New outlet works for Cerro Reservoir to be constructed in 2019

Joel Evans, an outdoor writer and angler from Montrose, holds the first tiger trout caught at the new Cerro Summit State Wildlife Area located east of Montrose. He caught the fish on Sept. 29. Fishing at the area is catch-and-release only. Photo credit Colorado Parks & Wildlife

From The Montrose Daily Press (Andrew Kiser):

The Montrose City Council voted unanimously, during its Dec. 18 meeting, to award a contract change order to RJH Consultants for $72,100 in the redesign of Cerro Reservoir.

The original amount of $270K had to be increased as “surprises in the reservoir’s design showed a lot of unforeseen layers,” said City Engineer Scott Murphy to the councilors on Dec. 18.

The dam at Montrose Reservoir on Cerro Summit needed major repairs earlier this year, which required the lake to be drained over the summer, as previously reported…

The city has been trying to figure out dam conditions there for some time and was more recently able to send divers down a 15-foot opening in the dam works for inspection, Murphy said.

This inspection confirmed it was time to replace the outlet works for the 1912 dam.

The outlet works consist of an 8-inch pipeline that runs through the dam’s foundation and below the western embankment; the pipe is about 50 feet below the crest of the dam and dates back to the original dam construction…

He added the city is currently working on its contract bid with Colorado Division of Water Resources.

“Something with this class goes through a pretty thorough review process with the state,” Murphy said, estimating the city should be awarded the contract in the next two months.

Shortly afterward ground will be broken in early February, he said. The construction will then start later that month and finished end of 2019.

The reservoir is tentatively planned to be filled in the spring of 2020.

New seven-year water #conservation plan to be reviewed Tuesday by the Montrose City Council

View along Main Street in early Montrose (between 1905 and 1915). Shows a horse-drawn carriage, bicycles, and two men talking. Signs include: "The Humphries  Mercantile Co. Dry Goods, Clothing, Hats & Shoes" "Montrose National Bank" and C. J. Getz, Pharmacist, Druggist." via http://photoswest.org
View along Main Street in early Montrose (between 1905 and 1915). Shows a horse-drawn carriage, bicycles, and two men talking. Signs include: “The Humphries
Mercantile Co. Dry Goods, Clothing, Hats & Shoes” “Montrose National Bank” and C. J. Getz, Pharmacist, Druggist.” via http://photoswest.org

From The Montrose Daily Press:

Montrose City Council will consider the 182-page document at its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

Public comment will be accepted and following the hearing, a resolution to adopt the plan may be considered.

Drawing the plan began shortly after the Colorado Water Conservation Board determined each public entity distributing 2,000 acre-feet per year or more of water to encourage efficient use of water, according to city documents provided in Tuesday’s council agenda packet.

In the document, the city spells out how the plan will be implemented, monitored, reviewed and revised over the next seven years. It also estimates how much water will be conserved by implementing the plan.

“The goal of the City of Montrose Water Conservation Plan is to increase the efficient use of water throughout the city by identifying challenges and methods for overcoming each,” an executive summary of the plan says…

A complete copy of the plan is available at http://www.cityofmontrose.org/300/Water.

Gunnison Ag Producers’ Water Future Workshop, May 3 #COWaterPlan

Ag Workshop Gunnison Flyer

Click here to register.

From the announcement:

A Gunnison Basin Ag Producers’ Water Future Workshop will take place on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Delta-Montrose Technical College in the Enterprise Room. The Colorado Water Plan encourages the use of “alternative transfer methods” to keep water in agriculture while addressing the anticipated gap in future water supply given projected population growth. What does this mean for agricultural water users in the Gunnison Basin? Irrigators will hear about opportunities for cost sharing of efficiency improvements, water leasing programs, and concerns about “use it or lose it” at this workshop sponsored by the Colorado Ag Water Alliance with assistance from Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and CSU’s Colorado Water Institute.

Brief presentations will be followed by dialogue in which agricultural producers will have a chance to discuss challenges and barriers to these opportunities. Those presenting include Carlyle Currier from the Colorado Ag Water Alliance, Frank Kugel from the Gunnison Basin Roundtable, State Engineer Dick Wolfe, Perry Cabot from Colorado State University Extension, Aaron Derwingson from The Nature Conservancy, Phil Brink from Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and MaryLou Smith from CSU’s Colorado Water Institute.

Montrose County ponies up $50,000 for whitewater park engineering

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Will Hearst):

The greater Montrose community came one step closer to a collaborative application for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant Tuesday, after the city locked in an agreement with Montrose County for $50,000 toward the engineering of the whitewater park project.

All five city council members voted to accept the $50,000 offered, which will not only help cover the upfront design costs, but make for a much stronger application to GOCO because of the multi-agency participation. In exchange, the county asked that the city contribute an equal amount to an improvement project in the future to the fairgrounds or other county asset.

Councilor Bob Nicholson, while on board with the plan, hesitated at the way a letter worded the county’s agreement. Nicholson said he was more than willing to keep the city’s side of the bargain, but had assumed the county would ask for repayment only for fairgrounds improvements.

More Uncompahgre River coverage here and here.

Montrose: The Montrose County Commissioners endorse the the town’s whitewater park application

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From The Telluride Watch (Katie O’Hare):

City Councilors and the Montrose Recreation District board asked county commissioners to the table on July 31 to discuss if the county was willing – and at what cost – to support a project that would include creating a whitewater park along the Uncompaghre River at Riverbottom Park.

The city teamed up with MRD hoping to submit a Great Outdoors Colorado grant application by Aug. 29 that could provide $350,000 toward the project, which includes improvements to the MRD’s ball fields and surrounding areas, also in Riverbottom Park.

“In principal, it’s all about improving the community for all of us,” said Kerwin Jensen, City of Montrose community development director.

After a two-hour meeting, commissioners David White and Gary Ellis – who did most of the talking for the county – agreed to put the request for funding help on their regular commissioner meeting agenda for Monday, Aug. 6…

The city staff stressed the economic benefits the county could see from having a whitewater park in Montrose, which included increased tourism and new businesses to cater to those visitors, as well as the recreational opportunity it would provide county residents.

“Economic development is number one in our strategic plan, and things like this contribute to that,” Commissioner David White said.

Uncompahgre River: Work begins on $22 million South Canal hydroelectric generation project

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Will Hearst):

Ground was officially and symbolically broken Friday along Montrose’s South Canal just below the outflow of the Gunnison Tunnel for a $22 million hydroelectric project…The project will actually consist of two sites separated by a little more than a mile. The sites were selected from five identified more than 20 years ago as having a gradient steep enough to efficiently generate power without requiring a dam. From those two sites, DMEA will produce more than 6,000 kilowatts of power, which converts to 27 million kilowatt hours of electricity — enough to power more than 3,000 homes.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

The City of Montrose is hoping that Montrose County will pitch in some dough for a whitewater park on the Uncompahre River

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Katie O’Hare):

“We have a lot of requests this year, but we can put it in with the other requests in preparing for our budget season,” Commissioner David White said.

City officials are seeking the county’s help to build a proposed white water park on the river. White said he was leery about allocating the money to the white water park after the county just recently completed it fairgrounds master plan, which includes several capital improvement projects…

Although the park is projected to cost between $600,000 to $900,000, Erickson said the annual economic benefits the area would realize would be far greater.

More whitewater coverage here.

New whitewater park for Montrose?

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From The Telluride Watch (Peter Shelton):

Now retired from competition and fresh from the opening of the 2012 Olympic kayaking venue in London, which was built by his firm, S2O Design of Boulder, [Scott] Shipley made a pitch for a family-oriented whitewater park on the Uncompahgre River at Upper Cerise (Riverbottom) Park.

City Park Planner Dennis Erickson hosted the event at the Pavilion, which also included a presentation by lead planner Ann Christensen of DHM Design in Durango, who introduced the draft plan. Also on hand was Gabe Preston of CPI Consulting, who led the group in a keypad polling exercise on priorities within the draft plan.

Participants indicated their preferences – high priority, medium or low – for a number of goals being considered in the plan, including: developing new city-owned parks on the northern third of the 10-mile-long river corridor, building more pedestrian bridges across the river, connecting downtown Main Street more directly to the river, building tails to link existing and future parks, acquiring private property for river improvements, and preservation/enhancement of the river ecosystem.

A whitewater park scored high on the list. But the highest priority for the public on this night was clearly trails, bicycle/pedestrian trails, to connect parks and link existing segments of river trail, thereby providing alternate-transportation routes, not just for recreation, but for commuting and shopping as well.

More whitewater coverage <a href="

Ridgway: Spotted knapweed or herbicides on Uncompahgre River riparian areas through town?

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From The Telluride Watch (Gus Jarvis):

Majority opinion in Ridgway has forbidden the use of herbicides within town limits in the battle to eradicate weeds to the point where Town Council has passed a resolution that states that no chemical herbicides may be used. The problem, according to Mabry, is that the spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), a non-native species, is spreading like wildfire along the banks of the river and something needs to be done about it. Spotted knapweed is designated as a “List B” species on the Colorado Noxious Weed Act and it is required to be either eradicated, contained, ore suppressed depending on the infestation. “My biggest concern is the spotted knapweed down along the river,” Mabry declared at council’s March 17 work session, showing pictures from last summer proving the weed has a stranglehold on the riverbanks. “As you can see, it is forming a monoculture by forcing out all the native species down there. I see this as a critical problem.”

More invasive species coverage here and here.

Mesa County Water Association to offer ‘The Water Course’ January 19, 27 and February 2

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From the Grand Junction Free Press (Sharon Sullivan):

What: “The Water Course” covering water law, water quality and balancing competing demands, sponsored by the Mesa County Water Association
When: Jan. 19 and 27, Feb. 2, 6-9 p.m. Registration due Monday, Jan. 11.
Where: GG City Hall Auditorium, 250 N. Fifth St.
Cost for entire series: $35 MCWA members; $45 nonmembers; Single session: $15 MCWA members; $20 nonmembers. Some scholarships..
Info: hannah@mesacountywater.org, or 683-1133, or http://www.mesacountywater.org

More from the article:

Studies estimate a 600,000 million-acre-feet shortage [ed. in the Grand Valley] by 2050, said Grand Junction Utility and Street System Director Greg Trainor, and a board member of the Mesa County Water Association.

The MCWA was first formed 25 years ago by the late Ruth Hutchins, a Fruita farmer concerned about a proposal that would pump water from the Western Slope to the Front Range. Citizens, irrigators and government leaders held “Water 101” courses on controversial water topics for many years. After several years of inactivity, the MCWA was resurrected a year ago by Trainor and Hannah Holm to resume educating people on water issues affecting the Western Slope. The association is governed by a seven-member board of directors. “Current water laws serve the valley well, but it really behooves people to appreciate the resource and protect it as the water situation gets tighter,” said Holm, MCWA coordinator. “We can’t stay in our bubble forever.”[…]

A three-part water course series starts Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Grand Junction City Hall Auditorium. The first course will address water law; how the valley’s water rights relate to the water rights of California and Denver; and who is responsible for irrigation water once it leaves a canal…

The Jan. 27 course will cover laws and programs that seek to protect and clean up Colorado waterways, the condition of Grand Valley rivers and streams, and how drinking water is protected and treated. The February course will explore threats to irrigated agriculture as cities grow; environment and recreation water needs; and how the Grand Valley could change with drought and increasing competition for water.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Montrose scores $75,000 grant from GOCo for ‘Montrose Comprehensive Uncompahgre Riverway Master Plan’

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From The Telluride Watch (Beverly Corbell):

The grant, written by City Park Planner and Project Manager Dennis Erickson, will be used to develop “the first-ever Montrose Comprehensive Uncompahgre Riverway Master Plan,” according to the city’s website.

With a plan in place, the city will have “a valuable tool for directing its long-term efforts toward maintaining the beauty of the Uncompahgre River for generations to come.” But there’s more than beauty to be preserved, Erickson said, and the plan could look at possible development of water sports like kayaking. “It will be multi-objective with numerous interests and stakeholders taking part,” he said. “We want different perspectives on what should happen with the river.” The Montrose City Council must first adopt a resolution to sign the GOCO grant, which Erickson said he hopes will happen at the Jan. 7 meeting.

More Uncompahgre River watershed coverage here and here.

Uncompahgre River: Montrose River Corridor Work Group reaches consensus on recommendations for the riparian environmnent

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Katie O’Hare):

Thursday — after five, two-hour meetings spanning over the past few months – the work group presented their recommendations to Montrose City Council during its work session. “It was a balance between property rights and protecting the river,” said group member Shawn Lund, a local boater and teacher. The group was able to reach a major agreement, being that a river buffer was needed in Montrose to preserve the river and riparian environment, protect water quality and wildlife habitat, preserve the view shed and to provide clarity and guidance to future development, said group member Ben Tisdel, local developer and member of Friends of the River Uncompahgre (FORU)…

The group agreed that there should be an overall buffer of 100 feet from the average yearly high water mark (HWM), and within that 100-foot buffer, there’s to be two different zones, a “no-go zone” and “slow-go zone.” (Disagreements arose on the width of the no-go zone.) The no-go zone would be 40 feet from the HWM. Within this area, there would be no buildings, linear trials or disturbance of native riparian vegetation allowed. However, short-distance, soft surface trails and usual, customary uses, such as a boat ramp, would be allowed. The slow-go zone would be the area between 40 feet and 100 feet. To develop within this zone, a person would need to obtain city permission, such as a special use permit. The method would be decided by city staff, Tisdel said, and could be processed through the planning commission similar to other permits. Any development within the slow-go zone must enhance the river corridor, such as a business that faces the river with a patio. Those that to not enhance the river corridor, such as a warehouse, would need to be screened. The group recommended that there be stricter “performance standard” as one gets closer to the 40-foot zone and that city staff work out such details, like requiring a building to sit as far back on the lot as possible. Residential single-family homes are exempt from the screening requirement.

More Uncompahgre River watershed coverage here and here.

CWCB: Montrose County instream flow water rights public meeting

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Rob Viehl):

The Stream and Lake Protection Section of the Colorado Water Conservation Board is holding a public meeting to discuss the potential appropriation by the Board of new instream flow water rights in 2010 in Montrose County, and the current status of the Board’s acquisition of the UMETCO water rights.

The following stream segments in Montrose County are being considered for instream flow protection at this time: North Fork Tabeguache Creek, Red Canyon Creek, San Miguel River, and Tabeguache Creek.

Additional streams that are being considered for appropriation in 2010 in Water Division 4 include: Alpine Gulch, Big Dominguez Creek, Blue Creek (Increase), Cebolla Creek, Cochetopa Creek, East Beaver Creek, Little Dominguez Creek, Spring Creek, and Willow Creek.

Detailed information concerning these proposed instream flow water rights can be found at: http://cwcb.state.co.us/StreamAndLake/NewAppropriations/ISFAppropriationNotices/2010ProposedAppropriations/

The meeting will take place at 7:00 p.m. on November 5, 2009, and will be held in the Norwood Town Hall/Community Room, 1670 Naturita Street, Norwood, Colorado. Questions may be directed to Jeff Baessler at 303-866-3441.

More San Miguel watershed coverage here and here.

Gunnison Tunnel 100th year celebration

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Here’s a look at the Gunnison Tunnel and the water it provides for the Uncompahgre Valley, from Peter Shelton writing for The Telluride Watch. From the article:

We live on Gunnison River water from out of the Black Canyon by way of the Gunnison Tunnel, which celebrates its 100th anniversary September 26. Turns out just about everyone in the Uncompahgre Valley, from Colona to Pea Green, shares the same fortune. Without the pioneering engineering feat of the tunnel and the concurrent development of canals and laterals by the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, we wouldn’t be here. Or, at the very least, this part of the Western Slope would look different. It wouldn’t be nearly as green, or as prosperous, as it is today…

The tunnel presented myriad practical and engineering challenges. Digging from both ends simultaneously, shifts of 30 men each working 24/7 took four years to dig the six-mile long hole. And when they finally met in the middle, [Water Users’ Manager Marc Catlin] told us, “They were 18 inches off! Dug by hand! A hundred years ago! You go to Denver, you go in the Eisenhower Tunnel, which was built in the 1970s, you make that turn in the middle? … They were off by 40 feet!”

While the tunnel was being dug, other crews were gouging canals into the west-side landscape, including the main artery, the 11-mile long South Canal. “Go out and look at the canals in winter,” Catlin said. “Imagine mules and Fresno scrapers – no bulldozers! They fed sheep in the canals in winter – all those little tiny feet packing that ‘dobe clay so that the canals wouldn’t leak!” Today the Water Users take care of 575 miles of canals and lateral ditches supplying three communities, two counties, and irrigating 80,000 acres of cropland. Not to mention municipal water (by Tri County and other water districts in Project 7) delivered as far as the outskirts of Ouray.

More Uncompahre Valley coverage here and here.

Montrose: Gunnison Tunnel 100th year celebration September 26

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Here’s the lowdown on the upcoming celebration, from Katharhynn Heidelberg writing for the Montrose Daily Press. From the article:

Celebration organizers are encouraging community involvement right now by inviting the public to the Gunnison Tunnel Museum at Main and Townsend. The temporary museum is in renovated space that formerly housed Sagebrush Books. It will feature displays, historic newspaper articles, photographs and artifacts from the tunnel’s opening day, Sept. 23, 1909, when President William Howard Taft came to town. The museum also functions as headquarters for the centennial celebration, which is being organized through the collaborative efforts of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, individuals, staffers, ditch riders, historians and committee members. The chamber and visitors bureau, the Montrose County Historical Museum, plus many local businesses and governmental entities are also pitching in for the centennial event Sept. 26, which is funded through donations.

“It’s all combined together,” said Marc Catlin, director of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association. “It’s a place to see the history, to see what’s going to happen at the event and to see the memorabilia.”

More Gunnison Basin coverage here.

Montrose: Workgroup forms to regulate streams and rivers through town

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Kati O’Hare):

The city council selected 11 Montrose residents, including property owners along waterways, realtors, developers, recreation advocates and citizens for the workgroup. The workgroup will meet about three times before coming to council with recommendations by September or October. Montrose River/Stream Workgroup: Rob Brethouwer; Ron Harthan; Diann Fulks; William Gleason; Judy Kittson; Shawn Lund; Matt Miles; Elizabeth Roscoe; Ben Tisdel; Bryan Walchle; Jason Wilson.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Montrose: Gunnison Tunnel 100th year celebration

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From the Montrose Daily Press:

Celebrating 100 years of water provided by the Gunnison Tunnel, the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association invites Montrose, Olathe, and Delta community members, and all Coloradoans, to join in activities culminating with celebrations and ceremonies in Montrose at UVWUA headquarters Saturday, Sept. 26. The water users association celebrated its own centennial in 2002. The federal legislation that established the Bureau of Reclamation in 1902 also authorized the Gunnison Tunnel Project and formation of the UVWUA. Water users association Manager Marc Catlin said the benefits of the tunnel to the Uncompahgre Valley cannot be overstated. “Opening the Gunnison Tunnel and then delivering the water to growers, made this valley green while attracting a thriving population,” Catlin said. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the populations of both Delta and Montrose counties more than doubled between 1900, when the idea was first developed, and 1910, one year after the tunnel was completed. The data show that the decade from 1900-1910 saw the most significant population growth in the valley.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Montrose: Citizen group to manage Uncompahgre corridor through town

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From the Telluride Watch (Beverly Corbell):

Ben Tisdel, [Friends of River Uncompahre] boardmember said he and others were worried that the new committee might not follow guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency for development near rivers. “We want to make sure that there is an even balance of interests on the committee, and we want to have the positive hope that all interests are fairly represented,” Tisdel said. Montrose City Spokesman David Spear said he wants to assure FORU and others that the city council’s plan calls for a balance of members to represent five categories, including landowners, realtors and developers (in one category), river advocates such as FORU, river recreation advocates, and residents in general. Spear said he expects the river committee to have 11 members but just how many and when the members will be selected is up to the city council…

The city has held two open houses to give out information on preliminary plans to preserve the river corridor, which was the most highly ranked public objective of the 2008 Comprehensive Plan. The plan recommends a 100-foot buffer between the river and any pavement or structures and will be the basis for the new ordinance, said senior city planner Garry Baker earlier this year

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Montrose: City Council to form stakeholders group for river corridor plan

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Katie O’Hare):

Senior City Planner Garry Baker went before council Thursday to update its members on the river corridor project and ultimately recommend that the city create a citizen group. After several open houses on the project, Baker said major stakeholders were split on the different components of the project. He believes a smaller 11-member citizen committee could narrow down the ideas, creating a consistent plan that could be established into a city ordinance.

The city’s comprehensive plan is clear that there needs to be a 100-foot buffer between pavement or buildings and the river’s edge. However, details and exemptions need to be hammered out. To apply for the committee, citizens must submit a letter of request to the city’s office, 433 S. First St., in care of City Clerk Teri Colvin. The letter should indicate their affiliation regarding the river corridor (land owner, interested citizen). Deadline is June 19. After reviewing the letters of interest, city council will appoint the committee at its July 2 council meeting. The committee would probably meet about three times in August and early September, and present present recommendations to council after, Baker said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.