. This year our meeting will be held on Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at The Lowell Ranch south of Castle Rock located at 2330 E. Frontage Road.

    The presentation will be given by the Rural Water Authority of Douglas County. The Rural Water Authority of Douglas County was created to serve the rural water users of Douglas County in providing an adequate, sustainable and reliable water supply. A brief business meeting will be conducted before the presentation.

    The District will also be awarding a $500 college scholarship to Patrick Taggart to use toward his tuition to assist in pursuing a degree in Agriculture. Pine Cliff Ranch will also be recognized as the District’s Conservationists of the year for 2011.

    Please join us for an enjoyable evening with complimentary finger foods, desserts, coffee, and apple cider, along with great information, awards recognitions and door prizes. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. at The Lowell Ranch located at 2330 E. Frontage Road south of Castle Rock. Please RSVP by October 11th at 303-688-3042 ext. 100 or by email at pam.brewster@co.nacdnet.net.

    More Denver Basin aquifer system coverage here.

    The Parker Water and Sanitation District may lower their mil levy 31%

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    From the Parker Chronicle:

    Said Mary Spencer, President of the [Parker Water and Sanitation District] Board, “The tap fee income PWSD has received from new development allows us to pay debt and reduce property taxes from 14.925 mills to 10.172 mills in 2012. This translates to a savings on property taxes. The reduction in the mil levy also includes a onetime reduction in the operating portion of the mill levy by 0.925 mills to payback property taxes plus interest that were collected in excess of limits allowed under TABOR. In addition, the Board is presenting to their customers, at the October 17, 2011 budget hearing, that there be no increase in the 2012 wastewater rates and only a 4% increase in water rates. The 4% increase for the average in house use of 6,000 gallons is $1.59 per month…

    The Board will consider the proposed budget for approval at the October 17, 2011 Board meeting to be held at 7 PM at the District’s North Water Reclamation Plant located at 18100 E. Woodman Dr., Parker , CO 80134.

    More Parker coverage here.