Denver Water and the leaders of Grand and Summit counties are set to sign the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement at noon Tuesday in Hot Sulphur Springs. Denver Water and nearly three dozen Western Slope water users announced the proposal last year. Eagle County and its water districts became the first to sign in February. The endorsement of the cities of Rifle and Glenwood Springs and some irrigation districts is still pending.
More Colorado River Cooperative Agreement coverage here.
Here’s the release from Trout Unlimited (Randy Scholfield):
Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project today announced the hiring of Rob Firth as project coordinator for the Upper Colorado River Basin in Grand and Summit Counties.
Firth, a longtime resident of Hot Sulphur Springs, retired in 2008 after a distinguished 25-year career with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. For most of his career, he served as a district and area wildlife manager in Grand, Summit and parts of Routt and Eagle Counties in northwest Colorado. More recently, he served as the DOW’s statewide chief of law enforcement. Over the years, his varied duties included enforcement of game laws, protection of land and water resources, wildlife and fisheries management, and public education.
“We are excited to put Rob Firth’s experience and skills to work protecting fish and wildlife habitat in the Upper Colorado River Basin,” said Drew Peternell, director of TU’s Colorado Water Project, which works to improve stream flows and coldwater fisheries in the state. “Rob is a trusted local voice on resource issues. And he knows how to bring people together to find solutions. That makes him a perfect choice to coordinate projects on behalf of TU in the Upper Colorado.”
For many years, the health of the Upper Colorado River Basin, including the Fraser and Williams Fork Rivers and other important tributaries, has suffered as a result of large-scale diversions of water to Colorado’s Front Range, with low stream flows degrading coldwater fish habitat. Along with Colorado Water Project counsel Mely Whiting, Firth will work to assure that the proposed Windy Gap Firming Project and Moffat Tunnel Firming Project do not further damage an already over-tapped river system.
Firth will also plan and implement on-the-ground projects that improve coldwater habitat in the Upper Colorado River Basin. Among other duties, he will work closely with water users, private land owners and agency staff to identify opportunities to restore streams and implement cooperative agreements with irrigators that benefit agricultural operations and fish habitat simultaneously.
“I have always respected Trout Unlimited as an outstanding grassroots sportsmen’s conservation group,” said Firth. “I’m eager to work with local partners to find ways to protect and enhance our fisheries here on the West Slope.”
In 2005, Grand County presented Firth with an outstanding Citizen award. In 2007, he was named the Colorado Trapper’s Association Wildlife Professional of the Year.
The Town of Hot Sulphur Springs is scheduled to begin construction on the town water project on Monday, March 15, with some exploratory excavation work near the water tank site, to be followed by more extensive digging at that site. The $3.3 million project is being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act…
Beginning April 5, construction will also begin near the water plant. Both construction sites will be excavated using “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) for erosion and sediment control, Southway said, including the use of rice-straw wattles and pine-beetle-killed log berms to control sediment from moving off site. Construction will generally take place Monday through Friday between 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The town brought its rate structure up to standard in response to an aging system that drained town coffers. The town revamped water billing by increasing the base rate of SFEs, or single-family equivalencies. One SFE — the rate for most residences — amounts to $94.20 a month. Commercial structures amount to greater numbers of SFEs.
But now that the town has concrete financials in place due to receipt of federal stimulus dollars, Bernal hopes it’s in a position to find compromise with business owners. “We understand the town’s position — and we hope they can come to understand ours,”
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, funneled through the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, could ease the town’s burden to maintain water service to the town’s citizens by providing funds for a clear well, membrane filtration, a revamped Colorado River intake and a new storage tank with a dedicated line. In a recent letter to the town, Health Department said the town is still eligible for federal funding after having clarified preliminary engineering information at the state’s request. The town is now searching for ways to leverage the possible $2 million no-payback loan to find additional state revolving-loan funds for its water system, with projected improvement costs at $3 million, as well as secure interim financing to get started on the clear well. The clear well is the final piece of conformance to an enforcement order handed down by the state Water Quality Control Division last summer.