Here’s the release from Colorado Springs Utilities:
There is an increasing occurrence of toxic blue-green algae in reservoirs across the United States this year, forcing the limitation of recreational access to the bodies of water for public safety.
In a recent test at Pikeview Reservoir, a popular fishing lake in central Colorado Springs and part of our water system, the bacteria was identified.
While the reservoir is still safe for fishing, as a precautionary meaure, humans and pets are prohibited from entering the water until further notice. Anglers are directed to thoroughly clean fish and discard guts.
We have removed Pikeview as a source for drinking water until the reservoir is determined to be clear of the algae. There are no concerns about this affecting water supply for our community.
Presumptive testing has indicated levels of less than 5 mcg/L.
Sickness including nausea, vomiting, rash, irritated eyes, seizures and breathing problems could occur following exposure to the blue-green algae in the water. Anyone suspicious of exposure with onset of symptoms should contact their doctor or veterinarian. For questions regarding health impacts of exposure, contact the El Paso County Health Department or Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Warming temperatures have contributed to the growth of the bacteria.
The popular fishing lake that lies just south of Garden of the Gods Road tested above acceptable limits for the bacteria the news release read. The water is still safe to fish in, but humans and pets are not allowed. Anglers are asked to clean the fish thoroughly and remove guts, according to the news release.
The reservoir has been removed as a drinking water source, Utilities stated, however there are no concerns about the tainted water affecting the community.
Local officials say damming a creek between Leadville and Minturn — and routing water normally flowing into the Colorado River — is necessary to sate the future thirsts of a city growing on land where water is scarce.
Aurora Water and Colorado Springs Utilities recently applied together for a permit to drill underground near the creek and test where a large Whitney Reservoir would be best situated.
For the dam, the utilities are eyeing four possible locations about six miles southwest of Red Cliff.
But damming Homestake Creek would also require moving the boundary of the Holy Cross Wilderness, affecting ancient, pristine wetlands.
Greg Baker, Aurora Water’s manager of public relations, said the Whitney Reservoir could be built in 25 years if key steps such as test drilling on Forest Service land are approved.
Baker said it’s another creative step to make sure that Aurora doesn’t go dry.
“You don’t leave anything on the table when you’re in Colorado, because most of the water has been appropriated in river basins,” he said.
Baker said the reservoir could eventually hold anywhere from 9,000 acre-feet to 19,000 acre-feet of water. The water would then be pumped near Leadville and travel to the Front Range through tunnels to the South Platte River basin.
Currently, only Aurora and Colorado Springs would benefit, Baker said.
The project is another alliance between Aurora Water and Colorado Springs Utilities. The two cities — the state’s largest behind Denver — are both growing quickly. Baker said the new reservoir could help ensure the taps keep flowing, especially in an era with snowpack decreases that imperil creeks and rivers.
Here’s the release from the Colorado State Forest Service:
Colorado Springs Utilities, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region and Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) announced their plans to invest $15 million, over a five-year period, in forest and watershed restoration projects. These projects will occur on more than 11,000 acres in Colorado Springs Utilities’ critical watersheds located on the White River and Pike-San Isabel National Forests
Today’s announcement comes as part of a signing event held at the Mesa Conservation Center to kick off the second phase of watershed restoration efforts.
The U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region and Colorado Springs Utilities have been in partnership since 2013, and together, have reduced the risk of catastrophic wildfire, restored forests impacted by wildfire, and minimized erosion and sedimentation in reservoirs to over 12,000 acres of National Forest System lands.
“We understand the obligation to the nearly 480,000 customers within the Colorado Springs Utilities area and the importance of healthy watersheds. Thus, we place heavy emphasis on partnerships like these, which allow us to keep clean water flowing to our local communities while maintaining resilient and productive forest lands,” Regional Forester, Brian Ferebee stated.
“Our dedication to conservation and natural resource sustainability has been amplified with the inclusion of the Colorado State Forest Service.”
The agreement, which now extends the existing partnership to the CSFS, expands the capacity to implement priority projects, leverage state resources, and balance national, state and local priorities. Since 1987, Colorado Springs Utilities has partnered with the CSFS to manage forests on 13,000-acres in the Pikes Peak Watershed. Their work to protect water quality, improve water yields, and identify and reduce wildfire risk, have dramatically improved forest health.
Together, the partnership promotes an “all lands” approach that addresses watershed and forest health challenges on the National Forest System and neighboring lands.
Forest & watershed health projects
“The destruction of Waldo Canyon required a huge investment from Colorado Springs Utilities to repair damaged water infrastructure and restore severely burned watersheds,” said Earl Wilkinson, Chief Water Services Officer, Colorado Springs Utilities. “Our continued partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service will enable critical preventative measures to protect our drinking water supply.”
Under the 2019-2023 program, Colorado Springs Utilities will invest $7.5 million in forest and watershed health projects within critical watersheds. This funding will be matched dollar for dollar by the U.S. Forest Service and the CSFS for a total value of approximately $15 million.
Management activities associated with these projects will include forest thinning, prescribed fire, invasive species management, road and trail improvements, and stream improvements.
“Through partnerships like this one, land managers and water providers in Colorado can help ensure clean, reliable water for present and future generations,” said Mike Lester, State Forester and CSFS Director.
Colorado Springs Utilities has a large mountain water system with many reservoirs and other infrastructure located on U.S. Forest Service Land. Forest restoration and wildfire fuels reduction projects will take place within watersheds near Colorado Springs, including the vicinity of Pikes Peak, the headwaters of the Arkansas River, surrounding Homestake Reservoir on the Eagle River, and in the Blue River watersheds.
The projects will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and post-fire sedimentation and erosion upstream of Colorado Springs Utilities’ reservoirs and other water delivery infrastructure.
For details contact:
Colorado State Forest Service – Ryan Lockwood, (970) 491-8970, email@example.com
U.S. Forest Service – Lawrence Lujan, (303) 815-9902, firstname.lastname@example.org
A damp spring that’s pushed Colorado Springs above its normal rainfall total translates to about $3.4 million less in water sales for Colorado Springs Utilities through May this year compared to the same five months last year.
The dip in sales likely is related to customers curtailing irrigation of lawns, golf courses and other vegetation.
Last year, Utilities collected $64.7 million in water sales through May, compared to this year’s $61.3 million.
The biggest gap between last year and this year came in May when Utilities’ water revenue totaled $18.3 million compared to $23.3 million in May 2018.
Water consumption in May 2018 stood at 2.9 billion gallons, compared to 2 billion gallons in May this year.
Because Utilities forecasted sales through May 2019 at $18 million but brought in $18.3 million, “We were OK,” says Utilities spokesperson Natalie Watts.
“In general,” she says via email, “when we do forecasting we tend to [err] on the side of conservativeness because we don’t want to get ourselves into a financial hardship. This is especially true during the months of May and October because the weather can be so different during those two months from year to year. We try to build in a little bit of a cushion in case of a bad year.”
FromThe Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):
Entities including Front Range water utilities and the Bureau of Reclamation on Friday began coordinating water releases from upstream reservoirs in a voluntary effort to prolong peak runoff flows in what’s called the 15-Mile Reach upstream of the confluence with the Gunnison River. It’s a critical stretch of river for four endangered fish — the humpback chub, razorback sucker, bonytail chub and the Colorado pikeminnow.
River flows at Cameo exceeded 20,000 cubic feet per second Saturday. The coordinated reservoir operations are intended to slow the decline of high flows, sustaining those flows for three to five days this week. The first releases from the coordinated program were expected to arrive Monday night; the flows at Cameo earlier Monday were at 18,900 cfs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Strong flows help remove fine sediment from cobble bars that serve as spawning habitat for the fish, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They also help reconnect the river to backwaters where the fish, especially at the larval stage, can find refuge from the stronger river flows, said Don Anderson, a hydrologist with the agency.
The releases are being made possible by this year’s ample winter snowpack, which means reservoir operators can release reservoir water without risking the ability to fill the reservoirs.
Anderson said that in some years the releases are coordinated with the goal of raising peak flows to beneficial levels, but this year the peak flows were high enough it was decided that the reservoir water instead could be used to prolong those flows.
According to a Fish and Wildlife Service news release, under the coordinated operations:
The Bureau of Reclamation is increasing releases at Ruedi Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir, with the Green Mountain releases including inflows bypassed by Dillon Reservoir, operated by Denver Water.
Denver Water is likely to increase releases from Williams Fork Reservoir.
Homestake Reservoir, operated by Colorado Springs Utilities, may participate in the releases after peak flows on the Eagle River recede.
The Windy Gap Reservoir and Pump Station, operated by Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, will delay pumping water to Granby Reservoir.
The current effort follows reservoir releases by the Bureau of Reclamation earlier this spring on the Gunnison River to boost flows for endangered fish there. In both cases, the efforts are planned in a way intended to keep from resulting in flooding impacts downstream.
Anderson said the coordinated spring operations on the upper Colorado River started in 1997, and by his count have occurred in 11 years since beginning…
He said that while the coordinated releases target the 15-Mile Reach, their benefits extend as far as Moab, Utah, improving management of a river floodplain wetlands there that is being used to help in the recovery of razorback suckers.
Entities including the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Grand Valley Water User Association, Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, Palisade Irrigation District, National Weather Service, Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, Colorado Water Conservation Board, and Xcel Energy also participate in the coordinated reservoir operations effort.
FromThe Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):
The river is flowing so fast right now that people can float the entire 25-mile Ruby-Horsethief stretch in a day — even as few as four or five hours, Baier said. He said his company is running guided one-day trips there right now and he thinks some people are realizing they can float the stretch in a day rather than needing to make reservations for Bureau of Land Management campgrounds.
In Glenwood Canyon, raft companies currently aren’t running the Shoshone stretch of the Colorado River due to strong flows, as is typical this time of year. Ken Murphy, owner of Glenwood Adventure Co., said that closure might last perhaps a week longer this year than in a normal year. He said the Shoshone rapids have a brand appeal and people want to raft there, but high water provides lots of other good rafting options. Last year, the Roaring Fork River didn’t provide much of a rafting season, but this year is different. While it usually offers good rafting until maybe the first or second week of July, “now we’re going to be on it we hope maybe until August,” Murphy said.
He said the Roaring Fork offers beautiful scenery away from Interstate 70 and sightings of bald eagles and other wildlife. And rapids that are usually rated Class 2 are currently Class 3.
“It gives people enough whitewater to get wet but not scare them,” he said.
Colorado River trips that put in at the Grizzly Creek area of Glenwood Canyon below Shoshone also are heading farther downstream than normal right now, to New Castle, due to the fast-flowing water, Murphy said…
Murphy said his company also owns Lakota Guides in Vail. He said the Eagle River in Eagle County will be good for rafting for longer this summer due to the big water year, meaning the company can continue offering trips to guests there rather than having to bus them to Glenwood Springs or the upper Arkansas River. He said the Blue River in Summit County also will benefit from a longer boating season.
FromThe Bent County Democrat (Bette McFarren and Jolene Hamilton):
An agreement between a member of the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association and the City of Colorado Springs will allow water originally allocated for agricultural use in the Lower Ark to be used for municipal purposes.
The pact, which was approved by the board of the Fort Lyon Canal Company, was announced Thursday.
“Colorado Springs Utilities purchased 2,500 LAWMA shares for $8.75 million and also will reimburse LAWMA $1.75 million for 500 acre-feet of water storage,” said a LAWMA press release announcing the arrangement. “This storage will give LAWMA added flexibility to manage its water rights both in times of drought and excess.”
“We are appreciative of the Fort Lyon Canal Company board’s approval of this use of the water,” said Don Higbee, LAWMA general manager, in the release. “The agreement with Colorado Springs will benefit many farmers in the Lower Arkansas River Valley. We will gain a more reliable water supply that will increase crop yields for the average shareholder in both wet and dry years.”
The release went on to say, “Colorado Springs Utilities acquired about 2,000-acre-feet of water from a LAMWA member, Arkansas River Farms in July. The agreement allows LAMWA members and Colorado Springs Utilities to take water deliveries alternately 5 out of 10 years.”
Dale Mauch, FLCC board president, told The La Junta Tribune-Democrat that Colorado Springs will get to choose the years it wants the water delivered.
“They’ll wait for the wet years, because they’ll get more water,” said Mauch. “They have water in storage in Pueblo.”
Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District – whose stated mission is “To acquire, retain and conserve water resources within the Lower Arkansas River” – expressed his displeasure with the agreement.
“They will take 71 percent of the water,” he told the La Junta Tribune-Democrat. “That water will never come back to the land. It’s a buy-and-dry.”
Mauch, who is also the FLCC representative to the Super Ditch, said in a telephone interview, “Fort Lyon had nothing to do with LAWMA selling some storage. No damage to Fort Lyon. Not a lot of damage as long as nobody below or in Fort Lyon gets hurt. We don’t have a problem with it. What would hurt is being shorted water.
“It’s set up so everybody gets the same as always. LAWMA’s water stays in, but instead of irrigating land with the water, they dump it back. That percentage gets held up for Colorado Springs – the consumptive use of that amount – that’s what a crop would use. That percent has to stay in the river to keep people from being injured.
“The water must stay in the canal. Their water on those shares will run back to the river. Colorado Springs pays LAWMA so much for water, five out of ten years.”
Five out of ten years is too much, argues Winner, who added that Bent County could be the real loser in the deal. No revenue is headed its way, and county residents could suffer from the loss of commerce.
Winner is also concerned that Colorado Springs won’t stop here.
“If you look at Colorado Springs, their water right portfolio isn’t very good,” he said. “Eighty percent of it is West Slope water. What we have heard is that they will be 23,000 acre-feet short by the year 2030. That’s about 22,000 shares of the Fort Lyon Canal. I think with the project (LAWMA is) doing right now, they’re just dipping their toe in the water, and they plan to take all that water from the Fort Lyon canal.”
While Winner admits it is legal for LAWMA to pursue this project, he said the LAVWCD has the right to try and stop it.
“In this administration, people don’t want to see the buy-and-dry of agriculture any longer,” said Winner. “This district was put here to keep water in the Arkansas Valley, and that’s what we plan on doing.”
Tuesday, the Colorado Springs City Council unanimously approved the 2019 budget and rates for Colorado Springs Utilities customers.
The city said local water and wastewater systems are old and in need of ongoing repair and refurbishment.
According to the city, the typical residential wastewater customer will see an increase of about $0.88 per month. The city said this increase, the first since 2010, is largely due to inflationary costs…
Typical residential water customers will experience a monthly increase of $3.80, according to the city. This funding supports a “significant” upgrade to the Phillip H. Tollefson Water Treatment plan, as well as work to repair water mains, according to the city.
The city also said that most commercial and industrial customers will also experience increases to base rates for wastewater and water services.